Guest Post from Christine Caine: I Got What I Prayed For

I Got What I Prayed For

I woke up this morning to the mayhem of getting the girls ready for school, packing lunches, packing my suitcase, organizing my briefcase and messages, checking the weather report to decide what clothes and shoes to pack, cleaning the house, and putting away the laundry (which reminded me that the tops I wanted to take were still at the dry cleaner). I also needed to get another chapter of my book to the publisher, and was asked if I would mind doing an extra session at the conference. And then I read of the riots in Greece and thought about the safety and morale of the A21 team and the plight of the victims of human trafficking in that environment.

I was considering having a little overwhelmed, complaining moment, and then remembered....

There was a time I was not married and prayed I would be.

There was a time I had no children and prayed I would.

There was a time I did not have my own home to clean and prayed I would.

There was a time I had no invitations to speak anywhere and prayed I would.

There was a time I never spoke at a main session and prayed I would.

There was a time I only spoke locally and never had to fly anywhere and I prayed I would.

There was a time I could never afford a dry cleaner or a spare top and I prayed I would.

There was a time that no publishers were talking to me and I prayed they would.

There was a time we had no A21 team in Greece and I prayed we would.

There was a time we had no rescued victims and I prayed we would.

So instead of a meltdown, I prayed and thanked God for all that He had done in my life. The tensions I was now managing were a result of the prayers I had prayed, and with each answered prayer comes another dimension of responsibility and accountability. I smiled and prayed for the grace to not only get through today, but thrive and enjoy the journey. And I already am.

I even prayed for new opportunities to reach even more people...and I will have to remember that I got what I asked for when it happens. :)


Product of My Generation

 SeaScraper By Joel Tjintjelaar

A Product of My Generation 

Generational gaps have always been the problem child when relating young to old. Trying to relate a Baby Boomer to a Generation X or Y can be more complicated than it’s worth. Let’s take for instance the Baby boomer or the Baby boomer’s children. Among this generation we have, for the most part; simple technologies, maps, road signs, small scale schools and things of this nature. Many of those associated with the Baby Boomer generation are among the working class or retired. By working class I am referring to industrial jobs or non-college degreed jobs. As things began to rapidly change, there was quite a bit of resistance. Why so much resistance to this new era? Many people of the latter generation found their simplistic navigational lives disrupted by the new age technology generation; while Generation X and Y inhabitants welcomed the coming technology with open arms.

So what am I saying in all of that? I am simply saying that parents are no longer able to relate to their children. Why do parents have such a difficult time relating to their kids? In my observation, parents are so consumed with work and a million other obligations that they have found themselves playing taxi and babysitter more than being a parent. Parents of teenagers, if you’re facing a rebellious and disconnected teen- ask yourself- when did this start?

Many parents/ adults need not forget what being a teenager was like.  Life altering changes, both physically and socially are ever present in a maturing teen’s life. They need structure, and order not best friend typology from their parents. Always consider the source of a problem… in the case of your child/ teenager; you are the source.  Did that last sentence strike a nerve? I sincerely hope that you (parent/guardian) will begin to re-evaluate your approach as your kid’s parent. The old cliché: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. This always makes me laugh. Most of the time this cliché comes from those that are blind to the reality of the problem.

I have heard older generations state that “kids these days don’t even know how to _____” (I’ll let you fill in the blank with what you’ve heard) How can we blame them (our maturing generation) for not being knowledgeable about certain aspects of life?  If they are never taught respect, modesty, or any other issue related to maturity; we can never voice our admonishment about this generational laziness.  

Don’t worry teenagers; you’re not out of the woods yet! Maturing adolescents, my word for you is BRIDGE! Stop complaining and viewing your life as a mistrial of court ordered penalties and start rising above the mire. In many cases it takes the maturing adolescent to spark a renewed fire and interest into their parents. Fire has an interesting characteristic in that it easily spreads. If you’re passionate about something or someone in your life; don’t keep your parents/ guardians in the dark. Expand your passion.

Your thoughts? 


The One Chance Parent

The One Chance Parent

What kind of parents are we becoming in this day and time? We place blame on our children and their generation with regards to crime, disrespect, etc. My question is this; does the apple really fall that far from the tree?

Let me explain. I have heard all my life the clichés:

  • Kids these days do not respect their elders”
  • Back in my day” – that’s my favorite one
  • I never would have been able to get away with that”
  • My kids will never…” – always enjoy hearing this one; def not prophetic though

There’s a laundry list of other clichés I could mention but for time and relevance I’ll stop here.  In my observation, I have found that most parents seem to be more concerned with being their kid’s friend rather than their parent. So if you’re among the few of us that actually want to be a parent, what are you teaching your children?  What are you doing to make an impact in their life?

Parents, my charge to you is that you rise up! Stop complaining about your children’s attitude to others. Parents, stop gossiping about your child’s lack of respect to everyone and their grandma! Dad and Mom, stop spreading your family’s business to every Dick and Jane that crosses your path. Parents… simply put 


We as parents are only allowed one chance to make a difference in our children’s frail and fragile lives. When we choose our tech devices over time spent at a pretend tea party or playing doctor with their teddy bear; what message are we sending?  Or, when we choose to have a guy’s night out or a girl’s get away what are we saying? We are most likely telling them, that they come 2nd and maybe even third place in our life. Now this is not to be associated with the seldom date night. This is nights upon nights spent away from their children. How do I know this to be true? I deal with youth weekly, which have felt abandoned by their parents. We as parents have a great privilege that many are not so fortunate to have. We GET TO BE parents.

Separated families have an especially hard time with this. They somehow have become accustomed to only being part-time parents.

One of God’s greatest blessings in life is the ability to bare and raise children. Stop taking it for granted.

When my daughter was just under a year old someone gave me a card that read “anyone can be a father, it takes someone truly special to be a dad” So I’ll ask you; are you a mother and father, or are you a dad and mom?   

Parents, you have the right and the OBLIGATION to speak into your child’s life. What you speak into that life is up to you. I challenge you to put away your own agenda, complicated life styles, devices, and friends and spend that time opening up to your son or daughter. Become a real parent; let them see that you’re flawed just like they are. Help your children understand your past. If you want your children to be real and open with you… you need to be real and open with them!

God Bless. 


Parental Dogmatism

Parental Dogmatism

Now, that’s a title worth chewing on! What could I possibly mean by Parental Dogmatism? Dogmatism is defined as; (n) arrogant, stubborn assertion of opinion or belief; a statement of a point of view as if it were an established fact. I’m sure, from that definition alone; you can tell which direction the rudder is driving.

I am in the middle of a huge calamity between two sets of parents (yes, you read that right) and their children. The root of this calamity comes from the mother and father (now divorced) who constantly fight and argue over whose turn it is with their children. This escalates into further degradation of one another, in the presence of their teens, by means of slander and legal issues. It seems that these teens have lived among hatred and ill tempers, from both sides, all of their lives. Somehow, by God’s Amazing Grace, these teens have turned out to be respectful, courteous, well mannered, and successful in school, totally excelling in sports, AND neither girl teen nor boy teen holds interest in a significant other (that I am aware). What more could a parent ask for? The two teens are completely committed to church, the praise team, youth group, and any other function remotely related. They have, by far, surpassed my every expectation of how they would handle their given circumstances. So what!? The fact of the matter is that they have been living with this situation their entire childhood. I see the teens agonizing over circumstances weighted on them by their parents. For instance, “Why was father was doing this & that, or Why is you mother is always talking bad about me, Your dad is this and that, You mom never did this or that, etc etc? What teenager should ever have to serve as a mediator between their parents… not a single one! Unfortunately, THEY do!

Parents/guardians, have we completely forgotten what scripture demands of us? “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord”. Ephesians 6:4 (NASB). The word fathers, in this blog, pertains to all headship guardians. If you are in authority over your children, or any child, it applies directly to you. Divorced parents, when will you realize that you are killing your children by playing them against the other parent. If you want respect from your children; they must see you portray a life of respect, humility, submission, and so forth. When will you understand that your dogmatic intention to “rule them with an iron fist” is only driving the wedge deeper and deeper? When are we as parents, counselors, pastors, small group leaders, etc, EVER going to wake up to the realization that if WE do not reach them (youth) with the gospel, Satan will reach them with his?

I have watched, for years, as these two teens have played the mediator between father and mother. All the while these teens are trying to find peace, love, and little understanding through this storm; neither parent seems to acknowledge their child’s desperation. The only interaction, now-a-days, that either parent seems to give their teen is a list of investigative inquires about the other parent. We teach our children at a young age to get along with others; when did this become foreign to us as adults? When did we regress into children? Why do we wrestle against principalities of evil when we have an ultimate mediator, Jesus Christ, who will do our fighting for us? (Exodus 14:10-14) Have we as guardians, parents, and adults become another peer? I would sincerely hope not!

Dogmatism has got to give way to unconditional love and tender mercies. Even a blacksmith realizes that the constant beating of metal will substantially weaken its ability to perform. Stop beating the dead horse! (insert your own euphemism here) Shelter your children, guide them through the Word, and pray with them on all occasions. And, pray for them without ceasing!

I have the amazing privilege to be the son of two of the most loving parents I have ever seen. (Ok, maybe I’m a bit biased, but I was taught, not just shown, what love is.) I never lacked ANYTHING; in fact my parents sacrificed, loved, and guided me so much that I could never begin to repay, nor would they ever accept it. Struggling parents, I encourage you to find other parents that have more experience, life lessons and Godly wisdom than you and cling tightly to them. You don’t always have to have older children to be the wiser parent. God imparts wisdom upon those who hunger and thirst for it. Let love be without hypocrisy, abhor what is evil, cling to what is good. Fight the good the fight, and stay the course, your crown is laid up for you (tid-bits of a few of my favorite verses: Romans 12:9, 2 Tim 4:7-8).

Perhaps this will become a series on parenting (as if I could possibly offer advice). You do not have to have children to be a parent; it is the motive of your heart. Likewise, not all adults with children should be considered parents; it is the motive of your heart! God Bless!

I'd love to hear your thoughts.


The Practice Game_ Part 4

Teens Are Sensual

Of course, because we expect teens to be walking hormones, when you read the title you assumed (and I am assuming this) that I was going to talk about how all teens are hormonal crazed lunatics, but that, first of all is not completely true and secondly that’s not the point of this blog. What I mean by sensual is that they are driven, like everyone, by their senses. What they hear and see affect their emotions and how they feel is what they go by.

What I’d like for you to consider is this; people’s lives are dictated by externals. As much as we’d like to assume that we are all SPIRIT led to the core, the fact of the matter is that we are very fleshly. As we grow in maturity, we begin to be able to balance those externals with wisdom, hopefully, and become more stable. We are still affected by externals and media producers have come to understand that in order to get our attention they have to use sensationalism. BANG, POW, BOOM!!! You get the idea. The news is filled with the biggest stories, the series on TV are flashy and the movies, musicians, tabloids and such are always over the top because they have to be. In order to cram an (!) in our face that must use the largest attract of our senses to captivate our drive. An (!) is big, it’s outrageous and it demands your attention now!

Your teens aren’t opposed to an (!) in their lives, they are all about an (!) because they are at the beginning of their foray into the world of independent sensory decision making. Before now their parents dictated where any (!) would be in their lives. They were told what was important, what was worth their time and how they should feel about things from their parent/guardians perspective. They didn’t choose their movies, books, friends, etc. so if there was an (!) anywhere it was filtered through their parents’ wisdom, which is not a bad thing AT ALL. This is true in most cases, but not in all and you may have some kids in your group whose parents are not exactly the brightest tool in the shed and have allowed their kids to fill their little mental pockets with whatever (!) they could get a hold of since they were five. That’s the kid you need to keep closest to you for his/her sake and the sake of the other kids in your group.

That’s why teen magazines and movies are sensational! You’ll see an (!) in their lives when it comes to relationships, emotions, problems, fears, etc, etc. They seem to thrive on an (!) and gather around it like moths to a flame. This is normal and you should expect it.

You can be a very effective youth pastor if you understand that you are not going to be able to take the (!) out of your youth group but instead you become an (!) filter. Find out what’s going on in their worlds and without being condescending give them insight from an external perspective. That external perspective I’m speaking of is YOU. You speak into what they are watching, listening to and what they are being affected by.

One more thing, if your teens are all about an (!) and your youth services or small groups don’t have an (!) in them, you will not reach into your kids’ lives. They will be bored (!) and hate any (!), not dislike, hate, any (!) coming to your class or meeting. Your messages, discussions and gatherings need to generate a lasting (!) in your youth. They need to address the things that are affecting your teens in their everyday (!) filled lives. So, start right now thinking of how you can be an (!) filter and how you can generate an (!) in your youth services. With no (!) they’ll see you as a (,) in their lives. If your youth view you as a comma, you’ll become a mere momentary pause between two ideas, neither of them being you, or your ministry. I could definitely expound greater detail upon this issue, but for now I’ll lay it to rest and end with this most profound scripture. Thoughts?

1 Peter 5: 2-4 (NASB): (2) shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; (3) nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock. (4) And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.


The Practice Game_ Part 3

Be Intentional.

Most of these things will seem like no-brainers. It’s these simple things, however, that can make the difference between a good youth ministry and an effective youth ministry.

Can a youth ministry be good and not be effective? The answer is a resounding YES! It depends on the goal of the ministry. If your goal is to create a venue where teens can congregate, have good music and hear preaching you can certainly do that, but that doesn’t necessarily equate effectiveness. If it doesn’t change the lives and/or direction the teens are going in outside of the venue, and there is no transformation, no development, no difference in the lives of the teens than the ministry in Biblical terms it is not effective. Is it good? Yes. Fellowship in a positive environment is good, but is good what we are looking for as a youth ministry?

Effective comes from intention. You will see specific results if you have a specific plan. Are you trying to create community in your group? What community enhancing events have you planned? Do you have a group of kids that need to be born again? What have you done to create a pathway for them to gain the understanding of this somewhat abstract concept and apply it to their lives? Do you have a group of church kids that are inward focused and not reaching out to their school, family or world? How have you decided to lead the outward.

Effectiveness doesn’t just happen, it’s planned for. Each quarter I sit down with a team of leaders and dispense a plan for the remainder of the year. Although, up until recently, my plans have only been short term (as in a few months out) it has proven to be somewhat helpful. I have recently been convicted of only offering short term goals- as if God is not big enough to extend to such lengths. My plans... JUST GOT BIGGER!

As a leader, especially of young hearts and minds, I must remember that my plans are not His plans (Isaiah 55:8-9) and that I MUST spend countless hours in prayer and fasting to discern His rightful direction for my life in this ministry.

What needs to happen in your group? Find it, plan it, focus on your plan and see it happen.

If All Of Your Friends Think It’s Cool…

If you’ve got a “great” idea, a revolutionary idea even, that you are going to spring on your youth group and you call up all of your youth pastor friends and they think it’s “cool” and slap you on the back and hold their thumbs up, you might need to be worried.

We are trying to reach into a different generation, like missionaries. The first thing a missionary should do when they put their feet on the ground on the mission field is find someone that can translate the culture, not just the language. You need to do the same. You have young people around you (or you should) who understand their culture and the mission of the youth ministry. They are Ambassadors and are as important, if not more so, than the youth pastor because they are who truly interfaces with the youth culture.

You are reaching into their culture, they are in the culture. So before you move forward with this amazingly cool idea, ask a few of your “in house leaders” what they think. Chances are they might think it’s cool, too. But maybe not.


The Practice Game_ Part 2

Expect Greatness not Perfection.

1 Peter 5: 2-5 (KJV) says; “Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; (3) neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. (4) And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away. (5) Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.

When people say the words “young people” they are really saying “youngpeople.” - One word, as a noun. Try it, out loud say young people the way you would normally say it. Why does this matter? Because when you say “youngpeople” instead of young people, you change the meaning of the words.

Youngpeople are a kind of quazi-human creatures that are outside of the realm of normal expectations. On the one hand we don’t expect a whole lot from them. We’re just glad they come to church and don’t have drugs in their pocket. On the other hand we expect perfection from them. “The ‘youngpeople’ should be the supreme example of what a person should be as a Christian. Their friends and family and the entire world are watching them and may be turned away from God if these “youngpeople” don’t do it exactly right.” I am exaggerating (a little) but you get the point.

Let’s look at the term the way we should, though. They are young, and they are people. I’m not trying to be sarcastic and yes, I know this is a simple concept, but it could change the way you relate to your “youngpeople.”

They are young. This means they aren’t going to have a lot of wisdom because they haven’t lived long enough to develop it. It means they are going to trust freely (for a while) and trust the wrong people and the right people. They are going to be FIERCELY loyal to their ideas, their music, their friends and the other things that make up their identity. They are going to be reckless and impulsive. The reason they are is because they don’t have a lot to lose. All of the investment has been from their parents. That’s not wrong or abnormal, it’s youth. I think maybe God designed them like that so they would be willing to go out and change the world. Do you remember when you thought you could do anything? They are going to be passionate. Your job isn’t to shut this all down and make them like you, they are not miniature adults, they don’t think like you because they don’t have all of the risks you have. Your job is to help them harness all of this energy and power, yes power, and point them in the right direction so they can make a difference in their world. If we preach “change the world” but never direct their paths what have we done... hindered or helped?

They are people. They are going to do amazing things, normal things and incredibly stupid things. They are going to be subject to their emotions, peer pressure (you still are), ups and downs and everything else everybody goes through. Don’t put them in the “youngpeople” category and limit them to that paradigm. They are people, created by God for a purpose with a capacity for greatness, but the propensity for failure. Expect greatness, but don’t expect perfection.


The Practice Game_ Part 1

Put Me In Coach... Im Ready to Play

Do you recall this catchy kid's tune? It has too often become the resounding theme of many youth ministers (or so called) of our churches today. Youth ministry has been used as a stepping stone until “real ministry” happens. It’s like a transitional time until the person can become a “real” pastor. I call it, “The Practice Game” mentality. IF THAT IS YOUR GOAL, THEN YOU ARE NOT A YOUTH PASTOR. Skip it and give the youth the privilege of having someone work in their lives because they have a passion for it, not as a rung in their ladder to success.

One of the reasons that youth ministries struggle so much with leadership and consistency is because so many youth pastors walk away from youth ministry in their early thirties taking years of experience with them. The misconception is that if you are going to be a youth pastor you have to be young but youth ministry is not restricted by age. I have met some fantastic youth pastors in their 40’s and 50’s and some young youth pastors that didn’t have a clue. I place myself in this last category often... having no clue, but extremely thankful for the mentors in my life that do.

If you are just starting out in youth ministry, find a couple of youth pastors that have been serving for years and connect with them. Your drive and willingness to take risks as a young person is an amazing asset to the youth ministry you are working with. The wisdom of veterans will be a great asset and balance to you. I have often called upon my mentors in great times of distress, discouragement, and confusion. I implore each young or old, new and experienced minister of students to seek out mentors and elders for your “corner”. If you have been in youth ministry for a while you should take an inventory of those around you. Are there any people that you have mentored? Are you connected with the next generation of leaders? If not you should reevaluate your core ministry goal. Why are you doing this?

Establish an Identity.

One of the most important, if not the most important thing for a teen and/or young adult is identity. A foundational part of developing a solid and vibrant youth ministry is to create an identity for your youth group. This can be tricky because we have bought into the idea that youth ministry is basically about slick marketing and advertising savvy.

If you hire somebody to design a good logo, or come up with a catchy name you have not developed identity. You have developed a brand.

Branding is good and it can be important, but it’s not the same thing as identity. Kids don’t wear a certain brand because of the name or the logo, they wear it because it means something, and something they can and/or are willing to “identify” with. The brand and logo are secondary to this more important concept: What does your youth ministry “mean”?

Define the ministry not in terms of cool graphics, catchy slogans or nifty logos, but in terms of purpose, value, cultural significance, and community. Is what the name and brand embody big enough? If you boil it all down is their something significant about what your youth ministry is doing other than creating an audience for you to speak to or a large number of teens gathered for bragging rights by you or the congregation you’re a part of?

What difference would it make in his/her life or world if a teen decided to buy into your concept? It’s got to be about more than coming to your church. If Christianity is about going to church it’s not about much.


Guest Post: Relatable Rebellion

Hello, I hope you all enjoy this guest post from Pastor Joel Stockstill. He is the Youth Pastor for Bethany Church in Baton Rouge, LA.

Relatable Rebellion

Over the last 10 years of dealing with young people and their struggle with the foul root of rebellion, there is a pattern I have noticed that goes far beyond youthfulness and affects all believers. This is what I would like to term “relatable rebellion.” This subtle rebellion is when someone disregards or discredits authority (God’s Word, Spirit, or especially delegated authority) due to the fact that “they can’t relate with me or what I’m facing.” Ex. If your a young person, then an older person could never understand you or your problems because they are old! Makes sense? If your married then a single person could never understand your problems….right? If your a parent, then someone who isn’t a parent could never understand your issues….right? And even if they are a parent but they don’t have teenagers then they, of course, don’t qualify to instruct or direct in your dilemma…right? If your the leader of 1000 then how could someone with 350 ever qualify to speak into your life? This endless form of excuse never fails to provide opportunity to disregard authority and a perfect escape route from obedience or accountability. Examples:

I was in a meeting with the parents of a teenage girl in the youth ministry and after talking with them about her issues (which were obviously from the dysfunction of her parents) the father presumed to tell me that I could not understand how to deal with his daughter because I “don’t have teenagers of my own.” Well, does that mean that every youth pastor has to grow his own teenagers before he\she can qualify to pastor teenagers? This is ridiculous!

Another arena of true deception regards that of race. Anyone who is of a different race, color, or even cultural background can easily be disregarded because, of course, they don’t “understand anything about me” if they are not of my exact descent. HOGWASH!! I do believe that God can use people of similar background to minister specific truths in our lives, but it is not a blank check to disregard or even attack someone because they are not of the same exact ethnicity or background. (Newsflash: truth is not relative to culture or race)

One final example, is the complete disregard of authority due to the fact that they “haven’t been through what I have.” This lie is used by those who have, for instance, gone through a divorce in their family and because authority has a great family they are disqualified in their direction or advice because they were blessed enough not to endure a divorce. This type of logic means that you would have to endure every type of trial or hurt in your life possible to pastor\lead even a handful of people. Recently, someone told a minister close to me who has a heart to see the addicted set free, that because they had not been addicted to drugs they would have no ability to minister to drug addicts. So really, the more sin you indulged in or bondage you had in your life, the more qualified you are to minister to the lost? This totally defies the ministry of Jesus!

Let’s talk about Jesus. Did he need to participate in fornication so he would qualify to straighten out people’s mess of immorality? NO! Did he have to participate in homosexuality to minister to homosexuals? NO! Was He an older man with grown children that could properly direct parents with older children? NO! Did he have years of marriage experience to be able to shepherd those who are married? NO! On and on I could go in showing how this false logic has justified people in their rebellion against the authority of Christ.

As you can see, we are all guilty of using this age old excuse to circumnavigate the true direction of Christ in our life. Many people are extremely miserable and frustrated with where they are in their walk with the Lord (and life in general) because they fell/fall prey to this rebellious logic. I know in my life there have been many instances where, in my immaturity, I fell right into this deceptive trap of the enemy and completely justified my rebellion. There have even been times that I have justified things by saying to myself “they have never had kidney failure.” Like someone needs to go through kidney failure to be my authority or direct me in the ways of Christ! I hope that as you have read this article the Spirit of God would expose this deception in your life and help you as a leader to see this argument rendered powerless in those you’ve been called to lead. It is my decision to refuse this subtle rebellion in my life and not allow anyone to disregard Christ’s authority because they have found some deficiency or difference.

Heb. 2:17-18 Therefore, it was necessary for Him to be made in every respect like us, His brothers and sisters, so that He could be our merciful and faithful High Priest before God… Since He Himself has gone through suffering and testing, He is able to help us when we are being tested.


The Centrality of the Cross

The Centrality of the Cross
JOHN 19:17-22

In Jesus' day, the cross was used by the Roman government to execute criminals. God transformed it into a symbol that unites Christians everywhere. It stands at the heart of what we believe and serves as a central focus of the gospel message.

When we consider the cross, we will think about . . .

Jesus and His perfect life. Our Savior left heaven to dwell on earth and become one of us. While here, He obediently accomplished the work His Father had given Him (John 5:19). Because of His perfect life, He alone was qualified to be our substitute and bear God's judgment for our sins.

Crucifixion. Christ went willingly to the cross in order to reconcile us to God. He suffered a painful death on our behalf, and through His sacrifice, our sin debt has been paid. God's justice was completely satisfied at Calvary. No further action is required.

Resurrection and ascension. Three days after Jesus was buried, God raised Him from the dead. The Savior's sacrifice on the cross was accepted as payment for our sins, and the way to heaven was opened for all who trust in Jesus. Our resurrected Lord, having appeared on earth to many people, ascended to live forever with His Father. Jesus conquered death and made it possible for us to dwell in heaven with Him someday.

Each time I expound the Word I invite people to place their faith in Jesus Christ. Because of the cross and what happened there, such an invitation has great value to the hearer. In fact, the events of Calvary continue to be relevant to Christians of all ages. Take time today to thank the Lord for the cross.


When Faith Wavers

When Faith Wavers

JAMES 1:5-8

If we believe that God is who He says He is and will do what He has promised, why do so many of us habitually waver in our prayers? Instead of exercising bold faith, we come to the Lord "hoping" He will hear us and answer our requests, but we're just not sure He will. With this kind of thinking, we cannot expect to receive anything from Him.

One reason we are so prone to doubt is that we fail to see God at work in our circumstances. We asked, and nothing happened. But the Lord is not some cosmic bellhop who jumps in response to our requests. He sees past, present, and future and knows the right time for every answer. His invisible hand is already at work on our behalf—arranging situations to accomplish His will, opening hearts, and preparing us to receive what He wants to give.

Another cause for uncertainty is ignorance. If we don't know God's ways, we will be disappointed in His response. All too often our prayers are accompanied by expectations of how He will work. When He fails to intervene according to our timetable or anticipated method, we start to doubt. But placing our faith in the Lord and trusting in His good and perfect ways gives us stability as we wait for His answer.

To overcome doubts, spend time in the Word to learn God's principles and ways. Then you'll begin to grasp what He wants to achieve in your life and how He goes about it. Examine your past from a biblical perspective—faith will grow as you see the unexpected ways He answered your prayers.


Why Waiting is Really Trusting

Everyone hates waiting. I am aware of only a few others that have patience shorter than I do. Waiting has seemingly plagued my life as it is the one thing that exacerbates every ounce of energy I have. I tend to not do well when I have to wait on others to follow through on a promise they've made or when I must wait in a tremendously long line at the post office. The worst though, is waiting in line at the drive through of the bank. The whole time I am waiting for my simple transaction to transpire, I am thinking, "now shouldn't you have been ready before you drove up to the window?"... I know what you're thinking- selfish and bigoted attitude. Thankfully the Holy Spirit convicts me of these thoughts so that they are quickly repented over and not produced into hurtful verbal assemblies.

So you can understand that I have an especially tough time waiting on God. He just doesn't seem to fit His plans into my rushed, hurried, panicked world. And in reading the Scriptures, I've learned that He hasn't changed.

In fact, almost all of the great men in the Bible had to wait. Some agonizingly long. Let's look at three examples.

Your Prince is Ready

Though Moses grew up in the house of Pharaoh and was groomed to be the next in line for the throne, I believe he saw all of this as God raising him up to deliver his people, Israel. His mother probably had something to do with that.

As the years passed and Moses looked from the window of his stately palace and saw the oppression of his brethren, he grew more and more impatient. Finally, he acted on impulse and killed an Egyptian taskmaster.

So that meant 40 years in the wilderness. Here God's people were suffering and their future deliverer is leading sheep in the backside of the desert. Yet God wasn't delaying. He wasn't stalling. He wasn't anxious.

Finally, when Moses was broken and humble enough to be used as an instrument by God, God sent the 80-year old prince-turned-shepherd back to Egypt.

But do you see what is happening? The headlines wouldn't read, "Prince leads coup. Prince leads revolt. Prince overtakes Pharaoh." No, it wouldn't be about Moses anymore. It would be about God. How about, "God Miraculously Delivers His People"?

Dreams of Greatness

As a young man, God spoke to Joseph through dreams. In these dreams, Joseph was leading and his brothers and even world leaders were bowing at his feet. Kind of heady stuff for a teenager, don't you think? And it didn't play too well with his brothers.

Joseph knew God was calling him to a special place. God was calling him to a place of impact, leadership, and power.

So that's why Joseph was probably stunned and shocked when he found himself in the bottom of a pit, praying that his brothers wouldn't kill him. Times slavery in a strange country or imprisonment for rape charges were probably the furthest from Joseph’s conceivable thoughts of what Gods manifestation of His will for the young ruler would look like.

Didn't seem like those dreams were panning out too well, did it? Didn't seem like God was working out His plan?

Oh, but God was working out his plan. And Joseph, while he didn't know a lot, He knew He could trust God.

Running for King

Okay, so this prophet comes to his house, dumps some oil on his head, and then whispers in his ear, "Oh by the way, you're going to be Israel's next king." But then it was back to the shepherd's fields, back to being the forgotten son and brother, back to obscurity.

David was anointed king as a teenager, but he waited 14 long years to assume the throne. And those 14 years were hard years. He was Israel's next king, but there was his madman, Saul, who was determined to see David dead and buried.

If you read the psalms you can experience David's angst. He scratched his head in wonder, "Why is God allowing Saul to do this?" "Why doesn't God just move Saul out of the way?"

But again, like Moses, like Joseph, David had to learn to trust God. And waiting is trusting. David had to be broken, humble, and read to lead God's people.

Do you see a pattern developing here? God often gives his people a dream, a desire, a calling and then puts them through a period of waiting.

It is in this waiting where your real courage and character are forged. It is in this period of uncertainty that you're life takes on a whole new dimension. You learn how to trust God. You learn to lean on God. You learn what's important and what's not important.

So if you're like me and you really don’t like to wait, know that waiting is trusting. Isaiah 55:8-10.


Removing the Head of the Serpent

I read this article and thought that it was very appropriate to post!

Article By: Kay Winters,

Recently I had a prophetic experience that clearly portrayed the condition of the church in America. My husband and I take evening walks that sometimes bring us through affluent neighborhoods. We enjoy viewing luxury homes with their beautiful waterfalls and fountains. Sometimes I venture to curiously peer into the backyards of these homes, finding exquisite pools, sports courts, fireplaces, and landscaping that reminds me of a Thomas Kincaid painting.

As we were enjoying our walk one evening, my husband suddenly blurted out, "Snake!" After jumping in the opposite direction, I saw a three-foot-long rattlesnake about a foot away from where we had been walking.

Having been raised on a farm in Georgia, I am familiar with the behavior of snakes, especially poisonous vipers. Snakes react to ground vibration, so I was mystified about why the snake was not hissing or coiling to strike us. To our surprise, the snake ignored us and slowly slithered in the opposite direction. He seemed to be right "at home" in the landscape of the neighborhood.

We decided to alert the homeowner regarding the snake. I rang the doorbell and was greeted by a man in his 40s. I said, "Sir, there is a rattlesnake in your front yard. Perhaps you might want to dispose of him." He froze and didn't respond. Knowing the snake could quickly escape, I continued, "Sir, this is a neighborhood with lots of children."

Finally, after another long pause, he replied, "OK, give me a moment." I could tell he did not want to be bothered, but my last statement provoked him to action. After what seemed like an eternity, the homeowner emerged from his garage with a six-foot pole that had a huge, razor-like blade attached.

I was amazed to see that the rattlesnake was still moving across the landscape at a snail's pace. The homeowner looked terrified as he cautiously approached the snake from behind. He repeatedly raised his weapon high in the air, practicing his potential strike, yet hesitated to deliver the death blow. Not wanting to embarrass him, I kept silent, but I couldn't help but think, What is wrong with you? Remove that serpent's head now!

Serving God or Mammon

At that instant, I realized that the situation with the snake was an analogy for the present condition of the American church. The homeowner represents the church, and the rattlesnake represents Satan.

Sadly, Satan is not intimidated or threatened by the church. In fact, he wanders in and out of the body of Christ often without resistance or consequence. There is no need for Satan to hiss, coil or strike at us because we pose little threat to him. He knows the focus of the church at large is not Christ-centered but self-centered. We have set our hearts on temporal treasures, in lieu of eternity, seeking the hand of God instead of the face of God. Even our ministers have been deceived, considering the size of their congregations, offerings and buildings as the measuring rod for success. A distorted "prosperity" gospel has taught us to use our faith almost exclusively to obtain larger homes, cars and 401K accounts.

Our spiritual eyes have been encrusted with an infection that has distorted our vision. Blinded by materialism, we pursue mammon while Satan lies quietly at our feet. Our pursuit of pleasure has hardened us to not only the cries of the needy but also the whispers of the Holy Spirit. We don't want to have our routines disrupted in any way. In effect, most of us are wearing a sign that says, "Do not disturb!" We have to be provoked to emerge from our comfort zones to serve at home, at church or in our communities.

Like the church of Laodicea, the American church has been deceived by riches. We are unaware of our spiritual poverty and blindness. As a result, many American Christians unknowingly worship the idol of mammon. In His mercy, the Lord has used the downward spiral of our nation's economy and monetary system to warn us not to trust in uncertain riches but in Him who freely gives us all things to enjoy (see Rev. 3:15-19; Luke 16:13).

Trampling on Serpents

We are destined to trample on serpents and scorpions, crushing Satan under our feet. However, one key element that enables us to triumph over the works of the devil is the depth of our repentance. Only profound repentance for our spiritual complacency and idolatry will cure our spiritual blindness, enabling us to identify the serpents in our lives. No longer ignorant of Satan's devices, we can shake the kingdom of darkness, cause Satan to flee and erect a "No trespassing!" sign on the landscape of our lives.

Jesus gave us the power to overcome the enemy. "Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you" (Luke 10:19, NKJV).

We must become a generation of snake killers because our battle is against principalities, powers, rulers of darkness and spiritual wickedness in heavenly places. As soldiers of the cross, we must exchange our cordial passivity for a violent militancy and remove the heads of the serpents in our lives. Indeed, His power working in us can break any yoke and cut through any chain, and His light in us can overwhelm any depth of darkness.

"For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil" (1 John 3:8).

The snakes we encounter will hiss, coil and strike in fear at the Greater One who lives within us. As we exercise our authority and God-given power, many of these serpents will flee in fear. But what about those serpents who resist and refuse to exit our lives? We must say, "Off with their heads!" (See James 4:7; 1 John 3:8.)


A (Double) Surprise Pregnancy Story

Shane Tarpley writes:

I am reposting this article/ blog that is from a great friend in California. Laura is a very close friend and has experienced the ups and downs of family conception. I am sharing this post from her blog as encouragement and strength to any and all who may have or will face the trials of parenthood and joys of raising a family. She is an excellent and well versed writer. I hope you enjoy today's blog.

Laura Ziesel writes:

Today I have a great guest post to share with you. After my post on The Sorrow of Conception , which mentioned the grief surprise pregnancies can cause, I received this post from a dear friend. Desiring to stay anonymous to the Google-able world, he still wanted to share his story.

He has been married since 2005 to his high school sweetheart. Unbeknownst to family and friends (that was me!), his wife was already pregnant when they got married. He and his wife welcomed their first daughter in 2006 and their second daughter in 2007. Both were surprise pregnancies. And, to top it all off, my friend and his wife were both sophomores in college when they found out they were pregnant with their first daughter. He and his wife have since completed college, work full-time, and lead a youth ministry.

He has some great things to share. I hope you enjoy his story.


What were the fears you felt before having kids?

Where do I start? To say we were scared is a great understatement; we were terrified! Many thoughts raced through our minds, such as: How could we afford it? What would we have to sacrifice in order to care for this baby properly? Do we breast feed or use formula? What about insurance and medical cost, house or apartment, toys, diapers, routine schedule? These were the types of questions that relentlessly raced through our minds.

The biggest thing that stuck out though, above any other question, was this: What would our families think? It meant so much for us to please our families that we were in such despair over the fact that we had conceived against what we had been taught was wrong on so many levels. Obviously the marriage part was not an option at this point. (In our minds, neither was the baby.) We thought we could play it off being that my wife was still so small and fit into her wedding dress. We planned to pretend that we had just gotten pregnant on the honeymoon! Were we ever foolish (this is what sinful thinking does). So that was our first fear: loosing the support of our family.

Our second fear was very much financial. We counted the cost of our marriage way before I had even proposed and found that we had just enough to cover our needs. So now, two months before we were to wed, there was an extra body in the picture. How could we ever afford to get married, much less raise a baby? We moved back home from Atlanta [where they were in college]. We bought a house, which was cheaper per month than renting in Atlanta. We knew that my wife would have to be out of work for quite some time to properly care for the baby, so we started saving every penny would could. We sacrificed family time with parents and grandparents because it meant traveling and spending gas. While we distanced ourselves physically from family, we were very much in touch. They planned grand and elaborate showers, giving us a plethora of supplies. The outpouring of support from our families totally suppressed the first fear, as well as helped alleviate our financial needs.

Our third fear was the fact that we were still so young ourselves. How could we, sophomores in college, even begin to generate the brain waves capable of caring for someone other than ourselves? We, as most new parents or soon-to-be parents are, were very self centered. We very much enjoyed our free time and privacy. Now we had to divide time between husband, wife, and baby!

I will tell you though, as time drew closer to the birth, these fears took a brief hiatus and were supplanted by excitement. It was like waiting for Christmas; the anxiousness of awaiting the arrival of the perfect gift caved in on the fears of being unprepared or irresponsible or financially secure! But, after the baby was born and we settled back into life, our fears returned.

Finding out about our second baby was just as much of a surprise as the first. Although we were more established and meagerly financially stable, we cried again. “It seems like every time we get ahead, something comes and knocks us off” was the rhetoric we used quite a bit. Although many of the same fears resurrected with our second baby, this time there was a new fear: How could I love another child as much as I loved our first? In our oldest daughter’s 22 months of life she wrapped us around her pretty little fingers nearly every time she spoke. Her sweet little voice melted our hearts like a hot knife to butter. Again, the selfish thoughts of sharing my love, now that I had gotten use to sharing with someone other than my wife, was overtaking me. I prayed, fought, and wrestled with the thoughts of how, why again, etc.? But once our second daughter arrived, she was a phenomenal baby. She hardly ever cried except to eat and be changed. This was a great change compared to the first go around.

Did those obstacles actually affect your kids or the quality of your parenting?

Laura, I had to chuckle a bit at this one. The answer is a twofold answer. To answer just yes or just no I would be doing an injustice to you. On one hand, yes, it sure did! The only thing we could focus on for a long time was how little we had: money, time, sleep/rest, etc. We treated our daughter as something that took up time, space, and energy (though we really loved her more than life itself). We had negative attitudes and were insecure about being parents, so we were uptight about anything that anyone said that trampled our efforts of parenting. We began to neglect seeing family and friends for fear of having the “parent police” inspect our every move. So again we feared the judgment others would direct toward us. We did, secretly, take others’ advice, but we never breathed it to them that they were being considered for their recommendations. Pride ate us up like a cancer. We wanted to prove to them that we could handle it when in reality we were sinking faster than the Titanic. Again, sinful thinking creates frustrated lives. Our life was filled with desperation, and when we finally asked for help or advice it was often too late. As an example, our first daughter went through six major ear infections because we neglected to ask the right questions to family, friends, and our doctors. It seemed that we prayed constantly, but in a selfish manner: that God would heal our child, but for our benefit of rest and financial recoup.

I can’t say for certain that our fears positively affected our children or our parenting. I’d like to think that our parenting is improved because we have now learned that the only sure thing is that we are nowhere near perfect parents. Moreover, as hard as it is to swallow and say, we do not have perfect kids either. And that’s freeing.

Did you cling to any Scriptures during both surprise pregnancies and during parenting?

As funny as this may sound, we clung to the scripture of 1 Cor 10:13: “There hath no temptation take you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”

In addition, one of my favorite verses is Rom 8:15-18: “For ye have not received a sprit of bondage again to fear, but a spirit of adoption whereby we cry ABBA FATHER. For the Spirit beareth witness with our spirit that we are the children of God. And if children then heirs, and if heirs of God, joint heirs with Christ. If so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

We have made mistakes, lashed out in anger, and caused fears and frustrations to overtake our marital relationship. We have climbed many hills and fought many battles, but when it was all said and done and the smoke had cleared, we stayed “nearer my Lord to thee” just as the old hymn says. God was our ONLY hope of survival, our ONLY hope of restoration, and our ONLY hope of proper parenting.


God and Gender: It's Really Not Confusing

A Canadian couple’s decision to raise a “genderless” child has perplexed me.

I was scratching my head last week after hearing about the couple from Toronto, Canada, who announced they were going to raise a “genderless” child. Kathy Witterick and David Stocker, parents of two boys named Jazz and Kio, had a third child named Storm on New Year’s Day. Witterick announced to her family last month that she intends to keep the child’s gender a secret and let him/her figure it out on his own.

So far mom and dad have not granted interviews, but the mother said in a letter to the Edmonton Journal, published May 30, that letting Storm determine his/her gender was “a tribute to freedom and choice in place of limitation.”

“Someday soon, Storm will have something to say about it,” the mom added. (And I’m thinking he/she also may grow up resenting its parents for this bizarre decision.)

We know where this line of reasoning came from. We already have laws on the books in several states to protect people who don’t know their gender or who have altered it surgically. In Gainesville, Fla., for example, a man is allowed to use a women’s restroom if he “feels” he is female, regardless of whether he has had a gender-change operation.

Also, some educators have advocated a policy of not telling little boys they are boys and little girls they are girls. They fear this will lead to “gender stereotypes”—such as girls wanting to play with dolls, boys wanting to drive monster trucks and all kids thinking heterosexuality is normal.

So far it doesn’t look like the Canadian couple is setting a popular trend. I doubt parents are going to send their boys to school in pink tights anytime soon. But this decision was made because we live in a time of growing gender confusion. To stay on track we must reclaim some simple principles from Scripture:

1. God created gender. Gender is one of the most fundamental concepts in the Bible. Genesis 1:27 says God created mankind “male and female”—and both genders together reflect God’s divine image. God, who is a spirit, has both masculine and feminine qualities, so when He made mankind He needed men and women to reflect His nature as well as to procreate.

Gender is determined by the foreknowledge of God; it is not our choice. He is the Creator, we are the creature; He is the potter, we are the clay. To say that a child is going to “choose” his/her gender is the ultimate in rebellion against God’s created order.

2. Attacks on gender are ultimately aimed at God. The apostle Paul noted that the reality of God and his power are clearly evident “through what has been made”—the Creation—but that sinful and unbelieving people reject this obvious truth. Romans 1:21 says: “They did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.”

All we know about gender is obvious in nature—and it should be taught at home (as well as in fourth grade health classes). God made males and females, and when they are intimate they often have children. Same-sex couples can’t have children biologically without help from the opposite gender.  It’s a no-brainer. Gender isn’t that difficult to figure out!

It is true that some people develop same-sex attraction, but this is not because God is confused, or because He occasionally creates a male with a female psyche, or because He thinks it will be OK for a certain percentage of men to have a relationship with each other. Homosexuality is just one of many manifestations of the fallen world we live in—and anyone who struggles with sexual brokenness can find healing and freedom in Christ. (And they should be able to find this healing in any church, without fear of judgment.)

3. Children should be taught to embrace their gender, without unhealthy stereotypes. Many modern psychologists think if you reinforce a boy’s masculinity he’ll grow up to be a wife-beater, a rapist or a violent thug. They also oppose teaching a girl to be feminine, lest she grow up to believe all she can do is bake cookies and vacuum.

This was obviously the thinking behind David Stocker’s decision to keep baby Storm’s gender a secret. He said: “What we noticed is that parents make so many choices for their children. It's obnoxious.” Stocker thinks he’s providing freedom to his child by adopting this choose-your-own-gender policy; in the end, what he’s doing could be classified as child abuse.

Proverbs 22:6 says: “Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.” There’s nothing wrong with reinforcing a child’s gender—this will result in emotional health. But in a fallen world where men often oppress women, and where women struggle with their self-worth, we also must train our kids to rise above unhealthy stereotypes.

True masculinity, when transformed by Christ, is not violent or dominating. True femininity is not defined by inferiority, timidity or domesticity. Boys can be trained to be strong yet compassionate gentlemen. Girls can be trained to be confident women of character. And churches can help raise healthy families no matter how confusing our culture becomes.


Advancing Through the Battle

As God’s children, we never have any reason to fear. If we stay close to Him, that will always be true, no matter our circumstances. Our Father is good. Our Father is loving. Our Father is more than we could ever expect. His goodness extends into all areas of life—including the battles we find ourselves in.

When we are attacked, some of us prepare for the long haul. We build fortresses and walls and settle down for a decade-long siege. We do not realize and perhaps aren’t open to the possibility that there is goodness even here, in the midst of hardship.

It can be difficult for us to understand why God is allowing this obstacle, let alone realize it might just be our Father’s doing. Though we are aware of the promise that all things work together for our good (Rom. 8:28), we typically hold this truth at a distance.

Here, however, our thinking needs to change. Every time we are attacked by something, God releases influence in our lives to overcome that attack. This means that we enter painful situations at one spiritual “level,” and, depending on our choices, we exit them at another level. If people attack us, we gain influence with people. If we are demonically attacked, we gain power and authority. From a human perspective, these tests may be painful and chaotic, and many of us run from them. But they are opportunities for promotion.

Stumbling Headfirst Into the Next Level

God’s power is seemingly absent in much of the Western church today. Many of us have been praying for more of His power, but His strength is not something that can just be handed to us. It is not something that comes flippantly or easily. We don’t obtain it with passivity; we earn it through battle—by walking with God through shadowed places and overcoming the things that stand against us. As Jesus said, the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force (Matt. 11:12). If we want more of God’s power in our lives, we can expect conflict.

The question then becomes, What do we really want? Do we want to become champions of the Most High? Do we want to see God’s kingdom come on earth and to experience His power in our everyday lives? Do we want Him?

If the answer is yes, then change is in the air. In most cases, we can expect the road to get a little rocky. We can, actually, expect what many of us are already experiencing—times of intense battle! Herein we find the “battlefield promotions” of God.

That is why times like these are not times for fear; they are times for promotion. The way in which we handle difficulties is the key to our success. If we try to keep doing things our own way, we will stay exactly where we are, following the same road. But if we turn to God and trust Him, He will move on our behalf and help us overcome the darkness.

In the Midst of War

For years, I believed that if God wanted me to do something, I would be able to do it easily. So when the opportunity became difficult, I would quit, thinking God was no longer in it. Yes, sometimes God’s intended path has long, lenient stretches that are wide and flat and simple to navigate. But at this point in my life, I grow a little nervous when something seems too easy. Small battles tend to produce small champions. When given the choice to stay in the melee or run from it, I do my best to pick up my sword and look to God. I have spent far too much time running from my war zone, when there was no reason for it.

We live in difficult times. The world we know is shaking. But when we find ourselves in battle, we can remember that God is releasing influence in our lives to help us overcome that darkness. And afterward, when the dust has settled, we can stand there and experience the wonder that is found in walking hand in hand with Him in the midst of war.


How Can I Recognize a False Teacher?

Jesus warned us that “false Christs and false prophets” will come and will attempt to deceive even God’s elect (Matthew 24:23-27; see also 2 Peter 3:3 and Jude 17-18). The best way to guard yourself against falsehood and false teachers is to know the truth. To spot a counterfeit, study the real thing. Any believer who “correctly handles the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15) and who makes a careful study of the Bible can identify false doctrine. For example, a believer who has read the activities of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in Matthew 3:16-17 will immediately question any doctrine that denies the Trinity. Therefore, step one is to study the Bible and judge all teaching by what the Scripture says.

Jesus said “a tree is recognized by its fruit” (Matthew 12:33). When looking for “fruit,” here are three specific tests to apply to any teacher to determine the accuracy of his or her teaching:

1) What does this teacher say about Jesus? In Matthew 16:15-16, Jesus asks, “Who do you say I am?” Peter answers, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God,” and for this answer Peter is called “blessed.” In 2 John 9, we read, “Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.” In other words, Jesus Christ and His work of redemption is of utmost importance; beware of anyone who denies that Jesus is equal with God, who downplays Jesus’ sacrificial death, or who rejects Jesus’ humanity. First John 2:22 says, “Who is the liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a man is the antichrist—he denies the Father and the Son.”

2) Does this teacher preach the gospel? The gospel is defined as the good news concerning Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection, according to the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). As nice as they sound, the statements “God loves you,” “God wants us to feed the hungry,” and “God wants you to be wealthy” are not the complete message of the gospel. As Paul warns in Galatians 1:7, “Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ.” No one, not even a great preacher, has the right to change the message that God gave us. “If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!” (Galatians 1:9).

3) Does this teacher exhibit character qualities that glorify the Lord? Speaking of false teachers, Jude 11 says, “They have taken the way of Cain; they have rushed for profit into Balaam’s error; they have been destroyed in Korah’s rebellion.” In other words, a false teacher can be known by his pride (Cain’s rejection of God’s plan), greed (Balaam’s prophesying for money), and rebellion (Korah’s promotion of himself over Moses). Jesus said to beware of such people and that we would know them by their fruits (Matthew 7:15-20).

For further study, review those books of the Bible that were written specifically to combat false teaching within the church: Galatians, 2 Peter, 1 John, 2 John, and Jude. It is often difficult to spot a false teacher/false prophet. Satan masquerades as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14), and his ministers masquerade as servants of righteousness (2 Corinthians 11:15). Only by being thoroughly familiar with the truth will we be able to recognize a counterfeit.
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