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The following is excerpted from Christian NewsWire, May 6, 2010:

“It’s the feel-good novel about faith that millions of people love. And its warm and fuzzy depiction of God the Father is cherished by millions of Evangelical Christians who’ve embraced it as though it were gospel. This mass adoration has helped seemingly cement William Paul Young’s The Shack to the stratosphere of numerous best-sellers list--where it's remained for more than 100 weeks--a claim no other book can make. Yet it is infused with counterfeit Christianity, says author James De Young in his new book, Burning Down ‘The Shack’: How the 'Christian' Bestseller is Deceiving Millions, and its depiction of God the Father as an African woman who bore the scars of Calvary with Jesus Christ is just one example of its many dangerous deceptions.

De Young isn’t only a New Testament Language and Literature professor at Western Seminary in Portland, Ore., he’s also a former longtime colleague of Paul Young, and was his Portland-area neighbor when Young wrote The Shack. ... While writing The Shack, Young, a victim of child molestation, had recently embraced ‘universal reconciliation’-- belief identified as far back as the sixth century as heresy--which emphasizes that Jesus’ loving nature renders him incapable of eternally damning people. ... [De Young warns that the errors in The Shack] ‘strike a dagger into the heart of the gospel.’ ... ‘When I carefully read The Shack in January 2008, I was dismayed to find universalism still embedded, deeply and subtly, in it,’ De Young recalls.

In Burning Down ‘The Shack,’ De Young delivers a chapter-by-chapter evaluation of more than 15 heresies within The Shack. Chief among the errors is what Young left out. ‘A familiar, but deceptive maneuver is to give an aspect of a theological issue, while ignoring an equally important aspect that qualifies or limits the first one,’ De Young writes to explain Young’s obvious exclusion of Satan and Hell.”

Thanks to FBIS News Service for highlighting this article.

When All is Said and Done

[author's note - the following has been adapted/edited from a devotion by James Ryle]

"And some believed the things which were spoken, and some believed not." (Act 28:24)

Paul was unquestionably one of the best and most effective preachers who ever lived. Yet, not everybody believed what he said. Someone once wrote, "When all is said and done, there is a lot more said than done."  Having preached for awhile now I know this is true.

It is interesting to observe the dynamics at work in my congregation when I am preaching the truth of God's Word.   First there is a curiosity that inclines them to listen, which they do for a brief moment. If there is not sufficient reason to continue listening presented in those first minutes — the talk is over before it ever begins. Sometimes it seems that an audience will ignore all else if the introduction seems to apply to others rather than themselves.  A preacher needs to know how to get to the heart of the matter without delay.

After people decide to listen, then there is the eerie silence of uninterrupted focus. At times it seems you could hear a pin drop. People's minds are focused and their heart's are open. Truth is doing a deep work.

Then there is a shifting in the seats as people process what they are hearing; in some there is an internal debate, while in others there is a dawning awareness of truth. Ultimately, all preaching comes to the moment of decision. What are you going to do with what you have heard?  Sadly, there is such a working of the devil to make people feel too subconscious about leaving their seat for a trip to the altar...a trip signalling change.

Like Paul, all of us have our moments when we are effective in doing what God has us to do. And, we also have our moments when, no matter what we do, it doesn't seem to make any difference at all. It is interesting to note that, in Paul's case, some were persuaded, convinced, and believed the things that were spoken. But others, note how the Bible puts it, "some believed not" could just as easily read and some refused to believe a word of it.

I don't think this was a result that they could not believe; rather, they would not believe. Paul had indeed convinced even them, but their hearts refused to accept what they were hearing because they did not want to change. Jesus said, "And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil." (John 3:19)

And so it is that when all is said and done — and this World is no more — this simple verse of Scripture will serve as the judicial evidence of all humanity: "And some believed the things which were spoken, and some believed not." (Act 28:24)

What will be said of you in that day?

32,000 Became 300

Prevailing wisdom dictates amassing large numbers of people to engage in battle—whether spiritual, civil or political. The Bible story of Gideon demonstrates God plus even one equals a majority.

God used a fascinating battle strategy which surely increased Gideon’s faith. He reduced an army of 32,000 to 300 soldiers and soundly conquered a superior force.

“And the three companies blew the trumpets, and brake the pitchers, and held the lamps in their left hands, and the trumpets in their right hands to blow withal: and they cried, The sword of the LORD, and of Gideon. And they stood every man in his place round about the camp: and all the host ran, and cried, and fled. And the three hundred blew the trumpets, and the LORD set every man's sword against his fellow, even throughout all the host:” (Judges 7:20-22a).

Lessons we learn from Gideon

1. Gideon followed divine instructions and carried out God’s strategy.

2. While Gideon was weak and inadequate at times, when circumstances demanded valor and vitality he rose to the occasion.

How can you apply these two lessons in your life?


I thought I would share this email that I received with you, my readers.

One of the biggest problems in the Church is that some Christians are way too trusting. Jesus warned, "Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves." (Mat 7:15). Far too many of the sheep do not heed our Lord's words. Even when believers are cautioned about certain false teachers, they blow off the warning and blindly follow these wolves.

You've probably heard this many times: "The Bible says not to judge." What the Bible actually says is that we're not to judge a person's heart or motives. "But he that is spiritual judgeth all things," says Paul, "yet he himself is judged of no man. For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ" (1Cor 2:15-16). According to Paul true followers of Jesus are of the same mind. When you have the mind of Christ you have spiritual discernment. Christians (who are walking with Christ) have the authority to judge people's words and actions. How do you know if someone is a false teacher? Go to the scriptures! In 2 Timothy 3:16-17 Paul says: "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works."

No doubt some Christians will continue to complain that "judging" is unbiblical and play the Mat. 7:1-3 card: "Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?" What they fail to understand is that the Spirit of God abides in regenerate Christians. Hence we have the mind of Christ! As for the unbeliever, Scripture clearly teaches that the natural man [unregenerate] "receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned" (1 Cor 2:14). So the unregenerate person does not - cannot - understand the things of God. Amazingly, a growing number of self-professed Christians think the things of God are foolishness.

The good news is that believers who read and study the Bible are not easily taken in by apostates. But even mature believers can have the wool pulled over their eyes if they stop being Bereans. It was for this very reason that John penned this warning: "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world" (1 John 4:1).

Read More Here

Jesus & Little Children

Matthew 18:3 "And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven."

If I were going to teach you something important, I would not have a child show you. For example, if I were going to teach you how to mow the grass, I would not have my 5-year-old daughter show you how. However, when it comes to the important things about the life and the life to come, the Lord Jesus illustrates with those you would not expect-little children.

The disciples ask the wrong question in verse 1: "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" The question of whom is "better than" is the wrong question-it is a false standard, an inferior benchmark that will lead you astray.

The Lord Jesus used kids as an example for salvation. Why is a child an example for salvation? His ignorance and inability are to his advantage. An adult without Christ knows just enough and is just able enough to miss God's way to Heaven. Once we are saved, we are not much better than that sometimes. We trust Christ alone for salvation, ask Him to save us, but then we think we can "take it from here." That is not square; that is not right. That is what the Bible calls "wood, hay, and stubble." (I Corinthians 3:12-13)

Kids are also an example of greatness. It is not how great the person, but how great God shines through. That is a very general statement with very practical applications. You may try to get through your day by your personality; you may try to muscle your way through your day based on your internal determination. But God's way is illustrated by the innocence and humility of a little child.

I heard Evangelist Paul Levin tell a story of a revival crusade he held. Someone asked about the service, and Paul Levin said-about the four people who trusted Christ-, "We had 3 ½ people saved." The inquirer said, "Oh, I see. You mean you had 3 adults and one kid saved." "No," Dr. Paul answered, "We had 3 kids and 1 adult saved." The children had the rest of their lives to live for Christ, but the adult had only half to live for Christ.

The Lord Jesus used children to teach very important truths, and may God help us to learn them well.  May we approach God with the innocence and humility of a child but then grow in spiritual maturity as we learn more of our Heavenly Father.

How's Your Week Been?

Genesis 41:52 "And the name of the second called he Ephraim: For God hath caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction."

"How has your day been?" Has anyone asked you that before? The most common answer is "good," but most people don't really mean it! The truth is, you don't know completely how your day or even how your week has been. Remember Joseph? One day he is highly favored of his father, and the next he is in a pit. One day he is rescued and sold as a slave to a very rich man, and the next day he is in prison because of that man's wife. However, God gives him favor, and he becomes second-in-command under Pharaoh.

Joseph summarizes his life-the good and the bad-in Genesis 41. "God made me to be fruitful in the land of affliction." Why was this true? Because Joseph was doing what was right. If your standard is how good the weather is, if people like you, or if nothing bad has happened, your answer is most likely different from Joseph. A "nice" day is not the same as a day with significance.

The reason Joseph's life was significant and "good" was based on his determining to do right which resulted in, first of all, God's timing. Genesis 41 accounts of the butler forgetting his promise to Joseph and then remembering him. But that was God's timing. In other words, Joseph could have confidence in God's timing because he had determined to do right.

Joseph's determining to do right also resulted in God's enabling. Joseph told Pharaoh as much in Genesis 41:16 when he says, "It is not in me: God shall give Pharaoh an answer of peace." So Joseph's estimation of his life was "good" because of God's enabling and God's timing.

So how has my day been? Ask me five years from now. My estimation of a day or week might just be amended by history. History has a way of showing us God's footprint.

"God has made me to be fruitful"-that was Joseph's standard of success. He considered God's will, not his own; God's timing, not his own; and he did it all with God's enabling, not his own.

Who Are You Speaking For?

Matthew 16:17 "And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven."

Have you ever heard your parents when you're the one talking?  I can't tell you how many times I've been talking to someone and hear my father's voice...of course, he's not in the room or even the same state.  Even stranger is when I know I'm laughing and again hear my father's laugh.  Who are you speaking for today? The truth is, you are speaking for someone other than yourself. Peter was speaking for God Almighty. His declaration came from God Himself. That is something truly amazing. But is being filled with the Spirit a general event, or is it moment-by-moment?

Compare Matthew 16:17 ("My Father which is in heaven [hath revealed it unto thee]") to Matthew 16:23 ("Get thee behind me, Satan"). Wouldn't you know it-Peter was speaking again. But was it Peter or Satan speaking? The answer is "yes." He was not thinking right; the Bible word is "savorest" in verse 23. Peter went from speaking for God to speaking for Satan in a matter of moments.

Just like in Matthew, today there are two opposite sources. You can speak for the Lord or for Satan. God will not take tritely our speaking for and of the Savior. It should be obvious that the source is not you; it is your Father in Heaven.

May God help us to make sure the words we say come from our Father above and not from the Enemy.

A Bad Memory

Matthew 16:8-9 "Which when Jesus perceived, he said unto them, O ye of little faith, why reason ye among yourselves, because ye have bought no bread? Do ye not yet understand, neither remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets ye took up?"

Do you have a bad memory? Has your bad memory ever been an embarrassing thing? Maybe it is an old friend whose name you can't remember, or a pair of  lost glasses you search all over for (only to find them planted firmly on top of your head). A bad memory can be embarrassing!

In Matthew 16, Christ was attempting to teach a lesson-a lesson He never finishes. He teaches lesson two, but lesson one never comes. You cannot find the lesson of the leaven in this chapter. The lesson of today (leaven) became the lesson of yesterday (faith) because the disciples had a bad memory.

The disciples had no bread. They quietly assumed that was the lesson. But do you think Jesus was really worried about bread? Of course not. "Little faith" and a short memory go together. The Lord says in verse 9, "Do ye not yet understand, neither remember . . . ." It is easy for us to really let the disciples have it on this one, but we are not any better.

We can miss God's lesson and provision tomorrow if we do not learn God's lesson of today and yesterday. This is something that is oftentimes not obvious to you and I. But we cannot afford to get through today without God's provision. Thank God for what He did "back in the day," but we need Him now. Let what He has done strengthen your faith for the future.

Your future is completely in God's hands. You can't see the future, but you can look in the past and remember what God has done. Put your faith in the God Who was more than able before and is more than able today.

Never Hungry

Matthew 15:32 "Then Jesus called his disciples unto him, and said, I have compassion on the multitude, because they continue with me now three days, and have nothing to eat: and I will not send them away fasting, lest they faint in the way."

Here in Matthew 15 is the wonderful story of Jesus feeding the multitude. Thousands of people are following him, and Jesus had compassion on them. We often find this is the case with the Lord when He is around multitudes. Christ then made a declaration in verse 32: "I will not send them away fasting. . . ." This declaration was not isolated to a situation involving food; rather, it is a declaration of God's character. The Lord was expressing will: "I will not send them away fasting."

Did you know the same is true with you? Christ will never send you away fasting-you will never come to the Lord and leave hungry. Matthew 5:6 says, "Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled." Have you ever heard someone say, "Well, I am just not being blessed by the preaching"? It is not the Lord's fault; the Lord's character is to not send you away fasting. The multitudes left that day better than when they came.

In the book of Matthew, you also find a separate, but similar, event of the Lord feeding a multitude. In both cases, did the disciples have enough to feed the multitude? No. In their hands, they had only a few loaves and a few fish. But In the hands of Almighty God, He made a feast for thousands.

If you give, God has obligated Himself to provide for you. That is, you cannot give what you don't have; givers have to be supplied. The wonderful conclusion of the feeding of the multitude is that they were filled, and they had more leftovers than they had in the beginning. The most empty you can feel is when you think only of yourself and your needs. When you think of others and give yourself, the Lord will fill you.

The Lord's character is to not send you away fasting, and that is also true regarding the needs of those you may work with in ministry. You do not have to be brilliant, have all the answers, and ask just the right questions to help people. It is God's Word that discerns the thoughts and intents of the heart (Hebrews 4:12). God's Spirit using God's Word can cut to the quick and lovingly point out specific needs. The Counselor-God Almighty-is the One Who illumines and brings conviction. Once He does, you can help a person like that.

God's character was to not send the multitude away fasting, and His character and desire are the same today. He is the Bread of Life, and He is sufficient for today.

You Are Not Alone

Have you ever found out that you were not alone when you thought you were? More times than I care to admit this has happended to me. A couple of times recently, I thought I was alone, but quickly found out that I was not! One morning, as I was walking through the auditorium to the office muttering to myself lost in thought, when suddenly, I heard a noise and looked up to see one of our men working in the church staring down at me from off a ladder. Boy, was I embarrassed and caught talking to myself (again)!

Genesis 32:1-2 "And Jacob went on his way, and the angels of God met him. And when Jacob saw them, he said, This is God's host: and he called the name of that place Mahanaim."
In Genesis 32:1, Jacob thought he was alone because he always had been. The name "Jacob" means supplanter (or trickster), so even the things God had promised to him-like the birthright-Jacob was used to scheming and conniving to get. The truth is that God is able to do even more than we can do by scheming and conniving. If Jacob would have let God take care of providing what He had already promised he would not be in this situation getting ready for a "showdown" with a long upset brother and what has been a ruined relationship with his brother. But now, Jacob is between a rock and a hard place. He could not scheme and had to be honest enough to realize that he was not alone. He meets God's messengers-a host of angels-and calls the name of that place Mahanaim.

I named my oldest son after a friend that I served with in the military that died in combat in Iraq.  My daughter is named after my wife's grandmother.  Names are important.  So here we find Jacob giving this place a very significant name. The name of the place in Genesis 32:2 means "double camp." That is interesting because Jacob was camped there, terrified of his impending meeting with his brother, Esau. Jacob no doubt had become a man of fervent prayer. But Jacob was not alone; God had a camp there. He knew he was in trouble and God had sent help precisely because he realized his need.

I know I have said this before but sadly so often we Christians give people a hard time by saying, "The only time you ask God for help is when you are in trouble." The truth is, we are always in trouble! Sometimes we are just smart enough to realize it and ask God for His help. God helps people like that-people who are in trouble and who realize they are not alone.

Christian, your "camp" is not the only camp today. God's hosts are around, too. If we knew or could see them, we would be encouraged. Although you might not see them like Jacob did, you can rest assured that you are not alone. There is a "double camp"- you and the hosts of God. And that is exactly what you and I need every day.