As Jesus is the cornerstone upon which the Church is built, so are his teachings the unifying cornerstone of Christian doctrine.

Listening to Topics or Christ?

A lot of popular preaching is topical - right living, Obama-bashing, homespun philosophy and man-made rules. The weakness of topical preaching is that it is overdone and Christ is underdone. We are more fond our ideologies than Christ. The result is more law and less grace. Listening to a half hour of Christian radio, we often learn things like 10 rules to be a better parent, 7 ways to be a better husband and 12 ways to keep our teenagers pure. All those things may be useful, but they leave us exhausted and weary. When are we ever going to be able to measure up to such standards, such expectations, such do's and don'ts? What we need is more of Christ, not another list of unnattainable rules. The best preaching is teaching what Christ taught. What we need is salvation and peace, and we can only find that in Christ.

Christianity without the Crap

Christianity without the Crap is now available at Amazon and Create Space. Thank you to all those who contributed ideas, critiques and more importantly, encouragement.

If we don't know Jesus

We got transubstantiation
Or maybe consubstantiation
Believe in an ancient Creation
Give a generous donation
Working on spiritual formation
But if we don't know Jesus
there's no salvation
only empty imagination

In weekly celebration
of eternal renovation
raising hands in adoration
with appropriate gyration
harmony and notation
But if we don't know Jesus
there's no salvation
only empty imagination

Preacher got the right quotation
from his Bible translation
Helping us avoid temptation
and every kind of aberration
So we're free of accusation
But if we don't know Jesus
there's no salvation
only empty imagination

Tithing by our calculation
So he's got some compensation
from this whole congregation
for his steadfast dedication
and his Bible education
But if we don't know Jesus
there's no salvation
only empty imagination

Got the right dispensation
for this modern generation
Got to be in preparation
for the coming revelation
there's no time for relaxation
But if we don't know Jesus
there's no salvation
only empty imagination

This whole world's in termination
ready for annihilation
Looking for glorification
and the coming manifestation
a great victory celebration
But if we don't know Jesus
there's no salvation
only empty imagination

Lessons from John the Baptist

John the Baptist: Prophet And Disciple- He prepared for Jesus
- He confessed freely, "I am not the Christ"
- He said, "I must decrease"
- Jesus said that there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he
- Some who testify about Jesus are weird, but that's not important
- God chose John for a special mission long before he was born
- John's message of preparation for Jesus was repentance
- A change of heart is always the best preparation for Jesus
- John never veered from his role, not even to become a disciple of Jesus himself
- John's imprisonment and execution did not occur because of Jesus, but because he criticized Herod
- unlike his condemnation of the Pharisees' stubbornness, Jesus was merciful towards John's crisis of faith
- Jesus assumed that John actually was part of this reign, so a crisis of faith, doesn't necessarily keep us out of the kingdom of heaven
- Preparing for Jesus ought never prevent us becoming disciples of Jesus
- never spend so much time in spreading the message of Christ, that we fail to come to Christ
- someone can indeed create a very impressive ministry and still not have come to discipleship in Christ

Real Rest

I searched a lifetime to find long needed rest for my soul. I began in liberal churches. I found decent folks eager for good works and peacemaking, but no rest. I went to churches that take a sabbath day's rest. I found decent folks who love the Ten Commandments, but no rest for my soul. I went to fundamentalist churches. I found decent, law abiding folks who love rules to live by, but I found no rest. I went to charismatic churches. I found decent folks who love lively music and enthusiastic preaching, but no rest. I went to ancient churches. I found decent folks with faithful martyrs and praying saints, but no rest. I went to Bible churches. I found decent folks who love quality exegetical preaching, rightly dividing the Word of God, but no rest. Then I went to Jesus and THERE I found rest for my soul.

Should Christians Shut Up?

We're told that in polite company we don't discuss sex, politics or religion. I agree with the first two, but why can't we discuss religion? Jesus did, all the time. Granted, sometimes people didn't want to listen, especially the Pharisees. What about in the church? We can have wonderful discussions among Christians but not always. Perhaps that's why even some Christians don't like to discuss religion among themselves.

Perhaps we need to learn how to discuss respectfully by esteeming each other better than ourselves, give others grace to have different opinions and learn to forgive each other for our prejudices and sometimes hurtful words. What a shame it would be if Christians really did shut up! Sometimes the Gospel will offend, but not always. Could the problem sometimes be ours? Do we need to learn how to discuss our faith in a manner that is more attractive and less offensive?

Spiritual Warfare, Urban Myth vs Bible Truth

What is spiritual warfare? How can we distinguish between fads and facts? We have spiritual enemies, but we must fight them as God instructs, not with superstitious nonsense or ineffective mumbo jumbo. There are many dangers, urban myths and legends surrounding this popular topic. What is the truth?

The Armor of God

Our spiritual arsenal must be God's weaponry not the hocus-pocus invented and practiced by some. Most Christians are familiar with the “armor of God” (Ephesians 6:11-18). We need truth, righteousness, faith, the gospel of peace and the word of God. Paul ends by reminding us that spiritual strength comes from God alone, so we need to pray, ask God for his help. We never know in advance when the enemy will attack, so prayer for God’s protection is vital.

1 Thessalonians 5:8 complements Paul's list: “faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet.” Here Paul uses the trio of faith, hope and love. We will be spiritually stronger if these qualities are at work in our lives.

Three Battlefronts

We are at war in at least three areas: our own selves (the flesh), the world, and supernatural evils.

War with the Flesh

Sins of the “flesh” include sins of the mind, such as pride. Paul describes the inner struggle we all face in Galatians 5:17: “The sinful nature [flesh] desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.” The sins of the flesh also include jealousy, selfishness and hatred, as well as sexual immorality and drunkenness (verses 19-21).

Our spiritual troubles can also come from genetic weaknesses, or child abuse, or bad habits. Paul tells us to put to death the deeds of the flesh and not let sin reign in us (Romans 6:11-12; 8:13; Colossians 3:5). This is spiritual warfare. Greed (for example) is a spiritual problem, even when evil spirits are not involved. Sin is a spiritual power, and the only effective way to fight it is with the Spirit of God in us.

War with the World

Western culture promotes materialism and individualism, which can damage our spiritual health, and influence our attitudes toward sex, money, power, success, other ethnic groups and other religions. Some influences are positive; others are not. The Bible helps us assess cultural customs as good, bad or neutral.

1 John 2:15-17 helps us here: “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.” Everything this world offers is only temporary. The things of God are permanent.

The world appeals to the flesh. These two spiritual enemies work together. People have fleshly desires, but without God’s help are less likely to resist them. So society often promotes self-indulgence and self-reliance. We need to be aware of it and be suspicious of values that we take for granted. By his death, Jesus destroyed the power that Satan had over us. The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom.

War with Supernatural Evil

A third enemy is the supernatural world. Some people over emphasize evil spirits and others want to ignore them. Paul clearly says that we struggle against evil powers in the heavenly realms—the spiritual world in general. We were all influenced by the spirit that works among the disobedient (Ephesians 2:2-3).

This evil spiritual realm works with both our culture and our sinful nature. That is our spiritual warfare. But we have been rescued from the dominion of darkness (Colossians 1:13). By his death, Jesus destroyed the power that Satan had over us (Hebrews 2:14). We can be confident that that the Lord will rescue us from every evil attack (2 Timothy 4:18).

Satan is a defeated enemy, but he is still harassing us with guerrilla warfare, masquerading as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14-15). He stalks us like a prowling lion (1 Peter 5:8). How do you fight a devil like that? It's really rather simple. Resist him and stand firm in the faith (verses 9-10).

The Power of Resistance

The strategy is simple: resist. How? By faith! The Bible does not prescribe any special words or rituals; no unusual anointing or prayers. Neither Jesus nor the apostles went searching for demons to defeat as the key to spiritual growth or effective evangelism. They expelled demons when a problem was unavoidable, but they did not search for clandestine demons or territorial spirits. Jesus defeated Satan not through aggression, but by resisting him with the word of God, and then by dying on a cross.

Resistance is powerful. James teaches that if we resist the devil, he will flee from us (James 4:7) probably looking for an easier target. No one can snatch us out of Jesus’ hand (John 10:28). Christ keeps us safe. When we trust in him, evil spirits cannot harm us (1 John 5:18; 2 Thessalonians 3:3).

So we should stand in faith and resist the temptations of the devil that appeal to our desires, pride, selfishness or ungodly cultural influences. How do we resist? Put on faith and righteousness, truth and the gospel, and pray always.

Wrong Concepts

The devil even tries to deceive us with wrong spiritual warfare. Some unbiblical concepts include compulsory prayers over inanimate objects, such as rocks. This is not a sin, but it is not biblical. Some of these techniques give evil spirits far more attention than they deserve. They treat demons as legitimate powers instead of usurpers. Many of these ideas are superstitious, borrowed from magic, and focus more on techniques than faith in Christ. It is often a case of casting out demons by Beelzebub. We can only win through Christ, and he did not teach us any such strategies. We cannot improve on what he himself did.

Curses and hexes have no real power of their own. If a demon carries out a curse it is by the demon’s choice, not by any inherent power of the words. We have no need to explore the demonic world to find hidden curses or come up with special words to counteract the words of a mere mortal. All we need is Christ.


Some people see a demon behind every bad attitude, or physical abnormality. Many mental illnesses are caused by physiological malfunctions not demons. They can have spiritual repercussions, but are not always caused by evil spirits. So we should be cautious about diagnosing anyone as having a demon. Claims of demon possession are often wrong.

Genuine symptoms of demon possession could include:

· a hostile reaction to the name of Jesus

· the presence of an unnatural, foreboding feeling of evil

· involvement in the occult and witchcraft

· prominent feelings of unforgiveness, bitterness and anger

· supernatural strength, and

· self-abusive behavior.

None of these guarantee demon possession, but a diagnosis should be made very carefully by someone who is more experienced in these things.

When a demon is encountered, a church leader can simply take authority in Christ’s name, and command the demon to leave. No shouting or conversation is needed. There is no need to find out the demon’s name or anything else about the demonic world. Whatever a demon says is likely to be false, anyway. A demon might try to stall for time by causing a distraction, so we need to be firm in commanding the demon to leave, by the authority of Christ.

Then we need to teach the person to resist becoming contaminated again, giving them the truth of salvation, the gospel of hope, faith in Christ, encouraging them in a life of righteousness, prayer and Bible study, surrounded by people who will help them.

We do not need to fear the demonic world. Its power is limited. Satan’s main strategy is not outright possession, but deception. Demons work through the society around us, appealing to our own sinful nature, trying to deceive us into wrong ways of thinking and wrong ways of behavior. They use fear, guilt and ignorance. The antidote is faith, forgiveness and the truth of the gospel.

Asking Questions

Some people have claimed that long-time church members can be possessed by demons and need to be delivered. Could a demon really be in a Christian heart? Some preachers teach that part of the plan for world evangelism must include defeating Satan and tearing down spiritual strongholds. Demons are in charge of nations, cities, even local communities they say. It is claimed that these demons have to be sought out and expelled before effective evangelism can take place. Must Satan be defeated in this manner before evangelism can take place or is that only possible after Christ returns?

Deliverance, bondage breaking, the binding of curses and the tearing down of satanic strongholds are fads pre-occupying many Christians today. Some popular and sincere church leaders are teaching and encouraging these and similar ideas. But is it safe? Are there pitfalls? Some of the best sellers in a Christian bookshop are on the subject of spiritual warfare. What is a balanced and biblically defensible view?

The Bible is clear that there is such a thing as spiritual warfare. 1 Peter 5:8 and Ephesians 6:12 indicate that Satan is warring against the efforts of Christians in order to prevent the spread of the gospel. The Bible also explains that through Christ this battle is already won. We have the victory! (Colossians 1:13; Acts 26:18; 1 Corinthians 15:57; Romans 8:37-38). There is a clear foundation of biblical teaching that we already have the victory in Christ.

Spiritual Warfare Hogwash

A few important principles will help us sort out the hogwash that is sold in the Christian market place from the biblical truths regarding spiritual warfare. How can you tell if a particular teaching is real or rubbish?

Does the teaching support a dualistic world view, the idea that God and Satan are equal? The Bible teaches that Christ has already overcome the world (John 16:33) and that Satan is already defeated (Luke 4:1-13; Hebrews 2:14; Colossians 2:15). Dualism diminishes God, putting him on an equal status with Satan. This teaching is the basis of much deliverance ministry and is fundamentally wrong. We have the victory. God is greater than Satan.

Does the teaching lead to animism or superstition, that humans must manipulate or control the energy of evil spirits? This idea comes from ancient religions, New Age thinking, witchcraft and sorcery. It places trust in magic rituals rather than Christ. Sometimes phrases like “in Jesus’ name” are used like a magical incantation. Some people try to manipulate the spirit world. The apostles did not go on a “search and destroy” mission for demons. When confronted, they acted, but did not go around picking fights with demons and looking for trouble. The “deliverance” approach is pre-occupied with Satan, naively attributing any problem to Satan, which is superstition. We should be concentrating on our relationship with Jesus Christ, not wondering regularly about our relationship with Satan.

Does the teaching promote fear? Some claim that up to 85 percent of Christians are demonized! Ridiculous! God and Satan do not live side by side in the Christian. God has not given us a spirit of fear (2 Timothy 1:7). Christians are not touched by the evil one (1 John 5:18). Jesus keeps us from evil (2 Thessalonians 3:3). We pray deliver us from evil (Matthew 6:13) and believe that we are safe in Jesus' hands. We do not need to rely on semi-magical Christian-sounding phrases and a dramatic waving of hands and commands shouted at real or imagined demons.

Does the teaching promote a false view of the Holy Spirit? Some people involved in spiritual warfare treat the Holy Spirit as if He were a powerful angel or even a demon. Jesus abides with us (John 15) by the Holy Spirit (1 John 3:24) and that anointing remains with us (1 John 2:27). We don't have to continually ask the Holy Spirit to come or come back. The Holy Spirit does not take over and control our minds against our will. God did not give us free will in order to take it away from us. Satan wants to remove our free will. We submit to God’s will voluntarily, not by force. One of the fruits of the Spirit is self-control (Galatians 5:23; 1 Corinthians 14:23). Satanic possession causes lack of self-control (Acts 19:16). The Holy Spirit never acts like a demon, and any teaching that suggests that he does is a heresy.

Does the teaching place experience above the Scriptures? Some people place their own spiritual experiences above the teachings of Scripture and defend their position vigorously. Is experience always reality and therefore truth? For the Christian, faith is the evidence of things not seen. Heresies and cults have been built on the visions and spiritual experiences of founders. Be careful when someone claims that his or her experience is more important than the Scriptures.

Does the teaching have validation in scripture? Check the Scriptures, as the Bereans did (Acts 17:11). Many of the teachings and practices on the subject of spiritual warfare are not in Scripture. Some clearly ignore biblical precedent, some go against the spirit of grace, and some are outright pagan. But there is spiritual warfare. We have the victory from God already, but Satan and his legions remain determined in their attack on us. We can relate to the comforting words of Jahaziel to Jehoshaphat and the people of Judah telling him not to be afraid, nor dismayed, because the battle is not ours but God's (2 Chronicles 20:15). James tells us to submit to God, resist the devil and he will flee from us (James 4:7).


What did Jesus say about spiritual warfare? He said that man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God. He also said that we shall not tempt God, and that we ought to worship only God. When we are tempted to put other things ahead of God, we are certainly losing a battle. Jesus did not go hunting for demons, but rebuked them whenever he ran across them.

Borrowing special ceremonies and fetishes from witchcraft or voodoo and calling it spiritual warfare is crap. Paul explains in Ephesians 6:12-18 that we fight against spiritual wickedness and against principalities and powers. Using the same Greek terms, Paul also states in Colossians 2:15 that through his crucifixion and resurrection, our Savior has disarmed principalities and powers, triumphing over them. He rejoices that we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. Neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers can separate us from the love of God (Romans 8:37-39).

There is nothing to fear. We have the victory. God is on the side of the Christians. If God be for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31).