Is It Really About Taxes

Every year, as I read the Bible through, I come to Luke 20 and see a well known passage that is, I believe, incredibly misunderstood, or at least not understood to its fullest extent.

The passage in question is Luke 20:21-25, which reads, “They questioned Him, “Teacher, we know that You speak and teach correctly, and You don’t show partiality, but teach truthfully the way of God. Is it lawful for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?” But detecting their craftiness, He said to them, “Show Me a denarius. Whose image and inscription does it have?” “Caesar’s,” they said. “Well then,” He told them, “give back to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s.”

The Scribes were trying to trap Jesus. They asked him if it was right to pay taxes to Rome. If Jesus answered, “NO,” they would have him on charges of rebellion and treason against Rome. If Jesus answered, “Yes,” they would have him on charges of supporting Rome and treason against the Jews. Jesus faced the crowd and simply said, “give to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s. Jesus makes this claim because the image of Caesar was on the denarius.

Let’s look deeper at what Jesus is saying. Jesus says give to Caesar what has his image on it, and give to God what has his image on it. We are created in the image of God. We bear his image and inscription. Therefore, Jesus takes the opportunity to call each of us to give ourselves back to God. “Give back to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s.”

You are not your own, you have been bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). You and I have the image of God in us. We are to give ourselves back to God for his use, not our own.

Is this passage really about taxes? What do you think? Comment below.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

What Is Racism?

Racism is a major topic in the United States today. Since the campaigns for president in 2016, thousands of people have spoken about racism and people have issued charges of racism against others. It is time for EVERYONE to step back, take a breath and get to a simple definition of racism and work from there.

Anyone can be racist IF they believe: 1) One race of humans is better than another because of the color of their skin. 2) Because of their skin color/ethnicity, they are entitled to special privileges or they are denied opportunities available to all. 3) People’s skin color or ethnicity determines their worth as a person.

Let me explain who is NOT a racist. Anyone who takes seriously what the Apostle Paul teaches in Galatians 3:28. “There is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” In other words, there is only one race; the HUMAN Race. There are only two subgroupings from the human race; those who know Jesus as their Savior, and those who do not.

Every human is created in the image of God. Every human has sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Jesus died to redeem and reconcile every human to himself. That is all that matters. The blessings of God are never based on skin color, but on obedience.

It doesn’t matter if you are the President or a criminal, white, black, yellow, or brown, you and I need Jesus and all he offers; love, forgiveness, eternal life, freedom from sin, death, Hell, and the grave, and so much more. Sin demands justice and punishment. God is the one to provide it. Any other idea just muddies the waters and distracts from the real conversation: “Do you know Jesus as your Lord and Savior?”

We are all created by God in his image. To denigrate a person, no matter their skin color, for their skin color is to slap God in the face and say, “We know better.” STOP IT!

Let me know what you think.

Pastor Todd

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Election Is Over. Now What?

The world got up on Wednesday, November 9 to a shocking development. Donald Trump won the election for the President of the United States. Two continuous themes from the media was, “How did this happen?” and “We didn’t see this coming.”

Political pundits are all trying to figure out what will happen next. So are the rest of the citizens. I have seen news reports of protesters claiming that we will see four years of protests because they will never accept that Trump is now our President.

I have never seen our country in such turmoil. I have never seen such division. That must stop. We are a free people who are free to have our opinions and we are free to disagree. What we cannot be is a people who refuse to accept and respect others who disagree with us. We cannot continue to profess and support the divisions that have marked our country the last several years.

The first century church was marked by division. You had Jews, Greeks, barbarians, slaves, men and women that made up the church. Each faction could (and sometimes did) become a distraction from the church’s mission by pushing their own agenda. In 1 Corinthians 12:13, Paul said, “For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.” Furthermore, in Colossians 3:11, he went further by saying, “In Christ there is not Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all.

Factions distract from the mission. In our churches and in our country, disunity and disharmony help solve nothing. Now that the election is over, we must come together in harmony and unity so that our country can experience healing. We must be kind and gentle to those who were on the “other side of the aisle” from us politically.

To paraphrase Paul, In America, there is not Democrat and Republican, Black, White, Hispanic, male and female; there are only Americans. Healing and growth cannot take place until this becomes our attitude.

Whether you agree or disagree with the election results, we MUST pray for our government to make godly decisions and choices. We are called and commanded to pray. Let’s be obedient.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

What Happened?

What happened in our country? I often ask the question, “Because it is so increasingly rare, why is it called ‘Common Sense?’” I know I am older than others and not as old as some, but in my life, I never entertained the thought I would see a day in our country where state governments find it necessary to create laws that say men have to use men’s bathrooms and women have to use women’s bathrooms. That should be an absolute no-brainer. I also never would have guessed that when those laws were made, people would protest the ideas and throw a fit about them. Common sense people.

People try to make this an issue of civil rights for transgender people. There are a few common sense points to make about the issue. Let me briefly discuss some of them.

1) Until they undergo surgery, a biological male is male and a female is female. Therefore, they need to use the appropriate facilities.

2) I am not saying transgenders are dangerous, however, allowing people to use restrooms of the opposite gender exposes too many innocent people to sexual predators and pedophiles who will use this ability for their own negative purposes. We need to protect the vulnerable. The University of Toronto allowed their co-ed dorms to have co-ed bathrooms this past fall. They suspended the practice within 2 weeks because of complaints of young men sticking their phones over showers and videoing the ladies showering. The sinfulness of human nature means people will take advantage of opportunities for sin. We must limit those.

3) Despite what the media reports, true transgender people are an extremely small percentage of our population. Common sense dictates we cannot design the entirety of the society and culture for millions of people around such a small percentage. I’m not saying their thoughts and feelings don’t matter, but in a democracy, the majority rules and the good of the many outweighs the good of the few.

There are several other talking points. My intention is not to discuss them all, but I just want us as a country and as people to start using Common Sense. Let’s make it common again and not so rare.

What do you think?

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Will God Fix This?

The New York Daily News raised eyebrows and the ire of many when it ran a headline after the shooting massacre in San Bernadino that read “God Isn’t Fixing This.” In the story, they mocked Republican and Christian leaders for saying they would pray for the victims and families involved in this tragedy.

The aim of the story was another call from the media to ban, outlaw, and take away guns from people. The New York Daily News is guilty of only seeing a symptom. I do, however, want to say that I agree with their headline, but their answer to the problem is incorrect. Please allow me to explain.

God isn’t going to fix the problem of evil in our world the way they portray. You see, God could completely eliminate evil from our world in less time than it takes you or I to blink. But God won’t do that. Let me give you two reasons why.

1. God Doesn’t Force People to Be Good

The greatest picture of God we are given in Scripture is the picture of a Father. God, as a loving father, like any good parent, knows that children will make bad choices we don’t want them to make.

No parent I have ever talked with said, “I want my child to grow up to be a murderer.” No parent ever dreamed that their child would grow up to be a prostitute, thief, addict, or anything else like this. God does not desire for us, his greatest creation, to make those choices either.

It is against the very character of who God is to remove free choice from people. He does not desire mindless slaves, but  willing friends.

2. God Doesn’t Force His Way into People’s Lives

This is related to the above point. God wants people to choose to follow him and his way, but he won’t force them to. In Revelation 3:20, it says, “Listen! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and have dinner with him, and he with Me.”

There is a famous painting of Jesus standing outside a door in the evening. The light outside the door is lit, and he is knocking. If you look closely at the painting, you will notice one detail. The door has no handle or knob. There is no way for Jesus to enter the home unless it is opened by the owner. Jesus won’t open the door himself or kick it down. He waits for the invitation. People who choose not to open the door will not have a relationship with him. Those people are more likely to make choices to do evil.

Is There a Better Question?

So, will God fix this? The answer is, “No, not directly.” God is not going to force people to stop choosing to do evil. But there is a  better question. The Better question is, “Can God fix this?” The answer is “Yes.” But God will only fix this if people will turn to God, open the doors to their hearts, and allow Jesus to come in and establish a permanent, personal relationship. It begins first with you reading this post. Then you need to take the message of God’s love to others who haven’t experienced God’s love in their lives.

As more and more people give over their lives to God, the amount of evil in the world will get less and less. As more people live for Jesus, less will make evil choices. So that is how God can fix this. Will you do your part?


Let me know what you think. Leave a comment below.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

What Does the Supreme Court Ruling Mean?

Today, history changed. A group of 5 unelected people changed the definition of marriage as it has been understood and lived out by every culture for several millennia.  Gay marriage has been legalized throughout our country.

The long term repercussions will be years in being decided. Unfortunately, I was not surprised by this result. I do want to commend those in the minority opinion for standing for the biblical marriage and for attempting to look out for the religious freedoms of our country.

Thanks to the foresight of Skyline’s people, we have recently updated our Church Constitution to do our best to protect us from this event. Only time will tell. The courts have proven time and again that they are not interested in protecting religious liberty or godly people.

Our number one concern at this point must be with the total protection of religious liberty for all people. Religious liberty means that every single person in our country gets to live out their religious beliefs in all circumstances. Unfortunately, the courts have a recent history of saying that is not true.

What this judgment demonstrates above all is that our country needs a Great Awakening and spiritual revival. We need the people of God pray, witness, and share like never before. We need to love people of all beliefs. We do NOT have to agree with them. We must also stand up for God’s specific design for marriage. That means we must value marriages and work to make them last. We must be as strong against couples living together or adultery as we are gay marriage. All are wrong in God’s eyes.

What this means for us today is that we must pray. We must love. We must represent God in all things. We must do nothing to bring shame or reproach upon the name of God.

This is not the first time the Supreme Court has mad a bad decision. We need only refer to their decisions on segregation and separate but equal or their decision in Roe vs Wade. This is another one that they, and our country, will come to regret over time.

For now, remember, this decision did not catch God by surprise. He knew it was coming. He is still God. He is still in control. Beginning in the Garden, humanity has been trying to become or act as God. This is one more example. It won’t be the last.

Keep praying and keep trusting in God. He is still the King of the Universe.

What’s your take? Feel free to comment below.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

What Is Guaranteed?

Almost 239 years ago, the United States of America was born. Fifty men signed the Declaration of Independence. That document has had, and continues to have, a profound effect on our country ever since.

Lately, in our great country, people have been taking things from the Declaration and claiming they promise us guarantees. I specifically refer to possibly the most well known phrase, “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among those are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”

These Rights are vital, but they are also not guaranteed. All humans have the God-given right to Life. However, since 1973 millions of babies have been denied that right. Thousands of people die each year in accidents, from disease, or are murdered.

All people have the God-given right to Liberty or freedom, however, that right is taken away from those who commit crimes. There are millions who have given up their freedoms to become enslaved to drugs, alcohol, tobacco, or other addictions. This does not even begin to discuss those trapped in human trafficking or slavery in other countries in the world.

All people have the God-given right to the pursuit of Happiness. Here is where it gets sticky for some people. We are guaranteed the ability or right to pursue happiness. We are NEVER guaranteed we will catch happiness. We have the right to pursue what makes us happy, unless that happiness comes at the expense of another person’s rights. We cannot pursue happiness if it is illegal. We should not pursue happiness that is immoral, whether it is explicitly illegal or not.

In the Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments to our Unites States Constitution, several rights are spelled out for our citizens. Other amendments spell out other rights for our citizens. In this culture, political correctness has fostered an atmosphere where many seem afraid to speak about many topics for fear of offending someone. In the last thirty years, we have seen many laws, policies, and ordinances put in place at all levels of government and other places so that no one, is offended.

We need to understand that nowhere in the Constitution are we guaranteed the right to never be offended. Offenses happen. Differing opinions will lead to disagreements. Disagreements need not be taken personally. People of good conscience can disagree without it getting personal or ugly. We must not believe that because someone disagrees with me or my opinion, they do not have the right to that opinion.

We must not take away the rights and freedoms of others because they disagree with us. We have all heard the statement, “You have the right to be wrong.” That is 100% true. Some disagreements are over things are not black and white or right and wrong. Others are definitely so. And people have the right to be wrong.

Abraham Lincoln, in his famous Gettysburg Address described our country perfectly when he said that “a government of the people, by the people,  for the people shall not perish from the earth.” In our country today, too many people, really of minority opinions and beliefs are trying to make this a country where only one set of opinions is valid and all others, and the people who hold them, must be silenced, ostracized, and attacked.

When someone’s rights are trampled on and ignored, it damages us as a nation and as a culture and a people. In the last several years, we have seen our nation and people diminished because a few people don’t want to allow people to voice dissenting opinions. I say it is time we stop that.

What’s your take? Comment below.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Given and Required

The following is a post from a former professor of mine, Dr. Dan Crawford. Dr. Crawford is a fantastic teacher who influenced me a lot, especially my prayer life and teaching on prayer.

American Thanksgiving has come and gone. We did what most Americans did, slept late, ate big, watched football on TV, took a nap, ate again, watched more football, thanked God for the blessings, and went to bed feeling full. All the while more than 800 million people in the world did not have enough to eat. And one in nine people on our planet went to bed hungry on Thanksgiving. The majority of the world did not watch TV on Thanksgiving since more people in the world do not own a TV than who do.

With two-thirds of the world not claiming to be Christian, the majority did not thank God for Thanksgiving blessings. Approximately 100 million of the world’s population went to bed homeless on Thanksgiving night. While all these statistics might make us feel guilty, we most definitely ought to feel blessed. But a comment from Jesus haunts my Thanksgiving memories. In speaking of those who were blessed and faithful, Jesus said, “To whom much is given, from him much will be required” (Luke 12:48). Thanksgiving is once again gone. Much was given. The season of giving approaches. Much is required.

Thank you Dr. Crawford for so eloquently putting what needs to be said. Giving opportunities abound in this coming month. Giving food to Marion-Polk Food Share. Giving time on Dec. 16, to serve at the Food Share, and of course the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International missions. Be involved in these and others. Dr. Crawford is right. Much has been given and much is required.

Any thoughts? Comment below.

Pastor Todd

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Persecution and the Christian

The stories are compelling. We get reports, stories, and pictures from all over the world of Christians being beaten, killed, kidnapped and beheaded. We cringe. We cry out that is it so unfair, so terrible. Then there is not much else. We follow up by saying, “Isn’t it wonderful that we live in America where we are free to worship as we want.” You would be right. It is wonderful to live in America. We do have religious freedoms that other places do not have.

With these freedoms, we have taken for granted, even in the prevailing culture, that we can easily slip into and out of our relationship with Jesus. We may not be facing death, but Christians who are really following Jesus will face persecution. Maybe not beatings, but mocking at the least.

I remember being bounced off lockers in the locker room in high school. I was constantly mocked and ragged on about my faith. Over the years, I have lost jobs and job opportunities because of my faith in Jesus. I have never made a big deal about them, because to me, it comes with the territory. In John 15 Jesus makes it clear that ANYONE who really follows him will suffer. He says, “If the world hates you, understand that it hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world the world would love you as its own. However, because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of it, the world hates you.”

When I was in college, one of my professors preached a revival. In the Sunday morning service, he made the statement that if you have never been persecuted for your faith, you are not living for Jesus the way you should. One elderly lady took offense at the statement and told him afterwards. He told her he stood by his statement. That afternoon, she thought about what Dr. G. had said. She came back that night, approached him, and said, “I thought all afternoon about what you said. I realized that I have not lived for Jesus the way I should. I did not stand up for him at times I should have, because I didn’t want to be made fun of. I let my Savior down. You were right and I am sorry.”

Have you ever been picked on or mistreated for your faith? If not, how strong are you living for your faith? Are you willing to really follow Jesus? Jesus said to deny yourself and follow him (Luke 9:23). Are you ready to follow him for real?

Let me know what you think.

Pastor Todd

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Have We Taken Another Step Too Far?

Let me be clear from the beginning. I DO NOT agree in any way, shape or form with what Donald Sterling, the owner of the Los Angels Clippers, is alleged to have said. If the tape released by the website TMZ is legitimate, Donald Sterling revealed himself to be a racist. His past history supports this claim also.

People have been calling for everything from suspensions and fines to having the NBA take way the basketball team Sterling owns. Adam Silver, the NBA Commissioner issued Sterling’s punishment on Tuesday, April 29. Sterling is banned for life from the NBA. He can still own the team, but cannot attend any game or practice. He must still sign the paychecks for everyone, but cannot have any input in any decisions concerning his team. Adam Silver also said the NBA would try to force Sterling to sell his team.

I want to quote Mark Cuban when he was talking about this issue. ”In this country, people are allowed to be morons. They’re allowed to be stupid. They’re allowed to think idiotic thought.” While I find Sterling’s opinions and views deplorable, I have to ask one question. When, in the United States did it become a punishable offense to be, as Cuban said, to be a moron?

What Sterling said is just flat wrong. However, what he said was said in the privacy of his own home in what was supposed to be a private conversation. I have always believed that in this country, a person had the right to believe what he/she wants and, unless it incites a danger, a person in our country has a Constitutional right to Freedom of Speech.

Racism is wrong. God created all people equally, in the image of God, as the crown of his creation. My question is, “Where does it stop?” What, instead, had Sterling said that he believed homosexuality is wrong? In many quarters he would be branded as homophobic, bigoted, and intolerant. Yet Scripture is quite clear. It is a sin. Any sex outside of God’s created purpose in marriage is wrong.

Because of the success of the homosexual agenda, there are now movements out there to legalize polygamy. What if Donald Sterling had said in this private conversation that he felt polygamy was wrong? What if he said it was right?

I guess my ultimate question comes down to, “Are we becoming a nation run by the “Thought Police?” Where does a person’s rights to think and feel whatever they may cease to exist? Where is the line between “idiotic thoughts” and punishable thoughts?

I believe Donald Sterling deserved to suffer something, but as Mark Cuban also said, “I think you’ve got to be very careful when you start making blanket statements about what people say and think, as opposed to what they do. It’s a very, very slippery slope.”

Have we taken another step too far? What do you think? Let me know and comment below.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment