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  1. Album dedicated to Your Orthodox Church in US, which is a building used for Your Christian Orthodox religious activities, particularly for Orthodox worship services.
  2. Album dedicated to Presbyterian Church Pastors, which are the Ministers called to a particular congregation. Ministers are the primary preachers and teachers, celebrants of sacraments.
  3. Album dedicated to Your Methodist Church, which is a building used for Your Christian Methodist religious activities, particularly for Methodist worship services.
  4. Album dedicated to the sacrament of baptism within the Baptist Church, did by complete immersion.
  5. Album dedicated to the believers and faithfuls of the Evangelical Church. Photos on sacrament feasts, on the manifestations of their faith and on their ministers of worship and leaders.
  6. Album dedicated to the Priestesses of the Anglican Church, an element that distinguishes them from the Catholic Church where the presence of priestesses is not allowed, being the priesthood reserved for male men.
  7. Distribution of the Sacrament of the Communion to the Faithful of the Catholic Religion.
  8. Children don’t need to learn selfishness. Unlike swimming or tying shoes, self-centeredness comes naturally. Self-focus is in our DNA. The boiling pot of a sinful heart releases the vapor of selfishness that animates us every hour of our lives. But our attention to and ambition for ourselves is dangerous: For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. (James 3:16) If we take the Bible seriously, this is a four-alarm warning. Disorder and every vile practice! How should we, as Christians, fight against selfishness? Selflessness Is Not the Answer We might advocate for selflessness. On the surface, this seems right; instead of thinking so much about myself, I’ll try to think about myself less. But this approach still puts the self  in the spotlight on stage. We still focus on how frequently or deeply we think of ourselves. Not only is this unhealthy it’s also not what the Bible advocates. The Answer is Love The greatest commandments, according to Jesus, offer a summary of the law as well as a foundation for all Christian ethics. 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.” (Matthew 22:37–40) As we devote ourselves to loving God and loving our neighbors, we will inevitably turn our attention away from ourselves. This call to love is fundamental, demanding, and only possible for those who have been born again by the Spirit of God. Paul Guides Us Because of our self-centered instincts, we must follow the path away from selfishness all of our days. Paul gives us some guidance along this path in Philippians 2:1–11. He commands us to “do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit” (v. 3), and the larger context offers positive pointers. Be of one mind Paul emphasizes the unity of the church body: “complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind” (Philippians 2:2). With the effort it takes to be “in full accord” and “of one mind” with our brothers and sisters, we will necessarily focus on others. Count others more significant At the end of verse 3, Paul writes that we must “in humility count others more significant than [ourselves].” We’re quite talented at asserting our own significance, but we’re not as good at highlighting others. Your brothers and sisters in Christ have great value and significance because they are both created in the image of God and adopted as his precious children. Thanking God for the blessings and contributions of others is a good way to highlight their significance. Look to the interests of others Paul isn’t finished pointing us toward others. He wants us to be invested in their interests: Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. (Philippians 2:4) What do your brothers and sisters value? Where are they hurting? What do they need? How can you attend to their wounds or encourage them? Consider Christ This is Paul’s all-in play. In verses 5–11, he highlights Jesus’s humility and sacrifice. Paul’s goal is to show us Jesus not only as an example but also as the crucified servant who is now resurrected, exalted, and worthy of worldwide worship: Jesus did not cling to his own status, glory, or importance (2:6). Jesus emptied himself and took the form of a servant (2:7). And, Jesus humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death on a cross (2:8). God has highly exalted Jesus (2:9). At the name of Jesus every knee in all creation will bow and every tongue will confess his lordship, all to God’s glory (2:10-11). Because God has brought us to himself, and because he is our sovereign, loving father, we can trust him to care for us. We don’t need to devote all of our attention to ourselves. Following the example and command of Christ, and empowered by his Spirit, we can now seek the good of others. Two Practical Suggestions In Philippians 2, Paul helps us consider what it means to love our God and love our neighbor. To obey faithfully, we must enter the practical realm. Worship with your local church.  Yes, the church is messy. It’s often hard. But the local church is the expression of Christ’s body on earth. If you haven’t yet found and joined a local church, I urge you to prayerfully seek out a Bible-based community in your area. Then, worship God with these people! You will likely have different musical preferences than some and different theological positions than others, but the weekly gathering of the saints is a unique opportunity to love God and love others. Serve with your local church.  Nothing binds Christians together as quickly or as deeply as shared ministry. And I guarantee your church has ministry needs! Consider helping with the Bible study in the local nursing home, driving an elderly neighbor to the grocery store, or pitching in to prepare the coffee at church on Sunday morning. A Lifelong Path In our flesh, we love to sit in the dark, thinking of and serving only ourselves. And since the sinful flesh will not be completely eliminated on this side of heaven, our fight against selfishness is a war, not a battle. But God gives grace! Those who are in Christ are beloved by God. His great commandments are not only good for the world but also good for us. They are part of his plan to bring us into the light and make us conformed to the image of his Son (Romans 8:29). unlockingthebible.org
  9. In a previous article, I analyzed the assault our children, and all of us, are facing in this world. I listed the three brands of deception which Satan uses to keep people from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ: Vanity, flattery, and blasphemy. What hope is there for our children and grandchildren growing up in this world, where they are swimming in this sea of vanity, flattery, and blasphemy? After reading Psalm 12, you can see why David is praying and why we need to do the same. So, I want to offer a strategy for prayer and for action rooted in three truths about God. 1. God listens We need to pray for our children. We need to do this in the family, we need to do this as a church. Psalm 12 is a model for us to follow. When we do, we should lay out before the Lord the pressure that they face. God listens to you when you pray for your children. So pray for them, and keep praying for them. Don’t stop, don’t get discouraged, and don’t give up. Ask some friends to commit to praying for your children with you and join them in praying for theirs. If you don’t have children of your own find a way to connect with some younger people and pray for them. 2. God speaks The words of the Lord are pure words, like silver refined in a furnace on the ground, purified seven times. (Psalm 12:6) God’s Word is pure. He says things that you may not want to hear, and things that are hard to hear. But these are not to harm you, they are to heal you. God’s Word will bring conviction to your soul, an awareness of your own need, but it is pure, and it will always do you good. Satan does everything in his power to keep you from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ. But light is greater than darkness. “The entrance of God’s Word gives light” (Psalm 119:130)! How does a person come to the knowledge of the truth where Satan darkens minds and hearts through his vanity, flattery, and blasphemy? God who said “Let light shine out of darkness” has shone in our hearts to give is the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 4:6) That’s how a person is converted. The entrance of God’s Word gives light. God says, “My Word will not return to me empty. It will accomplish the purpose for which I sent it.” Parents, grandparents, bring the Word of God to your children. Do it in the home. Let’s keep doing it do it together in the church. Our children are living in a world saturated with dark lies. But light is greater than darkness. When the light shines, the darkness cannot overcome it. Let’s not lose our confidence in the Word of God. This is living seed, and through this seed God brings new birth: “The words of the Lord are pure words… You, O Lord, will keep them” (Psalm 12:7). 3. God saves Save, O Lord, for the godly one is gone. (Psalm 12:1) You will guard us from this generation forever. (Psalm 12:7) Here’s how you can pray for your son, daughter, or grandchild who doesn’t have godly friends, who doesn’t have the benefit of a faithful ministry of the Word: “I’m not depending on their friends. I’m depending on you. Lord, I’m asking you to intervene. Save!” Psalm 12 is one of only a few psalms that includes an answer. The book of Psalms is a collection of prayers (people talking to God), but in this psalm God speaks to us, and he answers while David is still praying! “I will now arise,” says the Lord; “I will place him in the safety for which he longs.” (Psalm 12:5) That’s your hope. That’s my hope. You can trust God to speak. You can ask God to save. That’s how you pray when you fear for your children. God gave to Karen and I the gift of two sons. We are so grateful that they love Christ and have married women who love Christ too. Now that we have two granddaughters, one on each side of the family, we are very aware that they are growing up in a world very different from the one we knew in our childhood. They are growing up in a culture where there is no longer a Christian consensus that is as widespread as in the past. But I want more for them than to go along with a Christian consensus. Here is what I am praying for them: I want them to be saved, to know Christ, and I to love God. I want the flame of the Holy Spirit to be lit within their heart. I want God to lay hold of them. In such a way that they will be wholly different than the world in which they live. A Vision for the Next Generation I pray we will increasingly see such radical and wonderful salvation in the generation that lies ahead. As people pray not only cultivation of a consensus, but for the radical salvation for people like Saul of Tarsus. Remember, he said: “I was a blasphemer and a violent man. But I was shown mercy.” And his whole life was transformed. And instead of drifting along in the comfort of belonging to the majority, he lived for the glory of Christ and for an eternal reward. Is that you? unlockingthebible.org
  10. If you go to a cross country meet, you’ll see parents at different points on the trail, cheering their kids on towards the finish line. I never ran cross country, but my sisters tell me it’s an important part of a runner’s mental game. Without support at those mile markers, runners can begin to feel weak, discouraged, and defeated. I imagine this is sort of what it feels like to be a Christian with unbelieving parents. You’re running the race God has put before you with endurance, but every once in a while you take your eyes off of Jesus to look for your mom and dad cheering you on in the stands, and they’re not there. It must be difficult running this race of faith without the support of your parents and frightening to think that you may not see them at the finish line. I don’t know your exact pain, but I have experienced weak knees in my own race towards Heaven. I’ve also experienced the goodness of a friend jogging up beside me and helping me through some of my toughest laps. I hope that I can be that friend for you today by offering you a few sips of cold water as you run your race without the spiritual support of your earthly parents. God Loves You God loves you, dear one. He loves you so much that he sent his own son to die for you so that you might spend eternity with him (John 3:16). Your parents’ love may fall short at times, but his never will. The love of God is not manipulative or conditional, shallow or unpredictable. It’s lavish and free, constant and deep, and it’s yours through Christ (1 John 4:10, Ephesians 3:18). You are both a beneficiary and a steward of God’s love. 1 John 4:9 says that “we love because he first loved us.” When your unbelieving parents are hard to love, remember this verse. God does not call you to muster up love for them from within yourself but to draw from the well of his love instead. Called to Honor In our culture, we’re accustomed to people earning honor. To make the honor roll, you have to get good grades. To earn a promotion, you have to do good work. But in God’s kingdom, honor isn’t tied to achievement. God calls us to honor everyone, and he specifically commands us to honor our parents, not because they’re deserving or godly, but because honoring them brings honor to God (Ephesians 6:2). To honor our parents means to give them weight in our hearts and lives. What does honoring unbelieving parents look like? In many ways, it probably looks similar to honoring believing parents: making room for them in the midst of busy schedules, asking for their advice when it’s appropriate, serving them, or caring for them in their old age. Pray for Your Parents Another way to honor unbelieving parents is to pray for them. The Bible says that the “prayers of a righteous person have power” (James 5:16). What better way to wield that power than to pray for your parents’ salvation? Children (typically) know their parents pretty well. Use that to your advantage as you pray. Be bold and specific with your prayers, relying on God’s word to help you focus on his will rather than your own. And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. (1 John 5:14) Share the Gospel As you pray for your parents, ask God for opportunities to share the gospel with them as well. This can be a daunting task for grown children, so ask God for wisdom to know when to speak and for the courage to follow through when you feel the Spirit’s prompting. Be eager to share the good news of Jesus’s death and resurrection should the opportunity arise. In the meantime, shower your parents with the love of Christ and pray without ceasing for their salvation. Release Unrealistic Expectations I once heard a Christian radio host say that we can’t expect unbelievers to act like believers. That stuck with me. It’s unfair to expect unregenerate people to think, talk, and act like people who have been transformed by the gospel of Jesus Christ, isn’t it? In fact, it’s an impossible task without Christ’s intervention. Release your parents (and yourself!) from the yolk of unrealistic expectations. Instead, ask God to help you see them as he sees them—as sinners in need of a savior (Ephesians 2:1-3). Cling to Christ Jesus told us that following him comes at a cost—sometimes it means leaving the comfort of family for the sake of the gospel. If this describes your situation, be encouraged. Jesus also said: “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life.” (Mark 10:29-30) He has given you a new family in his church and eternal life with him. Christ is no consolation prize, friend. He is the prize. Cling to him. Eyes on the Prize Christian Olympic Gold Medalist Eric Liddell once said, “Each one of us is in a greater race than any I have run…and this race ends when God gives out the medals.”1 The good news for your parents is that the race hasn’t ended yet. There’s still time for them to repent and believe (Mark 1:14-15). There’s still hope for a comeback! As you run your own race, do not give up hope. Look to Jesus, “the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2). Listen for the great cloud of witnesses cheering you on (Hebrews 12:1). Then run with endurance—praying that one day soon your mom and dad will place their trust in Christ, sprint toward the finish line, and stand on the podium next to you as “God gives out the medals.” unlockingthebible.org
  11. I am a prideful person, but by God’s grace my repentance grows deeper each day. Even though this sin repulses me, I return to it. I’ve found that condescension and haughtiness are appealing at first but they leave a terrible aftertaste. When I return to pride, I’m always left wondering: How did I end up here? Why did I eat the fruit of pride yet again? I want to explore why pride can feel so powerful. It plays these 5 games on us, and it is a master at them. Be careful to avoid its tricks, because joining in will come at a great cost. 5 Games Pride Plays on You 1. Pride promises you what you want at the cost of what you need. For the wicked boasts of the desires of his soul, and the one greedy for gain curses and renounces the Lord. In the pride of his face the wicked does not seek him; all his thoughts are, “There is no God.” (Psalm 10:4) What do I want? More twitter follows. A couple of book deals. The admiration and respect of everyone I meet. Is that too much to ask for? Pride says, “That’s not too much at all. In fact, you deserve those things. You are entitled to them.” A person who has great want is a willing victim of their own pride. But note, if you take the hand of pride, you leave God’s hand behind. The prideful doesn’t think, “I don’t follow God” but thinks, “There is no God.” For the existence of God necessitates that we are secondary to him—but pride says you’re second to no one. 2. Pride offers a shortcut to knowledge at the cost of true wisdom. I, wisdom, dwell with prudence… [I hate] pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech. (Proverbs 8:13) Pride offers a shortcut to knowledge because it suggests you already have it! Wisdom, however, dwells with prudence. That means true wisdom comes from a spirt caution that makes sure it doesn’t stray from God’s word. In other words, it takes time and work. It takes an acknowledgment that you are not wise immediately. But what dwells with pride? Wisdom gives and receives counsel with Prudence, but whom does Pride interact with? Perhaps Folly, who says, “There is no truth. Everything is equal so go with your gut!” Perhaps Recklessness, who says, “There’s no time to waste! Act now!” Or maybe even Perversion, who asks, “Have you considered the benefits of evil? There is much gain to be found there.” Proverbs 21:4 calls a proud heart “the lamp of the wicked.” How does a prideful person find their way? By the light of their own pride, which is not light at all but darkness. 3. Pride makes you feel better at the cost of your relationships. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. (Romans 12:15-17) Many things can happen in our lives to upset us. Someone gets something instead of us, someone disappoints us, or maybe someone harms us. For these moments, Jesus set the ultimate example of grace and selflessness and calls us to imitate his humility. However, pride offers us a different way to react. When your friend gets the thing you have been wanting, pride will bolster you up through hate. When someone you know has been brought low, pride will protect you as you distance yourself from them. And, when someone commits evil against you, pride encourages you, saying you have all the right in the world to do the same to them. 4. Pride promises money and power at the cost of your soul. As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. (1 Timothy 6:17) The verse above from Timothy tells us what we all know about riches—they are uncertain. They rise and fall. And, when we die we cannot hold them. But herein lies the interconnectedness of pride’s schemes: The prideful person doesn’t care that they can’t hold their money after death because they only care about this life. They’ve already said, “There is no God” (Psalm 10:4). Money is never enough, though, and men quickly seek power. Taking the hand of pride makes you first a materialist and then a blasphemer. Consider this striking sentence from the last book of the Bible: And the beast was given a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words, and it was allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months. (Revelation 13:5) The beast must have thought he had great power. He was blaspheming God, and God did not stop him. In the beast’s mind, he may have even thought that God could not stop him. He was drunk with power, but we can see his folly. The power he thought he had over God was actually “given” and “allowed” by God. This is a warning to all who eat the fruit of pride. You will love your power, it will make you foolish, and it will lead you to blaspheme God. 5. Pride gives instant gratification at the cost of eternal joy. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. (1 John 2:16-17) I have said that pride promises what you want—to feel better through self-worth, money, and power—and the most alluring part of pride is that it offers all this right now. There is an urgency, a time-boundness, to pride. This urgency is set up to lure you away from “the will of God.” When the devil offered to give Jesus all the authority of “the kingdoms of the world…and their glory” (Luke 4:5-6), it was a now-or-never kind of deal. The devil said all he had to do was bow down to him, and then it would all be Jesus’s. Just like that! The devil is the supreme tempter. He knows exactly how to get to people. He knows here in Luke 4 that he is telling the prophesied Messiah that he could obtain all the power in the world without having to go through all the pain and misery of the crucifixion. But Jesus, who was the incarnate Word, is too strong for that. He said in response to the devil: “You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.” Our Lord and Savior is stronger than sin, and if we are in him then so are we. He spoke directly to the face of pride and said, “You shall worship the Lord your God” so we can do the same when it tempts us. Jesus Offers Something Greater Reader, what do you find in pride’s empty promises that you cannot find in Jesus? Jesus offers greater, and more life-giving, things to you. Jesus gives you what you need, grants true wisdom, soothes your soul while redeeming your relationships, brings us to the rich generosity of the Father, and holds out in his hand eternal joy. Will you lay hold of that joy? I pray that you will. unlockingthebible.org
  12. I live in a small rural community where people often burn brush, trash, and other debris that they do not want to take the time to dispose of. It is common in the summer and fall to drive past houses where dark clouds of smoke are billowing from the back yard. At first it looks like a 911 situation, but eventually, you learn that it is a controlled burn. Most of the time the fire is tended and controlled in a way that it cannot spread to the rest of the yard or the corn fields. However, from time to time they can get out of hand, and it only takes a little amber that gets out of control that can cause the fire to spread and do a lot of damage. The Tongue Can Be Just Like a Fire “How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell.” (James 3:5-6) James warns us that the tongue is a part of the body that can be just like a fire: when controlled it serves a great and wonderful purpose, but when it is out of control it only takes a little bit to do a great deal of damage. He points out that it can corrupt a whole person and ruin his whole life. It is amazing that something as simple as words can make such an impact. But we know that God ordained words to be powerful. In Genesis 1 we see that He created the whole universe by speaking it into existence. Jesus, all throughout the Gospels, healed people by simply speaking healing into their body. In Luke 8:22-25, Jesus calms the storm by simply telling it to be still. We know that words have power, so how do we as the children of God tame our tongue? 1. Be intentional When you start a fire to burn trash, you have to be very intentional. You must use the right amount of trash to burn, you must tend to it, burn in a controlled vessel, and above all keep your eye on it. When we think of our speech we should be the same way. The words we speak should be intentional and God-honoring. To understand the warning James gives in this verse about the power words have we need to be conscious of not only what we say, but also what we allow our minds to dwell on and the manner in which we say what we say. James uses two analogies in verses 3-5 in chapter 3. First, he uses the analogy that the tongue is like a bit that goes into the mouth of a horse, and then the analogy of a rudder that steers the ship. Both cases, the bit and the rudder, imply intentional control. We should pray for the Lord’s guidance and wisdom that our words would be intentional and life-giving. 2. Listen to sound teaching At the beginning of the chapter, James opens by saying not many of us should be teachers. Preachers and teachers in the church were and still are highly revered, and it can be tempting for many to want to be in the spotlight and have the prestige. He warns however that there is great responsibility with teaching because words are powerful and they have great influence in the minds of listeners. He goes on to say that people who teach will be judged more strictly and held to a higher standard. That being said, we know that there are many false teachers in the world today. Be careful that the teaching that you take in whether by sermon or book is Gospel-centered. Do not assume that just because a preacher or author is teaching something a little off that it is of little consequence. If it is contrary to the Gospel, that’s a big deal. Remember, that a half-truth though it may sound mostly good, is still a lie. 3. Feed Yourself with the Word The only way to be able to be intentional and life-giving with your words, as well as to be able to identify good teaching, is to feed your self with the Word daily. God gave us His word not only so that we could know Him and His wonderful plan of salvation, but also so that we would know how to live godly lives. Instruction for Godly speech is found in countless places in the Bible, and the only way to make those truths a real and working part of your life is to preach them to yourself as often as you can. Taming the tongue is not something we will ever master in fact, James says in verse 8 no man can tame the tongue! But Christ commands us to tame it as much as we can, and that by His help our words can be life-giving and a reflection of His grace in our lives. What are some areas in your life where your speech could use some taming? unlockingthebible.org
  13. You will guard us from this generation forever. (Psalm 12:8) Psalm 12 is a generational psalm. The focus of this prayer is a concern over what the future holds for our children, our grandchildren, and our great-grandchildren. Notice how it begins: “Save, O Lord, for the godly one is gone; for the faithful have vanished from among the children of men” (Psalm 12:1). The godly have gone. The faithful have vanished! We want our children to be surrounded by godly examples, and models of faithfulness but, David says, “That’s hard to find today!” Evil was being called “good” and good was being called “evil” by the culture. Everything seemed upside down. What hope is there for our children when this is the world in which they are growing up? This psalm speaks powerfully to our situation today. God has given us a prayer in the Bible for times when we fear for our children. What does the future hold for them? In response to this, I want to first offer an analysis of the assault that our children are facing. And second, a strategy for prayer and for action. Analysis of the Assault Our Children are Facing The god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ who is the image of God. (2 Corinthians 4:4) Notice what we are being told here: There is a particular work of Satan, referred to as “the god of this world” in the verse, to bring blindness to human minds. Satan is always doing this, and the reason he’s doing it is that the good news of the glory of Christ is like a bright light. Jesus says, “I am the light of the world” (John 8:12) and Satan has to pull every trick in the book to keep people from seeing his glory. How does he do this? Jesus says, “Satan is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44). All lies ultimately have their origin in him. Lies are his strategy for blinding the minds of each generation to the glory of Christ. The lies take different forms in each generation, but the overarching strategies have been essentially the same since the Garden of Eden. Psalm 12 points to three brands of deception, all of which Satan uses to keep people from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ. The three varieties of deception are: Vanity, flattery, and blasphemy. Three Brands of Deception 1. Vanity Everyone utters lies to his neighbor. (Psalm 12:2) Several commentators point out that the word translated “lies” here literally means “emptiness.” David has a particular type of deception in view: “Everyone utters emptiness to his neighbor.” There could hardly be a more powerful description of our culture today. There’s great deal of conversation right now about the whole business of spying—the NSA (National Security Agency) listening to phone calls with a view to enhancing security, etc. I enjoyed a satirical piece from a journalist in London who said that the person she felt sorry for is the poor guy at the NSA who has to sift through endless emails, voicemails, tweets, texts and Facebook™ posts, the vast majority of which are of absolutely no consequence whatsoever! Those who are young are growing up, and we are living, in a world of trivia where “everyone utters emptiness to his neighbor.” It’s a world dominated by the next game, the most recent reality show, or the most shocking sound bite. We’re all talking about nothing. The effect of all this is that serious conversation feels really odd. Someone says, “What do you believe about God?” and everyone feels that this kind of talk is too heavy. Satan’s “vanity brand” aims to keep you from ever thinking seriously about life. It is possible to go through high school, college, career and retirement, without ever seriously asking: Who am I? Why am I here? What is life for? And what lies beyond? Satan is in the business of blinding people’s minds so they “cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ.” It is possible to go to church, hang out with your friends, and never think seriously about the meaning of life. Vanity is one of Satan’s primary strategies for accomplishing this. 2. Flattery With flattering lips and a double heart they speak. Psalm 12:2 May the Lord cut off all flattering lips… Psalm 12:3 Flattery always becomes the spoken language in a culture where people give themselves to vanity. It’s saying only what other people want to hear and hearing only what you want other people to say. Flattery is Satan’s second brand of deception. If you only hear what you want other people to say, then you end up not being able to see the light of the gospel of Jesus Christ. This desire for flattery runs deep. Isaiah describes God’s people as: “Children unwilling to hear the instruction of the Lord, who say to the seers, ‘Do not see,’ and to the prophets, ‘Do not prophesy to us what is right; speak to us smooth things… Let us hear no more about the Holy One of Israel.’” (Isaiah 30:9-11) We just want to be affirmed, so don’t tell us about the Holy One of Israel, because we know that we aren’t holy. That will make us uncomfortable. Our children are growing up in a world where even in church, many hear smooth things, and not much about the Holy One of Israel. Jesus said the work of the Holy Spirit begins with convincing of sin and righteousness and judgment. There won’t be much of that going on in flattering ministries that stroke your ego by saying smooth things. That kind of ministry only leads to a generation of kids who grow up in church and yet cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ! Our Lord spoke about this in John 5:44: “How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?” 3. Blasphemy Those who say, “With our tongue we will prevail, our lips are with us; who is master over us?” (Psalm 12:4) This third brand of lying shows itself in defiance. The person who has bought this clenches his or her fist and says, “It’s my life. I am the captain of this ship. No one rules this life but me! I will find my own way. I will be my own lord and savior, my own master, my own guide.” The word to describe that is blasphemy. I looked it up in the dictionary: The act of insulting or showing contempt… for God. The act of claiming the attributes of deity. It’s putting yourself in the place of God. And this brand of deception goes back to the Garden of Eden when Satan said to Eve, “You shall be like God.” Vanity, flattery, and blasphemy are Satan’s three primary strategies. That’s the world our children are growing up in. That’s the world we grew up in. But God is in control. He listens, He speaks, and He saves. unlockingthebible.org
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