Bear Witness to the Truth, Not Fake News

I swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help me God.

These words not only signify one of the most crucial moments in a courtroom scene but also find a primary place in the Christian life. Just as in a court case when witnesses take an oath to assure they will tell the truth, so we as Christians must realize the utmost importance of knowing the truth and telling the truth. This is especially the case when it comes to social media. In an era declaring fake news, we must follow the lead of our Lord and live out and share the truth on our Facebook timelines and our Twitter feeds.

Prior to the 2016 presidential race, I admit I was unaware of how severe the crisis of truth was within our churches. To be sure, the need to speak truth is nothing new, and I understood this need to teach truth in the face of false teaching. Yet, what I witnessed in 2016 was the markdown of truth’s value for those who profess to know the Truth. On social media, I began to see Christians defend positions, not because it was a matter of right and wrong, but because it was held by the right or left. I saw feeds filled with shared posts that were not concerned with the facts but with what fit their preconceived notions. Instead of prioritizing the Good News, I witnessed too many Christians’ profiles proclaiming fake news with skeptical statistics and questionable quotes. They gave no regard to the sources of what they shared. This trend has only continued in the years following.

As Christians, you and I must do better. We must check our sources and follow the example of the Bereans who “received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so” (Acts 17:11). These believers examined the Scriptures to see even if the faithful teaching of the Apostle Paul lined up with the rest of Scripture. They were a people concerned with biblical truth, because they knew the Word of God spoke absolute truth (Ps 19:9Prov 30:5). As followers of the Way, they knew to follow Jesus was to follow the very embodiment of truth (Jn 8:31-3214:6). For they and us, the ultimate source of truth is the Word of God and the truth we hold is in Jesus Christ.

This has specific application for us as Christians when it comes to our social media use. As believers, we have not been out called of this world in order to serve as a representative for our political party, tirelessly promoting its policies and defending its leaders at all costs. Instead, we are called to be representatives for Jesus Christ before a watching world, proclaiming his gospel and discerning truth from his Word. This call is laid out for us in 2 Corinthians 5:20: “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”

In order to fulfill this call, we need to take note what it means to be an ambassador. The term ambassador describes someone sent by a country to act as its official representative in a foreign country, often with a specific task in mind. While it is ironically most often used in the political sphere, the Apostle Paul makes clear this is a higher call. Elsewhere he reminds us, “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Phil 3:20). Our role as ambassadors for Christ is not merely about our earthly citizenship but our heavenly one. The purpose for posting on Facebook and tweeting out on Twitter should not be to pass along our political party’s agenda. Our task is to pass along and point others to the truth of Jesus Christ. As his representatives, this is our high calling.

Heeding this call ought to reorient our approach to social media. We are witnesses for Christ before a watching world, and many on social media are watching. As we log into our social media accounts, we should be asking ourselves the question, “How can I be a representative for Jesus Christ on social media today?” Before we share that quote or comment on that news headline, we should be questioning, “How does this impact my witness for Jesus Christ?” “Is this Scriptural?” And even when we engage in disagreements on Facebook, we ought to be pondering, “Am I more concerned with winning the argument or being charitable?”

Brothers and sisters, the credibility of our witness is at stake with what we share on social media. May we pay careful attention to the sources of what we share, consider what is worthy of sharing, and point people to the source of truth in Jesus Christ.

A Love Story Worth Reading (Book Review)

Shepard, Valerie Elliot. Devotedly, The Personal Letters and Love Story of Jim and Elisabeth Elliot. B&H Books, Nashville, TN. 2019. 304 pages.

As someone who has a heart for missions, I have always respected Jim and Elisabeth Elliot. From Jim’s commitment and sacrifice to reach the unreached for Christ to Elisabeth’s resolve to go to the unreached people group who killed her husband, this couple is a witness to the mission of God in the gospel of Christ. If you are familiar at all with more recent church history, you will know who the Elliots are. The respect is warranted. Yet, what I did not realize is not only are the Elliots two people I greatly respect but people who I can resonate with. This is all because of what their daughter, Valerie Elliot Shepard, shares in her new book, Devotedly, The Personal Letters and Love Story of Jim and Elisabeth Elliot.

Love Letters and Journal Entries

Organized into six sections covering years 1948-1953, the book contains various journal entries of both Jim and Elisabeth as well as letters written by each other to each other. Readers will travel along as they see both Jim and Elisabeth wrestle with the call of whether he call of God to missions involved a lifetime of and commitment to singleness or if God brought them together to be one on mission for Him. Over the course of these six years, themes of waiting and a commitment to God’s will are prevalent. Readers will witness through these letters and journal entries the struggle of love, the reality of fallenness, but a hope for what God has called together. In a culture that lives for instant gratification, a love story like this on patience and purity is a much-needed one. As a single myself, I am not one for love stories but this one is exceptional, with a patient call on the Lord’s timing and a commitment to purity while waiting. This untold part of the Elliot’s story is a story that not only shares what their love looked like but also shows how to steward love in a way that honors God.

Letters of Elliots and Lessons for Us

While the subtitle of the book speaks of personal letters and love story, the book is much more than that. Thanks to Valerie Elliot Shepard, not only are these letters of her parents accessible to us, but the lessons she shares from them challenge us to this same type of story. As Mrs. Shepard shares, “If I could express my one hope for compiling this book, my prayer is that these entries of theirs would call us to search faithfully for God in His Word” (Shepard 45). What makes the love story of Jim and Elisabeth Elliot one of the greatest love stories is because they knew the love of God and were committed to Him first.

Read and Learn

While I could go on and recount many stories from the book, I was refreshed to not only read about these people I respect in church history but also people I can now resonate with as they considered their seasons of singleness and sought out the Lord for His will and in their relationship. This book portrays Jim and Elisabeth Elliot as real people, sinners who were in need of God’s grace just as we all are and people who had their faults. In the end, though, their resolve to love God and live for Him is the greatest display of love one could know and a lesson we can all learn to apply. If you want to know what it looks like to commit yourself to the will of God and steward a relationship well, then consider reading and learning from Devotedly, The Personal Letters and Love Story of Jim and Elisabeth Elliot by Valerie Elliot Shepard.

I received this book from B&H/Lifeway Bloggers Program in exchange for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own and are my honest review of the book.

Getting to Know You: Steve Sering

[Getting to Know You is a monthly series, featuring an interview with the Weekly Word devotional contributors. This month’s interview is with Steve Sering.]

Tell us a bit about your family.

I grew up in a Christian home with my parents, older brother and younger sister on the south side of Indianapolis. I learned about who Jesus was and what He did for me on the cross at church. I fell out of church during my middle school years and came back during my sophomore year of high school, actually becoming a Christian then. I went through a rough bout of depression before coming to Christ and receiving forgiveness of sin and new life in Him in 2002. God set me on a new course for ministry from that point forward and I received the call to become a pastor about seven years ago. My family has been incredibly supportive every step of the way. They are awesome!

What church do you attend and in what ministry areas do you serve? What are your hopes for future ministry?

I serve as the worship leader for Circle City Canvas Church in downtown Indianapolis, an outreach to the artistic community. It is a huge blessing! We are a young church plant, getting our feet beneath us and building a strong core. We do a lot of outreach to the downtown community. And by God’s grace, in the future I plan to become a senior pastor.

Where have you and where are you receiving education and training for ministry?

I graduated from Crossroads Bible College in Indianapolis with a bachelor’s degree in Leadership and Ministry in 2013 and am currently attending Southern Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky for a Masters of Divinity degree.steve-sering

What are hobbies and things you like to do for fun?

I enjoy reading Scripture and Christian books.  Also, listening to and writing music, spending time with friends and family and watching the occasional superhero movie. That satisfies my “inner nerd.”

Do you have a favorite band or type of music?

Being a worship leader and musician, I almost have to enjoy Christian music.  Specifically, I enjoy Chris Tomlin, Jeremy Camp and Sovereign Grace Music.  If I had to pick favorite songs I would go with How Great Is Our God, Mighty to Save and Walk by Faith. Any music that is Gospel-centered and Christ-exalting I am a fan of!

Other than the Bible, what book has had a great effect on your Christian life?

C.J. Mahaney’s The Cross Centered Life has been monumental in my growth as a Christian!  It is a short book, only 80 pages, packed with powerful truth concerning what the Gospel is and how it affects your daily life. The main take away for me was to “preach the Gospel to yourself” everyday.  The Gospel of Christ and him crucified is not just meant to save us, but to continually change us to be more like Jesus. Daily “self-preaching” helps the Christian to think deeply and live passionately for the Gospel. I highly recommend it for every believer, all ages and stages in Christian growth and maturity!

What passage of Scripture has impacted you most in this season of your life?

This current season has been a painful but refining one.  Perhaps the most impactful passage has been Romans 8:9-11 where Paul writes on the power of the Holy Spirit.  “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you” (v. 11). Knowing that the same Spirit that rose Jesus from the dead dwells inside of me and empowers me to overcome sin and obstacles in my life has been very encouraging and the perfect medicine for my wounded spirit. Also, 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 has strengthened me. Amidst losing something precious to me, Jesus reminded me: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (v. 9). I took comfort in knowing that even the great Apostle Paul had a thorn, some kind of weakness that drove him back to Christ. In my experience, my weakness became God’s strength. Christ’s grace revived my hurting heart and gave me hope to press on. God’s Word is so powerful!  He also inspired me to write a new songs in order to carry me through the trials.

How can people be supporting you in prayer?

In my ministry as a worship leader-to grow as a leader and learn more and more to usher in God’s Spirit and presence into the services and more importantly, to live a life of worship, not to just make it an activity at church services.  Also, to hunger more for the Word of God and to be filled more with the Spirit through knowing and experiencing more of Christ in the Gospel.

One of Those Years

In 2013, I lost three of my grandparents to death. I officiated two of those funerals and spoke at the other. While I grieve as one who has hope because of the gospel, it has still been a rough year. I wanted to share with you this poem I wrote as a way of remembering and paying tribute to my grandpa and my grandma Dawson and my grandma St. John. We all love you and miss you!

2013, it’s been one of those years,
marked by losing loved ones and shedding tears.
Missing my grandpa and my grandmas too,
it just doesn’t seem the same without you.
I miss your handshakes, hugs, and love,
but I know you are smiling from above.
We thank God for the time we were allowed to spend
with you, enjoying laughter as family and friend.
Even as you are gone, we are not far apart,
for you and your memory resides in my heart.

Remembering Grandma


It has been seven months since my grandmother’s passing. I remember upon hearing the news and going to be with my family, hearing “10,000 Reasons” by Matt Redman. That song will always remind me of grandma. There have been times of remembering and times of mourning that still go on. I still miss her. She was and is the first close person I have lost to death. It is hard. Yet, for me there was a peace because she knew Christ as her Lord and Savior. She had trusted in him. Ecclesiastes 7:2 says, “It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting, for this is the end of all mankind, and the living will lay it to heart.” These words are ringing true in my ear. To witness a death and to struggle in grief and healing allows one to think of their own life. The truth is that we will all die. Death and funerals remind us of that. It causes us to think what lies ahead in this life and the next.

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It is when I am visiting my grandmother’s grave, I am reminded that she, as well as the other graves that surround her, all have stories. Stories of lives that people lived. Stories of these people’s ultimate eternal destiny. As I thought of 1 Corinthians 11:17-34, I recalled that we are told to remember the Lord’s death. His death is what makes possible eternal life with God. So I asked God then and there to allow me never to forget the cemetery. I need to remember the cemetery because it reminds me of the precious moments of life. It reminds me that one day I will die and will go to either heaven or hell. Because of Christ, I can joyfully say I will see my grandmother in heaven. I want my life to be lived in the words of C.H. Dodd, “Only one life twill soon be past; only what’s done for Christ will last.” May it be so with you.

Proclaiming Christ

This summer I have had the opportunity to intern at my home church, Crossroad Community Church. I have been able to see some of the behind-the-scenes work that goes on in ministry. I also have had the privilege of leading communion devotionals as well as preaching a message. It is through all this that I have been taken to 2 Corinthians 4. I have meditated upon this passage and, as a result, has had a great impact on me. It is in this letter by Paul we read, “For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake” (2 Corinthians 4:5). This is such a powerful statement! All too often, I find myself getting proud because I simply have received a compliment from somebody. From that comes the desire for me to proclaim myself. But that leads to a dead end. Where would I be without God’s grace? See, proclaiming myself is not good news to others. Proclaiming myself does not save anyone. Rather, I am to proclaim Christ and Him alone. It is because of Christ we can be forgiven and be saved! It is Christ who is to be preached. We need to show the “knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (4:6). While much more could be said, and much more have I learned, the main lesson I’ve learned is that I’ve been called to preach Christ. I’ve been called to proclaim God’s Word. I’ve been called to teach, love, and live out the gospel. I have been called to be a servant of Christ and for His sake.

For My Good and His Glory,

Theron

Remembering Christ’s Death

With this being Memorial Day, let us take time and remember those who sacrificed their lives for our freedom. We should also take this time to reflect on the greatest sacrifice ever made for us: Christ and His death on the cross. Paul tells us to proclaim this death until Christ returns (1 Corinthians 11:26). But, why? What is the significance of Christ’s death? What is the importance of his death on the cross?

1 Peter 2:21-25 gives us 5 reasons why Christ’s death is significant and, as a result, why we should remember Him.

For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

1. Christ suffered for us. (v. 21)

Christ came to die for our sins even while we were still sinning. Romans 5:6 says, “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.” Romans 5:8 adds that “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” See, Christ became our substitute on the cross. 1 Peter 2:24 reflects upon Deuteronomy 21:22. According to Deuteronomy, a person who had committed a crime was hung on a tree and cursed by God. Thus, Christ became a curse for us. It is by this suffering, we are called to follow. However, this following is not to be the exact same way. We cannot save ourselves, because we have fallen short. Christ doesn’t fall short, though.

2. He lived a sinless life. (v. 22)

Christ was perfect and completely obedient to God’s Word. He lived a sinless life. Romans 3:23 tells us that we all fall short, we sin, we fail. In other words, where we fail and where Adam fails, Christ succeeds. We, then, need a perfect representative to fulfill the law. Christ has done that. We can be saved because of Christ’s work.

3. He was just in being dealt with unjustly. (v. 23)

Even with living a sinless life, he was treated unfairly. He was without sin but was treated unjustly. He was sinless, suffered, and his reaction was humility (Philippians 2:5-11). What Christ did in his death was that he entrusted himself to God and His will.

4. We have healing and reconciliation through his death. (v.24b-25)

As said, we have sinned and are in rebellion against God. It is only through Christ, his death and work, that we can have healing and reconciliation leading to a personal relationship with God and eternal life. By that, He is the Lord and Shepherd over our souls.

5. He fulfilled the promises of God. (v. 21-25)

1 Peter 2:21-25 echoes Isaiah 53 and shows Christ to be the fulfillment of the Suffering Servant in Isaiah 53. Christ’s death fulfilled prophecy and the promises of God. It is by his wounds we are healed. It is because of Christ’s death (and his resurrection) that we can be saved. That is why His death is significant. We can have life through it.

Why I Am Not Going To Seminary (Right Away)

These last few months have been filled with prayer and consideration. Consideration for seminary once I graduate from Bible college next spring and prayer, asking God to show me whether that is His will for me or not in this season of my life. It is only after this time of taking it before God that I believe I have come to a decision: I will not be going to seminary (right away). I honestly believe this is the direction the Lord is taking me in at this time. This is not to say I will never go to seminary but that I will not be going in the near future. Along with (or because) of God’s direction, there are a number of factors I believe it is best to not to go to seminary right away. They include:

Spiritual Life. Throughout the last three years in Bible college, I must admit I have struggled in consistent Bible reading and prayer. Often, the excuse becomes that I must to do school work so I do not get behind. And, so, the former is neglected. Now, one might say, “Yeah, but its a Bible college. Reading the Bible is part of that school work.” Well, yes, but there is a difference when you are reading for an academic exercise  and when you are reading it to spend some time personally with God. And it is this personal time I have struggled with. It is a maturity issue. Thus, I believe it to be best to take a break from an official school setting so that my spiritual life will not suffer so much.

Ministry Experience. Another reason I have chosen to not go to seminary right now is that I think it would be best to enter into vocational ministry and get practical, hands-on experience. I have learned much in Bible college but have not really been able to put much of it into practice yet. It would be a good opportunity, then, to gain ministry experience and understand the pastorate better before furthering my schooling.

Vast Resources. I have told a few people that if I had lived 200 years ago, I would have probably went to seminary right after Bible college. Why I say this is because as I see it now, in today’s world there are such a vast number of resources out there, such as Gospel Coalition, 9Marks, and Covenant Theological Seminary (they have free lectures from a number of their courses you can download for free). Now, you have to be careful with what resources you choose and be able to discern between the sound and the heretical but I believe I have a level of discernment now that I will be aware of that.

Nevertheless, while a few more options could be given, my point is this: I believe it to be in the best interest of my spiritual health to not go to seminary right after Bible college. I believe this is the Lord’s direction for my life in this season. God bless!

Headed to Haiti

“Blessed to bless.” I remember hearing those words last August as members from my church, Crossroad Community, had just returned from their mission trip to Haiti. I enjoyed hearing about their experiences, and those words have stuck with me. They have so much that ever since hearing that in August, I had considered going on the next trip to Haiti as my church was planning on going again. However, I was unsure about the funding because I knew I did not have the finances myself to go and was too prideful to even think about asking others. So I put it on the back burner.

Then, in February, I  had both of my pastors, Andy and McKeel, inquire whether I had thought about joining the Crossroad Haiti mission team whom would be going this June. I told them I had considered it but was not sure about the financial situation. They encouraged me that if funding was the only thing holding me back to take a step of faith and plan on going on this Haiti mission trip. So I did.

As I took this step of faith, I chose to put $350 of my own money towards the trip. I knew God would have to supply the rest of  the funding if it was indeed His will for me to go to Haiti. So I sent out around eleven letters of support, hoping people would not only support me financially but that they would also pray for the team as preparations for the trip were made.

It is with all this said that I can joyfully say that God has blessed me. I am now fully funded financially for this trip. What is even more amazing is that over half of the money raised was donated by people who I did not even send letters to. Surely, God has been at work. He is currently working on preparing my heart for this trip as it is just a little over a month away. I am looking forward to see what God has in store. Thank you Rick and Acacia St. John, Jim and Linda Brown, Professor Piotrowski, Mike and Laura Hudson, Mike and Beth Lockwood, Ed and Carolyn Hurley, Rick and Susan Cameron, Brian and Tina Bergen, Marcus and Jennifer Schrader, Grandpa and Grandma St. John, Linda Jones, Jeremy Rouse, Chelsea St. John, and Crossroad Community Church. It is because of God’s blessing through you I will now have the opportunity to bless others. Grace and peace through Jesus Christ.