Thursday, August 18, 2016

Jesus Was a Lousy Rabbi

"The Samaritan woman said to him, 'You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?' (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)" - John 4:9 

No self-respecting rabbi would have ever done what Jesus did. Not only had he chosen to travel through Samaria—a region devout Jews in Jesus’ day avoided like the plague—he had done the unthinkable. He spoke to a Samaritan woman in a public setting, and all indications are that she was a woman of questionable repute. Was she a prostitute? Probably not, but even among her own Samaritan neighbors, she was likely a social outcast. Yet Jesus chose to chat with her as if she were a fellow rabbi.

Jesus’ disciples couldn’t believe their ears. Didn’t Jesus know that this woman could destroy his reputation? The Samaritan woman herself couldn’t believe what she was hearing. Her head must have swiveled like an owl’s—looking right to left making sure that Jesus was actually talking to her and not to someone else. But there was no one else. This Jewish rabbi was starting a conversation with her, and she didn’t know what to make of it.

You see, in Jesus’ day the majority of Jewish rabbis considered the Samaritans to be half-breeds. They weren’t fully Gentile, but they weren’t fully Jewish either. More than seven hundred years earlier, the mighty Assyrian army had swept into Samaria and conquered the ten Jewish tribes who lived there. And there was a certain policy in Assyria’s nation-conquering playbook that would change these ten Jewish tribes forever.

Unlike the Babylonians who conquered the remaining two Jewish tribes 135 years later, the Assyrians had a practice of intermarrying with the citizens of a conquered nation. They believed that the best way to squash any future rebellions within a conquered nation was to destroy their national identity. And the best way to do this, in their view, was to intermarry with them.

The Jewish people prided themselves in having pure Jewish bloodlines that could be traced all the way back to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. But as a result of Assyrian intermarriage, the Samaritans were hybrids: part Jewish, part Gentile. So in the centuries following the Assyrian conquest, the people of Samaria became social outcasts. When traveling from northern Israel (Galilee) to southern Israel (Judah), most Jewish rabbis in Jesus’ day chose to take the long route around Samaria to ensure that Samaritan dust wouldn’t stick to the bottom of their sandals.

Yet Jesus traipsed right through the middle of Samaria. Why? Why would a Jewish rabbi do something that was so countercultural, so socially unacceptable, so reckless for a rabbi whose reputation was already being questioned by the powers that be? He did it because Jesus loved people—regardless of whether or not their bloodline was “pure,” regardless of whether or not their past was checkered, regardless of whether or not socializing with them might tarnish his own reputation.

You see, in Jesus’ view people are ministry priority #1. He is more willing to wade through a cesspool of nasty accusations and rejection than he is to allow one lost sheep to stay lost. So, he asked the Samaritan woman politely for a drink…then used the opportunity to offer her the “living water” of a restored relationship with God.

Many Jewish leaders who heard about Jesus’ actions that day must have grimaced in absolute disgust and thought to themselves, “Jesus is the worst rabbi ever!”  But at the end of the day, Jesus really didn’t care. He was too busy celebrating the fact that one lost sheep had returned to the fold. This woman who was—for all intents and purposes—spiritually dead had come to life again. And her new life was contagious.

As we read John 4, we can learn several important tips for sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with individuals who, like the Samaritan woman, are spiritually parched. Tip #1: Treat people with respect. Even social outcasts need to be valued and respected. Jesus threw all social protocol to the wind in order to speak to the Samaritan woman with respect. And it worked! Tip #2: Quench people’s spiritual thirst. Once Jesus grabbed this woman’s attention by treating her with respect, he identified a deep need that she had and told her how he himself could fill that need. Did he have her attention? Without a doubt! She was hanging on his every word.

Tip #3: Make others' needs a higher priority than your own needs. Was Jesus tired and in need of rest? Absolutely! Was Jesus hungry? Without a doubt! But getting rest and stuffing his face with dinner wasn’t his highest priority. The Samaritan woman was. And as he made her a higher priority than himself, her life was transformed by the power of the gospel message. Her life was permanently changed by her encounter with Jesus, and so too will many other lives as we follow in Jesus’ footsteps.

As you share the good news of Jesus with those who are looking for God’s love in all the wrong places, treat them with respect. Lovingly share how Jesus alone can quench their deep-seated spiritual thirst. And put their needs above your own. You may lose some sleep and miss a meal or two. Your reputation may even take a hit among the religious snobs. But in the long run, who cares? Regardless of the personal cost, Jesus came to seek and save the lost. Who are you to do otherwise? 

Dane Davis is the lead pastor of First Christian Church of Victorville and the author of Holy Huldah! Lessons You Should Never Forget from Bible Characters You've Never Heard Of. To hear Pastor Dane's messages for for more information about the church, visit

You’ve Got Some Holes in Your Wall

"Paul said, 'Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you.'" - Acts 17:22-23

An overwhelming majority of Americans claim to be a part of a specific religion. And most believe that—even though their religion may not be perfect—it is more “right” than every other religion out there. Muslims believe their religion to be superior to Christianity and Judaism (and vice versa). Buddhists and Hindus are confident that they adhere to a more accurate view of reality. Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses are each convinced that theirs is the “true” Christian Church. Even atheists are convinced that their “freedom from religion” religion is the best path to happiness and fulfillment

But regardless of how “right” any of us believe our religion to be, there are things about it that aren’t very enticing and tenets that don’t seem to add up. As much as we hate to admit it, every world religion—including your own—has holes in it. No religion is perfect, even the religion of “non-religion.” 

Consider this: as each of us makes our way through our teenage and early adult years, we develop a worldview—a perspective through which we see and interpret the world around us. My worldview is my view of reality which explains how things tick, what gives life meaning and order and why the world is the way that it is. You can think of your worldview in terms of a wall—a theological wall that stands firm in our chaotic world, helping you maintain your sanity during the insane circumstances of life.

As a committed Christian, I have a Christian worldview. And my worldview is founded upon three key beliefs: #1: God is the Creator of the universe, #2: Jesus Christ alone is Lord and Savior and #3: the Bible is God’s inspired and flawless word. These three beliefs form the underpinnings of the theological wall that helps me make sense of the world around me. As I go through life and process the many events taking place in our world, I view and interpret them in relation to God, Jesus Christ and the Bible.

I would like to be able to say with confidence that my Christian worldview is perfect, but it’s not. There are parts of my belief system that are emotionally unsatisfying and other parts that leave me baffled. In other words, I have some holes in my theological wall. For example, I am convinced that the Trinity is a clear teaching of Scripture—the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God. But the Father is not the Son; the Son is not the Holy Spirit; and the Holy Spirit is not the Father. Make sense?  Not exactly. Because I can’t intellectually wrap my mind around the concept of the Trinity, it is a hole in my theological wall—a part of my belief system that is somewhat unsatisfying and lends itself to outside criticism.

If that’s the case, why am I a Christian?  I’m a Christian because I’m convinced that the holes in the Christian wall are small in comparison to the holes in every other theological wall out there. I have always appreciated the fact that for almost 2,000 years Biblical Christianity has consistently stood the test of academic and scientific scrutiny. When the historical details of the Bible have been questioned and criticized, historians and archaeologists have consistently discovered evidence to validate its historical accuracy. When the science of the Bible has been disputed, it has repeatedly been confirmed through paleontology and astrophysics. The same cannot be said of other religions.

In 1 Peter 3:15, the Apostle Peter writes these powerful words: “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” So, why do I place so much hope in my Christian faith? I do so because it is grounded in historical fact, centered upon the greatest man who ever walked the face of the earth, intellectually challenging, emotionally satisfying, spiritually enriching, and powerful enough to transform lives—including my own.

I have discovered that Jesus Christ is the answer to life’s most perplexing questions. In other words, regardless of which religion you claim, there are certain holes in your theological wall that can only be filled by Christ. So, I encourage you: As you take a closer look at the holes in your theological wall, ask yourself the question, “Is Christ the answer that I’ve been seeking?” If so, turn to him and follow him. He’s a master mason who has been plugging holes in theological walls for 2,000 years.

Dane Davis is the lead pastor of First Christian Church of Victorville and the author of Holy Huldah! Lessons You Should Never Forget from Bible Characters You've Never Heard Of. To hear Pastor Dane's messages for for more information about the church, visit

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Why Does God Allow Mass Murderers to Be Born?

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." - Jeremiah 29:11

Why does God allow suffering? For many years this has been one of the most commonly asked questions by Christians and non-Christians alike. And there’s no simple answer.

If God is all-knowing and all-powerful, then why does He allow innocent babies to be miscarried or to die at the hands of an abortionist? If God is all-knowing and all-powerful, then why does He allow children to contract chronic diseases like muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, leukemia or cancer? And if God knows ahead of time what atrocities people are going to commit during their lifetimes, why on earth did He allow mass murderers like Adolf Hitler, Osama bin Laden, Ted Bundy, Charles Manson and Jeffrey Dahmer to be born?

Much of our pain and suffering is the result of our own and others’ poor choices and sin. Some pain and suffering is the result of Satan’s attacks. (Do you remember Job?) Still other pain and suffering results from natural disasters that are part of the fallout of living in a sin-cursed world. But regardless of the source of our pain and suffering, why doesn’t our all-powerful God stop it?

And the most honest answer I can give you is: I don’t know. I simply don’t know. Why didn’t God spare the little baby my wife miscarried back in 2003? I don’t know. Why didn’t God stop the Pilot Fire that forced the evacuation of thousands of homes? I don’t know. Why does God allow children to die of cancer or women to die at the hands of murderers like Richard Ramirez and Ted Bundy? I don’t know.

Over the centuries, this has proven to be a thoroughly unsatisfying answer for many Christians, and as a result some have walked away from the Christian faith. But while this reaction is understandable, I believe it is short-sighted.

You see, the Bible doesn’t presume to answer every one of our “why” questions. There are many things about God’s thoughts and ways that we will never understand. Part of that stems from the fact that God is infinitely more intelligent than we are. Another reason is because God has never been tainted by sin like us. God’s thoughts are holy. His plans are perfect. And His involvement and judgments in our world are flawless. We may think that we could run this world better than God, but we are sadly mistaken.

So, why not stop blaming God for our pain and suffering and look at things from a different perspective? We tend to look at earthquakes and hurricanes and tornados and assume that God is letting every possible natural disaster happen. We don’t consider for a moment that God is holding back even larger cataclysmic events. We curse Him for the natural disasters that He allows, but we fail to thank Him for the natural disasters that He doesn’t allow.

We look at the Hitlers and Osama bin Ladens and assume that God is letting all the mass murderers be born. We don’t consider the possibility that they are like Mother Teresa compared to the more wretched mass murderers God has kept at bay. We look at our miscarried children and blame God for their deaths instead of considering the possibility that their deaths may have been an act of mercy. Perhaps God was sparing them from the excruciating pain they would have experienced during their lifetimes. God took them straight to paradise in heaven instead of subjecting them to a life of suffering. If so, God should be thanked, not criticized.

You may never understand why God does the things He does, but of this you can be certain: If you are a believer and follower of Jesus Christ, your suffering is temporary. Notice how Paul describes our pain in 2 Corinthians 4:17. He writes, “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” Never forget that all of your pain and suffering is temporary—just a blip on the radar screen of eternity.

And not only is your pain temporary, it is purposeful. My favorite Bible verse is Romans 8:28: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” The truth is: If God can’t somehow love you through the pain and suffering, then He shields you from it. And if God can’t work the pain and suffering together for good, He doesn’t send it your way.

We don’t always need to know the reason for our pain; we just need to cling to what we do know—namely, that our pain is temporary, and God is lovingly working for our good. Friends, God is good, and God is faithful. So trust Him. Keep following Him. And in His perfect timing, He will give you the answers you seek.

Dane Davis is the lead pastor of First Christian Church of Victorville and the author of Holy Huldah! Lessons You Should Never Forget from Bible Characters You've Never Heard Of. To hear Pastor Dane's messages for for more information about the church, visit

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Is It a Sin Not to Tithe?

"Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously." 2 Corinthians 9:6

Do I have to tithe? Am I sinning if I don’t tithe? Can I split my tithe among a few different churches and organizations? Should I require my kids to tithe? These are common questions that Christians ask when discussing the subject of tithes and offerings. And here are some brief answers to these important questions.

Question #1: Do I have to tithe? Well, that depends upon how you define “tithe.” The word “tithe” literally means “a tenth.” So when the Bible speaks of tithing, it is speaking of giving 10% of one’s earnings—specifically animals and/or produce—to the Lord. There is no doubt that the Jewish people in Old Testament times were commanded by God to tithe. In fact, when the people of Israel withheld part of their tithe, they were guilty of “robbing” God (Malachi 3:8-10).

But this command to tithe is not repeated in the New Testament. Instead, New Testament Christians are commanded to give generously and cheerfully (2 Corinthians 9:6-7). No specific percentage (i.e., 10%) is required of Christians. So, strictly speaking, Christians don’t “have to” tithe. However, it’s wise to consider this: If for many centuries God’s followers practiced 10% tithing as an obligation, shouldn’t this percentage be viewed as a mere starting point for Christians who are commanded to give generously? I think so.

Question #2: Am I sinning if I don’t tithe? No. Since tithing isn’t specifically commanded in the New Testament, you’re not sinning if you don’t tithe. But you are sinning if you aren’t giving generously or your attitude stinks when you give. You shouldn’t give out of guilt, fear or a desire for praise. You should give because you follow Jesus, and he’s the biggest giver of all time.  Jesus was a generous giver, so we should naturally be generous givers. Jesus sacrificed himself and did so much for us, we should happily sacrifice and give back to him.

Question #3: Can I split my tithe among a few different churches and organizations? Since tithing isn’t specifically commanded of Christians, the answer is: “Yes.” You don’t “have to” give your tithe to one church. However, I believe that giving your whole tithe to your home church has the strongest biblical precedent. In Old Testament Israel, the Jewish people had a practice of bringing their tithe to the tabernacle or temple: their place of worship. And in New Testament times Christians brought their tithes and offerings to their house of worship.

Therefore, it seems best for a Christian to give his/her “tithe” (the specific percentage of one’s monthly income) to his/her home church. When Christians divide their giving across too many different churches, ministries and charities, local churches fall short of meeting their financial goals required to do great ministry. Yes, God does own the cattle on a thousand hills, but He calls upon His followers to financially support the work of ministry in the local church. Beyond this specific percentage, it’s wonderful to offer extra gifts (aka, “offerings” and “alms”) to various churches, ministries or charities as the Holy Spirit directs us.

Question #4: Should I require my kids to tithe? Yes. When God gave the Ten Commandments and other laws to Moses, He gave the following command: “These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up” (Deuteronomy 6:6-7). As Christians, it’s very important that we teach our kids from a young age about generous and cheerful giving. And one of the best ways to do this is by giving them a weekly allowance and teaching them to set aside one dime out of every dollar for the Lord.

I have taught each of my kids to tithe. Tithing is a given in our home. And I also inform my children of opportunities to give generously above and beyond their tithes. I don’t require them to give extra, but I give them low-pressure opportunities to be generous. And I can’t tell you how delighted I am when they respond with generosity.

Last year my daughter, who was eight years old at the time, convinced me to buy her a new doll if she scored five goals in her next soccer game. But after her younger sister was diagnosed with diabetes, she asked me if her five goals could earn her younger sister a doll instead.  Of course—with tears in my eyes—I agreed. You see, Christ calls us to be generous givers, and my eight-year-old got it. We adults would do well to “get it” too.

In case you’re wondering, on game day she only scored one goal. But as far as this daddy was concerned, that was close enough. And I’ll always remember the look on her face when I let her place the new doll in her younger sister’s hands. On that day, my child truly was a cheerful giver.

Dane Davis is the Lead Pastor of First Christian Church in Victorville and the author of Holy Huldah: Lessons You Should Never Forget from Bible Characters You've Never Heard Of. To hear Pastor Dane’s messages or for more information about the church, visit .