Pastor Mike's thoughts

Thoughts on today's Christian world and how it fits into secular society.

Saturday, September 30, 2006


Galatians 6:1 Brethren, even if a man is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness

Are there any occasions when Christians should confront each other on matters of behavior? Yes. We are required by God to confront and restore those who have clearly violated the boundaries of Scripture (Matthew 18:15, 16). But let me alert you to an important distinction in this area: Discipline is an issue of confronting observed behavior--that which you have personally witnessed (Galatians 6:1); judgment is an issue of character. We are instructed to confront others concerning sins we have observed, but we are not allowed to judge their character (Matthew 7:1; Romans 14:13). Disciplining is our responsibility; judging character is God's responsibility.

For example, imagine that you just caught your child telling a lie. "You're a liar," you say to him. That's judgment, an attack on his character. But if you say, "Son, you just told a lie," that's discipline. You're holding him accountable based on an observed behavior.

Or let's say that a Christian friend admits to you that he cheated on his income tax return. If you confront him as a thief, you are judging his character and that's not your responsibility. You can only confront him on the basis of what you see: "By cheating on your taxes, you're stealing from the government and that's wrong."

Much of what we call discipline is nothing less than character assassination. We say to our disobedient child: "You're a bad boy." We say to a failing Christian brother or sister: "You're not a good Christian." Such statements don't correct or edify; they tear down character and convey disapproval for the person as well as his problem. Your child is not a liar; he's a child of God who has told a lie. Your Christian friend is not a thief; he's a child of God who has taken something which doesn't belong to him. We must hold people accountable for their behavior, but we are never allowed to tear down their character.

Prayimg that we all learn kindness,
Pastor Mike

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Praying like crazy

John 17:1-12

Prayer is the heartbeat of the believer’s walk with God. But we sometimes wonder what kind of influence prayer really has. We ask:

1. If the Lord controls all things, why does He want us to pray? God wants to involve us in the work He is doing; through prayer, we can be part of His plans and purposes. Praying regularly also helps us keep a sense of dependence upon our Father and leads to a deepening relationship with Him. Also, God wants to bring us into agreement with His will. The more our plans line up with His, the more He is able to accomplish in and through our life. In addition, He knows that answered prayer will grow our faith.

2. Would God’s plans fail if we chose not to pray? God is not subservient to us, so His plans are contingent only upon Himself. He works all things after the counsel of His will, not according to our prayers. However, He asks us to communicate in order to include us in His eternal purposes.

3. Does my failure to pray affect my life or anyone else’s? According to Scripture, some things that God has planned to give will be received only if we ask Him (James 4:2). For example, Jesus did not perform many miracles in His hometown because so few people had the faith to ask (Matthew 13:57-58).

Jesus’ actions shows us the place prayer ought to have in the believer’s life. Knowing that God was in perfect control of all things, He consistently went to the heavenly Father in prayer. Will you seek to follow Jesus’ example?

Praying harder by the day,
Pastor Mike

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

How rich are you?

It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God! . . . Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But not with God. Everything is possible with God (Mark 10:25-27, NLT).

In 1923, a very important meeting was held at the Edgewater Beach Hotel in Chicago. In attendance were nine of the world's most successful financiers, men who had found the secret of making money. Now, decades later, let us see what happened to these men.

The president of the largest independent steel company, Charles Schwab, died bankrupt and lived on borrowed money for five years before his death.

The president of the largest utility company, Samuel Insull, died a fugitive from justice and broke in a foreign land.

The president of the largest gas company, Howard Hopson, went insane.

The greatest wheat speculator, Arthur Cotton, died abroad, broke.

The president of the New York Stock exchange, Richard Whitney, spent time in the famous Sing-Sing Penitentiary.

The member of the President's Cabinet, Albert Fall, was pardoned from prison so that he could die at home.

The greatest "bear" on Wall Street, Jesse Livermore, died a suicide.

The head of the greatest monopoly, Ivan Krueger, died a suicide.

The president of the Bank of International Settlements, Leon Fraser, died a suicide.

All of these men learned well the art of making money, but not one learned how to live.

What do you think all this tells us?

Many people search for security and the abundant life through getting money and possessions, through marriage, career, or other intense interests, which can become idols in our lives, which we worship with our time and energy. However, security is found only in a right relationship with our great Creator God and Savior.

Why set affections on the gift rather than on the giver? God alone owns the world. The cattle on a thousand hills are His (Psalm 50:10). He alone can supply our every need (Philippians 4:19). There is no security in any plan which denies God as Lord of our lives and of all that we possess.

"Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth" (Colossians 3:2, KJV).

There's nothing wrong with having money and possesions, but remember that they're a blessing from God, and when we put Him first, then the we'll have true wealth; eternal life. Oh, by the way, money can't buy you that....:)

Praying that we all get rich, in spirit
Pastor Mike.

Monday, September 25, 2006

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. Isaiah 9:2

What is the real reason people don’t come to Christ? The reason people do not come to the light is that they do not want their darkness, their sin, to be exposed. “For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed” (John 3:20).

What is the worst sin you can commit? Murder? Adultery? Stealing? Lying? No. The worst sin you can commit is to say no to God’s offer of forgiveness. Because when you stand before God Almighty on that final day, it is not going to be the sin question, it will be the Son question. By that I mean, God is not going to say, “You did a really great job. I am going to let you in to heaven.” God is not going to say, “You went over your sin quota, and because of that, I’m not going to let you in.” That’s not it at all. It is not a sin issue; it’s a Son issue.

You may have committed sins your entire life and have been a wicked person, but if in the end you were to come to your senses and say, “Jesus Christ, come into my heart and forgive me,” then God would let you into heaven. Because the big issue will be what you did with Jesus Christ.

The only way that we will get into heaven is because of what Jesus Christ did for us. Think of the greatest men and women of God that you know. They are not going to go to heaven because of their accomplishments or because of their gifts. They are going to get there because they accepted what God did for them when His blood was shed at the cross.

We all go to heaven in the same way. And it will be the Son issue in that final day.

Praying that we all find our way to the Kingdom,
Pastor Mike

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Kings and Priests

Revelation 5:10 And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.

The Bible describes two very different roles in the Old Testament-kings and priests. Kings were the rulers; priests were the religious leaders. The New Testament reveals we all are kings and priests because of the redeeming work of Christ.

Today, kings are most often represented by business and political leaders, while pastors represent the priestly roles. God calls each of us to perform both roles in our lives today. However, our vocational roles often create a division that is misunderstood by both the people working in the world as well as their pastors. These misunderstandings have led to a weakened and less effective Church.

Many Pastors have been guilty of viewing the members of their congregations as dollar signs. They sometimes see people for what they can contribute to the ministries of the churc instead of equipping and training them to use their gifts and talents to impact the mission field-their workplace.

On the same token, businesspeople have tried to get pastors to operate their churches like businesses, and have used their worldly ways for spiritual purposes. They often view the pastor as the primary ministry (in many cases, the ONLY ministry member) worker instead of taking on the responsibility themselves to do the work of the ministry.

This is a very sad sin that exists in the Body of Christ, and it requires repentance and change from both groups. Unless we recognize this, we will never see the reality of revival that God wants to bring to the working community, and pastors will fail to gain an ally to fully complete the work of the Church in their community.

Are you a pastor who has failed to see the calling that businesspeople have received to the workplace? If so, ask God to forgive you for viewing your businesspeople as those to be used for your own purposes.

Are you a businessperson who sees your church as another business to be run based on worldly measurements? Do you see the pastor's role as one who is primarily responsible for the work of the ministry? If so, you must repent and ask God to forgive you of this unbiblical view. God has called both of you to fulfill His purposes together through your gifts and talents.

Praying that everybody becomes a minister,
Pastor Mike

Saturday, September 23, 2006


Luke 11:24, 26 When the unclean spirit goes out of a man, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and not finding any, it says, "I will return to my house from which I came." Then it goes and takes along seven other spirits more evil than itself

The Bible does not attempt to prove the existence of demons any more than it attempts to prove the existence of God. It simply reports on their activities as if its first readers accepted their existence. Nor did the early church fathers have a problem with the reality and personality of demons. Origen wrote: "In regard to the devil and his angels and opposing powers, the ecclesiastical teaching maintains that the beings do indeed exist; but what they are or how they exist is not explained with sufficient clarity. This opinion, however, is held by most: that the devil was an angel; and having apostatized, he persuaded as many angels as possible to fall away with himself; and these, even to the present time, are called his angels."

Luke 11:24-26 gives us a helpful view into the personality and individuality of evil spirits. We can glean several points of information about evil spirits from this passage. Demons can exist outside or inside humans. They are able to travel. They are able to communicate. Each one has a separate identity. They are able to remember and make plans. They are able to evaluate and make decisions. They are able to combine forces. They vary in degrees of wickedness.

But you need not fear Satan and his demons as long as you cling to God's truth. Their only weapon is deception. Irenaeus wrote, "The devil . . . can only go to this length, as he did at the beginning, to deceive and lead astray the mind of man into disobeying the commandments of God, and gradually to darken the hearts." If you continue to walk in the light, you don't need to be afraid of the darkness.

Praying for no fear,
Pastor Mike

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The Quest for Happiness

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.” Matthew 5:6

I once saw an interesting program on television about the quest for happiness. People on the street were asked the question, “What is happiness?” One man said, “Happiness is $100 million.” A woman said, “Happiness is more ready cash.” Someone else said, “Happiness is a castle.” Another person said, “Happiness is a private island.”

Then some people who had actually won the lottery were interviewed. But even these winners said that money couldn’t buy them happiness. It could buy them many things, but soon the emptiness came back. Have you ever dreamed about what it would be like to actually win the lottery, to suddenly become a millionaire? When you dream about something, the dream is usually better than the way it is in real life, as those lottery winners discovered. When your dream comes true, it’s not as exciting as you thought it would be.

Like the woman Jesus met at the well in Samaria , we are looking for someone or something to meet the deepest needs of our lives. We are on a search for fulfillment. But there is simply no person and no thing on this earth that will meet our deepest need.

You see, one of the reasons that we keep coming up empty, one of the reasons that these things don’t satisfy, is that we were created to know God. We were created to have a relationship with the One who made us. Therefore, all these other things are just cheap substitutes. They will never measure up. God himself will get to the heart of your problems. God himself will fill that void in your life.

Praying that we all find the true source of joy,
Pastor Mike

Monday, September 18, 2006

Righting Wrongs

John 15:8 By this is My Father glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples

How can you know if you're being led by the Spirit or the flesh? Very simple: Look at your behavior. If you respond to a given situation by exercising love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, you are following the Spirit's lead (Galatians 5:22, 23). If your reactions and responses reflect the deeds of the flesh listed in Galatians 5:19-21, you are following the flesh.

What do you do when you discover you are not walking by the Spirit? Acknowledge it for what it is. You have consciously or unconsciously chosen to live independently of God by walking according to the flesh. Walking according to the Spirit is a moment-by-moment, day-by-day experience. Acknowledge your sin to God, seek the forgiveness of anyone you may have offended, receive forgiveness, and be filled with the Spirit.

Here are a couple of things to consider when you are faced with righting fleshly wrongs.

First, the scope of your confession should only be as broad as the scope of your offense. If you lashed out at a relative with angry words, you need only confess to God and that relative. If you entertain a secret, lustful thought or proud attitude without any overt, offensive behavior, you need only confess it to God. Confession literally means to agree with God. When you recognize an internal fleshly response, immediately acknowledge it in your mind. That's it; just agree with God and walk in the light.

Second, the process of restoring a relationship through confession and forgiveness is a step of spiritual growth. Your role as a spouse, parent, friend, coworker, or fellow-Christian is to model growth, not perfection. If you're trying to keep up a front of Christian perfection in order to encourage saints and win sinners, forget it; it will never happen. But when you openly admit and ask forgiveness for your fleshly choices, you model the kind of spiritual growth which will touch saints and sinners alike.

Praying that we all walk in the Spirit,
Pastor Mike

Sunday, September 17, 2006

One Flock, One Shepherd

John 10:16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to My voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.

I recently heard a story about an experience someone had in Israel. They were in the country visiting some of the famous biblical sites when they saw a group of sheepherders. A shepherd brought his flock of sheep into a round pen for the night. Then, a few minutes later, another shepherd brought his flock into the pen. Then, a few minutes later, yet another shepherd brought his sheep into the pen. There were three groups of sheep in the pen with no identifying marks among any of them. My friend wondered how in the world they would separate their sheep the next day.

The next morning, a shepherd came over to the pen and made a comment to his sheep. One by one, the sheep filed out to follow him. Only his sheep followed his voice. My friend said it was an amazing scene to see only that shepherd's sheep follow him and the others remain in the pen. What a picture of Jesus' words spoken centuries earlier.

Hearing and responding to Jesus' voice is the key to having a two-way relationship with God. It is the difference between having religion and a relationship. Can you recognize God's voice in your life? Are you listening to the Shepherd's voice? Do you respond when He calls? Ask Jesus to help you increase your ability to hear. Give more time to spending quiet moments in His presence to hear His voice. He wants to be your Good Shepherd.

Praying that we all hear "the voice,"
Pastor Mike

Friday, September 15, 2006

All Dressed Up

Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” Colossians 3:12-14 (NIV)

In the South, they have what’s called good “Southern Graces.” These graces, which include hospitality and greeting everyone you pass by, are expected behavior. For example, no matter how old you are in the South, you are responsible to address others with “Miss,” “Mrs.” or” Mr.” Not doing so is considered disrespectful, and a slap in the face to southern heritage.

In our key verse, Paul names some of the “good graces” we are responsible to wear.

Put on tender mercies. Compassion is something we should wear constantly. It’s not something we turn off and on like a TV set. At times, I’m guilty of “turning on” my compassion for strangers faster than I am for my own family. Compassion is an attitude of the heart. It considers others as much as you would yourself, at all times.

Put on Kindness. We have been saved because of God’s kindness through Jesus Christ. In turn, we ought to show kindness to others. King David displays a beautiful picture of kindness. Because of his love for his deceased friend Jonathan, King David chose Jonathan’s crippled son to be part of his own family; the royal family. In a similar way, we are all cripples who are invited through kindness into God’s kingdom and His forever family.

Put on humility. Humility is not seeing yourself as unworthy. It’s having the right estimate of oneself compared to God. I think of Moses. While the people saw Moses call down plagues, part the Red Sea and set the people free, Moses knew who was really doing those things through him and gave God the proper credit.

Put on gentleness. Meekness is not weakness. It’s power under control. A powerful horse whose will has been “broken” is still powerful. He has simply learned to manage his power for good.

Put on patience. Anger can be a sign of holy character, but it’s wrong to get angry over wrong things for the wrong reasons. Patient people have a long fuse, where a short-tempered person flies off the handle quickly. A patient person can put up with unfavorable circumstances, and doesn’t retaliate even when provoked by others. Which kind of fuse do you have, long or short?

Put on forgiveness. It’s not enough for the Christian to be kind, endure sorrow, and not retaliate. The believer must also be willing to forgive. When we fail to forgive, it can set us up to commit other sins. Once we choose to forgive, as an act of obedience, the heart follows and we reflect the image of Christ in our lives.

Put on love. The most important virtue we can put on is love. Love holds all the other graces together and creates a beautiful picture of Christ’s character in us. Love is a sign of spiritual maturity and confirmation that we belong to Christ. We know we belong to God when we have love in our hearts for others. When love rules in our lives, all else falls into harmony.

It’s time to clean out your closet this weekend. Toss out your “grave clothes” and get dressed up in your “grace clothes.” Then, be prepared to receive compliments on your new attire!

Prying that we all get "new clothes."
Pastor Mike

Thursday, September 14, 2006

God Is Good

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28

“If God is so good, why does He allow evil?” This is always at the top of the list of questions about God, along with, “Why does God allow war or tragedy or injustice?” These very questions have a flawed mindset: that we can determine what is good or not good about God. By asking these questions, we're really passing judgment on God.

Let’s just take the basic question that assumes that if God is all-powerful, then He isn’t loving. Or, maybe God is loving, but He isn’t all-powerful. These assumptions place all responsibility for evil on God.

Yes, God could have made a world with no suffering, a world with no pain, a world in which we are all robots. But that isn't what God wanted. He wanted us to make the choice ourselves whether to love Him, so He gave us free will.

When we look at many of the problems in our world today, we can place the blame not on God, but on man. God gave us standards to follow. He gave us laws to govern a society. But what does humanity do? It says we don’t need God. And when we inevitably reap what we sow, we say that God blew it. But we really brought it on ourselves.

In spite of it all, we know that God answers prayer. Sometimes God can use our problems to bring us to Him. God can even use suffering in our lives.

The great hope we have as Christians is that one day, we will be in heaven with Him. So whatever suffering or trials you are facing right now, know that if you are a Christian, God has something good beyond this life for you.

Praying that we all see the silver lining,
Pastor Mike

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Jesus Is the Obly Way

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” John 14:6

We're often asked, “How can you Christians say that Jesus is the only way to heaven? How can you actually make such a statement? That is so narrow. That is so insensitive.”

We live in a multi-cultural society, and I'm glad that people of different cultures, nations, and even religious beliefs can come to this country and practice their faith as they choose to. That is one of the great things about the United States of America .

But this global community says that there really are no differences between us, that we are all one. And this kind of fuzzy, feel-good thinking sometimes finds its way into the church. But let’s not get sucked into this trap in which everything blends together. Let’s remember the unique claims of Christ and statements of the Bible.

The Bible says that Jesus Christ is the only way to the Father. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). He said what He meant and He meant what He said. And if I say anything less, then I am not honestly representing the God who forgave me of my sins.

The Bible teaches that God created man in His own image, loves us, and wants to have a personal relationship with us. The Bible teaches that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, died on the cross for our sins, and if we will turn from our sin and follow Him, then we can be forgiven and know that we're going to heaven. He has given us His message, and we are not to add to it. Nor are we to take away from it. Only through the blood of Jesus, nothing else will do.

Praying that we all know the truth,
Pastor Mike

Odd News Reports.....

*"The license fee for altered dogs with a certificate will be $3 and for pets owned by senior citizens who have not been altered the fee will be $1.50."

*"Dr. Benjamin Porter visited the school yesterday and lectured on 'Destructive Pests.' A large number were present."

*"The sewer expansion project is nearing completion but city officials are holding their breath until it is officially finished."

*"The ladies of the county medical society auxiliary plan to publish a cookbook. Part of the money will go to the Samaritan Hospital to purchase a stomach pump."

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Ten Things We Should Have Learned Since September 11

I know that all of us remember 9/11 very well, but how well do we REALLY remember? It was an event that changed the world, but organizations such as the ACLU have allowed those who seek to do us harm a perfect safe-haven in our own country. Please read the following article I found in Christianity Today regarding what we need to keep in mind as we remember the date that changed our lives. If we think that this is not a conflict between faiths, people, and cultures, then we've already lost.

Speaking Out: Ten Things We Should Have Learned Since September 11, 2001
We can't turn a blind eye to Islam, evangelism, heroism, and our Christian calling.
By Jim Tonkowich |

September 11, 2001, will be among those dates that mark the end of one era and the beginning of a new era. Our culture has not undergone dramatic shifts, but it has changed. Only time will tell the long-term results of the attacks on us as a people and on the history of our nation and the world. Yet even one short year after the event, some lessons and new directions are clear. Ten is, admittedly, an arbitrary number. Think of these as a beginning as you consider the results of the world-changing events on that September morning.

1. We live in a very dangerous world.
On September 11 Americans learned what most people across the world already knew: the world is a very dangerous place. The United States has, in the past, been safe territory. Two broad oceans guard us, and our neighbors to the north and south are unlikely to invade.

Globalization has made global communication and global travel an everyday part of life. Globalization has also created a whole class of what Thomas Friedman calls "super-empowered angry men," who through global communication and global travel have easy access to our country. The terrorist attacks of 9/11 constituted successful acts of war perpetrated in two of our major cities using our own commercial airliners. The violence "over there somewhere" came in the front door.

Because this is a very dangerous world, and because globalization makes the United States vulnerable to super-empowered angry men, we must pay attention to the world. Americans can no longer afford the luxury of not knowing or caring about what goes on beyond our borders. Our lives depend on paying attention to our very dangerous world.

2. The "clash of civilizations" is a fact of life.
There is a naïve and dangerous assumption that other people are just like us. This assumption is wrong. The culture of the West, while no longer Christian, nonetheless springs from the Christian civilization of Europe and still maintains certain values from that civilization. The culture of the Muslim world is radically different and, in fact, opposes the Christian-inspired culture of the West. Muslims take this clash of civilization for granted; we in the West do not.

In his book The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of the World Order, Samuel Huntington writes:

Whatever their political or religious opinions, Muslims agree that basic differences exist between their culture and the Western culture. "The bottom line," as Sheik Ghanoushi put it, "is that our societies are based on values other than those of the West."
For example, we in the West take religious and political freedom for granted. The core of Islamic civilization does not. The very word Islam means submission. Islam is submission to Allah and submission to Allah's law as revealed to humanity through the prophet Muhammad. While Muslim scholars disagree on particulars, Islam is founded on the notion that God has an unchanging will expressed in laws that govern human life. Those laws include stipulations about government and politics and make religion the prominent voice in those areas.

Similarly, that parents approve of their child's choice to be a suicide bomber is not an indication that the parents are unbalanced or immoral. Rather it is an indication that ideas have consequences. The ideas that gave rise to the West are in opposition to those that gave rise to Islamic civilization—we should expect vastly different consequences. A vague cultural ecumenism will not meet the challenge. In the clash of civilizations, we must take sides.

3. We must develop a Christian worldview in order to survive.
In writing about the differences between the Western and Islamic cultures and worldviews, it is very tempting to assume that the Western worldview, derived from Christendom, is synonymous with a Christian worldview. Nothing could be further from the truth. Chuck Colson and other Christian worldview thinkers regularly critique the prevailing secularized and postmodern Western culture and worldview.

Our embrace of multiculturalism and the simultaneous denigration of the structures and values of our own national, political, and religious life will leave us without the intellectual tools and the corporate will to fend off threats like Islam. The often-rapacious commercial culture that feeds our consumerism will continue to make us the enemy of people who, at the same time, feel used by and envious of our way of life. And our willingness to tolerate dictators and gross human-rights violations in order to maintain trade will continue to plague us internationally.

The responsibility of the Christian is to be salt and light to the Islamic world and to the Western world that, while it still maintains vestiges of the Christian past that shaped it, continues to devolve into barbarism. A critical part of being salt and light is our worldview. Christians must develop biblically informed structures of thought and use those to critique and transform Western culture in such a way that it can meet the challenge of Islam.

4. Evil is real.
Following the attacks of 9/11, the morality of the attacks was debated at a major American university. One professor talked about being uncomfortable calling the terrorists evil. "After all," she reasoned, "we've sinned too." A student asked the professor whether the Nazis were evil. She responded, "That's a difficult question."

We in the West have done our best to move "beyond good and evil." Deconstructionism encourages us to believe that there is no good or evil, only power. The therapeutic mindset says that there is only health or disease. Even in the church we refrain from using the word evil, have softened the meaning of sin, and shy away from calling people to repentance.

For most Americans, the terrorist attacks were evil. The moral relativism that was comfortable on September 10 was shown on September 11 to be a sham. Christianity has a theology of evil that explains events like 9/11 and gives the solution for it. Opening eyes to the reality of evil is the Holy Spirit's prelude to opening eyes to the reality of the gospel.

5. Christianity and Islam are not alike.
September 11 sent thousands of pastors running for their files to recover yellowing notes from seminary courses in world missions that explained what Muslims believe. In spite of public assurances to the contrary, Islam and Christianity are not alike.

As Timothy George points out in his book Is the Father of Jesus the God of Muhammad?, Islam and Christianity differ in our doctrine of God (Trinity vs. absolute unity), the incarnation (Jesus as God the Son vs. Jesus as the prophet of Allah), and salvation (by grace through faith vs. by obeying the law).

About salvation, Imam Sa'dullah Khan has written,

Nor do Muslims believe that another person can die to atone for the sins of human beings. Atonement for sins comes from sincere repentance of one's wrongdoings, and salvation lies in submission to the commands of Allah and doing righteous deeds. Islam does not espouse the idea of original sin. Instead, each human being is born free of sin and is individually accountable for the sins he or she commits. Therefore, there was no need for anyone (including Christ) to die on the cross as atonement.
These are not superficial differences that can be easily glossed over in a show of good fellowship and cultural sensitivity. As Lawrence Adams of the University of Virginia and the Center for Christian Study comments, "There is very little common theology between Islam and Christianity, with the exception of God the Creator." This must be kept in mind as we interact with Islam.

6. Islam is more than a religion; it is also a political ideology.
Islam's worldview is utopian. As Imam Sa'dullah Khan said, Muslims do not believe in original sin. Timothy George points out that while the Qu'ran and the Bible agree that there was a fall from the original state of the world in Eden, they mean something different by the fall. The Bible teaches that Adam's sin was rebellion. Knowing perfectly well what was right, Adam chose to do wrong. As a result, Adam's entire race shares a natural distaste for God and his ways. Sin is always rebellion against God, the King whose authority we reject.

By contrast, writes George,

The Qur'an says Adam forgot to walk the right way. Sin is forgetfulness, heedlessness, a failure to remember. This forgetting to obey is the result of inherent weakness, not active rebellion against God. It is a serious breach of the primordial covenant God made with humans, but it need not do any permanent damage. Once Adam repents, as he does, God quickly forgives.
Christians believe rebels need redemption. Muslims believe the forgetful need guidance. They believe that non-Islamic society and non-Muslim religions corrupt humans who, in the right environment, are able to live a good life that is pleasing to Allah. That good life (coupled with fate—even good Muslims have no assurance of Allah's favor) is required for entry into Paradise.

The best way to live a good life is to live in a good society defined as one governed by Shari'ah, the divine Islamic Law. This is an all-encompassing system that controls every aspect of everyday life and it applies to the economic, political, and legal structures of society as well as to everyone's personal life. It is appropriate—one could even say loving—to impose Shari'ah on a society for the temporal and eternal good of its citizens. This ideology is more obvious in radical expressions like the Taliban, but is inherent in all Islam.

7. Christian prison evangelism is vital to homeland security.
Richard Reid, the "shoe bomber," and Jose Padilla, the "dirty bomber," both discovered radical Islam in prison.

Prisons are filled with the angry and disaffected of the society. Because Islam has a strong ideological component, prisons in the United States and in Great Britain are fertile fields for radical, militant Islam. Moderate Muslims have complained that radicals are taking over Islamic prison ministry, replacing moderate literature with calls for Islamic militancy.

As Chuck Colson wrote in the June 24, 2002, Wall Street Journal,

This [radical] understanding of the Qur'an, mixed with inmate resentment, is a lethal combination—and Islam's evangelists for evil know it. Al Qaeda training manuals specifically identify America's prisoners as candidates for conversion because they may be "disenchanted with their country's policies." Terrorism experts fear these angry young recruits will become the next wave of terrorists. As U.S. citizens, they will combine a desire for "payback" with an ability to blend easily into American culture.
Prison officials have a responsibility to protect prisoners and the society and must take steps to exclude radical Imams from prison. Christians must view prison evangelism with a renewed sense of urgency. It is an issue of homeland security.

8. There are still heroes in the world.
The words hero and heroism fell into disfavor in the 1960s. As a college student in the '70s, I remember the pleasure the professor took and we shared when the great heroes of history were, one by one, debunked.

Then, on a beautiful September morning, four teams of terrorists commandeered passenger planes, turning them into weapons. "Ordinary" men and women sprang into action and the most unlikely (from our point of view) heroes emerged. To our credit, once we got over our surprise, we recognized them.

Harvard professor Peter Gibbon defines heroes using three criteria: they accomplish something extraordinary, show moral valor (especially in adversity), and are "great souls" who lift us up through noble example. "Moving away from September 11," says Gibbon, "we understand that our society has been modified, not revolutionized. Celebrities are still with us, politicians are back to squabbling, and disdain for our history persists."

At the same time, we noticed the heroes and that is a positive sign. Small modifications in our thinking eventually add up to real change. A life without heroes is an impoverished life and our new recognition of heroes and heroism is a step in the right direction.

9. We are at war with militant Islam.
Eliot Cohen wrote in the November 20, 2001, Wall Street Journal, "The enemy in this war is not 'terrorism' … but militant Islam." Salman Rushdie similarly countered the oft-repeated claim that, "This isn't about Islam" in The New York Times shortly after the attacks: "Of course this is 'about Islam,'"—a paranoid Islam "which blames outsiders, 'infidels,' for all the ills of Muslim societies."

The same minds that send children into hotels in Jerusalem to serve as incendiary devices to kill grandmas and grandpas at a Seder will not hesitate to do the same thing at a birthday party or bar mitzvah at the local Holiday Inn.

We protest that we have nothing against these people. We would rather not fight them. Yet the glaring fact remains: proponents of radical Islam have declared war against us. As a Holocaust survivor is reported to have said, "If somebody tells you he's going to kill you, it's best to believe him." Like it or not, we are at war with an enemy who wants to kill us and must be defeated.

10. We are still called to love our enemies.
Roger Scruton, in his book The West and the Rest, argues correctly that regardless of what someone believes about the historicity of Jesus or the veracity of Christian theology, Christianity holds forgiveness as one of its moral values. "One must recognize," he writes, "that the idea of forgiveness, symbolized in the Cross, distinguishes the Christian from the Muslim inheritance." Forgiveness springs from love and breaks the endless cycle of violence that explodes out of revenge. Christians are called to love and forgive as we have been loved and forgiven. God loved us and sent his Son to die for us when we were his enemies. We are called to the same attitude.

Love and forgiveness even apply to war. The aim of a just war—the only sort of war a Christian may wage—is saving the lives of the innocent victims of future attacks and bringing peace. This is a vision of war developed by Christians, and it is significant that when Thomas Aquinas discussed just war in the Summa Theologica, he did not do so in the section about justice. Instead, it is in the section about love, specifically the love of God. Darrell Cole, visiting instructor in religion at the College of William and Mary, wrote in the October 2001 issue of First Things, "Just soldiering … is something Christians ought to do out of love for God and neighbor, and thus it is the most 'human' thing we can do in certain circumstances." When struck, we are commanded to turn the other cheek, but when an innocent is struck, we must never turn the innocent's other cheek. We are bound by love to defend the innocent, even if that requires us to resort to deadly force.

At the same time, our conduct of war and the way we comport ourselves in victory can reflect care, concern, mercy, and grace—a love—for our enemies. This is the Christian ideal in the face of our adversaries.

Moving Together into Victory

2 Peter 1:3-11 "make every effort to add to your faith ... self-control ..." (vv. 5-6)

God is willing to do His part in helping you in this battle with evil thoughts - but you must be willing to do yours. There's a teaching in some Christian circles that if we discover a need for change in our lives, we should passively wait upon God until He accomplishes it. It sounds so spiritual, but actually it borders on a very profound error.

A Christian man once said: "I would like to be free from a certain sin I'm involved in, but I find I'm powerless to break away from it." I asked him what he expected to happen in order for him to find a way out of his situation. He said, "I expect God to take away the desire for this sin and therefore set me free." He was saying, in effect, "God is responsible for delivering me, and my task is to wait passively until He does it." That view is unbiblical - and what's more, it doesn't work.

Although deliverance comes from God, we're the ones who carry it out. Let that sink in! The principle is this - you supply the willingness, and God will supply the power. Do you really want to win this battle against evil thoughts? If do, then you can. Show God you mean business by putting the Biblica principles you've learned throughout your lifetime into practice, and you will pave the way for His incredible power to work in and through you. Once you've done this, life's stuggles and evil thoughts will never be able to break you again. Here, too, you can become strong at the broken places.

Praying that we all become more aggresive for Jesus,
Pastor Mike

Saturday, September 09, 2006

The Finger of God

Exodus 31:18 When the Lord finished speaking to Moses on Mount Sinai, He gave him the two tablets of the Testimony, the tablets of stone inscribed by the finger of God.

Throughout the Bible, the word testimony is used in many ways. Testimony comes from the Hebrew word eduwth, which means "witness." The Ark of the Covenant contained the Ten Commandments, written and inscribed personally by God and given to Moses on Mount Sinai. These became known as the testimony. The ark was a divinely inspired structure that was to be used as a witness to the people of Israel and the whole world of God's power and majesty. These divinely created tablets were a witness of God's activity on earth with man.

Throughout the Bible, God looked to create testimonies with His people. At the Red Sea, He created a testimony through Moses. God created a testimony through Joshua when He parted the Jordan River and allowed the people with the Ark to cross on dry land. When Lazarus lay dead for days, Jesus came and created a testimony of His ability to raise the dead.

Jesus is still looking for those who are willing to have a testimony created through their lives. One of the major characteristics of a God-ordained testimony is for something to happen that cannot be explained in the natural. In other words, if you can make it happen through your abilities, it is not a testimony about God, but about you.

God wants to create a testimony in every aspect of your life-your family, your work, your church, and in your community. He is waiting to put His finger on your next endeavor to reveal His power through your life. Look carefully at the events where God might want to create a testimony out of an impossible situation. He delights in using His people for this purpose because it brings Him glory.

Praying that we all see God's hand at work,
Pastor Mike

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Locked from the Inside

“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.”—Matthew 7:13

There was a certain judge known as Hanging Bob, because he handed out such stiff penalties for those who broke the law. One day, his son was arrested for drunken driving. The courtroom was filled with people who wanted to see if Hanging Bob would be consistent in the way he meted out justice. A hush fell across the room as Hanging Bob pounded down his gavel and said, “Guilty.” Just as he always did, he had given out the harshest penalty.

But then that same judge laid down his gavel, took off his robe, and came down from the bench. He turned to the courtroom and said, “As a judge, I have done my job and enforced the law. Now, as a father, I will pay the fine for him.”

God, in His justice, gave us the standard: When we sin, we break God’s law and have to face the penalty. But the same God sent His Son to die on the cross—to be tortured and killed—because His righteous requirement had to be dealt with. God said, “Though you are the offender, though you deserve what you would get, I love you so much that I placed the penalty upon My Son. Now He has paid the price. If you will turn to Me by faith, realize that My Son died for you, and will follow Him, then you can join Me in heaven.”

But if you reject God’s gracious offer, if you turn your back on His forgiveness, then you have charted your own course. And as C. S. Lewis said, the gates of hell are locked from the inside.

Praying that we realize what Jesus did,
Pastor Mike

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Moving Together into Victory

For reading & meditation - 2 Peter 1:3-11"... make every effort to add to your faith ... self-control ..." (vv. 5-6)

God is willing to do His part in helping you in this battle with evil thoughts - but you must be willing to do yours. There is a teaching in some Christian circles that if we discover a need for change in our lives, we should passively wait upon God until He accomplishes it. It sounds so spiritual, but actually it borders on profound error. A Christian man once said to me: "I would like to be free from a certain sin I am involved in, but I find I am powerless to break away from it." I asked him what he expected to happen in order for him to find deliverance. He said, "I expect God to take away the desire for this sin and thus set me free." He was saying, in effect, "God is responsible for delivering me, and my task is to wait passively until He does so." That view is unbiblical - and what is more, it doesn't work. Although deliverance comes from God, we are the ones who carry it out. Let that sink in! The principle is this - you supply the willingness, and He will supply the power. Do you really want to win this battle against evil thoughts? If so, you can. Show God you mean business by putting the principles you have learned this week into practice, and you will pave the way for His miraculous power to work in and through you. Once you have done this, life's oppressive and evil thoughts will never be able to break you again. Here, too, you can become strong at the broken places.

Praying for you all,
Pastor Mike

Tuesday, September 05, 2006


Proverbs 4:23 Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life

Your emotions are to your soul what your physical feelings are to your body. Nobody in their right mind enjoys pain. But if you didn't feel pain, you would be in danger of serious injury and infection. And if you didn't feel anger, sorrow, joy, etc. your soul would be in trouble. Emotions are God's indicators to let you know what is going on inside. They are neither good nor bad; they're amoral, just part of your humanity. Just like you respond to the warnings of physical pain, so you need to learn to respond to your emotional indicators.

Someone has likened emotions to the red light on the dashboard of a car which indicates an engine problem. There are several ways you can respond to the red light's warning. You can cover it with a piece of duct tape, "I can't see the light now," you say, "so I don't have to think about the problem." You can smash out the light with a hammer. "That'll teach you for glaring in my face!" Or you can respond to the light as the manufacturers intended for you to respond by looking under the hood and fixing the problem.

You have the same three options in responding to your emotions. You can respond by covering over them, ignoring them, stifling them. That's called suppression . You can respond by thoughtlessly lashing out, giving someone a piece of your mind, flying off at the handle. I call that indiscriminate _expression . Or you can peer inside to see what's going on. That's called acknowledgment. The decision is your.

Praying that we all respond to what God has given us,
Pastor Mike

Monday, September 04, 2006

Are you a risk taker?

Hebrews 11:33, 34. . . Who by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong

Is faith a risk? Of course. But failing to step out in faith is to risk missing real life. I have been challenged by the following thought from an unknown author.


To laugh is to risk appearing the fool.

To weep is to risk appearing sentimental.

To reach out for another is to risk involvement.

To place our ideas, our dreams, before a crowd is to risk their loss.

To love is to risk not being loved in return.

To live is to risk dying.

To hope is to risk despair.

To try is to risk failure.

Risks must be taken because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing. The person who risks nothing does nothing, has nothing, is nothing. He may avoid suffering and sorrow, but he simply cannot learn, feel, change, grow, love . . . live. Chained by his certitudes, he is a slave; he has forfeited freedom.

What a privilege for us to be able to walk by faith in God Himself, armed with all the promises of His Word. I suppose we all desire the security of the solid tree trunk, but the fruit is out on the limb. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. The timid soul asks, "What do I stand to lose if I do it?" The fruit-bearing Christians asks, "What do I stand to lose if I don't do it?" Real life is lived on the cutting edge.

Praying that we all take action for Jesus,
Pastor Mike

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Go to where?

Proverbs 8:13 The fear of the Lord is to hate evil; pride and arrogance and the evil way, and the perverted mouth, I hate.

Charles Spurgeon, the famous evangelist and theologian, was teaching young men in seminary how to preach. He told them, "Gentlemen, when you speak of heaven, let your face be all aglow and smiling and lifted up and brilliant and let it be unashamed when you speak of heaven. But when you speak of hell, any old face will do." He was on target. It's too bad we don't have one of the great, old Puritan preachers to come visit our churches more often to present some fiery sermons about hell.

Here's what one of them wrote about hell:

There is no way to describe hell. Nothing on earth can compare to it. No living person has any real idea of it. No mad man in the wildest flights of insanity ever beheld its horror. No man in delirium ever pictured a place so utterly terrible as this. No nightmare racing across a fevered mind ever produced a terror to match that of the mildest hell. Let the most gifted writer exhaust his skill in describing the roaring caverns of unending flame and he would not even come close to the nearest edge of hell. Hell was originally created for the devil and his demons, not Little wonder there is great joy in heaven over one sinner who repents. He is saved, redeemed, rescued. It makes the hearts of heaven glad.

I wonder what would happen if we could visit hell for just 10 seconds? I think it would change our perceptions of life, sin and evil. And I think it might just motivate us to share the good news about Jesus Christ's redeeming work on the cross with anyone who would listen.

Once again, just thinking out loud,
Pastor Mike

Saturday, September 02, 2006

The true meaning of unity!

John 17:23 I in them and You in Me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that You sent Me and have loved them even as You have loved Me.

A story is told about F.B. Meyer, the great Bible teacher and pastor who lived a century ago. He was pastoring a church and began to notice that attendance was suffering. This continued until he finally asked some members of his congregation one Sunday morning why they thought attendance was down.

A member volunteered, "It is because of this new church down the road. The young preacher has everyone talking and many are going to hear him speak."

His name was Charles Spurgeon. Meyer, rather than seeking to discourage this, exhorted the entire congregation to join him and go participate in seeing this "move of God" as he described it to his congregation.

"If this be happening, then God must be at work."

Meyer, even though he was an accomplished preacher and teacher, recognized where God was at work and joined Him in it.

Can you imagine this story taking place in our competitive world today? Competition has penetrated the Church so much that many churches and Christian organizations approach ministry like a sports event. They view their mission as a business that seeks to gain market share among Christians-donors, members, influence-all under the name of God. I am sure God looks down at us and asks, "Whatever happened to John 17:23?" Sometimes we must remind our fellow servants that we are all on the same team! We should be seeking to impact the Kingdom of God, not increase our own market share.

When Jesus made this statement about unity in John 17:23, it represented the key to bringing salvation to many. He was saying that when His Body is unified, the non-Christian would be able to see who Jesus really is-the Son of God. Are you contributing to unity in the Body of Christ? Or are you contributing to a spirit of competition? Ask God where you can be an instrument of unity in His Body.

Preying that we grow for Christ, and not recognition,
Pastor Mike

Friday, September 01, 2006

Rightrous anger

1 Samuel 11:6 When Saul heard their words, the Spirit of God came upon him in power, and he burned with anger.

There are occasions when righteous anger is justified by God. It's a type of anger that doesn't lead to sin, but fulfills God's purposes.

Saul had just been crowned as the new king of Israel. His first battle was upon him, and he had to bring a new nation together to fight the Ammonites. The Spirit of God fell on Saul and resulted in righteous anger against God's enemies. God led him to send an unusual "direct-mail" package to all the regions where the people lived. He cut up pieces of oxen and sent the pieces throughout Israel with a warning-"Join the army or your oxen will be as these!"

Sometimes God uses strong measures to accomplish His purposes. In this case, fear and intimidation were used to motivate the army of God to be as one. God must have felt this is what was needed to drive this army to become a unified force.

God knows the only way to achieve success is if the army is one. A house divided cannot stand. What will it take to unify your company, your church, and your family to be one? Unless you are one, you cannot win the battles you will face. Ask God to make you and those you walk with to be one in mission and one in spirit.

Praying for the right anger,
Pastor Mike