You may not know this about me, but one of my favorite things to do is write and record music. While I definitely know God has me right where He wants me in ministry, there is also a great desire He has given me in music. And I’m happy to tell you there’s a new addition!
I’ve added a new song to my collection of royalty free stock audio that is available for purchase on Audio Jungle. It’s called “New Day New Hope.”
This song is another, upbeat/positive song. It’s not “in your face” positive, but more subtle. It’s kind of like waking up in the morning, getting that cup of coffee and getting started on the right foot. My wife she could hear it being used in a cereal commercial. So, that’s kind of the vibe. I’d love it if you could pop on over and take a listen! It’s free to listen!
By the way, the pack includes several files. The full length file and three loops. You can seamlessly loop each section (A, B & C). Which means you can create a custom length version of the song to use for your video!
I invite you to listen to it (as well as my other songs) by clicking here!
We are living in a different day and age than the one I grew up in. We have gone through an enormous amount of change in the last 20 years. I know things are always changing. I have said before, every morning we wake up to a world that has changed over night. But, things have changed a great deal. And they are changing faster all the time.
In contrast, the gospel never changes. Just as truth is always true, the truth of the gospel never changes. The hope for all of humanity is found in Jesus.
So, what is the challenge?
The challenge is our vast desire to eradicate guilt from our society. For this to be done, we must also do away with a lot of sin issues.
We have a hard time talking about sin anymore. I have a hard time with it. It’s hard to tell someone that what they are doing is sinning. It’s hard to look at my own life, see the areas I fall short in and call them sin. It would be much easier if sin didn’t exist and I didn’t have to feel as though I come up short.
And I’m not the only one who feels that way. In fact, I think this is what is behind the legalization of a lot of issues that used to be considered sin. I’m not going to single anything out. That’s not the point of this post.
But, if something makes us feel guilty because it’s against the law, and we change the law, then we don’t have to feel guilty about it anymore. Right?
Now, imagine building a relationship with someone and wanting to share with this person about the most important relationship in their life. I’m not talking street evangelism, I’m talking someone you care about.
What is the premise of the gospel? Is it not that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God?” Is it not that we live in “glad rebellion” against God, as Matt Chandler puts it? That we are born into a fallen world as fallen individuals, and if we are left to our own we will choose what makes us happy instead of what’s right.
God had a design and ideal in mind when he created the world, and we chose to do something different. We had to do things our way instead of God’s way. As a consequence, we also lost relationship with God. We no longer walked and talked with God in the garden.
But God provided a way for us to be reunited with him. While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. While we were still rebelling against God, He sent His son to die for us. Thank God for grace! Thanks be to God that there is a cure for my rebellion. And the price that needed to be paid for me to be in relationship with God was paid by Christ on the cross.
It’s an amazing story. It’s an amazing offer.
But, what happens when you take sin out of the equation. If there is no sin, then what is the need for the gospel? What is the need for grace?
Our attempt and desire to rid ourselves of the guilt that results from sinning, is resulting in ridding ourselves from the gospel.
“We haven’t done away with all sin!” you might be saying to yourself. Sure, there are areas that we have yet to venture into when it comes to justifying our desire for sinning. But, we sure have done away with a lot of them. And we hear more and more justifications for bad decisions all the time.
Of course, this all has to do with truth. If there is no absolute truth, then there ultimately is no sin. More on that later…
If there is no sin, there really isn’t anything to be saved from, therefore, there is no need for a Savior and no need for the gospel.
It would even seem that the good news has become bad news. Once we have legalized things that used to be classified as sin so that we can rid ourselves of guilt, if something comes along and makes us feel guilty (besides our own conscience) then that’s a bad thing. We have made our peace and no loner feel guilty and thanks to our progressive culture, we don’t have to worry about getting in trouble for it anymore either. But then someone comes along and shares the good news of Jesus.
But, it’s not so good anymore, because instead of being good news that Jesus saves us from the penalty we deserve for our sin, it’s pointing out that we should feel guilty about this thing. And we don’t like that, so the good news is actually bad news.
So, how do we share the gospel in a world that is doing away with sin more and more every day?
We live in an interesting tension don’t we? Especially in the church world. I know how you feel. It can be a really big scale to try to balance. On the one hand we’re supposed to be leading people. Yet, at the same time, if we push to hard or offend people, they’ll stop following us.
More often than not, we end up playing it safe. Instead of getting out in front a little farther and working to get our people to follow us, it’s easier to just let them stay where they are.
We imagine ourselves out in front of the pack, blazing the trail that those who come behind us will walk on. But are we doing that? Are we blazing a new trail, coaching our people to come behind us? Or are we standing in the midst of the people, trying to keep them where they are and from taking steps backwards?
I know where most of us end up, because I’ve been there too. It’s so much more comfortable in the middle of the pack. It’s easier to feel like we’re successful when we’re surrounded with the people who have followed us to this point. And if we take that step toward something new, we’ll have to step out of the comfortable spot inside the pack and put ourselves out there in front of the pack.
It’s risky out there in front. It’s dangerous out there, maybe even a little scary. Everyone thinks we know exactly where to go and what to do, but the reality is we’re figuring it out too. We may know a little more than those who are supposed to follow, but we don’t have a crystal ball to use to read the future.
So, every once in a while we get out in front. But, as happens when we start prodding most people to move, there’s a little resistance. And when you add the frustration of resistance to the uncertainty of the future, the sum is a load that can be hard to carry. Too hard.
And it doesn’t get any easier. We think it will get easier if we can get a few more people on board. But the reality is, the more people who follow us just means the more people who can choose to stop following us. And the more people who are following us, the more people who are relying on us to lead them well.
So we retreat to where we have already been. Back into the middle of the pack we go. At least there, we’re relatively safe and the risk is relatively low.
But is it?
What exactly have we been called to do? If we are supposed to be leaders, can we really call ourselves that if we aren’t actually leading our people anywhere? If we’re just trying to keep everyone around us, is that really leading?
Have you ever thought about this? It’s much harder to get a group of people moving than it is to keep them moving. Once a group is in motion, it’s easier to lead. When a group hasn’t moved in a while, it takes an enormous amount of effort and energy to get it moving. The longer it’s been sitting still, the harder it will be.
At the end of the day, what’s need of us most is to lead. We won’t always do it right, we don’t always do it well. But, that’s our job. Yes, we do it in the best way we can so that those who are following us are being cared for. But, we must drop this myth that we can’t lead people and care for people at the same time. In fact, if we really care for people we will really lead people. Forward motion is what’s best for everyone. When is it better to sit without moving? Is it better to sit on the couch or to go on a walk?
So, will you join me in leading? Our job is not to cater to the people around us in the hope that we will keep them. Our job is to coach people as we lead the charge. Our job is to get out in front and figure out where we need to go, and then coach those we are leading on how to take that next step, giving them the helping hand up on the way.
Leaders don’t cater, leaders coach,
I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to talk to someone who speaks a different language. But, as has often been mocked, there is this thing that happens. When you don’t know the language, you talk louder thinking that will help the person that speaks a different language, understand.
I’m old school. I am only 35, but I’m old. Why do I say that? Because I believe in truth.
I’ve noticed a problem. There are things that are simply untrue that are being shouted.
Just because a lot of people say something doesn’t make that the truth. Even if the majority of people agree, that doesn’t make that true either. In fact, it doesn’t matter how many people agree with you, if you’re wrong – you’re still wrong.
I hate this idea that is emerging that someone who clings to a belief in the Bible is wrong. Why? Well, just look at how many people don’t believe it.
Let’s take evolution for example. I don’t believe in the whole amoeba becoming human thing. But, especially in the western world, that is the accepted belief. There are a lot of people who believe it. But, just because a lot of people believe that’s what happened, doesn’t mean that’s what actually happened.
I can shout “This is a shoe!” as loud as I want, but if I’m holding a rubber chicken, It’s not the truth. Even if I can convince hundred, even millions of people that the rubber chicken is a shoe, that doesn’t mean the rubber chicken is a shoe. Only shoes can be shoes. Only rubber chickens can be chickens.
It doesn’t matter how many people believe in an idea. Volume doesn’t make an idea truth. And idea is truth when it is true.
In this edition of “Timeless Wisdom from Rev. Ermal Wilson” we will hear the first of three sermons from a Revival at Trinity Wesleyan Church in Oak Hill, Ohio. In this first message he shares with us from the prayer of Jabez, which he had been preaching on long before the book make the verse popular. You’ll hear a little of the Pilgrim Holiness style prayer meeting at the end of the talk. But, just before that, there is a really powerful illustration that I had never heard him share before. The illustration is worth the time listening in and of itself. (There is a bit of a gap in the content of the talk. This was recorded in the days of Tape. So there is a gap where the tape had to reverse directions to record.)
Our culture has changed.
I don’t know if you knew that. But, life in the western world is drastically different from what it was 30+ years ago. Some of the changes have been good. We have made progress in a lot of ways. But some of the things that have been classified as progress are not.
Particularly our approach to morality.
We have made a drastic shift, the long range implications of which are extraordinarily dangerous.
What is the shift? It lies in where the authority of morality originates. In Bible-based, Christian worldview, the authority of morality is God and God alone. The only authority human beings have is based in our ability to understand and apply God’s written word to us in the Bible.
Where, in our current construct of ethics and morals, is the authority of morality? It is within human beings. No longer do we look to God as the moral authority. Instead, we have decided we know better. That, if there is a God, He exists only to blame bad things on and to beg for help in a crisis. But, who is God to tell me how to live my life?
What is the major problem with this shift? Well, there are a few.
First, human beings are always changing. At least in our ideas, as well as other ways. Can you imagine building an ideology around something that is constantly changing? If I were to base my morality on my own life, we would be sunk as a culture. Not only have I made mistakes, but as my understanding of truth has grown, so has my understanding of how live according to that truth. If I built an ideology around what I believed 20 years ago, it would have been entirely different than what I would build today, which would be different from 20 years from now. If I don’t have enough perspective to construct an ideology that is big enough to last for my whole life, how can I build an ideology that is big enough for the lives of the rest of society?
Second, it’s easy for charismatic leaders to manipulate followers. If morality is based on popular opinion, then morality will be decided by whoever controls popular opinion. Who controls popular opinion? Those with enough charisma to be in the front of the room. Somes this is not the case. But most of the time it is. We don’t listen to people without it. And we give too much credit to those who possess it. Charisma does not equal wise or insightful. It simply means they have the ability to get and keep your attention. How many disasters have, at their foundation, a charismatic leader who had a flawed ideology?
Third, there is no objective way to decide between two conflicting points of view. What happens when what I think is right collides with what you think is right? What happens when what I think is wrong collides with what you think is wrong? What happens when what I think is wrong collides with what you think is right? If there is no authority outside the situation, who gets to decided who is right?
Fourth, there is no accountability. When morality is based on what is right for me, there is no way to impose consequences for actions that you have decided are wrong. Just because it’s wrong for you, doesn’t mean it’s wrong for me. Even if it affects you negatively, I have no obligation to be concerned with how my morality affects your life. You cannot hold me to your standard, neither can I hold you to mine. Therefore, if my right affects your right negatively, my only obligation is to my own rightness.
Fifth, the complete devaluing of human life. Ironically, in our pursuit of serving our own humanity, in the end we destroy it. How? There is no inherent dignity in human life anymore. The value of human life is based on what it does for me. If human life gets the way of my way of life, it must be removed or belittled. My life is important, but the importance of your life is based solely on whether your life helps or hinders my life. If your life hinders my own, the value of my own life surpasses the value of yours. Therefore, your life must become subservient to mine.
Myth: We can build a better society by deciding, as a society, what is right and wrong. Why is this a myth? Let me ask this: have you ever been around someone who has a really dominating personality, but had some really bad ideology? I have. And I know that it can be quite a challenge to reign in their dominating personality at times. And, because of their personality, they have tremendous opportunity to take people with them into bad ideology.
Who do you think will have the most influence in morality decided by society? Will it be the humble and wise person who doesn’t speak up or will it be the loud and unwise person who has a charismatic personality? Every form of government I can think of, even those in science fiction TV shows hundred if not thousands of years in the future, can all be manipulated by a strong personality.
What is the alternative?
The alternative is an authority outside our current situation. Just like a judge and a jury are supposed to be unbiased in court, there needs to be an authority that is outside the current situation, so as to offer and unbiased solution.
Before we go on, I want to speak to what you’re probably thinking. Can’t judges and juries be a moral authority because they are removed from situations? The truthful and honest answer to that question is, no. Judges and juries are human beings. They too are affected by the ideology of others. If they weren’t, their rulings would never change. There would be no bias, and they would always make the right decision.
This is why authority must come from the outside. This is why we don’t get to decide what is right and wrong. We don’t have the perspective to be able to see far enough down the road how what we are deciding today will affect those who have to live by it tomorrow. And we don’t have the unbiased ability to decide what the true right thing is, because we will always be biased towards what benefits us the best, personally, first.
This is why we need to go to the one who built the operating system. Imagine the operating system of the world is Apple’s iOS. And imagine each of us are apps on an iphone. Now imagine that an app decided that the iOS is wrong, so it decided that it wasn’t going to abide by the rules of the operating system. Not only that, but it was going to start telling the other apps that iOS is wrong and that each app gets to decide what is right. Then, they all decide to tell iOS how iOS is wrong and what iOS needs to do to adapt to each apps belief of what is right.
This is absurd right? Why? Because it defies logic. An app on a phone is subservient to the operating system of the phone. A program on a computer is subservient to the operating system of the computer. A falling apple is subservient to the law of gravity. A thrown football is subservient to the laws of physics. Everything in a system is subservient to the creator of the system. Even the iOS is subservient to the creator of the iOS.
God made the system we live in. He built the operating system. We play a part in the way things operate, but we didn’t create the system. Nor can we decide to change it. Only one being gets to make that decision, and that is God. I can decide that I don’t like gravity, and that I don’t want it to exist anymore. “Gravity is no longer true!” I shout to the world around me. I may even be able to get some people to believe me. But my belief in gravity does not change the veracity of its existence. My belief in God does not change the veracity of His existence. My belief in the system He created does not change the veracity of the system. Just because I don’t think truth is absolute, does not mean it isn’t. I may choose to break the rules, but that does not release me from the consequences of breaking them.
I can say an apple is an axe. But, that doesn’t mean I’ll be chopping down the apple tree with my “axe”. Calling a computer an apple does not mean I can make a pie out of it. An apple is an apple. A computer is a computer. An axe is an axe. A tree is a tree. God is God. God’s truth is truth. It does not require my belief in it to be truth, it still is, whether I believe it or not.