Devotionals, Faith, Life, Ministry, writings

Three Types of Spiritual Weeds

There are two kingdoms in this life:

The kingdom of light and the kingdom of darkness; the Kingdom of Heaven, and that of our enemy, the devil Satan. And at the end of the day, the end of your life, the end of the age, you either belong to one or the other.

But, what seems like a clear either/or proposition is not that simple. You see, in the Parable of the Weeds, or, as I am going to keep calling it, the “TAREable Parable” (copyright pending), Jesus says there is the wheat but growing alongside are weeds. The wheat represents sons and daughters of the Kingdom of God, and the weeds are people who actually belong to the kingdom of the evil one.

By studying the parable a little deeper, you discover that the weeds are a type of plant called darnel that mimic wheat. Looks just like wheat and their roots are easily entangled. In fact, it’s not until it gets close to harvest and each plant is producing its fruit, that you can tell the difference.

You see, darnel is dangerous. It doesn’t just look like wheat, but it is prone to a fungal infestation that can lead to some nasty side effects if consumed. If wheat and infested darnel are milled together and the resulting flour consumed as bread, the darnel can lead to a serious complication resulting in what appears to be intoxication only it can lead very quickly to death.

To recap: Darnel looks like the real thing but it is a counterfeit. Not only counterfeit but dangerous. Wheat=good, darnel =bad.

Fake believers, counterfeit Christians, don’t only appear to be something they aren’t but they can be dangerous. Thankfully, our Lord promises at some point to rid the world of the crop of weeds and thus ensure safety. But in the meantime, the darnel is still causing harm. And it is heart-wrenching to experience as well as observe.

Fake believers, counterfeit Christians, don’t only appear to be something they aren’t but they can be dangerous. Thankfully, our Lord promises at some point to rid the world of the crop of weeds and thus ensure safety.

As I study Scripture and learn from other believers, I’ve come to the conclusion that there is a spectrum of false Christians that ranges from the deceived to the deliberately destructive. For the sake of clarification and argumentation, I’ll share the three main categories that I find in life and in scripture:

1. The Deceived. There are many people who for various reasons think they are “on good terms with God” only to be blinded. 2 Corinthians 4:4 says “… the god of this world [Satan] has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God”. For what it’s worth, I think this is probably the majority of “weeds” in our culture in the USA.

We have so many people that think that because they have some notion of a higher power that is vaguely similar to the Judeo-Christian concept of deity, have at least a notion of “traditional values”, and celebrate Christmas and Easter that they are born again believers. They talk the talk and will even use some occasional theological terms. Heck, they may even say grace before a meal.

They are sincere, but sincerely wrong. Perhaps well intentioned, but because the Holy Spirit hasn’t changed them, their spiritual DNA isn’t going to produce wheat. If it is producing anything, it will be more of that darn darnel.

2. The Deceptive. These are folks who for various reasons, intentionally or not, fake a walk with Christ. They are more self-aware than the previous category of people. They have an inkling that they don’t measure up to the Biblical descriptions of followers of Jesus. Yet, they will put on a mask on Sunday. And a heck of a good front on social media. They will even share scripture verses and say “God Bless You!” when someone sneezes. But they know full well they aren’t living for Christ. In my estimation, these make up far fewer than the “deceived” but there are quite a few of these weeds in the field. These are the hypocrites of Matthew 23 and elsewhere.

Why? Often times it is social pressure. For decades in our culture, if you wanted to be liked or well respected, you would go to church services on Sunday and if you weren’t a genuine follower of Christ, you knew you had to pretend to be one so people would patronize your business, come to your cookout, or vote for you in the next election.

As society becomes more and more anti-Christian, we are, thankfully, seeing this idea disappear. In many places in our country it is becoming less and less culturally important to attend church, so in a lot of cases these weeds are dying off.

But we still see it in people who feel pressured by family members who are believers. Maybe it’s the wayward son or daughter from a Christian home who want mom and dad to be proud, but they are just faking it.

Maybe it is the person who began to spin a good yard of being the “good kid” and now they find themselves a volunteer or even on staff of a Christian organization or local church. They have to keep up the façade if they want to keep their job or their social circle.

3. The Deliberately Destructive. These are folks who are under the wholesale influence of the evil one. I wouldn’t say possessed, but the enemy has a lot of control and influence in their lives. These are ones who will intentionally infiltrate the flock to purposely sow discord, entice others toward sin, bring destruction in their paths.

I would love to say these people don’t exist. I mean what kind of twisted person would intentionally try to sabotage the Kingdom of God? What kind of person would intentionally teach false doctrine? Who in their right mind would do some of this stuff on purpose?

I think this is why this category, though I would estimate it to be the fewest in number of the three, is so dangerous: we don’t want to believe it is real. We want to believe the best about people we love and care about, so we convince ourselves that they are well-meaning but deceived.   

Jude, the half-brother of Jesus, talks about these people when he says, “For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.” (Jude 4, ESV).

So, which kind of person are you dealing with? That person in your mind as you have read this… Which one are they? I don’t think we can fully know until harvest, until it’s too late. And that’s ok. We need to be on guard for the darnel.

But we also need to pray. Pray that if they are deceived, that the Lord would open their eyes and their hearts to Him. Pray for the deceptive to have a conviction from the Lord, a holy rebuke that brings them to genuine repentance. And pray that the Lord would safe guard us from the deliberately destructive.

I would love to tell you that Jesus is able to save all of these, that the Holy Spirit can do a work transforming the darnel into a good crop of wheat. I believe that I have seen it happen in the case of the deceived and the deceptive. What about the last category? I don’t know. I don’t doubt the saving power of our Lord Jesus Christ, but I do seriously doubt that a heart so hardened, so dark, would ever be receptive to the life-changing message of the Gospel. But I hope I am wrong.

So, friends, there are two kingdoms. But there is also some nuance. Just because someone hasn’t truly accepted Christ doesn’t mean they are a wolf. But it does mean they need to repent and trust Jesus.

So, friends, there are two kingdoms. But there is also some nuance. Just because someone hasn’t truly accepted Christ doesn’t mean they are a wolf. But it does mean they need to repent and trust Jesus.

Devotionals, Faith, Life, writings

Faithfulness Or Fruitfulness?

What is more important: being faithful to God, or bearing fruit? Are these options mutually exclusive?

In Luke 13:6-9, Jesus tells the story of a man who had a fig tree in his vineyard because he wanted fruit. That’s the purpose of a fig tree, to bear figs. And after 3 years of no fruit, he was ready to cut the tree down. “Why should it use up the ground?” he asked.

When it comes to people who claim to follow God, there are lots of fig trees with bright, shining leaves. Shimmering in the sun, they look majestic. But when you get a closer look, do you see fruit?

In Matthew 21:18-21, Jesus sees a beautiful fig tree and he is hungry. He went up to the tree and saw no fruit. And he cursed it. The tree withered at once. While perhaps a nice looking tree, it was not accomplishing its purpose. It was a waste of space.

Fig trees are nice to look at, but they are made to grow figs. In the same way, Christians may be nice people, but they are called to produce fruit. We may look nice and have all the outward appearances of following Christ. But upon a closer look, is there any fruit?

When I first became a minister, my first congregation was quite small. We had 17 on my first Sunday. The congregation was in a poor, rural area and these folks had experienced a lot of hurt over the years. So I don’t blame them when they considered it a victory just to keep the doors of that little country church open. After all the heartache they had experienced, survival was a victory.

But one of the tragic consequences of experiencing trauma is to view survival as the ultimate goal. The view of a few became “we’re being faithful because we can pay the bills and have a service on Sunday.” During the COVID-19 Pandemic and related shutdowns, many churches have viewed it as a defeat by not meeting in person. But the purpose of the Church is not to gather on Sundays. It is to reproduce disciples of Jesus Christ.

But the purpose of the Church is not to gather on Sundays. It is to reproduce disciples of Jesus Christ.

Here’s what I am getting at: I fear that many Christians have confused faithfulness to events or certain standards with faithfulness to our Lord Jesus Christ. Being faithful means to be steadfast, consistent, trustworthy.

The fig tree in our parable in Luke 13 was consistent in it’s leafing, in it’s shade. But it was inconsistent when it came to producing a crop. Okay, maybe it was consistent. It was consistently fruitless.

I fear that many Christians have confused faithfulness to events or certain standards with faithfulness to our Lord Jesus Christ.

In John 15, Jesus tells us that if we remain, are consistent (read FAITHFUL) in Him, we will produce much fruit. True faithfulness to Christ will always result in fruitfulness.

True faithfulness to Christ will always result in fruitfulness.

But this leads to a big paradox. The fruit of being in Christ, of being faithful, cannot always be measured. In Galatians, we find the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. I can’t take a survey of a congregation to determine how much patience we have. That’s only known by knowing someone. While fruit can be counted in some ways, such as people led to the Lord or discipling relationships, much of it is only seen by taking an up close look, like Christ did with the fig tree.

Last week, I shared about the danger of viewing God As a Means Rather Than the End. And we have must be careful that we don’t focus on simply doing things for God, and miss the importance of being consistent or steadfast in our love and devotion to Him. But the other side of the coin is that if we are faithful, there will be results of His presence in our lives.

So today, don’t settle with simply “being faithful.” Be consistent in a way that leads to fruit in your life. The best way to do that? Spend time with Jesus in prayer and Bible reading, asking the Holy Spirit to convict and encourage you. Remember, He is faithful, and He will produce fruit in your life.

Devotionals, Faith, Life, writings

Faithful Obedience


Luke 8:21 ESV—
“But he answered them, ‘My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it.’”

So when I read this passage this morning, my mind immediately came to this thought: Lord, help me to hear your word and to do it.

My prayer was that the Holy Spirit would speak to me what God would have me do this day. But while I was praying, it was as if the Lord interrupted me. How many times do I ask what the Lord would have me to do? Was I asking for instructions on some grandiose scheme of God’s? Was I expecting God to answer with “You shall do such and such”?

But what a relationship is built on is consistent intimacy. Buying your spouse a gift on anniversaries and birthdays is not consistent intimacy. And neither is occasionally doing something big for God.  

Sometimes in moments of prayer, I’ll ask God for big things. I am, after all, a dreamer, a visionary, a big picture kind of guy. I want to see the BIG picture. Something that seems significant. Like, maybe God is going to direct me to do something awesome today for his glory. Maybe it means I’ll be instructed to begin a new project. Maybe it means I’ll be given supernatural insight into a problem.

But in that interruption, I felt God redirect me. The do-ing of God’s word need not be some large occasional thing. Jesus is talking about having a relationship with people. Not just a knowing of someone, but an intimacy that you would experience with close family. Just as a close familial relationship cannot be sustained by occasional large gestures, occasional large acts of obedience are not enough to sustain a relationship with Jesus.

But what a relationship is built on is consistent intimacy. Buying your spouse a gift on anniversaries and birthdays is not consistent intimacy. And neither is occasionally doing something big for God.  A relationship with Jesus is sustained by regular faithful obedience. By regularly listening to his word, seeking his voice, and obeying. Sure, sometimes it will be a big thing: a change in careers, a calling, a dramatic spiritual breakthrough. But it is in the consistent, often seemingly mundane, listening for his voice and obeying that we find a healthy relationship.

So today, after my prayer was interrupted, I clarified that if God wanted me to do something big, I was all ears. But more than that, I asked for the Lord to control my tongue. To help me to discern. To help me filter what kind of stuff I take into my mind and body. In other words, that the Lord would help me to consistently led by the Holy Spirit.

But what a relationship is built on is consistent intimacy. Buying your spouse a gift on anniversaries and birthdays is not consistent intimacy. And neither is occasionally doing something big for God.  

One thing that this quarantine and staying at home allows for many of us: to incorporate Christ intentionally into our rhythms, our days.

The people surrounding Jesus wanted to make a big deal out of his biological mother and his half-brothers. But Jesus wanted to make a big deal of those who would just simply trust him, listen to him, and obey.

Today, be faithful with the small things that God has given you. Simply trust him, and simply obey.

Faith, Songs, writings

Master, Savior, Friend

I used to write a lot in my “younger” days. Mostly sappy stuff to impress girls with how sensitive I was. Yeah, I burned most of that stuff.

But writing is often how I process things. I’m a visual guy, so while I may be a speaker by profession, I often manuscript out my talks, speeches, and thoughts before hand.

But I’m learning that writing may also be one of those ways that I draw closer to Christ. Today as I was cleaning up around the house, in the peaceful quiet of a fall afternoon, some thoughts just came to me:

Jesus is so much! He’s my King. He’s my Redeemer or forgiver. And He’s also one who cares. He’s my Master, Savior, and Friend.

Proverbs 18:24 (ESV) says, “A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” (Emphasis mine) Jesus is that friend. And for some reason lately, that particular attribute of Christ has meant so much more to me than it has for a long time.

So to took out a word doc and typed what just came to mind and then edited it for clarity’s sake. Maybe this blesses you. Maybe it inspires you. Or maybe it does nothing for you. Either way, here ya go:

There’s a name that I call
When I’m just about to fall
There’s king who left heaven for me
There is One who won’t delay
He’ll guide each step of the way
He’s my master, my savior, my friend

Chorus:
So I cry Jesus, lead me
Jesus, forgive me
Jesus, come lead me home
I will love you
I will obey you
I will always draw from you.
You’re my master, my Savior, my friend

You lead me from empty cisterns
That no water can hold
You bring me to fountains with water untold
You renew, You restore
You’re the Way, You’re the Door
You’re My Master, My Savior, My Friend
(Chorus)

 There are days I am afraid
That I’ll lose my way
But You come and lead me towards home.
You bring light, You bring life
You lead us on through the night
You’re Our Master, Our Savior, Our Friend

(Chorus)

Bridge:
So We cry, Jesus Lead us
Jesus forgive us
Jesus, come lead us home.
We will always love you
Help us to draw from you.
You’re Our Master, Our Savior, Our Friend.

No matter what we go through
The same old same old or brand new
You will center us in your will
So be our Master, lead us onward
Be our Savior, forgive us forward
Be our brother, our closest friend

(Chorus)