From the Heart … and Mind

Do you ever get discouraged and begin wondering why you’re even here? You see others who seem to have a “Midas’ touch,” whatever they put their hands to seems to turn to gold; yet, whatever you touch seems to turn to rust. If so, you’re not alone. Believe me, I get it.

Some people might be surprised to learn that when I was a teenager I had the driving passion to be the drummer of a thrash metal band, write songs, come out with albums, and tour the world. Here I am now, an author, but there’s no “Midas’ touch.” I have two simple desires: 1) That persons come to know Jesus Christ and His love and grace, and 2) for persons to grow in Him and His Word. Anyone who blogs knows it is difficult getting persons to check out your website. And for Christian authors who publish books, it is extremely difficult getting your name out and getting persons to actually purchase your books. If you’re not a big name like David Jeremiah, R. C. Sproul, Tony Evans, etc., no one is interested. Sadly, even many who say you’re a godly person, a good teacher and communicator, etc. won’t actually take the time to read posts, let alone purchase books.

While I have always enjoyed writing, part of the reason I began writing blogs and books is because I feel many things are dismissed and ignored from many pulpits. From my perspective, it seems many preachers are more concerned about building their churches in numbers rather than depth. I know of some who will avoid certain subjects altogether, lest they offend persons and cause them to leave. The Bible has some difficult spots, and truth is going to offend at times. Neither you nor I like to be confronted with the reality of the real wickedness of our sins or to be confronted where we are wrong. But if we truly desire God and truth, then we must put our big boy/girl pants on and let God be right. Granted, a pastor must always seek to be tactful and compassionate (sometimes we’re not, let’s be honest), but we must be faithful to God and His Word if we ourselves are truly going to be found faithful to Him.

Anyway, when I wrote the devotional book, Pause, Hear His Whisper, I touch on various subjects and passages you rarely, if ever, will hear or read in churches or books. In my book, The Lost Doctrine of the Bible, I write about the doctrine of repentance. So many churches so emphasize the necessity of faith while totally disregarding the fact that repentance is a part of genuine faith. This is shown in both the Old and New Testaments repeatedly.

One of the warnings we read of repeatedly in the Scriptures has to do with false prophets. In fact, the New Testament states that false teachers and false teachings will go from bad to worse as the return of Christ draws nearer. But how often do we hear this in churches? This is why I wrote the book, BEWARE of False Prophets: Taking Seriously the Warnings of Jesus, the Prophets, & the Apostles. I know of churches that won’t touch on the end times. Granted, we need to be careful of hype and false information, but we are living in times when there is the talk of the New World Order, a one-world government the Bible prophesies of. While I have no idea when Jesus is going to return or when the antichrist is going to come onto the scene, the church must always be ready in every generation. This is why I wrote, Storm on the Horizon: Are We Approaching the End Times?

We must not ignore some of the power-grabbing and insincerity within churches. Understand, I’ve been a Christian for thirty years now. I know of some of the songs and dances some like to play. Furthermore, I’m not saying everyone is guilty of this. However, I know many persons, although qualified and beneficial, are excluded from certain ministries and cliques because of their looks, temperaments, lack of formal education, etc. Others aren’t in the right “circles” and aren’t willing to kiss other peoples’ fannies. How many of God’s servants would be wonderful blessings to their churches if truly given the attention and nurturing but are denied because of various biases? It is for these reasons I wrote the books, The Great Commission: Every Christian’s Responsibility and Misfits of Grace: Black Sheep in God’s Family.

Perhaps a bit controversial is my latest book, Metal Head Devotions: Heavy Devotionals for Those Who Like HEAVY MUSIC. It’s exactly what it says. I used to write a lot of songs and lyrics. This book was fun to write because for each devotional I wrote an accompanying lyric fitting for a heavy/thrash metal song. Yet, the book is deeply grounded in the supremacy of Christ and the trustworthiness of the Scriptures. So much in popular Christendom is fuzzy and warm, and only metal heads, in many cases, can appreciate the heavier realities discussed in the Bible. A friend of mine, who I sent a copy to, told me that this type of book was long overdue.

So, what does all this have to do with discouragement? Well, sometimes it just seems no one cares. We’re told God wants to use us, but sometimes it doesn’t feel like it. Sometimes it feels like we’re not good enough. It feels as if we’re non-verbally told to sit down, shut up, and stop rocking the boat. Sometimes, being told God wants to use us seems more as a pleasantry but not a sincere reality.

If you’re feeling discouraged, I wish I could say something truly and wonderfully encouraging to you, but I’m feeling the same way. Does God truly want to use us? Does He truly want us to use our gifts and abilities for His glory? With my head I say yes, but with my heart, I admit, it sometimes doesn’t really feel this way. I admit, I sometimes struggle with the fact that there are persons who have quite a following promoting violence, immorality, and foolishness, but the person of God is lucky to have even ten people to read a post. So, I don’t really have anything profoundly to say. But I will say this, you’re not alone. Furthermore, continue to abide in Christ and His Word, and be faithful. The prophets and the apostles were not celebrities. They were not popular or well-beloved either.

If anything in this post resonates with you, drop me a line. Blessings to you and your work for His kingdom! Our labors will be fruitful, if we faint not.

The End of the Matter

The End of the Matter

All is vanity,

A chasing of the wind:

We have our dreams,

But nothing in the end.

We have our birth and death,

We have our work and play.

But all is meaningless,

What else is there to say?

The end of the matter,

When all is said and done,

We’re here for a purpose,

Not just going ‘round the sun.

Not just for toiling,

Not to shake our booties;

But in life to live for God—

This is our sacred duty.

I have had my pleasures,

I’ve had my share of pain.

I’ve enjoyed the sunshine,

I’ve been refreshed by the rain.

I’ve been on the playground,

And I’ve surely been in school:

I’ve been a wise man,

But I’ve also been the fool.

The end of the matter,

When all is said and done,

We’re here for a purpose,

Not just going ‘round the sun.

Not just for toiling,

Not to shake our booties;

But in life to live for God—

This is our sacred duty.

People enjoying sex and drugs,

And forever rock and roll.

Money and accomplishments,

But nothing soothes the soul.

With angry fists and voices lifted,

In unbelief we taunt:

But for every word and deed,

Be sure, we’ll give account.

The end of the matter,

When all is said and done,

We’re here for a purpose,

Not just going ‘round the sun.

Not just for toiling,

Not to shake our booties;

But in life to live for God—

This is our sacred duty.

This is our sacred duty.

This is our sacred duty.

In life to live for God—

This is our sacred duty.

The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil. ~ Ecclesiastes 12:13-14

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? ~ Micah 6:8

And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. ~  John 17:3

Many people don’t like the book of Ecclesiastes, stating that it’s “depressing,” but they miss the point of the book entirely. The book is not saying that everything in life is meaningless. After all, God has blessed life, work, and play (provided it’s not sinful). However, the life apart from God is empty, and nothing can truly satisfy us apart from God.

Many are familiar with the words of St. Augustine of Hippo, in which he writes, “You awake us to delight in your praise; for you made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.”[1] This is the point the writer of Ecclesiastes is making. Making good grades, getting a good job, attaining wealth, having great sex, having fun parties, enjoying the best foods, etc. will not truly satisfy the space in the heart. The writer is not saying that none of these things are pleasurable, but they will neither satisfy nor sustain a person ultimately.

Isn’t it worth considering that the richest people in the world are never satisfied with all the money they have? They still want more. The same thing with other pleasures and vices. But at the end of the day, there’s still something missing. Occasionally we’re surprised to learn that some persons who seemed to have had it all end of taking their lives.

The writer is not saying any pleasure in life is bad and empty. However, where persons will truly find their purpose and fulfillment, strangely, is by fearing God and walking in His ways. Furthermore, those who simply live for the pleasures while dismissing God will not only give account one day, but all of these will be stripped from them.

1. Why would fearing God and keeping His commandments prover to be a good thing? Why would we find fulfillment in these?

2. How does Jesus define eternal life?

3. What does Augustine mean when he says that our hearts are restless until they find their rest in God?

[1] Saint Augustine of Hippo, The Confessions of Saint Augustine, ed. Hal M. Helms (Brewster, MA: Paraclete, 2010), 3.

(From the book, Metal Head Devotions, by Geno Pyse, available through

We Are One

We Are One

In the thick of warfare the battle ever rages;

The people of God opposed in the war of the ages.

Soldiers skirmishing among one another like foes,

And their wounded are trampled in the bloodied snow.

Let us not segregate, let us not divide;

Let us be bound by love, standing side by side.

United in essentials and in the work He has done,

In Christ alone, by grace alone, we are one.

Of the weapon of division the Adversary makes great use,

Brother against brother inflicting cruel abuse.

While the power of the opposing army ever grows,

We are to busy fighting among ourselves to ever know.

Let us not segregate, let us not divide;

Let us be bound by love, standing side by side.

United in essentials and in the work He has done,

In Christ alone, by grace alone, we are one.

In the absolute essentials let us be united,

But in secondaries let us not be divided.

By our love for one another they will know we are His;

But how can we be certain of ourselves if we dismiss this?

Let us not segregate, let us not divide;

Let us be bound by love, standing side by side.

United in essentials and in the work He has done,

In Christ alone, by grace alone, we are one.

We are one;

Stand as one;

Fight as one;

We are one!

We are one!

I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. ~ 1 Corinthians 1:10

Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel. ~ Philippians 1:27

By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. ~ John 13:35

The church of Jesus Christ has done some amazing things in our world. Despite all the unjust criticisms of the world, the church has made major contributions to the recognition of the value of woman and children, the sanctity of human life, science and medicine, education, social justice, etc.[1] However, one of the great tragedies of those who profess the name of Christ throughout the centuries is our lack of love for one another. The church is not guiltless. How sad to see the bitter strife between Catholics and Protestants through the ages, and the cruel persecution of both toward the Anabaptists.

My point here is not differences of doctrines or whether this group or that are really Christian. Personally, I have a difficult time believing persons who can inflict such cruelty upon other human beings are truly born again, regardless of what they call themselves or affiliate with. But that’s neither here nor there. The fact is these are groups and persons who claimed to do all this violence in the name of Jesus Christ, which is so foreign and contrasting to what Jesus lived and taught us.

Thankfully, a lot has changed, but I am haunted by this thought: Does the world know we are Christ’s disciples by our love for one another? As Christians and churches, are we not more generally known for our wanting money, condescending words and attitudes, hypocrisies, church splits, and theological debates and mudslinging? But are we known for our love for one another?

There is a raging spiritual war claiming the souls of many and seeking to spread evil around the world. The church has a ruthless adversary who violently hates us and the Christ we serve. We are an army that is to put on the whole armor of God (see Ephesians 6:10-18), locking our shields together in unity, but we are all too often bickering and warring amongst ourselves in the camp rather than opposing the real enemy.

We debate theological issues that are not bearing on people’s salvation. We strive and divide over such stupid things as the color of the carpet. Foolishness and wickedness, and so Christ-dishonoring! All the while, the adversary advances his cause in our generation, during our watch! How often are you and I guilty?

Oh, beloved, may we learn to genuinely love one another, even in our differences, but being cemented together in our love in Christ. May we remember that we are family, allies, and comrades. In Christ, may we be united in love.

1. The Bible tells believers to love one another, and to be united in mind and spirit. When we disobey these, what does this reveal about us?

2. Despite what/how Catholics or Protestants believe or live, what is our responsibility in the eyes of Christ?

3. Are you known for your love for other believers? If not, what is Jesus expecting of you to become obedient to His command to love?

[1] A book worth checking out is, How Christianity Changed the World, by Alvin J. Schmidt, published by Zondervan.

Devotional taken from, Metal Head Devotions, p. 121-124.

Disintegration of Darkness

It might come as a surprise to some, but I like heavy metal and thrash music (not death metal or the scream metal that’s popular today). I’ve liked these ever since I was a kid. For one, these are fitting for those who are misfits and just don’t like the carbon copies we’re expected to conform to. But, even though dark at times, I feel metal music is often far more honest than other genres. While so much of what’s popular is simply about drinking, partying, making out, and one upping others, metal music deals with many issues, stomping over “political correctness.” Even so much in mainstream Christian music is about having warm fuzzies, avoiding so many issues in real life. Very little is genuinely thought-provoking. 

I recently released a book through Amazon, geared toward Christians who enjoy heavy metal, Metal Head Devotions: Heavy Devotions for Those Who Like Heavy Music. The following is the second devotional in it. I hope you enjoy. Blessings!

Disintegration of Darkness

Light enters the darkness,

The blackness boasts to prevail;

But the darkness cannot overcome,

As the light impales.

Although darkness resists,

For light’s power to decimate;

But wherever there’s a crack,

The light will penetrate!

Disintegration of darkness,

The darkness cannot overcome;

Disintegration of darkness,

Impaled by the eternal dawn.

Order out of chaos,

From light there bursts forth life;

Darkness, the dreadful prison

Binding all with misery and strife.

The light seeks to illuminate,

To set the captives free;

But darkness squeezes like a vice

To damn them where they be.

Disintegration of darkness,

The darkness cannot overcome;

Disintegration of darkness,

Impaled by the eternal dawn.

The darkness cannot overcome,

Nor can it comprehend.

Wherever light shines gloriously,

The darkness comes to an end.

Those who come to the light,

In life will be exposed;

But those who run into the dark

Will with darkness erode.

Disintegration of darkness,

The darkness cannot overcome;

Disintegration of darkness,

Impaled by the eternal dawn.

In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. ~ John 1:4-5

And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. ~ John 3:19-20

Light and darkness are both strange things in existence. We make use of both for various reasons. Light is vital for life and well-being—both physically and spiritually. We use light to see and to expose. We use darkness to hide and conceal.

In Jesus Christ, light has come into the world in the spiritual sense. Apart from Him, we walk in the darkness, neither seeing nor knowing where we are going. In our darkness, we are completely disoriented. We see evidence of this in our world today. There is such chaos and disorder throughout the world. People calling good evil and evil good. Politicians and various leaders making decisions to fix problems, but what usually happens is more problems are created instead. So many decisions being made today make absolutely no sense, but this is the result of darkness—disorder and chaos.

On the flip side, the light shines and exposes things for what they are, and we are exposed for what and who we truly are. This is beyond uncomfortable. We are exposed as being weak, sinful, dirty, disgraceful, perverse, selfish, unholy, naked, and in desperate need. When Isaiah was exposed in the presence of God in Isaiah, he cried out that he was “undone.” He literally felt like he was going to be destroyed. Who among us like to be exposed for our faults, our lies, our improprieties, our gossip, etc.? The shame we feel can become unbearable. This is one of the reasons we don’t always rush to the light.

As followers of Christ, or persons considering doing so, it is important that we understand that God’s desire is not to shame us or destroy us. His desire is that we might see our desperate need for Him, to understand the terrible guilt and wickedness of our sins.

Think of it this way, we don’t need a doctor until we realize we’re sick or something is truly wrong within us. The same is true when it comes to the light of Christ. Most of us like to think that we’re pretty good chaps, until His light reveals our real selfishness, ulterior motives, false love, cowardness, and beastliness. Most of us are oblivious to just how deeply some of our words and actions have impaled and wounded other people, whether family, friends, acquaintances, or strangers. Once we can truly see and recognize our wretchedness, we can then begin to understand our own personal, and desperate, need of the Savior. But are we willing to approach the light and be exposed or creep back into the darkness and die in our sins?

1. When you consider the benefits of light in the natural realm, how does this transfer to the spiritual?

2. What does the Bible mean when it says, “In him [Jesus] was life, and the life was the light of men”?

3. What does the Bible mean when it says, “people loved the darkness rather than the light”? How does this affect people’s responses to both light and darkness?

The Deeper Reality of Knowledge

“But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” Genesis 2:17

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.” Proverbs 9:10

“And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” John 17:3

In our scientific age, it is all too common to think of knowledge in terms of mere intellectualism. For example, this person maintains a 4.0 grade point average, he is very “knowledgeable.” However, in the Bible knowledge goes far deeper than merely “knowing” something with one’s mental capacities. It is to know something experientially. This is the reason knowledge of good and evil was forbidden: God did not want His creation to experience evil and its horrible effects. This is also why mere knowledge of God does not necessarily benefit a person. A person can go to church their entire life and know all kinds of wonderful things about God. Yet, in the end such a person might not know God. It is the person with the experiential knowledge of God as their Savior and Redeemer who will be welcomed into His glorious heaven at last.

What is the difference between knowing things about God versus knowing God?

(From the book, Pause, Hear His Whisper, by Geno Pyse, p. 23-24)

Stay Alert and Awake!

But if that wicked servant says to himself, “My master is delayed,” and begins to beat his fellow servants and eats and drinks with drunkards, the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him … and will cut him in pieces and put him with the hypocrites. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

~ Matthew 24:48-51

Lest [the master] come suddenly and find you asleep. And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake.

~ Mark 13:36-37

Years ago, when I was in my teens, my parents had gone out of town. When they left, the house was in disarray. My mom sternly warned me that the house had better be straightened up by the time they returned—or else. At the time, I had the benefit of knowing when they would return, and I did make sure I had taken care of all the chores before their return.

Jesus has “gone out of town.” He has left His people with instructions: for the shepherds and teachers to lovingly guide, instruct, and equip His people in the ways of righteousness, and for His people to carry out His Great Commission.

All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age. (Matt. 28:18-20)

Consider the One who has issued this commission. It is none other than Jesus, the Christians’ Savior, Lord, God, and King. Believers need to recapture the definition of these titles:

  • Savior – one who saves, rescues, or delivers from harm or oppression. Jesus saves/delivers His people from the tyranny and ultimate consequence of sin, the wrath of God, the devil, and hell.
  • Lord – one who has authority, a master. One who calls the shots and is to be obeyed.
  • God – the Creator and Sustainer of the heavens and the earth.
  • King – a sovereign ruler.

Are these the way Jesus is viewed and treated in many churches? Be honest, is sin recognized and handled as a real hazard, danger, and poison? Is Jesus approached with genuine reverence and treated as authentic royalty? Is He approached as persons would approach a king, with humility and loyalty? 

Many people and churches emphasize Jesus’ love to the point of exclusion of His other attributes and characteristics (holiness, justice, truth, and purity). However, we must understand the One who extends forgiveness and grace is also the one who commands us to repent and to sin no more. While Jesus promises a heaven for His people, He also promises a hell for the unrepentant and unbelieving. He, indeed, is the gracious Savior of all who turn to Him, but He is also the Judge who will condemn those who reject His light because of their love for the darkness.

Jesus asks, “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?” (Luke 6:46). Elsewhere, He says, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father in heaven” (Matt. 7:21). How can Jesus be one’s Lord and King if what He says is dismissed?

On that day many will say to me, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?” And then will I declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.” (Matt. 7:22-23)

And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. (John 3:19)

There are two kingdoms. Each of us is a citizen of one or the other, and our heart and loyalties are to whichever one we belong. Jesus says, “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other” (Matt. 6:24). Granted, in context He is talking about money, but the principle certainly applies on a broader scale. These two kingdoms are diametrically opposed to the other. The one is a kingdom of light, holiness, love, purity, and truth. The other is a kingdom of darkness, evil, selfishness, immorality, and deception. Although the kingdom of light is the kingdom of the rightful King, the kingdom of darkness is ruled by a would-be king (Satan) who is in continual rebellion of the rightful King’s rule.

There are many who feign to be a part of the kingdom of light, yet their lives reveal love for the kingdom of darkness (this will be discussed further in chapter four). The Bible says:

Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. (1 Cor. 6:9-10)

Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. … And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. (Gal. 5:19-24) 

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is transformative. When a person believes the Gospel and is born again by the Spirit of God (see John 3), he becomes a new creature. “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Cor. 5:17). The Bible tells us those who are born again become citizens of King Jesus’ kingdom.

Giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (Col. 1:12-14)

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the bodyand the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. (Eph. 2:1-3)

The genuine follower of Christ still battles an internal struggle with sin. He is made perfect positionally, but not experientially. Nevertheless, he is changed, and will continue to change.

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. (2 Cor. 3:17-18)

John tells us that if we claim to have fellowship with God while walking in darkness, then we lie and are not practicing the truth. He goes on to explain that if we walk in the light, then we have fellowship with God, “and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” Still, we cannot claim to be without sin, but “if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all righteousness” (see 1 John 1:5-10).

Later in John’s letter, he encourages believers to abide in Christ, and when He appears, we will be like him. John then adds, “everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.” Then, in the next paragraph he writes, “No one who abides in [Christ] keeps on sinning … Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil … whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God” (see 1 John 2:28-3:10).

In John’s Gospel, the apostle shares some of Jesus’ teachings about abiding in Him, loving/obeying, and the Holy Spirit. Jesus emphasizes our need to abide in Him, apart from which we cannot be nourished, grow, or bear fruit.

I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. (John 15:1-6)

What does it mean to “abide” in Jesus? Jesus likens Himself to a vine and his followers as branches. The vine is the source of the roots and nourishment. If a branch is severed from the vine, it dies and withers. To abide in Christ means to stay connected and dependent on Him the same way a branch is connected and dependent on a vine. Disciples of Jesus Christ are to have this kind of relationship to Him.

In the previous chapter, Jesus explains to His disciples, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (14:15), and those who do He will send the Spirit of truth to live in them (vs. 17). Jesus goes on to promise them who love Him, who keep His commandments, will in turn be loved by Him and the Father. Furthermore, He will manifest Himself to them (vs. 21).

In chapter 16, Jesus explains that the Holy Spirit—the Spirit of Truth—will guide His people “into all the truth,” “things that are to come,” and “take what is [Christ’s] and declare it to you.” In all this, the Holy Spirit’s intention is to glorify Christ (see vs. 12-15). If any words or activities do not truly honor Christ, His teachings, and redemptive work then one can be certain that these are not of the Holy Spirit of God.

What does walking in the light, abiding in Christ, loving and obeying Him, and the Holy Spirit have to do with staying alert and awake? Walking in the light gives evidence of a genuine relationship with God. Obeying Christ and keeping His commandments gives evidence to authentic love for Him. The Holy Spirit will reveal truth and things to come to those who love Jesus.

In Matthew 24, Jesus tells of some things to watch for concerning His coming and the end of the age. There are those who limit this discourse as meaning the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.; however, this must include the future because Jesus has not yet returned. During this discourse, Jesus makes a distinction between wise servants and wicked servants. The wise servants continue to wait, serve, and expect the return of the Master. The wicked servants grow weary of waiting and begin to serve themselves. Jesus gives clear warning of the severe judgment of the wicked servants (vs. 45-51).

In Matthew 25, Jesus tells a parable of ten virgins. Five of the virgins were wise, while the other five were foolish. The coming of the bridegroom was delayed. The wise had prepared and had gotten extra flasks of oil for their lamps. The foolish made no such preparations. The wise who had prepared were each welcomed to the wedding feast. The foolish ones, who were late in coming due to not being prepared, were prohibited from joining in the feast. They were told the horrifying words, “Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.” Jesus ends the parable by saying, “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour” (see vs. 1-13).

Oil is often  used as a symbol of the Holy Spirit. When Jesus returns, there will be many who are churchgoers but who are not born again. Therefore, they will not be filled with the Holy Spirit or genuine faith leading to salvation. Jesus warns in Matthew 24 of some whom He describes as wicked servants, although professing Him to be their “master,” go through the motions of religiosity but do not expect His return. These also become abusive toward His faithful servants while associating with the godless and adapting their ungodly ways.

For His faithful ones, Jesus does not simply leave them in the dark. Jesus had rebuked the religious leaders of the day, saying, “You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times” (Matt. 16:3). Yet, in answer to the disciples’ question, “What will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” (Matt. 24:3), Jesus gives various signs to watch for. Each is an indication that His return is drawing ever closer. Furthermore, throughout the New Testament we are given other things to watch for (we will consider some of these later). The question must be asked, would Jesus rebuke us today for not being able to interpret the times?

Jesus promised He would return when we least expect it; yet He expects His people to anticipate His return and be prepared. His return just might be closer than we think. 

In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul notes, “But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints” (5:3). The apostle goes on to state matter-of-factly that such persons who live immorally, impurely, or covetous “has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God” (vs. 5).

As Paul continues, he explains that we had once been a part of darkness, with all its shameful works; however, in Christ we have become children of light.

But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine upon you.” Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of time, because the days are evil. (Eph. 5:13-16)

Elsewhere, Paul writes on the similar theme:

 For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness. So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, are drunk at night. (1 Thes. 5:5-7)

Our Master has gone “out of town,” and He appears to be delaying; nevertheless, He is going to return. When He does, will He find us faithful in our service, anticipating His return? If He returned this week, would we be taken by surprise? We cannot be faithful and unfaithful at the same time. Which are you? May we take ever so seriously Jesus’ admonitions. He has given explicit warnings to the immoral, the hypocrites, and the apostates. May His words be inscribed in our minds, on our hearts, and the depths of our soul: “And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake.”

~ from the book, Storm on the Horizen: Are We Approaching the End Times? by Geno Pyse, p. 11-26

Lost in God’s Own House

There is a strange occurrence during the reign of Josiah, whom we are told was a good king who “did what was right in the eyes of the LORD” (2 Kings 22:2). It would be humorous were it not so tragic. It was on his heart to begin doing repairs to the temple. During this time Josiah had sent Shaphan to the temple to enquire about the money collected from the people, so the workers doing the repairs could get paid. When Shaphan was conversing with Hilkiah the high priest, the priest told him, “I have found the Book of the Law in the house of the LORD” (vs. 8).

To many of us today, especially who live in the Western world, we take for granted we have printed Bibles in abundance and in various languages and translations. The people then did not have such luxury. The Scriptures were carefully, tediously hand-copied and were expensive. So, it is not surprising that most households did not have copies of the Scriptures. What is surprising, however, is the fact the Scriptures—God’s Word—should have had preeminence in God’s house; yet somehow, in the midst of all the activities and religious routines, the Word of God was lost.

Many churches today are experiencing something similar. Thankfully, we have copies of the Word of God; however, there is a crucial, vital doctrine that has been lost in many churches, although it is in plain sight if people will but take the time to look. What is this doctrine? Repentance.

I have heard it said, “Don’t give me doctrines, just give me Jesus!” While this sounds pious to some, it is quite foolish. One cannot have Jesus of the Scriptures apart from doctrine because doctrines are teachings and Jesus gave us His teachings.

 While not to be considered acceptable, the situation during Josiah’s time is, perhaps, more understandable. Maybe a person had placed the Scriptures in a place to keep them safe, then this person died or moved. Or maybe someone else had come across them and moved the Scriptures to another place without telling anyone. We are not told as to what happened for the Book of the Law being lost somewhere in the temple.

Today, we do not have a legitimate excuse for having lost the doctrine of repentance. Not only should this be a basic doctrine learned by those having gone to seminary (which includes most ministers), it is repeatedly taught in the Bible—in both the Old and New Testaments! Nevertheless, one will not hear this doctrine taught in many churches. You will not read about it in many of the books filling the bookshelves of Christian bookstores. In fact, many of the authors who fancy themselves as preachers and theologians scorn the doctrine, treating it as archaic and puritanical.

So, our sin of losing the doctrine of repentance today is greater than the sin of the people losing the Book of the Law during the time of the Jewish kings. For the sin today is not simply and mistakenly misplacing the doctrine. For it is not a losing or misplacing the doctrine at all. Rather, it is a willful, deliberate casting aside—rejecting—the teaching and commandments of God.

The church must recover this crucial doctrine, blow off the dust, and begin putting it into practice. The consequences are too severe for us to ignore!

~ from the book, The Lost Doctrine of the Bible: Missing in Plain Sight, by Geno Pyse, p. 13-17.

The Power of God Unto Salvation

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes. ~ Romans 1:16

 Good News. This is what gospel means. Only when persons understand the reason as to why it is good news will individuals begin to understand, and genuinely appreciate, the significance of the gospel.

The apostle declares that he is not ashamed of this good news—the gospel. That is, Paul is neither embarrassed nor apologetic about the gospel of Jesus Christ. This is not simply a statement but a declaration. One that is countercultural and unpopular, for many find the gospel to be either offensive or ridiculous.

Roman society, like ours, had all kinds of gods and conflicting philosophies. For the most part, one could get along if he played by society’s rule of religious inclusivity. So, religion was treated almost the way people complement each other’s tattoos today. However, exclusivity was considered arrogant and presumptuous then as it is today.

Yet, here is Paul, not willing to play society’s game of religious flattery. No, he was not belligerent towards those of different faiths, but neither was he willing to say that Jesus Christ was but a way to paradise or heaven. Although he was greatly outnumbered, he was not embarrassed of the gospel, and he boldly declared that it is the power of God for salvation.

In Acts, we read of Paul’s visit to Athens and how his spirit was troubled as he witnessed the abundant idolatry. We are told “that the city was full of idols” (17:16). Paul reasoned in the synagogue and conversed with Epicurean and Stoic philosophers in the marketplace. Then, one day he stood in the midst of the Areopagus, and said,

Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription: “To the unknown god.” What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. (Acts 17:22-23)

He proceeds to tell them of the God of Christianity, and how this God created the world and all humanity. Paul then begins addressing men’s idolatry and calls them to repent, as he tells of a fixed day when God “will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead” (vs. 31).

Note, Paul did not lambaste the people. The text implies that the apostle genuinely cared about these people; however, he was unwilling to put their idolatry or any of their false gods on par with Jesus Christ and the gospel. Furthermore, he noted that Jesus, exclusively, was raised from the dead.

Concerning idolatry, whether it is religious or ideological, Paul addresses it in his letter to the Romans. The apostle does not mince his words, as he explains that our idolatries are neither accidents nor “mistakes.” The atheist’s stance on there being “no proof” is an invalid argument. And Paul declares God’s wrath is revealed

against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. (Rom. 1:18-19)

How? In “the things that have been made. So they are without excuse” (vs. 20). The psalmist writes, “The heavens declare the glory of God …There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard” (Ps. 19:1, 3). Furthermore, Paul states that even though Gentiles who do not have the law “show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience bears witness” (Rom. 2:15).

From the macro down to the very micro, creation reveals design, order, and complexity. And a general morality is revealed throughout the world, whether the society is democratic, communistic, Hindu, etc. With this said, elsewhere Paul does note that the conscience can be seared: “Through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared” (1 Tim. 4:2). That is, a person’s conscience can become numb.

This issue of “suppressing the truth” must not be dismissed. If we were to probe honestly, each of us would see where we have done this in our own lives. Yet, we can see the suppression of truth all around us. The news media does this constantly. Certain people of a political party are verbally condemned for alleged behaviors, while explicit displays of the same behaviors in another party are dismissed.

In education and science, the theory of evolution is projected as “fact,” even though there is no evidence to support it. In fact, there are some prestigious individuals who have openly shared that they know evolution is not true, but they hold to it lest they would have to admit they have a Creator to whom they will give account to.

Another area you see the suppression of truth is in the philosophical realm, when people claim that truth is relative; that is, there are no absolutes. This becomes almost comical, as nearly everyone who professes this absurdity will go on to say how your views are wrong, or this action is unfair, etc. This profession of there being no absolutes (especially moral) is typically used to justify behaviors permitting individuals to do what they want, without having to feel the pangs of conscience.

Say what we will, but the fact of the matter is each of us has committed idolatry and suppressed the truth. As one theologian has said, our hearts are idol factories. Idols come in all shapes and forms. They can come as images of wood and stone, the saints of Catholicism, the Virgin Mary. Idols can be the traditions of churches or the pleasures of the flesh. An idol is anything that would replace God of His rightful place in our lives and worship. Even the garments of Evangelicalism can cover idolatry.

Why is God so angry with idolatry? Because it is a rejection of Him for what is false. Idolatry is a refusal to honor and serve God, it is an exchanging “the truth about God for a lie” and to worship and serve “the creature rather than the Creator” (Rom. 1:25).

To put it another way, the Old Testament often uses the imagery of harlotry and infidelity when confronting idolatry:

Because she took her whoredom lightly, she polluted the land, committing adultery with stone and tree. (Jer. 3:9)

Your lewdness and your whoring have brought this upon you, because you played the whore with the nations and defiled yourself with their idols. (Eze. 23:29-30)

My people inquire of a piece of wood, and their walking staff gives them oracles. For a spirit of whoredom has led them astray, and they have left their God to play the whore. (Hos. 4:12)

Let us make no mistake, idolatry is present in many churches today clothed with many expressions. In his book, Knowledge of the Holy, A. W. Tozer rightly notes that idolatry begins within the mind, simply thoughts that are unworthy and contrary to whom God is.

Idolatry, regardless how we might dress it or justify it, will never bring us to God and salvation. In fact, idolatry does just the opposite, leading persons away from the true God and deeper into deception and false security. But Paul says the gospel—the good news—is the power of God for salvation to anyone who believes!

~ from the book, The Pure Gospel: Undiluted and Unadulterated, by Geno Pyse, p. 9-17.

Hospitals or Hospices?

It has been a few weeks since I have posted anything. There are a few reasons, but one of which has to do with releasing a new book through Amazon, entitled, Misfits of Grace: Black Sheep in God’s Family. I believe it’s an important message for the church today. The chief attribute Christians ought to be known for is love for one another. This doesn’t mean the condoning of sin, of course, but it does mean to treat persons with respect and worth. Sadly, too many persons, genuine believers, are attending churches trying to live by faith that they have intrinsic value as a brother or sister in the family of God, but they are ignored and rejected by the very persons who claim to be siblings in Christ. This is tragic. Furthermore, they are told they are important to the body, that God has given them spiritual gifts, but they are treated as mere benchwarmers and water boys on some high school sports team.

Some of God’s children are misfits, so to speak, and are treated as such by people. But be clear on this, these individuals are so dearly loved by God. They are not redeemed by accident, and their worth is not less than those who are “insiders” of religious circles.

Today, I’m sharing with you the first chapter of Misfits of Grace. I hope you will find it both challenging and encouraging.

Chapter One: Hospitals or Hospices?

Let’s begin with a multiple-choice question, shall we? Jesus says that people will know persons are His disciples by: a) How many verses they have memorized. b) Their faithfulness in church attendance. c) Having the complete set of John MacArthur’s Bible Commentaries. d) Branding sinners with red hot verbal irons. e) Being popular in churches. f) Appearing spiritual. g) Worshiping at a Chris Tomlin concert. h) Being a Sunday school teacher. i) All the above. j) None of the above. I trust that this was an easy question. In fact, I’m confident that many who are reading this can state what Jesus actually says: 

By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. ~ John 13:35 

We, as Christians, can say these words with convincing conviction. However, let me ask you: Do others know you and I are Christ’s disciples by our love? Then again, what is love? The Bible defines it for us: 

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. ~ 1 Corinthians. 13:4-6 

Do these describe most of us in our interactions with one another? Really? Are most of us truly known for being patient, kind, humble, and selfless? Oh sure, those within our circles and cliques might think well enough of us, but what about the outsiders—those deemed as different, unattractive, not funny, too serious, socially awkward, too bubbly, etc.?  This brings us to what James writes to believers, concerning partiality: 

My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory… If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. But if you show partiality, you are committing sin. ~ James 2:1, 8-9 

Again, how are many persons in churches doing in not showing partiality? I’ve been a Christian long enough and have been to enough churches and events to know the more attractive, nicely dressed, and influential persons are often treated better than those who lack these qualities (we’ll look at this issue later).

 I remember years ago being excited about enrolling at a Bible College/seminary. I had envisioned it as being a slice of heaven on earth. However, the truth of the matter is it was one of the most excruciatingly lonely places I have ever been. Although I did have some friends there, on numerous occasions I remember greeting persons passing on the sidewalk only to have them walk pass me without a smile, hello, or eye contact. I remember thinking, “Wow! If you will not greet a brother in Christ who is civil with you, you will not minister to those of the likes of me before coming to know Christ.”

On another occasion I had the initial privilege of meeting a wellknown Southern Baptist preacher. At the time I had a cassette tape with a sermon he had preached. This message had a profound impact on me. While trying to thank him, he shook my hand without making eye contact and basically blew me off.

I’ve experienced numerous such encounters in churches and religious settings. Furthermore, I have met other misfits who have had their own share of similar experiences. Churches ought to be a place where followers of Christ are both welcomed and feel welcomed. Sadly, too often, the church is often described as the only army that shoots its own wounded. Churches are also said to be hospitals where the spiritual sick can find healing. Ironically, for many, churches are more like hospices where individuals feel left to die alone with their broken hearts and wounded spirits. In his book, Encourage Me, Charles Swindoll tells the story of meeting up with a Marine he had once served with. The man had since then become a Christian. When asked how he was doing, he acknowledged to Charles that he missed the days when he could simply meet with his buddies at a tavern and let his hair down. Charles admits that many Christian men feel this way.

 So, Jesus says others will know we are His disciples by our love for one another. Can this be said of you and me? What would those outside our circles say of us? Do you think their opinions don’t matter? According to Jesus, others’ perception of our love (or lack thereof) reveals a lot about our discipleship (or lack thereof) beneath Him and His teachings. The implication is clear: If we are not known for our genuine love for one another, then neither are we truly known as Jesus’ disciples and followers. 

Return to the Blessing Giver

What a time in which we’re living. I’m tired of the constant lies coming from every direction, but I’m also weary of trying to proclaim truth.

We live in a time where vices are applauded and virtues are scorned. We claim to want peace, but our words are sharp as razors and we’re always ready for a fight. 

Before the rebuilding of the wall, Nehemiah says,

As soon as I heard these words I sat down and wept and mourned for days, and I continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven. And I said, “O Lord God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, let your ear be attentive and your eyes open, to hear the prayer of your servant that I now pray before you day and night for the people of Israel your servants, confessing the sins of the people of Israel, which we have sinned against you. Even I and my father’s house have sinned. We have acted very corruptly against you and have not kept the commandments, the statutes, and the rules that you commanded your servant Moses. (Nehemiah 1:4-7)

We know our country and world is in a mess. But is it simply from corrupt governments and politicians? Does it not spiral down to us as well? Have we not also acted corruptly? As a nation, even down to communities, churches, and homes, we’ve acted corruptly. We’ve exalted immorality, we’ve suppressed truth and applauded liars, we’re entertained by violence and trampled what’s holy and sacred.

As Americans, are we really above other nations? Do we deserve better? We’ve been so blessed, despite our pushing God’s statutes aside, watering down His Word, and constantly complaining and blame shifting.

Do we honestly not deserve what’s happening in our country? We’ve scorned the Source of blessings, then are surprised when curses come? 

I write this because it needs to be written. But I know it will go unread by the masses. By and large it will be unread and unheeded. Yet, I will say it again as I’ve been saying it for some time now, we need to truly pray and seek God’s face. We need to confess the sins of our nation as well as ours and our fathers’ houses. For we, too, have acted corruptly; Yes, even those of us who profess to be followers of Christ. My faith is weak concerning persons heeding my advice. Even so, let’s not be surprised if things go from bad to worse. Why expect blessings if we kick against the Giver and Source of blessings? But if we would turn to Him, confessing our own corrupt ways, who knows what God might do to restore our land?