God Is Not Cool


They were the coolest church in town--most active youth group, best worship team, service projects every week. Everyone knew and loved Friends Church.

They were in the schools, holding fundraisers for good causes, running to camps and retreats every few weeks. Membership rose weekly as word got out and the inferior churches in town pulled in their belts a notch and tried not to be jealous.

One Saturday afternoon, the other pastors got together. "What are they doing over there? Since we've all lost a significant number of attenders to Friends Church, maybe we should we be learning from them? Clearly God is blessing them."

So every week one pastor from a neighboring church visited Friends Church services. Six months later, they met again.

"They're sure booming," said one.

"Wow! What a praise team! Sounded professional."

"They've gone to three services, and still I could hardly get a seat."
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A short, freckled minister cleared his throat. "Gentlemen, I agree they are astounding. But did you all notice it? There was one thing missing."
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The other pastors waited.
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He swallowed hard. "The Holy Spirit never showed up."
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"What do you mean? That music was loud enough to shake the Heavens open!"
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"Yeah, you're just jealous."
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The nervous pastor of Calvary Bible Assembly wiped sweaty palms. "No, I'm not jealous. The sermon was uplifting all right, and the pastor referred to the Bible. But did any of you ever hear the plan of salvation clearly outlined? Did you hear the words sin or repentance ever mentioned? Does any of their literature describe their doctrine or what they really believe?"
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The other ministers looked at each other.
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Emboldened, the red-faced preacher went on. "I talked with J.T., their pastor. He says he believes everything we do, but he's working to build up the membership. Trying not to scare people away with the old-time hellfire and brimstone kind of thing. He wants it to be a place where everyone is comfortable."
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He shifted in his seat and studied the floor. "I'm not their judge, but it seems to me that those people are attracted to a fun God who doesn't exist. They were worshipping a cool Jesus of their own making. The Gospel of Christ has been exchanged for a modern, more palatable version of Christianity that says you can have all this and God too. Isn't that a religious version of the old bait-and-switch?"
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A long moment of silence followed as the other ministers considered his words.
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Then the tall, lanky pastor of Trinity Fellowship stood and smoothed out his slacks. "You know, George, you're right. It's so attractive it nearly fooled us, too. It's the new brand of Christianity that is not Christianity at all. It's a travesty. All those people...well, some of 'em used to be mine..."
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He shook his head. "They've been pulled away from the Truth by a gold-plated lie--all in the name of loving people."
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An older man nodded. "What about taking up your cross daily and following Jesus? What about seeking God's will, not mine? Where's the teaching on suffering for the Gospel's sake? Where's the definition of sin?"
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George stood and the others followed suit. "As for me, I'm gonna start praying for them instead of envying them, because there is nothing there to envy. They're not much more than a civic club with better music. I'd rather have my two hundred members and the Holy Spirit than three thousand without Him."
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He gazed across the parking lot at the flashing neon sign advertising Friends Church. "Sorry, J.T.," he whispered. "But God is not cool."
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Boy meets girl.
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Girl likes boy.
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They go to bed together.
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When did the rules change?
What happened to romance, sharing ideas, talking heart-to-heart, meeting the family...
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Marriage therapy is about to overload me in my ministry as a counselor. And take this statistic however you wish, but to date, 100% of my couples in trouble started their marriage in immorality.
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Whether in their 20's or in their 50's, every single one of them were professing believers in Christ and every single one of them lived openly in sexual sin before deciding to get married. Several were pregnant, some weren't, but none of them repented of it before marrying and for many, the counseling office is the first time they've ever openly admitted it was sin.
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We are producing a nation of moral gutter rats--and reaping the consequences. This post is not a soapbox for a moralizing middle-aged Puritan. It's simply a report of a statistic I find both sad and alarming.
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Marriage is difficult enough under the best of circumstances, but when it's begun under the cloud of disrespect and guilt (whether acknowledged or not), things tend to not get much better.
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Yes, God forgives. God can restore. He's doing just that for many of my clients. But the heartache they have had to endure for so many years was unnecessary and adds a heavy burden to an already strained relationship.
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What are we teaching our next generation?
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Sleep with whomever you wish whenever you wish, just don't get pregnant. And if you do, at least have an abortion so no one knows about it.
Marry if you must, but assume divorce is down the road and prepare for it.
Morality is old-fashioned, for religious zealots, and has nothing to do with your generation.
It has nothing to offer you.
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The sobbing wife in my counseling office may beg to differ. The confused husband is seeing things quite differently, now that it's too late. Now that respect is gone, friendship never was, and the rationalizing has stopped working.
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As usual, God knew what He was talking about when he decreed purity for his children. He knows what good marriages are built upon.
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Maybe He's old-fashioned, too. But He's also very accurate.
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Did I Hear Right?


But it turned out terrible!


This is nothing like I thought would happen!


How could this be right if it was God's will?

I must have misunderstood what God asked me to do!


Have you ever followed what you knew in your spirit was God's direction, and the results were nothing like you expected?

Did it make you question God? Yourself? Your ability to hear God?


The Bible is filled with commands to obey God. It is also filled with examples of people who did or didn't obey. And most of the the time, when someone listened to God and obeyed His voice, things didn't go as they expected them to. God doesn't work within our time frame or necessarily agree with our definition of success.


  • God promised Abraham a son in his old age. But it was 25 years before that promise was fulfilled.


  • God promised to deliver the Israelites from their Egyptian tormentors, but suddenly they stood on the banks of the Red Sea.


  • God promised to send a Messiah to deliver his people. Instead, a Jewish baby was born to a poverty-stricken couple, who had to run for their lives to protect him.


  • God told Noah to build a boat because a great flood was coming. But he had to endure the ridicule of the neighbors for another century before he saw a drop of rain. How he must have wondered: Did I hear right? Am I sure this is what God said?

What has God promised to do in your life if you submit to His will? Are you doubting that promise? Are you second-guessing every decision you made, trying to figure out why it isn't working out like you thought it would? You're in good company.

Remember this: Obedience is not measured in results. The outcome is not yours to predict. The battle is the Lord's.


So, get to it!

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Has God Won the Popular Vote?

(Due to extreme busyness, I am running a previous post from last year. Thanks for stopping by.)



God is popular these days.
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Oprah talks about him; He's explored and discussed on the Discovery Channel; movie stars displaying varying degrees of sanity invoke his name at will, and most winners of prestigious awards end up thanking him at some point, lifting their trophy to the ceiling as though the Almighty One they had ignored all year was winking down on their success.
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Yet, the news is filled with continual public arguments when anyone wants to actually include him in society. Try to have the Ten Commandments displayed in a public place. Ask to have the story of Creation displayed alongside the far-fetched tribal beliefs and evolutionary theories at zoos or museums and righteous indignation fills the city."Whose God are you talking about?" they cry.
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So how can the concept of God be so popular and UN-popular at the same time?
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The answer is easy. Humanity loves the concept of God, but trembles in horror at the reality of Him. We worship a god of our own making. The characteristics of Jehovah, as outlined in the Bible, don't always fit with who we'd like God to be. So we ignore that part. It can't be real. We must have misunderstood.
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The popular vision of God portrays Him as a fluffy little cupid who watches over us all, eventually overlooks whatever he doesn't like, and sweeps us all to Heaven to become angels. After all, that's what a LOVING God would do, and above all, our God must be loving. Only loving. Not righteous. Not holy. Not vengeful for any reason. And never intolerant.
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Tolerance is the Pop-god's platform, the mantra being "All paths lead to god." And that's absolutely correct. All those paths do lead to the same god, and eventually the same end. Because any god of human creation is not really God at all.
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I couldn't worship and fear a god I created. He would be as flawed as I am. He would not require enough of me. Besides, any god who would accept our confoluted idea of him isn't God at all. It's a human-concocted fantasy.
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Our mission during our short span on this earth is to discover just who this entity is, not to try to re-create him in our image. To fall short of this goal is the ultimate failure and can never be undone.
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More damaging than atheism is the concept that God can be re-defined at the whim of humanity. That God can be both defamed and claimed in the same breath--and doesn't mind at all. That God has no interest in right and wrong, except when it concerns those issues important to the human in question. That God's opinions change with society's opinions--He's a real cool dude!
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Beware of the current popularity of God. The God of the Bible has never been more unpopular. Jesus was not popular with the rich and famous when he walked the earth, because he called them names and told them they were hypocrites. They were even willing to stoop to murder to stop him. Shut him up! He is messing with our idea of God!
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Nothing has changed. Mankind continually re-invents gods of their liking and pretends we are all talking about the same God. We're not. The next time you hear someone talk about their "faith in God," don't accept their words at face value. Dig a little deeper and find out which one he is. There is a good chance you have never met their god and they have never known yours..
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Faith Requires Action


She wasn't as old as she looked, but decades of chain-smoking, stress, and misery had added years to her face and curved her shoulders.
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"So, I been to counselors, therapists, psychologists...you name it. I heard it all, and what I wanna know from you is what am I supposed to do?"
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Beady brown eyes locked on mine and I had a sudden, desperate wish to be anywhere else. Every counselor's nightmare sat in the chair opposite mine and now she was my nightmare. God had brought her to me.
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I made a mental note to discuss this a bit further with my Heavenly Father as my new client launched into what would become a 2 1/2 hour marathon session.
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Her problem came down to one that is surprisingly common: she knew what she needed to do, but had every excuse in the world why she couldn't do it. She keeps looking for that Wizard of Oz who will give her magic dust to sprinkle over her horrific life and fix everything without her having to take that scary step of faith and obey God.
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So many people live their entire lives right there.
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We try everything we can think of, talk to everyone who will listen, consult Oprah and Dr. Phil until we can repeat all the psycho-jumble as well as anyone, but all the talk in the world can't fix what's wrong. We have to take action; change what we have the power to change.
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And that terrifies us. Change? Take that hard first step?
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We'd rather complain.
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Faith always requires action and action is scary. Hebrews 11 gives us an amazing list of people throughout history who have taken that first scary step by faith--and been blessed by God because of it. God knows change is hard, that's why it pleases Him so when we do it anyway.
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Would you rather complain about your pesky situation or change it? Have you grown used to the irritation the way a blister grows around a splinter? You don't like it, but it's been there so long you're used to it. And familiar feels comfortable after a while.
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Staying with the familiar stunts our growth. God presses us toward change because only then do we experience Him in new ways, rely on His strength, and learn more truth about ourselves. The familiar does not require any faith. We can do that in our own strength, but in doing the familiar, we miss out on the pleasure of working hand-in-hand with God.
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What obstacle are you hiding behind? What might God be asking you to do that terrifies you?
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Is it time to take that first scary step toward change and let God begin His transforming work in you? It may not be easy, but it is always better because now God is in it with you.
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So, How Are You?


I still haven't gotten all the sap out of my hair. The old pine tree was leaking when I leaned against it. And every time I mow underneath it, I'm usually stuck with gummy hair for a few days. It's old, but it's sappy.
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If you are past a "certain age," I have great news for you. You, too, can be sappy!
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A "certain age" can be defined as that period of time when you see your parent when you look in the mirror, your former high school classmates look like the people on the Depends commercials, and you find yourself wearing a muumuu on the beach. And even into the water.
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You know who you are!
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If you've begun to suspect that your most productive days are in the past, I have exciting news for you! Psalm 92 talks about the righteous--those who seek God continually, dwell in his courts, and honor him with everything they have.
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Verse 12-13 has a prophecy for us of a "certain age." It says we will bear fruit in our old age. But verse 14 is my favorite. The King James translates this verse as saying "You will grow fat and flourishing," but in our culture, that's not a promise we would all flock to.
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I like the New American Standard version better. It says we will be "full of sap and very green."
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Isn't that a great comeback to the throw-away question: How are you? Who would expect that?
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Your most fruitful days may be just ahead! The first half of your life was just preparation. You've finally arrived at the place where all the experience, the wisdom, the mistakes and the triumphs can come together to produce beautiful, healthy fruit for the kingdom of God. Jesus' earthly ministry only lasted 3 years, but what an impact! Your chronological age means nothing in God's time frame. If you stay in His presence, He will keep you sappy!
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So, if you're living for Christ, seeking God with all your heart, and aging gracefully, then you have a new answer when someone asks how you are.
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"I'm full of sap and very green!" you can say with confidence. To their puzzled expression, you can reply, "Psalm 92. Look it up!"
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