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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One Verse that Proves God’s Stance on Healing

One Verse That Proves God's Stance on HealingWhen the subject of healing gets brought up, lots of questions start to swirl around in peoples’ minds: “Why am I sick?” “Is healing for everyone?” “Does God make people sick?”

Fortunately for us, God answers these questions repeatedly throughout the bible. As I’ve mentioned before, there are over 170 distinct passages in the bible that address God’s attitude towards healing. But there is a single verse that reveals to us God’s stance on healing.

How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.” (Acts 10:38)

There are several lessons we can glean from this one scripture.

Healing is Good

We are told that during His ministry, Jesus Christ went about “doing good.” But in what ways did He do good? According to Luke, by healing.

We see throughout the bible that Jesus is committed to doing good. The seventh chapter of Matthew’s gospel tells us that God always gives good things to those who ask (Matthew 7:11). Furthermore, James 1:17 says that good things always come from God, and that there isn’t even an inkling that this will ever change.

Now it may seem obvious that healing is good, but there are many Christians who aren’t so sure. Being confident that healing is always good, we can rest assured knowing that the biblical promises of God’s unfathomable goodness includes physical healing.

Sickness comes from the Devil

Again, you might take this for granted, but much of the Christian community thinks sickness comes from God. Take Job, for instance. The common understanding of Job is that God caused terrible things to happen in Job’s life to test his faithfulness. But according to Job 2:7, it was Satan (not God) who smote Job with painful boils. Far from “God giving and taking away,” the text makes it clear that Satan caused this infirmity.

Jesus confirms this is John 10:10, where He claims:

The thief (Satan) comes to steal, to kill, and to destroy, but I have come that they may have life, and have it more abundantly.”

From the mouth of Jesus Himself, anything that steals, kills, or destroys comes from Satan, and not God. Every sickness known to man fits that description, and to attribute any ailment, disease, or injury to God is to reject the biblical text. God only has good things for His kids, and offers life in the place of sickness, pain, and death.

Jesus Heals All

According to Acts 10:38, Jesus heals ALL. That includes you.

We see this confirmed over and over and over again throughout the bible. Luke 9:11 tells us that Jesus healed all who had need of physical healing; Matthew 8:16 says that Jesus healed all who were sick; and John 6:37 says that Jesus doesn’t turn anyone away.

In fact, there isn’t a single biblical example of God refusing to heal someone in need, and the only time in the entire bible we see Jesus not heal is when He was prevented by the unbelief of those in need. A lack of faith in God’s power and willingness to heal is the only thing that has ever prevented Him from healing the sick.

Summary

When I talk to people who have questions about healing, I often bring them to this verse. After reading through it, I usually ask them a series of obvious questions.

Me: “According to this passage, is healing bad or good?”

Them: “Good.”

Me: “Where does sickness come from?”
Them: “The devil.”

Me: “How many people did Jesus heal?”

Them: “All of them.”

Then I ask them a few more questions.

Is God with you, too?” Isaiah 41:10 and Matthew 28:20 say He is. And both Hebrews 13:5 and John 14:16 say He will always be with us and will never leave us nor forsake us.

Have you been anointed with the Holy Spirit and with power?” Luke 24:49 answer that question with a definitive and resounding YES. 2 Corinthians 1:21-22 attests to this truth by saying that we have been anointed by God with the Holy Spirit. And Ephesians 3:20 says that the infinite power of God dwells in us. His people.

No bible-believing Christian can deny that physical healing is good, that sickness comes from the enemy, and that God is ever willing to heal anyone who comes to Him in sincere faith. But more than that, we see that this miraculous healing power, this authority, this goodness has been placed in us by none other than God Himself.

So let’s live in obedience to the commands of Jesus, and go out into a world of lost and desperate sinners, preaching the gospel and healing the sick (Matthew 10:8; Mark 16:18). This is good in the sight of the Lord.

List of Scriptures Used

Acts 10:38 John 10:10 Isaiah 41:10 Luke 24:49
Matthew 7:11 Luke 9:11 Matthew 28:20 2 Cor. 1:21-22
James 1:17 Matthew 8:16 Hebrews 13:5 Ephesians 3:20
Job 2:7 John 6:37 John 14:16 Matthew 10:8
Mark 16:18

Posts related to this article

(There is much more to say about biblical healing, the raw power of God that dwells in us, and the commission that has been given to Christ’s church. For more, check out my new book, UNFAIR ADVANTAGE, available for kindle or paperback. It will change your life.)

The UCLA Flood, and God

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(Warning: Math to follow)

Last Tuesday at around 3:30 pm, a 93-year old water main under Sunset Boulevard ruptured, spewing as much as 75,000 gallons of water PER MINUTE into the air. The millions of gallons have flooded the surrounding areas, including UCLA and their newly renovated Pauley Pavilion. Video footage of the event is spectacular, with the geyser of water skyrocketed over thirty feet into the air and capsizing the street into an ever-growing sinkhole.

And surprise, surprise, hearing about this made me think of God and the bible.

“’Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock in Horeb; and you shall strike the rock, and water will come out of it, that the people may drink.’ And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel.” (Exodus 17:6)

“Then Moses lifted his hand and struck the rock twice with his rod; and water came out abundantly, and the congregation and their animals drank.” (Numbers 20:11)

In both of these episodes, the children of Israel are wandering the desert and complaining (an apt description of most of the Old Testament), so God graciously and miraculously provides water for them from a nearby boulder. We typically imagine a gentle stream softly flowing towards the people, as if it were a calm summer day and we were in the latest Nicholas Sparks flick.

But how much water was actually flowing?

Most estimates place the population of Israel at this point between 2 million to 7 million men, women, and children. We are also told that they took all of their flocks and herds when they left (Exodus 12:30-32). Furthermore, Psalm 105:37 says that the Israelites left rich with silver and gold, them and their cattle in good shape. We don’t know how much cattle they had, but it doesn’t seem to be a small amount.

And God provided water for this entire crew, from a single rock.

Current estimates on daily water use around the world are as follows:

Germany = 33 gallons/day/person

France = 29 gallons/day/person

Denmark = 21 gallons/day/person

Britain = 40 gallons/day/person

United States = (I didn’t include, because I don’t want to make the hippies angry)

Applying the lowest of these numbers to the 5,000,000 person population of desert-wandering Israel, there would be 72,912 gallons of water per minute flowing from that rock. It’d be a sight comparable to the Sunset Boulevard geyser.

Of course, we don’t use water like they used to. We waste water on frivolous things like dishes and gardening. Surely the Israelites didn’t require as much as we do. Can we get a more accurate number?

The average person needs three liters of drinking water a day, or about 0.8 gallons a day. For 5,000,000 people, that’d be 3,961,500 gallons a day, or 2,751 gallons a minute.

While today we use about 25 gallons of water per shower, the lowest estimates I was able to find for necessary bathing water was 3 gallons per shower (it’s called a Navy shower, and I think it’s applicable; after all, soldiers in the desert probably use as little water as possible). And whereas we shower daily, I read on some hippy website that the healthiest way to bathe is to bathe only once a week. Assuming that’s true, 5,000,000 people bathing only once a week with no more than 3 gallons of water per scrub would be 2,142,857 gallons per day, or 1,488 gallons per minute.

Now what about the animals?

First, how many animals were there? The text doesn’t tell us. However, using some creative reasoning, we can make an educated guess for the number of animals they needed to water.

Job 1:3 tells us that Job has 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke (or pairs) of oxen, and 500 female donkeys, for a total of 11,500 animals. Proportionally, his animals consisted of 61% sheep, 26% camels, 8.7% oxen, and 4.3% donkeys. Sheep require 2 gallons of drinking water a day, while camels need 30 gallons, oxen need 40 gallons, and donkeys need 10 gallons. That means the average Israelite animal needed about 13 gallons of fresh water a day.

We know that the Israelites left richly with not only their own possessions but with many possessions given to them by the fearful and defeated Egyptians. The biblically rich had animals numbering in the thousands, but to be extremely conservative, let’s assume the average family of four had four animals. That’d be five million animals roaming around the wilderness with them, each needing an average of 13 gallons of water per day. (If you think this is an overestimate, I assumed 9 cows for every 100 Israelites; in the US, there are 12 cows for every 100 Americans. Seems like a fair estimate). That would amount to a staggering 65 million gallons a day, or 45,139 gallons per minute.

Finally, it’s worthy mentioning that the Israelites wouldn’t’ve used every single drop of water that erupted from that rock. How could they? It was flowing through the desert sands like a river. Much of the water would be too dirty to drink. In fact, estimates on the efficiency of a modern drinking fountain are pitifully low. Chances are that at least half of the water provided remained unused.

All things considered, we are looking at about 98,756 gallons of water per minute flowing from the rock to the thirsty Israelites. That is a conservative estimate, and it doesn’t include any water the Israelites would’ve collected for later use.

No wonder Moses described the waters as flowing out “abundantly,” no wonder the psalmist later wrote that the waters “gushed” forth! In fact, the Hebrew word for “gushed” in Psalm 105:41, when transliterated into Greek, is quite similar to the New Testament word used to describe violent torrential floods which threatened to flood houses along the river.

My whole point is we should consider how silly it is to think that God isn’t big enough to meet our needs or answer our prayers. Whatever you need, God invented it! He described Himself as El Shaddai, the God who is more than enough!

This busted water main is making national headlines. A bunch of water is flowing out of water pipes in one of America’s most prestigious and well-manicured college campuses. Compare that to God, who had the power to make an even greatest amount of water flow out of a giant stone wall in one of the driest and dustiest corners of the planet. And He did it multiple times.

I think God’s big enough to put dinner on your plate tonight.

(Buy my newest book, UNFAIR ADVANTAGE, on Amazon!)

UNFAIR ADVANTAGE is for sale!

UnfairBookCoverI’m very happy to announce that my book, “UNFAIR ADVANTAGE,” is now available for your Kindle on Amazon.com.

This book will teach Christians who God made them to be, so they can do everything God has called them to do. And spoiler alert, God made you incredibly awesome. You truly are greater than you realize.

Thank you to everyone who has helped me along the way. God told me to start writing in January 2013, and the last 17 months have been quite the adventure. So many of you supported me, gave me advice, helped proofread, told me not to use the word “crap” in a Christian book, and took amazing cover photos. I couldn’t have done it without all of you.

When you go to buy it from Amazon, do me a favor and purchase it through “Amazon Smile,” selecting “MountainChild.org” as your charity of choice. If you do this, Amazon will donate 4 cents of your purchase to MountainChild, helping to save the lives of starving children in the Himalayan Mountains. 4 cents may not be much, but when I sell 100,000 copies of my book, it will quickly add up and save countless lives.

And for those of you purists out there, the paperback will be available in the next two weeks. So stay tuned!

Thanks again, and enjoy!

Garrett Milovich 

#unfairadvantagebook

http://www.amazon.com/Unfair-Advantage-Greater-Than-Realize-ebook/dp/B00L1T54P0/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1403794434&sr=8-1&keywords=garrett+milovich

Three Things the Bible Says that Aren’t Actually True

three things the bible says that aren't actually trueSince I launched my website back in February, I’ve started reading different Christian blogs to get a feel for the lay of the land. And the thing I’ve discovered? By and large, if you want to attract a large following to your Christian blog, you basically have to reject the bible as truth and criticize orthodox Christianity.

That creates a bit of a problem for me, seeing as how, ya know, the bible is absolute truth.

But I think I found a loophole.

Here are three things the bible says that just aren’t true.

  1. There is no God.”

The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none who does good.” (Psalm 14:1)

Well there you have it. Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens and all those other angry atheists were right. And the source of their validation? The exact book they loathe and despise: the bible.

… or… maybe not.

We know the bible is absolutely true. Therefore, this verse records absolute truth. But to understand what is truly being said, this passage must be read in context.

The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’”

Psalm 14:1 isn’t saying there is no God. It’s saying that foolish people claim there is no God. This verse is accurately recording what a fool says, even though what the fool actually says is inaccurate.

So, this begs the question: how do we know if what’s being said is accurate?

It all comes down to context. For one, does the statement line up with the rest of scripture? And two, is the speaker a trustworthy and reliable source?

In this passage, the speaker is definitely not reliable. He is called “foolish” and “corrupt.” He clearly doesn’t know what he is talking about.

And his statement is definitely not in sync with the rest of scripture. The first words of the bible are, “In the beginning, God.” The bible doesn’t waste time proving God’s existence because it is so painfully obvious and self-evident.

“There is no God” is a false statement; “Fools say, ‘There is no God’” is a true statement.

Let’s see if we can find a few more “incorrect” passages.

  1. “Crucifixion will not happen to Jesus.”

From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day. Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, ‘Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!” (Matthew 16:22-23)

Moments after Peter identifies Jesus as the Messiah, Jesus tells His disciples He will soon be executed. Peter’s response? “This shall not happen to You!”

While Peter is fervent with his message, we know he was wrong. For one, Jesus calls him “satan” just one verse later. And since satan is the father of lies, Peter can’t be telling the truth.

Also, all four gospels end with Jesus’ crucifixion and subsequent resurrection.

“Crucifixion will not happen to Jesus” is a false statement; “Peter said, ‘Crucifixion will not happen to Jesus’” is a true statement.

And today’s final example of an “incorrect” bible passage?

  1. “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away.”

And [Job] said, ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.’” (Job 1:21)

This is a common one. You find it quoted in approximately 53.7% of worship songs, it often turns up in Sunday morning sermons, and it’s used to prove that God sometimes bring evil into our lives.

But it’s not true.

First of all, the text makes it clear that satan (not God) took Job’s stuff away. And in the final chapter of Job, the titular character repents for saying this, claiming he “uttered what [he] did not understand.”

Already it’s not looking good for this oft-quoted passage. Job admits he was wrong, and the story itself refutes Job’s claims.

And the final nail in the coffin? There isn’t a single example in the bible of God taking good things away from his righteous children.

God does plenty of giving (like here, here, here, and here), but you just can’t find a solid foundation for the idea that God takes away. The best argument is Job 1:21, which is easily dismantled when one considers the entirety of scripture (and even just the entirety of the Book of Job, or the entirety of chapter 1 for that matter).


 

So yeah, apparently there are a few passages of the bible that seem wrong when taken out of context. The bible is, among many other things, a history book, and it records the events of history with perfect accuracy.

But some of the people whose stories are recorded made mistakes (David’s extramarital escapades, Balaam’s greed, Job’s ignorance). And we do ourselves a disservice when we follow in their errors rather than learn from them.

The bible doesn’t teach that God gives and takes away.

Job taught that.

And Job was wrong.

Thinking-Guy

13 Biblical Lessons Superman Can Teach You

 

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1. You may be in this world, but you certainly aren’t of it. (John 17:16, Philippians 3:20)

Superman flying

2. Without a knowledge of your true heritage, you will inevitably live a bleak life of confusion. (Colossians 1:9-14)

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3. However, upon discovering who you really are, you can become the hero you were born to become. (Mark 16:15-20)

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4. Your heavenly Dad saved you from the eminent destruction of your former world. (Ephesians 2:1-4)giphy (5) 5. As a child of God, you have a seemingly unending arsenal of superhuman powers and abilities. (Mark 16:16, Philippians 4:13)

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6. Your true destiny lies in using those God-given abilities to rescue others from evil. (Matthew 10:8, Mark 16:15)

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7. While enemies may rise up against you, they will never be able to stop you.  Punch you, stab you, shoot you, run you over, blow you up… you are indestructible. (Isaiah 54:17, Luke 10:19)

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8. To be quite honest, though, living a righteous life for God can sometimes get lonely.  You might feel the pressure to change who you are to blend in. (Romans 12:1-2)

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9. But don’t let your merely human alter ego get in the way of your true heritage.  Your identity as the son of El (albeit, El Shaddai, not Jor El) is what makes you great. (1 Corinthians 3:3, Galatians 4:7)

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10. That’s not to say you can’t hold a steady nine-to-five and still have time to save the world. (Acts 20:35, Proverbs 12:11, Colossians 3:17)

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11. Just don’t let your emotions get in the way.  Being led by your emotions is truly your greatest weakness. (1 Peter 5:8, Titus 2:6)

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12. All in all, continue spending time in solitude with your Father, and you will do unimaginable things.  (Mark 1:35, Matthew 14:23, Luke 6:12)

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13. And remember, it may not always seem like it, but the world is in desperate need of salvation.  And you’re the one to bring it to them. (Romans 10:14-15)

giphy (4)So go, Man of God. Go and change the world.

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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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An Open Letter to My Son On My First Father’s Day

Jack,father and son

This Sunday is Father’s Day. You’ve probably never heard of Father’s Day before, but it is a day to celebrate and honor dads. On the surface, that sounds pretty good for me. Your mom will no doubt buy me something awesome and then sign your name to it; a bunch of people at church will shake my hand, pat me on the back, and give me candy cigars; and we’ll eat lunch at a restaurant where salad isn’t considered a part of the meal. It’ll be pretty good to be me.

But really, I don’t feel all that deserving of celebration quite yet. I’ve only been your dad for 55 days. Maybe in five or ten years I’ll feel a bit more worthy, but so far, I haven’t done all that much. Being a father is one of the most important jobs a person can have, and I plan to take it very seriously.

But as you’ll someday learn, we live in a screwed up world, son. And I know there are many valiant fathers out there, but on a day meant to celebrate fatherhood, I can’t help but think of all the things we fathers have been getting wrong.

Right now, 43% of American children live without their fathers. That means there are over 15 million children growing up without dads, most of whom are living below the poverty line. Kids growing up without fathers are five times more likely to commit suicide, nine times more likely to drop out of high school, 14 times more likely to abuse women, and 32 times more likely to be runaways or homeless.

Related to the absence of fathers is the dismal state of marriage in our country. They say fifty percent of marriages end in divorce. Now I know this number isn’t accurate, but the fact that so many people believe it demonstrates the reality of this epidemic. So many fathers are unwilling to remain committed to their children’s mothers. I grew up with married parents (your grandma and grandpa), and I married a girl with married parents (pop-pop and gangy), so I didn’t realize how widespread divorce was until I started working in youth ministry, where hundreds of our students were growing up in broken homes, and many had never even met their dad.

Of the children fortunate enough to grow up with their fathers around, I know that many dads are disconnected and withdrawn from their kids. Many hide in their work, hide in their hobbies, hide in the garage, or hide with their friends. We laugh at the way fathers are presented on television, but those fictional dads bear some semblance to the reality of fatherhood in our country.

The importance of a father in the life of his son is paramount, and so rather than bask in my own unearned glory this Father’s Day, I’d like to make a commitment to you, Jack.

  1. I promise to love your mother each and every day for the rest of my life, even if I don’t always feel like it.
  2. I promise to eat dinner with you at our dinner table on week nights, rather than be working late at the office.
  3. I promise to teach you to throw a baseball and climb a tree and ride a bike, to tithe and pay bills and use your money wisely, to build a fire and set up a tent and survive in the wild.
  4. I promise to take you to church on Sundays instead of soccer games.
  5. I promise to make decisions you won’t like because they are for your good.
  6. I promise to teach you to drive a stick shift.
  7. I promise to teach you math and science and spelling and history.
  8. I promise to teach you the fear of the Lord.
  9. I promise to be your father more than your friend.
  10. I promise to go to your basketball games and school plays.
  11. I promise there will always be a roof over your head, clothes on your back, and three meals on your plate.
  12. I promise to spank all the foolishness and rebellion out of you that I can.
  13. I promise to pray with you daily, not just pray for you.
  14. I promise to read to you.
  15. I promise to play with you.
  16. I promise to travel with you.
  17. I promise to talk to you.
  18. I promise to listen to you.
  19. I promise to have fun with you.
  20. I promise to dream with you.
  21. I promise to punish you (if you deserve it).
  22. I promise to worship with you.
  23. I promise to show you how to treat a woman by treating your mother like the queen she is.
  24. I promise to raise you the way God said to do it, not the way the television or government or Oprah tells me to.
  25. I promise to protect you and provide for you.
  26. I promise to always be there for you.
  27. I promise to teach you to fight lions and bears and giants.
  28. I promise to teach you where you came from.
  29. I promise to teach you where you are going.
  30. I promise to teach you who you are in Christ.
  31. I promise to teach you to be a husband.
  32. I promise to teach you to be a father.
  33. I promise to teach you to be a man.
  34. I promise to teach you to trust and follow God.
  35. I promise to be better every day.

I love you, son, and even as the world falls apart, I promise I’m not going anywhere.

Love,

Da Da (aka, the hairy guy who is really excited to change your diaper when he gets home)

“And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6.4)

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