Saturday, August 27, 2022

Three More Savage Wolves in the Church

“Stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain men not to teach false doctrines any longer.” 
1 Timothy 1:3-4

When the Apostle Paul left the city of Ephesus after three years of ministry, he warned the church leaders about “savage wolves” who would come to undermine the teachings of Jesus Christ. Sure enough, false teachers arose within the Ephesian church and started muddying the clear and simple gospel teaching that they had received from Paul.

Listen to what Paul wrote to his partner in ministry, Timothy, after he left: “Stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain men not to teach false doctrines any longer nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. These promote controversies rather than God’s work—which is by faith. The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. Some have wandered away from these and turned to meaningless talk. They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about” (1 Timothy 1:3-7).

This wasn’t just a 1st-Century problem. Last week we looked at examples of three savage wolves that have risen up within the American church today. Now, let’s take a look at three more:

Savage Wolf #1: The hedonist who teaches, “Do what makes you happy. God will forgive you” (Jude 4). Jude wrote: “For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord” (Jude 4). In recent years, a growing number of Christian leaders and churches have turned a blind eye to most sexual sins. Hedonistic Christians are very good at making excuses for sin and watering down what God’s word teaches about judgment and hell. They view God’s grace as a get-out-of-hell free card. So, be on guard. Steer clear of churches that call “good” what God calls “evil.” These are wolves in sheep’s clothing.

Savage Wolf #2: The legalist who teaches, “Follow all my rules” while largely ignoring Jesus’ call to love God and people (Matthew 23-24). Jesus leveled this woe against the religious leaders of his day: “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices .... but you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness” (Matthew 23:23). Legalism takes our eyes off Jesus and shifts our focus to rule-keeping. And any pastor or teacher who takes your eyes off Jesus, and tries to get you to follow some religious formula instead of loving and following Jesus, is a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

Savage Wolf #3: The politician’s hatchet man disguised as a pastor (1 Timothy 2:1-4). Remember what Paul teaches us: “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone—for kings and all those in authority…. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:1-4). God only calls a few Christian pastors to be political activists. But He calls ALL of us to pray for our leaders. It doesn’t matter if you’re a registered Republican, Democrat or Libertarian. Your top political priority as a Christian is to PRAY for President Biden, Vice President Harris, Governor Newsom and our local city council members. Pray for ALL our leaders to carry out God’s will for their lives. And we know that if they are in the center of God's will, they will make decisions that are righteous and honor Him.

More times than not, political activism in the church take our eyes off the goal: to expand Christ’s kingdom on earth by leading people to salvation and maturity in Christ. So, watch out for church leaders who are two-thirds political activist and only one-third gospel proclaimer. Most of them are wolves in sheep’s clothing.

Remember, Christianity boils down to these three things: 1) Trust God, 2) Love God and 3) Obey God. False teachers always, always, ALWAYS chip away at at least one of these: Faith, Love and Obedience. Remember that and be on your guard!

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. Dane’s latest book, “Called to Persevere: One Man’s Journey to Overcome Pain, Disease and Disappointment with God,” is scheduled for release on Amazon in September.

Monday, August 22, 2022

Savage Wolves in the Church

“Savage wolves will come in and will not spare the flock.” – Acts 20:29

Remember the story of the Three Little Pigs? Each piggy built a house. The first pig built his house out of straw. The second pig built his house out of sticks. The third little pig built his house out of bricks. Then the big bad wolf, who just loved to eat fat little piggies, came along.

First he went to the house of straw and said, “Little pig, little pig, let me in, or I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll blow your house in!” “Not by the hair of my chinny-chin-chin,” said the little pig. But the wolf did blow the house in and ate the first little pig.    Next, the wolf then came to the house of sticks. Same conversation, same result: The wolf blew down the stick house and ate the second little pig. But then the wolf came to the house of bricks. The wolf huffed and puffed and huffed and puffed … but he could not blow down that brick house. And the third little pig lived happily ever after.

Why did I just tell you the story of the Three Little Pigs? Because every Christian in America is one of the little pigs, and the wolves are coming. Mind you, this is nothing new. When the Apostle Paul left the Ephesians in Acts 20, he warned them, “After I leave, I know that savage wolves will come in and will not spare the flock.” (v. 29). And just like the Ephesian Christians, we have “savage wolves” among us. They’re not just coming at us from outside the four walls of the church building. They’re already here.

So, which savage wolves have arisen within the American church today? Today I’ll name five of them:

Savage Wolf #1: The sexual predator who says, “You can trust me” when all the while he is abusing women and/or children in the church (1 Samuel 2:22). In 1 Samuel 2, the Jewish high priest was Eli, and his two sons served as priests under him. God’s Word tells us that these sons were “wicked men” (v. 12), and part of their wickedness is described in verse 22: “They slept with the women who served at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting.” That’s a wicked abuse of power. We would like to think that there aren’t any such predators in the church today, but sadly, there are. I’m convinced that sexual predators in the pulpit are rare, but they are out there.

Savage Wolf #2: The embezzler who says, “I handle church finances with the utmost integrity” when all the while he/she is stealing donations (John 12:6). Even Jesus had an embezzler in the ranks of his 12 apostles. We read in John 12:6 that Judas Iscariot “was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.” Recently I read an article that described several examples of financial predators in churches. There was the usher who collected the offering in the balcony and helped himself to the cash on the way down the stairs. A bookkeeper in one church and a treasurer in another were both sentenced to prison for embezzling thousands of dollars from their churches. Most church leaders handle their finances with integrity, but not ALL of them.

Savage Wolf #3: The narcissist who says, “Look at me! Look at me!” (Matthew 23:5-7). Jesus tells his disciples in Matthew 23:5-7: “Everything [the scribes and Pharisees] do is done for men to see … they love to be greeted in the marketplaces and to have men call them ‘Rabbi.’” Unfortunately, there are some big egos in the church. A pastor with a big ego can get a messiah complex. As he begins lifting himself up, he also begins subtly pulling Jesus down. And that’s a recipe for disaster. A few years ago a local Christian businessman asked me to listen to one of his pastor’s sermons and evaluate it. So, I listened to it and gave him my honest opinion: The sermon was terrible! It was twisting Scripture and peddling false doctrine. But this man was so loyal to his pastor, he said, “If my pastor is going to hell, I’m going with him.” Wow! Never forget, our loyalty is first and foremost to Jesus Christ—not to any church leader. You follow your church leaders AS they follow Christ. But when they stop following Christ and teaching His word faithfully, STOP following them.

Savage Wolves #4 and #5: The universalist who teaches, “All roads lead to God and heaven.” And the cultist who teaches, “Jesus isn’t God, the Bible isn’t God’s perfect Word, and salvation only comes through OUR church” (2 Peter 2:1-2). The Apostle Peter warned, “There will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them…. Many will follow their shameful ways” (2 Peter 2:1-2).

Millions of Christians have gotten pulled away from good, Bible-teaching churches by so-called “Christians” who either claim that Jesus is ONE OF MANY WAYS to heaven, or that salvation requires Jesus PLUS someone or something else. Both universalism and cults strip Jesus of His power and authority. He is presented as great, but not THAT great. He is presented as a Savior, but not THE Savior. If you’re ever in a church where the pastor starts pulling Jesus down to the same level as Buddah, Mohammad or even Moses, get out of there. Universalists and cultists are wolves in sheep’s clothing.

We need to be on guard and call out these wolves when we see them. Across America, there are plenty of wolves inside churches, hollering, “Little pig, little pig, let me in.” I hope you’ll join me in responding, “Not by the hair of my chinny-chin-chin!”

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. Dane’s latest book, “Called to Persevere: One Man’s Journey to Overcome Pain, Disease and Disappointment with God,” is scheduled for release on Amazon in September.

It’s Hard to Say Goodbye

And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem
not knowing what will happen to me there.”
– Acts 20:22

 In the spring of 2001, my wife Christine and I made the biggest purchase of our lives. We bought a house. We had only been married for three years, and that 1,600-sqare-foot home in Victorville was our little slice of paradise. Less than a year later, we brought home our first daughter, Kayla. She was followed by our second daughter Haley in 2004, then Grace in 2006 and Cara in 2009.

For all four of our girls … that was their first home. They loved coloring pictures and playing with their American Girl dolls in the family room. They spent hours on the jungle gym and swings in the backyard. One summer Kayla even did pretend baptisms in the kiddie pool on the back patio. We loved that little house. So, as you can imagine, it was hard to say goodbye when we sold it in 2014. Before handing over the keys to our realtor, I walked through the house one last time, making sure we hadn’t left anything in the garage or the kitchen cabinets. I made sure the floors, countertops and bathrooms were clean. Then I locked the front door and drove away.

Some goodbyes are harder than others. And in Acts 20, the Apostle Paul’s goodbye to the church leaders in Ephesus must have been one of his hardest.

After serving for three years in Ephesus, Paul was called by the Spirit to wrap up his third mission trip. He intended to go to Jerusalem, but when he learned about a plot to kill him, he made an understandable detour. After visiting several cities over the following months, it became clear to him that he wouldn’t be returning to Ephesus. So, when he reached Miletus—about 30 miles south of Ephesus as the crow flies—he sent for the Ephesians elders to say a final goodbye. This speech contains some meaty instruction for these Christian leaders, and for all of us.

Paul begins by speaking about his PAST ministry: “You know how I lived the whole time I was with you, from the first day.… I served the Lord with great humility and with tears and in the midst of severe testing by the plots of my Jewish opponents” (vs. 18-19). Consider Paul’s four telling words: “from the first day.” He didn’t wait a week or even a few days before he started carrying out His God-given mission. Even though, at times, Paul was under attack, he stayed humble before God and ministered with love and compassion. And he served the Lord by preaching God’s word to everyone who would listen (vs. 20-21).

Paul then shifts to his PRESENT ministry: “And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me.” And you’ve got to love what Paul says in verse 24: “I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.”

Finally, Paul moves on to the FUTURE, warning the Ephesian elders that “savage wolves will come in and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them” (vs. 29-30). God had warned Paul that persecution was coming—not from jealous Jews or angry idol worshipers—but from within the church’s own ranks. These “wolves” would start teaching a false gospel of legalism, trying to divide and conquer the church for their own benefit. After preparing the elders as best he could, Paul embraced them and boarded his ship to Jerusalem.

I’d like to share three important lessons we can pull from this passage:

Lesson #1: Ministry rarely goes exactly as planned. So, you need to stay humble and roll with it. When he left, Paul was ready to sail for Jerusalem. And BAM! Curve ball. If he’d boarded that ship, he would have likely been swimming with the fishes by nightfall. So … change of plans! Paul rolled with it. That’s one of the secrets to doing good, long-term ministry.

Lesson #2: Like Paul, try to always have a “from-Day-One” attitude. You have precious little time to impact the lives around you. So, hit the ground serving. Years ago, when my kids were small, plenty of older and wiser Christians warned me how fast my girls would grow up. Turns out … they were right. And being involved in a ministry is a lot like having small kids: it’s temporary. EVERY ministry opportunity is temporary. So, don’t squander the time you’re given. Hit the ground serving and give it your all from Day One. And like Paul, when you’re looking at your ministry in the rearview mirror, you’ll know you did your very best.

Lesson #3: Finish strong. Far too many Christians start strong and finish weak. It may be too late to live out Lesson #2 in some areas of your life and ministry. But by God’s grace, you have the ability to live out lesson #3. Regardless of how you started, you can finish strong. Honestly, Paul didn’t start his ministry years very well either. As a young man, Paul wasn’t encouraging Christians—he was arresting and killing them. But he finished well. Once he made up his mind to give Jesus Christ his ALL, he fought the good fight, and he finished the race. So can 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

Monday, August 8, 2022

Christians Shouldn’t Join the Mob

 “The assembly was in confusion…. Most of the people did not even know why they were there.” 
– Acts 19:32

Have you ever heard of Lawnchair Larry? Back in 1982, 33-year-old Larry Waters was just an ordinary truck driver in North Hollywood. But one day he decided to fly to the Mojave Desert … in a lawnchair from Sears. Larry filled 45 weather balloons with helium and tethered them to his chair. He packed up a few essentials, including a pellet gun to shoot balloons when it was time for his descent, and a parachute, just in case. Then Larry climbed into his chair from a rooftop in San Pedro and rocketed into the sky—much faster than he’d anticipated.

Instead of sailing toward the Mojave Desert, Lawnchair Larry sailed across Los Angeles Harbor, into the flight path of Long Beach Municipal Airport. Several pilots alerted air traffic controllers about what appeared to be a man floating through the sky in a chair. Finally, at three miles above Long Beach, Larry used his pellet gun to secure his descent. To many, Lawnchair Larry became a local hero. But the folks at the FAA weren’t big fans. They hit him with four different charges and several thousand dollars in fines.

Well, Lawnchair Larry had a few things in common with the Apostle Paul. Both men’s actions made them heroes in the eyes of many. But those same actions put a big target on their backs. Through Paul, God achieved many victories in the city of Ephesus. But when God throws a spiritual punch, Satan throws a counterpunch. And in Acts 19:21, Satan’s latest counterpunch came in the form of a silversmith named Demetrius.

Demetrius made silver shrines of the Greek goddess Artemis, which brought in a boatload of money for Demetrius and his fellow craftsmen. Naturally, a revival of monotheism was bad for business. So, Demetrius gathered his fellow silversmiths and other tradesmen and told them: “Men, you know we receive a good income from this business. You see and hear how this fellow Paul has convinced and led astray large numbers of people…. He says that man-made gods are no gods at all” (vs. 25-26).

Then, in verse 27, Demetrius shifts from facts to fear-mongering: “There is danger not only that our trade will lose its good name, but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis will be discredited, and the goddess herself … will be robbed of her divine majesty.” Demetrius presented a grand conspiracy theory—a doomsday prediction that their livelihood, the Artemis temple and even Artemis herself were going to be wiped off the face of the earth, ALL BECAUSE OF ONE WRETCHED MAN: Paul.

The tradesmen formed a mob and took to the streets shouting, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” As the crowd swelled, they tried to hunt down Paul. They were hungry for blood. Thousands of Ephesians flooded into the amphitheater, yelling and screaming, wanting heads to roll. The only trouble is … most of them weren’t quite sure why.

But the facts didn’t matter. Mobs are fueled by raw emotion. On January 6th 2021, did the mob check the facts before rushing into the Capitol building? No way! Over the past three months, 60 pro-life pregnancy centers have been vandalized across the U.S. Did the protest groups check the facts about the Supreme Court decision before tagging and, in a few cases, even firebombing pro-life centers? Hardly! Facts don’t matter to mobs. And the mob in Ephesus grew so fast because people weren’t THINKING. They were just REACTING.

I’d like to share two important lessons from this passage:

Lesson #1: Most mobs are all brawn and no brain. So, when people around you are losing their heads, stop, think and pray. Over the past two years, far too many Christians have gotten caught up in political mobs. Instead of thinking, we’ve been reacting. Instead of believing and proclaiming the truth of the gospel, we’ve been believing and proclaiming conspiracy theories. Instead of praying, we’ve been criticizing and slandering. And the church in America is paying the price for it. Millions of people want nothing to do with Christianity, because they have no desire to be part of the Christian mob that they’ve witnessed for two years. We need to stop taking our eyes off Jesus and get back to doing what He called us to do in the first place: To tell people about Jesus and love them into the kingdom.

Lesson #2: The stuff mobs prioritize is temporary and will one day be destroyed. But the stuff Christ prioritizes is permanent and will one day be richly rewarded. A little over 200 years after the mob in Ephesus shouted themselves hoarse, Goth raiders destroyed the Temple of Artemis. And it has never been rebuilt. Why? Because, like everything else in this world, it was temporary. Artemis worship has been wiped from the face of the earth. But the worship of Jesus Christ lives on. Because He IS the eternal God.

While people around you are running around fussing and yelling about high gas prices, the President or inflation, stay calm and keep doing what Jesus told you to do. Trust Him. Love Him with all your heart. And obey His Word—especially the part where He tells you to share His good news of salvation everywhere you go. More than anything else, people don’t need a new President, a new governor or lower gas prices. More than anything else, people need Jesus. So, give ’em what they need. When all hell breaks loose, give ’em heaven!

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