About Becky Savio

Freelance writer/journalist/evangelist/Board Certified Christian Life Coach (International Board of Christian Care) with a marriage and family therapy Advanced Certificate from the AACC. (Also specializing in Christian inspirational/motivational writings and apologetics research/investigative journalism).

Hindsight: Those wacky Christians, maybe they are not so crazy after all? An intellectual faith…

When I was in college, a group of Christians befriended me and my friend.  They were very nice to us, but I didn’t “get them”, I just didn’t.  They were, to me, like birds of a different feather, a different breed of human.  I was into partying hard (and other endeavors) and didn’t get these peculiar people who had come into my life.  They invited me to a few lunches and Bible studies.  I went, but still, I just didn’t get it or them.  Honestly, for some reason I felt an odd sense of discomfort around them.  I am quite sure that I judged them, labeling them (in my mind) as “wack-a-doodles” (don’t you love that word?)!  I kind of felt sorry for them actually, that they had given up their “lives” to “follow Christ”. “What a waste”, was my thought.  I soon grew bored with these Bible studies and lost touch with these people.  If they were right, good for them, but I didn’t want to know.  I wanted to live my life.  If they had the truth, I didn’t want it.  My friend was “out”, and so was I.  I still couldn’t help but notice that there was something refreshing, something different, about them.  Perhaps it was their love, joy, peace, patience and kindness.

My opinion and judgment of these Christians who I put in a box were born of my own faulty thinking and ignorant judgments rather than an intellectual pursuit of careful, factual research. I had grasped a blind faith that Christianity was not true.  I had a belief system and faith.  My faith was that Christians were wacky and I didn’t need it.  

As it turns out, it takes more blind faith to believe that life is one big cosmic accident than it does to believe in an intelligent God who designed the world.  I stand on the other side, now.  I stand on the side of being labeled as the “Jesus Freak”.  I have felt the judgment that I once placed onto other Christians.  It’s not ideal, but it is what it is.  People think that Christians are judgmental?  Become one, and you will know what it is like to be labeled, continually.  You will become all too familiar with being put in a box before people even get to know you, but oddly, you don’t really mind, deep down.  The benefit far outweighs the cost.  The judgments don’t matter, because the freedom, peace and joy that I have now far surpasses any sort of sorrow that silly judgment brings.  It pales in comparison!  I now understand what Jesus meant when He said, “then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free”.  Just as light sets us free from the dark, Jesus sets us free from bondage (that we never knew we had).  I was living a stolen, destructive life, not a free life, though I did not see it that way then.

“Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” (Galatians 5:1)

I really thought I was “free” before.  It’s like seeing only in black and white, until one day, someone tells you there is color.  Color opens up a whole new world, and those who see in black and white cannot comprehend color until they experience it for themselves.  When people talk of “color”, we can think they are just wacky.  We can think we are quite happy and content in our black and white, that nothing more is needed at all.  It’s a little difficult to explain color.  It’s like speaking in a different language.  To most, this all will sound plain silly, even foolish, but that is exactly what I am talking about.

“But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Corinthians 2:14)

Perhaps that is not the best analogy.  The difference is more than the difference of black and white vs. color – the difference is completely night and day – as different as dark is to light.  It is weird and surreal being on the other side, because life is abundant and full now.  My inner life, my soul, is better than ever.  I see things I never saw before.  I love people more.  “Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling” (1 John 2:10).  There is a peace that surpasses all human understanding.  People have this notion that once they become a Christian, they have “lost their lives”, basically.  I will tell you that it is quite the opposite. 

True life is gained:

“Jesus said,’The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.'” (John 10:10)

“For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 16:25)

There is more to this Christianity thing than meets the eye, what’s at face value.  I stand on the other side realizing that when I was in the dark, I did not get it.  It’s only when a light is turned on that one realizes darkness is in fact darkness.  I was not brainwashed or forced, I came to this conclusion on my own using my own intellect (because of God’s grace, of course).  We cannot even see what is in the dark, until the light is turned on.  Light is revealing.  I realize now, in hindsight, that I was fine with my darkness, just fine. I was the wacky one for putting faith in my ignorance and quick judgments (not to mention – “popular opinion” – now that’s a dangerous notion to put one’s faith in) rather than gathering the facts and actually seeking truth. It is crazy to judge something without any information about it, wacky to make decisions based upon zero due diligence.  Ignorance is easy, and I didn’t even know that my darkness was darkness. I didn’t know what I was stumbling and tripping on because it was dark.

I didn’t want to know if the darkness was darkness; I didn’t want to see what was in the dark.  It didn’t even cross my mind, and I definitely didn’t want to be like those “wacky Christians”!

It’s funny that most of us believe in the great classical books, we would never doubt the validity of those, but when it comes to the New Testament, we dismiss and discard it without first getting the facts straight and doing the research.  I have shared a video below about the historical accuracy and trustworthiness of the New Testament.  The Bible is more historically accurate than any other literary work in existence and can be proven with science, but still, we discard it and judge it as hogwash.  Why?  Because we don’t want to know.  Knowledge is power, but ignorance is bliss.  If you were who I was two decades ago, you have already made up your mind and you think there is no use for exploring any evidence.  I get you.  And, I get those who you might think are wacky.

Perhaps the most commonly quoted scripture in the Bible is John 3:16, but most people who quote this leave out the verses immediately after, the ones about light and darkness:

For God So Loved the World

 

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 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. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.” (John 3:16-21; ESV; emphasis mine)

Paul (the apostle, you know, the one who is featured on stained glass windows in modern churches, who was once named Saul and hated the wacky Christians, throwing them into prison and even consenting to their deaths) had this same sort of thing happen to him.  The Christians that he once persecuted and hated, he now loved and understood.  For this reason, they were at first afraid of Paul.  “They only were hearing it said, ‘He who used to persecute us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy'” (Galatians 1:23).  He was converted and went around preaching the Gospel.  Gospel, from the Greek word euaggelion, means “good news” or “good tidings”.

There is a movie called The Case for Christ, based on the book by Lee Strobel.  Despite its Roman Catholic tidbits (not a fan of Roman Catholicism due to my careful study of the religion), it was full of interesting, even scientific, pieces of evidence as to why Christianity and the Bible are true and trustworthy.

“Jesus stood up and said to her, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’ She said, ‘No one, Lord.’ And Jesus said, ‘Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.’ Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’” (John 8:10-12)

Hindsight!

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What were the ‘heavy burdens’ the Pharisees put on others? A Christian article on legalism, spiritual abuse and narcissistic pastors

https://www.aacc.net/2017/12/11/let-us-prey-the-frequency-of-narcissistic-personality-disorder-in-pastors/

A friend of mine recently shared the following:

“Want to meet someone who has seen evil in human form and actually became stronger through the experience?  Want to talk to someone who has wisdom beyond their years? Want to see what inner resiliency looks like in a person?  Spend some time with a survivor of narcissistic, sociopathic and psychopathic abuse.  They are some of the most sparkly gems I have ever known.” (Shannon Thomas)

Isn’t that the truth?  I have known quite a few of these sparkly gems (and one too many narcissists/sociopaths).  If you are one of these “sparkly gems”, you know all too well the poison and toxicity of being in a relationship (or friendship) with one of these suck-the-life-out-of-you, fake, false teachers.  It is a very intense heat that creates these sparkly gems.  Until you have known (or been close to) a narcissist or sociopath yourself, you do not know the baffling damage one can cause.  They prey on the empathy of others and are experts at deceiving the human mind via clever manipulation tactics (most of them have a very high IQ and a remarkable con-artist ability).  They are likened to the ancient pharisees and can be referred to as the modern-day pharisees.  The Bible teaches love, yes, but it also clearly warns of certain types who would damage others.  The pharisees were the only men that (gentle, kind and compassionate) Jesus sternly denounced.

The link above is a link to a great article I wanted to share written by Dr. Darrell Puls, a certified mediator and arbitrator who holds a Doctorate in Religious Conflict Management.  At one point, he was a professional negotiator for one of the biggest unions in America!  He has done all this for over 37 years.  I came across his article on the AACC website.  The article is a warning about narcissistic pastors. He is a professional peacemaker, yet he says he will go anywhere to confront this insidious evil.

That is, the evil of spiritual abuse.

I would also go anywhere to confront this evil.  Spiritual abuse damages one’s soul and psyche.  Jesus even warned about spiritual abuse (Matthew 18:6; Luke 12:45).

Heavy-handed shepherds (pastors) are dangerous.  Of course, not all pastors are dangerous.  Two of my dearest friends are pastors; one in Kenya and one in Virginia.  They are humble, kind men.  They have hearts to serve/love, not to dominate/control!  They spend their lives helping others.

Jesus said the truth would make us free.  He does not want us to be in bondage to controlling, self-aggrandizing and manipulative pastors.  That is not the New Testament model.  That is not the message of Christ.  It gets tricky because narcissistic pastors are very charming!  They work in disguise.  They also speak some truth which disarms their hearers, making their hearers more open to deception.  This can be subtle and manipulative.

There are actually quite a bit of scholarly articles written on narcissistic pastors, which makes me glad, because these false teachers do a lot of damage.  Through the years, I have seen my friends traumatized (even with PTSD) from the words and actions of abusive church leaders. I’ve seen it happen to many, many people.  It has happened before my eyes with people who did not deserve it at all; very kind, loving people.  Nobody deserves that, yet the pastors cover it up as “discipline”.  Godly correction always points people to Christ, not away.  Godly correction involves grace, not legalism.

As I mentioned, it is my belief that these types of pastors are the modern day “pharisees”.  The pharisees were a Jewish sect.  Jesus rebuked them because they followed their own “traditions of man” (this is called legalism) rather than the teachings of God or Christ.

Jesus said in Mark 7:13 concerning the pharisees,

“…thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And many such things you do.”

They were not in trouble for obeying the Law and loving God.  They were in trouble because they were trusting in their own “church traditions” (i.e., oral traditions outside of the Law of Moses) and putting that bondage and control on others.  How is this different from the typical American pastor?  The pharisees loved to “void” the word of God (and they do that today by voiding the teachings of Christ in the New Testament) because they wanted to follow their oral traditions, their made-up rules.  They wanted control over people.  They did hold to some truth, like the resurrection, and the thought of a Messiah, but their errors were destroying people.  They were a religious sect.  They were not Christian, though they claimed to have the way to God.

Again, Jesus was not chastising the pharisees for obeying Him.  They hated Jesus and couldn’t stand Him or His words!  The pharisees today do not love the sound teaching of the Bible, and they want followers for themselves.  Sure, they may preach some truth, just as the pharisees held to some truth, but their errors and bad fruit will become evident.  Jesus was chastising them for making up their own junk and forcing it on people.  There are those today (who have themselves been influenced by cult leaders, Christian sects, or other leaders who attempt to draw away followers after themselves) who promote the warped idea that the “heavy burdens” or “heavy loads” are the Bible and the teachings of Christ in the New Testament.  This notion is almost comical and quite twisted (2 Peter 2:2; Acts 20:30).  The New Testament was not even written at the time Jesus spoke about the pharisee’s heavy burdens.

This is what Jesus says about the “heavy loads”:

“For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.” (Matthew 23:4; KJV)

The heavy loads were not the teachings of Christ in the New Testament (again, the New Testament was not written yet).  The heavy loads also were not the law of Moses, in fact, according to Jesus, the Pharisees were conveniently “sidestepping” the law of Moses.  One commentary explains, “Meaning not the rites and ceremonies of the law of Moses, circumcision, and other rituals, which obliged to the keeping of the whole law, which was a yoke men were not able to bear; but the traditions of the elders, which the Scribes and Pharisees were very tenacious of, and very severely enjoined the observance of, and are called their ‘heavy things'”(1). Another commentary suggests that Christ didn’t have a problem with the law of Moses, but the twists and falsehoods taken from the oral traditions.  It explains that Jesus “denounced the false inferences and deductions therefrom, leading to injunctions insupportable and impracticable” (2).  How is this different than when pastors “twist the Scriptures” today to suit their own selfish agendas and deduct from the Bible horrible errors?  Wouldn’t Jesus have the same reaction when pastors today “sidestep” His teachings and put unhealthy loads (double standards, twisted scriptures, mind control, psychological enslavement) onto people?

Remember, Jesus says to obey His commands in His Word (the New Testament) is not burdensome and that his yoke is easy and burden is light, and that we will find rest for our souls (Matthew 11:30).  Being a “doer” of Christ’s teachings makes us like a “house on a rock” (Matthew 7:24-27).  Spiritual abuse ensues when “loving God and one another” gets thrown aside as a result of harmful church traditions taking precedence.

I usually don’t quote the NLV version of the Bible, but just to get a point across, I will include it here:

“Then he said, ‘You skillfully sidestep God’s law in order to hold on to your own tradition.'” (Mark 7:9; NLV)

The pharisees would never become a disciple.  Remember the Greek word for disciple?  It’s mathētēs, which means a learner and doer of Christ’s teachings (as opposed to man-made or church teachings/traditions/”new” revelations).  When church traditions invented by man, spiritual abuse, double standards, hypocrisies and unspoken rules infiltrate a church, the pastor becomes a pharisee and legalism ensues.  Many churches are run this way.  For example, Calvary Chapels are run as a pyramid scheme with the pastor erroneously on top seated on a pedestal as a “modern Moses”.  This is just what the pharisees did.  They loved to control others, to look down on others and to look holy while doing it.  (For those of you who don’t know, Calvary Chapel is a “Bible Plus” organization, meaning it is not merely the Bible they go by, with unspoken rules and the Distinctives book being an extra set of man-made rules which, in a few sections, greatly contradicts Christ’s teachings).

This is legalism.  This is pharisaical.

And, this was supposed to be a short article, so I will stop here, but leave you with a note from Dr. Puls.

Dr. Puls explains…

Jesus warned us about wolves dressed as shepherds coming into the Church to “kill and destroy” (John 10:10). They’re here! The enemy has successfully infiltrated the Christian churches of North America. Is your pastor one of them?

We have been inundated with heartbreaking stories of people singled out for destruction by narcissistic pastors. We have walked alongside them through the dismal places and will continue to help them find sunlight, health, and high ground. As I told one young woman at the AACC conference in Nashville, “I know that you are in the darkest, scariest swamp you ever imagined. Let me walk alongside you. I’ve been through that swamp, and I know the way out.” She burst into tears. At last, someone understood.

The damage these pastors do is incalculable. In one case, over the course of his career a toxic narcissist pastor recruited, groomed, and then attacked and drove out 21 associates. Only two are still in ministry in some form. In other situations, the congregation fractures and splinters until it can no longer function, and the pastor moves on to victimize yet another. The church building of one of these congregations is now a bed and breakfast. (Dr. Darrell Puls)

 

1. Gils Exposition of the Entire Bible Online. Matthew 23. http://www.biblehub.com

2. Pulpit Commentary Online. Matthew 23. http://www.biblehub.com

Who are you trying to please: God or man?

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“And be not conformed to this world: but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” (Romans 12:2)

I woke up with this thought so clear on my mind, then a dear friend of mine sent this to me two hours later. So often, we put others in boxes, instead of seeking to understand one another or to go deeper in knowledge. We judge without seeking deeper understanding.  Humans have a tendency to disregard what they don’t understand or what they can’t explain from their perspectives, when really we should be open to seeking more knowledge and a deeper understanding (and challenging ourselves).  It is easy and natural to cast aside what doesn’t make sense to our finite minds.

The other thought was this: Christians must be true to who they follow, walking in integrity, not sitting on the fence, and not people-pleasers. “If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ” (Galatians 1:10). One absolutely cannot be a “people-pleaser” and please God at the same time; the two are diametrically opposed. If you profess Christ, you are not to blend in to this world’s ungodly patterns and ungodly expectations, but to be the “salt of the earth” (Matthew 5:13), a nonconformist to whatever is not true/right, and ready to stand alone in your nonconformity like a live fish that swims against the stream. Be ready to disappoint others and not fit into their boxes.  Here is the same thought re-worded, “Don’t COPY the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect”. If we profess Christ yet do not follow Him, but follow the world and those of the world, we are not His – “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters” and “Do not love the world or the things in the world.  If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (Matthew 12:30; 1 John 2:15).

What about you? Are you living for the approval and “likes” of your friends, your boss or someone else? Are you trying to fit into their boxes they have made for you? Or are you living for the One who made you? Are you allowing God and God alone to transform your mind, or do your friends mold your mind?  If you have nobody to oppose you or disagree with you, and conform to everybody’s expectations for you, then you have no enemies, and really, you are in bondage…”the fear of man will prove to be a trap, but whoever puts his trust in the Lord shall be safe” (Proverbs 29:25).  Being fake (being one who compromises) has always resulted in popularity with the world.

“A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.” (Mark Twain)

Jesus warned that those who are not on the side of truth would be very popular with the world: “Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets” (Luke 6:26). If everyone praises and adores you and not one person opposes you, one must consider… who are we trying to please – man or God? Sometimes it is very clear. People who profess Christ should be different, not conforming to the same old patterns of the world.

“If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” (John 15:19)

It is the world that needs to brag.  It is the world that boasts of how much money they have, just to make others feel bad who are less fortunate.  The Kingdom of God flips the world’s pattern upside-down.  God’s way is different.  For example, instead of shouting from the rooftops about good deeds done, Christians are to do them in secret, if possible.

“But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret.  And your Father, who sees in secret, will reward you.” (Matthew 6:3,4)

Christians must not follow this worldy pattern because love is patient, kind and does not boast.

“They may indeed see but not perceive, and may indeed hear but not understand, lest they should turn and be forgiven.” (Mark 4:12)

What about you?  Are you on the fence?  That is not a good place to be because, well, there is no fence…so if you are on the fence, get down.  Are you with Christ or not?  Are you worldly or other-worldly?  Do you profess Christ but still want to be in the same old patterns of the world?  Remember, the two are totally contradictory.

Is God calling you out of the world into His pattern?

Las Vegas shooting news: The #1 reason behind Stephen Paddock’s action and a Las Vegas native’s insider perspective: the heart of the issue

Multitudes of Americans are frantically (and understandably) looking for answers and a motive behind the Las Vegas shooter’s mass shooting just three days ago on October 1, 2017. Some blame guns, and some blame mental illness/psychopathy for Stephen Paddock’s shocking action, but what really was the motive of this man? From where did his motive spring?

Why does this matter? The problem with our search is that we are searching surface issues and not getting to the root of the issue. Getting to the root of the issue matters and is very much worth the time it takes to understand. Getting a firm grasp on this with deeper knowledge is crucial as it will eliminate the problem and bless our future generation, our children.

Allow me to explain.

Getting a grip on gun control and mental illness are both noble efforts and needless to say, very important endeavors; however, gun control and mental health are just the icing on the cake. According to NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness; source noted), millions of Americans are affected by mental health conditions every year. NAMI estimates that about 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. experience mental illness in a given year. That computes to about 43.8 million people who suffer from a mental illness, and clearly, all those people are not committing violent crimes such as what we saw in Las Vegas last weekend. Furthermore, there are many moral and upright people who have mental illness, and many moral and upright people who own guns. There have always been guns, and there has always been mental illness…so why the increase in violent crime?

The logical question that arises is this:

Is it the brain that causes one to commit such a violent act? Is the root of the problem the brain or the heart of man? What really is the root of the violence in our modern culture? Why are these violent acts increasing at an exponential rate in both frequency and intensity?

Allow me to give you an example of a garden. As we tackle the ever increasing violence issue of our nation, this is similar to merely cutting a plant from its root. The entire plant must be uprooted or else the plant will grow again. One must get to the actual root or else the problem will return. Taking away a gun from a psychopath surely will help for a time; however, this action won’t succeed in getting to the very root. The person will find a way to get another weapon. Certain drugs are illegal, yet people find a way to attain them, don’t they? If a plant is cut down, the root is still there. It is only a matter of time before the plant will return.

The mass media and the heart

Many Americans want to have their cake and eat it to. What we sow into our own hearts and our children’s hearts and minds is precisely what we will reap. Many scratch their heads and wonder, “how could a man like Stephen Paddock do such a thing?”, yet we don’t even realize that we are poisoning ourselves from within! What else has increased exponentially in our culture in the past few decades? Violence on media, thanks to Hollywood. How could we ask such a question while allowing our kids to play gory video games and watch violent, rated R movies?

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. (Galatians 6:7)

Irvin Baxter of Endtime Ministries (source noted) recently created a podcast about the Las Vegas shooting which explains that the mass media creates the culture that shapes hearts and minds. Americans need to get a grasp on what comes into our hearts, and especially the hearts of our children. He goes on to say, not in these exact words, that his research suggested that the typical American child watches 28 hours of TV per week, and by the time a child turns 18, they will have seen 200,000 acts of violence, and more than 16,000 violent murders on-screen.

Plain and simple, it’s time for Americans to wake up. Hollywood produces violent movies, and this industry has skyrocketed to a multi-billion dollar industry. Just in the past decade, we see that children are exposed to even more through smartphones.  We sit and scratch our heads and wonder, “how could a man do such a thing?”. If Americans don’t address the root of the problem, it will only get worse.

Since the sexual revolution of the 1960’s and 1970’s, the overwhelming belief system in America has been, “If it feels right, do it”. Where is the moral compass? This nation has a heart issue.  So many Americans have the viewpoint that true freedom equates with being able to watch whatever TV shows they desire.  True freedom is always found in the truth not compromise (it was actually Jesus who said, “then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” John 8:32).

It’s time for Americans to wake up from their slumber. We think it’s bad now, but what will happen when this generation of children, who are daily watching blood and gore on video games and TV – more than any previous generation – what will happen when this generation reaches adulthood? Hollywood is sowing violence into our culture like never before, and Americans are eating it up. The old saying, “we are what we eat”, is true. Americans must start getting to the root of the issue…the heart. What we sow is what we will reap. We must start protecting the hearts of our children with parenting controls and solid, Biblical teaching on morals. We must start modeling the Christian life ourselves and turn our eyes away from vile images generated by Hollywood and pornography. Call this judgmental, but one cannot love violence and be Christian. As Irvin Baxter further explained, the two do not compute (if you have time, view his outstanding one hour podcast cited below). Violence is diametrically opposed to the Christian life.

Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners. (1 Corinthians 15:33)

I will set no wicked thing before my eyes. (Psalm 101:3)

Have nothing to do with the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. (Ephesians 5:11)

For from within out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, covetous, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. (Mark 7:22)

Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life. (Proverbs 4:23)

But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death. (Revelation 21:8)

Las Vegas is my hometown. I have spent thirty-six years here, and to see the very place where I spent my childhood be the setting for America’s most deadly mass shooting is deeply disturbing. To see my friend limping and suffering from severe PTSD is surreal. Sure, Las Vegas is “Sin City”, there is certainly a lot of darkness here (as with all cities). Now more than ever, I see that Las Vegas is very much a city of grace. I have seen firsthand the amount of love and compassion this town has shown the victims and their families. Las Vegas has stepped up and is an amazing town. “Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more” (Romans 5:20).

One thing remains: the root of the issue, according to Jesus Christ, has always been the heart of man. If we can reach people with the good news, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and its life-changing power, the heart and spirit of man can be made new. Only true repentance and a heart turned to the Lord will solve the violence problem at its very root in this country. The Gospel is and always will be the answer, for that alone will change the heart of man to the core.

And he answered, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself’. (Luke 10:27)

Sources and Related Content:

1. NAMI; https://www.nami.org

2. Endtime Ministries by Irvin Baxter (2017); https://www.endtime.com/podcast/las-vegas-shooting/; The author (Becky Savio) does not necessarily endorse this ministry nor its content in its entirety; the author does not endorse the hyper-pentecostal nor charismatic movements.

Tags: #VegasStrong

Pharisees and False Teachers

DEFINING DECEPTION

There is a word that used to have no derogatory meaning but has found its permanent place in  the insults of “Christianese.” Its original meaning referred to a man’s position as an expert adherent of God’s law with rabbinical duties to guide others. The word is – Pharisee.  

Nowadays, this word is used and thought of in a slightly different way. If you call for accuracy in biblical preaching you could get called a Pharisee. If you lovingly confront a small group friend concerning their sin, you’re not thanked through tears – you’re called a Pharisee. If you voice concern for dangerous doctrines and the exploitation of those desperate for hope…well, you’ll see.

Recently a special conference was held in our city (Tustin, CA). The promoter promised signs, wonders, and miracles to those who would attend. A big sign was posted on the street and social media sites spread the word. Revival…

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