Believing the Big Lie
“For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie.” – 2 Thessalonians 2:11
To be human, it is safe to say, is to have the capacity to believe the lie. All of us have believed lies in our past, no matter how well we think we have great natural instincts to decide what is true and what is false. We all have been taken in by lies. Some are very good, very believable, and some are so blatantly false we are completely befuddled that anyone could be so stupid to believe them.
The country is in a Presidential Election year in America and we are being reminded of the many lies that proliferate in the political arena. Many partisans depending which side they support believe their candidates lies, or on the other hand it may be of no consequence to them that they do; everyone lies, they think, and they do not care that he or she does. Now someone with whom they disagree? That is a another matter. They will go berserk if they lie, or in their mind appear to. But the person with whom they agree? They can lie as much as they want, and as blatantly as they desire, and they will support them, nonetheless.
It is more often the case that people from a very young age become habitual liars than they do habitual truth tellers. Most people learn from the earliest age to become very believable, particularly proficient liars. It takes a righteous conscience and holy character, under constant influence of the Holy Spirit to adhere to truth consistently. It is much harder to be a truth teller than to be a liar. Lying comes naturally, understanding universally fallen nature. Truth telling requires your born again transformation by the Spirit of God, and even after, you are still more prone to lie or to believe a lie than to consistently speak the truth and have the accurate instincts to know what really is true or is a lie. And, you have to know and believe the nature of truth to truly perceive when something is true or false.
There is one BIG lie which by far is the most consequential, the most important lie in human history. It is this: that there are many paths to God, many paths to heaven and eternal life. It falsely declares that all religions offer a path to God, the true and only God, and to find, by finding Him, eternal life. This is the BIG lie which God’s enemy, Satan, desires everyone believe. And many, many do, even some, believe it or not, who claim to be a follower of Jesus Christ. (See Matthew 7).
Jesus personally, clearly, and truthfully declared that He is the only door, He is the only gate, He is the only way to the Father, to the one and only true God; and that no man, woman, or child, therefore, comes to God, except through Him. This is the teaching of the Bible, a book that began to be written over 3,400 years ago, a book that was over 1,500 years in the making; a book which nothing in all its history up to the present day has ever appeared which sheds any doubt on its veracity, proves it is wrong in any detail, or has not come to pass exactly as it prophesied. The Bible is the most attested book in all of history. All the more reason to trust what it says, and, in the very least, not ignore it.
The truth over against the big lie, is that if you desire heaven, if you want eternal life, if you wish to draw near to God, if you want to know Him, you must believe His Son. You must commit your life to him and obey His instruction found throughout the Bible; God’s Word and His Word. You must willingly by faith make Him master of your life. No other religion, no other path, no other teaching will take you to God, to Heaven, or to truth. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father, except through me.” (John 14:6)
The capacity to believe lies, the fact that lies pretty much rule in this world, the fact that so many believe lies, including the big lie, and are wont to lie themselves is powerful proof that the world is under a cloud of delusion. It is proof that the Apostle Paul is right when he states that God’s enemy, Satan, is the prince of this world. He calls him “the prince of the power of the air.” In other words, he is the prince where people live, work, and breathe. He is the prince of the culture. He is the prince of world politics. He is the prince of man’s habitation. Humanity cannot currently escape his influence or the delusion under which humanity exists, thinks, and decides. The world in which you live is his battlefield; making it your battlefield as well. You are constantly at war, until God calls you home upon your death, or until Christ returns as He promised and you see His coming.
Do not believe the big lie. Overcome the massive delusion which permeates minds, making the masses believe it. Rather, believe Him, whom to know is life eternal. Believe Jesus Christ, who is alive, and is coming soon to judge the world; to either judge you or, praise God, to save you. Even so, come Lord Jesus!
“We come O Christ to you, true Son of God and man, by whom all things consist, in whom all life began; in you alone we live and move, and have our being in your love.”
(1st verse of Margaret Clarkson’s hymn, “We Come O Christ to You,” 1985)
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We’ve all been there. Your child comes home from school raving about their friend’s brand new car and simultaneously makes you feel like a failure of a parent. Feeling the jealousy rushing in, you ask yourself, How can her parents afford that? Jealousy quickly turns to judgment as you attempt to make yourself feel better. I bet they skipped their tithes all summer in order to afford that car. Or maybe he’s a workaholic and never spends time with his family so they can have that type of money. I may not be able to give my kid a fancy new car, but at least I’m prioritizing tithing and family over wealth and material objects.
The comparison game starts before you even have children. You watch and judge how mothers and fathers choose to parent their children, and you are confident that you not only know better but will also do better when you are a parent one day. Then you begin to have your own children, and the game gets more serious. While you are learning the ropes as a new parent, it doesn’t take long to feel the judgments of others. Are you feeding him enough? Are you sure you want to give her a pacifier? You know what that can do to her teeth, right? Maybe you should give her more tummy-time. If you let him “cry it out,” he’s going to have attachment issues. You’re giving your baby formula instead of nursing him? If you go back to work, you are a selfish mother. Your baby still isn’t sleeping through the night?! Mine did at 3 months! Maybe you should try…and on and on.
Amidst all of the judgment, it’s easy to become insecure. Listening to other parents’ unsolicited advice on how to raise your children can make you question your methods. When you are insecure, you become envious, and when you are envious, you judge. For example, if another parent tells you their son made the honor roll this month but yours had a record high detention count, you might feel like this other parent is a better mother or father than you are. You may feel jealous that they are obviously doing something right because their child is excelling while yours is struggling. In response to your growing jealousy, you may try to justify their supposed superiority with assumptions. I bet they push their son too hard. He probably wants to play baseball, but instead they force him to study incessantly. They are squandering his childhood! These accusations might make you feel a little better about your perceived shortcomings, but it is a vicious, self-repeating cycle.
Social media plays a big role in this cycle because we tend to post only the “picture perfect” moments. Maybe your child has been a terror all day, and you finally get him down for his nap. You pick up your phone and start scrolling through your newsfeed, only to see perfectly placed bows, fun play dates, straight A’s, and happy families. This can be extremely discouraging in light of your trying morning. That mom has it all together. She balances everything seamlessly and makes it look easy. Her house is gorgeous, her laundry is folded, she made her family dinner, her dishes are clean, she is fit, her kids are stylish, her car is new, etc. In contrast, I haven’t showered in three days, I still have baby weight to lose, I wouldn’t even know where to find my makeup bag if I did have time to put it on, I haven’t been shopping for new clothes in over a year, my baby is covered in spit up and screaming, my teenager is failing math, I can’t remember the last time my husband and I went on a date, my house is a wreck, and we’re definitely going to have to pick up pizza for dinner tonight because I don’t have the time or energy to cook and the sink is overflowing with dirty dishes!
If I’m being honest, there are many days when I find myself discouraged and envious after checking social media. I’m not one of those moms who has it all together. My hair is pretty much always dirty, I can rarely get my makeup on, I eat too much sugar and don’t work out, my husband likes to cook more than I do (and is better at it, too), and you’re likely to hear my son having a meltdown in Walmart. When I scroll through my Instagram feed and see the countless women with their flawless hair and makeup, their toned bodies and defined jawlines, doing their fun activities in their spectacular cities with their obedient children, and hanging out with their fashionable friends in their perfectly decorated houses, I feel inferior. My life is not so “picture perfect,” and I am envious of the women they appear to be.
While I believe this habit of envious comparison can be particularly ruthless amongst mothers, it is certainly a struggle for fathers as well. How much money you make, how well you provide for your family, what car you drive, and how often you work out are all areas that men use to evaluate themselves compared to other men. Comparison leads to jealousy, which is an all-consuming monster. It will steal your joy and leave you with resentment, hatred, and misery. When you think the grass is greener in your neighbor’s yard, you become angry with God for giving them so much more than He has given you and angry with your neighbor for having it all.
In Psalm 25, David writes, “My eyes are ever on the Lord,” and in Hebrews 12, Paul admonishes us to “keep our eyes fixed on Jesus.” How often we find ourselves looking elsewhere, taking our gaze off of Jesus. This usually means our sight, our attention is set on ourselves and those around us. We get so caught up in worrying about what the person next to us has, looks like, and accomplishes that we forget what Jesus has done for us. We care more about what we have on this Earth than eternity, and we find ourselves striving to outdo the person next to us while we’re here. This is truly foolish because my story is not meant to be the same as my neighbor’s. The Lord has given us each what we need, and many blessings. But we do not need the same things; we will not necessarily glorify God with the same tools. Who cares if my neighbor has better behaved children than I do? I was valuable enough to God that He sacrificed His only son so that I could have a relationship with Him. Everything else is secondary. My identity rests in that truth, not in how my performance, accomplishments, or appearance compares to someone else’s.
Be encouraged today. It is for freedom that Christ set us free! You are not a slave to comparison, envy, and judgment. You are a prized possession of the King of Kings, and that is all that matters.
Paul Anderson Youth Home
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And The Sea Was No More
“Then I saw a new heaven and earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. Revelation 21:1
Born in California, the sea has been in my blood from an early age, as it is in my father’s. Raised in Colorado, I love the mountains as well. Will sea and mountains be in a new heaven and earth? It is hard to imagine creation, our home, or a new heaven and earth without the sea. From the Pacific to the Atlantic, from the azure blue surrounding the Greek Isle of Santorini, or the spectacular vistas along Italy’s Amalfi Coast; the Caribbean, the Mediterranean, not in a new heaven and earth? Numerous Biblical references recounted in Randy Alcorn’s excellent book, Heaven, apparently imply there will be a natural continuity between our eternal body and our eternal home to the creation God once pronounced, “very good; though sin was the great destroyer in the earth we now know. There is no doubt that sin and death will be no more in a new heaven and earth, but what does the Apostle John tell us in his vision when he says “and the sea was no more?
The sea has been for many centuries a barrier between the easy access of peoples to one another, though never a barrier to courageous adventurers. It is easily bridged today by modern ship craft and planes. When the Bible says that at the last resurrection “the sea will give up her dead, it is no small number of people who will rise from her depths. Hurricanes and typhoons, tsunamis and floods, sea battles and sinking ships or boats, rip-tides and sharks, have claimed countless numbers of lives down through the centuries. In exile John was surrounded by sea on the Isle of Patmos, and thereby separated from brothers and sisters in Christ whom he cared for as a shepherd on the mainland. The sea holds indiscriminately a fear and a dread, mystery and beauty, a calming and an inspiring affect. It can strike terror into one heart, and into another awe and peace. The presence and authority of Jesus brought calm to an angry sea and consequently the hearts of his disciples. Though you may live far from the sea, the sea is in one way or another in the blood of us all.
One certain aspect in John’s holy vision of what waits the believer in the new heaven and earth is the removal of separation between believers and believers, and believers and their Savior and God; the removal of tears, and death, and pain, and mourning, though those thorns now increase our faith, test our resolve, and potentially throw us into the arms of “He who is able to save to the uttermost. It may well be that the “removal of the sea is symbolic of the removal of all these things that are the result of sin and Satan, the attempt to destroy God’s perfect creation. Whatever John’s vision communicates with regard to our future home, the life and the environment there surpasses anything you can imagine. If not a sea, there will be beautiful bodies of water below spectacular and majestic mountains, and your eyes will never cease to be awed by what God creates, and the chief gift of all, our Triune God in the midst.
The lesson in the vision is the removal of what in this life the sea has wrought as an instrument of judgment and sovereignty by a God who cannot abide evil and rebellion; but, nevertheless, loves His own who are in the world, and redeems them with His own blood. The sea as an instrument of judgment and destruction will indeed be no more. Whatever “sea is threatening your life and home now, and the pains emotionally, psychologically and physically can seem like drowning in the sea at times, take hope that the Master of the sea has promised its removal in your promised future in Him. Take hope in these words from Hebrews 6: “So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of His purpose, He guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul… (Hebrews 6:17-19). Without the “sea, you would not cling to the Anchor!
“Though the angry surges roll on my tempest driven soul, I am peaceful, for I know, wildly though the winds may blow, I’ve an anchor safe and sure, that can evermore endure.
“Troubles almost ‘whelm the soul; griefs like billows o’er me roll; tempters seek to lure astray, storms obscure the light of day: but in Christ I can be bold, I’ve an Anchor that shall hold.
(1st and 4th verses of W.C. Martin’s hymn, “My Anchor Holds)
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Personal Meditation: All Too Rare
“My meditation of Him shall be sweet.” – Psalm 104:34
Meditation in this present day may well be a lost miracle. In these feverish days there is little doubt to the wise Christian thinker that he needs to be spending time meditating; deep meditation on the right subject, or should we say, the right person. Is there truly any rest in this present racing world save the grave? How does one escape from the plans that tie him up tight as ropes? Or escape the labors that weigh him down like lead? Our world is in constant motion and most are holding on for dear life. Satan would have you think that there is absolutely no time for personal meditation. That is the last thing you should do, he causes you to think. And if that is what you are thinking, should the desire to meditate even enter your thoughts, you can be certain Satan is not wanting you to have any of it; and in that he is fairly successful.
God’s Word is saturated with the command to those who would follow and obey Him to meditate on His precepts, to think on His character, to thoughtfully observe His works, to be a student of Jesus, to carefully consider and dwell on the beauty of His Son. In fact, the Psalms and elsewhere say our meditation ought to be “day and night.” Paul directs us, “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think on these things.” Or, “O, how I love your law, it is my meditation all the day.” Or, “You keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on you.” You cannot escape the fact that your mind is to find refuge in intentional meditation upon the person and words of the Lord Jesus Christ. Such devoted thought is indeed your salvation!
Yet, the entertainment of the world, the drivenness of your own work, the demands of your life, the fulfilling of your appetites, keep you from searching out with your whole heart the One who makes all things well. Your own interests keep your soul from hungering after righteousness, which is the only way you can ever find any satisfaction, any fulfillment anywhere in life. Genuine meditation, which alone satisfies, must be upon the person and character and works of the Lord Jesus and His Father.
You may think on your own sinful nature, but it must be seen alongside of Jesus’ atonement for it. If your meditation of your own sin inspires a calling out for God’s mercy, it is a good thing. But if you meditate upon yourself for the purpose of seeking out your own self-defense, it is vanity. Your meditation should always send you to fixing your eyes on the face and majesty of the Savior. You can never completely plumb His depths. You can never get to the end of Him. You will, if your meditation is guided by His Word, never become bored with Him. His mercies are new every morning. Jesus is never boring when your meditation has the directing influence of the Spirit of God. It is only boring when it is Spirit-less in its guidance, when your meditation drifts into self-seeking and dreaming about your own interests.
You must take time for meditation. Shutting out distractions. Getting alone time with your Savior, with His Word open before you. Meditating on a single verse or a whole chapter. Getting to know God and His Son more completely than anyone or anything else. To know Him and His Son is eternal life, and you can be certain, you do not know Him nearly well enough.
Meditation is spiritual breathing. Not meditating is to drown. Too many are drowning in the trivialities of life, without any struggle to grab hold of the life preserving life-line the Lord in mercy is throwing your way. Your mind needs to take hold of what real life is all about.
Don’t drown! Meditate!
“Jesus, the very thought of thee, with sweetness fills my breast; but sweeter far thy face to see, and in thy presence rest.”
(1st verse of Anonymous Latin hymn, 11th century, “Jesus the Very Thought of Thee.”)
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“Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” – Matthew 6:12
Most probably we are missing mercy from God in our daily lives, because we have been unwilling to forgive just as He has asked us to do, in order that His forgiveness of us might be mercifully granted. C.S. Lewis writes in his The Weight of Glory: “To forgive the incessant provocations of daily life – to keep on forgiving the bossy mother-in-law, the bullying husband, the nagging wife, the selfish daughter, the deceitful son–how can we do it? Only, I think, by remembering where WE stand, by meaning our words when we say in our prayers each night “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” We are offered forgiveness on no other terms. To refuse it is to refuse God’s mercy for ourselves. There is no hint of exceptions and God means what He says.”
Forgiveness is not easy because it has to be done over and over again. The disciples asked the Lord how often they must forgive those who had offended or done something to them. His answer was seventy times seven, or simply, always, over and over. Yet, how often does God have to forgive you? The problem is that we often have a better estimate of ourselves than is warranted. We are unwilling to practice the first beatitude of Jesus’ sermon to us: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.”
We think more highly of ourselves than we ought. Humility of character does not course through our veins. We are more apt to be grievously offended by the actions of others than to practice a forgiving spirit. For if we genuinely forgive without waiting for repentance from the offending party, which may never come, the Lord says we will be happy, not bitter or angry. But we have a very difficult time believing Him. So his mercy is withheld, and that is most unfortunate.
His words could not be more direct: “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” And in Mark, “And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone; so that your Father who also is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.” Very clear, but also in us, very forgettable. We simply forget His words in the midst of the crucible of life. But remembering His words and doing them is the mark of a true disciple. To those who are not genuine disciples He says, “Depart from me, I never knew you.”
Only by practicing poverty of your own spirit, which is a truth about everyone’s’ nature, can we even approach an attitude of forgiveness of others. The first thing that should come to mind as offenses occur against you is, there am I, this is what I do to others, or, there, but for the grace and mercy of God, go I. Can you forgive and forget? For forgetting is the true test of authentic forgiveness. Otherwise, you did not truly forgive.
Only in this fashion will God be merciful to you. If you do not think God’s mercy to you is important, think again. His mercy is all you ever need. It is everything. There is no greater sense of happiness in your spirit than to always go forth in life under the intimate mercy of your eternal God. “He is your constant refuge and underneath you are His everlasting arms.”
“When all thy mercies, O my God, my rising soul surveys, transported with the view I’m lost, in wonder, love and praise.”
(First verse of Joseph Addison’s hymn, “When All Thy Mercies, O My God,” 1712)
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