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If you have never considered the family of our military personnel then you must read this. If you have considered them and forgotten their sacrifice. You too need to read this. As you read it; consider John 15:13 “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” Each of these unnamed soldiers and military personnel are our unknown friends; offering their lives for us and our freedom. But what of their families? Aren’t they unnamed friends laying down pieces of their lives also? I believe today is a good day to begin sharing our stories and comforting each other and their families. Only those who have shared in this families hardship and sacrifice can fully understand the support they need and deserve. I recommend this to everyone. God bless.

holding dearly

This post took many months to compose. I wrote it, then left it to sit for a while. I worked on it a little more, then asked my husband to read it. He advised me that it was too sanitized, so I worked on it again. This is raw…what it was really like for me. Out of respect for him, some of my husband’s story is left out. Mine, however is all here.

I married my husband while he was still in college. A year later, he graduated and was commissioned into the U.S. Army. This commissioning magically turned him into an Army officer, and me into an “Officer’s Wife.” I didn’t know it at the time, but these titles would become a significant part of our personal identities, and would greatly influence our worldviews.

His first duty station was Ft. Campbell, KY. What I didn’t realize at the time…

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Started in 2013 in response to separate police shootings of two young black men, the Black Lives Matter movement came into prominence with its use of the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag. Ever since, the phrase “black lives matter” has been a rallying cry of those who believe there is institutional racism against African-Americans in virtually every aspect of society, but especially in police departments and the legal system.

There is no point in discussing the statistics on black crime vs. the percentage of the black population and/or the numbers of black-on-black murders vs. the number of blacks killed by police officers. For every statistic, there is a dueling statistic and/or a way to reinterpret the statistic. There is no point in discussing the specific cases that spawned the Black Lives Matter movement. The various sides all seem to be rigorously locked into their understanding of the events and the aftermaths. Like most issues connected to race, it appears to be virtually impossible to have a constructive dialogue about the Black Lives Matter movement.

Biblically speaking, of course black lives matter. Blacks/African-Americans are equally created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26). In God’s eyes, blacks are equal in value to whites, browns, reds, yellows, and everyone in between. Racism is evil. Some propose the saying “all lives matter” as an alternative. While “all lives matter” is absolutely and biblically true, it fails to address the issue at hand. The Black Lives Matter movement exists because many feel the world needs to be reminded that black lives do, in fact, matter.

How should Christians view the goals of the black lives matter movement? First, they should examine their hearts and ask God to help them get rid of any racist thoughts or tendencies. Second, they should fight against all true forms of racism that still exist in society. Third, they should be compassionate toward true victims of racism and point them toward Christ as the only answer for racism. Protests, policies, awareness, changes to the legal system, etc., etc., will never solve the problem of racism. Racism is the result of sin. Until the sin problem is dealt with—until people become new creations in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17)—the problem of racism will never be eradicated.

How should Christians view the methods of the black lives matter movement? Peaceful protests against racial injustice are necessary and appropriate when racism has truly occurred. But Christians should never be involved in rioting, looting, violence against police officers, hateful speech, and/or “reverse” discrimination/racism against non-blacks. Injustice and hatred will not be ended by more injustice and hatred.

“What does the Bible say about popularity ?”

We all crave acceptance by others. Babies are socialized by learning to read the cues from those they want to please and adjusting their behaviors accordingly. However, when we seek most of our validation and self-worth from the opinions of other people, we are on the wrong path. Popular opinion changes like the breeze, and when we place too much importance on it, we are setting ourselves up for an endless string of disappointments. As long as we pursue popularity as a means to happiness, we are flirting with idolatry. When we find our personal worth in anything or anyone besides God, we are creating an idol. An idol is whatever or whomever we use to meet deep, heartfelt needs that only God can meet.

The desire to be popular is more than merely wanting others to think well of our character—we should desire to have a good testimony in the world (Philippians 2:15). A focus on popularity is an obsession with Self. The craving for popularity is part of the “pride of life” mentioned in 1 John 2:16. It feels good to the ego to consider ourselves popular, and we tend to bask in that feeling rather than deal honestly with ourselves about our own weaknesses. This leads to pride. Pride inflates our view of our own importance and blinds us to our sins and failings (Proverbs 16:18; Romans 12:3). Even when the choice to please others does not involve open disobedience to God, pride is always at the heart of the desire for popularity. And God hates pride (Proverbs 8:13; James 4:6; 1 Peter 5:5).

Popularity is an elusive god that many have chased to their own destruction. King Herod was basking in popularity at the very moment of his ghastly, public death (Acts 12:19–23). False teachers are always popular with the “itching ears” crowd (2 Timothy 4:3). A sad example of choosing popularity over God is found in John 12:42–43: “Many even among the leaders believed in [Jesus]. But because of the Pharisees they would not openly acknowledge their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved human praise more than praise from God.” Everyone who desires to be popular will have to choose many times between the approval of others and the approval of God. God’s plan for us is often in conflict with the world’s plan for us (1 John 2:15). To be “popular,” we must choose the world. But doing so means Jesus is not Lord of our lives; we are (Luke 9:23).

Galatians 1:10 says, “Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” According to this verse, we cannot consistently please both God and the world. The desire for popularity is rooted in our old sinful nature. When we give in to it, we are living “according to the flesh” (Romans 8:5, 12). Even Christian leaders can fall prey to this seductive desire. Teachers or preachers who become intoxicated with their own popularity are at risk. Unchecked, a desire to be popular can lead them to become men-pleasers, teach heresies (2 Peter 2:1), and design their ministries to please the most people (2 Timothy 4:3) rather than remain true to the “whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27).

Jesus is our model. He was a favorite with both God and man as he grew up (Luke 2:52). But there was never a contest in His mind about which He would choose, and He proved that over and over again (John 8:29; Mark 1:11). He did not let temporary popularity influence Him or dissuade Him from His purpose (John 6:15). He never shied away from the hard truths, even when it meant rejection (John 6:66), threats (John 11:53–54), and, eventually, death (John 19:16).

Jesus gives us a perfect example of the way He wants us to relate to others. We are not here to make a name for ourselves. We are here on assignment from our Heavenly Father (Acts 1:8; Matthew 28:19). People may love us, or they may hate us, but our commitment to our purpose should never waver (Hebrews 12:1–3). When we choose to allow God to define our value rather than other people, we free ourselves to follow everything Jesus calls us to do. He knew it would be hard, but He gave us the best counsel when He said, “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven” (Matthew 5:11–12).

The Bible does not say how the apostle Paul died. Writing in 2 Timothy 4:6–8, Paul seems to be anticipating his soon demise: “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.”

Second Timothy was written during Paul’s second Roman imprisonment in AD 64—67. There are a few different Christian traditions in regards to how Paul died, but the most commonly accepted one comes from the writings of Eusebius, an early church historian. Eusebius claimed that Paul was beheaded at the order of the Roman emperor Nero or one of his subordinates. Paul’s martyrdom occurred shortly after much of Rome burned in a fire—an event that Nero blamed on the Christians.

It is possible that the apostle Peter was martyred around the same time, during this period of early persecution of Christians. The tradition is that Peter was crucified upside down and that Paul was beheaded due to the fact that Paul was a Roman citizen (Acts 22:28), and Roman citizens were normally exempt from crucifixion.

The accuracy of this tradition is impossible to gauge. Again, the Bible does not record how Paul died, so there is no way to be certain regarding the circumstances of his death. But, from all indications, he died for his faith. We know he was ready to die for Christ (Acts 21:13), and Jesus had predicted that Paul would suffer much for the name of Christ (Acts 9:16). Based on what the Book of Acts records of Paul’s life, we can assume he died declaring the gospel of Christ, spending his last breath as a witness to the truth that sets men free (John 8:32).

There is a difference between the kind of pride that God hates (Proverbs 8:13) and the kind of pride we feel about a job well done. The kind of pride that stems from self-righteousness is sin, and God hates it because it is a hindrance to seeking Him. Psalm 10:4 explains that the proud are so consumed with themselves that their thoughts are far from God: “In his pride the wicked does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God.” This kind of haughty pride is the opposite of the spirit of humility that God seeks: “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3). The “poor in spirit” are those who recognize their utter spiritual bankruptcy and their inability to come to God aside from His divine grace. The proud, on the other hand, are so blinded by their pride that they think they have no need of God or, worse, that God should accept them as they are because they deserve His acceptance.

Throughout Scripture we are told about the consequences of pride. Proverbs 16:18-19 tells us that “pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. Better to be lowly in spirit and among the oppressed than to share plunder with the proud.” Satan was cast out of heaven because of pride (Isaiah 14:12-15). He had the selfish audacity to attempt to replace God Himself as the rightful ruler of the universe. But Satan will be cast down to hell in the final judgment of God. For those who rise up in defiance against God, there is nothing ahead but disaster (Isaiah 14:22).

Pride has kept many people from accepting Jesus Christ as Savior. Admitting sin and acknowledging that in our own strength we can do nothing to inherit eternal life is a constant stumbling block for prideful people. We are not to boast about ourselves; if we want to boast, then we are to proclaim the glories of God. What we say about ourselves means nothing in God’s work. It is what God says about us that makes the difference (2 Corinthians 10:13).

Why is pride so sinful? Pride is giving ourselves the credit for something that God has accomplished. Pride is taking the glory that belongs to God alone and keeping it for ourselves. Pride is essentially self-worship. Anything we accomplish in this world would not have been possible were it not for God enabling and sustaining us. “What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?” (1 Corinthians 4:7). That is why we give God the glory—He alone deserves it.

Once again I am going through Christian Groups on Facebook and discover someone “Pleading the Blood of Jesus.” I have one suggestion for all of you who are doing so: “Please Stop; it’s not Biblical.”

“Pleading the blood of Jesus” in prayer is a teaching that can be traced to some of the early leaders of the Word of Faith movement. When people speak of “pleading the blood of Jesus in prayer” they are referring to the practice of “claiming” the power of Christ over any and every problem by using the phrase “I plead the blood of Jesus over _______.”

“Pleading the blood of Jesus” has no basis whatsoever in Scripture. No one in the Bible ever “pleads the blood” of Christ. Those who “plead the blood” do so as if there was something magical in those words or as if by using them their prayer is somehow more powerful. This teaching is born from the misguided and heretical view of prayer that prayer is really nothing more than a way of manipulating God to get what we want rather than praying for His will to be done. The whole Word of Faith movement is founded on the false teaching that faith is a force and, if we pray with enough faith, then God guarantees us health, wealth, and happiness and will deliver us from every problem and every situation. In this view, God is simply a way to get what we want instead of being the holy, sovereign, perfect, and righteous Creator that the Bible reveals Him to be.

Those who teach this Word-Faith falsehood have an exalted view of man and our “rights” to plead what we want and get God to respond the way we want. This is in opposition to true biblical faith exemplified by Paul’s life and his approach to suffering and trials. Paul wrote that “all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12). But Word of Faith teaches that, if we suffer or are sick or struggle with sin, it is because we do not have enough faith or that we are not pleading the blood of Jesus to claim what is rightfully ours. But we do not see Paul pleading the blood of Christ or claiming what is “rightfully his” when he was faced with trials and persecution. Instead, we see his unwavering faith in Christ no matter what the situation: “I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that day” (2 Timothy 1:12).

Paul had “learned in whatever state I am in to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:11–13). Paul’s faith was in Christ alone, and he could say with conviction, “The Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom. To Him be the glory forever and ever, Amen!” (2 Timothy 4:18).

“Pleading the blood” as it is commonly practiced has more in common with mysticism—reciting a magical formula and hoping it works—than it does with biblical prayer. Saying certain words does not make our prayers magically more powerful. Furthermore, “pleading the blood” of Christ is not needed to defeat Satan. He has already been defeated, and, if we are truly born again, Satan has no power over us other than what God allows for His purpose and glory. Colossians 1:13 makes this perfectly clear: “For He has delivered us from the power of darkness and has translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son in whom we have redemption through His blood, the remission of sins.”

Rather than “pleading the blood” of Christ for protection or power, Christians should obey the command in James 4:7, “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” Rather than practicing an unbiblical model of prayer, we are to follow the simple precepts of Scripture—leading a pure life before God, taking captive all our thoughts to avoid giving sin a place, confessing our sins when we fail those first two precepts, and putting on the full armor of God as outlined in Ephesians 6:13–17.

The Bible gives us numerous instructions in victorious living in Christ, and pleading “the blood of Jesus” is not one of them. We have been cleansed by the blood of Christ, and He is our High Priest and mediator who “always lives to make intercession” for us (Hebrews 7:25). As His sheep we are already under His protection; we simply need to live day by day trusting in Him for what He has already promised and provided.

The apostle Paul wrote a warning for the church: “The time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear” (2 Timothy 4:3).

The Greek word translated “itching” literally means “to itch, rub, scratch, or tickle.” To want one’s ears “tickled” is to desire massages rather than messages—sermons that charm rather than challenge, entertain rather than edify, and please rather than preach. The people Paul warns about will have, as one commentator put it, “ears which have to be continually titillated with novelties.”

“Itching ears” is a figure of speech that refers to people’s desires, felt needs, or wants. It is these desires that impel a person to believe whatever he wants to believe rather than the actual truth itself. When people have “itching ears,” they decide for themselves what is right or wrong, and they seek out others to support their notions. “Itching ears” are concerned with what feels good or comfortable, not with the truth—after all, truth is often uncomfortable. Paul’s warning is that the church would one day contain those who only opened their ears to those who would scratch their “itch.”

Those with “itching ears” only want teachers who will assure them that all is well, teachers who say, “Peace, peace . . . when there is no peace” (Jeremiah 6:14). Where there is a demand for something, the suppliers are not far away. Paul says that not only will there be great demand for watered-down, personalized messages, but there will be “a great number of teachers” willing to provide such pap and steer people away from “sound doctrine.”

Evidence today of people having “itching ears” includes the popularity of messages that people are not required to change, as if repentance were outmoded; that people are basically good; that God is too loving to judge anyone; that the cross, with all its blood, is not really necessary; and that God wants His children to be healthy, wealthy, and content in this world. As people turn their backs on the truth about sin and condemnation, they disregard their need for repentance and forgiveness. And a craving for “new” and “fresher” ideas grows—even though there is “nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9–10)—accompanied by a longing to feel good about who they are and where they’re going. Messages that tickle ears can fill a lot of churches, sell a lot of books, and buy a lot of time on cable tv.

Some of the early followers of Jesus complained about some of the Lord’s words: “Many of his disciples said, ʻThis is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?’ . . . From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him” (John 6:60, 66). Walking away from hard truth is easy to do.

In today’s postmodern church, we see many walking away from the hard truth. Some churches that once preached sound doctrine now teach as acceptable the very evils the Bible condemns. Some pastors are afraid to preach on certain passages of the Bible. “Christian feminists” deny God as a heavenly Father, calling Him a “she.” “Gay Christians” are not only welcomed without repentance into church fellowship but into the pulpit, as well.

The church’s remedy for those who have “itching ears” is found in the same passage of 2 Timothy: “Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction” (2 Timothy 4:2). It is a solemn charge, made “in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom” (verse 1). And it contains all the elements needed to combat the temptation to tickle ears: preach, correct, rebuke, and encourage. The content of preaching must be the written Word of God, and it must be preached when convenient and when inconvenient. This takes “great patience and careful instruction,” but sound doctrine is worth it.

The church’s quest to manage the comfort level of its audience must never take priority over preaching the Word. The fear of offending people’s sensibilities can never supersede the fear of offending God. Rather, the church should follow the example of the apostles: “We have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God” (2 Corinthians 4:2).

The church today, more than ever, needs to re-examine the teachings it endorses. We need to ask ourselves the following questions:

• Are our teachings truly from God or simply itches we want to scratch?
• Are we standing on solid biblical grounds, or have we allowed the world to influence our thinking?
• Have we guarded ourselves from the schemes of Satan (Ephesians 6:11)?
• Are we keeping ourselves “blameless for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:23)?

The truth is, God is not concerned with scratching our itches but in transforming us into the image of His Son (Romans 12:2; 2 Corinthians 4:4).

To understand why Christianity is a “bloody religion,” we must go back to God’s declarations regarding blood in the Old Testament: “the life of the flesh is in the blood (Leviticus 17:11, 14). Here God tells us that life and blood are essentially one and the same. The blood carries life-sustaining nutrients to all parts of the body. It represents the essence of life. In contrast, the shedding of blood represents the shedding of life, i.e. death.

Blood is also used in the Bible to represent spiritual life. When Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden by disobeying God and eating fruit of the forbidden tree, they experienced spiritual death immediately, and physical death years later. God’s warning, “You shall not eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. For in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Genesis 2:17) was fulfilled. Their blood—their lives—were now tainted by sin. In His gracious plan, however, God provided a “way out” of their dilemma by declaring that sacrifices of blood, first the blood of animals and finally the blood of the Lamb of God (Jesus Christ), would be sufficient to cover the sin of fallen mankind and restore us to spiritual life. He instituted the sacrificial system, beginning with the animals. He himself killed to provide the first garments, thereby “covering” the sin of Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:21). All the Old Testament sacrifices which followed from then on were temporary ones, needing to be repeated over and over. These continual sacrifices were a foreshadowing of the one true and final sacrifice, Christ, whose blood shed on the cross would pay the penalty of sin forever. His death made any further bloodshed unnecessary (Hebrews 10:1-10).

As far as Christianity being a bloody religion, it is. But it is uniquely a bloody religion. Contrary to bloodless religions, it takes sin seriously, indicating that God takes sin seriously and gives a death penalty for it. Sin is not a small matter. It is the simple sin of pride that turned Lucifer into a demon. It was the simple sin of jealousy that caused Cain to slay Abel, etc. And in Adam and Eve eating the forbidden fruit, they believed the deceiver over a good and loving God, choosing to rebel against His love and denying the goodness of His character. Christianity is a bloody religion because it views sin as a holy God views it—seriously.

Also, because God is just, sin requires a penalty. God cannot merely forgive in mercy until the demands of justice have been met. Thus the need for a sacrifice before forgiveness is possible. The shedding of the blood of animals, as Hebrews points out, could only “cover” sin for a time (Hebrews 10:4) until the intended and sufficient sacrifice was made in Christ’s atoning death. Thus, Christianity is different from other bloody religions in that it alone provides a sufficient sacrifice to take care of the sin problem.

Last, although Christianity presents a bloody sacrifice in these regards, it is the only religion that is bloodless in the end. The opposite of death is life. In Jesus’ death, He brought life as is shown in so many verses. And in trusting Christ and His atoning sacrifice for one’s sins, one is saved from death and has passed into life (John 5:24; 1 John 3:14). In Him is life. All other paths lead to death (Acts 4:16; John 14:6).

“Name it  –  Claim it;” Is it Biblical?

Over these past  years I have had the pleasure of  visiting many on word press blog sites and; more recently, Christian groups on Face Book. Very few sites and/or groups advocate the “name it claim it” cultic view. I  do, however, notice a growing number of members/visitors commenting  approval and belief in the movement. It reflects the growing apostasy within Christianity.

The “name it and claim it” or “prosperity gospel” is not biblical and is in many ways antithetical to the true gospel message and the clear teaching of Scripture. While there are many different versions of the name it and claim it philosophy preached today, they all have similar characteristics. At its best, this teaching comes from the misinterpretation and misunderstanding of some Scriptures, and, at its worst, it is a completely heretical teaching that has the characteristics of cultic doctrine.

The roots of the Word of Faith movement and the name it and claim it message have more in common with new age metaphysics than with biblical Christianity. However, instead of us creating our reality with our thoughts, as new age proponents advise, name it and claim it teachers tell us that we can use the “power of faith” to create our own reality or get what we want. In essence, faith is redefined from “a trust in a holy and sovereign God despite our circumstances” to “a way of controlling God to give us what we want.” Faith becomes a force whereby we can get what we want rather than an abiding trust in God even during times of trials and suffering.

There are many areas where name it and claim it departs from biblical Christianity. The teaching really exalts man and his “faith” above God. In fact, many of the more extreme Word of Faith teachers teach that man was created on terms of equality with God and that man is the same class of being that He is Himself. This dangerous and heretical teaching denies the very basic tenets of biblical Christianity, which is why the extreme proponents of the name it and claim it teaching must be considered to be cultic and not truly Christian.

Both the metaphysical cults and the name it and claim it teaching distort the truth and embrace the false teaching that our thoughts control reality. Whether it is the power of positive thinking or the prosperity gospel, the premise is the same—what you think or believe will happen is ultimately what controls what will happen. If you think negative thoughts or are lacking in faith, you will suffer or not get what you want. But on the other hand if you think positive thoughts or just have “enough faith,” then you can have health, wealth, and happiness now. This false teaching appeals to one of man’s most basic instincts, which is one reason why it is hugely popular.

While the prosperity gospel and the idea of controlling one’s future with his thoughts or faith is appealing to sinful man, it is insulting to a sovereign God who has revealed Himself in Scripture. Instead of recognizing the absolute sovereign power of God as revealed in the Bible, the name it and claim it adherents embrace a false god who cannot operate apart from their faith. They present a false view of God by teaching that He wants to bless you with health, wealth, and happiness but cannot do so unless YOU have enough faith. Thereby God is no longer in control but man is. Of course, this is completely antithetical to what Scripture teaches. God does not depend upon man’s “faith” to act. Throughout Scripture we see God blessing whom He chooses to bless and healing whom He chooses to heal.

Another problem with the name it and claim it teaching is that it fails to recognize that Jesus Himself is the ultimate treasure worth sacrificing everything for (Matthew 13:44) and instead sees Jesus as little more than a way of getting what we want right now. Jesus’ message is that a Christian is called to “deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?” (Matthew 16:24–26). Contrast that to the message of the prosperity gospel. Rather than being a message of self-denial, the prosperity gospel is one of self-satisfaction. Its goal is not becoming more Christlike through sacrifice but having what we want here and now, clearly contradicting the words of our Savior.

The Bible teaches that “all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12), but the name and claim it message is that any suffering we undergo is simply the result of a lack of faith. The prosperity gospel is completely focused on us getting the things the world has to offer, but 1 John 2:15 tells us we should not “love the world or the things in the world” and, in fact, those with a fondness for the things of the world become enemies of God (James 4:4). The message of the prosperity gospel simply cannot be any more opposite of what the Bible really teaches.

In his book Your Best Life Now, prosperity teacher Joel Osteen says that the key to a more rewarding life, a better home, a stronger marriage, and a better job is found in a “simple yet profound process to change the way you think about your life and help you accomplish what is truly important.” How different that is from the biblical truth that this life now is nothing compared to the life to come. The message of the prosperity gospel is focused around the “treasures” or good things we want and can have now, while Jesus said, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19–21).

Jesus did not come to give us health, wealth and happiness now. He came to save us from our sins so that we can have an eternity of bliss with Him. Following Christ is not a ticket to all the material things men desire in this life but a ticket to eternal life. Our desire should not be to have our best life now but to have the attitude of the apostle Paul, who had learned to be content “in whatever state I am” (Philippians 4:11).

Narcissism is the term used in psychology to describe a preoccupation with self. It is a Greek term taken from the name of the mythological Narcissus, who fell in love with his own image and was doomed to die because he would not turn away from it. A narcissist is a person who displays a high level of selfishness, vanity, and pride. He sees everything from a “how does this affect me?” perspective. Empathy is impossible for the narcissist because his only perspective is the one centered on self. In psychology, narcissism is seen as a broad spectrum of conditions ranging from normal to pathological.

The Bible says that we are born sinful since the fall (Romans 5:12). This means that we are born with only sinful tendencies and no ability to be “good” or righteous on our own. What we call “human nature” the Bible calls “the flesh” (Galatians 5:19-21). Part of our sin nature is a total focus on self. This focus, also called “egocentrism,” is how babies see and experience the world. Narcissism is like egocentrism in that the adult still relates to the world like an infant, a perspective that impedes personal growth and relationships.

Psychological theories about narcissism suggest that the narcissistic person uses defense mechanisms to idealize self so that he does not have to face his own mistakes (sin) or flaws (fallen state). The diagnosis of narcissistic personality disorder outlines the behavior patterns of a narcissistic person as being haughty, non-empathetic, manipulative, and envious; he also possesses a sense of entitlement and grandiosity. From a biblical perspective, it is clear that these heart conditions are due to pride, which is sin (Proverbs 16:18). The Bible tells us to “look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:4). The narcissist routinely disobeys this command.

Pride is a reason people do not feel they need a savior or forgiveness. Pride tells them they are “good” people or have a “good” heart. Pride also blinds people to their own personal responsibility and accountability for sin. Narcissism (pride) masks sin, whereas the gospel reveals the truth that leads to remorse for sin. Narcissistic traits can be dangerous because, at their worst, they will lead a person to destroy others to satisfy the lust of the flesh (2 Timothy 3:2-8).

The Bible addresses the issues related to narcissism as part of our sinful natural self (Romans 7:5). We are slaves to the flesh until we place our faith in Jesus, who sets the captives free (Romans 7:14-25; John 8:34-36). Believers are then slaves to righteousness as the Holy Spirit begins the transforming work of sanctification in their lives. However, believers must surrender to the Lord and humble themselves in order to have God’s perspective rather than a selfish one (Mark 8:34). The process of sanctification is turning away from self (narcissism) and turning toward Jesus.

All people are narcissists until they either learn how to cover it and get along in the world or until they recognize their own flesh and repent of their sin. The Lord helps people to grow out of narcissism when they receive Jesus as their savior (Romans 3:19-26). The believer is empowered to begin loving others as himself (Mark 12:31).