Thursday, December 22, 2022

That Rare Commodity


I listen to him on the radio often, most mornings in fact.  He is entertaining, and on most political issues worth hearing. On issues of morality, he comes across as, how should I put it, a decent role model. However, therein may lie the danger.  I hesitate to use the terminology of “a wolf in sheep’s clothing”, but there is good reason to beware.  While he speaks MUCH about God and uses Christian “lingo” every day, he is not a Christian (though he would claim the contrary). The man I am talking about is Glen Beck.

In case you missed it, Glen Beck is, and has been for many years, a Mormon.  So what’s the big deal, you might ask? Well, maybe you missed that as well, but Mormons are not Christians! In fact, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, also known as the Mormons or LDS, is THE most polytheistic (multiple gods) religion in the world, far surpassing even eastern religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism. In LDS theology, there are literally (and I mean literally in its original sense, not the way it is commonly used today), an infinite number of gods. Though they would claim to be monotheists, that is just another example of Mormons using a term in a way that is foreign to traditional Christian usage.  When they claim monotheism, what they mean is that they only worship the god of this planet.

The one called “Heavenly Father” in LDS teaching, was once a man (and a sinner!) from a planet circling a star called Kolob, who “progressed” into godhood at which time he “organized” this planet out of matter, which they believe to be eternal.  The “Jesus Christ” who they use in the name of their church is the firstborn of an innumerable number of spirit children born to “Heavenly Father” by one of his many wives, which he married as a man back on his home planet (where he earned his godhood). Also among “Heavenly Father’s” eldest spirit children is Lucifer, which makes Jesus and Lucifer brothers (there’s always one black sheep in the family, right?), and though much, much younger, you and I are also spirit brothers to them both. When it comes right down to it, a whole pile of the terms we use as Christians have a meaning among the LDS that is completely foreign to us.  Even “salvation”, which is arguably one of the most important concepts in Christianity, means something totally different to a Mormon.

 That is just the peak of the iceberg of reasons that Mormons cannot be called fellow Christians by those who truly are.  But back to Glen Beck. I do not argue that you should not listen to his radio program. He’s funny. His political views are generally quite reasonable.  Just be aware that when he starts talking religion, what comes out of his mouth does not mean the same thing to him as what you might think it means (assuming you are a Christian). Exercise some discernment; that commodity which seems to be so rare these days.

Wednesday, December 14, 2022




Seems that I hear it everyday, in one context or another. Perfect. Often its just a one-word commentary of general agreement. Perfect. Other times it’s used as sarcasm. Perfect. The tone of voice and the context will generally give away how “perfect” is meant to be taken.

The one way it less often used today is to express, well … perfection! Maybe that’s because we rarely see perfection here in this world, and with good reason. Ever since Adam took a bite out of that fruit, everything surrounding us has tasted the results of that most famous of taste tests.

But there is one thing we should all be reminded of when the word “perfect” comes into view.  That is a perfect salvation. And a perfect salvation is only possible when neither mercy or justice are compromised, one for the benefit of the other.  On the side of a perfect justice, every sin needs to be punished, period.  Not just forgiven, but punished. On the side of a perfect mercy, none of the sins can be punished, period. Not just a reduced or suspended sentence.  Such a dichotomy can only be overcome by a perfect Savior, one that lived a perfectly sinless life in order that He would be a perfect sacrifice to pay for the sins demanded by a perfect justice.

That is why Jesus is the only way to salvation. Sounds perfect to me.


Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Thanksgiving - Psalm 100 and the Pilgrims


Thanksgiving - Psalm 100 and the Pilgrims

This week we will celebrate a Holiday called Thanksgiving.  We probably all know a little about its origins with the Pilgrims, but here is a bit more.  The Pilgrims, when they lived in England were called Puritans due to their attempt to live their lives in a pure manner, as free from sin as they were able.  At that time, the Church of England did not allow people to worship except in the state-run churches and so a small group of these Puritans eventually decided to avoid persecution by coming to America so that they would be free to worship God as the Bible taught them.

 The country that they were coming to was a vast wilderness, with almost no other people except for the native Indians.  When they arrived in Massachusetts in December of 1620, the 102 Pilgrims had to quickly build shelters, but hey weren't prepared for how harsh the New England winter would be, and half of them died before spring. Yet, persevering in prayer, and assisted by helpful Indians, they reaped a bountiful harvest the following summer.  The grateful Pilgrims then declared a three-day feast, starting on December 13, 1621, to thank God and to celebrate his provision.

Can you imagine that? Less than a year earlier, half of their number had died, but now they were setting aside 3 days for thanksgiving and praise to God. These were Christians, and as such they were undoubtedly well acquainted with the Bible’s calls to thanksgiving.  One of those calls can be found in Psalm 100, which is only four verses long.

Psalm 100 Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands. Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing. Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.  Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.

Here are a few thoughts on this psalm.

Verse 1 says: "Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands."  That's what we do when we sing in a Church service.  We make a joyful noise.  And the verse goes on to say "all ye lands."  All people everywhere owe God thanks, because God blesses all of them.  God makes the sun shine and provides rain when it is needed.  That in turn causes the crops to grow that provide the food we all eat.  Everything we have; our clothes, our houses, everything... is ultimately provided by God because of his goodness.

Verse 2 tells us: "Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing."  We come before God’s presence when we pray, but also whenever we gather together to worship him. God is pleased when we do his will with a cheerful heart, and also when we sing praises to him.

Verse 3:  "Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture."  Aren't you glad that the LORD God is God.  If God were just a man like us, he would be susceptible to the same shortcomings as we are.  But since God is perfect in every way, and all powerful, we know that we can trust him and follow him, as a sheep follows the shepherd.  Just as a shepherd guides and protects his flock of sheep, God guides and protects his children. 

Verses 3&4 say:  "Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations."  Here we are told to praise the Lord and be thankful to him.  Why?  The answer is given right here in the verse: Because the LORD is good, and what is more, God doesn't change!   He always has been good and he always will be.  Aren't you thankful for that?  But most important, this verse tells us that God's mercy is everlasting. 

God showed his mercy to us by sending his Son Jesus Christ to die on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins, and those promises made concerning salvation through Jesus Christ have not expired.  Mercy is bestowed on every generation including ours and the generations that will follow us. That is something we should be thankful for every day of the year, and it is why the Pilgrims were so thankful to God despite all the hardships they endured.

We should give thanks for all things, but especially for salvation.  God provided salvation so that sinners like you and I can be saved from both the bondage of sin and the penalty for it that a perfect justice demands.

That salvation is found in the sinless life of the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who paid the price for sins, past present and future, on the cross at Calvary.  He suffered and died in our place, then rose again from the dead on the third day, that we might be declared righteous before God and live a life of thanksgiving to him!