Category Archives: Pastor to Person

False Teachers

Wolf Sheep…there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. (2 Peter 2:1)

I’m a little hesitant to talk about this subject, because there are some who go way beyond what the Scripture talks about, to the point where everybody else (except them) is a false teacher.  To be honest, you can find something wrong in anyone who opens their mouth to teach.

Some of us are a little naïve in thinking that anyone who has the label “Christian” attached to them is okay, and we should just blindly follow whatever a “Christian” teacher might say.  The truth is, there are false teachers in the world.  Peter said that they would exploit people with deceptive words (2:3).  He said that they will one day face God’s judgment for their deception (2:9).  Peter characterized them as “self-willed” and full of lust (2:10).  He said they would talk about things that they simply don’t understand (2:12).  He said they would have eyes full of adultery (2:14), and be greedy for money (2:15).  And worse yet, they would entice those who have actually begun to follow Christ, and lead them away from God and into fleshly sin (2:18).

My friends, God cares that you have the correct ideas about Him.  God cares that you trust in Jesus.  God cares that you turn from your sin and follow after godliness.  God does not want you following anyone who tells you otherwise.  Keep your eyes open.

Easy

EasyThis week’s Pastor to Person was written by Dave Dunagan:

As we walk through our lives, wouldn’t it be great if there was such a thing as a Christian “easy” button?  Every time we begin to struggle or doubt, all we would have to do is reach into our pocket, pull out our “easy” button, and push it. Then everything would be “perfect”. All our evil thoughts would disappear. All our temptations would suddenly be gone.  We would have strength, boldness and wisdom available to us on a daily basis. God would be so close to us. It would be great!

Alas, life is not so simple. Many times, it’s the poor choices we personally make that cause us the greatest problems. In James 4:7-8, I find the closest thing to an “easy” button. James tells us “7 So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world.” (NLT)

Sometimes, making changes in our lives is as easy as turning around and walking away from evil and toward God. The Lord has promised us that as we draw near to Him, He will draw near to us. And as we do, those things in our lives that cause us to stumble will begin to fade. Beloved, seek the Lord, don’t lose sight of Him. Tribulations will come, but as we keep our eyes on Jesus, He will give us peace and strength, and the path before us will become easier.

Difficult Truth

CautionJeremiah probably wasn’t considered the most “popular” of people in his day.  He lived during the time just prior to the fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonians.  His calling in life was to warn the nation of the coming judgment and to encourage them to change their ways.  The problem is, if your “message” isn’t always “nice” and “positive”, some people will get offended.  “But as soon as Jeremiah finished telling all the people everything the Lord had commanded him to say, the priests, the prophets and all the people seized him and said, “You must die!” (Jeremiah 26:8)

There are going to be times in life where we are going to be faced with the same kind of choice that Jeremiah faced.  Are we going to keep our mouths shut and not rock the boat, or are we going to speak up and tell the truth.  I have to admit that often I’m more than reluctant to be a boat rocker.  Yet, sometimes the truth is a bit more important than whether or not people like us.  If your child wants to play basketball on the 57 freeway, are you going to keep silent just so they will still “like” you?  I’m not saying we need to be negative all the time.  Some people seem to think they’re called to be critics, and that’s not always helpful either.

Some of us are the recipients of “difficult truth”.  Someone has said something that has hurt our feelings.  We get upset and want to lash out, or run away and hide.  Be careful my friend.  If this “difficult” thing is true, it’s something you want to pay attention to.  The people of Jerusalem blew Jeremiah off when they should have listened.

He gets it

LonelyOur Jesus is certainly the most interesting person there ever was.  Sometimes we like to focus on the fact that He is indeed God. He is truly, fully God.  Yet, He is also human.  He isn’t just partly human, He is fully human.  The writer to the Hebrews records, “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15).

Why is this a big deal?  Some of us from time to time fall into the trap of thinking that no one understands us.  And there indeed may be times when those in our immediate company do not get the difficulty we’re in, or the struggle we’re facing.  We start singing that old spiritual, “Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen”, and we sing it over and over and over.  Our funk grows larger, and the pit we’re in seems to get deeper.

But the honest truth, friend, is that somebody DOES know the trouble you’ve seen.  Not only does Jesus know about you because He is God and sees and knows everything, but Jesus also “gets it”.  Two thousand years ago He took on human flesh and was faced with the same troubles and temptations that we face.  He “gets it”.  He “gets” you.  He has compassion.  He understands.

You are not alone dear friend.  Even though some of us may let you down from time to time, Jesus will not let you down.  “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).

No one else

No One ElseThere will be a day when the entire world will turn against God’s chosen people, the nation of Israel.  There will be no friends and no allies to rely upon.  It will be a time when the antichrist will pour out his forces to destroy the people of Israel (Rev. 12:15-16).  In that day, God has something to say.  Isaiah recorded it.  “I looked, but there was no one to help, and I wondered that there was no one to uphold; therefore My own arm brought salvation for Me; and My own fury, it sustained Me” (Isaiah 63:5).

No one will stand for Israel.  No one will defend God’s people.  But they will not be abandoned.  God will step in and save them.  This is when Jesus returns and defeats the armies of the antichrist.  Isaiah recorded that He will come with “fury”.  Like someone who messes with a mother bear’s cubs, you don’t want to be messing with God’s people.

There is a great lesson here for us as well, beloved.  There are going to be times when it seems as if no one will help us.  It will seem as if even our friends have turned their backs on us.  David wrote, “When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take care of me” (Psalm 27:10).

When it seems there is no help available, there is a place to turn.  When God is for you, who can be against you?  There is no one else who loves you like God.  No one else.

If you love me …

Nail in handsWe have these little formulas concocted in our heads that go something like this, “If you love me then you will…”  We apply these formulas to our relationships and think that if the other person truly loves us, then they will act or behave a certain way.  Some of those ideas are correct, but some of them are quite flawed.  Too often our “love formulas” are simply selfish, based on what I’m going to get out of the deal.  A guy pushes his girlfriend to go farther than she wants.  A gal pushes her sweetheart into buying too many expensive gifts.

When it comes to God, sometimes the little formula in our head goes something like this:  “If You love me, then You will make my life easy.”  We might not say those exact words to God, but when circumstances get difficult, we begin to wonder if God loves us or maybe has forgotten us.

God spoke through Isaiah, “Can a woman forget her nursing child, and not have compassion on the son of her womb? Surely they may forget, yet I will not forget you. See, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands; your walls are continually before Me. (Isaiah 49:15–16)

You may think that because of some recent experience in your life that God has forgotten about you, but you would be wrong.  You might think that because something has turned painful in your life that God no longer loves you, but you would be wrong.

You may not understand why things happen like they do, but He has not forgotten you.  Your name is inscribed on His hands.

Drought

DroughtHere in Southern California we are going through the worst drought in recent history.  You see once green lawns starting to turn brown.  Flowers are withered.  When I’m out on my morning walk and I see clouds up in the sky, I think, “Is today the day?”

God’s people are promised a day when there will be rivers flowing in the desert.  We are promised a day when dry ground bubbles up like a spring.  And yet to be honest, sometimes that’s not the way things are now.  What do we do when we are living in a drought?

Isaiah wrote of a day when Jesus would return, a day when drought is turned into showers of blessing.  Isaiah wrote of what to do until that day comes.  Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. (Isaiah 35:3). Weak hands are those that tend to let go of what they are to be doing.  If you are tempted to let go of things, work at strengthening your grip.  Feeble knees want to make you stop walking. If you are tempted to just stop moving altogether, start getting your knees back in shape so you can walk again.

Isaiah goes on to record, Say to those who are fearful-hearted, “Be strong, do not fear! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God; He will come and save you.” (Isaiah 35:4)

My friend, we don’t need to be afraid because the rain is coming.  Even better, the King is coming.  Don’t let go.  Keep moving forward.

Be Prepared

Boy ScoutThe Boy Scout motto is simple, “Be Prepared”.  That’s a great lesson to learn in life.  When you know that something is coming around the corner, you will do much better if you are “prepared” for it. When you’re at the end of the semester and your final is two weeks away, it’s a good thing to study and “be prepared”.  Before you get married, premarital counseling is a great way to “be prepared”. In the reality of an uncertain economy, having some money put away in the bank for that rainy day is a good thing because it’s good to “be prepared”.

During one of the darker times in Judah’s history, the growing empire of Assyria was swallowing up cities and nations left and right.  They had already taken away Judah’s neighbors to the north, Israel and Syria.  The little nation of Judah was the next target for the Assyrians, and so the nation did what was responsible, they got prepared.  They built up their nation’s military strength.  They fortified the walls of Jerusalem, even tearing down some of the houses in order to use the stones to strengthen the walls.  Isaiah writes, “You built a reservoir between the two walls for the water of the Old Pool, but you did not look to the One who made it, or have regard for the One who planned it long ago” (Isaiah 22:11).

As you are learning to do the responsible things of life, don’t forget God’s word to Judah.  Make sure that God is a part of your preparation.  Include Him in your plans.  Asking for His help is the first step to “be prepared”.

Mud

Mud…and find out what pleases the Lord. (Ephesians 5:10)

We certainly live in a dark world.  Society all around us seems bent on stirring up all the wrong kinds of passions in people.  TV, movies, and the internet are just some of the many ways that filth is pumped into our already corrupt culture.  It’s almost like there’s one of those giant mudslides filling the street outside your house, sweeping away everything in its path.  Anyone who dares step their foot into that flow runs the risk of getting caught up and swept away.

It’s into this dark world that God shined a light, the light of God’s grace.  When we opened our heart to God and cried out to Him for help, He rescued us from that mudslide.  We are learning that we also need to keep clean on a daily basis, because even the best of us still get dirty.  We’re learning that the best kinds of cleansing showers come with prayer, meditating on God’s Word, and hanging out with other believers.

Yet that mudflow continues to move right outside your front door.

My friends, be careful of getting too enamored with mud.  Don’t try looking for the “health benefits” of mud.  It might look a little harmless at first, and then you get caught again in that relentless flow that drags people into hell.  We have plenty of things to get involved with that don’t involve that mudflow.  Learn how to discover the things that “please” the Lord.  It’s really not that hard.  Be a light in this dark world.  And don’t forget to rinse off from time to time.

Little Foxes

Little FoxThe Song of Solomon is an amazing piece of Hebrew love poetry. It deals with love on so many levels – romance, friendship, sex, and perhaps even paints a picture of God’s relationship with His people.  It is filled with metaphors that would make some blush, as well as practical tips to keep love alive and flourishing. One such tip is a warning: “Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom” (Song of Solomon 2:15 NIV).

Ancient Greeks called foxes “bushy tailed vermin that plunder the vines”.  Yet, Solomon’s warning isn’t for just any fox, it’s the “little” foxes we ought to be concerned about.

In the context of a love poem, the vineyard might be a picture of the relationship between the lovers.  There are times in any relationship when we wrestle with “big” issues.  We might look at the little foxes and think they are nothing more than a cute little nuisance, at least compared with the big problems we might face.  I’m not suggesting that we ignore the big problems.  Yet, perhaps just catching and removing a few of the smaller issues could change the whole atmosphere of a relationship, one from striving against each other to working together.

That little fox might be a little bit of bitterness.  It could be letting your mind wander just a little too much in unhealthy places.  It could be refusing to accept a small flaw in your partner.  It could be a little bit of jealousy.  Catch that little fox and toss it over the fence.