Prayer is an amazing act. It is literally a conversation with God where we can pour our hearts out to him, thank him, intercede for others, and listen to what God is saying to us through the impressions the Holy Spirit places on our hearts and minds.
A.W. Tozer said, “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” So who is God and what is he really like? As we will see in this chapter, our answers to these questions will shape the way we live.
When I opened my email one recent Friday morning, I saw a notification regarding two new clients who would be checking into our program soon. One was getting out of prison after an eight-year term for two counts of rape. The other was coming to us after a twenty-year prison term for three counts of GSP (gross sexual imposition) and six counts of rape. Underneath their profile information was our Prison Outreach Chaplain’s signature line with the words, “Jesus, he breaks my chains!”
While the reminder of God’s power expressed in the gospel sent chills down my back, I can’t deny the internal war of feelings I had regarding these men: Why should we help these guys? They disgust me. They’re always going to be a threat to society. Nine counts of rape between the two of them! Why are they letting these men out?
But then that final line rang again in my ears, “Jesus, he breaks my chains!”
Sadly, leaving a church is often a decision based on trivial disagreements, small offenses, or self-centered logic. With that said, there are still really good reasons why you might need to leave a church.
For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?-1 Corinthians 4:7
Why are there so many problems in this world? Every religion, scientist, philosopher, and politician has tried to answer this question and offer solutions. While there are massive disagreements about what is the real problem on this planet, there is little disagreement that there is a big problem. We all know things are not the way they are supposed to be, both in the whole universe and in our own lives.
I met Michael while working at a Christian drug rehab center in Cleveland, Ohio. He was a coworker of mine, and he has one of those testimonies you’ll never forget. But there was one part of it that has especially stuck with me.
Every part of the body is crucial for survival, but if you had to rank the importance of each organ, it seems the brain and the heart would be at the top. When we discuss our spiritual make up, the mind and heart seem to top the list of importance as well.
But what does the Bible say about the heart and mind? What’s the difference between the two? And what is the relationship between the mind and heart?
When we look at other people’s lives, it’s usually pretty easy to see root of their problems. Your friend can’t commit even though she keeps meeting potentially great partners, and she just can’t figure out why. You know her dad left her when she was young, so it seems obvious to you that her commitment issue is probably a defense mechanism to protect herself from not getting abandoned again. Why can’t she see this?
What does the Bible say about false prophets and teachers? Jesus said in Matthew 7:15-16, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits.”
Whenever Jesus tells us to “beware,” he means this in the most literal sense. As Christians we must be on guard, for wolves dress in sheep clothing, trying to masquerade as innocent pastors but in reality are dangerous false prophets and teachers. Wolves are cunning, they prey on sheep rather than on other wolves, and therefore Christians must know how to detect a dangerous leader, for they will not be obvious, especially if you are an accepting person.
1 John 4:1-3 tells us that anyone who does not confess Jesus Christ has come in the flesh from God is a false prophet. This sign of a false prophet is the most obvious. But again, as Jesus warned us, false prophets are crafty and they won’t always reveal themselves this easily. This is why 1 John 4:1 tells us, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.”
So here are 16 signs of a false prophet and teacher.