“¡Viva el Papa! ¡Viva el Papa! ¡Viva el Papa! ¡Viva el Papa!”
I tuned in yesterday afternoon in time to hear multitudes of Catholics from all over the world chanting in expectation of their new leader. Flags were waving all over the Vatican. The cry of the crowd was a cry of enthusiasm, expectation and energy as the new pope was to be revealed.
Then, as the curtains were pulled back, it was announced that the pope was none other than Argentine Jorge Bergoglio, who chose the name Pope Francis. Indeed, this man is the first Latin American to ever be chosen as Catholicism’s Papal leader.
He is a simple man, choosing to be as much among the people as possible, live a simple life, help the poor and deny many of life’s dainties for the “greater good.”
He led the people in reciting the Lord’s Prayer, then a prayer to Mary.
You could see expressions of hope on the faces of all who listened.
…But is there hope in the pope?
I need to be careful here, because my intention is not to carelessly offend those that hold to the catholic teachings. But could I be so bold as to say, Catholicism, at its core teaching, is leading over a billion people to hell.
Why is that?
Don’t Catholics believe in God? Don’t they believe in the Bible? Don’t they believe that Jesus died on the cross?
Yes, they believe all of these truths.
But what is different between biblical Christianity and catholic teaching? Simply put, it’s a matter of do vs. done.
The Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church states: “Christian initiation is accomplished by means of the sacraments which establish the foundations of Christian life. The faithful born anew by Baptism are strengthened by Confirmation and are then nourished by the Eucharist.”
Their teachings go on to express that there are 7 sacraments of the church, and in keeping these sacraments you will have favor with God and earn salvation.
But ask any catholic if they know where they will spend eternity and they always reply, “I don’t know” or “you can’t know” or “I won’t know until after I die.”
Why is that? Because salvation is depending on what they do. They are initiated into the church as a baby when they are baptized, they go through confirmation as a child or young adult, and they take the communion. They confess their sins to the priest, pray to Mary, pray to the saints and other idols, and help the poor, but it comes down to one question: What is their salvation depending on? DO or DONE!?
Friend, there is no hope in the pope. He is just a man. He may be a nice man, but he is a man who is leading people down a religious road straight to an eternity that is separated from God.
Salvation is only by grace through faith. It is either grace or it is works. It cannot be both. Jesus already bought our salvation, and offers it as a gift to all who will believe on him. Why are you trying so hard to earn it?
If you have never been biblically saved, if you are still trying to work your way to God, if you don’t know for sure if you’re eternity will be Heaven or Hell, I challenge you to do one thing. Repent.
Repent of your sin and your faith in works or religion. Then believe on Jesus. Run to Jesus. Throw out any other hope that you have and cling to the cross where Jesus paid for your sins. He says he will forgive you. He will accept you. He will make you his child and an heir to all promises. He promises to give you life. Don’t wait any longer.
The Bible says in John 5:24 “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.”
You have God’s word on it. He never breaks his promises. Don’t wait any longer. Believe on Jesus.
Christian, maybe you agree with all that I’ve written here. Would you pray with me for the billions around the world that are deceived by religion? Would you pray with me that God would raise up more laborers to take the GOOD NEWS to them, that Jesus paid it all? Would you pray that God would open their eyes, that they would know the truth, and this truth would make them free?
“Daaaadddaaaaa!” She screamed at the top of her lungs. “Come here Daddy! I need you!”
It was 4 AM this morning. My precious 2 1/2-year-old daughter Amira was crying in desperation. So, what’s a good dad to do? Down to her room I went.
At first sight of me she seemed relieved, and immediately she exclaimed, “I need some milk.” We talked some, quenched her thirst, and the conversation quickly went from her dry throat to more pressing issues.
“I need to sleep with you in Mommy’s bed” (funny how that works, isn’t it?). “No dear,” I replied, “you can stay in your bed. Just a couple more hours until the sun comes up. Your bed is nice and comfortable!”
“But there are monsters on my wall.”
She said it in such a matter-of-fact manner that I had to try to keep from chuckling.
Turns out, the monsters were not just on her wall, but also in the closet, under the bed, and on the ceiling, she told me. Honestly, I don’t know where she got that idea, but she was fully convinced of the infestation.
I showed her how safe her room was, that monsters weren’t real, then I assured her that God is in our house and he keeps the monsters and other scary things away. She got tucked in and slept for a few more hours, and woke up nice and cheerful as if nothing had ever happened. Thank goodness.
How many times do we act the same way? All around us there are “monsters” out to gobble us up. Maybe not the big, hairy, green ones, but our fear manifests itself in other ways.
- I can’t try anything new because I might fail
- I can’t witness because people might reject me
- I can’t give to the church or missions because I might not have enough for other bills
- I can’t speak to anybody about God because I might make them angry, and I might even be persecuted
It shows up in missions all around the world. May I be bold to say, Fear-based Christianity and fear-based missions is sin.
Why is it that the most frequent command in Scripture is to fear not? I believe that there are 2 prominent reasons:
1. Fear causes us to magnify a lie instead of Jesus
What is fear? It is worrying about something that hasn’t even happened yet! Satan whispers a doubt, a lie, an unfounded anxiety, and we swallow it. That’s why we find the following in 2 Corinthians 10:3-5:
3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: 4 (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) 5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;”
Anything that makes itself greater than my God is an idol and must be torn down. Tear down your fear. Bring your thoughts into captivity. Trust Christ.
2. Fear causes us to miss God’s will
When fear controls your life, the Devil gets the victory because you’ve already given up. “There’s no use in trying.” many might say. When we think of reaching the world with the Gospel, what is the greatest hinderance? We have missed it because we’re dominated by fear. Paul told one of the young men he mentored in 2 Timothy 1:6-9:
“6 Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands. 7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. 8 Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God; 9 Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,”
He had to remind Timothy of something that was forgotten. Fear doesn’t have to own you. God has something greater for you. The power to defeat that fear is already in you. If you don’t squash that fear, you will miss God’s plan for your life!
Christian, What’s your fear? What’s the “Monster on the wall?” What’s lifting itself up above Jesus in your life? What’s holding you back from doing God’s will? It’s time to lay it aside and trust Christ. It’s time to live boldly for the ONE who gave all for us.
Celebration of Independence
Yesterday, July 20th, Colombia celebrated 202 years of independence from Spain. Colombians all around the country demonstrated their patriotic loyalty much like we do for our 4th of July celebrations in the USA. They enjoyed a day off from work, parades, time with family, massive feasts, and giving thanks for their freedom.
The story of their independence is a rather interesting one, revolving around a Venezuelan-born man named Simon Bolivar (who spent most of his time in Colombia and liberated 6 countries from Spain), and more interestingly, a conflict about a flower vase. Yes, a flower vase! You can read about that story here.
The battle for freedom in Colombia wages on.
I’m not talking about simply freedom from oppression from rebel groups, violence and political uprisings. Yes, that is what many focus on, but I’m talking about the freedom that Jesus speaks of in the Bible.
“And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:32
You see, Colombia, just like the rest of the world, has a root need for eternal freedom. If you look at the entire passage there in John 8, Jesus was speaking to the Jews who were religious. They had the right family heritage, being sons of Abraham. They had the law. They had the right customs and practices and they didn’t see their need for being made free.
But Jesus saw that they were indeed servants and slaves to sin, and of their father the Devil.
Pretty harsh words, aren’t they?
Set Free or Made Free?
No matter how hard we try, in our own effort, the best we can do is to be “set free” from sin. There’s a difference between that and what Jesus actually said. He said he would make us free!
Here’s a good way to picture it… If you were in prison paying for a crime that you committed and I came by with a bomb and blew the wall off to let you out, I would have set you free. The problem with that is, eventually they are going to come looking for you (and me) again to throw us both back behind bars. It would be a temporary fix.
But, what if I go and pay your penalty for you. I can then walk in the front doors with the warden, who reaches for his keys and lets you out, now a free person. You’ve been made free. There is a great difference! Because, now, there is no more condemnation (See Romans 8:1).
How are we made free? By Jesus Christ! He paid our penalty 100%. As long as we try to work our way to God, the best we can do is break free for a little bit. We can’t get completely free from sin, and we can’t get completely free from eternal condemnation.
But, thanks be to Jesus, he has already paid the price and offers to MAKE us free! The Bible calls that Justification. My record is cleaned. God’s books show that I am free. There is no more punishment for my sin. No condemnation.
Do you see the difference? That’s what Colombia (and the rest of the world) need to hear.
What about you?
Have you let Jesus make you free or are you still struggling along, trying to make it on your own. If you were to die today, would you spend eternity with God, or would you be found guilty. It all goes back to what you’re depending on. Are you depending on your works? Your religion? Your effort? Your family?
Jesus Christ died on the cross to buy your freedom. Why don’t you believe in that today? Don’t just believe that it happened, but put all your faith in what He has done and repent of your own effort. He said he’d make you free.
“If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” John 8:36
If you need help or if you have questions about salvation and being made free, I and my family would love to help you and answer your questions. Leave a comment, send me a message or give me a call. I promise to respond because Jesus loves you, and I do too.
Happy Memorial Day! I want to thank those that have served in our country’s military, and the families of those that have given their lives to defend our freedoms. May we always appreciate the sacrifice that they’ve made and may we always remember that freedom isn’t free!
And as Christians, just as Americans, somebody had to pay the price for our freedom. Jesus Christ died on the cross 2,000 years ago to make us free from the bondage that is sin. I love what John 8:32 & 38 say,
“And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free... If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.”
Please enjoy this video that was put together a couple of years ago for my church, Lighthouse Baptist Church in Dawsonville, GA to remember those that have laid down their lives, and to celebrate the freedom we have because of their sacrifice.
If you can’t see the embedded video, please click here)
Read the article below reposted from “Encouraging Words by Cary Schmidt.”
SADDEST LETTER I’VE EVER READ by Cary Schmidt
I recieved this letter from a young lady last week—a Bible college student who grew up in a Christian home and Christian school. I believe it’s the saddest letter I’ve ever read and right on the mark for so detailing the experiences of so many young Christians. I asked her permission to post it. Please read. Her words will greatly challenge you as a parent or pastor:
Dear Pastor Schmidt,
A few years ago, I read your books Hook, Line, and Sinker, Discover Your Destiny, and Life Quest. I found them to be extremely encouraging and instructive. These books showed me that not only do you have a real heart for young people, but you also understand us well. I am writing to ask you to consider writing a book to our parents and youth workers. Let me explain.
I am a junior at a well-known Christian college. I grew up in highly respected “fundamental independent Baptist” churches, and went to excellent Christian schools. My father has been a Christian worker since before I was born. One would think that my testimony would go something like this:
“I was saved when I was about 5 and I had dedicated my life to God and I have been growing a lot and serving Him and now I’m studying to serve Him full time.” But that isn’t my story. Actually, though I did make a profession of faith when I was very young, I didn’t get saved until I was 17. Since I was 12 and now on into college I have struggled with “serious” issues. And I found out when I went to college that I am not the only “good kid” who is or has struggled with or is still struggling with serious stuff. We struggle with issues like eating disorders, depression and suicide, cutting, pornography, gender identity, homosexuality, drugs, drinking, immorality, and the list could go on. We listen to “wild” music, we idolize pop culture’s heroes, we watch dirty sitcoms. We have no discrimination in our entertainment, dress, or any aspect of our lifestyle. Obviously, I’m generalizing our problems—you would not find that every Christian young person from a conservative background struggles with all of these issues, and praise God, some of us do not struggle with any of these issues.
My point is that the problems that are supposed to be bad kid’s problems belong to us too. Unfortunately, our parents and youth workers don’t know that we struggle with these things and they don’t know what to do with us when they find out. Quite frankly, I believe that if you grabbed the average Christian school teacher or youth worker and asked them, “What would you do if you found out that one of the kids you work with was a homosexual?” they wouldn’t know what to say.
My point is not simply that they don’t know what we struggle with or how to deal with it. I think there is a pretty simple reason why “good” kids struggle with such serious stuff. And that there is a solution. At the risk of being blunt, I’m going to be blunt.
Our parents did not spend time teaching us to love God. Our parents put us in Sunday Schools since K4. Our parents took us to church every time the doors opened, and sent us to every youth activity. They made sure we went to good Christian colleges. They had us sing in the choir, help in the nursery, be ushers, go soulwinning. We did teen devotionals, and prayed over every meal. We did everything right. And they made sure that we did.
But they forgot about our hearts. They forgot that the Bible never commanded the church to teach children about God and His ways. That responsibility was laid at the feet of our fathers. Unfortunately, our fathers don’t have time for us. They put us where we are surrounded by the Bible. But they didn’t take time to show us that God was important enough to them to tell us personally about Him. So to us, Christianity has become a religion of externals. Do all the right stuff, and you’re a good Christian. So, some of us walk away from church. Some of us stay in church and fill a pew. Many of us struggle with stuff that our parents have no idea about because they hardly know us.
I think these problems stem from first, our detachment from our parents, and second from our misunderstandings about the essence of Christianity—a relationship, not a list of rules. I worry that many young people like me are not even saved because of their misunderstandings about Christianity.
I know that this has not been a well articulated treatise, but it comes from my heart. If you are able to help us and our families, we would be so grateful. I realize that probably, there is no way to fix the fact that kids my age are detached from our parents or to straighten out the crazy stuff that we struggle with. The alienation is fixed, the scars are permanent. I know our situation is not hopeless. God is at work in my life and my generation, among those of us who have struggled and are struggling. But maybe our younger siblings can have some help that we never had. Maybe you can write a book for our parents that will grab their attention and help them see that this is serious—that their kids need them, desperately.
I guess I’ve run out of things to say. I must say I’m a little hesitant to share my name with you because that attaches me with my parents, who are, by the way, good people. Thanks for everything you have already done to help Christian teens and their families. I’m eager to see what else God will do through you.
(Name Removed to Protect Anonymity)
All I could say when I read this letter was, “WOW! She nailed it!” Let this insightful young lady’s words sink in, and let God help you evaluate your own parenting and influence.
Are we teaching kids to simply appear and act right? Or are we teaching them to LOVE God and KNOW Him personally?
What are your thoughts?
Check out Cary Schmidt’s follow-up articles here: