CTT | God’s Word for You in 2016

Happy New Year 2016!

God’s Word for You in 2016 is the same as it has been since the second century A.D., namely the whole of scriptures from בְּרֵאשִׁית (“In the beginning” of Gen 1:1) to the ἀμήν (Amen of Rev 22:21).

Does God have a special word for His Church in 2016? No. Does He have a special slogan or focus verse for your church in 2016? No.

2 Timothy 3 (ESV) | Godlessness in the Last Days

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty.For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive,disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men corrupted in mind and disqualified regarding the faith. But they will not get very far, for their folly will be plain to all, as was that of those two men.

All Scripture Is Breathed Out by God

10 You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, 11 my persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra—which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me. 12 Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13 while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

Why do so many self-proclaimed prophets/apostles declare a “word of the Lord” for the new calendar year? Because they are false and practicing divination, sooth-saying, and astrology. I can say that of the big ones, the celebrity false prophets like Heidi Baker, Patricia King, Bill Hammon, Dutch Sheets, Bill Johnson, Chuck Pierce, Rick Joyner, and whoever else you might see writing something “prophetic” in Charisma Magazine. But there are a thousands of deceived pastors and church-plant leaders, who’ve attended “leadership conferences” who believe they are supposed to get a direct revelation from God concerning this new calendar year… that God the Holy Spirit has some special word for 2016, as though He were some 2-bit marketing guru with a psychology degree. They are under the mistaken notion that it is up to them to deliver some fresh word from God otherwise the congregation will miss out on what God is doing in 2016. Such a horrible burden… horrible and unbiblical. This is neither the role of the pastor nor of the Holy Spirit we see clearly written in Scripture.

2 Timothy 4:1-8 (ESV) | Preach the Word

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of mydeparture has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.

God isn’t bound to any calendar, much less our Roman one. He isn’t bound to the Hebrew Calendar, either. God’s Will is accomplished by His Power and Might. God wasn’t waiting for the ball to drop in NYC. He wasn’t waiting for a shofar to blow in Jerusalem. We are not a part of the Mosaic covenant; rather, we who are of the faith are part of the New Covenant by the Blood of Jesus Christ. Remember the Galatians, who were gentiles at first, saved by the Gospel of Jesus Christ and then deceived by the Judaizers to submit themselves under the Mosaic covenant, look at what Paul had to say to them in the following passage:

Galatians 3:23-4:20 (ESV)

23 Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. 24 So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, 26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.

Sons and Heirs

I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, is no different from a slave,though he is the owner of everything, but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by his father. In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world. But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.

Paul’s Concern for the Galatians

Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods. But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more?10 You observe days and months and seasons and years! 11 I am afraid I may have labored over you in vain.

12 Brothers, I entreat you, become as I am, for I also have become as you are.You did me no wrong. 13 You know it was because of a bodily ailment that I preached the gospel to you at first, 14 and though my condition was a trial to you, you did not scorn or despise me, but received me as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus. 15 What then has become of your blessedness? For I testify to you that, if possible, you would have gouged out your eyes and given them to me.16 Have I then become your enemy by telling you the truth? 17 They make much of you, but for no good purpose. They want to shut you out, that you may make much of them. 18 It is always good to be made much of for a good purpose, and not only when I am present with you, 19 my little children, for whom I am again in the anguish of childbirth until Christ is formed in you! 20 I wish I could be present with you now and change my tone, for I am perplexed about you.

Just as the Judaizers wished to shut out the Galatians so that they would in-turn make much of them… these false-prophets seek to insert themselves as intermediaries between you and your Heavenly Father. They want you to flock to them for a fresh word from God… a word that will carry no meaning, no weight, no Life but will make you feel important, special, and motivated to do more (for them) and give more (money to them).


Is it a sin to look forward to the new year? No. Is it a sin to make resolutions or to set goals for the new year? Absolutely not. It is a sin to search for God in ways He has expressly forbidden… mediums, diviners, and false prophets. Repent, and be forgiven in Jesus’ Name. Read the Written Word of God… let it be sufficient to for you as Paul told Timothy it was. God’s Word is sufficient. It is the only means by which we might gain faith. Be in the Word, be in Christ, and do not be led astray by men who preach a different gospel and speak by a different spirit.

Revelation 19:6-10 (ESV) | The Marriage Supper of the Lamb

Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out,

For the Lord our God
    the Almighty reigns.
Let us rejoice and exult
    and give him the glory,
for the marriage of the Lamb has come,
    and his Bride has made herself ready;
it was granted her to clothe herself
    with fine linen, bright and pure”—

for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.

And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.” 10 Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God.” For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.

In Christ Jesus,

CTT | Discernment and Discretion in Giving

studyToday’s Completing The Thought (CTT) post will centered around the question of Giving for the Sake of the Gospel. Because the most popular feature of our blog week is our Discernment in Music (DiM) post, our focus today will be on the nature of Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) radio stations that are listener supported.

Since we will be speaking about money and giving, I feel it is important to inform the reader of our position on the oft-quoted Malachi 3:10 by those who seek to impose the Mosaic Tithe upon Christians. CTT | Will Man Rob God?

In our area of Georgia, we have two strong (signal-strength) listener-supported CCM broadcast stations, one of which is about to go into their fund-raising week. There are many proof-texts used in church fundraising slogans that we will need to start addressing specifically in our CTT posts. For now, I want to take a more general approach. The intent here is to call my brothers and sisters in Christ to discernment and discretion in their Giving to para-church ministries.

Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians

While modern-day evangelicalism still struggles with the misuse of Malachi in church fundraising, we don’t often get many para-church organizations taking that route. No, instead we generally get more humble appeals to 2 Corinthians 9, beginning in verse 6. Let’s take a look.

2 Corinthians 9:6-11 (ESV) | The Cheerful Giver

The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. As it is written,

“He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor;
    his righteousness endures forever.”

10 He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness.11 You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God.

God does, indeed, love a cheerful giver. That is clearly written in scripture. Paul isn’t teaching that here so much as reminding them of this fact of Scripture. In fact, the standard of scripture is such that we are called to give lovingly to our enemies… a far more challenging call to gracious giving:

Matthew 5:38-48 (ESV) | Love Your Enemies

38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’39 But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. 41 And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42 Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you. 43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Please remember that here, Jesus is preaching the Law, the commandments of God. This isn’t the Gospel. On account of our sinfulness, we all fall short of this perfection of the Father, and so incur more sin. The Gospel of Grace is that by faith we are granted the Righteousness of Jesus Christ, and made free to extend the Love and Grace we’ve received. My point here being that these good works cannot be performed in hopes of acquiring righteousness before God; rather, they can only be performed as the result of a righteousness granted to us by grace through faith in Christ Jesus. An excellent little phrase I find most helpful is:

“God doesn’t need our good works, but our neighbor does.” – Gustaf Wingren

So, if Paul isn’t teaching on how to give to please God, what is he doing in this part of his letter to the Corinthians? Let’s read the local and then the greater context of this portion of his letter.

2 Corinthians 9:1-5 (ESV) | The Collection for Christians in Jerusalem

Now it is superfluous for me to write to you about the ministry for the saints,for I know your readiness, of which I boast about you to the people of Macedonia, saying that Achaia has been ready since last year. And your zeal has stirred up most of them. But I am sending the brothers so that our boasting about you may not prove empty in this matter, so that you may be ready, as I said you would be. Otherwise, if some Macedonians come with me and find that you are not ready, we would be humiliated—to say nothing of you—for being so confident. So I thought it necessary to urge the brothers to go on ahead to you and arrange in advance for the gift you have promised, so that it may be ready as a willing gift, not as an exaction.

There is great need for the people in Macedonia. They had received word of the generosity and eagerness (zeal) of the Corinthians to send a gift to the churches in Macedonia. This promise has sparked hope and has stirred up most of the Macedonians. Indeed, there is an indication that the promise has been in place for over a year. This is no knee-jerk appeal for “sacrificial giving”. On the contrary, Paul is sending his letter and the brothers ahead of himself and his accompanying Macedonians to the Corinthians in hopes that they might be able to faithfully deliver on the promised gift so that it might be fully ready to be presented as a willing gift; rather than for them to show up and none of it be ready, thus taking the form of an exaction. To put it in modern parlance, imagine telling a close relative that you could help them pay their taxes this year, only to have to scramble on April 14th as you break open jars and start counting coins hoping to make the deadline while that relative is standing on your front doorstep? To the observer, it would seem more like a shake-down than your generosity. Paul seeks to avoid such humiliation for himself, the Macedonians who are in need and have been excited for this gift, and for the Corinthians who made the pledge. What Paul has written is Scripture… but how it gets presented and preached isn’t always faithful to its context.

In the greater context, remember that the first letter to the Corinthians wasn’t a pleasant one. There were problems with divisions and sensuality in worship, mysticism, and sexual immorality. There was also problem with chaotic church worship and unrighteousness in taking the Lord’s Supper, such that many were falling sick and some even died. That first letter was very tough. Titus was sent to them and had since returned to Paul to give a good report (2 Cor 7).  We see in chapter 8, Paul gives a report of the cheerful giving of the Macedonians despite their poverty, and of the outpouring of the Grace of God to them throughout their hardship there. We see in the middle of the chapter how a year ago the Corinthians got involved in the work of providing for the Saints in Macedonia and how they were eager to do it, how Paul was encouraged by the response of Titus, and now Paul here is urging the Corinthians to follow through with what they had started. So we see here in the middle of Ch 8, and again at the start of Ch 9, that Paul seeks to aid the Corinthians in every way possible to follow through with their promise of relief. This must not be presented as an exaction or a knee-jerk “sowing a seed of faith” and “making a sacrificial gift” to please God.

That Wasn’t Really Para-Church Giving

Yes, you got me there. The other major teaching points in the New Testament concern compensation for Elders within the Church, for the daily distribution, and enrolling of true widows. In fact, a strong case can be made for avoiding para-church organizations, due to their lack of church oversight. These entities are not under Overseers and deacons of the Church. I think this can be a matter of Christian liberty (whether or not to give to such entities) but I urge each of you to practice discernment. For not everyone who claims to be a Christian is one in truth. Not ministry that claims to preach the Gospel does so faithfully.

With that being said, I’d like to offer the following basic checklist of questions that need to be asked of any ministry that claims to do the work of evangelism, the preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Is the Gospel being preached? Using the word “gospel” doesn’t actually convey the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In fact, we see throughout the New Testament the warning of false gospels, false teachers, and false christs even coming up from within our congregations. Since we must do the work of noble bereans for our own churches, we must also discern what is being presented as the gospel in these para-church organizations. Do they rightly handle God’s Word? Do they preach both Law and Gospel? Do they call sinners to repentance? In the case of CCM radio ministry, does the radio station broadcast faithful preaching of the word of God? Some radio programs are solid (Grace to You, Truth for Life, etc) while others do more harm than good (Beth Moore, Joyce Meyer, Joel Osteen, etc). Are the songs played on the radio station held to a Biblical standard of sound doctrine? Do the on-air personalities (DJs) rightly handle Scripture in the segments between songs? All important questions.

Is the money going to the ministry? Modern-Day evangelicalism has completely lost sight of this bit of discernment/stewardship. Creflo Dollar engaged in church fundraising to buy him the most expensive personal jet on the market, claiming that it was necessary for the preaching of the Gospel (read more). Seriously. Well, we know he’s a false preacher and a wolf in the pulpit. Something to bear in mind with a lot of these para-church organizations is that in our culture we practice debt-based financing. We get our toys first, hoping that they will “pay for themselves” in the long run. That isn’t a model of stewardship we see demonstrated in Scripture. In the case of CCM radio ministry, is the money for paying current staff and broadcasting fees or is the station trying to expand its advertising or repeater stations?

What is the appeal being made for the fundraising? Are they offering promises they can’t keep? Are they pressuring you to give under compulsion? Are they making promises on God’s behalf that He never made concerning your giving to their business? What are the stated goals of the fundraising endeavor?

Does the Church need these para-church organizations for the preaching of the Gospel? This can be tough to answer. Personally, I’m a supporter of a para-church organization (Covenant Care Services) that fights abortion in the State of Georgia by reaching out to pregnant women with the Gospel, emotional/physical support, and an appeal to offer adoption services at no cost to the birth mother for local Christian families looking to adopt. This organization does not fall under a local church or denomination of church, which in some ways can allow for broader support, but also leaves room for disagreement in some matters of doctrine. Such situations require a great deal of discernment and discretion. Does the Church need this particular ministry? No… but this work isn’t something each local church is doing on their own. As society continues to wage war against Jesus Christ and believers, the day may come when such organizations will no longer be allowed to operate as they currently do, in which case the church will have to step up. As far as CCM Radio ministry, no, I don’t think the Church needs it. In fact, much of the influx of heresy in mainstream evangelicalism is facilitated by CCM and so-called “Christian Bookstores”. A tough article that draws this point out directly can be found at the Berean Research Blog.


God does love a cheerful giver. We who are in Christ and of the Household of Faith, are set free by the Grace of God through Faith in Christ Jesus to do good works. God doesn’t need our good works, but our neighbor does. As God extends Grace to us to be partakers in the Ministry of the Gospel as ministers of Reconciliation, we would do well to give bountifully. For our treasure is not to be stored up here on earth, where moth and rust destroy; rather, we are called to lay up for ourselves treasures in Heaven. 

Colossians 3:12-17 (ESV)

12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

In Christ Jesus,

DiM | “Air I Breathe” by Mat Kearney

Today is “Discernment in Music” (DiM) day here at Faithful Stewardship (2 Corinthians 10:4-6 (ESV)).

October 13, 2015. Today we’ll be taking a look at “Air I Breathe” by Mat Kearney which currently sits at #20 on the 20theCountdownMagazine’s top 20 chart.

Well… I hope that this song has popped onto the top 20 charts is a short-lived anomaly. There is nothing in this song that conveys a Christian message. No Law, No Gospel, just a few words and some imagery taken from Christianity.

Mat Kearney VEVO Lyric Video

Lyrics (via KLove)

Air I Breath

Born and raised under the rain and a Western Wind
Felt the weight trying to live up to they say I am.
Is it any wonder Shame comes calling my first name
Is there any question if I’m the one here left to blame

It’s the same fight all over again
It’s the same bite breaking on my skin
It’s the same light when you let me in
You let me in you let me in.

You are the air I breathe
You are the song I bleed
You are the war that I can’t win
This is my white flag in the wind
Every word you speak
Is the air I breathe.

I feel like a contender
Bringing my fist to pistol war
I surrender that I need you now and you’ve loved me more
It’s like an ocean over my head and I’m under the light
In slow motion tonight

It’s the same fight all over again
It’s the same bite breaking on my skin
It’s the same light when you let me in
You let me in you let me in.

You are the air I breathe
You are the song I bleed
You are the war that I can’t win
This is my white flag in the wind
Every word you speak
Is the air I breathe.

I hear you calling my name out name out
Is there any other way now
I hear you calling my name out name out
I got nothing left to say now say now

You are the air I breathe
You are the song I bleed
You are the war that I can’t win
This is my white flag in the wind
Every word you speak
Is the air I breathe.


Who is the target audience for this song? I have no idea. Not from the lyrics, nor from the video. None. Is there any reason to assume it is a song being sung to the Christian God of the Bible? Well… lets work through the song.

Verse 1. The singer felt the weight of trying to live up to they say I am. What does that sentence mean? If the use of “I am” at the end of the sentence is supposed to point to the LORD God who told Moses how to refer to Him?

Exodus 3:13-15 (ESV)

Then Moses said to God, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” God said to Moses, “I am who I am.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I am has sent me to you.’” God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations.

If this is what is intended, why slip in the “they say” piece? Are you accusing folks of misrepresenting God? The weight of living up to God’s Law is unbearable for sinful man. For those whose hope is in their own righteousness, there is no hope. All have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of the Great I AM. That’s the Law. The Law crushes us, exposing our sin and killing us for it. If this is indeed the intended meaning of this line, we should expect a Christian song to then share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Call the crushed sinner to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sin.

But, no… after rightly pointing out that our sinfulness rightly brings shame upon the sinner, the song then jumps to some odd reference about being left to blame. To blame? The unbeliever stands condemned by his unbelief. Guilty. In one sense, I could see it saying “as a sinful man, you have no one to blame but yourself”. That’s not the vibe I’m getting from this line. Let’s move on and see where it goes.

Pre Chorus. It’s the same fight all over again It’s the same bite breaking on my skin. There is a mention of a fight and a bite breaking on the skin. Is this the war against our flesh of sin? If so, without having mentioned the Gospel of Grace, this isn’t a war that the unbeliever fights. The unbeliever is dead in sins and trespasses. So the singer is a Christian? If so, then what’s with the crushing weight of trying to live up to God’s standard. There is therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. We walk by faith according to the Spirit… when we sin, the Law convicts us of our sins, leading us to repentance. I hope the chorus clears this up.

It’s the same light when you let me in You let me in you let me in. Wait, who is letting whom into where? To whom is this singer singing? Is it to the “they say” who blame the singer for not living up to the I AM? Suffice it to say I’m a little baffled by Mat Kearney’s theology at this point.

Chorus. So, who is now the air that the singer breathes? The politically correct, benefit-of-the-doubt answer would be “God”. But so far, there is no compelling reason to substantiate that assertion. Watch the video… there is a general cloud motif with people faces where the backs of their heads are morphed into clouds or vegetation. Are we dealing with some sort of pantheism or panentheism? No clue… play this song on a secular radio station and that line could simply be the singer’s girlfriend. You are the song I bleed. Well, we have a blood reference, must be the blood of Christ, right? wait… no… somehow the singer is bleeding… a song. A song that is also the air that he breathes. You are the war that I can’t win This is my white flag in the wind. and a war that the singer can’t win, so he’s surrendering. wow. So, if the singer is singing to God, he’s finally “surrendering” as he breathes God in and bleeds the song of God while fighting a hopeless war against God. That is, if God is the referent.

Verse 2. I wanted to stop, but the thought from the chorus seems to carry over a bit into the second verse just before the rather wonky breakdown underwater.

I feel like a contender
Bringing my fist to pistol war
I surrender that I need you now and you’ve loved me more

I’m completely lost in whatever scenario Mat is trying to convey, much less where his theology rests. Does he really think he’s fighting against God? Sinning against God, yes… but that’s not us resisting God like a child who refuses to be hugged. That’s the wrong idea of sin. It’s the wrong understanding of surrender, too. It’s not like we are resisting being loved and forgiven and if only we’d just let go, God would be able to hug us and forgive us. That’s nonsense. But that seems to be the way in which Mat here is trying to depict Law and Gospel.

I’m not sure how to diagram the rest of the song… verse 2 has that odd breakdown and then we’re back to the pre chorus and some refrains… and I’m pretty much done with this song.

Other Notes

You may have noticed that at the end of the song lyrics, there are no citations for production, copyright, or writers. I normally pull the lyrics from KLove or Air1, but neither has any of the attributions for this song. The VEVO video, KLove, and Air1 all say that this song comes from his latest album “Just Kids”. Even Mat Kearney’s website has the VEVO video we are using. So, I thought I’d check out what information I could find on the CD sales page at Amazon. Found the album, but this song isn’t listed. The following comment explains why:


I looked for the Target.com version, still no bonus track. It seems to get a version of this album with this song on it, you have to order from Christianbook.com

Why do that? Unfortunately, I read through several bios of Mat Kearney, and listened to a few other songs on this album… He isn’t a Christian artist seeking to glorify God, he’s a musical artist seeking to earn a living appealing to both the secular and Christian markets. He only manages to nominally work in some “churchy” phrases here and there, but they don’t make sense in a Christian context, not when we try to discern his theology.


I’m disappointed that CCM would promote this song that only exists in special “christian” versions of his album. That’s terrible. As for this song, it doesn’t stand on its own. There is no redeeming this contorted mangle of thoughts set to a beat. In closing, let us look to the encouragement found in 2 Peter 3.

2 Peter 3 (ESV)

The Day of the Lord Will Come

This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles, knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.”For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.

But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.

Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.

Final Words

Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace. And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures. You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.

In Christ Jesus,

CTT | “I Deserve to be Happy”?

CTTToday’s Completing The Thought (CTT) post is a reaction to some disturbing trends in social media. The ideology behind the trends is nothing new, sinners are absolutely confvinced that they deserve whatever they want, that they deserve to “be happy”. The recent #ShoutYourAbortion campaign was an all-time low in American depravity, in that these unrepentant sinners shamelessly celebrate their murder and twist the narrative to paint their evil as though it was a good thing. Their proof? How happy they were. I much prefer the #ShoutYourAdoption response.

This weekend I saw something else that falls in that same vein, albeit stopping short of murder. I saw an acquaintance posted the following Facebook announcement:


This lady is not a Christian. A few years ago she and her now ex-husband jumped headlong into a cult that hosts what they call Insight Seminars. It’s a humanistic and pantheistic self-affirming cult that sometimes poses as workforce or family unity seminars. It’s a load a garbage, and the result is full-grown adults becoming infantile in their selfishness and self-actualization. Notice the hashtags. The self-absorbed can rationalize many things by declaring themselves empowered by them or somehow liberated from some form of bondage (real or imagined). Even the hashtags that seem to thank others, do so in light of what the others had done for her… which, from the text of the comment, was clearly encouraging her that she was doing the right thing by seeking her own happiness above all else. She is not alone in this. The world is filled with selfish sinners… this sin is in our fallen flesh, each and every one of us.

No, You Don’t “Deserve” to be Happy

Let’s begin with the reality of our sin. We are so depraved we don’t even have a right understanding of “good” and “happy”. These terms are grounded and defined by the very nature of God. Depending on the Bible translation you use, you could search for the word “happy” and not even find it in the New Testament. The KJV uses it a few times when translating the word makarios. In the ESV this word is translated “blessed”, and even in the KJV it is more often translated “blessed” (44x) than it is “happy” (5x). So what happens when a fallen and sinful world tries to understand a concept like “happy” with out the God who defines it? It bases “happiness” on its own desires, passions, and emotions. Let’s look at Romans 1 again.

Romans 1:18-32 (ESV) | God’s Wrath on Unrighteousness

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.

28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents,31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

It’s that last part that gives this away. Sure, the folks celebrating their divorces and the ladies celebrating their abortions use words like “love”, “empowerment”, “peace”, and “life” they are using these words to give approval for themselves and others who practice the very things that God hates, like murder and divorce.

Okay but Christians Deserve Happiness, right?

God is the one who blesses… and He chooses who to bless according to Grace and Mercy. Dear sinner, what do you DESERVE?

Ephesians 2:1-10 (ESV) | By Grace Through Faith

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.

Wrath is what we deserve. No, this isn’t an exaggeration for effect, this is the plain Truth. Our sin has earned us (deserved) the Wrath of God. This is the Law. Thankfully, there is more than the Law, for where the Law brings death, the Gospel of Jesus Christ brings Life. Let’s continue in Eph 2:

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works,which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Dear Christian, if your salvation was by God’s grace, a gift of mercy, then where do we ever get the notion that we DESERVE anything more? We get that from our still-sinful flesh, not from the Word of God.

What About the Promises of God?

Okay, so if we’ve properly destroyed the misuse of the word “deserve”, there remains many who make unsubstantiated claims to the Promises of God. What is the Promise of the Gospel of Jesus Christ? Resurrection in Christ Jesus.

Titus 1:1-4 (ESV) Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness, in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began and at the proper time manifested in his word through the preaching with which I have been entrusted by the command of God our Savior; To Titus, my true child in a common faith: Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior.

1 Peter 1:3-9 (ESV) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

When it comes to focusing on the Promise of Salvation, the focus needs to be firmly fixed in the future, the Day of His Return or the Day of our release from these fleshly bodies. We have been promised comfort in our struggles by the Grace of God and His Holy Spirit, but that is not mean we will live miraculous lives free from pain, hunger, or persecution.

2 Corinthians 1:3-11 (ESV) | God of All Comfort

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.

For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. 10 He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. 11 You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.


We don’t live according to what we DESERVE; rather, we live by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. Emotional “happiness”  will come and go. It is foolish to live your life chasing an emotion. As we see in Romans 1, mankind rejected the Creator and was given over to their desires and passions and a depraved mind. As Christians, we are to put to death what is fleshly in us on a daily basis. The Happiness we pursue must be by faith, not by sight/emotion/circumstance.  We seek the blessing of the Lord that comes only by faith in Christ Jesus. Pray for the lost that their eyes and ears will be opened to the Truth, so that they might repent and trust in the Gospel of Jesus Christ to save them in the Last Day. 

In Christ Jesus,

Heart of Worship – More Than Emotion

trebleclefIn our DiM posts, we come down hard on the focus on emotionalism that permeates Evangelical Christian Music. It is the biggest problem with so-called Worship music being pushed by Bethel, Hillsong, Vineyard, and even Integrity Music. While visiting a small local church-plant recently, I realized that something needs to be said of why this genre of music is so compelling, especially to growing churches, and to recognize its well-intentioned though misapplied reasoning. The idea being that if we can stir our hearts to experience a deeply felt emotional love for God, then we are worshiping God with our hearts and that is pleasing to Him. The intent of “worshiping God with our emotions” sounds good, but it is misguided and carnal.

The Summation of the Law

I think it best to begin at the beginning, so let us remember the Law of God. Jesus was asked what is the great commandment in the Law. Let’s see His answer below:

Matthew 22:36-40 (ESV)

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him,“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.

Now, modern-day evangelicalism likes to confuse this summation of the Law (on these two commandments depend all the Law…) for the Gospel. “Love God, Love Neighbor” is not the Gospel of Jesus Christ… it is the Law. None of us live up to this law. Only Jesus Christ fulfilled this Law. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is that our entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven will be by His fulfillment of the Law imputed to us by Grace, through Faith in Jesus Christ. Does this mean the Law is no of no use to us? Absolutely not! Let’s look at what Paul puts together in Eph 2:8-10:

Ephesians 2:8-10 (ESV)

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

By Grace, through faith, we are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works that God prepared for us to walk in. How do we know what is a good work? The Law. So you see, while no amount of law-keeping can grant saving faith… Faith received as a Gift of God will lead us into good works prepared in Christ Jesus. This is the focus of the book of James, that a faith that does not lead us into good works in Christ Jesus is not true faith.

James 1:19-27 (ESV) | Hearing and Doing the Word

19 Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. 21 Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. 24 For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. 25 But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing. 26 If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. 27 Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.

James 2:14-26 (ESV) | Faith Without Works Is Dead

14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

18 But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19 You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! 20 Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; 23 and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God. 24 You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25 And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? 26 For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.

You don’t get true faith by doing good deeds, you get it by hearing the Word of Christ (Rom 10:12-17) and receiving with meekness the implanted word (Matt 13:23 ESV). It is the Word of God that produces faith, and that faith should produce fruit. How much fruit will depend on your maturity and the extend to which you’ve died to your flesh, because until the Great Day of Christ’s return we continue to walk in bodies of sinful flesh and have been charged to take up our crosses daily.

Notice the focus in the Apostolic teaching is on faith, not on emotion. Neither Paul nor James calls Christians to whipping up an emotional experience of love. Our flesh has its own definition of “love”, and the world usually focuses on the feel-good emotion or physical displays of affection. God defines Love differently:

1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (ESV) Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.

Love isn’t an emotion; love is a Character trait, a fruit of the Spirit of God. Emotions come and go… Love never ends. Where do emotions fit in the fruit of the Spirit of God? Self-control.

Our Hearts of Flesh

Let’s talk about the condition of the heart of mankind. To put it bluntly, our hearts are wicked, idolatrous, and adulterous. We are in-fact defiled by what flows from our sinful hearts.

Matthew 15:10-20 (ESV) | What Defiles a Person

And he called the people to him and said to them, “Hear and understand: it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.” Then the disciples came and said to him, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?” He answered, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up. Let them alone; they are blind guides. And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.” But Peter said to him, “Explain the parable to us.” And he said, “Are you also still without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is expelled? But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person.For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone.”

Romans 1:18-25 (ESV) | God’s Wrath on Unrighteousness

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

Now, when the Spirit of the Living God regenerates us by the Grace of God, granting us saving faith in Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior, our flesh yet remains and must be daily crucified in repentance until the Day of the Return of our Lord Jesus Christ. Do we have the power to change our sinful hearts? No. King David knew this, and spent a great deal of time in prayer asking the Lord to change his heart. Probably the most prominent expression of this Truth, that we need God to cleanse our hearts, is Psalm 51.

Can We Worship With Our Emotions?

When we read through the Old Testament prescriptions for Worship, we see sacrifices, statutes, and ordinances for the People of God keep in Worship of the One True God. Many like to point to the exuberant praise of King David before Lord in 2 Samuel 6:16-23. Clearly, David’s worship was received by the Lord, and Michal was made barren for her judgement against David. But we don’t see Jesus or His disciples demonstrating such worship in the New Testament. I point this out, not to say that such worship is off-limits, but to make a point that worship remains, even when such emotional exuberance is missing or subdued. In fact, had David’s heart NOT been in the right place, his exuberance would not have been received as worship. There will be times when your emotions fall in line with your worship… and it is awesome. However, there are times when our emotions will fly completely against our worship, such as when Abraham was told to offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice of worship to God. If the key to right worship were found in the emotions, Abraham would have failed. Praise be to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, that our emotions are not the key to right worship; rather, it is by faith that our worship can be pleasing in His sight.

Hebrews 11:4-6 (ESV) By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks. By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

How Do We Worship With Our Hearts?

Firstly, we need to adjust our understanding of what the Scriptures mean when our hearts are being referenced. It isn’t just your emotions. Your heart is the core of your being. David charged his son to value Wisdom in Proverbs 2. Let’s take a look at how he references the heart.

Proverbs 2:1-15 (ESV) | The Value of Wisdom

My son, if you receive my words
    and treasure up my commandments with you,
making your ear attentive to wisdom
    and inclining your heart to understanding;
yes, if you call out for insight
    and raise your voice for understanding,
if you seek it like silver
    and search for it as for hidden treasures,
then you will understand the fear of the Lord
    and find the knowledge of God.
For the Lord gives wisdom;
    from his mouth come knowledge and understanding;
he stores up sound wisdom for the upright;
    he is a shield to those who walk in integrity,
guarding the paths of justice
    and watching over the way of his saints.
Then you will understand righteousness and justice
    and equity, every good path;
10 for wisdom will come into your heart,
    and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul;
11 discretion will watch over you,
    understanding will guard you,
12 delivering you from the way of evil,
    from men of perverted speech,
13 who forsake the paths of uprightness
    to walk in the ways of darkness,
14 who rejoice in doing evil
    and delight in the perverseness of evil,
15 men whose paths are crooked,
    and who are devious in their ways.

The thrust of the first several proverbs is growing in Wisdom, Knowledge, and Understanding so that the man of God will walk in the paths of righteousness. That growth comes from inclining the heart to understanding, and seeking the wisdom of God and receiving that wisdom in the heart. David isn’t just talking about emotions, he’s talking about studying, memorizing, meditating, and walking in the Word of God.


When it comes to corporate worship, our focus should NOT be on our emotions; rather, it should be on the Word of the Lord. Whether or not we feel that ‘puppy-love’ gushing of euphoria… we are called to worship God in Spirit and in Truth. The songs we sing, the confessions of our mouth, should be in accordance with Scripture. The world knows how to manipulate emotions… and the evangelicalism has attempted to short-cut maturity in spiritual growth by focusing on emotional manipulation disguised as “worship”. Such carnal focus only serves the worshiper’s felt needs and does not edify the church. Singing songs about how you are dancing, singing, crying, embracing, and worshiping doesn’t actually lead to Worship. There are no short-cuts… it’s time to get back to the heart of worship.

Romans 12:1-2 (ESV) | A Living Sacrifice

12 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Faith in Christ Jesus gets you there… not emotion. May the Grace of God abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. Amen.

In Christ Jesus,