Conscience … and a Creator

When I was about three or four years old, I remember visiting a home with my mother. She and her friend were in another room, leaving me alone to play. I found a small plastic toy knight that fascinated me. After much deliberation – and checking to be sure I wasn’t being watched – I pocketed it. I took that “treasure” home with me, being careful to not let my mom see it. Problem was, every time I went to play with it, I felt nauseous. There was a nagging feeling on the inside that didn’t go away. I knew stealing that toy was wrong. Oddly, this is one of the very earliest remembrances I have in my life.

It should be noted here that I didn’t grow up in a religious home. But I learned something from that stolen toy. People don’t need to be taught right from wrong. There is an innate sense within us – at least in general terms – of what is right and what is wrong.* This is not a cultural idea. Every culture, no matter how “primitive” or “advanced,” recognizes certain things as right and wrong.

The theory of evolution – the idea that random particles came from nowhere, merged together and now we have life – cannot explain conscience, the sense of right and wrong. But the idea that a Creator made us and implanted an innate sense of right and wrong certainly does.

From my perspective, it takes far more “faith” to believe in evolution than it does to believe in a Creator.

*This is not to imply that we always do right, just that we know what it is. And it should also be understood that it is possible to become numb to that sense of right and wrong if we ignore it again and again.

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Resurrection Day

In his great Day-of-Pentecost sermon, Peter said of Jesus: “God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.” (Acts 2:24)

What an amazing statement. It was not possible for Jesus to be held by death.

In the book of Revelation, Jesus declared: “I am the One who lives; I was dead, but look, I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys to death and to the place of the dead.” (Revelation 1:18-19, NCV)

He was dead, but now He’s alive forever and ever! And the keys of death and hell are in His hands. That should give us hope!

Seven-hundred years before Christ’s visible earthly ministry, Isaiah prophesied, “He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces…” (Isaiah 25:8)

That’s what He did: swallowed up death forever.

Happy Resurrection Day this Sunday!

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No Voice

William Sangster is regarded by many as one of the greatest preachers who ever lived. In the 1940s, his church in London was filled every Sunday morning and evening with over 3000 people per service. That would be a very large church today. Back then, it was nearly unprecedented.

In 1949, Sangster was elected president of the Methodist Conference of Great Britain. During his tenure there, he had a twofold mission: evangelism and spiritual deepening. Sangster drove those two ideas relentlessly.

Toward the end of his life, he was diagnosed with progressive muscular atrophy, an incurable neurological disease.  His daughter wrote, “Gradually his legs became useless and his voice – that melodious organ that had thrilled thousands – went completely. Speechless and helpless, he could still hold a pen.”

And hold a pen – and use it well – he did. One Easter Sunday, as he sat looking out the window, he suddenly began to write on his ever-present note-pad, “It is terrible to wake up on Easter morning and have no voice with which to shout, ‘He is risen!’ but it would be still more terrible to have a voice and not to want to shout.”

May you and I boldly declare the praises of our risen Savior this Easter season.

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Cut Off!

I am deeply concerned by what I see as a growing trend. The very idea of it is enough to cause me to want to shake the offending party and tell them to wake up. It seems to me that this trend is a lie from the very pit of hell.

The trend is believers who declare that they don’t need the Church. “I don’t need others in order to have a relationship with God,” or “Me and my family are fine on our own” are common statements.

In 1 Corinthians 12:18, the Apostle Paul declares strongly, “God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose.” If He arranges us – it’s His choice – then that doesn’t give the indication that we should simply disconnect ourselves, does it?

So many passages point to the fact that God looks at us collectively, as a single Body. Scripture repeatedly declares that we are interconnected – the Body of Christ. We’re not supposed to be a severed finger, a detached kneecap, or a disconnected ear.

The Bible even says that we are “individually members of one another.” (Romans 12:5) You cannot cut yourself off from something to which you are intrinsically attached without doing damage to both yourself and the whole.

We’re designed and arranged by the Lord Himself to be united.

One pastor said it well in our new video series (for more information go to “There’s no such thing as Christianity without community.” He is exactly right.

God designed us – just like a body – to be united.

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Our, Us, We

Do you remember when Jesus’ disciples asked Him to teach them how to pray? (Luke 11:1) Apparently, John the Baptist had taught his followers, and Jesus’ disciples thought they should have a similar lesson. Perhaps they had experienced Him praying, and they wanted to be sure they were doing it correctly.

And think about this scenario from Jesus’ perspective. Asking Him to teach them to pray would be a big question that Jesus would surely use to impart truth to His followers, right?

So, it seems to me that He reveals His heart in His answer.

Think about it. Jesus didn’t tell them to go off on their own and pray what He would teach them. In fact, the very first word – “Our” – indicates that Jesus intended them to be together with others when they prayed. Words like “give us this day…”, “… forgive us our sins as we forgive…”, “lead us not into temptation” and “…deliver us from evil…” show that His teaching was not to be taken individually. The repeated plural phraseology – our, us, we – doesn’t give the impression of an I-me-mine prayer. Jesus clearly was pushing His followers toward togetherness.

That runs totally counter-cultural to our selfish nature and our individualistic society, doesn’t it? But then, so did most of Jesus’ teaching, right?

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Ignore the Side Issues

When Satan offered Jesus “all the kingdoms of the world” (Matthew 4:8-9), Jesus apparently didn’t give it the slightest consideration. And I find it fascinating that Jesus didn’t even question whether the devil had the authority or the ability to make such an offer. He didn’t enter into a dialogue about the idea that was being presented.

I mean, I think that if it was me – I’m very much the inquisitive type and one who has a tendency to get hung up on technicalities – I think there’s a good chance I may have responded with something like, “Well, that certainly is an interesting offer, but are all those kingdoms really yours to give?”

Jesus apparently never went down that road at all. Instead, He looked at the real issue: worshiping the devil.

And, He went right to the heart of the matter: God’s people are supposed to worship and serve only the Lord.

The response became easy by recognizing the real issue. He didn’t need to wonder or ponder. The answer was obvious. Worship the devil? No way!

And, just as He did on the previous temptations, He proclaimed the truth of God’s Word. “It is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’” (Matthew 4:10) Declaring the Word of God was how Jesus handled those types of issues, and it’s how you and I should, too.

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What’s the Higher Truth?

Do you remember in the Bible when Satan quoted Scripture? It was when he was tempting Jesus in the wilderness. And Satan actually quotes the Word of God to the Word made flesh.

The first time I really thought about that it was a bit unnerving: the devil knows the Bible. And he does.

And here’s why this is so important to recognize: if he knows the passages he can twist – to lead you astray in your life – better than you know the truth – and the heart of God behind that truth – you’re going to be in trouble.

And I’m not suggesting that you need to have the entire Bible memorized. But let me make this personal for you.

It seems to me that if I was Satan, I would want to study every believer. I would want to know,

  • What are their weaknesses?
  • What are their greatest areas of vulnerability?

And it should be clear that every person is different. So if I know those things, then I can be more effective in temptations, right?

So, I would suggest that we need to identify and know our own areas of weakness. What are the things that you, personally, struggle with the most? And, once you’ve identified those areas, then you need to study what the Bible says about those things. How can you combat those temptations in the same way that Jesus did?

So, in Matthew 4:5-6, Satan says, in essence, “Go ahead and jump, Jesus. You’re not going to get hurt. After all, the Bible – that You love to quote – says the angels will keep you from harm, right?”

But Jesus is not drawn into the argument. Instead – once again – He simply goes on the offensive. “Jesus said to him, ‘Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” (Matthew 4:7)

It’s interesting – to me, at least – that Jesus does not deny what Satan said about the angels rescuing Him. Instead of quibbling over that point, Jesus simply brings it back to the real heart of the matter: God’s people are not supposed to put Him to the test. And that’s where Jesus takes His stand.

Whether or not the temptation is accurate or not is immaterial. Even if what Satan was saying was true, per se, it’s still wrong. Jesus takes His stand on what He knows to be THE most important truth in this particular matter: Don’t put God to the test.

So, for your life, although it may be true that you struggle in certain areas, the higher truth is what God’s Word says about you.

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