Anthropomorphizing God

wilson-cast-awayThere are many dangerous things Christians like to do. One of them is to anthropomorphize God.

Anthropomorphize: (verb) to attribute human form or personality to things not human

And so often, in our quest to understand God’s nature and character, we compare him to us, even though the bible says very clearly in Numbers 23:19 that “God is not a man.”

Case in point: “God is your heavenly Father.” And the way we explain this is by saying things like, “So God is kind of like your dad” (or worse, “So God is kind of like you”).

Now, to be fair, we do say that God is better than our human dads. But still, we often start with ourselves. We tell people to look at their human parents, and then move the goodness bar a little higher, and eventually you’ll get to God.

But we have things entirely backwards. We were never supposed to anthropomorphize God. To say “He’s like us, only better” is to grossly understate how good and infinite and perfect He actually is.

We should never anthropomorphize God; rather, we should dei-pomorphize us.

Dei-pomorphize: (verb) to attribute Godly form or personality to things not God

When it comes to fatherhood, we shouldn’t say,

“Well, you’re a father, and you love your kids and provide for them and try your darndest to be fair and teach them how to live. Sure, you make mistakes, but all in all you’re pretty good. But God is better.”

We should say,

“God is perfect. He is holy. He never lies. He leads flawlessly. He always knows what to do. No weapon formed against His kids prospers. He supplies all of their needs. He teaches us all things. And He does all things well. He’s also your Heavenly Father. Therefore, earthly fathers, be more like the perfect Father.” (By the way, Matthew 5:48 says you can be perfect like the Father, so this isn’t an entirely ridiculous expectation.)

I mean, I am just a father. He is The Father. That means He’s the measuring rod, not me. When we anthropomorphize God, we allow ourselves to stay in the same place while bringing Him down to our level. But when we dei-pomorphize ourselves, we elevate God to the highest place while striving to get closer and closer to him.

And this works across the board. We are told tolove our wives as Christ loved the church.” When we use the love of Jesus as the standard in our marriage, we have no choice but to work harder, get better, and love greater.

We are told to live the characteristics of the Holy Spirit: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.” These aren’t merely human qualities; they are attributes that God Himself possesses, and that can only be lived by the power and strength of the Holy Spirit.

So fathers: be like God. After all, He is THE Father. Raise your kids like God would raise them.

Husbands: love your wives like Christ loves you. I know, I know. That’s a tall order, but hey, God told you to do it, which means it’s possible.

And Christians: every single day, let every single characteristic of God, be it love, patience, or peace, shine brightly and obviously through your life for the whole world to see.

That’s how we’ll change the world.

“…the Love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, who was given for us.” (Romans 5:5)


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Name It and Claim It

name it and claim itThere are Christians who believe that God answers prayers asked in faith, be it for salvation, healing, provision, or anything else.

I happen to be one of them.

This usually leads to my being labeled as a “name it and claim it” Christian (or “blab it and grab it”).

I’m not really sure how I should feel about this label. After all, it is meant pejoratively. And the bible never uses the phrase, “name it and claim it.”

But there are a number of phrases the bible does use, and I prefer to identify myself by those.

Here they are.

Some Guy: “Are you a ‘name it and claim it’ Christian?

My epic response: “No, I am a…

  1. You shall have whatsoever you say’ Christian (also known as a ‘Mark 11:23’ Christian)
  2. These signs shall follow them that believe’ Christian (also known as a ‘Mark 16:17’ Christian)
  3. Ask and you shall receive’ Christian (also known as a ‘Matthew 7:7’ Christian)
  4. Promises of God are Yes and Amen’ Christian (also known as a ‘2 Corinthians 1:20’ Christian)
  5. He is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that I ask according to the power in me’ Christian (also known as an ‘Ephesians 3:20’ Christian)
  6. God shall do as I have spoken’ Christian (also known as a ‘Numbers 14:28’ Christian)
  7. I have been redeemed from the curse’ Christian (also known as a ‘Galatians 3:13’ Christian)
  8. The Lord is my healer’ Christian (also known as a ‘Exodus 15:26’ Christian)
  9. He sent His Word and healed my disease’ Christian (also known as a ‘Psalm 107:20’ Christian)
  10. He has freely given us all things’ Christian (also known as a ‘Romans 8:32’ Christian)
  11. The prayer of faith shall save the sick’ Christian (also known as a ‘James 5:15’ Christian)
  12. God gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they are’ Christian (also known as a ‘Romans 4:17’ Christian)
  13. He has given us exceedingly great and precious promises’ Christian (also known as a ‘2 Peter 1:4’ Christian)
  14. I am a partaker of the divine nature’ Christian (also known as a ‘2 Peter 1:4’ Christian)
  15. Life and death are in the power of the tongue’ Christian (also known as a ‘Proverbs 18:21’ Christian)
  16. God shall supply all my need’ Christian (also known as a ‘Philippians 4:19’ Christian)
  17. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons’ Christian (also known as a ‘Matthew 10:8’ or ‘Luke 10:9’ Christian)
  18. No weapon formed against me shall prosper’ Christian (also known as an ‘Isaiah 54:17’ Christian)
  19. Go in peace, thy faith has healed you’ Christian (also known as a ‘Matthew 9:22’ or ‘Mark 5:34’ or ‘Mark 10:52’ Christian)
  20. Nothing shall be impossible for you’ Christian (also known as a ‘Matthew 17:20’ Christian)

So there you have it. If you are tired of the stigma attached with ‘name it and claim it’ or ‘blab it and grab it,’ here are twenty alternatives you might prefer, straight from over twenty verses from the Law, the Prophets, the Gospels, and the Epistles.

Then after you’ve established that your stance is based on scripture, you could ask them if they are one of the following (not that I condone name-calling, but these seem apt to describe them):

  • Disbelieve it and don’t receive it’ Christian (Mark 6:5-6)
  • I am the Lord, but guess what? I’ve changed’ Christian (Malachi 3:6)
  • Jesus is the same yesterday, today, but definitely not tomorrow’ Christian (Hebrews 13:8)
  • Oh ye of little faith’ Christian (Matthew 8:26)
  • Jesus has come to steal, kill, and destroy you’ Christian (John 10:10)
  • Jesus healed most but not all, and certainly not you’ Christian (Matthew 8:16 and Acts 10:38)

Okay, okay, those latter six names probably won’t be helpful to the conversation. But regardless, it’s plain to see that “name it and claim it” isn’t nearly as far-fetched as some would make it sound.


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Finding My Identity in God’s Word: Colossians 1

Colossians-1024x1024Since Jack was born, I have been doing the majority of my bible reading on my phone. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But honestly, there’s just something you get from reading the Good Book out of an actual book.

So yesterday, I decided to read Colossians from my leather-bound bible over lunch.

I got about 20 verses in.

The bible is jam-packed full of God-given identity. And in a world where most people have no idea who or what or why they are, the Church needs to know their identity.

And there is only one place you can truly find your identity.

God’s Word.

And here is what God has spoken about you, from merely one of the 1,189 chapters in the bible.

  1. You are qualified (Colossians 1:12)

Certain Christians love to talk about how unworthy we are of everything, but the bible makes it clear: Christ’s blood has made us worthy. The word “qualified” in this verse literally means “to make worthy” in the original Greek.

Not that we shouldn’t be eternally grateful. Paul’s whole point is that we should forever praise God for making us worthy, because without Him we are nothing.

  1.  You are a partaker of the inheritance of the saints (Colossians 1:12)

But what has God made you worthy of? According to Colossians, you are worthy/qualified to share in the inheritance of God’s people.

In Galatians 3, Paul explains how this inheritance refers to the blessing of Abraham and freedom from the curse of the law, which resulted from your adoption into the family of God. Basically, because you are God’s child (having repented of your sin-filled life and accepted Christ as Lord), you are no longer subject to sin, sickness, or poverty, and are thus empowered to bless those around you with the goodness, power, and love of God.

And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:29)

  1. You are delivered from the powers of darkness (Colossians 1:13)

The devil has absolutely no power over you. Jesus taught that all authority had been delivered to Him, and then He entrusted that authority to us.

Several weeks ago during his annual visit to our church, Pastor Scott Stewart pointed out that the word “all” is a very interesting word. In the original text, it means “all.” In other words, if Jesus has all authority, there is none left for the devil, so long as you don’t give him any of yours.

  1. You are conveyed into the kingdom of the Son (Colossians 1:13)

I don’t care what your passport says. Your citizenship is in heaven. And as a resident of the Kingdom of God, you have access to the rights and privileges of heaven. However, you also share in the responsibilities, as ambassadors and emissaries here on earth. Your job is to bring heaven to earth, as Jesus taught us in the Sermon on the Mount.

  1. You have redemption and forgiveness of sins (Colossians 1:14)

No matter what sins you have committed, are committing, or are planning on committing, God offers absolute forgiveness for your sins. But it’s so much more than that. Not only has He wiped away the offenses against you; He then welcomes you to become His. Your sins haven’t just been forgiven; you’ve been redeemed, bought for a price, and belong in His family.

  1. You are reconciled (Colossians 1:21)

Reconciled = to bring back to a state of harmony.

A life without God is a life without peace. A life without God is a life of chaos. A life without God isn’t a life at all.

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” (Ephesians 2:13)

  1. You are holy (Colossians 1:22)

We usually teach our youth that “holy” means “different,” as in we are different from this sinful world because we are united and similar to God. This word (Greek hagios) also means “cherished by God” and is the same word translated “saint.”

There you have it. You’re a holy saint who is cherished by God.

  1. And blameless (Colossians 1:22)

I like how the King James Version translates it: “unblameable.” It’s not that you currently aren’t being blamed for something; you’re immune to blame. The devil couldn’t accuse you if he tried.

This phrase is sometimes interpreted “without blemish.” This no doubt evokes images of the Old Covenant sacrifice, where animals were required to be “without blemish” to be accepted by God. It’s good to know that we are acceptable to God.

  1. And above reproach in His sight (Colossians 1:22)

This is how God sees you. In His eyes, you are holy, unblameable, and above reproach. Therefore, it’s our responsibility to live up to this. Just because you are above reproach in His sight doesn’t mean your lifestyle is above reproach to your parents, friends, or co-workers.

Make absolutely sure that your life is in line with God’s Word. You have been delivered from satan’s grasp; therefore live a life free from sin. Jesus died on the cross so you could inherit the blessed life; therefore enjoy the blessings God has provided. You are a holy saint; therefore live differently from the rest of the world.

Don’t blend in. Live righteously. Don’t talk like a sailor or hang out in bars or watch the disgusting filth that passes for entertainment these days. Live the life God created you to live.

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your body a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. And don’t be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, that you may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Romans 12:1-2)

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Jesus Stalker

jesus-and-the-multitudeI think a lot of people are Jesus Stalkers.  They listen to the music they think He likes, they hang out at the places they think He likes, they read the books they think He likes.  They even daydream about spending eternity with Him.  But they don’t actually talk to Him.

Listen, going to church is very important.  So are listening to worship music and reading Christian books.  But none of those are a substitute for spending time with God.

So put down the Joseph Prince book, turn off the Jesus Culture CD, and go pray.  Not “I’m praying because I need more stuff” or “I’m praying because I’m also driving.”  Genuine prayer with your heavenly Dad.  Time set apart for Him.  Simply because you love Him.

It’ll be good for you.  I promise.

Boys Don’t Giggle: An Essential Lesson in Christian Identity


“Boys don’t giggle,” he told me.

This was the advice an author gave me upon reading my book Unfair Advantage.  In one of the many fascinating and metaphorically stunning stories I tell in the book, I make reference to something that had caused me to giggle.

“Boys don’t giggle, they chuckle.”

He may have been splitting hairs, but it was sort of true.  Chuckling is a tad bit more masculine than mere giggling.  You wouldn’t expect to hear a giggle emit from Chuck Norris’ bearded mouth.  No, your ears would be pleasantly assaulted by the soothing sounds of a chuckle from the vocal chords of Mr. Norris.  I hear that’s why they call it a CHUCKle.

“Well, are girls allowed to chuckle?” I asked him.

“Absolutely!” he exclaimed.  “Girls are allowed to do both.  They can chuckle and giggle.  It’s actually quite unfair.”

That got me thinking.  In today’s world, there is a lot of talk about inequality.  And yes, there are certainly things in life that are unfair.  But don’t allow the limitations that statisticians and politicians talk about to hold you back from the greatness that is within you.

It may be true that the average woman makes less than the average man in our country.  But you are not an average woman.  You are a child of the Most High God Your particular ethnicity may be expected to act, talk, or vote a particular way.  But regardless of your race, skin color, or country of origin, this leather-bound book I’m holding in my hands says your true citizenship is in heaven.

The world will give you an exhaustive laundry list of reasons why you can’t do something and why you shouldn’t even try.  And sometimes it can be pretty tempting to buy into the lie.  But if you make a decision to find your identity in what God has spoken about you instead, there is literally nothing you can’t do.

“There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.  If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:28-29)

[ your turn: If I want to giggle, I’m going to giggle!  I’m sure you’ve been told there are just some things you can’t do. Which ones are you going to do anyway? Let me know in the comments! ]


The noble opossum

When I was younger, I had a terrible speech impediment.

At the age of five, I couldn’t properly pronounce thirteen of the twenty-six letters of the alphabet, and 60% of my language was deemed unintelligible.  My parents, of course, could translate my cryptic communication, but they were about the only ones.

My difficulties occasionally made for humorous interactions.  When asked about my father, I’d respond, “My dad is gone.”  This was usually met with sympathetic glances and awkward attempts at comfort, rather than a realization that my dad’s name was “John” and I just didn’t know how to talk.

Because of my speech impediment, I went to speech therapy every day with (I kid you not) Dr. Lipschitz, whose name I ironically had no problem saying.  And rather than practicing vocal exercises or discussing that one girl’s seashell business located down by the beach like most speech therapists would do, we set our sights on something a bit more relevant: Australian fauna.

As a result, I have a somewhat extraordinary understanding of marsupials, monotremes, and all of the other abnormal animals that God no doubt let Adam design.  And one animal I find particularly interesting: the opossum.

The opossum (not to be confused with its poser cousin, the regular possum) is one of the few marsupials native to the United States.  And when threatened, it does a peculiar thing.  It plays possum.  This is a defense mechanism where the opossum will attempt to imitate the appearance of a dead carcass, basically “playing dead.”  When it senses danger, the opossum will black out, and then involuntarily sprawl out as stiff as a board, draw its lips back and bare its teeth, start drooling, close its eyes (or partially close them for extended periods of time without blinking, depending on how committed he is), and emit a foul stench from its anus.  The goal is to ward off predators with this little charade, hoping the hungry animal will be grossed out and look for a more conscious, better smelling marsupial to consume.

As I reminisce about my childhood therapy and remember the magnificent qualities of this noble creature, I can’t help but see the opossum as a perfect metaphor for the church.

The defining characteristic of the born-again Christian is that we are alive.  The rest of humanity roams the world in darkness and spiritual death, but we have been given God’s divine life.

And yet, we spend our lives trying to blend in with the world.  We hide this life we have been given under a bushel, hoping that everyone else will think we are just like them:  Weak.  Confused.  Lost.  Dead.

But the truth is, you are not like them.  You are different.  You have something they don’t have.  Something they need.  You have the life of God within you.

So quit playing possum, Christian soldier, and rise to your feet.  Live the life you have been given.  Let your light shine out into the darkness.  Let that life transform the world.  It’s the only thing that can.

And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins. (Ephesians 2:1)

Your Turn: Many of God’s majestic beasts make for great sermon illustrations.  I mean, why else would he invent the wildebeest?  What animals do you think make for great analogies concerning Christians or the church?  Let me know in the comments! ]

Identity Crisis of the Seven Sons

seven sons of sceva and the demon-possessed man

The seven sons of Sceva getting their butts handed to them by a demon-possessed man. To be quite honest, it was a little embarrassing.

In Acts 19, a band of misguided Jewish brothers went on a stroll through downtown Ephesus when they were approached by a demon-possessed man babbling in the streets.  In an attempt to make a name for themselves, they recited their obviously rehearsed exorcism routine:

“I command you in the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches, to come out!”

Normally you’d expect some flailing around and a bit of green pea soup, topped off with an evil spirit vacating the premises… but not this time.  No, the man just started at them.  Then he simply asked:

“Jesus I know, and Paul I know.  But who are you?”

The brothers didn’t have an answer.

The tale ends with the devil chasing them down the street, stripping them of their clothes, and winning the battle.  Now, the problem wasn’t that Jesus wasn’t powerful enough.  It also wasn’t that Paul’s preaching wasn’t good enough.  The problem was that those wannabe-exorcists didn’t know who they were.

This is where I come in.  My job is to teach Christians who they are so they can do what God has called them to do.  Or, as Paul so beautifully put it,

“His responsibility is to equip God’s people to do His work and build up the church, the body of Christ.” [Ephesians 4:12]

Too many Christians aimlessly wander the earth without knowing who God created them to be.  We are a church in the midst of an identity crisis, not sure where we came from, what we are here for, and what we are supposed to do.  So that’s what you can expect from me.  That’s what you can expect to find in my blog, my books, my videos, and my sermons.  To learn who you are, how God feels about you, and what you can do to advance God’s kingdom on the earth.

Enjoy the ride.