Last week I was invited to come to our local community college at noon today and give a devotion at the Christian Student Lunch. When I was asked to come and share, I honestly didn't know what I would say to these students. Usually I have an idea ready, can develop a quick devotion off the cuff, or something of the sort. I was blank. For days. Yesterday, my answer came while in prayer.
Before I get to that I need to lay out my thought process. As I was praying about what I should speak on at the college, I was finishing a major paper for a doctoral seminar. In fact, this class was supposed to be the one that "weeded students out of the program" according to one professor. This was concerning. Prior to taking this class I thought about this professor's words and asked myself questions like this:
"How could this class be so much harder than the others?"
"Will I be able to write the paper in a satisfactory manner?"
"Since I'll be taking the course right through the middle of a busy holiday season, will I be able to put as much time into the work as required?"
Then I attended the week-long class that began January 2nd. The first day of class I learned that a few of the students were taking the class for the second time. When asked why they both stated they simply weren't ready for that level of writing and research. One of these students had even quit in the middle of his week-long class and went home! 500 miles from home myself and very sick, my concern grew!
These questions I had been pondering prior to the class coupled together with the fact that I was sitting next to some very intelligent people who didn't make it through the first time made me nervous to say the least.
The paper and the seminar are just a small representation of what we spend our time thinking about on a daily basis. Our daughter is getting ready to go to college in the fall. What will her dorm room be like? Will she find a solid church and make new believing friends? How will this life transition affect both her and us left at home? Will she remember to check her oil every now and then? :) We all have things going on, or about to go on that we spend our time thinking about.
While I was praying about my "speaking engagement," these thoughts came to mind. These college students, and others are facing the same type of questions regarding their classes or issues at home. They may not be working on a 50+ page paper, thinking about a child going to college, or even facing a major life transition (such as graduation) this semester, or even this year, but at times we all spend too much time thinking about what the future MAY bring rather than what God has placed in front of us right now.
Psalm 46:10 says, "Be still and know that I am God." Other translations say "cease striving," or "stop fighting." It takes maturity to take time out of a busy period in life to "be still." And not just to be still, but to "be still and know that He is God." The rest of the verse reminds us that because He is God, He will be exalted above all nations. At times we get so worried about what might be, that we forget to stop and remember what is.
Am I content with where God has me today? If not, why? Maybe it's because I've found myself in a situation or in some habits God doesn't want me to be in. Or, maybe I'm spending too much time thinking about "what could be," or "what might happen" to remember that there are lessons to learn here and now. Think about the season of life you are currently in and ask yourself: Am I content right now? Am I making the most of this season to help prepare me for the next? Am I taking time to be still in order that I can recognize that He is God and is exalted above all nations?
God has placed you in your town, at your job, and even in the particular school you attend. Are you content with your life in Him? As a child of His are you taking every opportunity to disciple others and fish for men? Remember Jesus' words to His disciples in Matt. 4:19; "Follow Me, and I'll make you fishers of men."
This morning I received an email from Dr. Brock telling me about a lady who called trying to order some Good News books for her church. She said she picked one up at a yard sale and loved it! Maybe the person hosting the yard sale had them out for people to grab.
What kind of evangelistic opportunities are coming your way this month? It's winter in Kentucky so you probably aren't going to host a yard sale-or maybe you are since the weather has been amazing! Opportunities abound! The "Big Game" is this weekend. Valentine's Day is coming up. You name it!
My Twitter feed this morning had an article from Dr. Albert Mohler on the new movie The Shack. Here is a link. I have the book and have read it several years ago. It is griping, compelling, and heretical. It reminds me of The DaVinci Code from several years ago. It contains enough Biblical truth to confuse non-Christians and "the weak among you," yet remains fiction. Friends, I'm not going to ask you to boycott the movie or the book. I will ask you to do this though: if you do read or watch it, do so with discernment. Let your friends who ask you about The Shack know that God is not a woman, all roads don't lead to the same place, and in the case of DaVinci, there's no secret code that will shock the Christian world. (Remember The Harbinger by Johnathon Cahn? The inside flap says it "combines true Biblical prophecy with real historical fact" yet is classified as fiction. People were losing it over this book!) When people ask me my opinion on these titles I usually remind them that these are fiction works and if they would like to read a true account of who God is and what He's done to spend time in the Bible.
(March 7, 2017 update)
Notice the picture at the top of the post. My finger is pointed to something we need to remember. The book is a work of fiction, not to be confused with truth, or scripture.
Albert Mohler wrote a post the other day that gives a great review of "The Shack."
Listen to the author, William P. Young, admit to the heresy of universalism in this brief interview with members of the apologetic group, CARM. This video was made over 5 years ago when the book came out.
In this interview, Mr. Young tells us Christian booksellers didn't "have a niche" for his kind of book at 2:29 (a heresy niche?). He admits to searching because "religion cannot deliver" at 4:15 and at 5:17 he talks about his struggles with the nature and goodness of God in our minds. When these struggles are not Biblically resolved, you get Shack theology. At 6:55 he talks about the "path to learn to trust Him." This path happens to be faith and repentance. Eph. 2:8-9, not whatever you want.
In this next interview, Mr. Young calls the book "a gift to his children...true, just not real" (:49). He repeatedly uses the word "religion" (3:23) and fully admits he can't "heal himself" (6:08). If you watch the whole thing, you will notice that he is struggling with how a false sense of religion is what he thought he needed, but realized it falls short. Mark 1:15 tells us where we need to start: Repent and believe the Gospel. At one point (7:06) he says God is neither male nor female!! At around 8:20 they talk about the need to be open with God. The problem is not our openness, but the fact of what this openness reveals to us when we stand before a holy and righteous God-it brings out the fact that He alone is righteous, we are not, and we need to humble ourselves before Him; not make a god that fits our particular need for the moment. At 9:02 he makes the bold statement that his book, not the Bible, is causing people to ask "who is God" and actually answering it for them! Friends, the book answers the question for some because they don't like what the Bible says about the nature of God.
Interview #4 brings out some more issues. At 5:05 he talks about how he wanted to attack the maleness of God by portraying Him as a woman. Young does this also because "it fit the story." Well, that's interesting. Not only do we get to change the nature of God because we don't like it, but even better, "it fit the story." Who fits Young's description of God? "Large, black, African-American women" (6:19). Who has anything against "large African-American women?" Nobody, but if I were to look at what fits the description of God, I'd simply go to what the Bible says. It is after all, His Word. He talks again about "religion" vs. a relationship with God (7:30). Again, if you are able to watch all videos in this series, you'll see him struggling with the concept of "religion" and a relationship with Christ; which by the way, he never mentions in the proper Biblical context. At 8:55, Young quotes the fictional Jesus in his book, "you know Mackenzie(SP?), I've not come to make people Christian." Young goes on to put up a pretty good straw man of a bad example of Christianity to knock down, but the video fades out and Young never tells us what Jesus really came to do. Poor scriptural exegesis most certainly leads to poor theology, which of course leads to a warped world-view.
In the final interview, the interviewer told Mr. Young he didn't see the protagonist reacting appropriately to the awesomeness of God (:40ish). Young goes around this (ignoring the real issue), even when the interviewer gives Biblical examples! Here's a huge one at 3:13. Sin. He quotes Young as saying "it's not God's job to punish sin, but cure it." The interviewer pushes on him and Young says his statement in the book is "fundamentally, theologically sound." Uh, WHAT?? Take a look at his posture starting at this point in this particular interview and onward. He's getting fired up! The interviewer even brings up the flood as an example of God's wrath against sin; Young can't stand it and goes back to Christ to show God's forgiveness of sin over that of His wrath. Listen to false teachers when the Old Testament is used properly. They'll inevitably default to "Jesus" and the New Testament! God does forgive. He forgives sin because we've offended God with it. John 9:39 tells us "For judgment I have come into this world, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may be made blind." In verse 40 the Pharisees ask Jesus if they are blind also. He replies in verse 41, "If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you say, 'We see.' Therefore your sin remains." Perhaps Mr. Young "sees" because he doesn't want to admit we (mankind) have a personal sin problem and are therefore in need of a Savior. Surely Jesus' words to Nicodemus in John 3:5 would cause us to refute Young's claims of universalism. You must be born again; by the Spirit or you will not enter the kingdom of God.
Friends, God hates sin. He hates it so much He DID send His Son to die that we might live. In fact, He poured out His wrath on His own Son that we might live through Him. Young denies separation from God in Hell (6:32) and describes hell as "in the present." It's interesting that Jesus talked more about Hell than of Heaven, yet Young believes you'll only go there if you absolutely want too. This is seen in the CARM video at 1:56 and 2:05.
If you've read the book or watched the movie already, don't worry, your salvation isn't at stake. It may be at stake if your theology lines up with that of Young's as portrayed in "The Shack." Use discernment when watching films. Whether it's The Shack, War Room, or Fireproof. Our theology comes from scripture, not fiction books or movies. Tell your unbelieving friends that God in the book doesn't represent the God of the Bible and use this as an opportunity to share Christ with them. Since the book uses very heart-felt issues and situations, be careful when talking to your friends and family as they may have gone through a similar situation and are looking for healing. Healing may come, but only through the Christ of scripture, not The Shack. Take some time this week to pray for William Paul Young and those he is leading astray with this fictional work. You may not agree with this post and think it is divisive, but there are people (some "christians" even) who may try to defend the theology presented in The Shack.
Pop culture will change according to the times, geography, politics, etc. God's Word never changes. Try not to get too excited when talking to friend about things tied to pop culture such as the latest book or movie. Remember that they may have a difficult time discerning truth as they may not be born again (1 John 4:1). Use these as opportunities to share the Good News (John 4). Transition into truth that endures for eternity. When talking with someone who believes this type of theology, use scripture to show correct theology. Use these conversations as an opportunity to invite them into a discipleship (or Bible study) relationship where you spend your time teaching good theology instead of arguing the bad.
Until next time... get some more bait and fish! Matt 4:19
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.