Thursday, September 21, 2017

The Biblical Answer to Racism

"From one man He made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth."
– Acts 17:26a

You can see it in today’s headlines. Although race relations in America have made some real headway, we have a long way to go. There is still far too much distrust, resentment and hatred between Americans of different skin colors. Last month’s events in Charlottesville, Virginia, along with many other tragedies in recent years, have demonstrated that reality.

Now, let’s be honest. Politicians can’t fix the problem; legislation does not fix hatred. Our schools can’t fix the problem; they’ve tried, with only modest success. And for the 10 people in our country who still think that Hollywood has the solutions to our most pressing problems, let me just tell you point-blank: Hollywood can’t fix the problem.

So if the answer to racism is not found in government or in our schools or even in Tinsel Town, where is it found? The answer to racism is in God’s word. The Apostle Paul addressed this point when he was describing the “unknown god” to the religious leaders and teachers in Athens. As Paul spoke to these pagan leaders, he focused on God’s role as Creator: “From one man He made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live” (Acts 17:26).

Paul revealed to the Greek religious leaders a fact that many today are ignorant of: We all have a common ancestry. Contrary to the theory of evolution, our ancestors were not Curious George and the Grape Ape. Every human being on earth is a descendant of ONE man and ONE woman. Period. God made one man and one woman, and every single ethnic group—every nation, every tribe, every clan, every person—is a descendant of that one Adam and that one Eve. Which means that when someone asks the question, “How many races are there?” the Biblical answer is: ONE.

So the first Biblical answer to racism addresses the ignorance of the human mind. We’re all cousins, descended from Adam and Eve. The Bible has been saying this for 3,500 years, and yet science has only recently confirmed it. Surprise, surprise—they’ve discovered that there isn’t a “race” chromosome in our DNA. Every human being is part of one species, homo sapiens. Our differences in skin color, hair color and eye shape are nothing but minor physical differences that have absolutely no bearing on the facts: We are all part of one single race. We should stop using the term “races.” There are different cultures and different ethnic groups, but there is only one human race.

So, it stands to reason that we should start treating everyone we meet as a family member created and loved by God. Which leads us to the second Biblical answer to racism: Our hearts must be changed. No matter our age, gender or ethnic background, we are all in the same boat spiritually. Before we become followers of Christ, we are all living in spiritual darkness. In other words, we’re all drowning in sin. And the Bible is clear that one of the sins that is prevalent in the darkness of this world is hateful prejudice—racism. And racism is always, first and foremost, a sin of the heart.

Cardiologists tell us that in certain instances severely damaged hearts need to be replaced. Similarly, a spiritually corrupt heart needs a spiritual heart transplant. And only God can do that. Only God can transform a hard heart into a soft heart. Only God can strip away our hate and replace it with love. Only God can transform a hate-mongering racist into a tender-hearted man of God who loves his neighbor as himself.

From God’s perspective, there is only one race: the human race. And from God’s perspective, there are only two groups within the human race: those who are groping around in the darkness and those who are living with Christ in the light. As a Christian, you have been chosen by Christ and set apart from the rest of the world. So, when you come across people living in darkness who are filled with hatred and prejudice, what do you do?

First, you pray. Then you stand with Christ as part of the one human race. You love your neighbor as you love yourself. You love him regardless of his skin color. You love him regardless of his ethnic background. You love him regardless of how he dresses or how many tattoos or body piercings he has. You love him regardless of his personality and even regardless of whether or not he likes you.

Don’t get pulled into the hate. Don’t get pulled into the bitterness. Don’t get pulled into the prejudice. That’s part of your old life. That’s part of the darkness. And you’re not living in darkness anymore. In the words of 1 Peter 2:9, you’re part of “a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light.”

Dane Davis is the Lead Pastor of First Christian Church in Victorville. For more information,visit  and join us for worship Sundays at 10 a.m.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

It’s Time to Get Back to Church

“Let us not give up meeting together as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
– Hebrews 10:25

It makes me laugh. A quick five minute search on the internet reveals that every day in September is a holiday of some sort. And I’ll bet you’ve never heard of most of them. Sure, you’ve heard of Labor Day and National Grandparents Day, but did you know that September 2nd was International Bacon Day? (Now, that’s a holiday that I could really sink my teeth into!) Or did you know that September 4th was Eat an Extra Dessert Day, and September 6th was National Fight Procrastination Day?

This weekend is chock-full of interesting holidays. Friday is National Felt Hat Day. Across our great nation all ten people who know this holiday exists are sporting their favorite felt hats. And my heartfelt “congratulations” to all of you reading this article. Without even knowing it, you're likely to be successfully celebrating Saturday’s little-known holiday: National Stay Away from Seattle Day. Evidently, Seattle residents like the idea of taking a one-day breather from the rampant tourism that they believe overcrowds their city.

Some of these little-known holidays are quirky and laughable. But this Sunday’s little-known holiday is no laughing matter. You see, September 17th is National Back to Church Sunday. As families across America have entered back to school season, Christian churches are spreading this very important message: “No matter how long it’s been since you’ve attended, it’s time to get back to church.” No guilt trips. No finger pointing. No rude comments like, “Boy, are you a flake or what?” Just a friendly, biblically-grounded reminder: “It’s time to stop putting church on the back burner. It’s time to get back to church.”

Let’s face it. We all have a laundry list of excuses for why we don’t attend church each week. New parents are exhausted by daily 2 a.m. feedings. Parents of school aged children and teens are pulled every which way by the demands of coaches, teachers, bosses and in-laws. And many empty nesters in the midst of the so-called “golden years” find themselves busier than ever. There’s no doubt about it: There are many competing priorities jockeying for our attention on a Sunday morning, and church…well, sometimes it just gets lost in the shuffle.

But it shouldn’t. If God is our #1 priority, how can we allow worshiping Him alongside other Christians to be such a low priority? That doesn’t make sense. However, on any given Sunday, there are millions of Christians across our nation who choose not to attend a worship service. Many will catch Joel Osteen, Charles Stanley or Tony Evans on the tube and say, “I did church at home today.” But don’t forget: You can’t fellowship with a TV or radio broadcast. And you can’t take communion with, pray with or encourage your 50” High Def screen. Bottom line: Although TV broadcasts can, at times, deliver biblical teaching into our homes, they are a very poor replacement for the bride of Christ—the local church.

So, if it’s been a few weeks, a few months or even a few years since you’ve attended a worship service at your home church, this weekend offers the perfect Sunday to get back in the pew (or chair). The door will be open wide. You will be warmly received. You will be blessed. And perhaps what might surprise you most of all is that you will be a blessing. You may be a blessing to a discouraged Christian sitting in front of you. You may be a blessing to the pastor who sees you with your Bible in hand, sitting in a chair that would have otherwise remained empty. You may be a blessing to the worship leader as you express your sincere love for Christ by joining in a song of praise. And the little bit you place in the offering plate may be the exact amount a church-supported missionary needs to take the Gospel to a city that desperately needs to hear the Good News of Jesus Christ.

Yes, making church a weekly priority for you and your family is very important. Your presence can make a church stronger, more energetic, more impactful, and more adequately covered in prayer. And the benefits and blessings it affords to you and your family are too numerous to count. Oh, there will always be plenty of other things to do on a Sunday morning, but for Christians there will never be a weekly Sunday morning priority that is more important than worship. Deep down, I think you know this. So, push the excuses aside. Get back to church this Sunday. And if you don’t have a church home, I’d like to invite you to join us at First Christian Church.

Dane Davis is the Lead Pastor of First Christian Church in Victorville. For more information, visit  and join us for worship tomorrow at 10 a.m.

Monday, September 11, 2017

A Heart for the Lost

“Brothers and sisters, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved.– Romans 10:1

I wish I were more like the nerd. His name was Steven, and he looked like he had just stepped out of the movie “Revenge of the Nerds.” I met him while I was in college. He had been enrolled at Cal State Fullerton for over 12 years for one reason: he wanted access to students on campus so that he could tell them about Jesus. Steven looked funny and talked funny, but I will always admire his heart for the lost.

Steven was much like Paul, who wrote in Romans 9:2: “I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart” (Romans 9:2). Paul understood better than anyone how wonderful Jesus is. He was amazed by Christ’s forgiveness, floored by his grace, and absolutely blown away by Christ’s love. But at the very same time, Paul understood better than anyone how horrible the consequences will be for those who turn their backs on Christ. He understood that those who reject Jesus Christ will stumble through this life shut off all of that forgiveness, mercy and love. Far worse, Paul realized that those who reject Christ during this life will spend eternity in Hell—where there is absolutely no grace, no comfort, no peace, no hope and no love.

So, Paul’s heart literally broke for those who rejected Christ, and it pained him to know that so many of his Jewish brothers and sisters had denied their only chance of salvation. In Romans 8, when Paul looked at Christ, his heart rejoiced. But in chapter 9, when he looked at his fellow Jews, his heart wept.

Paul’s love and compassion for the lost is such a rare thing today. But it shouldn’t be. We should all have a heart for the lost like Paul’s. And if we did, we would be praying every day that all of our lost brothers and sisters in the Victor Valley would be saved. We would reach out to our neighbors and co-workers and classmates in any way that we could, inviting them to church and telling them the Good News about Jesus.

If you’re a believer and follower of Jesus Christ, God has graciously given you a new perspective on people. As we read in 2 Corinthians 5:17: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” What does that have to do with sharing Christ? Well, as Warren Wiersbe points out, “Because ‘all things are become new,’ we also have a new view of people around us. We see them as sinners for whom Christ died. We no longer see them as friends or enemies, customers or coworkers; we see them the way Christ sees them, as lost sheep who need a shepherd.”

So, as a follower of Jesus Christ, you are not to view people as the rest of the world views people. I’m sure you’ve noticed that in the past few years, we Americans have taken to slapping critical labels on each other left and right. You’re not a Republican—you’re an alt-right neo-fascist. You’re not a Democrat—you’re a Marxist socialist liberal. It’s absolute madness! We lump people into different subgroups based on the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, their political leaning, some psychiatrist’s diagnosis, and a hundred other things.

And God’s word tells us: Don’t buy into the labels! Don’t buy into the world’s categories. Don’t separate people into a thousand different groups that are constantly changing in our depraved, sinful culture. In Christ we have been given a new perspective. We need to view people as Christ views people. And Christ’s perspective is very simple and straightforward. There are only TWO categories of people: “Lost” and “Found.” Or you could say it this way: “Dead” or “Alive.”

That’s it! Either someone is lost in spiritual darkness without Christ, or he/she has been found by Christ and is secure in his arms. Our greatest concern is no longer whether the person we’re speaking to voted for Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton or Elmer Fudd. Our greatest concern is no longer whether the person in front of us is black, white, brown or yellow. Like Paul, our hearts are to be laser-focused on people’s salvation. If that person is found, we love him as a brother in Christ. And if he is lost, we reach out to him, pray for his salvation and point him to Christ at every opportunity. We want him to be found.

We would never have done those things before we found Christ, but today, we have a new perspective on people, and it’s Jesus’ perspective. It’s the desire for all of those around us to be saved. Until we share Christ, too many of those around us will never experience the forgiveness and the grace and the love that can only come through Jesus. Paul understood this well. So did my college friend, Steven. Do you?

Dane Davis is the Lead Pastor of First Christian Church in Victorville. For more information, visit  and join us for worship Sundays at 10 a.m.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Stay Connected to the Vine

“Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.– John 15:4

Last week I mentioned the grapevines I used to have in my old backyard in Victorville. Although they grew like weeds, the grapes themselves were tiny and sour. Later on, I learned what I was doing wrong. As the branches shot out in every direction, they looked so lush and green that I was afraid to prune them.

I learned that left to themselves, a grapevine will always favor new growth over more grapes. So, gardeners who know what they’re doing will vigorously prune the grape branches each and every year. It goes against our limited, manmade reasoning, but pruning is a grower’s single most important method for ensuring a plentiful harvest of large, sweet grapes.

Well, the same holds true for Jesus Christ and his church. Sometimes pain comes when we’re bearing spiritual fruit: God is allowing that pain to prune us so that we can produce more spiritual fruit. As Jesus told his disciples, “Every branch that does bear fruit [the Father] prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” (John 15:2b)

Sometimes God needs to prune us of our immaturity, our bad attitudes or our messed-up priorities. At times He even cuts away something good in our lives to make room for something even better. That’s not discipline in response to sin. That’s God pruning us to make room for more spiritual growth, so that He is more glorified in our lives.

Now, if your life bears a lot of fruit—congratulations! But that productivity has pitfalls of its own. Often, we as Christians are very busy serving the Lord. And in the midst of that busyness, we produce a good amount of fruit. But just because you’re fruitful doesn’t mean you’re happy. You may feel burned out, and your relationship with God may feel distant and stale. If this is hitting close to home, let me try to explain what’s going on.

When you first accepted Christ, especially if you had a dramatic conversion, your relationship with him was so fulfilling. You just wanted to serve Jesus however you could. Maybe you weren’t even very good at serving him yet. But that was okay, because you were so enthusiastic and you did your ministry out of sheer love for him.

But as time passes and you get better at serving him—as you get better at growing spiritual fruit—your doing for Jesus begins to outpace your being with Jesus. You find yourself running around just like Martha in the book of Luke. Martha had opened her home to Jesus and, according to Luke 10:40, “was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made.” Her sister Mary, meanwhile, was sitting at the feet of Jesus. When Martha asked Jesus why he didn’t make Mary get up and help, he responded gently: "Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:41b)
That’s what you’re missing out on when you feel spiritually burnt out. While you’re running around doing, Jesus is sitting patiently saying, “You need to be more like Mary. You need to sit at my feet. You need to talk with me and listen to me. You need to love on me and allow me to love on you.”
Do you know there’s only one way for a branch to draw more sap from the vine? The branch has to widen its connection to the vine. The funny thing about that is, this stage of spiritual growth is completely on you. When you’re bearing no fruit, God will discipline you. When you’re bearing some fruit, God will prune you. But if you’ve matured to the point where you’re bearing much spiritual fruit, God is waiting for you to come to him.
If you’re a fruitful Christian, you may be running around doing so much ministry that you’ve left Jesus in the dugout. And that’s not okay. Spending quality time with Christ must not be one of the many items on our daily “to-do” list. It has to be our top priority. We must deepen our connection to the vine if we are going to continue to be fruitful and actually enjoy being fruitful.
You have to choose to spend quality time with Jesus every day. You have to choose to read his word with an open mind and heart and to spend quality time in worship with him. You have to choose to spend quality time talking with him and listening for his still, small voice. When you do that, your connection to the vine will widen—and you will experience the deep, abiding joy of Christ’s love.

Dane Davis is the Lead Pastor of First Christian Church in Victorville. For more information, visit  and join us for worship Sunday at 10 a.m.