Understanding the Truth of “Love Lifted Me”

Ephesians 2:4–9 (AV)

But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, 5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) 6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: 7 That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.

Have you ever sung this song?

I was sinking deep in sin, far from the peaceful shore
Very deeply stained within, sinking to rise no more
But the Master of the sea, heard my despairing cry
From the waters lifted me, now safe am I

This is the first stanza of the great hymn of the faith “Love Lifted Me” written by James Rowe.

Here is my thought for you from this stanza and Ephesians 2. According to Paul, I would not even know I was drowning in the sea “sinking to rise no more” if God had not alerted me to the trouble.

For before Christ I was dead. That’s right dead. And dead people don’t know they are drowning. The very reason I sensed that I was drowning was the movement of the Spirit of God.

The fact is that the very “despairing cry” could not and would not have happened apart from the grace of God—by grace ye are saved. Not by grace of God plus anything else. Salvation is all grace. No works. No cries. No prayers. It is all grace—the grace of God. Notice Paul says “But God.” Those are the two greatest words every assembled in the Word of God. I believe because I have been “quickened together with Christ.” If I had not been quickened, I would not have believed. If it were not for God, I would not believe. If it were not for God, Noah would have drowned to death. If it were not for God, Sarah would not have gotten pregnant with Isaac and Abraham would not have a legitimate descendent for God to bless. If it were not for God, Saul of Tarsus would have spent his whole life dedicated to killing Christians.

“But the Master of the sea” is exactly right. The Master did not wait to hear my despairing cry. He was working long before I cried “help.” He was working in me when I didn’t realize He was working in me. He was working in me “even when I was dead in sins.” He was demonstrating the “exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward me” when I was drowning and didn’t know I was drowning. This is why the hymnist can truly write and we can sing “love lifted me.”

And this is precisely why I should and must love God with all my heart, mind, soul and every fiber of my very being. This is precisely why I must treasure Christ above all else and sing of His great love for me for all eternity.

Knowing this, now look at stanza two with me:

All my heart to Him I give, ever to Him I’ll cling
In His blessed presence live, ever His praises sing
Love so mighty and so true, merits my souls best songs
Faithful, loving service too, to Him belongs

Stanza three is a call to believe, look at it with me.

Souls in danger look above, Jesus completely saves
He will lift you by His love, out of the angry waves
He’s the Master of the sea, billows His will obey
He your Savior wants to be, be saved today

If you recognize your soul is in danger, it is because the Father is drawing you to His Son. If you recognize your soul is in danger, “look above.” “Look above” is a wonderful way of saying repent. If you recognize your soul is in danger, turn to the Master of the sea and put your faith in what God did for you in Christ Jesus while you were dead and drowning in a sea of sin and be rescued today!

If you have already been rescued, make stanza two your life’s ambition.

Global Warming

Should a Christian be Concerned About Global Warming?

As a Christian where should I stand in regard to the global debate on the greenhouse gas reduction efforts of radical environmentalist? Should I support further regulation of refineries and industries that emit large amounts of CO2? Should I support politian’s who are voting to put the Nation deeper in debt to reduce CO2 emissions? How much regulation is enough? Ultimately the question is: “How concerned should I be about protecting mother earth?”

First, Christians need to recognize that the earth was made for man and not man for the earth (Gen 1:26). Anything that seems to flip that perspective is unbiblical.

Second, anything that seems to present “mother earth” as a goddess must be recognized for what it is: idolatry. It is idolatry to treat the earth as an entity that needs to be preserved forever. The Bible is very clear the earth will not last forever (Heb 1:10-12). God has promised Christians a new heaven and a new earth (2 Pet 3:13). Ultimately the planet will be destroyed again.

“But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.” (2 Peter 3:7, ESV)

Third, the earth is cursed. It is not perfect. Nor can man make it perfect.

“And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; ” (Genesis 3:17, ESV)

Thorns and thistles, mentioned in verse 18, represent the effects of the curse. The climate changed. The need for clothing changed (and on and on). God has the power to create an earth that does not need any temperature regulation--never too hot or too cold, but that is not the earth we are living on. The earth we are living on is cursed.

And the fact is that no amount of reduction in CO2 emissions will change that. Should the Christian live with a fear that the planet is going to get so warm that it will be impossible to live here? No. God promised Noah that there would always be cold. God promised that there would always be seasons.

“While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.” ” (Genesis 8:22, ESV)

The fact is: the earth will remain as long as God wants it to remain and it will remain not even a minute longer than God wants it to remain. And there isn’t anything man can do to alter that fact.

So when the further regulation of green gas emissions increases the global cost of energy the people that suffer the most are the poor in third world developing nations. This must be unacceptable to the Christian. He or she has been instructed by their Lord and Savior to love their neighbor as themselves (Mat 19:19). An increase of gas prices of quarter or fifty cents per gallon will get a grumble out of an American but it doesn’t really change their standard of living all that much. However, the same increase in a third world country where the average annual income is $2000 is phenomenally different.

The earth was created by God for man. The resources on the planet are to be used wisely and we are to be the best stewards of those resources.

Regulations which protect those resources should be implemented. For example, dumping pollutants into one’s drinking water supply is stupid. Every Christian should be in favor of regulations that protect one’s local source of drinking water. Man cannot survive without water and he does not have a promise from God that all water will remain potable.

This requires wisdom. Some government regulation is absolutely necessary and is required as a result of the fall of man and the curse of the earth. The government is a God-ordained authority for which all Christians are expected to obey (Rom 13:1-5); however, in America our democracy gives us the freedom to vote politicians in and out of office.

This requires a choice and any politician that is voting to put the Nation into greater debt to protect the earth from man is not voting the way the Bible would have him or her vote, and he or she should be voted out of office. (Christians don’t lock themselves into one political party and then vote that way all their lives!)

Presently (2011), the number one priority of every politician, without regard to political party, must be deficit reduction not environmental protection (Rom 13:8). Not a penny more should be spent to protect another endangered wolf, smelt, bug, plant, weed, lizard or anything else. We must stop the foolish spending to protect that which was created for man to use, consume, and enjoy.

Wise stewardship of what God has provided is what God expects--not an idolatrous worship of the planet through an agenda to protect the eternality of the earth. This imbalance really comes from a desire to deify creation and to pronounce God as some un-knowing, un-caring, aloof being (Rom 1:18-25).

Only God is eternal and only God, through Christ, can grant eternal life. God was in Christ “reconciling the world to Himself” (2 Cor 5:19). Man, as a subset of creation, was not merely a peripheral focus in His redemptive plan, but was the chief objective in Christ dying for “the sins of the world” (Mat 13:38 & 42; 1 John 2:2). The planet did not sin, but Adam’s sin brought the curse to the whole of creation, and the whole of creation eagerly awaits sin’s removal (Rom 8:19-24). The curse can be removed as quickly as it was pronounced, and one day it will be done without the help of any man, movement, special interest group, or political party (Rev 22:3).

A Ministry and Message of Reconciliation: The Gospel


Colossians 1:19-21

Colossians chapter one. If you found your place in that chapter let’s go ahead and stand in honor of the reading of God’s Word and we are going to get into an awesome text. We will read the text, pray, then we will get to work. And I pray that you have ears to hear
this morning and that all of God’s people are ready to be blessed from God’s Word.

Verse 19 says:

For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled In the body of his flesh through death, to present you [number one] holy and [number two] unblameable and [number three] unreproveable in his sight.

And let’s pray.

Father God in heaven, I would ask right now that you would give me the power to preach in your name under the leadership and influence and guidance of God the Holy Spirit. I pray, oh God, that you would do the work that only you can do, God the Father, that you would draw sinners to yourself this morning. I pray, oh God, that today would be a day of salvation and that a lost man or woman would repent. I pray, oh God, that you would reconcile sinners to yourself today through the power of the cross in Jesus’ name. Amen.

And you may be seated.

The title of this morning’s message is, “A Ministry and Message of Reconciliation.”

Look in your Bibles at verse number 19 please. Notice especially, “For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell.”

Once again we are reminded of the significance of the deity of Christ. We are reminded again. Paul wants to bring to our attention one more time this Church at Colosse needs to be alerted to the idea that Christ, the body of Christ, the man Christ Jesus has every ounce of deity within him. He is the walking, talking, breathing, living God.

Why is this so important? Why must we put such emphasis on this? Because salvation is in him and him alone. And, folks, you can’t make up your own him. You can’t decide what attributes you would like him to have. The Word of God has already made that clear. You can’t pick and choose your Jesus. Your Jesus has every ounce of godhead in him.

That is how Paul said it in 2:9.

“For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.”

Every ounce of the godhead, everything that God the Father had, God the Son had. All of it. Paul is communicating that Jesus is completely God. Everything that God is Jesus is. God is more than Jesus. God includes the Father, the Son and the Spirit. Jesus is only one aspect of God, but he is every bit God. This diagram is probably the best illustration. If you need to explain the Trinity don’t do it without drawing something. Pull out a piece of paper and draw this triangle and use this idea right here.

You say, “Preacher, when would I be called upon to do that?”

You might be called upon to do that any time and when you are supposed to give an answer, you want to know how to give an answer. How pitiful it is for you to say, “Let me get you to talk to my preacher.”

Every single Christian is called to be able to explain the person and work of Christ. Everybody ought to be able to do that. What a pitiful thing it is that if the preaching ministry of the Church doesn’t develop God’s people to be able to defend their faith. Not a social gathering. This is a time of instruction. This is a time of development. This is a time of discipleship.

Again and again I want to say this. You shouldn’t have to come out to a private class on a Monday night to grow in Christ. You ought to be able to grow in Christ through the preaching and teaching of his Word in Sunday school, adult Bible fellowship, camps, all the time, men’s ministry. Everything that we do ought to be forcing you and encouraging you to grow in Christ.

So you put the Father at the top and you say the Father is God, but the Father is not the Holy Spirit and the Father is not the Son. The Son is no the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit is not the Father. But they are all God.

You say, “I don’t understand that.”

Me either.

That is our premise. We just take the Word of God at face value. We just believe that all 66 books are divinely inspired and that they have been preserved by God for our edification. And we are not here to do anything other than present the truth, present the truth.

And so Paul said it like this to Timothy. To Timothy he said, “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.”

One mediator, only one mediator. The godhead determined that the man Jesus who would reconcile the world to God would be God sharing all the properties, characteristics and prerogatives of God himself. Of course, the movement of the incarnation was that God took flesh, not human being became divine.

So important for you to understand this.

A church member sent me an email this week about how she was confronted by a Jehvoa Witness and how she needed to be able to articulate her faith and be able to defend her faith. I am telling you right now, it is pitiful when a Jehovah Witness comes and knocks on you door and you find yourself nervous and shaking in your feet and wishing you didn’t have to defend your faith. Something is wrong there.

When a Mormon knocks on your door, when a cultist knocks on your door you ought to be able to say, “Let me tell you something right now. I believe that Jesus is God and that he is the Son of God both. Let’s get right to the heart of the matter right away.” Cut him right off.

It is pitiful that they are more articulate than we are. It is pitiful that those who have the truth are less articulate than those who are deceived. Something is wrong there. Something significantly wrong there.

Look at verse number 20, please, in your Bibles.

“And having made peace...”

Peace. That means that we were at war. You don’t go from peace without having been war before. Everyone understands that. There was a war. God hates sin. There is a war against sin. There is a war against unbelievers. There is a war against children of disobedience. Our staff song about the wrath of God. We are going to talk about the wrath of God.

So he “made peace through the blood of his cross.”

The consequence of disobedience is enmity or hostility between God and man.

Last week we had the privilege of dedicating a baby. There are several small babies running around this congregation. Carol has just had a little baby. There is all kinds of cute infants everywhere, but the reality is outside of Christ Jesus there is an enmity between that little innocent baby from our perception and a holy and righteous God.

And that is why the ministry of reconciliation, the goal of the gospel is to get that baby reconciled to God. If not, if we are not committed to that, folks, we might as well just be a Kiwanis club. You know, we do some good deeds. We hang out a little bit and we fellowship a little bit, play softball together, kind of have a cute little club.

That is not what we are here for. That is not what we are here for.

Romans 5:10 says, “For if, when we were enemies...”

Let me tell you something. You start a gospel presentation out by letting that sinner know that they are an enemy of God they might feel more of a need to repent.

“That is too confrontational, pastor.”

Which is more confrontational, to tell them the truth or die and let them go to hell? Which is more loving, folks? What is more loving?

You see, if I understand that I am an enemy of God there is a necessity to figure out how to fix that problem. I have got to figure out, ok, if I am an enemy of God I don’t like that idea. How do I fix that? And that is when the soul winner can tell them about the gospel. If they don’t understand that their sin separates them from God and God hates that sin and his wrath abides on that sin, then you are in no position to tell them the awesomeness of the love of God.

Verse 20 says that, “...by him to reconcile...”

Reconcile is this incredible, awesome word that describes the restoration of a friendship. We love the idea of being reconciled.

Husbands and wives, when you get into a little tiff, isn’t it awesome to be reconciled? When somebody takes the spiritual leadership—and it should be the father, it should be the husband, but sometimes we are too weak to do that and so the wife steps up and begins to iron through the difficulties—and you get honest one with another, you get transparent one with another, there is a little bit of repentance that goes on inside that marriage and then all of the sudden the joy at the love of this alienation that was there prior is not brought back together. That is reconciliation, folks. And reconciliation is awesome in a marriage.

Now you think about two sinners being reconciled. How much more awesome is it to be reconciled to the God of the universe, the holy, sovereign, perfect God of the universe? Now all of the sudden this message of reconciliation is awesome. You might even want to say amen on something like that.

So what are the reasons why unbelievers don’t think much of this reconciliation? Why is it that the coworkers that you are with, why is it that the neighbors that we have that are lost, why aren’t the people that you associate with as students at the colleges that you go to, why don’t they get all excited about the reconciliation of God? Why isn’t this something important then?

There are three reasons. Let’s look at them. Number one, they don’t believe that there is a God. They honestly do not believe that there is a God. They have been duped into believing that evolution is a fact and that they were once a blob, came from a monkey and there is nothing after life. And so they are living life with all they can for a few years and they have believed the lie that they are going to decompose into a pine box and that is it. And they love that lie because they love their immorality. And if you love your immorality you don’t want any accountability.

That is the facts, folks.

Number two, they are ignorant. They don’t know that sin has alienated them from God. They believe that they are morally good people and that as a general rule God loves me. How in the world wouldn’t God love me? I help my neighbor and I am a good person and, really, please don’t tell me that God doesn’t love me. You don’t know me. Don’t judge.

That is the world we are living in right now, folks. That is the ministry that you have. That is the culture that you are called to minister in. We cannot go back to leaving beaver. Those days are over with, folks. We are not going back. We live in a Postmodern world in which absolute truths are completely denied. And if we want to get outside of our bubble and start reaching people with the gospel, we have got to know the people that we are going to encounter.

And you go engage sinners at work. When you go engage these people they recognize they don’t see themselves as alienated from God. Only Hitler and a few of those kind of dudes are alienated from God. For the most part they can justify their sin.

Hey, folks, that is exactly what governor Mark Sanford did in South Carolina when he brought to our attention with David. That was all justification. That is all it was. That is exactly what it was. If it was good enough for David, it is good enough for me. Don’t throw me out of the office. God didn’t throw David out, so don’t throw me out.

That is exactly what he was saying. It is a justification.

By the way, he is a Republican, so I am an equal opportunity preacher when it comes to that. It doesn’t matter whether you are Democrat or Republican. You are both going to get it.

Number three, misperception. They can’t imagine that God sees them as an enemy. The reason they are underestimating God’s wrath. The entire world is in love with the love of God and we should be in love with the love of God. But what makes the love of God so awesome is the understanding that God is a vengeful, wrathful God who sets that aside in his mercy and grace. That is what makes it awesome.

If there is no concern for punishment, mercy isn’t that big of a deal. It is no concern. But when all of a sudden life is on the line and the consequences are over the top and you get mercy, then mercy is a big deal. Then mercy is a big deal. All you got to do is think about your own life either when you were a child or as a parent.

Man, when you see dad explode over something he sends you to the room and you know, man, the consequences are going to be over the top and you know that you are going to get it. You know that you are going to get it. Come on, young people, you are not too old to remember that. There has been at least one time in your life when you sinned, even [?] because we are all sinners.

And then when mom and dad say, “You know what? I love you. I love you,” man that love is awesome. That love is magnified because you understood that you deserve the punishment. You understood that you were dead to rights. You should have got the ticket.

We all know the deal. There isn’t anyone in here that hasn’t sped. You know, driving down the road going way too fast, way too fast. You know you are guilty. There is no way around it. Speed limit clearly posted. You looked at your speedometer a few minutes earlier. You know you were speeding. You were taking a chance and you get pulled over. When you know that you are caught dead to rights and you deserve the ticket and you get some mercy, isn’t that mercy awesome?

So first thing the gospel presentation has to establish, teachers, is that you are dead to rights. You deserve the wrath of God. That is the first thing that the gospel presentation has to establish. It has to look at the wrath of God.

Turn to Colossians chapter three in your Bibles. You are almost there so turn over to chapter three and look at verse number six.

So just go ahead and establish the fact that what you are dealing with is a child of disobedience.

“For which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience.”

Brother Bill, if they don’t see themselves as a child of disobedience, the gospel is meaningless to them, meaningless. The gospel is meaningless. If they do not see themselves as alienated enemies from God you don’t have good news for them. You don’t have good news. And so we have got to establish that first and foremost.

Number one, number two, we need so that they can see beyond a doubt that between God and man there is some irreconcilable differences outside of Christ. We have got to show them that there isn’t a plan B. There isn’t a plan C. There is now way they can be morally pure enough. All have fallen short of the glory of God. All are sinners. I am the sinner. I am the chief of sinners. I lead the way in sinning. And then the mercy of God is magnified. The mercy of God is magnified.

And so let me give you a word of caution, please. Please listen to this very closely. Do not attempt to defend the love of God by denying the wrath of God. Do not do that. When someone says to you, “I do not understand how God could be a loving God and a wrathful God,” don’t try to deny the wrath of God. Don’t try to minimize the wrath of God to magnify the love of God because you are doing just the opposite.

When you communicate how holy God is, how just God is, how perfect God is and then that gets you to better understand his mercy and grace, recognize that God’s wrath towards sinners magnifies his love, mercy and grace when he extends reconciliation to sinners.

Recognize according to verse 21 that we are, in fact, before Christ, before being born again, we were alienated. We were alienated. Yes, even you. You were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works.

I want to pause for just a minute. I want you to think of the parable about the two sons. One son stays home, good son stays there, doesn’t go out, doesn’t explode all the inheritance. The other guy goes out, lives. You know the story I am talking about, right? Gets way down in the pig pen of life and asks to be brought back.

Now which son more clearly understood the love of the father? The one who thought that he wasn’t going to be reconciled, the one who thought he was going to have to live in the pig pen. He couldn’t get over the fact that his father loved him.

Now don’t misunderstand. I am not encouraging you to run out there and sin. That is not what I am saying. I am saying let’s make sure that we clearly understand how much our sin offends a holy and righteous God. Let’s not bring God down to our level. Let’s not try to get God to understand us and so God can justify us and God winks at our sin. Let’s recognize that ungratefulness is a sin. Let’s recognize the fact that a failure to be content is a sin. Let’s recognize that failure to appreciate God’s goodness is a sin. Let’s recognize that we still have a problem with sin.

Self righteousness kills the Church. That is why Christ went after self righteousness. Look at your gospels and you see him going after self righteousness with a passion.

Who gets called vipers? Who gets called snakes? The self righteous do, the hypocrites do. It is those who recognize that they have a need for a Savior who embrace Christ. So that is our first step.

So the issues of man and most importantly the issue is in my mind so let’s talk about this, enemies in you mind. Number one, it all begins in the mind.

Number one, it all begins in the mind. It all begins in the mind. You need to be concerned about your thought life. You need to be concerned about your thought life. You need to be concerned about your attitude, your thinking. It starts in you mind.

Number two. Sinners engage in evil deeds because they are hostile in their minds. That is why I need a new mind. I need a new heart. I need the stony heart removed and a heart of flesh [?]. I need God to do an entire work on my whole body. That is exactly what Paul was talking about where he said he couldn’t wait to be delivered of this flesh.

Number three. Faulty thinking leads to faulty behavior. So it starts in the mind.

Counselors, this is so important for you. You have got to address thinking in the campers. Get to their minds. It is easy to get them to conform to known [?]. We have got to get deeper than that. We have got to get into their minds. What were you thinking?

It is easy to tell Christians, “Dress this way. Look this way. Walk this way.”

That is easy. Everybody can conform to a known set of standards. You have got to peel that back, folks, and get inside the thinking process.

Number four. Every thought needs to be taken captive to the obedience of Jesus Christ. Every single thought.

So let’s be real pointed one more time.

Eight years ago, that was when the thought needed to be taken captive, eight years ago, eight years ago, eight years ago, eight years ago. That is when we should have grabbed that very first immoral thought and grabbed a hold of that thought and said, “This thought will be taken captive right now. This thought is not ok. This thought is immoral. This thought is sinful. This thought must not go on.”

You want to protect your marriages, husbands? Husbands, you want to protect your marriages? You say, “I want to protect my marriage. I want to go the distance.”

Then keep a hold of your thought life. Keep a hold of your thought life. Do not allow your thought life to get out of control, because when your though life gets out of control your behavior gets out of control.

Everyone believes somehow that they are strong enough to have this thought life which is immoral, but behavior which is moral. It never works that way, folks. It never works that way. never. This governor attributes the entire affair to the first email, the first email. That is one of the problems with the 21st century. We are texting things and we are typing things that we would have never ever said in person. We are texting things and we are typing things.

Young people in Anchorage, do not allow yourself to type something or text something that you would not say in person. Do not allow yourself to go down that road because there is no end to it. Your morality is at stake.

Eight years ago the affair began on a simple little email and it started in his mind.

Men, our relationship with ladies should be above reproach, above reproach. Ladies, I know that from a pastoral perspective sometimes you feel like that I am exceptionally short with my emails with you. I am going to tell you right now that is an intentional decision on my behalf. I don’t ask you how your day went. I don’t ask you how you are doing because I am not to have that kind of relationship with you. Your husband is to have that kind of relationship with you. I am not.

If you feel like I am current with the emails, folks, if I am responding to a lady, you are going to get just the facts, ma’am, just the facts. I am not going to go any deeper because I don’t want an email relationship with you.

It is a reality. Who does Satan go after? He goes after leaders. He goes after senior pastors.

Sure, you can email me and I will answer your question. I will answer your question. But I should never—dads, listen to me, please. Husbands, listen to me. I should never type something that I am not more than willing to cc my wife on.

Here, sweetheart, read this email.

There is something seriously wrong in your marriage if you have got a private email account that your wife does not have access to.

Outside of the military I know there are some guys [?] and things like that. I am not talking about security. I am not talking about national security. I am talking about personal accounts. You have got your little work email and you have got your little personal hotmail and nobody knows about that. There is something wrong there. Take that into captivity right now, men.

Jesus said it like this. “O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. A good man out of the good treasure of the heart...” and then just the opposite for the evil man.

So question number two. How did God reconcile us? How did this reconciliation happen? What did Christ do to reconcile you to God?

The Scripture is very clear on that. Look at the Scripture 20 and 22 he tells us two key elements.

Number one, he shed his blood. He shed his innocent blood. The Bible makes it very clear. Without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin. Every single lamb, goat, every single pigeon, every single thing in the Old Testament that was shed blood was all picturing the perfect Lamb of God who would shed innocent blood.

And, number two, he died on that cross. The God man died on that cross.

Please turn back to 2 Corinthians, please. Very easy for you to get to. Just turn back a few pages. Everyone turning. Don’t allow yourself not to turn right now. Please take your Bible and turn to chapter number five. This is a parallel dissertation on reconciliation that Paul delivers to us. And we will move through these Scriptures and then we will wrap it up.

We have got some great food. Pastor Joe wanted me to remind you that your food is going to get across the street when you carry it across the street. That is the only way it is going to get across the street. It has no wheels. He said it, not my words. He said that [?] that is Joe’s... see him about that. I would have said it kinder, but you know. He is not even in here so I can set him up real good.

Verse number 11. Look at verse number 11. Paul says, “Knowing therefore…” fully aware of, “Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord...”

That is the issue right now. There is no fear of God in our country. There is no fear of God. The fear of God is gone. The fear of God is gone in our country. We are not concerned with our immorality. How in the world do you carry on affair for eight long years and call yourself a Christian? Something is wrong there. Where is the fear of God? Where is the fear of God’s judgment on my life, on my ministry, on my office, on my state? Where is the fear of God? It is gone. It is gone in America. That is why there is such a need of pulpits that preach the Word of God, the truth.

Folks, I am not mad. I know sometimes it looks like I am mad. I am not mad. I am honestly not angry. I am passionate about this truth. Ok? I don’t know how to tell you to guard your marriage with a million dollar smile on my face. I can’t do that. Because when we are talking about adultery, when we are talking about destroying families, I feel like that needs a wake up message. I feel like that needs a get it going, that kind of a message.

I can’t do it any other way. I don’t know how to do it any other way. When Paul says we have got fear of God, he is concerned that some day he is going to stand before a holy and righteous God and account for his life. He has got to account for his life, folks. Yes, his sins are forgiven. That is a true statement. Be he still knows that he is going to account for his life, the choices he made, the priorities he made, the sacrifices he made. He is going to account for that. And so he says, “We persuade me.”

So I am not the leader. You are the leaders, but let me just talk to the counselors for just a minute. When Monday afternoon happens isn’t that when they come, Mondays? Those campers come piling off the bus. That is your objective right there. You are there to persuade men and women. That is it. You are not there to entertain them. You are there to persuade them. You want to persuade them to the truth. You want to passionately persuade them to the truth. That is the goal. If I didn’t think that you weren’t committed to that I wouldn’t support the ministry. I wouldn’t love you guys the way I do. I am crazy about Anchorage. I am crazy about the entire ministry, because I believe that for 12 weeks, the whole summer and the other parts of the year you are committed to persuading men and women, boys and girls to the truth that Jesus Christ is Lord.

And Berean Baptist Church is not going to partner with anyone that isn’t committed to that. We are not going to partner with anyone that is not committed to that.

Look at verse number 14 please. Fourteen in your own Bibles, look at it wit me.

“For the love of Christ constraineth us.”

It grabs a hold of me. It takes control of me. Not the wrath of God. I am beyond that. I have been freed from that. Now the love of Christ, the love that Christ bestowed on me, the love that I have for him. That love grabs a hold of my hand. It grabs a hold of my arm. It grabs a hold of my arms. It constrains me. Why?

“Because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.”

So you don’t live for yourself anymore. You don’t live for yourself anymore. You don’t live for your children. You don’t live for your wife. You live for him and him alone. You don’t live for the United States army. You don’t live for the corporate dollar. You don’t live for the state. You live for him and him alone. He constrains you. He controls you. Every decision you make is based on what would you have me to do, Lord. You are not concerned about what you want to do in life, you are concerned about what he has for you to do, not what college do I want to go to, but where would you have me to go to college, Lord. Not what occupation do I want, but what occupation do you want me to have, Lord. Not what wife do I want to marry, but what wife do you want me to marry. Not who do I want to date, but who do you want me to date, God, because you get a hold of every aspect of my life.

Will that change you? Yeah. It radically changed Paul. It radically changed Paul. So the gospel is supposed to impact my current life. I no longer live for myself. I live for him. Who died and reconciled me.

Verse numbers 17.

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”

So verse 18, now we get to it. Here it is.

“And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us...” , us, folks, not the preacher, not the deacons, not the Sunday school teachers, us, us, the entire body of Christ. We all have a ministry of reconciliation, all of us, the entire Church has a ministry of reconciliation, not those you only have a spiritual gift of evangelism. No, that is not what Paul says. Paul said everybody has a ministry of reconciliation.

Verse number 19 says, look at it closely please, not only do we have a ministry of reconciliation, we have a word of reconciliation. Our message is one reconciliation.

Verse 20 says we go forward with a message of, “Be ye reconciled to God.”

Be reconciled. Be reconciled. Be restored. And so our message is not pray this prayer to avoid hell. Our message is not an intellectual assent to the existence of Christ. Our message is not bring your sins up to this bar and exchange them for a [?]. Our message is not a health and welfare gospel. That is not our message.

Maybe you don’t understand what I mean, so let me give you a similar illustration. What would do you about a guy who said, “You know what? I don’t want to be by myself when I am old and gray so I am going to go find me a wife”?

What would you do with a guy who said, “You know what? I am tired of doing my own laundry and I would really like somebody to cook for me so I am going to go find me a wife”?

What would you think about that idea?

You say, “That is ridiculous. That is not why you get married.” You say, “That is ridiculous. Preacher, you get married because you love somebody and you adore them and you want to spend the rest of your life with them.”

Well, that is the gospel message. The gospel message is it is time to stop adoring yourself and start adoring the Creator God of the universe. The gospel message is now it is time to start serving God and God alone. We don’t come from a message of get out of hell and go back to your own life living it any way you want. That is not our message. Our message is it is time to be reconciled to God. You have been living for yourself long enough. It is time to restore your relationship with God.

And so our message of reconciliation comes from Acts 20:21 in which it requires repentance towards God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Every single counselor has to talk about repentance towards God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. That is the true gospel. That is the only gospel, repentance towards God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. You cannot waiver from that. That is the message that the apostles gave and we must continue to preach that message.

God is not reconciling people to himself so that they do not go to hell. He is restoring them to a place of harmony and friendship with himself so they might glorify his name and that people who are righteous and are being made righteous by the sanctifying grace of God. That is why we are saved, to glorify his holy name. And we do that through holy living, folks.

Look at verse number 21 in 2 Corinthians and then we will flip over and compare it to Colossians one. Look at what he says. Look what he says, folks.

He says, “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”

Now turn back to Colossians 1:22 and look what he says there and we will wrap it up. Look at what he says, folks. Three things. Why?

“Why does he reconcile us, pastor? Why is it so important that we are reconciled? Why doesn’t justification sufficient? Why does he reconcile us? Why does he redeem us? Why does he do all that for us?”

So that he can present us “holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight.”

That is why. That is why.

So the message is you are in darkness and he delivered you to light. The message is you are a sinner and he took the righteousness of the Son and put it on your account. The message is you were enslaved and he bought you off of the block. The message is you were way out there and he set you apart. The message is you were alienated from God and he took that enmity and he got it out of the way and he said, “Let’s go. Let’s get the friendship back in place.”

He is literally moving us back to a pre fall day. He wants to walk and talk with you in the cool of the garden. He wants to have an intimate, personal, close relationship with you. He wants you to get up in the morning and start your devotion time out with a close and personal time.

God, I just want to be close to you. And he says, “Not only have I justified you, not only have I redeemed you, not only have I delivered you out of darkness, but I have reconciled the harmony that is supposed to be there so that we can have a friendship.”

This is what you have got going on. You have go the judge of the county. You have go the judge of the county forgiving your debt and inviting you over to his house for a barbeque.

And you go, “Man, you are just the judge that forgave my sins.”

Yeah. Not only am I going to forgive them. Come on over. Let’s grill some burgers together. Let’s sit by the patio and enjoy some friendship together. Let’s get close and personal. I want you to know me. Not way out there distant, not far, far away, not unbelievably amazing and I can’t even fathom. No. I am going to come in with you and sup with you and be with you. I am going to fill you with my Spirit so that you can have a close and intimate relationship with the God of the universe.”

Now do you see why it is so important for us to preach a ministry of reconciliation? How awesome that is.

All right, all right. Let’s go to our closing slide.

So let’s wrap it up with what is the application of this. What is the application to God’s people in the 21st century?

Number one, we go with the message that is so awesome. The Mormons don’t have the message. The Jehovah Witnesses don’t have this message. Buddhists don’t have this message. Muslims don’t have this message. Nobody has a message of reconciliation like we do. Nobody does. Nobody talks about the intimacy that the Word of God communicates. Nobody talks about being filled with the Spirit of God and having a close and personal relationship with the creator God of the universe. No one talks about that. Christianity is alone in that teaching. Christianity is alone in communicating that you can have a personal relationship with the sovereign God of the universe.

And then let’s take it real personal and then we will be done.

How in the world could any of us not be reconciled one to another? How could any of us... listen to me very closely, please. Listen, please. How could any of us not be reconciled one to another?

Aaron, how is it that maybe I come to camp and we have a falling out for whatever reason, but you have been reconciled to God and I have been reconciled to God. How could it be that I enjoy reconciliation with God the Father and you, my brother, enjoy reconciliation with God the Father, but you and I we can’t be reconciled? How could that be? You are a new creature in Christ. I am a new creature in Christ. I have been reconciled. You have been reconciled. How in the world could we hold any animosity towards each other insomuch as we love the reconciliation that God the Father has done for us through Christ?

Counselors, are you getting it? Because listen to me very closely. The children and the teenagers that you counsel with need to be reconciled to somebody. I promise you, if they are hurting, if they are distraught, if they are in rebellion, if they are having difficulties there is somebody that they need to be reconciled to. Often it is going to be a mother or a father. Often it is going to be the authority figure in their life. So once you get this reconciliation done, you have got to start working that lateral reconciliation.

Who do you need to forgive? Who do you need to forgive?

Again, let’s make it real intimate. Let’s make it real personal, brother Bill. How could a husband who loves Jesus and a wife who loves Jesus have irreconcilable differences between them? It should never happen, folks. It should never ever. How in the world would a marriage end up in divorce if the father has been reconciled and the mother has been reconciled? How in the world would a marriage end up in divorce if the father has been reconciled, the husband is reconciled and the wife has been reconciled? How in the world would anyone justify their refusal to be reconciled to another human being when they enjoy the reconciliation that the Father has provided?

That should never ever happen in the body of Christ. And when two Christians are refusing to be reconciled, when two counselors are refusing to be reconciled, when two students are refusing to be reconciled, that is sin, sin which must be confronted and dealt with through the what? Though the power of the gospel. The same gospel that saves a soul from hell is the same gospel that has the power to reconcile two individuals who believe they have irreconcilable differences.

Let’s pray.

Ten Suggestions for 2011 from Andy Webb

1) Read Your Bible Before you read your email, log in to Face Book, turn on the radio, etc.

Far too many of us spend time in the world, before we spend time in the Word and as a result we begin the day with the wrong frame of mind and perspective, and not having "broken our fast" by partaking of the bread of heaven. For many people, this means that they begin the day having partaken of things that cause them to be irritable, anxious, or distracted, rather than filled with the things that promote peace, contentment, and knowledge. If we wonder why we are weak in the faith, it might just be because our primary diet consists of things that are not spiritual food. Let your first meal in the morning be the milk and meat of the Word of God!

"Oh, how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day. You, through Your commandments, make me wiser than my enemies; For they are ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers, For Your testimonies are my meditation." (Psalm 119:97-99)

2) Start attending the church events you normally miss

If there is one thing we learn from the Apostolic church, it is that they never missed an opportunity to worship together. “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.” (Acts 2:42) This should still be the fondest desire of every Christian’s heart. "I was glad when they said to me, "Let us go into the house of the LORD." (Psalm 122:1) But it is also something that we desperately need for our growth. Indeed, the Christians who are growing the most in the faith are almost invariably the ones who spend the most time in worship and study. Sometimes people really are providentially hindered from attending the services of the church, but more often than not we have simply made a decision not to go. There are many excuses we can generate for not coming to both worship services on Sunday or the Bible Study or the Prayer Meeting, but how often can we honestly say, "Lord, the thing that I am doing instead of going to church is more important than worshipping you with the saints and is better for my spiritual growth?" Do we really think that the eternal blessings that we gain from attending on the means of grace will not outweigh the temporary hassles of traveling to church? Do we expect that in heaven we will say, "I'm glad I didn't go to church more often?" or that if we did attend all the church services we could that we will regret doing so?

Finally, before you protest that you would be physically exhausted if you attended more of the services of the church, make sure that there aren't other activities you could cut out that would enable you to get more rest. Often church is the first thing we remove from our schedule rather than the last. Christians are by definition people who hope to spend eternity in the corporate worship of the Lord, and we need to begin living now as we mean to continue forever afterwards. Remember, we can suffer from a lack of grace, but it is impossible to suffer from having gotten too much of it!

"not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching." (Heb. 10:25)

3) Begin and Stick to a Pattern of Daily Family Worship

Properly understood there are three different spheres in which worship should take place; privately, as we do our personal devotions, corporately, as we assemble for worship with the other saints on the Lord's Day, and household, as families assemble to worship together on a daily basis.

While all the different spheres of worship have declined in modern times, perhaps none has suffered quite so much as family worship, and I believe that the results of this decline can be seen in the exodus of covenant children from the church. Simply put, an hour of corporate worship or even an hour of corporate worship and a youth program like AWANA cannot ever replace daily household worship and instruction. Fathers, you and not your pastor, youth pastor, or Sunday school worker have been charged with bringing up your children in the training and admonition of the Lord (Eph. 6:4). You simply cannot do this without following that daily pattern of instruction and worship set out in Deuteronomy 6. Additionally, Family Worship is a bulwark of any marriage, and you will find that although it is a cliche, there is a LOT of truth to the saying "The Family that Prays Together, Stays Together." Indeed, it isn't surprising to see that as family worship has declined, divorce rates have increased. In 10 years of pastoring, I have yet to encounter a family that kept a regular pattern of daily family worship that was on the verge of divorce.

Many families are intimidated by the thought of starting a pattern of family worship because they were not brought up doing it themselves, and were thus never taught how to worship at home. The keys to starting off a successful program of family worship are simplicity and consistency. If you have never done it before, I would recommend you start this way.

First, pick an event that the entire family already does together, such as eating a meal like then covenant that as soon as you have finished your meal you will assemble together for family worship. Keep your family worship simple and brief, and make your family wish there were more of it rather than wish that it would finally end. A sample pattern for worship might include:
Father or Mother Prays
Father reads a short selection from the Bible (no more than a chapter!) that he is familiar with and can explain, or from a good family devotional like the ones written by Jim Cromarty.
Father explains the text and asks the children some questions about the text designed to stimulate thought and conversation
The family closes by praying together and offering up their individual praises and requests to God
Later, after your worship has grown consistent, you can begin gradually adding in other items like singing and reciting the Shorter Catechism, Lord's Prayer, Ten Commandments, etc.

"We will not hide them from their children, Telling to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, And His strength and His wonderful works that He has done. For He established a testimony in Jacob, And appointed a law in Israel, Which He commanded our fathers, That they should make them known to their children; That the generation to come might know them, The children who would be born, That they may arise and declare them to their children, That they may set their hope in God, And not forget the works of God, But keep His commandments" (Psalm 78:4-7)

4) Start Reading Systematically Through the Bible

One of the trends that has emerged over the years is that while Christians read email, text messages, magazines, novels, and Facebook, they rarely read the bible. The bible reading that does go on is either needs based (I have to read this for a bible study) or random. The result of this is that bible knowledge amongst Christians is declining at a precipitous rate. As an example of that, one seminary president pointed out that while it used to be the case that only 1/3 of the incoming class failed the English bible exam, now only 1/3 of the incoming class pass the English bible exam. It should shock us that the majority of future pastors begin their training without a firm grasp of the content of the bible, but it should be even more distressing when we consider that these men usually represent the most biblically astute members of the church.

A failure to read systematically through the bible also tends to generate an atomistic understanding of verses. We may be familiar with what a particular verse says, but we are not aware of its context or its connection to the rest of scripture. This often leads to serious theological error. It also often means we fail to recognize the progressive nature of revelation in the bible.

Instead, find a bible reading plan such as McCheyne’s and read through entire books in BOTH the Old and the New Testaments. Even if you don’t want to begin a bible reading plan, at least begin a process whereby you select books of the bible and read them rather than merely letting your bible fall open at random.

“But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:14-17)

5) Read at Least Two Christian Biographies this Year

Few things are as informative and encouraging as the biographies of great Christians. Through them, we learn that the God who equipped and sustained the Christians of the bible is still raising up ordinary men and women like ourselves to go out and do extraordinary things for his kingdom. These biographies are packed full of practical Christian wisdom that would take us a lifetime or possibly several lifetimes to learn ourselves. My own testimony is that other than the bible, no other kind of book, has taught me as much as biographies about the Christian faith and I include systematic theologies in that statement!

If you have never read Christian biographies before, I would recommend getting started with the excellent collections of short biographies written by Faith Cook.

"Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us" (Hebrews 12:1)

6) Start Keeping a Prayer Log

We are told and shown again and again how powerful prayer is and encouraged with statements like “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” to be often in prayer for one another and yet many Christians have great difficulty praying on a regular basis, and many do not know what to pray for or doubt the efficacy of their prayers when they do. Other times we simply forget the things that we have said we will pray for.

Most of these problems will be immediately eliminated if you simply begin to record the things that you should be praying for, and then also record the way in which God answers your prayer. This will also help you to become consistent in your prayers. I would recommend you use an organizer, or a notebook, or your computer to start listing the things you are praying for and the way in which God answers those prayers.

“Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart, saying: "There was in a certain city a judge who did not fear God nor regard man. Now there was a widow in that city; and she came to him, saying, 'Get justice for me from my adversary.' And he would not for a while; but afterward he said within himself, 'Though I do not fear God nor regard man, yet because this widow troubles me I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.'” Then the Lord said, "Hear what the unjust judge said. And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them?” (Luke 18:1-7)

7) Start Meeting for Fellowship and Accountability with Other Christians

One of the reasons we often wither in the faith, become susceptible to temptation, or simply “get into a rut” is a lack of regular fellowship with Christians outside of our own family. Make it your habit to meet with Christians, of the same sex, for regular fellowship and seek out Christians who are further along in their walk to be your mentors. Often in scriptures like Titus 2 we see it taken for granted that older Christian women will mentor younger Christian women, and that older Christian men will mentor younger Christian men. These brothers and sisters will pray for you, exhort you, teach you, and stir you up to love and good works. They will also keep you accountable in ways the world NEVER will.

"but exhort one another daily, while it is called "Today," lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin." (Heb. 3:13)

8 ) Begin Reading About and Praying for the Persecuted Church

From time to time most of us will grumble about our lot in life and frankly be discontent about our circumstances. We will condemn anything the causes an uncomfortable change in our lives as “unfair” and our three great enemies the world, the flesh, and the devil can use these practices to cause harm to us and those around us. This is usually the result of making a habit of comparing ourselves to ourselves, or perhaps those whom we perceive to be in even more agreeable circumstances than we are. When, however, we are well acquainted with what our brothers and sisters are enduring for the faith in Islamic or Communist nations, we will quickly realize that our own circumstances are almost ideal by comparison. One Indian pastor I spoke with openly wondered how one could even preach the gospel in the midst of so much material wealth. His own congregation worshipped in a cinder block building with a corrugated metal roof and no air-conditioning. No one in his entire congregation owned a refrigerator, and the idea of being able to have flush toilets and clean hot and cold water coming out of taps in your own room was unheard of. What we take for granted, they considered to be like living in heaven already.

Also, if we consider what our brothers and sisters in Christ have to endure, we will recognize that Paul’s statement that “all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.” (2 Tim. 3:12) remains true. Indeed, our own faith may be strengthened by the fact that the Lord who sustains persecuted Christians in the midst of so much tribulation is the same God who has promised never to leave or forsake us as well.

Above all, we should be praying for the persecuted because we are commanded to do so, and if the circumstances were reversed and we were the ones being attacked or imprisoned for our faith, we would want to know that no matter how bad things were, other Christians were praying for us!

"Remember the prisoners as if chained with them -- those who are mistreated -- since you yourselves are in the body also." (Heb. 13:3)

9) Start Praying that the Lord Would Give you Opportunities to Share Your Faith With Others

The results of Barna polls conducted in 2010 suggested that American evangelicals are becoming less evangelism oriented than ever, and “less inclined to discuss Christianity with their friends than was true in the past.” This is tragic for two reasons, first, because sharing the faith is one of the primary ways our own faith grows and is strengthened, and second because this is and always has been one of the primary ways that God uses to spread the gospel, even in times of persecution. “Therefore those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word.” (Acts 8:4)

Make it your aim to pray that the Lord would not only give you opportunities to talk about Christianity, but that when those opportunities arise, you would take advantage of them. In order to encourage you to do that, I want to share with you an exhortation that Charles Haddon Spurgeon delivered to the members of his own church on May 1, 1870:

“If you have found mercy, you ought to praise God and tell others, so that they may believe and in their turn lead others to Jesus. This is the way the kingdom of God grows. I am afraid you are guilty here. See to it, dear ones, and who can tell of what use you yet may be? There was a dear servant of Christ who was just on the verge of the grave, very old and ill, frequently delirious. The doctors said no one must go into the chamber except the nurse. A little Sunday–school boy, who was rather curious, peeped in at the door to look at the minister. The poor dying servant of God saw him, and the ruling passion was strong even in death. He called him. “David,” said he, “did you ever close in with Christ? I have done so many a time, and I long that you may.” Fifty years later, that boy was living and bearing testimony that the dying words of the good man had brought him to Jesus, for by them he was led to seek Christ.

You do not know what a word might do if you would but speak it. Do not keep back the good news that might bring salvation to your wife, to your husband, to your child, to your servant. If you have indeed felt the Lord’s anger pass away from you, right now, on your knees repeat this vow, “My God, I will praise You! I have been a sluggard. I have been very silent about You. I am afraid I have not given You of my substance as I ought. I am sure I have not given You of my heart as I should. But oh, forgive the past, and accept your poor servant yet again. Then ‘I will praise thee; for though thou wast angry with me, thine anger is turned away, and you comfortedst me.’”

"But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;" (1 Peter 3:15)

10) Don't Do Anything You Couldn't Ask the Lord to Bless in Prayer!

Many years ago, an evangelist by the name of Brownlow North wrote the following simple but helpful rule for Christians: “If you are in doubt as to a thing being right or wrong, go to your room and kneel down and ask God’s blessing on it. (Col. 3:17). If you cannot do this, it is wrong. (Roms. 16:23).”

Sometimes we will have difficult decisions to make over issues that even sincere Christians disagree upon, but more often than not, the word of God contains explicit advice on the subject, but we would rather not follow it. For instance, we can be assured that whenever our action will clearly cause us to violate one of the Ten Commandments, it is wrong. If it is not of faith, it is sin, and if God wouldn’t bless it, you shouldn’t be doing it!

"And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him." (Col. 3:17)