Saturday, July 30, 2022

Don’t Be a “Knockoff” Christian

 “Jesus I know, and I know about Paul, but who are YOU?” – Acts 19:15

You know what a knockoff is, right? According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, it is “a copy that sells for less than the original; a copy or imitation of someone or something popular.” Whenever there’s a clothing or food brand that is hugely popular, there are always people looking to make a fast buck by making cheap knockoffs. Here are a few actual examples. For all you coffee lovers, have you ever saved a few bucks sipping on good ol’ “Sunbucks” Coffee? Or maybe you’ve brushed your teeth with “Crust” toothpaste. And this might be my favorite knockoff of all: Who on earth would knowingly drink “Peepi” Cola?

Well, in the Apostle Paul’s day, he established a pretty big name during the three years he spent ministering in Ephesus. In Acts 19:11-12, we read that the Holy Spirit worked “extraordinary miracles” through Paul as people were healed of illness and cured of demonic possession simply by holding aprons and handkerchiefs Paul had touched. Yes, the miracles and exorcisms God was working through Paul were “extraordinary.” And what do wannabes do when they discover something extraordinary? Posers who are just out to make a fast buck quickly come up with a knockoff. In First Century Ephesus, there wasn’t a Starducks Coffee, Crust Toothpaste or Peepi Cola, but there were a bunch of wannabes running around trying to knock off the healings and exorcisms they saw Paul doing. And it came back to bite them. 

In Paul’s day Ephesus was steeped in paganism and the occult, and medical professionals had only a basic understanding of disease and mental illness. So, most people believed the root of most illnesses was spiritual. Instead of going to a doctor, many people would just go to their friendly neighborhood exorcist to get the illness demon cast out. The chief priest in Ephesus, Sceva, had seven sons who made a living performing exorcism house calls. At some point these seven brothers must have witnessed the “extraordinary miracles” that God was working through Paul. So, they tried to cash in. Even though they didn’t believe in Jesus, they decided to invoke the name of Jesus. And even though they didn’t support or follow the Apostle Paul, they decided to invoke the name of the Apostle Paul. Things were going great … until the day these seven brothers encountered an actual demon.

When the seven sons arrived at the home of the demon-possessed man, they whipped out their new favorite exorcism line: “In the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches, we command you to come out!!” Well, the demon wasn’t impressed. But in my opinion, the demon DID have a pretty good sense of humor. It responded: “Jesus I know, and I know about Paul, but who [on earth] are you?” (v. 15). Then the possessed man pounced on all seven brothers: “He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding” (v. 16).

But even through the demon’s actions, God was working all things together for good. We read in verse 17: “When this became known to the Jews and Greeks living in Ephesus, they were all seized with fear, and the name of the Lord Jesus was held in high honor.” In other words, a lot of wannabe exorcists were put on notice. And Jesus’ name was lifted higher than it had ever been lifted in that town, which led to more unbelievers getting saved and more Christians repenting of their sin and growing in their faith.

Here are two insights to consider:

Insight #1: As long as God’s Spirit is moving powerfully in and through Christians and churches, there will be cheap knockoffs. So, be on guard.  Jesus and His apostles performed miracles for three reasons: 1) to show loving compassion to hurting people; 2) to teach spiritual truths; and 3) to confirm their authority as apostles of Jesus Christ. Sadly, there are some Christian leaders today whose motives for performing miracles are much different than Jesus’ motives. They save their most compassionate acts for times when they themselves are in the spotlight and the camera is rolling. Some Christian leaders use miracles to play with people’s emotions instead of using them to teach spiritual truths. Some try to manipulate a move of God for their own glory, instead of allowing Christ to get the glory. So, be on guard, Christians.

Insight #2: Today most people believe the root of all illness is physical and never spiritual, but don’t count out the healing power of prayer and the Word of God. In First Century Ephesus, most people saw a demon behind every headache and sniffle. In Twenty-First Century America, most people see a virus or disease behind every headache and sniffle. Both viewpoints are wrong. That’s not to say that your congestive heart failure or your sister’s asthma are the result of sin. But many of our illnesses and diseases ARE the result of sin.

And Christians can play a pivotal role in physical healing. Our prayers, at times, make sick people well. And when sinners repent and realign their lifestyles with the Word of God, they can actually experience healing. Make no mistake: At Impact Christian Church, we are pro-doctor and pro-medication when that medication is physically necessary for good health. But we are also pro-prayer, pro-repentance and pro-obedience-to-God’s-Word, because these things are ALSO critical for good health.

It’s too easy to be a knockoff Christian. We come to church and listen to some great music, hear an inspiring message and eat a donut on the way out the door. But don’t forget one of the most important reasons for a worship service: to get right with God. So, don’t fake it hoping to make it. Be the “real deal.” Be a man or woman of prayer and the Word of God.

Dane Davis is the pastor of Impact Christian Church in Victorville. Join us at Impact for Sunday services: in person at 9 a.m., or online at 10 a.m. on YouTube or Facebook Live. For more information, visit

Saturday, July 9, 2022

God’s Detours Are Part of His Perfect Timing

 As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.” – Isaiah 55:9

Over the past 75 years, traffic engineers throughout the United States and Europe have faced the same problem. People drive WAY too fast. So, engineers have tried all sorts of ways to get drivers to slow down, including stop signs, traffic lights, speed bumps and digital speed displays. These approaches have had mixed results. But there is one traffic-slowing method that, as far as I can tell, has been more effective than all the others. It’s called “woonerven” – a Dutch word that means “living street.”

In the late 1960s, residents of the Dutch city of Delft got fed up with people treating their roads like a race track, so they decided to take their streets back … literally. Local residents moved their living rooms into the streets. They dragged their chairs and couches onto the streets, along with their kids’ bike racks and sand boxes. They built planters in the roadway and started hanging out with their neighbors right there in the middle of the road. And as they turned their streets into a constantly-changing obstacle course for cars, traffic slowed to an average speed of nine miles per hour.

Now, we probably don’t want to try this in the Victor Valley! But it got me to thinking: Sometimes God creates a woonerven in our lives. Many of us have two speeds: Fast and Faster. We rush through life doing what we want to do and going where we want to go. Then, all of a sudden, we have to slam on the brakes, because there’s a couch in the middle of the road … a couch that GOD put there! So, we navigate around it only to find a sandbox, a bike rack and a tree. And we throw up our hands in frustration and say, “God! What gives? What are You doing?”

God answers: “Woonerven! My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9). God set up a woonerven for the Apostle Paul in Acts 16:6, when Paul wanted to go to the city of Ephesus in Asia – a great city of 300,000 people who desperately needed to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ. To Paul, taking the gospel to Ephesus seemed like a no-brainer, but God said, “Not yet! Wait!” Over the next two to three years, God’s obstacle course directed Paul to five cities in Greece. Then and only then was God ready for Paul to make his way to Ephesus.

In God’s perfect timing, Paul spent three years in Ephesus spreading the good news of Jesus to both Jews and Gentiles. And God did “extraordinary miracles” through Paul (Acts 19:11-12), so that people were healed and cured of demonic possession simply by holding aprons and handkerchiefs Paul had touched.

Here are three insights you can take from Paul’s “extraordinary” ministry in Ephesus:

Insight #1: God’s detours are woonervens – LIVING detours. Remember that when you ask God for something, He has three possible answers: “Yes,” “No” – and “Wait.” In Acts 16,God told Paul, “Not now. Wait.” The Lord wanted Paul to go to Ephesus. But first, He needed Paul to share the gospel in Philippi, Thessalonica, Berea, Athens and Corinth. As a result, many people were saved, five books of the New Testament were written, and Paul joined forces with some great new ministry partners. So, when God tells you to wait, remember: He is redirecting you on a strategic detour that will offer new ministry opportunities and friendships that you otherwise wouldn’t have had.

Insight #2: When you are in the center of God’s will—trusting, loving and obeying Him—He will give You the desires of your heart in His perfect timing. God knows what you need, and He also knows what you desire. So, when your greatest desire is to bring Him glory and honor, you’d better believe He’ll give you the desires of your heart. But it’s going to be in His perfect timing, not yours. And when the timing is right to give you what you’ve desired, it will be so much sweeter than it would have been if He had given it to you when you first asked for it.

Insight #3: God wants to do miracles through you. But you need to be a clean and willing vessel. One of the greatest blessings in the world is to have your body used by God in a significant way. As Christians we have the opportunity to allow God to use our mouths to tell people the Good News about Jesus, lead them to Christ and pray for them. We can allow God to use our legs and feet to take us where ministry calls. We have the opportunity to allow God to use our arms, hands and fingers to help serve in a worship service, volunteer to help others and embrace those who are hurting. And because our God is a holy God, He needs our bodies to be clean: Clean minds, clean mouths, clean hands and a pure heart. So, if you want to be used by God in significant ways, be available and pray for clean hands and a pure heart.

You all know the old expression: “Good things come to those who wait.” That’s especially true in the kingdom of heaven. So, trust, love and obey God as you patiently navigate God’s strategic woonervens in your life.  He has some wonderful surprises for you along the way.

Dane Davis is the pastor of Impact Christian Church in Victorville. Join us at Impact for Sunday services: in person at 9 a.m., or online at 10 a.m. on YouTube or Facebook Live. For more information, visit

Thursday, July 7, 2022

Are You “Cherry-Picking” Sins?

“How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye?” – Luke 6:42

Over the years many people have asked me, “What kind of church is Impact Christian Church?” And I’m happy to answer that question. Impact Christian Church is a non-denominational Christian church that came out of the Restoration Movement of the early 1800s. The leaders of this movement wanted so badly to “restore” the New Testament church: No sects. No schisms. No denominations. Just simple Christianity.

Unfortunately, it’s easier said than done. For starters, many of the churches described in the New Testament are terrible models to follow. We don’t want to model ourselves after the church at Ephesus. The Christians in that church had forsaken their first love. We don’t want to model ourselves after the church at Sardis. The Christians in that church had a reputation for being alive, but Jesus told them “You are dead.” And we definitely don’t want to model ourselves after the church at Laodicea. Jesus called the Christians in that church “lukewarm” and said if they didn’t repent, He was going to vomit them out of his mouth.

If you read the Book of 1 Corinthians, I think you’ll agree with me when I say: We don’t want to model ourselves after the Corinthian church either. The city of Corinth was filled with bars and temple prostitutes, and drunken orgies were common. And much of that wickedness had seeped into the church. The Church was not only IN Corinth, it was also OF Corinth. And we as Christians must make sure that our own church doesn’t make the same mistakes.

In 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, Paul lists 10 lifestyle sins that will keep people out of heaven: premarital sex; idolatry; adultery; effeminate or homosexual behavior; stealing; greed; drunkenness; slander; and cheating people. According to God’s word, these 10 sins will keep people out of heaven and send them to hell. But we as Christians tend to focus on some of these sins more than others. We cherry-pick certain sins and rail on those who commit them, while largely ignoring other sins on the list.

I would suggest that over the past 50 years or so, Christians have spent the most time and energy railing against homosexuals and drunkards. We’ve condemned homosexuality, because the Bible condemns homosexuality. But the Bible also condemns premarital sex. In fact, it’s Number One on Paul’s list. But many church-going, heterosexual Christian couples are having premarital sex, and the church largely turns a blind eye to it. The same goes for idolatry: putting something or someone ahead of God. Christians routinely put God on the back burner, and the church looks the other way.

And I believe the two sins on the list that we especially avoid calling out are the sins of greed and slander. Many churches actually encourage Christians to be greedy—to pray for a bigger house or a newer car. That’s materialism. It’s sin, and if left unchecked it will lead to hell. So will slander. Every day Christians across the country are slandering our President, our governor, our ex-spouses, our parents, and our neighbors. But the church handles slander and gossip with kid gloves.

Notice that the sins we harp on the most are the ones we don’t personally struggle with. Most people in the church don’t struggle with homosexuality or drunkenness, so those sins are easy targets. But we don’t harp on greed or slander, because those sins hit too close to home. It’s easy to talk about “those people’s” sin. It’s much harder for us to point out OUR sin. But if we don’t identify and eradicate our sin inside the church, we don’t have a chance of eradicating it outside the church.

I want to suggest three important action steps that you and I need to take as Christians:

Action Step #1: Stop fixating on others’ sin while ignoring your own. Be intolerant of your own sin. If I’m not mistaken, Jesus said something about taking the plank out of my own eye before I start harping on the speck of dust in your eye. Each of us has to look in the spiritual mirror of God’s word every day and identify sin in our own lives. We are living in a moral cesspool, and we’re never going to change the cesspool if you and I keep contributing to it.

Action Step #2: Mourn over ALL sin, both inside and outside the church, both in yourself and in others. When we identify sin in ourselves and in others, I believe we jump too quickly to our thoughts of God’s mercy and grace. We don’t like to mourn over sin, but God calls us to mourn over sin. We don’t like to get down on our knees, humble ourselves for God and tell Him how sorry we are. But we need to do it. Like David, we need to grieve over our own sin. Like Job, we need to grieve over the sins of our kids and family members. And like Jesus, we need to grieve over the sins of our city and nation.

Action Step #3: Shine your light in the darkness. Keep sharing the gospel, leading people to the only One who can transform both them and our culture: Jesus Christ. Jesus was Corinth’s only hope. And the same holds true here in America. Jesus is America’s only hope. Not the next president. Not the next governor. Not the next piece of legislation. Not the next Supreme Court decision. So, you and I HAVE to lead people to Jesus. Jesus Christ is America’s only hope.

Dane Davis is the pastor of Impact Christian Church in Victorville. Join us at Impact for Sunday services: in person at 9 a.m., or online at 10 a.m. on YouTube or Facebook Live. For more information, visit

18 Months in “Sin City”

“Do not be afraid. Keep on speaking. Do not be silent. For God is with you.”
– Acts 18:9-10

According to recent figures from USA Today, the top five vacation spots in the U.S. are New York City, Florida, Hawaii, San Francisco ... and Number Five: Las Vegas, Nevada. Tourists spend a whopping $35 billion in Las Vegas every year. People love the guilty pleasures Vegas has to offer: the decadent food, the sensual shows and, most of all, the gambling. And they LOVE that advertising slogan: “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.” No wonder they call it “Sin City.”

Las Vegas in our day has a lot in common with the city of Corinth in the Apostle Paul’s day. Corinth was the “Sin City” of the Roman world. And the Corinthian leaders would have adopted Las Vegas’ motto if they had only thought of it first: “What happens in Corinth stays in Corinth.”

After Paul wrapped up his ministry in Athens, Corinth was the next city where he chose to continue his ministry in southern Greece. Why did he choose it? Well, for one thing, it was a strategic city. Because of the way the land was laid out, most major trade routes had to pass through Corinth. For another thing, Corinth was a big city—one of the largest in the Roman world, with an estimated 200,000 residents. But most of all, Corinth was a wicked city. There were bars on every corner, so drunken orgies were common. And high above the city was a plateau with a temple to Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and sex. Rituals to worship Aphrodite involved very little love and a whole lot of sex. The temple to Aphrodite employed hundreds of male and female temple prostitutes.

So, why did Paul take the good news of Jesus Christ to Corinth? Theologian John Stott put it this way: ““Paul must have seen its strategic importance. If trade could radiate from Corinth in all directions, so could the gospel.”

When Paul first arrived in Corinth, before his ministry partners Silas and Timothy joined him, he stayed with a couple named Aquila and Priscilla. Like him, they had been trained as tentmakers, so he lived and worked with them. During the workweek he made tents, and on weekends, he preached the gospel. According to verse 4, “Every Sabbath [Paul] reasoned in the synagogue, trying to persuade Jews and Greeks.” Then, once Silas and Timothy arrived, we read that he “devoted himself exclusively to preaching, testifying to the Jews that Jesus is the Christ” (v. 5).

Unfortunately, some of the Jewish leaders opposed Paul fiercely. So, according to verse 6, Paul “shook out his clothes in protest and said to them, ‘Your blood be on your own heads! I am clear of my responsibility. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.’” He had told the Jews the plain truth about Jesus Christ and their need to believe in Him, repent of their sins and follow Him as Savior and Lord. Now the ball was in their court. And from this point forward, Paul was going to focus primarily on witnessing to Gentiles.

Paul must have been feeling discouraged, wondering if it was time to move on to the next town, because in verse 9 and 10, Jesus gave Paul a vision. He spoke these words to him: “Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city.” That vision was just what the doctor ordered. It filled Paul’s tank. It gave him just what he needed to persevere and keep preaching the gospel in Corinth. According to verse 11, Paul stayed in Corinth for a year and half—much longer than he stayed in the other towns where he had planted churches.

Here are three quick lessons we can take from Paul’s time in Corinth:

Lesson #1: There is no excuse for being lazy. Every Christian needs to work. In Paul’s day, Jewish rabbis didn’t accept money from their students. They earned their way by practicing a trade. So, at a young age Paul had learned a trade—tent making. And whenever possible, he paid his own way by making tents. We should follow his example. If you can’t work outside the home, work at home. If you can’t work at home, work at church. If you can’t work with your feet and legs, work with your arms and hands. Use what God has given you to do something productive for the good of those around you.

Lesson #2: God has called you to warn those around you of the coming judgment. In His grace, God has taken the blinders off your spiritual eyes and allowed you to see what your family and friends can’t see. You can see that millions of “good,” “religious,” “moral” people will miss out on heaven. Because those who the world calls “good,” “religious” and “moral” have rejected Jesus Christ. Therefore, you and I have a God-given responsibility to warn the people we care about: They are sinners in need of a Savior. They need to repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near. Tell them.

Lesson #3: Do not be afraid. Keep on speaking. Do not be silent. For God is with you. Like Paul, you may be a little scared to share Jesus with those around you because they are a hostile crowd. Jesus tells you today, “Do not be afraid.” You may wonder if it’s time to shut up about Jesus and just keep the peace. Jesus responds, “Keep on speaking. Do not be silent.” You may wonder where God is as you’re out on a limb for Him. And Jesus answers back, “God … is … with you.”

Dane Davis is the pastor of Impact Christian Church in Victorville. Join us at Impact for Sunday services: in person at 9 a.m., or online at 10 a.m. on YouTube or Facebook Live. For more information, visit