Category Archives: Uncategorized

Focusing on the Wrong Thing

Image

In the debate about ‘gay rights’ there is consistently a focus on the wrong thing. As agenda-driven language modifiers continue to force-feed a generation erroneous concepts such as ‘gay marriage’, there are other things being lost in the discussion other than an attempt at redefinition for personal gain. Surrounding the anti-logic of male-male and female-female ‘marriages’ is a deeper issue that is all but buried when the moral upholders meet the social deconstructionists.  Any thinking person of any degree of consistency can see that hijacking marriage is wrong purely from a non-moral position as words (and particularly socially significant words/standards) have meaning and consequence. However, I’d like to look at the right thing for a minute.

What gets lost in the homosexual shuffle is the fact that despite their same-sex affections, they are still sinners. Regardless of whether or not one believes in homosexuality as a particular sin, what about the rest of their behavior? The Scripture lays out a whole host of sins from gossiping and lying to hatred, murder, strife, childhood rebellion, despising authority, envy, jealousy, greed, anger, self-ambition, etc.

We focus on the wrong thing when we pick one particular sin and use it as a whipping post. The truth is we are all sinners. Every single one of us. We are condemned by God as such and can only escape our just judgment through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ who lived perfectly and who died horrendously as a substitutionary payment for what we deserve. Through His loving commitment to die in our place, we can receive the forgiveness of our sins, not matter how long the list.

No one can withstand the judgment seat of God on their own since we all fall short of perfection. Don’t get caught up in self-righteous thinking – defining yourself as one who doesn’t do X or Y because trust me, you may escape one thing, but will find yourself trapped in plenty more. It’s what sinners do; they sin. And for that we will all be held accountable. Straight, gay, pretty, fat, thin, smart, not-so-smart.

As the apostle Paul told the Greeks in Athens, “God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man [Christ] whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.” Acts 17:30-31

So in the midst of debating about morality, don’t get lost in the wrong thing. Focus on redemption. Focus on our need. Focus on grace. Focus on Christ.

The Greatness of Grace

We like to be forgiven, but we can find hardness in our hearts when it’s our turn to erase the debt. Our hands readily form tight tepees while in half-stance begging for understanding, and yet sometimes our ears have selective hearing when someone else implores us to sympathize. It’s hard to be consistent, especially when we want satisfaction. In between holy desire and yet-to-fully-redeemed weakness lies a seemingly endless tutoring session where we must be taught that only One deserves to maintain the throne. Only lashings, bruises, bumps, woodshed-strap moments, bitter failures and infused empathy can move us along our progressive path. I wish it were quicker.

Enter the Cross. A dagger placed into a cliff that drew a line between maybe and yes and provided us with the privilege and power to forgive.  Behold the Lamb of God who takes away our sin! Behold the sacrifice that frees us from justly deserved punishment! Behold a new heart that takes years to grow! We’ve been given release from the greatest merited consequence of Hell and that should breed the greatest gratitude; a gratefulness that sees each soul either receiving a rightful sentence or being given unfathomable mercies. At the Cross we gained everything and it cost us nothing.

When we view our misery at the foot of Calvary, it should compel us to think deeper for we’ve been given not just another chance, but endless mercy. By grace and through faith we can now rest. There is peace. Peace eternal. Because of Christ’s payment and position, we can now rest from trying to appease God’s just anger against our iniquity. We can rest from guilt and shame and the condemnation that goes with it. We can rest fully in Him who is our Righteousness, the Resurrection and the Life. 

And what comes of it ?

A greater grace. A greater fold of compassion towards those still lost in the wheel like confused and blind vagabonds too stubborn to see. What comes of it is a melting down of the callous shell that protects a fearful heart not willing to be vulnerable. Through trials and broken relationships the heart barriers that make us cold crumble as the overflowing love of the Father seen in the provision of Christ the Son wears away the stone and there is a reshaping of what was once a hardened and impenetrable glob.  The old man is laid to rest and the new man learns how to walk freshly bathed in the heavenly waters.

We should be choked-up more over what we once thought to be sentimental silliness. We should be less upset and more heartfelt. We should be more soft. We should be less impatient and more trusting. We should be full of faith. We should be more like Him.

The apostle Peter said that if the Fruit of the Spirit are found in us and are increasing, “…they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins.Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you.” (2Peter 1:8-11)

Black Friday’s Grayness

In an attempt to promote anti-materialism there seems to be a darting out into fundamentalist traffic that emerges this time of year from the social media realm.  This week begins its inaugural dash between semi and sportster as Black Friday reared his ugly face into the news.

Sure, there are some who feed like starving jackals upon any excuse to swipe their overloaded plastic for the chance at even more goodies. However, there are plenty people who simply know a good bargain when they see it.  Why be snarky about good stewardship?  What’s so funny ’bout peace, love and 70% off ?

Too many people run their lances through anything that seems to imitate WORLDLINESS, and yet, isn’t sniping generically at gray areas a bit ungracious? The Scriptures speak about money and stewardship hundreds of times because where your heart is, so too, shall your wallet be.

At this time of year it is apropos to begin to hear the lamenting of Black Friday and too much emphasis on spending, but spending within your budget is not overspending on credit. If you do the latter, you are a fool, but buying within budget and saving money by taking advantage of great sales makes you neither stupid nor materialistic. It makes you wise.

Lastly, remember that sometimes the greatest human gift you can give is yourself. Visit your old friend. Call your grandmother in another state. Pray for those who need it. Be slow to judge. Quick to listen and remember mercy.

On the Self-professed Claim of Defection by Anne Rice

And so we have it, Anne Rice has left the building.  She announced recently to the world that she is done with Christianity but still  ‘committed to Christ’.

I remain committed to Christ as always but not to being ‘Christian’ or to being part of Christianity. It’s simply impossible for me to ‘belong’ to this quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous group. I refuse to be anti-gay. I refuse to be anti-feminist. I refuse to be anti-artificial birth control. I refuse to be anti-Democrat. I refuse to be anti-secular humanism. I refuse to be anti-science. I refuse to be anti-life. In the name of Christ, I quit Christianity and being Christian. Amen

Ms. Rice’s comments ring with an interesting commentary, but unfortunately she is  off kilter. You cannot be committed to Christ and reject Scripture. You cannot be committed to Christ and be pro-homosexual for the Word is clear that God created the woman for the man and using our body parts for unintended purposes is an insult to our Creator.  (1 Cor. 6:9; Romans 1:22-27) You cannot be committed to Christ and be pro-feminism for God has made each gender with a designated function and purpose which is unrelated to debates of worth and value. Men are men and women are women and we are different by design. You cannot upturn the rank, role and responsibilities  of mankind and still claim Christ.

You cannot be committed to Christ and be a secular humanist for to put man above God is to exalt idolatry over proper worship.  See the first commandment – and that restriction includes making men gods.   It is also the case that you do not have to be a Republican to be a believer, nor do you have to divorce your brain at the door. You do not have reject science for pure and right science supports all the God has said.  Only conjecture-driven, pseudo-science opposes the Word of God.

All that being said, I will admit that some of her comments ring loudly with a smattering of truth. Rejecting a quarrelsome and hostile group is a good thing. In fact, remember the words of Paul when he said that “the Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.” (2Timothy 2:24-26)  We should avoid those pitfalls, yet that does not mean we reject the church or Christianity for the true followers of Christ concur with all that Scripture teaches.

She continued in her internet posting with another commentary –

My faith in Christ is central to my life. My conversion from a pessimistic atheist lost in a world I didn’t understand, to an optimistic believer in a universe created and sustained by a loving God is crucial to me. But following Christ does not mean following His followers. Christ is infinitely more important than Christianity and always will be, no matter what Christianity is, has been, or might become.

Here is another definitional problem whereby Ms. Rice has confused true biblical love with worldly sentimentalism and emotion.  To her, God is a tolerant Lord who accepts everyone and who is the epitome of a hippie-Jesus love affair god with no sense of justice, holiness or truth.  While it is true that God is love, He is also a jealous fire and a God of wrath who will utterly destroy all those who continue in their sins and transgressions.

So Ms. Rice has left what she was really never a part of to begin with as John tells us, “They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, in order that it might be shown that they all are not of us.” (1John 2:19)  She defected from a false religion of her own device and has in the process embraced even more error.  Pray that the Lord opens her heart to see Him clearly.

Jumping through Hoops – Part III

jumping-through-hoops-3In our last installment of the interview we hear a few words of warning and encouragement to both daughters and their parents as to the dangers and unique challenges of the collegiate sports world.

What advice would you give parents whose daughters are involved in collegiate sports?

I think it is important to talk about this issue with them particularly with college-aged daughters.  I didn’t deal much at all with this in high school but it is definitely becoming more of a problem at that level now.

If you suspect anything hinting at homosexuality going on around your daughter, ask her about it. Teach her the biblical stance on homosexuality and make sure that she knows that it is a sin against God, no matter how many of her friends are doing it.

If they lack a substantive defense based in the truth and in why they believe what they do, when they are presented with the opposite belief amongst their peers, they will fold because they can’t combat it. On the other hand, if they have a deep understanding of the Gospel then they have the greatest weapon there ever will be in fighting the battle. Also, make sure that you are not telling them to hate homosexuals or to treat them wrong because of their lifestyle.

Make sure they understand that just because they are telling someone what God’s word says and they disagree, doesn’t mean that they are unloving or judgmental. In fact, that is the most loving thing your child can do- share truth in love. Ensure that they have a strong sense of family and feel loved and accepted showing them proper affection for the more love they get from home the less likely they will go looking for it elsewhere.

And don’t be naive.  I have seen it happen a lot where the parents of a girl who is involved in a homosexual relationship are being lied to because the girl is so fearful of their parents finding out. If you see anything suspicious developing, don’t turn the other cheek and say that there’s no way your daughter would do that. Try to get to the bottom of it.

What advice would you give the girls who are entering collegiate sports?

Man, there is so much I would love to say to each girl- including giving each one a deep, rich presentation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which is the power of God unto salvation for all those that believe.. But in general, in speaking to the Christians, I want to tell you that you have no business entering this environment of collegiate sports unless you have been specifically called by God to do so. I know this may sound really extreme and harsh, but take it from me.  I’ve been on a long spiritual journey with the Lord through this; most of the time learning the hard way. Make sure that you are not entering this environment looking to consume it for your own lusts. You will be disappointed every time, if you do. Sports will let you down 100% of the time when you put your trust in it. Especially at the college level, where the temptation to make it your life is increased because they demand so much of your time.

I give you that warning because if you are not spiritually equipped beforehand you can get swallowed up. The temptation is great. The trials are even greater. Without being rooted in the word you will have no foundation to stand on. And soon enough, you will find your life morphing into one that looks just like everyone else’s around you.

Also, make sure that you find a group of people inside and outside of the athlete world who are like-minded and who will build you up in your faith. It is always good to have a group of sincere Christians who don’t care one bit about how well you perform in your sport, but instead want to see you grow in holiness. This is crucial. You need that balance after hearing all day about your sport and how it needs to be number one in your life. Find a great local church that preaches the unadulterated word of God and welcome the accountability and support in your life.

As far as homosexuality is concerned it is hard to predict what kind of situations you will find yourself in, but no matter what, do not compromise what you know is right. It may mean that you are the ‘weird Christian girl who always talks about the Bible’, but trust me, it is all worth it when you think about what it is you are there to do.

Don’t shy away from building relationships with girls that you know are homosexual. Some of my best friendships have come from teammates of mine that are gay. I care about all of them deeply and I make sure that they know that I love and care about their lives outside of them being on the basketball court with me.   People respond differently to you when they know that you genuinely love them

Make sure that they know they can talk to you about the issue without you condemning them to hell in the process. This is why having a deep understanding of the Gospel is so important. Knowing the doctrines of human depravity and the like are crucial so that you are able to explain to them why being a homosexual is wrong, but also not placing them any higher on the sinner list than any other depraved human being…nor does is place them out of the reach of the glorious grace of God.

In short, always be ready and able to give an answer for the hope that lies within you. If you live your life for Christ, they will come up to you and ask you genuine questions about it- be ready to give an answer! And also, enjoy the opportunity that the Lord has blessed you with. It is by far an exciting time in your life and it is full of fun, but make sure you don’t lose focus on what it is we are here on earth to do- glorify God in all that we do.

jumping-through-hoops-border2

Holiday Song Poll

Christmas time ushers in two separate holidays and celebrations co-existing in one season.  Part of the party is about festive pagan remnants and tales that include flying Santas, mysterious gifts and good cheer, and strange elves making all sorts of gifts and goodies. Another part of the equation involves a unified recognition and focus upon the birth of Jesus Christ.

A major part of the festivities we play, sing  and listen to all sorts of familiar songs. It is in that spirit that I’d like to take a little poll of the folks who read this to see what your favorite holiday song might be.  Of these selections, which is your favorite?

Growing Worse or Seeing Clearer?

One of the last lessons we effectually learn, is that true godliness is a constant conflict in a believer’s heart–between sin and holiness.  Some sincere believers mistake a clearer view, and deeper sense of their depravity, for an actual increase of sin. The Christian seems sometimes to himself, to be growing worse, when actually it is only that he sees more clearly what in fact he really is!

In the early stages of our Christian life, we have usually but a slender acquaintance with the evil of our sinfulness, and the depravity of our heart. The mind is so much taken up with pardon and eternal life, that it is but imperfectly acquainted with those depths of deceit and wickedness, which lie hidden in itself.

At first we seem to feel as if the serpent were killed. But we soon find that he was only asleep–for by the warmth of some fiery temptation, he is revived and hisses at us again! Nothing astonishes an inexperienced believer more than the discoveries he is continually making of the evils of his heart. Corruptions which he never dreamt to be in him, are brought out by some new circumstances. It is like turning up the soil, which brings out worms and insects, which did not appear upon the surface.

Or to vary the illustration, his increasing knowledge of God’s holy nature, of the perfect law, and the example of Christ–is like opening the shutters, and letting light into a dark room, the filth of which, the inhabitant did not see until the sunbeams disclosed it to him.

John Angell James, “Christian Progress” 1853

Playing the Hypocrite

The book of James hits us like a two by four every time we read it.  The call to right behavior is a good tool for self-examination before God.  Watch this video. There is no dialogue. It doesn’t need any.

“From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.” James 3:10

God Loves a Cheerful Giver

It’s been said that if you want to know where a man’s heart is, follow his wallet.  Check out a man’s spending habits and you’ll see what he values the most.

Jesus put it this way in the gospel of Matthew chapter six,  “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.  But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

As our recent financial chaos in this country can attest to – men love money.  In fact, it is the love of money that is the root of all kinds of evil according to Scripture and our Lord said that no can serve two masters for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.

This is quite amusing when you think about it because to worship wealth is to bow down to the byproduct without recognizing the producer.  It is to pay homage to the grocery bag and banana while ignoring the one who made the fruit in the first place.

God is the source of all good things.  He is the source of all of our blessings and to miss the beauty of His glory for a mere created thing is most miserable indeed.  Why worship a penny when we have the King?

Giving in the church should be regular, proportionate, and sometimes sacrificial.  It should be done voluntarily and with great joy and seen as privilege and not a burden.  God does not want your minimum wage mentality where tithing becomes your focus and you quibble over percentages and net incomes.

We should learn to move on beyond that limited view of giving and see that our standard of giving has now become the self-giving example of Christ Himself who gave all so that others may profit.  The tithing of first fruits is merely a good base to work from but is by no means the end.

Listen to more details here when I recently preached on this often mistaught doctrine. I pray you are encouraged and challenged as I know I was by what God’s Word has to say on giving cheerfully.

Most Peculiar Momma

It is during times like these that I wonder where we will end up by the end of the year or decade.  Our financial horizons are so pathetically entrenched in political pandering that John McCain actually looks like a conservative and Barack Obama is being heralded as some revival juggernaut while the reality is that he’s simply a liberal socialist re-presenting the same Ole anti-American nonsense that the Clinton’s tried to feed the nation before Bill was impeached.

We have homosexuals demanding equal treatment and the right to be married as if one’s sexual orientation should be their self-defining feature and marriage can mean anything else other than what God has intended.  Even mere biology attests to the fact and function of our sexual organs’ use and non-intended use and if anyone dare point out that a man’s anatomy is designed to work with a female’s body, then suddenly they are labeled intolerant and bigoted.  Strange days indeed.

Legislators can’t seem to decide if inutero-living is actually living at all or whether taxing Americans more will be a good or bad thing, as if the last century never even happened.  Babies in their mother’s womb are just that – babies in their mother’s womb; they have a seperate DNA, their own blood-type and their own heart beat. The only real debate we should be having is about how fast we should be shutting down these infanticidal murder factories and what to do with all the extra phone systems and reception room chairs that will become available from Planned Parenthood’s closure.

Madness abounds from the right and from the left as our standards are eroding in every possible arena.  The new standard in our culture seems to be that there is no standard as a post-modern feeding fetish seems to make the masses glad. Logic is an antiquated ideal that has worn out her usefulness and in her place is an emotive gelatin that neither provides vision or nutrition.

Strange and yet, predictable.  And so we stand on the fringe of uncertainty as our sight cannot tell us what the next day will bring, but then again, it never could and it never will.  These are the times when I am so glad that the One who does know tomorrow calls me Blessed.  These are the times when our glorious Savior and King shines the most brightly. These are the times when our faith is tested.

I am glad that we do not put our hope in chariots or politicians or economic markets. Instead, we put our hope in God above who never leaves us and who never forsakes us and who is orchestrating all the events of history so that His perfect work of redemption, justice, and mercy may be fulfilled as the consummated Kingdom gets closer and closer and closer.  And unlike some pop artist’s may sing, somebody did tell me there would be days like these… and for that I rejoice.  Come Lord quickly!