I Believe that Satan Exists. It’s a logical deduction.

C. S. Lewis said,

“If you find yourself with a desire that no experience in this world can satisfy, then the most probable explanation is that you were made for another world.”

In Lewis style, then,

“If you find yourself with a sinful desire that no amount of will power can overcome, then the most probable explanation is that there is an explanation: Satan.”

Taking an honest look at why we all desire to live forever in a place much better than the present one, Lewis counsels the skeptic to consider that the desire is probably meant to find the reality that it seeks. Likewise, if one takes an honest look at why there is massive evil in the world, by which earthly explanations do not satisfy, then the speculation is probably meant to expose the truth – Satan must be real. Let’s consider a few things that we interact with on a daily basis.

1. A World of Contrast. Hot and Cold. Light and Dark. Sweet and Sour. Fast and Slow. Tall and Short. Love and Hate. Summer and Winter. Refreshing and Rancid. Beautiful and Ugly. You get the picture. If there was a man who once walked the earth and never sinned, not once, and was so selfless that he gave up his life so that others may live forever, then the odds are, is that there is a being who is equal in measure, but in contrast – he is the very embodiment of sin, of selfishness, of deceit and lies, of murder and destruction.

2. A World of Toddlers. Having raised three children, and now watching and playing with two grandsons (not to mention observing little ones at Walmart), there is no earthly explanation for why a one year old can so easily lie, deceive, manipulate, coerce, destroy, strike, seek revenge, play on your fears, apply guilt, all this and more, without the least bit of coaching or example. The most reasonable explanation is beyond societal influence: something is deeply broken at the very core of our existence that can only be explained by believing in someone who is as hellish as Jesus is holy.

3. A World of Death. Here we have the most striking evidence as a witness to the existence of Satan. Death is proof that Sin exists, for death is the consequence of sin. But you cannot speak of sin in the abstract – you cannot say to a wife whose husband was murdered, “there is nothing necessarily evil or good about what was done to your husband.” You must speak of sin on a capital level: Sin is real because Satan is real. And death is the height of the consequence of Sin that has infiltrated what was once completely Good. If you want to know how bad Sin is, look at Death, for death is the consequence of Sin. Which is why Man works so hard to overcome death.

When it comes to Death, no man is a true Darwinian, accepting, even relishing the opportunity to get out of the way so that the strong may survive. No – we protest against Death with a megaphone of deeds, tears, medical care, safety measures, poems and songs, and the respect of the body upon expiration. For me, it is not a strained leap of faith to conclude that behind all this death is a Serpent whose very goal is to kill me and everyone that I love.

Which is why I find within me a desire to see him destroyed along with Death, at the hands of the one who conquered both Death and the Grave. I believe in Satan because I believe that Jesus would not have walked this earth unless there was such a formidable enemy that needed to be put in his place.

Sexual Abuse is not Sexy – Ever!


Dawn Hawkins
February 5, 2015
Fox News

The mass media and throngs of women are swooning over the twisted “love story” “Fifty Shades of Grey,” but this cultural phenomenon’s impact on society will serve only to glamorize sexual violence and romanticize domestic abuse.

While millions of women are fantasizing about the controlling and abusive Christian Grey of fiction, there are many other women dealing with the horrors of actually living with men like him.

In the book, and now the soon-to-be released film, Christian uses manipulation, jealousy, intimidation and violence to control the naive Ana. Most fans overlook and romanticize this because of his powerful position, handsome looks and nice suits. But women like Ana in real life will tell you that a seemingly perfect exterior does not necessarily mirror one’s psychological health or mean that he possesses a moral compass.

A college student, one of many I’ve heard from in my role as executive director of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, wrote to me that Christian is just suffering the consequences of his own abuse, acting out in the only way he knows, and that Ana’s patient, loving behavior helps him overcome his abusive tendencies. Christian is so easily and quickly forgiven for his violent behavior. But forgiveness and devotion to an aggressor who inflicts violence is not sexy. Violence is violence. Sexual violence is worse.

While this should be a black-and-white truth, E.L. James is selling it in all shades of gray. Even worse, over 100 million women are buying it — in over 50 languages.

The reality is that if you take away the glamour, “Fifty Shades” is just a sensationalized lie, telling women that they can, and should, fix violent and controlling men by being obedient and devoted, and that, somehow, this is romantic. It is no surprise that Hollywood is betting millions of dollars that now is the right time to offer sexual abuse and sexual violence against women as mainstream entertainment.

The popularity of “Fifty Shades of Grey” among women also sends a message to men that unrestrained domination is what women want. And, educated by porn, they know how to do it. A majority of men have been getting a regular diet of this kind of violent sex and degradation through porn for years. In it, women are tied up and treated like animals and objects. Much of it is rape-themed.

One of the most popular BDSM (bondage, discipline, sadism and masochism) websites advertises its content as “the sexual persecution of women and young teenage girls.” Ana Bridges, a researcher at the University of Arkansas, conducted a study that found that 89 percent of the most popular porn scenes involved violence, most of which was directed at women by men.

Porn will show you that women enjoy torture and violence, and now “Fifty Shades” is tacking on an unrealistic fairy-tale ending, convincing droves of women that this type of relationship is normal, and that they should just give in.

This is not entertainment or a fairy tale, as Hollywood is claiming. This is glamorization of violence and abuse. Society pays a price when we teach men to be turned on by women in pain. As a result, sexual violence is on the rise in our military, colleges, families and on the street. When violence is made to be sexy, it is no wonder that these are the consequences.

It is time we speak up and stop obscuring the facts by allowing pornographers, like “Fifty Shades” author E.L. James, to lure us into viewing this lifestyle as attractive, harmless and empowering.

The National Center on Sexual Exploitation has a website, fiftyshadesisabuse.com, that details 50 problems with this disturbing trend in entertainment media. This project comes in an effort to educate the public on how sexual exploitation affects society on both individual and public health levels. The site also features the #50DollarsNot50Shades campaign and urges patrons to support survivors of abuse and help educate the public on the realities of “Fifty Shades” relationships.

Hold up a mirror to Christian Grey and you’ll see the reflection of a culture saturated in exposure to violent pornography. This is the porn that has and continues to groom the next generation of men to believe that they are entitled to violent sexual behavior, and that women should enjoy it. “Fifty Shades of Grey” models and reinforces this, while Hollywood is cashing the check. We will not accept what Hollywood is offering.

Glamorizing sexual abuse is not an appropriate topic for entertainment. Remove the glamour and facade of the Christian-Ana relationship and ask yourself if this is the twisted lie you want to tell yourself, your daughter and your friends.

Dawn Hawkins is executive director of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation. Her organization exposes the seamless connection between all forms of sexual exploitation. Find her group on Facebook. Follow them on Twitter@porn_harms.

“No Grey Area”

Here is Kevin DeYoung’s recent post from the gospel coalition site – as always, worth reading.

“There is nothing gray about whether a follower of Christ should see 50 Shades of Grey. This is a black and white issue. Don’t go. Don’t watch it. Don’t read it. Don’t rent it.

I don’t even want to talk about it. Another blogger and I went back and forth for several weeks about how we could write a satirical review panning the movie and skewering those who think they need to see it in order to be relevant. We couldn’t do it. There was no way to make the humor weighty enough to sufficiently condemn such a vile film.

And no, I haven’t seen the movie. I haven’t watched the trailer either. I haven’t read a single page from the book. Reading about the premise from Wikipedia and the IMDb for two minutes convinced me I didn’t need to know any more. Sex is a wonderful gift from God, but like all God’s gifts it can be opened in the wrong context and repackaged in ugly wrapping.  Violence against women is not acceptable just because she’s open to the suggestion, and sex is not open to all permutations, even in an adult relationship. Mutual consent does not a moral philosophy make.

Sex is a private matter to be shared in the privacy and sanctity of the marriage bed (Heb. 13:4). Sex, as God designed it, is not meant for actors who pretend (or not) that they are making “love.” The act of conjugal union is what married couples do behind closed doors, not what disciples of Jesus Christ pay money to watch on a screen the size of your house.

As I’ve said before, we have to take a hard look at what we put in front of our eyes as men and women seated in the heavenly places (Col. 3:1-2). If 50 Shades is a problem, by what standard do we give ourselves a pass on the rest of the sensuality we freely consume? To be sure, awareness of sin is not by itself the problem. The Bible is full of rank immorality. It would be simplistic and morally untenable—even unbiblical—to suggest you cannot watch sin or read about sin without sinning yourself. But the Bible never titil­lates with its description of sin. It never paints vice with virtue’s colors. It does not entertain with evil (unless to mock it). The Bible does not dull the conscience by making sin look normal and righteousness look strange.

Christians shouldn’t try to “redeem” 50 Shades of Grey. We should not get cutesy and advertize a new sermon series on “50 Shades of Grace.” We should not give both art and holiness a bad name by thinking that somehow something as dark as 50 Shades is worth viewing or worth reviewing. According to Paul’s logic, it is possible to expose sin and keep it hidden at the same time (Eph. 5:11-12). “A good man is ashamed to speak that which many people are not ashamed to act” (Matthew Henry).

Some movies do not deserve sophisticated analysis. They deserve sober repudiation. If the church cannot extend grace to sexual sinners, we’ve lost the heart of the gospel. And if we cannot tell people to stay away from 50 Shades of Grey, we’ve lost our minds.”


Heroes of the Faith – Bryan Chapell and John Piper


I had the overdue pleasure of catching up with Bryan Chapell at the Desiring God Conference in Minneapolis, MN. Bryan was the President and homiletics prof. of Covenant Theological Seminary for many years – I have not seen Bryan since I graduated in 1996. John Piper invited him to speak to the pastors this year – what a blessing. To take a trip down memory lane, I took my nearly 20 yr old seminary t-shirt for a photo-op with Bryan.

Bryan is a hero of the faith for me because of his love for Christ and his gospel. Bryan’s book, Christ Centered Preaching, is a standard textbook in seminaries across America – this book demonstrates his love for pastors, teaching us how to preach Christ. This is partly what drew me to CTS. I am so thankful for this man.


A pic with two of the six men who attended the conference with me. And of course, one of my greatest heroes of the faith – John Piper. As always, this year’s conference did not disappoint. Worshipful and majestic singing; passionate, expository Christ Centered Preaching from Romans 1, 5, and 6; refreshing fellowship; renewed love for Christ and his Church; and with the theme of the conference, a deeper understanding of our sin so that we may know how abundant God’s grace is to us through our Lord Jesus Christ.

One take away from the conference.

Lust is not so much an addiction – it’s the result of a trading down for a smaller treasure. If you were sitting at your computer at the height of your temptation, and you were about to click open that porn site, would you still click it open if someone genuinely offered you One Million Dollars not to? Tax free, unmarked, not stolen – $1,000,000 to turn away from porn at that moment? Would you take your hand of the mouse and take the money? Or,

If ISIS stormed your home, and holding a sword to the throat of your loved one, threatening to sever her head, saying, “If you look at that porn site I will remove her head” – would you feel your Lust as an Un-conquerable Addiction, or would you take your hand away to spare the life of your friend?

The reason why so many of our sins run wild is not so much because they are addictions, but rather a flawed belief system based upon what is most valuable. You would take the money and turn away because you value money more than porn at that moment. You would save the life of your friend because you valued her more than lust, at that moment. What was once an “addiction” is now understood as a treasuring of something more valuable to you than lust. Is this biblical?

1 Thessalonians 4:3-4 says this:

“For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that you abstain from sexual immorality (that is, all forms of sexual activity outside of a married man and woman relationship); that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God.”

Do you see it? You control lust by knowing God. If you knew how pleasurable and satisfying and valuable it is to know the Lord, you would turn away from a lesser pleasure, like lust. It’s a matter of what you know and what you believe. Do you believe that if you turned away from clicking on the porn, that the life of your friend would be worth it? Yes or No? Likewise – Do you believe that if you turned away from clicking on the porn, that the knowing of who God is for you in that moment would be worth it? Yes or No? Which means, the more you grow in your knowledge of who God is for you in Jesus Christ, the power of your addictions become impotent compared with the exquisite pleasure of knowing Christ. The way to kill sin is to know a superior pleasure – The Crucified and Risen Lord!

“Take a Snow Day, on Me” – Jesus


I woke this morning to this – and then got on the horn and canceled church. Yaaayyyy – a snow day from Jesus!

I must confess – in 18 years of pastoring, this is the third time we’ve had to cancel church on Sunday because of a blizzard – and I love it. Ssshhhhhhh – don’t tell anyone – my church family may dock my pay. But seriously, for my church family, and for you, dear reader outside my church family, please hear me out. I want to share my thoughts on why I really do enjoy staying home on Sunday as a result of being snowed in.

1. On a day like this I am reminded that God’s Glory is more important than my vocation. Not that preaching the gospel is glory-less, but that Creation is telling the glory of God (Psalm 19:1-2; Job 38-40; Romans 1). And a morning like this on the Lord’s Day, at least I think so, is one way that our Lord is telling his church, “I love your worship of me – look outside and see my handiwork. It is not me that Needs you, but rather it is you who Needs me – and I’m happy to serve you with a little more time to rest at home today” – (Acts 17:24-25).

2. On that point, when I am snowed in on the Lord’s Day, it reminds me that one day, the vocation of pastoring a church will be abolished (Rev. 21:1-4). This means that while we are cuddled up at home today, I can see a time coming when we will no longer seek the Lord by faith, led by a pastor, for the whole Church will know the Lord face to face. One day, my unemployment will be the best thing for the Church!

3. Personally, I love the extra rest. It took nearly 15 hours this week to get ready for today, since I also plan and prepare to lead the worship team and play a variety of instruments in worship, on top of preaching the sermon (BTW, in the bible, it was not the musician who led worship, it was the elders. If they happened to be musically gifted, well and good. But worship is an elder/pastoral responsibility – not a groovy-hip-Fender Stratocaster-holes in the jeans-rocker wanna-be performance). Then, take the 15 hours from the week and add nearly 7 hours of Sunday to it and you have the grand total of about 22 hours a week invested just for the Lord’s Day. Excuse me for a moment while I get another cup of piping hot coffee . . .

4. Ahh! Sssiiipppp . . . Ok. Where was I? Oh yes. Do you know why Paul pleaded with Timothy to “come before winter” (2 Tim. 4:21)? It’s because once winter comes, he won’t be able to come. Simple Conclusion: Winter shuts ministry down. Hhhmmm? Ok . . . let’s not push a false implication. But! Winter is one way that the Lord slows you down and makes you stay home – for your own good. Winter-time is not governed by Mr. Snow Miser, but a glorious and Self-Sustained God who can manage quite well without us.

5. Finally, when deprived of something good, it creates more hunger for it – and that’s a good thing. Worship with my church family is the same for me. When I’m not worshiping on the Lord’s Day with my church family, I miss them very much. I cannot imagine my life without my brothers and sisters in Christ. Very few things remind me of my identity than the members of Christ that I live my life with. This serves as a comforting witness to my soul: If you really do miss being with your family in Christ, then you must be a member of his body. Such good news! And therein lies the Gospel: It was upon Jesus laid, our sins that took us to the grave. But when Jesus died on the cross, he gave me a lifetime and then some, of all good things – including Snow Days, on the Lord’s Day.

Man do I love my recliner, coffee, blanket, sweat-pants, more coffee, soft music, the bible, more coffee, great food, pleasant phone calls, . . . did I mention coffee?