Tag Archive: Christian

John Trent “The Blessing” Book Series: Review 1 – To the Wife

Back in 2004, I had come to the conclusion that Christian marriage was all about dying to self. It sounded so noble and felt so true after 17 years of a less than storybook marriage at that point. We had no major problems, none of the big-time sins. But it was still tough. And I’m married to a pastor. And I was already reaching and counseling Christian women. Yeah, marriage had become a role of daily martyrdom for me.

But then, hallelujah!, God had me cross paths with a group of older Christian women who had a Bible study focused on what they called the “Titus 2 Principles” for wives, based on Titus 2:3-5:

Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored. (NASB)

I already knew the proper doctrine of submission, having a meek and quiet spirit (1 Peter 3:1-6), and the other basics. But this was the first women’s study I had ever been to that gave practical tips for living out those principles in my daily life. Five-second kisses, regular verbal affirmations, don’t correct him in front of others, be his wife and lover, not his mother or “holy spirit,” the ministry of “shut up,” and so on.

I was a sponge for this information, I did my best to put the tips into daily practice, and sometimes I saw God move – even if sometimes the only thing He did was to bring peace to my heart and mind. Practical tips really helped me “get it” for my own marriage – no, it’s not just about dying to self but joyfully giving the best of yourself to God first by obeying His instructions on loving and respecting our husbands. God always deserves it even when our husbands sometimes don’t. (At least we think they don’t, and sometimes they really don’t. But sometimes – how often, ladies? – we really don’t either. Just saying.)

It’s those practical tips of John Trent’s 30 Ways a Wife Can Bless Her Husband” that made me connect with this book the most.

For one, many of the tips Trent gives are the same as what I learned starting with those wonderful ladies in 2004. Confirmation from an unrelated source is always an encouragement that you’ve been on the right track. And, of course, the tips that were new to me have been added to my “to do list” of specific actions that reflect that I love my husband.

In fact, the book brought me to tears a little bit before I even reached page 10! And I was quite convicted by some parts in the book, which I appreciate. I consider myself a good, yielding and supportive wife, and my husband says it often enough himself. I just still have a few things to work on.

But I also truly want to be a blessing to my husband every day. He has been through a lot, in business and in ministry as a pastor, for years now. I truly have a heart to be the bright spot in his tough life, every day if possible. And yet, I fall short, and I know it. Like the Apostle Paul, my spirit and my flesh are at regular war against each other so that I do what I don’t want to do and I don’t do what I know I should do.

But I digress.

I was given an advanced reader copy of 30 Ways a Wife Can Bless Her Husband in exchange for my review – good or bad. I would not do it if I couldn’t be honest about it. I don’t need a free book that bad. So, here’s my honest assessment.

I give John Trent’s 30 Ways a Wife Can Bless Her Husband a B grade. It provides invaluable practical information that a Christian wife can start trying in her marriage before she even finishes reading the whole book. Also, it is easy to read and follow. Its foundational principles and tips are simple to understand, are expressed in a friendly, caring voice, and are organized in an easy to follow flow.

Furthermore, the book’s topic is still very relevant for Christian couples today, especially in a time where there’s a heightened emphasis on women’s empowerment and self-determination, the false doctrine of mutual submission in marriage, and the resurgence of secular women’s liberation, all of which have found their way into the Christian church. Not to mention the changing social landscape that has challenged the institution of marriage, gender roles and gender identity. How refreshing 30 Ways a Wife Can Bless Her Husband is in the midst of that landscape!

Furthermore, Trent for the most part uses God’s Word, the Bible, as the basis for his overall principles. This is an absolute must, since 2 Timothy 3:16-17 tells us that all scripture is profitable for equipping for good works. Indeed, all of Chapter 3 (into Chapter 4) gives predictions for the last days that, in my opinion, are unfolding before our very eyes today, including verses 6 and 7 which talk about gullible women.

So, why not an A grade for 30 Ways a Wife Can Bless Her Husband? For one, it doesn’t adequately, if at all, mention the importance of wives blessing their husbands even when it’s very hard to. I’m not talking about situations of domestic abuse or unrepentant adultery. But there are plenty of Christian marriages where, no matter what the wife does to “set the temperature” in the home or respect him or love him, her husband remains indifferent, cold, oblivious, self-centered, hard to please, lazy, insensitive, impatient, non-supportive, sexually disinterested, or some other constant problematic disposition. No matter what she does to bless him, he remains difficult to live with. This problem is too common in Christian marriages for Trent, a marriage and family therapist, not to give it more attention here.

A bigger concern I have about 30 Ways a Wife Can Bless Her Husband is its somewhat liberal interpretations of some scriptures and/or biblical concepts. For example, he takes 1 Timothy 5:8 out of context when he uses it to support his otherwise accurate statement that our husband is our first calling as Christian wives. First Timothy 5:8 states, But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. (NASB) The problem is that the context here is about widows, not marriage.

A similar error is made in reference to Ephesians 1:3, which says this: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, (NASB). But Trent uses it to say this: “and you can enjoy all these blessings now.” However, the subsequent verses are talking about the spiritual blessings associated with eternal life in Christ, not temporal blessings for life here and now. Scripture is taken out of context unnecessarily, causing the reader to potentially miss the real truth of what God is saying in the passage.

Another example is when Trent claims, “In Scripture the word life means movement; things that are alive are moving towards someone or something. The word death means to step away.” I know this is not intended to be a theological book, and is certainly not an apologetic one either (that is, it’s not intended as a defense of the Gospel of sound biblical doctrine). But I try to be a stickler on proper biblical interpretation because I don’t want to be misled or, as in the important topic of marriage, given false hope. I wish Trent gave some sort of qualifier as to how he came up with these definitions of “life” and “death.” But he doesn’t.

Sure, living things move and interact. And I guess in some sense dead things “step away” from being alive. But Trent makes this claim as though no further qualification is needed even though, at least from what I can see, the Bible doesn’t say or imply these meanings. I think the same point could be made in the context of the book without attributing these meanings to the Scriptures.

The last concern is how Trent ends his book emphasizing how “revolutionary” the application of his principles and tips can be in a marriage. While I agree that they can certainly make a difference, I just wish Trent’s enthusiasm wasn’t bordering on presenting unmeasured and unrealistic hope.

I also personally cringe at the use of the word “crazy” to describe the work of God in any area of our lives. I hope I’m not straining at a gnat here, but nothing about our Christian faith and lives should be called crazy and neither should that be encouraged. Trent’s biblical principles and tips, as long as they are based solidly on the Word of God without embellishment, don’t need to be stated in such dramatic terms in order to be impactful. God’s Word doesn’t need the help.

So, would I recommend 30 Ways a Wife Can Bless Her Husband to anyone? Yes. Yes, I would. It’s intended to be easy to read and apply in your life, and I think it’s successful at it. But I also would caution the reader to have her Bible in hand, to check out all of the Scripture references in context, to see if what Trent says is true.

30 Ways a Wife Can Bless Her Husband is part of a four-part series by Trent, and I look forward to reading the remaining three books and sharing my thoughts as I go along.

Let me know if you have any questions or thoughts, and I will respond as soon as I can.

I Need Taller Boots (or a Big Shovel)

This article is about properly processing profound preaching.

You saw what I just did there, right? The alliteration with the “pr” sound? It’s one of a number of techniques used in sermons to make the message seem more profound, more deep. Other techniques are to add corresponding background music, strategic pausing, rhythmic verbal pacing, and instructions to “turn to your neighbor and say…”, and even sprinkling in some impressive Greek and Hebrew.

Rhyming seems to have a similar effect. Here’s an example I heard recently: “You’re not a loser, you’re a chooser!” Well, since you put it that way, Amen! That’s certainly an easier way to stamp a message on the brain than something less succinct and memorable like, “In spite of your mistakes, shortcomings and even failures, you can still be an achiever in life because you can control the decisions you make for yourself that can impact your short- and long-term success.” Snore. Both statements are true and can inspire. But rhyming packs more punch, doesn’t it?

Rhyming, alliteration, tone and voice inflections, even background music to set the mood – all of these are powerful tools in effective communication. Generally, they draw added attention and emphasis to a presenter’s point. Sometimes I use alliteration and rhyming in my article titles and content for that same purpose. (Hmm, how can I add music to my blog posts?) Even if I didn’t, there’s still nothing wrong with it.

Except if the message itself is powerful enough without all the bells and whistles. Or worse, if it’s done with ulterior motives. If they’re done out of tradition, as we see in historically Black denominations, or just out of an individual preacher’s personal style, there’s no problem with that. But often such techniques are used in some Christian circles specifically in order to make a message appear more real and true, as though God’s Word actually needs help.

Some of these preachers use these techniques to illicit more head nods, Amens, hand-waving and other outward affirmations – get this – even if, or especially if, what’s being said is not quite biblically right. They are used for the specific purpose of tapping into the hearers’ emotions more than their intellect. Not always to the exclusion of the intellect, but to have the emotions more than the intellect be what makes the hearer decide how profound, how deep, how true the preacher’s message is. “How was church yesterday?” “Oh, pastor was on point!” “That’s great! What was his message about?” “I don’t really remember, but he had me dancing in the aisles!”

Please don’t misunderstand me. Let me say again that there’s nothing inherently wrong with using various techniques to heighten emotion, particularly when it’s warranted. If a preacher wants to shout at the top of his lungs that “Christ is risen!”, then – praise God! – I’ma shout it, too, if I want. Not because the Gospel needs our help to have real meaning, but because shouting can be a completely organic, Holy Spirit-generated response to an everlastingly awesome truth. He is risen, indeed! PRAISE JESUS!!

It’s just that shouting it – or rhyming it, or adding music to it – doesn’t make it true. And not shouting it, or not nodding to it, or not saying Amen on cue, doesn’t make it less true. It’s true because it’s true. And that makes it profound and deep without all the clever oratory and musical accompaniment.

What’s more, the degree to which a hearer is or is not outwardly demonstrative has absolutely nothing to do with how spiritual or unspiritual they really are. I know too many believers who show little emotion during a powerful sermon but who demonstrate the truths of God’s Word through the fruit they consistently bear in their daily walk with Christ. And I know too many other people who are quick to dance in the aisles at church as if they weren’t just dancing at the pole at the club the night before.

But I digress.

Sometimes people respond outwardly to a technique-filled sermon because they feel they have to. As I discuss in my article, The Emperor has no Clothes, nobody wants to appear like they don’t “get it.” That’s where the “taller boots” come in. “I must need taller boots,” a person might think, “because this sounds so deep, and everybody’s amen-ing and waving their hands, but I don’t understand a word of it.” Especially after the preacher has a habit of saying things like, “Come on, somebody!” or “Y’all ain’t hearing me!” or “You’re not ready for this!” or “I know this is going to sound crazy but…”

Sometimes taller boots are in order. Sometimes a sermon or message can honestly be over our heads. That’s okay, because it’s nothing that a follow-up email to the pastor requesting further explanation, or more personal reading and study, along with prayer for the Holy Spirit’s illumination, can’t fix. Many portions of the Bible are hard to understand. They are very profound, they are very deep. So, kudos to any preacher who can break it down, and to any hearer whose boots are already tall enough to grasp it or who desires taller boots. It’s worth the extra elbow grease.

But we all know, there are too many preachers who just simply fake the funk. They want so much to be affirmed. They work so desperately to lead a big church. They need so badly to be better than their peers (e.g., “Preachers of L.A.” and “Preachers of Detroit”). They desire so strongly to be invited to the table of the “Big Dogs” like T.D. Jakes or Creflo Dollar. So they rely heavily on clever techniques to prove they are spiritually profound, able to wax “elephants,” just as “anointed” as the competition (and isn’t that sad), and just as able to move people to dance in the aisles with their tithes in hand.

In my genuine passion, I’m using repetition myself right now to help me get my own point across. So, again, my problem is not that techniques are being used. My problem is that too often the motive behind the use of them is self-serving. I get no personal benefit with my use of technique here. Can we say the same for some of these preachers out there?

One of the worst self-serving techniques is changing the Word of God, twisting it just enough – or outright butchering it – to give people what they want to hear instead of what God has for them to hear. The goal is self-serving because it gets more people to go to your church, which equates ultimately to more money.

But greed isn’t the only motivation for these preachers. Pride causes them to try to come up with a new “revelation” (gimmick) so that they’ll seem hyper-anointed and untouchable in scholarly biblical knowledge. Or they’ll invent new doctrine by taking Holy Scripture out of context to fit what they’re doing in their personal lives.

Jamal Bryant, pastor of Empowerment Temple AME Church in Baltimore, did this shortly after his adultery was exposed. He preached a sermon entitled, “I’m Still the Man,” (on YouTube) based on when the prophet Nathan told King David, “You are the man!” (2 Samuel 12:7 NIV) after David’s adultery with Bathsheba and murder of her husband. Bryant took a moment of harsh rebuke against David from God’s Word and turned it around into our modern-day euphemism, “You the man!” Uh, Jamal, did you read the whole story (starting at verse 1)? Nathan was not paying David a compliment!

Tourè Roberts, pastor of One Church in Hollywood, justified divorcing his wife of almost 20 years by twisting the scripture that says, “What God has put together, let no man put asunder” into the point that it wasn’t God who put him and his first wife together, so he wasn’t disobeying. Shortly thereafter, he then married Sarah Jakes this past fall, borrowing from his new, mega-famous father-in-law TD Jakes’ bizarre interpretation from the creation story about how Tourè and Sarah were soul mates from before the foundation of the world. Sarah was his rib, while his first wife was just a place holder. (My husband’s internet radio show, “What Does the Bible Say?”, did a four-part series entitled “Tourè Roberts’ Soul Mates Message from Hell,” which you can listen to at http://www.latalkradio.com/Bible.php and scroll down to the October 26 – November 16, 2014 archived broadcasts.)

Creflo Dollar, pastor of World Changers International in Atlanta, is particularly notorious for waxing elephants with wildly unbiblical doctrine – so much so that my husband, who watches him and TD Jakes almost daily and records their programs regularly, has dubbed Dollar’s show, “Word Changers.” Over the years Dollar has preached that the tithe is the “covenant connector” between God and believers (oh yeah, and then there’s the Cross, too), that God has to bless us with material “stuff,” and most lately that believers’ sins don’t block God’s blessings since there’s no condemnation in Christ. He is such an engaging speaker, and he delivers his messages as if this crap is obviously true, how could you not “get it.” Dollar knows psychology (I think he has a degree in it) and if you’re not careful, he’ll make you think the problem is, not his false teaching, but you.

But I’m here to tell you, you don’t need taller boots, you need a big shovel to dig yourself out of that mess. The shovel is the Word of God, your Bible. As hard as much of it may be to understand, we Christians have to stop being afraid of it or lazy with it. The Bible is not as hard to read and grasp as we allow ourselves to think, and as some of these preachers want us to believe. Put more trust and confidence in the reading comprehension skills the Good Lord gave you, that we all started learning in Kindergarten, and that you use every waking moment in every other area of your life where reading is involved.

Forgive me if I’m being condescending, and I know that reading and writing don’t have to be everybody’s favorite things like they are mine. But I urge all of us to give ourselves more credit when it comes to understanding the Bible, comprehending its principles for practical Christian thinking and living even in the 21st Century, and becoming increasingly able to distinguish between biblical truth and false doctrine.

False doctrine is dangerous. It can provide immediate gratification but no preparation when fear, doubt or difficult times come. And they will come. It can give you a false sense of hope so that, when you learn the hard way that you’ve been knee-deep in profound crap, you might abandon the faith altogether because you haven’t been given any real direction on how to get out of it. It gives you a distorted view of Almighty God, so that you see Him more as your magic genie than as your merciful Lord. This can then lead you to being a bad witness to non-believers, only fueling their reasons for continuing to reject Jesus.

How is it that critics of the Gospel can see right through these manipulative preachers and so many of us can’t? Why do we keep our Bibles closed but put all our trust in this preachers? They’re only dangling carrots with their empty promises of prosperity, deliverance, “your best life now,” “purpose,” “destiny” and “becoming who you are in Christ.” And yet, time after time after time, the masses cling to their every word in spite of the fact that there’s no lasting joy or peace for the vast majority of them, even though they keep hoping beyond hope that this year will finally be their “season.”

Besides, how can I “become” what I already “am” in Christ? And how can I block my “destiny” when by definition I’m already destined for it? And what in the world does “walking in purpose” even mean? We have only one purpose as Christians: to glorify God on this earth. These trendy, New Millennium buzz words in the Christian church are nothing more than a smokescreen over an agenda to glorify our own dreams, our own empowerment, our own greatness – and, of course, the mighty men and women of God who so profoundly bestowed upon us such great revelations.

And that’s idolatry.

Or maybe it’s me who doesn’t “get it.” Maybe I’m the one who needs taller boots. Nope, not even for a moment should I think that. I’m no Bible snob, I have no formal training, I have no special insight into Scripture. I’ve just been reading the Bible throughout my Christian life, studying it for research and writing purposes, asking questions about things I don’t understand (still have to do that), measuring everything anybody else says by it (including my pastor husband at his insistence), and seeing the Lord confirm it over and over again. Every time I read it, I get something new out of it. Not new revelation, because all Scripture is already thoroughly profitable (2 Timothy 3:15-17); but new illumination, new insight, new growth. I just read it and practice it as best as I can. What’s so special or hard about that?

If we’re not careful, or if our own hearts are focused more on getting from God than on giving to Him, we’re more than just knee-deep in the crap of profound false doctrine. We’re in quicksand.

When you find yourself sinking fast in quicksand, you need a long and sturdy lifeline, and somebody strong and steady enough themselves to be able to help pull you out. I promise you, it’s not yet another “deep” but empty pep talk from some self-impressed preacher with a knack for working a crowd and giving them everything they want to hear but very little of what they really need. You’ll feel good and motivated for a minute, until life hits during the week and you’re back to square one, needing that emotional fix that’s waiting for your return, and your tithe, each and every Sunday.

Let the Holy Bible be your lifeline. Let God’s precious Word be your “fix.” You don’t need to wait for Sunday’s “deep” sermon to be nourished and encouraged during the week. Most of us have more than one Bible at our disposal 24/7, including tablet and smartphone apps. Just read it. Regularly. And consistently. You’ll soon see just how much of it you really can understand. Biblical principles, hundreds of fulfilled prophecies, awesome miracles, valuable life lessons, the resurrection of Jesus, the sweet story of the Gospel, and the anticipation of eternal life with God in heaven – all of the Bible is profound enough without preachers adding their superfluous dramatics and doctrinal twists.

The love of God, His majesty and power, His compassion and grace, His immeasurable wisdom, and His magnificent plan for the redemption of mankind through Jesus Christ are plainly and simply presented in the Bible. Any preacher who knowingly and willfully changes it should be avoided and exposed unless and until he repents.

Perhaps my next article will be about judging.

In the meantime, maybe you can start your reading habit with the following passages: Acts 17:11; Romans 16:17-18; Ephesians 4:11-16; 1 Timothy 6:2c-3:10; 2 Timothy 3:1-7; 3:15-17; 4:1-4. Then, read the Gospel of John or Luke, the Book of Acts, and/or the Book of Romans.

I welcome your comments, except if they’re purposely offensive and resort to calling me out of my name because I’ve made you mad but you have no better way to refute what I’m saying.

Thank you to my sister in the Lord, Denice Todd, for letting me borrow “I need taller boots” for the title of this article. I began writing this article before I became aware of Tourè Roberts’ (pastor of One Church in Hollywood) Resurrection Day sermon, which you can see and hear on YouTube.

#AllSoulsMatter: 7 Reasons Why My Faith, Not My Race, Comes First

My two young Black male sons, ages 23 and 20, have been called “nigger” too many times in their own neighborhood for me to be indifferent to the fact that racism is alive and well in America. I have before and will continue to “pull the race card” (as it’s called) whenever it’s truly warranted. I’ve picketed, boycotted, stormed the castle, and held up signs about “Equal Rights for All” just like my maternal grandmother did during the Civil Rights Movement before me.

I get righteously indignant at hasty judgments against the nuances of Black American Culture that I identify with and find downright endearing. See just one movie, any movie, with a mostly Black audience, and you’ll understand what I’m talking about. While the less hateful may still complain, “Why can’t they just act normal?”, I celebrate what makes us unique. We are normal. Normal for us. And what’s normal for us is far beyond, far deeper and far richer than what’s portrayed in the media. (Except the baggy pants thing. Besides being unattractive, showing your underwear in public has its roots among prison inmates for signaling an invitation to fornicate. I’m just saying.)

And while I respect that many well-meaning non-Blacks have their own perspective on 400 years of American slavery; Jim Crow laws; job, housing, education and economic discrimination; racial profiling; so-called “white privilege;” and why we Blacks can’t just let it go, I wish there was more equal respect for our perspective on these very same things. I wish they knew (without having to experience it) what it feels like to have to sit your boys down when they’re barely teenagers to tell them what to do if they’re ever confronted by a cop, or an angry group of skinheads, or a vengeful White ex-girlfriend.

None of these have happened to my boys, thankfully, except for skinheads shouting pure hate out of moving car windows in our neighborhood. But we had to have that talk with them nonetheless. Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown and Oscar Grant III are three young Black males – three too many – who have been shot and killed while unarmed. They did not deserve the death penalty, regardless of what some people have said to the contrary. To the extent that it’s in their control, I don’t want my law-abiding, educated, smart (please stop calling us “articulate” or “well-spoken”) and well-mannered sons to ever be mistaken as “just another angry Black thug” by someone with preconceived notions and a gun.

But, as I say all of that, I am a Christian. And I am a Christian before I am Black.

Yes, obviously, I was literally Black first because I was born that way, and 22 years passed before I became a Christian. Plus, it’s kind of hard to say I’m a Christian before I’m Black in light of my maternal grandfather, the patriarch of my extended family, who has fought racial discrimination all his life. He is approaching his 100th birthday soon and still had on his own “I am Trayvon Martin” hoodie at protester rallies. At his age, it’s quite extraordinary that he has actually lived to see the first Black President of the United States through not one but two terms in office. (Don’t tell my grandfather I didn’t “vote Black” either time.)

In spite of all that, my faith in Jesus Christ comes first. As important as it is to me personally to stand for my earthly heritage and culture – and it is very important because #BlackLivesMatter and #AllLivesMatter in this life – it is much more important to me to stand for my Lord and Savior because #AllSoulsMatter for the afterlife to come. Including (if not especially) my proud, healthy, mentally sharp, Black grandfather who is also a 100-year-old agnostic/atheist. Sigh.

Here are seven reasons why my faith, not my race, comes first in relation to what’s most important between the two.

Faith Before Race Reason #1: What Defines Me
I am defined more by my faith than my race. People may see the Black in me before they see the Christ in me, but I hope what they walk away with after that is indeed the Christ in me more than anything else. Being Black is certainly part of what defines me in this life. But being a Christian defines me in this life and in the life to come, a life that’s going to last eternally longer.

Sure, I’m a child of a Black mother and a White father, and a Jewish step-father, and I’m proud of my mostly Black-slash-multi-cultural heritage. But nothing, absolutely nothing, makes me more proud and grateful than being a child of the Most High God.

It may be semantics, but Black is part of what I am, while Christian is all who I am. To me, it comes down to a matter of skin versus soul, because I am much more than my skin and my culture. So, the degree to which you see me or don’t see me participating in social justice activities like public protests, marches, picket lines, sit-ins, die-ins, boycotts or Trayvon Martin hoodies has nothing to do with my Blackness (how “down” I am) and everything to do with my faith (how Christ-like I am trying to be).

Faith Before Race Reason #2: What Saves Me
Race doesn’t get me into or keep me out of Heaven. Neither does social justice or injustice and the degree to which I do or don’t take corresponding action. What gets me into Heaven and keeps me there forever is the grace of God through His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, in whom I profess my faith.

I believe by faith that Jesus is God manifested in the flesh, who lived a perfect life and ministry, shed His blood on the Cross for my sins, three days later raised Himself from the dead while He was dead, later ascended into Heaven to the right hand of God the Father, and is coming again to gather up His people and establish His eternal kingdom. That’s why, by the grace of God, I’m going to live forever in Heaven.

Comparatively, any stance I take as the mother of young Black males against the seemingly race-charged bloodshed of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, Ezell Ford and Oscar Grant will not merit me entry into eternal life with God. Indeed, and with all due respect, even Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, President Obama, attorney Crump, Iyanla or the NAACP are no more able to save me from my sins than Sarah Palin, any news anchor on Fox, or the Klu Klux Klan are able to condemn me to hell. I’m not accusing Palin or anybody on Fox as being racists. I’m just trying to make the strong point that only Jesus saves (and condemns), and just like He doesn’t care that I’m Black, I don’t care that He’s not.

Faith Before Race Reason #3: What God Commands
The Lord’s commandments and instructions to us say nothing about what we are to do with respect to individual racial heritage or culture. We are not instructed one way or the other to stand up for our rights as Black people (or White people, or any color of people).

Now, plenty of commandments do relate in varying ways to social justice. But these are more often in the sense of keeping your own self in check: you be kind, you be fair, you judge righteously, you put the needs of others before your own, you consider yourself lest you also be tempted, you don’t forsake the assembling together, you confess, you forgive, you put away with all malice all envy, strife, evil speaking, etc.

On top of that, the commandments to love our neighbor as ourselves (Matthew 22:39) and to do unto others as we would want them to do unto us (Matthew 7:12) can be applied to modern issues of race – not to focus on race but rather to motivate us to not focus on it. These instructions presuppose that such things as race should be at most a secondary concern in the attitude and life of a Christian. How can I love you or treat you like I want to be loved or treated if either one of us is distracted by what makes us different from each other?

Instead, I should focus on my faith, which teaches me to love people regardless of race and allows me to be free to take a stand against racial and social injustice in a way that glorifies Christ without fear of disappointing (i.e., being called an Uncle Tom by) other Black folks.

Faith Before Race Reason #4: What Really Solves Problems
The fight for racial equality and social justice won’t solve society’s biggest woes. Speaking as a Black person and the mother of young Black males, yes, let’s keep bringing attention to the undeniable fact that racism brews in this country, let’s better train our kids and our cops on what to do in law enforcement situations, let’s improve our laws, let’s bring greater accountability, let’s promote positivity in our communities. Fighting for these worthwhile things can bring practical change for the better.

But speaking as a Christian, fighting for racial equality and social justice in and of itself won’t improve marriages, it won’t deliver your child from drugs and alcohol, it won’t heal you from cancer, and it won’t stop racists from being racist, bad cops from being bad, and law breakers from breaking the law.

Most of all, it won’t bring Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Ezell Ford or Oscar Grant back to life. Will it help to prevent more undeserved killings? Certainly, and it’s a real hope that I share as a Black person, a mother and a Christian. I can’t imagine any of my kids dying that way. Protest rallies and marches for that cause right there, are worth it.

But my faith reminds me, there’s something far more urgent to stand against than another tragic death due to race, and that is another tragic soul dying without Christ. Souls destined to hell, is the greatest problem in the world, and my faith, not my race, reminds me that only belief in the Gospel of Jesus Christ can solve it. My faith, not my race, compels me to share the hope of eternal life in heaven for whosoever will believe, regardless of race, color, creed, culture or heritage, because death does not discriminate and neither does the Savior.

Plus, Jesus Christ can, in the meantime, help solve marriage problems, deliver your kid from addiction, heal cancer, and cause racists, bad cops and law breakers to repent.

Faith Before Race Reason #5: What Really Unifies Us
In my opinion, racial pride and the rallying cry for social justice may seem to bring unity, but they really only bring together people who are already on the same page, even if they’re of different races. Not that that’s a bad thing, of course. It’s great! But we have to remember that equality and justice are not the same things as unity and harmony.

In my opinion, standing up for your race especially in this country with its history of slavery, is a tricky balance. Its inherent attention on racial and cultural differences only perpetuates the focus on what makes us all different. For instance, a natural phenomenon already exists whereby people of the same race tend to congregate together. Even in Christendom, that’s in large part why we have “Black” churches and “White” churches and “Hispanic” churches and “Korean” churches, etc. along with “mixed” or “multi-cultural” churches. It’s not necessarily racism, but just a tendency to gather based on perceived ability to relate better, comfort level with cultural differences, and personal preferences about styles of music, worship or preaching.

Perhaps it shouldn’t be that way, but it is that way, and it’s real, and it’s exasperated by the media and by people – Black and White – who perpetuate our separation by refusing to allow for other people’s perspectives on race in America.

Christianity, on the other hand, transcends skin color, cultural differences and personal preferences. It transcends nationalities, socio-economic status and political bent. As a Black person who is also now a Christian, my faith in Jesus means I have something in common with Uncle Si from “Duck Dynasty” – the blood of Christ – that has more eternal weight and meaning than the blood with DNA I have in common with my brothers and sisters according to the flesh.

The love of Christ is far more unifying than a multi-cultural movement about #BlackLivesMatter. Believers should focus more on the fact that #AllSoulsMatter because all the “whosoevers” who believe in Jesus, regardless of their race or culture, are part of the same spiritual family where real unity and harmony, not just equality and justice, will thrive.

Faith Before Race Reason #6: What Gets Glorified
Racial pride and social justice can cause Christians to glorify man – what makes Blacks special, what makes Whites special, what makes any race or culture special or worthy of attention, honor, defense or sacrifice. In fact, as much as I deeply hurt for the deaths of Michael Brown, Eric Garner and the rest, I equally cringe every time I see them almost deified when they were just ordinary human beings like you and me, not looking to die for anyone.

I just want to be careful in how I balance my loyalties. Loyalty to the Black community and loyalty to Christ are not necessarily mutually exclusive. However, my Lord and Savior deserves more, especially where there might be conflict. Man should never be glorified more than he deserves, and certainly not at the expense of giving Jesus the best of our attention, honor, defense and sacrifice.

Frankly, I don’t want my support of my race to turn into idolatry. There are things I’ll support because I’m Black, but not if it contradicts or distracts me from God’s Word. Black lives matter to me, but all lives also matter to me because they matter to God whom I serve and to whom I owe everything. He is worth infinitely more to me than the color of my skin, the brutal slavery of my ancestors, and the continued discrimination and unfair targeting of my brothers and sisters in the flesh. #BlackLivesMatter and #AllLivesMatter. But #AllSoulsMatter more.

That’s why, as a Black person, I want to pick and choose my battles wisely in how I protest racism and injustice. But as a follower of Christ, I have no choice but to be in battle daily for my faith, ready to defend it “in season and out of season” because it is being attacked more and more, every day, from all sides. Indeed, not everyone needs racial sensitivity training. But everyone needs Jesus. Including Black folks.

Christians need to glorify Christ more than the color of our skin. Why? Because while our bold witness for the Gospel can help turn a non-Christian into a Christian, our bold witness for the Black experience in America can never turn a non-Black person into a Black person. Sure, we want non-Blacks to understand and respect our history of struggle which continues to rage, but the satisfaction of knowing if they ever do come to understand pales in comparison to knowing you had something to do with leading a lost soul to a saving faith in Jesus Christ.

Besides, I wonder how much the devil himself is using these social injustices to get well-meaning Christians focused on earthly more than spiritual concerns.

Faith Before Race Reason #7: What to Expect
Racial equality and social justice are a worthwhile fight, but it can only go so far. Jesus said His Word shall never pass away but that heaven and earth shall pass away (Matthew 24:35; Mark 13:31; Luke 21:33). Racism will indeed one day pass away. But it won’t be because of the people’s protests, picket signs, die-ins and boycotts. It will be because Jesus makes all things new, in His way and in His timing, as He wills.

That is why, at least for me, my expectation is in Christ, not in my skin color and not in the people who are fighting for it, including me. If I suffer as a Black person (and yes, I have), I may never get the satisfaction of retribution. But if I suffer as a Christian, as Paul says at Romans 8:18, I consider that our present afflictions are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. The suffering of my Black race offers no such eternal promise. #BlackLives Matter and #AllLives Matter for this life only, while #AllSoulsMatter for eternal life to come.

I want to close with a story from my college days at UCLA. One day I went into the office of the special interest newspaper for Black students, “Nommo” (Swahili for “the word,” interestingly enough). I met a young Black male there, Todd, and I told him I wanted to offer my services as a writer.

Todd’s immediate response was – and I quote – “Man, you’re so proper, just like a White girl!”

“Well, gosh golly!” I replied.

You can’t win for losing in this game we call race in America! Oh, the trials and tribulations of a light-skinned, half-White girl with good diction and “good” hair to match!

Of course, Todd and I became best buds right after that laugh. I chose not to be offended, and he appreciated my sense of humor in spite of his own poor attempt at it.

Bottomline, we all need Jesus! And Christians need to be loyal to Him first before anything and everything else.

Leave a comment and I will endeavor to respond as soon as I can.


Some people have just way too much power. Oprah Winfrey is one of them. When Oprah speaks, people listen. The problem is who is listening.

I’m talking about Christians here. Who is listening is who is giving her the power; and the more who listen, the more power she’s given and the more liberty she takes. In fact, Beliefnet.com (an ecumenical website) did an informal survey that found that, out of its 6,600 respondents, a whopping 33% said Oprah Winfrey had “a more profound impact” on their spiritual lives than their pastors and priests. From a biblical perspective, that’s unacceptable.

It doesn’t matter that Oprah said “I am a Christian” or that the Black Christian News Network (BCNN) has defended her claim. The “faith” Oprah professes to believe in is not the faith of Jesus Christ as set forth in God’s Word, the Bible. Hers is a New Age “gospel” that has wormed its way into homes via the television and gained control first over gullible women (see 2 Timothy 3:6-7) and now everyone who doesn’t know their Bible.

It’s one thing to be successful, rich and influential in the secular world. But when that power draws in Christians, now I’m upset. Oprah has infiltrated the Christian Church, and we continue to let her do it.

You see, after decades of first winning over housewives and then building a formidable, billion-dollar, multifaceted media empire, in recent years Oprah has expanded into a real spiritual leader who has been able to make the likes of T.D. Jakes and Joel Osteen — mega-stars with mega Christian followings — actually tip-toe around the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And the more they tip-toe, the more she gives them a platform.

At the same time they’re tip-toeing, and while Oprah’s influence over Christians grows every day, you have the likes of the Preachers of L.A. and their baffoonery undermining the Gospel in a different way. That’s a topic for another whole blog article, but it’s enough to say for now that there is a war raging against biblical Christianity on several different but simultaneous fronts, made possible in huge part by gullible Christians in love with Oprah.

How can I be so sure that’s what’s happening? Well, I’m not the only one who sees it. Read this 2011 Huffington Post article, “How Oprah Became America’s Pastor.”  Yes, you read that right: Oprah has been called “America’s pastor”! This article explains when and how Opray Winfrey has arrived to the point of being considered a spiritual leader and not just a media mogul.

I won’t duplicate what you can read for yourself in that article, but I will say that stumbling upon it in the course of my research only served to confirm what is already easy to observe about Oprah’s infiltration into the Christian Church.

Think about it. The only possible reason why Oprah would give T.D. Jakes, Joel Osteen or any other professing Christian a platform in the first place is because of their watered-down “gospel.” When the true Gospel is preached, it brings conviction for sin, with either of two results: angry rejection or a soul like the 3,000 who, after being cut to the heart by Peter’s sermon on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:14-39), said, Brothers, what shall we do? and then became born-again. If Oprah’s buddies Jakes and Osteen were preaching the true Gospel of salvation from hell, Oprah would either stop giving them a platform (like she did to that young lady on her show years prior who was professing Jesus as the only way), or start using more of her platform to spread the Good News herself. If the true Gospel were being preached to Oprah Winfrey, then she would either reject them or reject her New Age beliefs. At least by now.

Instead, she has done neither and in fact has in effect morphed the two messages together. Oprah readily aligns herself with Jakes and Osteen because, apparently, she is comfortable with their message. And sadly, so must they be with hers. I can’t help but believe they must think they can win her over to Christ. But what’s happened instead is that their compromising has weakened their message into something that’s no longer a match against her power and influence. A message that’s about God’s love to save one’s life more than one’s soul. A message that is so contrary to Holy Scripture yet so compatible with Oprah’s own pre-conceived spiritual worldview. In other words, their messages overlap enough to make for a mutually comfortable partnership. And I believe they overlapped long before Oprah’s “Life Class,” “Next Chapter” or “Super Soul Sunday” were ever first conceived.

All Oprah had to do in 2012 was say, “I am a Christian.” Apparently, that was enough for Jakes and Osteen to partner with her, for BCNN to defend her, and for Christians to blindly empower her. Because when she speaks, people listen, no questions asked. It’s Oprah, after all.

I told you I was upset. Aren’t you? There is so much evidence even on Oprah’s own platforms that what she defines as “a Christian” is worlds apart from — not what Jakes and Osteen present, but what the Bible clearly says. Her so-called “christianity” is really a New Age distortion that says God is an impersonal “force” that (not Who) is “in” all things, and our goal as spiritual beings is to tap into the “god” in each of us.

Furthermore, even more than she endorses Jakes and Osteen, Oprah endorses New Age authors such as Deepak Chopra, Eckert Tolle, Marianne Williamson and The Secret‘s Rhonda Byrne. They all teach heretical and occultic principles that put people at the center of their own universe where there is no sin, no doctrine, no heaven or hell, Jesus didn’t come to die on the cross, man made God in his image and not the other way around, and you yourself have divine power to create your own reality here on earth. What Osteen might call “Your Best Life Now” as evidenced by what Jakes would call your own “Instinct.”

This cannot be over-stated. If Oprah were truly a born-again, blood-bought, new creature in Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit would not allow her to be comfortable partnering with Deepak Chopra for their “21 Days of Meditation” program. Chopra is globally famous as a New Age guru who, at best, preaches a different “Jesus” (2 Corinthians 11:3-4; Galatians 1:8-9; 1 Timothy 6:3-4). At worst, his teachings are occultic because they encourage practices such as the Law of Attraction, which is popular in witchcraft.

To be fair, maybe as a babe in Christ (if she truly is in Christ at all), Oprah just doesn’t know better yet. Perhaps she’s excused, then. But then what’s Jakes’ and Osteen’s excuse? They are supposedly Bible experts, right? Have they not read those same three passages — 2 Corinthians 11:3-4; Galatians 1:8-9; 1 Timothy 6:3-4 — along with 2 Corinthians 6:14; Ephesians 5:11; and 2 John 1:10-11, just to name a few warnings they could have shared with Oprah? At least by now?

I literally gasped out loud recently when, while scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed, I came upon the post of a precious sister in The Lord about how she was enjoying following Oprah’s and Chopra’s “21 Days of Meditation” program. My friend qualified her participation by saying in effect that she was using Jesus Christ as her focus for the daily meditation exercises.

Unfortunately, that does not make it okay. That’s like putting a square peg in a round hole. If you force it, something has to give or break, and somebody’s going to get hurt. Christianity and the occult are polar opposites, and so much so that you can’t morph the two together in hopes that everybody will just get along.

So, I immediately prayed about how to handle my friend’s post (see Why I’m Reluctant) and felt compelled not to just let it be. Of course, I had a choice to either make a public comment or send her a private message. I chose to comment publicly for the sake of her many Facebook friends and followers who might accept it because she accepts it. I kept it simple and just said that her post almost brought me to tears (it really did), and then I put “Ephesians 5:11.” I didn’t quote the verse but just gave its address.

Within minutes, my comment had been deleted. That’s okay because, if nothing else, at least my precious sister saw it and hopefully already knew or looked up Ephesians 5:11, which says: Have nothing to do with the fruitless works of darkness, but rather expose them. And maybe she didn’t bother looking it up, in which case I’m still at peace because all I can do is present it. It’s up to you what you do or don’t do with it.

Maybe she just doesn’t know better either. People can genuinely just not know.

And that’s why I’m writing this article.

If you don’t know that, biblically speaking, it is wrong for Christians to affirm Oprah Winfrey as a spiritual leader even if Jakes and Osteen mistakenly have; and if you don’t know that Oprah adheres to New Age beliefs; and if you don’t know that New Age doctrine is anti-biblical and heretical; and if you don’t know that Jakes and Osteen have a compromised, watered-down, let’s-not-ruffle-Oprah’s-feathers kind of message that condones rather than exposes her and Chopra’s false teachings, consider yourself now informed.

To really help you see the danger of following Oprah Winfrey as a spiritual leader or why it’s wrong for Jakes, Osteen, you or me to compromise our faith for the sake of showing social tolerance, if you’re really serious, please look at the below Scriptures and consider them in their proper contexts on your own. It’s up to you now what you will do with God’s Word about Oprah Winfrey. Choose this day whom you will serve: those who follow and empower Oprah, or those who follow and serve the one true and living God, Jesus Christ?

John 14:6 — Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

2 Corinthians 6:14-15 — Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?

2 Corinthians 11:3-4 — But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the Spirit you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough.

Galatians 1:6-9 — I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel — which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse!

Ephesians 5:8-12 — For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret.

2 Peter 2:1-3 — But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with fabricated stories. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.

2 John 1:7-11 — I say this because many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist. Watch out that you do not lose what we have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully. Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take them into your house or welcome them. Anyone who welcomes them shares in their wicked work.

Please leave a comment and I will endeavor to reply as soon as possible.

Say What?! Serious Errors of the “Decree & Declare” Doctrine – Part 2

I love watching Cirque du Soleil. The physical agility of these performers – no, athletes – is incredible. The way they spin and twirl and twist and contort, barely breaking a sweat, sometimes I shake my head in disbelief. No, they did not just do that! How in the world?!

I feel the same way about preachers of “decreeing and declaring.” Except for the love part. Of course, I love them, but I hate what they do. Hate it. The way they spin and twirl and twist and contort God’s Holy Word to make it say what they want it to say, barely sweating it as they do, it makes me shake my head, it’s so unbelievable. No, they did not just do that! How in the world?!

In this Part 2 of looking at serious errors of the “Decree & Declare” doctrine (see Part 1: “Abracadabra“), I examine seven major Scriptures preachers and practitioners take out of context to try to support it. As I do, please keep the following in mind:

Context is so important. It is a crucial tool for accurately interpreting and understanding anything we hear or read, not just the Bible. It’s something we learn starting with reading comprehension classes in elementary school, because it helps give the who, what, when, where, why and how of what we hear or read.

Anyone who doesn’t consider context is at a serious disadvantage. Anyone who knowingly ignores context, or thinks it only matters sometimes, or refuses to be corrected by it, is without excuse.

For context in the Bible, every verse should be read and understood in light of the verses before it and after it. Also, any one part of the Scriptures should be read and understood in light of all the rest of the Scriptures.

With proper context in mind, then, we will see how just a cursory examination of seven major Bible verses (in chronological order here) will reveal how much “decreers and declarers” put their own spin and twist on it to make God say what He really hasn’t said. Say what?!

1. Job 22:28a – You will also decree a thing, and it will be established for you.

This statement was made by Eliphaz (verse 1), who was suggesting that Job was suffering because he had turned away from God (verses 1-22), and if he would just return to Him, Job’s life would change (verses 23-30) – with successful “decreeing” being one of the benefits (verse 28).

The problem here is that Eliphaz was actually being presumptuous! Job was in fact blameless, as clearly stated in Chapter 1 by God Himself (verses 1 and 8). Furthermore, later in the Book of Job God rebukes Eliphaz, telling him (Job 42:7-9), My wrath is kindled against you…because you have not spoken of Me what is right as My servant Job has…”

Even if we pretend that Eliphaz’s specific statement about “decreeing” in and of itself is not wrong, his credibility is now suspect. Why would Christians latch on to any statement made by someone God rebuked so severely?

2. Proverbs 6:2 – You are snared by the words of your mouth; you are taken by the words of your mouth.

I remember a member of Crenshaw Christian Center once told me he wouldn’t pray for a foot condition I had because, as long as I was “confessing” that I had it, it would keep “manifesting.” He then pulled out his notes from church and quoted Proverbs 6:2. When I asked him for the context, he basically said, “Well, how much context can there be since this is only the second verse?”

Come on, Christians! Use the fundamentals of reading comprehension you learned all through school! I’m sorry, but really?!

Forget the fact even his “apostle” has rightly taught that the original manuscripts of the Bible were not written with chapter and verse divisions. Verses 1 through 5 make it very plain the context of Proverbs 6:2 is a warning about the problems associated with making indiscriminate pledges (promises or oaths) that can put us in difficult situations.

The lesson is not about the power of our literal words but about the potential outcome of our contractual agreements. In this case, words of agreement are just like shaking hands on it (verse 1). It is a sign of sealing the deal, nothing more. In that sense only is how our words can snare us.

3. Proverbs 18:21 – The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.

Like many sections of Proverbs, this verse is part of a list of wise sayings that don’t directly relate to each other. The context tells us when a verse stands alone and when it goes with the surrounding verses (such as Proverbs 6:2 discussed above). Even if a verse such as Proverbs 18:21 stands alone, we can and should still consider it in the context of the rest of Scripture.

Those who take Proverbs 18:21 in the literal sense – “speak life into your circumstances, not death!” – are reading into it what they already want to believe, instead of taking out of it what God intended. And what God intended is just the common sense wisdom that the attitude, intentions and tone of the things we say with our mouths can have good or bad outcomes; and if you love to talk but aren’t careful about who hears (including God, who hears everything), there will be consequences.

Nothing about Proverbs 18:21 tells us to take the verse literally instead of figuratively, and the rest of the full counsel of God’s Word (i.e., context) helps us to see we don’t have to.

4. Mark 11:23b – …he shall have whatever he says.

I’m only providing the part of the verse quoted the most by lay Christians and some preachers who affirm “decreeing and declaring.” For example, once I sneezed and said I was catching a cold and my brother (see “Jesus Died for This?“) told me, “See, you said it, now you’re going to catch one!” That’s preposterous.

But to be fair, they base it on the whole verse, which says, For verily I say unto you, that whosoever shall say unto this mountain, ‘Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea;’ and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he says shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he says. In other words, proponents conclude, “You have what you say!”

It’s easy to see why they interpret the verse this way. Jesus, our Master and Teacher, is talking here, teaching His closest disciples, and He is clearly saying we can move mountains and have anything we ask for if we believe.

But in light of the broader context of this verse, as well as the fuller context of all the Scriptures, having whatever we believe and speak is not the lesson Jesus wants His followers, including us, to walk away with. The lesson is about faith (verse 24) and, more specifically, to have faith in God (verse 22). It’s about trusting our Heavenly Father to the point that even mountains could be moved.

Mark 11:23 is not about having faith in our faith, faith in our uttered words, or faith in some formula that’s supposed to somehow guarantee the desired outcome as long as we work it right.

Proponents counter that verse 22 should really be translated or interpreted to read, not “Have faith in God” but “Have the faith of God.” From there, they then spin it into “Have faith like God.” And then from there they take this giant leap and twist it into, “Have the God-kind of faith.” How in the world?!

Here again, they contort God’s precious and perfect Word into the impossible. They miss the fact that having the faith “of God” is easily interpreted to mean having the faith which comes from God, that is imparted to us by God. This interpretation agrees with such passages as Romans 12:3-8 about how even our faith is given to us by the grace and purpose of Almighty God to do His will and not our own.

Besides, there is no such thing as the “God-kind of faith” because God by His very nature does not operate by faith. If God has faith, it is only in the sense that He has it to give to us. Here’s why: Faith in the Greek (the original language of the New Testament) is a firmly relying confidence, a conviction based on hearing and not on sight or knowledge.

So, if God exercises His own faith, whom did He hear it from? Whoever it is would have to be greater than He, because that person would obviously have to know more than Him. Which in turn would mean the God of the Bible would not be the Supreme God. (But He is.) Furthermore, what is it that God doesn’t see or know, since He’s omniscient (all-knowing), omnipotent (all-powerful) and omnipresent (present everywhere)?

5. Romans 4:17 – …calls those things which be not as though they were.

I didn’t quote the whole verse again because proponents of “decreeing and declaring” don’t; and those who do still take it out of context or collapse context with other Scriptures that are equally out of context. That is, they stick different verses together to try to show how they support each other, but to do so they have to take each separate verse or passage out of its own proper context. It’s like putting square pegs into round holes.

The broader context of Romans 4:17 is about how Abraham was a great example of faith in God. The immediate sub-context is how powerful the God he had faith in is, that He has the awesome power (ability) and authority to call those things which do not exist as though they did; that is, to cause things to come into existence. Such as giving life to the dead, as the full verse says.

Nowhere in this verse or in the context of this verse does it say, imply or instruct that man has that same power or authority. It is God who can create something from nothing, not man, not even faith-filled Christians. This verse even by itself can’t be any clearer on that fact.

Proponents counter that, yes, Romans 4:17 clearly says it’s God who calls things into existence, no argument there. But then they’ll add that we can indeed do it, too. This is where collapsing context comes in.

They’ll go to Genesis 1:26 (if they know where to look) and other Old and New Testament Scriptures to point out that we are made in God’s image and that we are to be like Christ. They’ll also use John 14:12, Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. But they don’t have any way to support the grand leap of logic it takes to go from A) being made in His image (He’s a Person, we are persons) and B) we will do greater works than Jesus did all the way to Z) we can bring things into existence.

I stand by the perpetuity of spiritual gifts; my position is that God still uses the faithful to heal the sick and even raise the dead if He chooses to. But it is as He wills, not as we will (e.g., 1 John 5:14). Being conformed to the image of Christ is not about being little gods (sorry, Creflo Dollar and Kenneth Copeland) but being holy, humble, loving, truthful, wise, merciful, gracious, kind, spiritually fruitful, ready to do good works, not magic tricks. Yeah, decree and declare those things!

In fact, if we can really call those things that be not as though they were just like Jesus could, and since Jesus raised people from the dead, why isn’t there more decreeing and declaring to raise people from the dead today, such as precious children who die of cancer, neglect or abuse?

6. 2 Corinthians 4:13 – And since we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, ‘I believed and therefore I spoke,’ we also believe and therefore speak.

The context here is the Apostle Paul referring to how he and his brethren were able to not lose heart through all their trials for the sake of the truth of the Gospel. Paul was not “decreeing and declaring” but simply and beautifully affirming how they were able to stay strong and encouraged, reciting a portion of Psalm 116:10 as a focal point to keep themselves on track with what was already established about the Kingdom of God.

Paul was just agreeing with what God had already ordained when He called them to the hard work of evangelism.

Besides, if 2 Corinthians 4:13 were about “decreeing and declaring,” then the whole chapter would be one huge negative confession! The “decreer and declarer” would have to conclude it’s why Paul and his co-laborers suffered as much as they did! But, of course, just a simple, objective (versus pre-conceived) reading of it reveals how encouraging and strengthening Paul’s words are, even for us today.

7. James 3:10 – Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing.

This verse is making an observation, not giving an instruction for us to follow. It’s part of a larger lesson about the dual nature of man’s tongue – not that it has any creative power to “speak life” or “speak death” into our circumstances but that it tends to praise and offend, help and hurt, encourage and discourage, tell the truth and deceive, love and hate.

The context of James 3:10 is the lesson that we as Christians should (by God’s strength) tame what is so hard to tame. The purpose is not so that we will learn how to directly, literally “create” change in our circumstances. Rather, it is so that, just as much with our tongues as with every other vehicle for our attitudes and behavior, we will act like God’s obedient children and not like hypocrites. For example, we are to bless instead of curse; praise instead of ridicule; speak kindly instead of disrespectfully; know when to speak and when to shut up; and think before we speak so no one can call us a fool.

The real purpose for “Decreeing and Declaring”

Virtually every time I see someone decreeing and declaring, it’s for something they want or need for themselves in this life, or it’s a preacher “decreeing and declaring” over the lives of their fans – which makes that preacher even more popular and wealthy.

You can’t fill the pews with unpopular preaching, even if it’s biblical. Indeed, you’ll empty the pews by preaching about sin, hell, accountability, humility, repentance, suffering for Christ, bearing crosses, storing up treasures in heaven, looking out for the needs of others first, etc.

Should we pray for things in this life? Of course. God tells us to (e.g., Philippians 4:6). Should we expect our negative circumstances to change if we believe and ask God? Absolutely. Believe you receive, Jesus said. But we have to do so rightly, in accordance with His Word taken in proper context, in accordance with His will before our own, and for His glory only. Any purpose other than that, achieved by putting our own spin on God’s Word or twisting and contorting it to fit our own greed, is really self-centered idolatry.

“Decree & Declare” is a false doctrine

I hope this Part Two, and Part One, have helped you get a biblical understanding of why professing Christians should not practice “decreeing and declaring.” Please leave a comment and I will endeavor to respond at my earliest opportunity.