Now we're talking.  Or, more correctly, you're talking.  WE'VE GOT QUESTIONS!  OK then, let's get rolling....

Why do they say the Son of God, when we also say he was God? Did he call himself God or The Son of God?

That's a great question.  They say the Son of God because he used the term.  In fact, Jesus favorite term that he used for himself wasn't Son of God, but rather Son of Man.  If you read through the Gospels, Jesus rarely referred to himself by any other term than the Son of Man.  That's probably for several reasons.  If he had stood on a hillside and said, "Hear ye, hear ye, I'm God.  Yep, I'm the one you've been waiting for.  It's me.  I'm the Messiah.  I'm God.  You may now commence worshipping me", he most likely wouldn't have made it off the hillside.  He would most likely have been stoned on the spot.  Thus ending the promising career of the Son of God.  

Jesus' method was more subtle.  The first mention of him being the Messiah, the Christ, the Son of God doesn't come from Jesus at all.  It comes from others.  In a conversation with Peter, Jesus asks, not tells Peter, "Who do people say I am?"  After Peter enumerates the whole gambit of options folks were suggesting, he then follows up with a second question, "Who do you say I am?"  That's when Peter, not Jesus, says, "You are the Christ".  (the chosen one, the messiah, the savior, the Son of God)  Jesus lead people toward the truth, but then let them figure it out for themselves.

He was the Son of Man because he was man.  He was the Son of God because he was God.  There was a separateness, because Jesus could pray to God, the Father.  Then again, there was a sameness, because Jesus said, "I and the Father are one and If you have seen me, you have seen the Father.  And Jesus forgave sins.  When the Pharisees told him that only God could forgive sins, he didn't argue, he just responded by asking the question, "Is it easier to say your sins are forgiven or to say (to a man who couldn't walk) rise up and walk?".  That's an easy one, but, of course, they refused to answer.  He then followed up with, "rise up and walk", and the guy did.  

Jesus just asked the question, but the answer was clear.  Yes, only God can forgive sins.  Yes, it's easier to say your sins are forgiven than get up and walk to a lame man.  I just did both.  Now, you do the math.  

He said very plainly, "I am God" without ever saying it.  Game.  Set.  Match.



     OK, you're driving this ship.  For this blog to blog, you have to write, not just read. I've volunteered to do the heavy lifting.  All you have to do to make this work is to ask the questions....about JESUS.  ANYTHING!  Nothing's off the table.  So...bring them on.
    Here's the first...

Q:  Did Jesus ever get sick?

A:  Good question!  There's no record of Jesus ever getting sick.  John somewhat gives us a caveat when he writes, " Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written."  That's a lot of room for a lot of stuff.  Obviously, the purpose of the scripture was not to tell us everything Jesus ever did, or everything that was ever done to Jesus, but rather what we needed to know to believe in him and recognize that he was, indeed, the Messiah.
     It's hard to think of Jesus getting sick, seeing how he was the perfect man.  But, that reasoning carries with it the assumption that sickness is always the result of sin on our part.  That would mean that every time I get a sniffle, I need to search my heart and find the sin I have committed and confess it so I can get better.
     No, actually, even though sickness can come from that, it's more likely it is just the result of us walking through a fallen world.  That sniffle may just be from the excess pollen around me or the guy who sneezed on me at Walmart.  Sickness is part of being human.  And Jesus experienced EVERY PART of being human...including being sick.
     The scriptures say that Jesus, "grew in wisdom and stature with God and man".  In other words, he had a normal, unspectacular childhood, which, if you're a parent, you know includes a little colic, swollen gums from teething and a little diaper rash.  God with diaper there's a picture that will blow your mind.  But, he experienced all that there was to this human condition...all of it.



     At Crosspoint, we've started a brand new series entitled #jesusstuff.  We're taking a hard, no-holds-barred look at who the real, historical, biblical Jesus really is.  Not the Sunday School variety.  Not the pasty, Casper Milktoast version either.  The Real Deal. 
     So, how do you know the Real Deal?  Well, let's open up the discourse.  Over the next few weeks I'd love for you to pose the questions.  Anything is open game.  It's the "Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Jesus, But Were Afraid to Ask" Game.
      You ask.  I'll answer.  Just tweet your questions to @tomallenonline.
     This should be interesting....


     The Bible tells us that everything we do is to be done "as unto the Lord".  In other words, no matter who you're doing anything for, you're really doing it for Jesus.  If you believe that, and recognize that, then everything you do should be done as to the King...with excellence.
     "That's good enough", leaves your vocabulary.  There no longer exists a place for mediocrity.  It's replaced by excellence. Therefore, we strive for excellence that exceeds the world's expectations and give glory to God.

Read Colossians 3:17-23



     We believe that God desires an intimate relationship with each one of us.  The primary way that relationship is possible is through prioritizing meaningful time spent together.  Furthermore, we believe that when we pray, God acts, and does far more than we could ever imagine on our own.  Prayer powerfully changes things.
     One of the great tragedies of our day is the concept of prayer as a requirement, a box to check off, a rule to follow, rather than a gift given, a blessing allowed or the greatest opportunity offered to man in his lifetime...that of knowing personally the God of the a friend.

Read Matthew 6:5-13



     That's a big word...INTEGRITY.  It means a lot of different things to a lot of different people.  As a church, one of our core values is that we will honor Christ and his church with integrity.  If we live without integrity, nothing we do matters.  If we live with integrity, nothing else matters.
     So, how do you live with integrity?  The Bible refers to it as living "beyond reproach".  Integrity is all about character.  To have character you have to ask yourself the hard questions.  What are people saying about my life?  How many people are saying it?  Is there anything in my life that could be an embarrassment to myself, my family, my church or my God?
     Those are some tough questions, but if you want to live a life of integrity, they are questions that need to be asked from time to time.

Read 1 Timothy 3:2-7



    When Andrew (the one in the Bible) discovered Jesus, the first thing he did was go and find his brother Peter and bring him to Jesus as well.  One of the marks of a Christ-follower is they want to share Jesus with others.  That's why the scripture refers to the story of Jesus, the gospel, how man can be the Good News.  That's it in a nutshell.  It's Good News.  
     People have referred to evangelism in many ways.  Some have said it's "one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread".  Others simply refer to it as witnessing.  Others prefer the term sharing or inviting or testifying or evangelizing.  Call it whatever you desire, but it should be part of your life, part of your passion, part of your calling, part of your natural bent as a Christ-follower.
     Perry Noble, pastor of Newspring Church, states as one of the church's core values and beliefs that Found People Find People.  Not that they should or they could, but that they will.  Found People will simply by the nature of their foundness,  find people who are lost and assist them to be found as well.
     Are you a Found Person?  Are you actively Finding People?  That's in the DNA of a truly Found Person.  It's what we do.  It's who we are.
     Is it who you are?

Read 2 Corinthians 5:16-21



     I could ask you to list 10 key virtues that are essential to to developing a Christ-like character.  I doubt that 1 out of 100 would list fun as one of the essentials.  Not that we're not about having fun.  It's just that it isn't anything we associate with Jesus or with being one of his followers.
     Whether or not Jesus was fun or had a sense of humor is something we'll deal with later.  In fact, it's one of the messages I'll tackle this summer during the series #jesusstuff.  The bigger question is whether or not we associate fun with being a Christ-follower.  Most of us would say no.
     Why?  Because most of us have a caricature as our picture of Jesus.  We see him with a dead-panned look on his face most of the time.  Yeah, we can see him mad when he turned over the tables in the temple.  We can see him being sad over the death of his friend Lazarus.  Maybe even smiling when the children were brought to him.  But laugh?  Probably not.
     But why?  Because in our heart of hearts we still see Jesus with a list of dos and don'ts.  We see him coming to make us spiritual, which in our estimation is somewhat equated with being a cosmic kill-joy.  Rules and regulations.  When in reality, Jesus came to do just the opposite.  He came to fulfill the rules for us because we were incapable of fulfilling them ourselves.  He came to set us free.  He came to release us and give us joy....and that our joy would be full.  
     Today, put some fun back into your faith.  And LAUGH!

Read Matthew 11:28-30



     How would you rate yourself as a risk-taker?  I'm not necessarily talking about skydiving or bungee jumping or putting your entire portfolio in Facebook stock.  Some of us are by nature risk-takers, while others are natural risk-averters.  No matter what your natural bent is, risk-taking is part of the spiritual journey that God has planned for us all.  He has another name for it.  He calls it "faith".
     Faith is pivotal to our knowing, experiencing, following and pleasing God.  James tells us that "faith without works is dead".  That statement has been debated over the centuries, but, basically, what I believe he's saying is that if you simply say you have faith in God, but it's not leading you to any behavior that's outside your comfort zone, then your rhetoric is nice, but probably hollow and just some words that sound good and help you sleep better at night.
     Faith, by it's nature, moves you to risky business.  It causes you to "zig" when you are much more comfortable "zagging".  It causes you to do some things that are outside your character, because, even though they are outside your character, they are central to God's character.  Faith causes us to do some things that don't add up on paper...because God is not limited to the same math we are.  Faith always pushes us out of the safety of the known into the discomfort of the unknown.  Faith is all about risk.  Not risk simply for the sake of risk, but the risks God personally leads us into.
     So, what's your risk quotient?  God says, "Let's take it up a notch!".

Read Hebrews 11



     Another core value of our church is AUTHENTIC RELATIONSHIPS.  I believe our culture is experiencing relational retardation.  Yes, I realize that word has been listed on the PC never speak  list, but in this case it is a proper term and an appropriate one.  We are relationally retarded.  Our ability and desire to have real, meaningful, intimate relationships has been compromised.  Relationally, as a culture, we are a mile wide and an inch thick.  We have a lot of acquaintances, but few real friends.
     Jesus had 12 guys he hung out with.  Of those, he had three who he could call close friends.  They were all three knuckleheads, but when you're Jesus and all you have to work with is humans, you have to expect and accept knuckleheadism.
     Here's a question for you...Are you intentional about developing authentic relationships?  Are you building relationships that are a mile wide and an inch thick, or are you bucking the trend and building relationships that are a mile deep and inch wide?  Are you developing deep spiritual relationships that help you to grow in your relationship with God?  Are you creating accountability in your relationships, giving people the right to ask you the hard questions?  Do your relationships make you better?  Do your relationships honor God in every sense of the word?

Read  Mark 14:32-42



     Our church has determined what makes us who we are...our CORE VALUES.  One of those is GENEROSITY.  We have determined that we will lead the way with outrageous, contagious, ridiculous generosity.  That we will give up things we love for things we love even more.  We know that we can never outgive God, but that will not stop us from trying.
     Is that how your heart beats?  Does that summarize you?  Are you an extravagant giver?  Does it bring you more pleasure to give than to get?  When faced with an opportunity to give, do you think minimums or maximums?  Do you hold your possessions with a white-knuckled fist or with an open hand?

Read 2 Corinthians 8:7-15



         For a number of weeks, I've been writing about the toxic nature of our culture and everything around us and its impact on our lives.  Now it's time for a little randomness for a while.
     In Matthew 11:28 Jesus said, "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."  Let's look at that verse for just a minute.  Who was he addressing?  All who labor.  Do you labor?  I know I do.  Wow, do I!  I work all week.  I work on Sundays.  (the church is not Chik-fil-A)  I work on my days off.  That's usually when all the stuff I own reminds me that it actually owns me.  I spent all day yesterday working on my back yard. (it looks pretty sweet!)  The plan for this morning is for Susan and I to spend the morning working on planning our vacation, planning meals for the week, planning when we're going to do our taxes (we always get an extension simply because it lets us put it off a little longer), and making some much-needed financial decisions regarding our future.
     Yeah, Jesus, I get that labor part.  My hands up.  See.
     And are heavy laden.  That's a little tougher, but, yes, I think I'm pretty heavy laden some times.  Like when I go to bed at night and instead of falling right to sleep, I think about all the stuff I didn't get finished that day or all the stuff I need to do tomorrow.  Or when the alarm is set for one time and I wake up an hour before it's supposed to go off and try as I may,  I can't go back to sleep because that new message series keeps putting itself together in my head, or what you told me about your marriage yesterday is still haunting me, or the reorganized Org Chart for the staff is causing me second thoughts, etc., etc., etc....  Yeah, I guess I get the heavy laden part too.
     Then he says, Come to me.....and I will give you rest.  Well, I certainly qualify for the criteria he's looking for.  Got the labor down.  Heavy laden...check.  I guess most of us would qualify.  But he says, that's not normal.  That's not my plan for you.  You will be there, you just can't stay there.  His prescription...his command, is first, Come to me.  I hear people talking about the time they spend with God.  It's while they drive to work (that's got to be high quality), or when they put on their make-up or while they _______.  Does that really qualify as coming to him?  Sounds more like "Come along with me Jesus.  Between the radio and the traffic lights and this jerk that won't let me in...come on along"
     And I will give you rest.  Where's the rest?  Let me ask you a question.  Do you prioritize rest?  Or, are you like you feel guilty when you rest?  Do you feel unproductive?  Do you feel lazy?  Wasteful?  Do you ever have a day without a to-do list?  A day with REST written on it in big letters?
     I need to close, so let me just say two things:
     1)  You need rest every day and that rest comes when you go to Jesus.  Not when you invite him to     run alongside you.  When you actually go to him.
     2)  You need to plan for rest, unapologetically and without guilt, and do it.  You are a human being, not a human doing.   That's important.  Remember it.  Live your life as though you believe it.




     For the last few weeks I've been writing about the toxic elements of our culture, our society, our environments and our lives.  Easy to say, just like our bodies can be exposed to a germ-infested environment, our souls are constantly in a state of toxic bombardment.  This can easily go unrecognized, but once we do, we have to determine what we're going to do about it.
     Recognition is tough.  Implementation is much tougher.
     So, are you becoming aware of the toxic elements around you and the impact they have on your soul? If not, I hope you will.  And, once you do, you're faced with a dilemma.  What do I do?  Knowing demands a response.  So, what you gonna do?  That's the question.  That's the elephant in your room now.  Decide.  Implement.  Take action.  Change things.  Protect your soul!

Read James 1:20-26



     Yeah, yeah, I know.  You've heard that one before.  But, that doesn't make it any less true.  If you're hurt, and especially, if you're being hurt over and over, you will, invariably, hurt others around you.  Pain produces pain.  How are you when you're sick?  Fun to be with?  Life of the party?  Do you think well?  Respond well?  React well?  I've made a rule for myself.  When I'm sick I don't allow myself to think about important things, make important decisions or have important conversations with people.  I know I'm not at my best in my thinking or acting.  I just try to shut it down.  Otherwise, I misinterpret data and emotions and make stupid decisions that I later have to go back and revisit.
     People that are hurt emotionally face the same limitations and challenges.  Only difference...they don't get over it in three days.  So, they have a tendency to hurt people.  Not intentionally, but just as real and just as disastrous in effect.
     So, what's the answer?  You have to do what the Bible says to manage toxic relationships.  Only then will you be strong and emotionally and spiritually healthy enough to live out the love of God rather than just living out your hurt.
     Make it a practice to be committed to do whatever it takes to manage the toxic relationships in your life.  Even more importantly, make sure YOU aren't being the toxic one in your relationships.

Read Romans 14:1-23



     I live only a few miles from the sight of a toxic dump sight.  Today, it is just empty fields where the toxic waste has been dug out, removed, contained and covered.  The even more frightening thought is that years ago, where there now stand empty fields, stood rows and rows of homes filled with families.  These families were living right on top of, right in the middle of a toxic disaster, but they had no idea.  They were completely unaware of the danger beneath their feet and the risks of future harm they were bring on themselves through their constant exposure.  They were innocent, but exposing themselves daily to future devastation.
     Even though it may seem innocent, constant exposure to toxic relationships in our lives may be some of the most dangerous things we do to ourselves, our families and our souls.  Like the families in those homes, we sometimes live in ignorance and innocence, but that, in no way diminishes the danger or precludes the eventual outcome.
     Although it is never easy, your toxic relationships may grow to such a point that the only possible solution is to end them.  Like the critical actions that were required in the neighborhood, toxic relationships sometimes require more than cosmetic solutions.
     Today you will read about why it is sometimes necessary to take the ultimate step of ending a toxic relationship.

Read Acts 15:22-41, 2 Corinthians 6:14-18, Deuteronomy 7:1-6



     The Bible is full of examples where the only way to deal with a toxic relationship is to simply end it.  When my children were growing up, I had one simple rule about their relationships.  I didn't attempt to micro-manage all their friendships.  I simply told them, "You have my permission to be friends with anyone, as long as you're rubbing off on them.  However, as soon as I see them rubbing off on you, that's's over...see ya!"  As long as my children were bringing others UP, things were fine.  When others started to drag my kids DOWN, it was my role to step in and put an end to the relationship.
     That's how you deal with relationships with kids...but its not that different when you're an adult.  If a relationship is toxic, if it's impacting you more than you're impacting it, shut it down.  Cut it off.  Say, "See ya!".
     One example of such a situation is with Joseph and Potiphar's wife.  The consequences for shutting it down were pretty devastating for Joseph, but not near as devastating as they would have been to him personally and spiritually had he not shut it down.
     Are there any relationships in your life that are toxic to you spiritually and emotionally that ned to be shut down?

Read Genesis 39:1-23



I’m sorry to have missed you the last few days.  I was out of town and away form everything.  So, as long as I was away, I thought I might as well be AWAY. 

      In Matthew 16,  Jesus shows us that one way that is necessary in handling toxic relationships is to set healthy boundaries, the way he did with Peter.  Of all people, Christians seem to have the most difficulty with this.  Somehow, we think living the Christ-life means living a boundary-free life.  It means letting people teat us any way they want without reacting whatsoever.  In some strange, dysfunctional way, we think that’s what Jesus would do.  We define that as being love. 
     But, look at Jesus in this instance with Peter.  He sets some distinct and discernable boundaries. 
     In your life, that may mean you may need to tell another that you will not allow them to talk to you or treat you in a toxic manner.  Or, you may simply need to communicate to them that your relationship is heading into a toxic place, and that you’re not going to allow it to continue in that direction any longer. 
     That may be a new revelation to you, but true love doesn’t allow others to infect them or their relationship with toxicity.  That means you care enough for yourself, as well as them. 
     What types of healthy boundaries do you need to set in your relationships?

Read Matthew 16:21-28



     Toxic relationships, basically, break down into three categories: Negative, Controlling and Tempters.  Chances are, you can identify one or more of these relationships either from your past, or from the present.  Chances are even better that that you have experienced all three of these types of relationships in you life at one time or another.
     I think the three are somewhat self-explanatory, but just in case...Negative people are not just the glass-half-empty folks.  It goes beyond that.  They are, by nature, fault-finders.  They find fault with everything.  Rather than celebrating what is good and right, they find some form of fault with everything and point out and dwell on that.  I reminded someone the other day they are never more like Satan than when they incessantly find fault.
     Controllers do just that, they seek to be in control of people and situations.  When things are out of their control, or appear to be out of their control, they panic and make others around them miserable.  To enjoy a situation, they need to feel in control of it.  Likewise, to enjoy a relationship, they need to feel in control of the relationship as well.
     Tempters, consciously or sub-consciously, lead us away from God's best for our lives.  Ever been in a relationship with anyone and suddenly you realize that you have somehow drifted from God's best for your life?  Maybe you're not sure how or why, you just have.  You didn't realize it when it was happening, and you're not sure how you got to where you are, but you did.  You suddenly realize that your values have changed, you're more prone to gossip, your commitment level has taken a nose-dive, you're unhappy with things you used to be happy about, etc.  What changed?  You may be able to trace it back to a relationship.  You have begun a relationship, that on the outside looks great, but one that also slowly tempts you to change from who you were into someone you never intended to be.  You've been subtly lured away form God's best for your life.
     What does God's Word say about these relationships?  He says to recognize them, remove yourselves from them and refuse to be a toxic influence in anyone else's life.

Read 1 John 3:1-24



     Surround yourself with the right people and they will build you up and help lead you toward Christ.  Surround yourself with the wrong people and you bring tremendous toxicity into your life.  The wrong people surrounding you can hurt your soul.  The wrong people speaking into you can hurt all your relationships.  They can lead you toward temptation.  They can drag you down...often without your ever even knowing it.  They can easily, easily divert you from God's best for your life.

Read 2 Timothy 2:14-26



PEOPLE.   The people in your life are anything but neutral.  They can be one of the most valuable spiritual assets you possess.  They can also be one of the worst curses on our lives.  God's Word puts it this way, "Bad company corrupts good character".  Translation: The people we surround ourselves with have the capacity to be toxic influences in our lives.  They have the capacity to undo what we have allowed Christ to do in our lives.  They have influence.  Like building your house in the middle of a toxic dump that has been condemned and is unbelievably dangerous and unwise, so it is when we surround ourselves with the wrong people.

But, God reminds us that we are not simply victims in this matter.  We have the capacity to remove ourselves from those who have a toxic impact on our lives and, likewise, we have the capacity, and the responsibility, to surround ourselves with the right people.

Read 1 Corinthians 15:12-34



     When it comes to the topic of sin, God has one very simple prescription for how we are to deal with it...FLEE.  When it comes to the cultural toxins that surround us and impact our lives, God's Word is the same...FLEE!  FLEE from sin.  FLEE from the things that cause us to sin.  FLEE from the things that move us further and further from God.
     But, God never simply says DON'T.  He always says INSTEAD.  INSTEAD of loving and surrounding ourselves with the things that vie for our loyalty to Christ and challenge our contentment with and obedience to him, choose those things that move us closer to God, matter to God, and truly satisfy.  INSTEAD of the things that matter to the world, choose the things that matter to God.

Read 1 Timothy 6:1-21



     I think it would amaze all of us to find out how many things we do simply because everyone else is doing them.  That's called "peer pressure".  I realize we think that's an issue that others deal with, but the truth is, we all do.
     We usually interpret truth by what everyone else is accepting as truth.  (the media, the masses, the majority)  However, when we interpret everything according to God's Word and the purity of His truth, we will realize there are a lot of things people are accepting as truth that really don't draw us closer to God.  In fact, they have just the opposite effect.
     That is why it is imperative that we test everything according to God's Word, because the Bible contains absolute truth.  God's Word, not our culture, should be our guide.  Culture changes daily, but God's Word never changes.  Truth doesn't change.

Read 2 Timothy 3:1-17



     If you were going to poison someone, would you just hand it to them, tell them it was good for them and expect them to drink it?  Or course not.  You'd make it palatable, hide it in foods that your victim enjoyed and give it little-by-little.  Our enemy is wise and subtle.  His desire is to poison us with cultural toxins without us ever even realizing it.
     So, how is it possible to recognize the cultural toxins that surround us and infect us?  Here's a four-step test:
    1.  Am I being entertained by sin?
    2.  Is this pleasing to God?
    3.  Does this lure me away from Christ?
    4.  Is my sensitivity to sin becoming calloused?
     If you answer "yes" to any of these questions, you may want to pause and reassess what you're putting into your mind and soul and possibly take some steps to re-sensitize yourself to the cultural toxins that surround you.

Read 1 Thessalonians 5:21-28, Psalm 24:1-6



     One reason it's so easy to get trapped by cultural toxins is because it's easy easy to rationalize them in our heads.  Most of us, at one time or another, have probably had the following thought: "What may be dangerous for you isn't necessarily dangerous for me".  God's Word says something different.  Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 6 that just because you can, doesn't necessarily mean you should.

     What standards are you using to filter out the cultural toxins in and around your life?  How well do you think your standards mirror this of God?

Read 1 Corinthians 6:12-14, 17-18



     One of the big lies we have trouble with is the seemingly innocuous quantity of cultural toxins we come in contact with.  "It's not that big of a's such a little thing...don't worry, it's minor".  However, when it comes to cultural toxins, it's not about the quantity so much as not is about the qualities of what we allow into our lives.  That argument goes the way of being just "a little pregnant or just a little dead".  It's not so much about the quantity.  Either you are or you aren't.
     Maybe a better analogy would be whether or not you would feel safe if someone only put a little poison in your drink, or there was just a little rattlesnake hiding somewhere in your house.  Does the size really matter?  Does it give you any feeling of safety and security?  Does it keep you free from harm?
     When it comes to cultural toxins, a little bit goes a long way.  As a result, it's important to strive to cleanse these toxins from our system as thoroughly as possible and as soon as possible to limit the long-lasting damage they can so our lives.
     Can you name one cultural toxin that started out in your life as something small and, seemingly, inconsequential, but has grown into something larger?  How has that toxin polluted your life?

Read 1 Corinthians 5:6-8, 2 Corinthians 7:1, John 15:1-17



     Sometimes our problem is that Satan knows us better than we know ourselves.  For instance, he knows that peer pressure is a far more powerful tool than we give him credit for.  I'm not talking about peer pressure from without.  I'm talking about the peer pressure that comes from within.  That urge, that small voice inside us that says, "I don't want to stick out.  I just want to fit in" and "If it's OK for everybody else, then I don't see why it's not OK for me, too".
     One of the battles we fight, or at least need to fight, is the battle against conformity.  The desire to just blend in with everybody else.  Funny, we tell our children, "Just because everybody's doing something doesn't make it right".  But, since our temptation isn't to get a mohawk or pierce something, we somehow put our conformity into a different and more acceptable category.
     The truth is, just because everyone is doing something, (and everybody usually isn't) it doesn't mean it's spiritually harmless for us.  In fact, God's Word makes it clear that the healthy and right way is narrow and less traveled.  If we're swimming downstream like everyone around us, we'll find that toxic influences in our life affect our relationship with God.

Read Romans 12:1-21



     We are constantly warned about toxins in our air, water and food.  These come mostly from pollution and chemicals that so often pervade our lives.  Some we have control over.  Some we do not.
     However, the toxins that may do us the most harm are the ones that are almost undetectable.  These are the cultural toxins.  They are the things that are culturally acceptable, but have the capacity to do irreparable damage to our souls.  Cultural toxins can be found in the books, magazines and websites we read, the music we listen to, the television shows we watch, and in the movies we see.  As we allow these cultural toxins into our lives, it pollutes us.
     Over the next few days, we'll be looking at what God's Word has to say about the dangers of cultural toxins and the importance on recognizing them and focusing on the things that draw us in the direction of God, rather than these toxins.

Read Proverbs 25:26-27 & 3 John 1:11