Tag Archives: Peter

I’m Surprised You Are Still So Easily Surprised!

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you” (1 Peter 4:12).  

Surprise! That word has come to mean something fun, hasn’t it? Perhaps it is a surprise birthday party, or it could be a gift, or it might be some good news. But when Peter used the word xenizo, translated as “surprised” in 1 Peter 4:12, he had something completely different in mind. And we would do well to heed his warning.

You see, when Peter used the word translated as surprised, he was saying that Christians should not be shocked or astonished “by the strangeness and novelty of a thing.” In other words, he wanted Christians to expect persecution and difficulties in this world. He knew that when we are surprised in that way, we act like scared, insecure people without faith. But if we expect the fiery ordeal, we will (hopefully) react with the dignity of Christ.

Yet, as I see Christians interacting in the world, one thought repeatedly strikes me: “Why are you still so surprised at the fiery ordeal?” I’m surprised that you are still surprised.

Don’t get me wrong; I get it. It is frustrating to look out in the world and feel like everything is against your way of thinking. This is especially true when you were sold on the idea that this is a Christian nation. I understand.

But that is never an excuse for Christians to behave like scared, insecure people without faith. If the media shows a bias toward publicizing one shooting and downplaying another, don’t be surprised! If people are praising one football player’s “taking a knee” despite having condemned another for “taking a knee,” don’t be surprised! You see where I’m going with this?

“Surprise” leads to negative, hateful, vitriol that spews forth from the Christian, lashing out like a frightened, wounded animal. Rather, as Christians, we need to follow the advice my old science teacher used to give. When asked if there would be a test the next day, he would say, “pray for the best, but expect the worst.”

When we do that, we will be less overwhelmed. When a fiery ordeal happens, we are prepared. Then, we actually leave room for a true surprise – delight when things go better than expected! Jesus experienced this kind of astonishment when He saw faith among the Gentiles that exceeded the faith of Israel.

Caleb Engle, the usher who stopped the shooter at the Burnette Chapel Church of Christ, is a good example of what I mean. After being hit in the face with a gun, and after wrestling the gunman from further killing and shooting, he asked people to pray for the church, the first responders…and the gunman. Now that is a delightful surprise to hear…and (by the way) an example of what Jesus would do.

Of course, Caleb is a Christian so that shouldn’t be a surprise. Yet, it is always a delight when God’s people act accordingly. Let’s try to be that kind of surprise for the world this week and leave the scared, wounded animal talk behind.

The Bible Is Still The Best Spiritual Superfood

cockroach-milkWhen I was growing up, it was “eat your veggies.” But these days, everyone wants “superfoods.” What’s that, you ask? The Oxford Dictionary defines “superfood” as a ‘nutrient-rich food considered to be especially beneficial for health and well-being.’

So, you’ve probably seen marketing for foods such as: kale, salmon, blueberries, hempseed, chia seeds, and wheatgrass. But the newest superfood takes the cake. What is this rage of tomorrow? Cockroach milk! Mmm…yum.

“Gag,” “Yuck,” “Ugh,” “No, thank you.” All these reactions seem appropriate. But, according to a team of scientists at India’s Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine, you might want to put that bug spray down for a moment.

It turns out that the Pacific beetle cockroach feeds it’s babies by lactating protein-dense crystals that are more than four times the nutrition of cow’s milk! Researcher Subramanian Ramaswamy calls this roach milk a “fantastic protein supplement.” So, while it doesn’t sound attractive, cockroach milk might be hitting a grocery near you!

Of course, “drink your milk and get your protein” isn’t a new message.

In fact, the Bible has always maintained that God’s milk is the only way to get our spiritual nutrients. In 1 Peter 2:1-3, Peter reminds Christians, “Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord.”

Now, I’m pretty sure that Peter didn’t have roach milk in mind. But he used the universal idea of the purity of mother’s milk to remind us that we need nutrients in our spiritual diets. If we fail to do so, we will grow weak in our faith and in our spiritual life.

I have no idea what roach milk tastes like. But I know that the kindness of the Lord is the sweetest thing ever. As we grow in our salvation, we must continue to dine on the protein packed meal of the good news of Jesus.

Twisted Sharks

Jonathan Davis was indignant. In 2013, as a Ph.D. candidate at the University of New Orleans, he had been tracking bull shark activity in Lake Pontchartrain. So he was excited when the Discovery Channel wanted to film his work. Unfortunately, Davis’ joy ended when he saw the final product.

He was horrified to find that his work had been misappropriated to boost ratings for “Shark Week,” – a smear campaign against sharks that made him look like a voodoo shark hunter. Since then, several other researchers have denounced editors for their misuse of interviews and filming to ignite controversy in the aquatic world.

At the heart of the problem, is the same old issue: no one likes it when people twist and pervert their words. Most of us get upset when someone takes our work and misuses it to teach something opposite of our beliefs.

And people do it all the time. Even with inspirational material. Take for example, the inspirational calendar which quotes Luke 4:7, “if you worship me, all will be yours.” But the passage was a temptation of Christ by Satan, not words to live by for the Christian!

Imagine, therefore, how God feels about those who would twist and pervert His Word and work for their own glory.

If you have made a decision not to follow God’s Word, or if you don’t believe that God exists at all, that is certainly your decision to make. And no matter how foolish I might think that decision is, it is your right. God gives us all the freedom to choose whether to follow Him or not.

But why? Why oh why, would you try to convince others and yourselves that the Bible doesn’t say what it clearly says? I might suggest that the effort tells us much about the nature of humans.

Why not say, “who cares what God thinks!” I’ll tell you why. Because there are far too many obvious features of this world that prove there was a beginning, a beginner, and an intelligent design to life. Everything else is foolish when put in the light of, “who cares what that infinite being who made everything thinks.”

Rather, if we admit what nature clearly teaches, and if we acknowledge that the Bible is worthy of being followed, then we must cease to pervert His Word to justify our sins. Those who do say are like the “untaught and unstable” men who distort Paul’s words, “as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction” (2 Peter 3:16).

Don’t be fooled! God is not mocked. Quit trying to find loopholes! He will not eternally allow His Word to be twisted and perverted by evil men with evil plans. Make your decision to adhere to the Word and live eternally in His glory!

When Putin Prays

This week, Russian President, Vladimir Putin shocked many by praying for America because of our moral degradation. So I started to write an article to thank him and to scold American Christians for our backsliding. There’s just one problem – Putin.

I simply can’t line up with those who are congratulating him. This is a man who is guilty of severe human rights violations. And the country he leads is responsible for promoting atheism, trying to stamp out religion, brutally murdering over 200,000 clergy and believers, and destroying over 40,000 churches, mosques, and synagogues. In light of his actions, his offer of prayer seems shallow and political.

But it did remind me of something I wanted to do a long time ago.

Once upon a time, I wanted to write an article called, “In Defense of the Pharisees.” Then I remembered that Jesus called them a “brood of vipers” and “whitewashed tombs.” So I came to my senses. But I am convinced that there was a time when the Pharisees had the right motivation.

You see, the Pharisee sect arose out of difficult circumstances. The Greeks were practicing Hellenization, (forcing every culture to accept Greek language, customs, and religion). And those who stood firm on God’s laws became known as the Pharisees. But their respect for the law soon grew into something vile.

Fast forward to today, Christians. After all, history should be used for our learning, and there is a huge WARNING sign posted: don’t be like the hypocrites!

Jesus confirmed that the teaching of the Pharisees should be followed carefully, but not their lives (MT 23:3). In other words, what we are teaching Biblically might be correct, and it should be followed. But there might be one big hindrance to people hearing God’s Word…us!

Will we avoid the hypocrisy of a Putin or the Pharisees? Paul reminds us that people are saved when we watch our teaching and our lives (1 Timothy 4:16). And if we do so, perhaps people will, once again, desire to ask us the reason for the hope we have within us (1 Peter 3:15).