Is Critical Race Theory Compatible With Christianity?

This will be the topic of my first podcast. It will be dropping this coming week! I’m excited and can’t wait to share this with you!

BTW: You may wonder if this topic really matters for you and the world you live in. Let me assure you, it matters and the conversation is only growing louder. You need to know!

The Importance of a Discipleship Pathway

I have been working with the elders and staff at New Life Church over the past year or so to develop a Discipleship Pathway. I would define a Discipleship Pathway like this: The Discipleship Pathway is a simple process throughout the church that equips people to become mature disciple makers of Jesus Christ.

Why is a Discipleship Pathway so important? Man, where do I even start? Often times leaders complain about a consumer mentality among those who attend church.

A Discipleship Pathway is perhaps the most important tool we have to change the mindset in the church from consumerism to discipleship.

A Discipleship Pathway communicates to everyone that the goal of church life is much more than merely attending services and programs. The goal of church life is to help everyone to grow in spiritual maturity and to be equipped to make disciples.

I am happy to acknowledge that as a church we have gleaned much insight from Replicate Ministry and Long Hollow Baptist Church. We have read their books. Watched their training videos. We have interacted with them a bit on the phone and via email.

The beauty and power behind the Discipleship Pathway is that it is modeling ministry after the life of Jesus Christ. Jesus focused on four primary areas of ministry; congregation, community, core, and the crowd. You can see the picture below to see how it works.

I preached a sermon about the Discipleship Pathway this past Sunday. Go to the 33:20 mark for the sermon.

I have a lot to learn, which means that I would love to hear from you! Questions, thoughts, ideas. Feel free to leave a comment and I will certainly respond!

You can click on THIS link to learn about D Groups. I believe D Groups are one of the most frequently missing components in the life of the church.

Daniel 10 “The Unseen Battle”

Introduction

Dr. Dickason was one of my professors at Moody Bible Institute. He taught a class on demons and angels. I remember in one of his classes he played an audio recording of a counseling session with a young lady who was possessed by a demon. During the audio recording you could hear the voice of the woman changing and it was freaky to say the least. Why bring this up? Spiritual warfare is real and it is all around us.

Daniel 10

In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia a word was revealed to Daniel, who was named Belteshazzar. And the word was true, and it was a great conflict. And he understood the word and had understanding of the vision.

2 In those days I, Daniel, was mourning for three weeks. 3 I ate no delicacies, no meat or wine entered my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, for the full three weeks. 4 On the twenty-fourth day of the first month, as I was standing hon the bank of the great river (that is, the Tigris) 5 I lifted up my eyes and looked, and behold, a man clothed in linen, with a belt of fine gold from Uphaz around his waist. 6 His body was like beryl, his face like the appearance of lightning, phis eyes like flaming torches, his arms and legs like the gleam of burnished bronze, and the sound of his words like the sound of a multitude. 7 And I, Daniel, alone saw the vision, for the men who were with me did not see the vision, but a great trembling fell upon them, and they fled to hide themselves. 8 So I was left alone and saw this great vision, and no strength was left in me. My radiant appearance was fearfully changed, and I retained no strength. 9 Then I heard the sound of his words, and as I heard the sound of his words, I fell on my face in deep sleep with my face to the ground.

10 And behold, a hand touched me and set me trembling on my hands and knees. 11 And he said to me, “O Daniel, man greatly loved, understand the words that I speak to you, and stand upright, for now I have been sent to you.” And when he had spoken this word to me, I stood up trembling. 12 Then he said to me, “Fear not, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand and humbled yourself before your God, your words have been heard, and I have come because of your words. 13 The prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days, but Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I was left there with the kings of Persia, 14 and came to make you understand what is to happen to your people in the latter days. For the vision is for days yet to come.”

15 When he had spoken to me according to these words, jI turned my face toward the ground and was mute. 16 And behold, lone in the likeness of the children of man touched my lips. Then I opened my mouth and spoke. I said to him who stood before me, “O my lord, by reason of the vision pains have come upon me, and I retain no strength. 17 How can my lord’s servant talk with my lord? For now no strength remains in me, and no breath is left in me.”

18 Again lone having the appearance of a man touched me and strengthened me. 19 And he said, “O man greatly loved, fear not, peace be with you; be strong and of good courage.” And as he spoke to me, I was strengthened and said, “Let my lord speak, for you have strengthened me.” 20 Then he said, “Do you know why I have come to you? But now I will return to fight against the prince of Persia; and when I go out, behold, the prince of Greece will come. 21 But I will tell you what is inscribed in the book of truth: there is none who contends by my side against these except Michael, your prince.

The reason for Daniel’s distress in this chapter

Early on in this chapter it talks about how distressed Daniel was. Why was that the case?

ONE: So many Jews were seduced by their Babylonian culture that they did not even want to return to Jerusalem! How comfortable have we gotten in our Babylonian culture today? Have we lost our sense of passion and urgency when it comes to living for God?

TWO: The Jews that did return were faced with incredibly strong opposition (Ezra 3:1-16).

The reality of Satan and demonic spirits

We know in God’s Word that there are good and bad angels. Demons are fallen angels (Revelation 12:9).

In this passage we learn something fascinating, there are territorial demons. In verse 13 we hear about the Prince of Persia and in verse 20 we read about the Prince of Greece. How do we know that these are references to demonic spirits? The Prince of Persia was able to keep a mighty angel of God from being able to get to Daniel. No human has the ability or the power to do such a thing.

We must be careful about both underemphasizing and overemphasizing demonic influence

OVEREMPHASIZING: Some people see a demon behind every problem. They also believe and teach that the primary way we grow spiritually is through a power encounter with demonic forces. We know from the New Testament, especially the writings of the apostle Paul, that we primarily grow through surrendering our life to Jesus, reading the bible, prayer, and being involved in the family of God.

UNDEREMPHASIZING: When I was a young adult I was witnessing to a woman by the name of Gia. We worked together at Westcourt in the Buttes in Tempe, Arizona. Gia was big time into the New Age. She told me that her daughter was interacting with spiritual visitors in her bedroom. I had the strong belief back then that these visitors were demonic. I was witnessing to Gia and getting my friends together to pray for her. I mentioned to Gia that I was praying for her and she said she thought something weird was going on with her spiritually. Then she told me that she was praying for me….which I did not want or need! Not long after that I was hit with a fatigue that was unlike anything I had ever experienced before. I would sleep for 1o hours and wake up tired. On top of that I was hit with a strong depression. I have always wondered if my chronic fatigue was somehow related to the spiritual warfare going on. It would not surprise me at all.

Six spiritual truths that we need to embrace

ONE: There is a spiritual battle going on all around us. Daniel 10 makes this point very clear. We have an enemy that wants to destroy us. We must be on guard against the enemies lies and temptations.

TWO: We love people and hate evil. It is a very sinister thing to watch Christians hate people who think and live differently from them. We need to care for and love those who are enslaved to their own sinful desires. “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” -Ephesians 6:12

THREE: Demons can delay answers to prayers. The angel in this passage was delayed for 21 days because of a demonic spirit. Which leads very nicely to my next point!

FOUR: Christians must persevere in prayer. Martin Luther wrote this, “The devil is not only a liar, but also a murderer, he constantly seeks our life, and wreaks his anger whenever he can afflict our bodies with misfortune and harm. Hence it comes that he often breaks men’s necks or drives them to insanity, drowns some, and incites many to commit suicide, and to many other terrible calamities. Therefore there is nothing for us to do upon earth but to pray against this arch enemy without ceasing.”

Becoming a man of prayer and leading our church to deeper levels of prayer is something that the Spirit of God has placed on my heart over the past year. I know for us to be the church that God wants us to become we must persevere in prayer for our families, church and the community all around us.

FIVE: God desires to use us to overcome the kingdom of darkness. Daniel was a threat to the Prince of Persia because of his faith, his life of obedience, and because he was a man of prayer. Are we a threat to the evil one or have we been sidelined by a million distractions and temptations?

SIX: The gospel is the key to overcoming the kingdom of darkness. Evangelism and discipleship are main tools we should use (besides prayer). Let’s put down the culture war tools (anger, fighting, name calling, etc.). Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”

How does this passage point us to Jesus?

Jesus overcame sin and evil through his death on the cross and his resurrection.


Colossians 2:13-15, “And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.”

Daniel 8 “God Is Working All Things For The Good”

Introduction

These prophecies that were given to Daniel can be hard to understand. I fully identify with Daniel when he writes this in verse 27, “I Daniel, was overcome, and lay sick for some days.” These visions are NOT easy to understand, but God is the one who has given them to us so that we know they are for our good, amen? When you are committed to expository preaching you will be forced to preach through difficult passages.

Daniel 8

In the third year of the reign of King Belshazzar a vision appeared to me, Daniel, after that which appeared to me mat the first. 2 And I saw in the vision; and when I saw, I was in Susa the citadel, which is in the province of Elam. And I saw in the vision, and I was at the Ulai canal. 3 I raised my eyes and saw, and behold, a ram standing on the bank of the canal. It had two horns, and both horns were high, but one was higher than the other, and the higher one came up last. 4 I saw the ram charging westward and northward and southward. No beast could stand before him, and there was no one who could rescue from his power. He did as he pleased and became great.

5 As I was considering, behold, a male goat came from the west across the face of the whole earth, without touching the ground. And the goat had ya conspicuous horn between his eyes. 6 He came to the ram with the two horns, which I had seen standing on the bank of the canal, and he ran at him in his powerful wrath. 7 I saw him come close to the ram, band he was enraged against him and struck the ram and broke his two horns. And the ram had no power to stand before him, but he cast him down to the ground and trampled on him. And there was no one who could rescue the ram from his power. 8 Then the goat became exceedingly great, but when he was strong, the great horn was broken, and instead of it there came up four conspicuous horns toward fthe four winds of heaven.

9 Out of one of them came a little horn, which grew exceedingly great toward the south, toward the east, and toward the glorious land. 10 It grew great, even to the host of heaven. And some of the host and some1 of the stars it threw down to the ground and trampled on them. 11 It became great, even as great as the Prince of the host. And the regular burnt offering was taken away from him, and the place of his sanctuary was overthrown. 12 And a host will be given over to it together with the regular burnt offering because of transgression,2 and it will throw truth to the ground, and it will act and prosper. 13 Then I heard a holy one speaking, and another holy one said to the one who spoke, “For how long is the vision concerning the regular burnt offering, the transgression that makes desolate, and the giving over of the sanctuary and host to be trampled underfoot?” 14 And he said to me,3 “For 2,300 evenings and mornings. Then the sanctuary shall be restored to its rightful state.”


15 When I, Daniel, had seen the vision, I sought to understand it. And behold, there stood before me one having the appearance of a man. 16 And I heard a man’s voice between the banks of the Ulai, and it called, “Gabriel, make this man understand the vision.” 17 So he came near where I stood. And when he came, I was frightened band fell on my face. But he said to me, “Understand, O son of man, that the vision is for the time of the end.”

18 And when he had spoken to me, I fell into a deep sleep with my face to the ground. But he touched me and made me stand up. 19 He said, “Behold, I will make known to you what shall be at the latter end of the indignation, for it refers to the appointed time of the end. 20 As for the ram that you saw with the two horns, these are the kings of Media and Persia. 21 And the goat4 is the king of Greece. And the great horn between his eyes is the first king. 22 As for the horn that was broken, in place of which four others arose, four kingdoms shall arise from his5 nation, but not with his power. 23 And at the latter end of their kingdom, when the transgressors have reached their limit, a king of bold face, one who understands riddles, shall arise. 24 His power shall be great—but not by his own power; and he shall cause fearful destruction and shall succeed in what he does, and destroy mighty men and the people who are the saints. 25 By his cunning he shall make deceit prosper under his hand, and in his own mind she shall become great. Without warning he shall destroy many. And he shall even rise up against the Prince of princes, and he shall be broken—but by no human hand. 26 The vision of the evenings and the mornings that has been told is true, but seal up the vision, for it refers to many days from now.”

27 And I, Daniel, was overcome and lay sick for some days. Then I rose and went about the king’s business, but I was appalled by the vision and did not understand it.

Outline of this chapter

The prophetic vision (verses 1-14)

The interpretation of the prophetic vision (verses 15-27)

The RAM is the Medo-Persians

The GOAT is the Greeks.

The two primary men that ruled these mentioned kingdoms are:

Alexander the Great: The four horns that come from him are generals that ruled after he died. The one special horn is a man By the name of….

Antiochus Epiphanes: Ruled over Palestine from 175-64 B.C. He gave himself the name Epiphanes which means “god manifest.” He was ruthless to the Jews, when they revolts against him he went into the temple, stopped the sacrifices, had a pig sacrificed for the false god Zeus. This is the abomination of desolation.

The 2300 days that is mentioned in verse is probably a reference to the length of time that it would take for the temple to be cleansed of the desecration from Antiochus Epiphanes.

Do we see mention of the Antichrist in this passage?

I believe the answer is yes. Why do I say that? The Antichrist will fight against the Prince of Hosts (verse 25). The Prince of Hosts is a reference to Jesus Christ. There is a clear foreshadowing of the future abomination of desolation that happens in the end times (Matthew 24).

Macro and micro look at what God is doing in and through Israel

MACRO: Disciplining the nation of Israel because he (God) loves them. This is reason they are in Babylon in the first place. They are in Babylon and being disciplined because they are not seeking after God with all of their heart.

MICRO: Transforming them (each person) so that that their lives bring him glory. In Isaiah 49:6 we read this, “I will make you as a light for the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.” God wanted to be first in their life and he also desired to use them to reach others. Are you seeking after God with all of your heart these days? Is their an area of your life that you need to surrender to God?

How are you dealing with the difficulties of living in our Babylonian culture?

In this passage God is going out of his way to let us know that difficult time are coming. The Jews were only going to be in Babylonian captivity for 70 years. But this vision is revealing that more trials are coming even after they are out of captivity! Daniel’s reaction to this vision is quite telling, he became sick for days. How ae you responding to the trials you are experiencing? Is God bringing discipline into your life to shape you into the image of his Son Jesus Christ? Are you cooperating with the work he wants to do in you?

Many times instead of cooperating with God during difficult times we run to coping mechanisms (idols). Drinking, food, Netflix, pleasure, work, shopping, sex. Anything other than really dealing with the pain and being transformed into the image of Christ.

What do you need to know in a world filled with pain and suffering? God is in control and he is working all things for the good.

How do we see that God is in control in this passage? God is giving specific details about what will happen in the future. Details that come true. God wants Daniel, God wants you and I to know that even though the world looks out of control, it’s not.

We should not be surprised that life is hard! In 1 Peter 4:12 we read this, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.”

As we turn to Romans 8:28 we learn “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for the good…”

Consider the young Jewish family that returned from Babylonian Captivity only to find this madman by the name of Antiochus Epiphanes was waging war against your homeland…

The teenage Jewish girl might have wondered if it was worth it to continue and pursue godliness, she wondered if God even noticed her anymore.

The Jewish dad who was giving into rage because of the politics of his day, he wondered where in the world God was to be found.

The young adult who began to think he should just live for the day, maybe all these prophecies were just old myths.

God is saying in Daniel 8, don’t give up! God is saying to each one of us, don’t give up! Jesus is coming to return, let’s trust him, walk with him, live for him with abandon.

Daniel 7:15-27 “Who is the Antichrist?”

Introduction: How the Battle Began

Sometime in ages past there was a battle against Satan and God (Isaiah 14:12-14) . Satan was originally a good angel but was slowly filled with pride and wanted to be worshipped. Satan wanted to be like God. Satan, and one third of all the angels were kicked out of heaven. From that point on Satan as been on a mission to stop God and to destroy the lives of God’s people. This is the story that we are living in right now.

Daniel 7:15-27

15 “As for me, Daniel, my spirit within me was anxious, and the visions of my head alarmed me. 16 I approached one of those who stood there and asked him the truth concerning all this. So he told me and made known to me the interpretation of the things. 17 ‘These four great beasts are four kings who shall arise out of the earth. 18 But the saints of the Most High shall receive the kingdom and possess the kingdom forever, forever and ever.’

19 “Then I desired to know the truth about the fourth beast, which was different from all the rest, exceedingly terrifying, with its teeth of iron and claws of bronze, and which devoured and broke in pieces and stamped what was left with its feet, 20 and about the ten horns that were on its head, and the other horn that came up and before which three of them fell, the horn that had eyes and a mouth that spoke great things, and that seemed greater than its companions. 21 As I looked, this horn made war with the saints and prevailed over them, 22 until the Ancient of Days came, and judgment was given for the saints of the Most High, and the time came when the saints possessed the kingdom.

23 “Thus he said: ‘As for the fourth beast,

there shall be a fourth kingdom on earth,
which shall be different from all the kingdoms,
and it shall devour the whole earth,
and trample it down, and break it to pieces.
24 As for the ten horns,
out of this kingdom ten kings shall arise,
and another shall arise after them;
he shall be different from the former ones,
and shall put down three kings.
25 He shall speak words against the Most High,
and shall wear out the saints of the Most High,
and shall think to change the times and the law;
and they shall be given into his hand
for a time, times, and half a time.
26 But the court shall sit in judgment,
and his dominion shall be taken away,
to be consumed and destroyed to the end.
27 And the kingdom and the dominion
and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven
shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High;
his kingdom shall be an everlasting kingdom,
and all dominions shall serve and obey him.’

28 “Here is the end of the matter. As for me, Daniel, my thoughts greatly alarmed me, and my color changed, but I kept the matter in my heart.”

What is the chronology of the end times?

Rapture of the church (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, Revelation 3:10)

The Antichrist signs a covenant with Israel (Daniel 9:27)

7 year tribulation begins (Revelation 6-16)

The antichrist is wounded half way through the 7 year tribulation (Revelation 13:3)

The Second Coming of Jesus (Revelation 19:11-21)

Armageddon battle and the Antichrist is thrown into the lake of fire (Revelation 19:11-21)

1000 year millennium (Revelation 20)

Great White Thrown Judgment (Revelation 20:11-15)

The new heaven and earth (Revelation 21-22)

What are the names of the Antichrist?

The little horn (Daniel 7), Man of Lawlessness (2 Thessalonians 2:3), the Antichrist (1 John 2:18, Beast coming out of the sea (Revelation 13:1)

What will the Antichrist do?

What is the definition of the Antichrist? The Antichrist is one who is both against Christ and in the place of Christ.

He will be a world leader (Daniel 7:23). he will be a powerful politician, set up a peace treaty with Israel and the world, initially, will love him.

He will try to destroy Christianity and the nation of Israel (Daniel 7:25, Revelation 13:7).

He will work so that everyone will worship him (Revelation 13:8).

He will require people to be marked on the right hand or the forehead or else you will not be able to buy food (Revelation 13:16)

People who are saved during the tribulation will be hunted down (Revelation 6:9)

How will the Antichrist be destroyed?

Jesus will destroy the Antichrist and all evil (Revelation 19:19). 2 Thessalonians 2:8 tells us that Jesus will stop the Antichrist with the breath of his mouth!

Conclusion: How the battle ends and how we need to live in the middle of this story

We need to radically adjust our everyday life so that it aligns with the great story of God. In 1 Thessalonians 5 we learn how we are to live in light of the fact that the great and awful day of the Lord is coming, “So then let us not sleep as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober.” If you knew a massive hurricane was going to hit your city tomorrow you would act accordingly. You would not go living like normal.

What story are are living in right now?

American dream?

Worldly achievements?

Merely surviving?

We are living in the middle of the greatest story ever told. Satan is attempting to take out as many people as possible. Jesus has given us the urgent mission of reaching the lost and making disciples.

What story are you living in?

If I Were The Devil

I preached from Daniel 10 yesterday morning. Daniel is a key text when it comes to looking behind the curtain of everyday life and seeing the spiritual battle that is going on all around us.

12 Then he said to me, “Fear not, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand and humbled yourself before your God, your words have been heard, and I have come because of your words. 13 The prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days, but Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I was left there with the kings of Persia, 14 and came to make you understand what is to happen to your people in the latter days. For the vision is for days yet to come.” Daniel 10: 12-14

I took a few moments on Sunday and talked about what I would do if I were the devil. Thought I would take a few moments and expand upon it here on my blog.

I would get Christians to obsessively watch the news.

I would get Christians to use social media in such a way that brings dishonor to the name of Jesus Christ.

I would keep Christians from praying and going deep in the Word of God.

I would get Christians focused on talking about Covid, politics, masks, vaccinations. The last thing I would want them to talk about is the gospel.

I would get Christians angry at other people who come from different theological and political tribes.

I would get Christians to begin to lose interest in being a part of the local church. Sunday attendance is not that bad, but I would keep them from meaningful community.

I would use Christians to stir up division and strife with others in the church.

I would make Christians confused about the priority between being a patriot and being a follower of Jesus Christ.

I would get Christians to believe the intoxicating lie that they can only make changes in the world if they are in a position of power.

I would lead Christians to believe that making disciples and investing in people is optional.

I would get Christians to believe in all kinds of modern day false prophecies.

I would use fear to rob them of their joy. I would make them so unhappy that they would be terrible advertising for the Christian life.

The Importance of Prayer (Sermon) Daniel 9:1-19

God has really been stirring my heart lately about the importance of prayer. We have been adding some corporate prayer times to our monthly schedule as a church because we strongly believe that if we want to see the Spirit of God at work in a powerful way we must take prayer seriously. I don’t do this often, but I am sharing with you the sermon I preached this past Sunday. It is from Daniel 9:1-19 and in this passage Daniel reveals what it looks like to go beyond maintenance prayer to front line prayer. Once you click on it you can go to the 39:00 minute mark for the beginning of the sermon.

The Importance of Prayer from Daniel 9:1-19