Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Are You Scared Yet?

Are You Scared Yet?

Do you remember the fable of the bored shepherd boy who entertained himself by repeatedly crying ‘wolf’ to alarm the villagers. When a real wolf appeared he cried ‘wolf’ but no one paid him any attention and he perished between the jaws of his predator.

Are we all going to die? 110 million people live in Mexico, 20 people have died of Swine Flu as of this writing. 300 million people live in the U.S., none have died of Swine Flu as of this writing. If you live in Mexico, your chances of dying of Swine Flu is 1 in 5.5 million. You have a much better chance of choking to death on a hot dog.

A few years ago we were all going to die of Ebola. I don’t know of anyone who died of Ebola, do you? We were all going to perish from AIDS. Many have died of AIDS but it seems to exclusively affect those who are homosexual or share needles. It doesn’t seem to be a threat to the general population. And then there was the West Nile Virus. I actually heard of one person in my community of 200,000 people who contracted this disease. But the widespread fear that Americans were going to die by the thousands never materialized.

Why the public hysteria? Is the sky really falling? Haven’t we heard the cry of “Wolf” many times before? I suppose it would be more dangerous to underestimate a dangerous virus than to exaggerate its ability to devastate.

I still remember participating in ‘nuclear bomb’ drills when I was a child. One day California is going to fall off into the Pacific Ocean when the big one comes. Millions were convinced that life as we know it would end with the Y2K crises of 2000. The predicted SARS pandemic predicted in 2003 never materialized. The terrorists anthrax attack was more powdered sugar than anthrax. Mad Cow disease was going to make us all crazy.

I’ve heard the ‘wolf’ cry so many times I’m numb to all the fear mongering. Fear is an emotion that helps us to preserve ourselves in times of danger. Will we feel any fear at all when the real wolf appears?

Saturday, April 11, 2009

A Wind That Never Changes

A Wind That Never Changes

Have you ever heard anyone ask, "How could a God of love send anyone to hell?" If God IS love...surely he'll never send anyone to an eternity of separation from him! It is much more comfortable for us to emphasize his love and ignor his justice. God loves us so much he sacrificed his son to die on the cross for us! Yet, Romans 2:6 says God "will give to each person according to what he has done."I watched my young son ride his tricycle yesterday. The wind was blowing much harder than usual. When he was riding one direction the wind was against him. When he rode the other direction the wind was for him.God never changes. His wind always blows the same direction. When we focus on God and comply to his message of truth the wind is for us. When we are focused on ourselves and reject his message of truth him the wind is against us. If we choose to live for Christ his love will spare us from eternal judgment and we will one day enjoy the place he has gone on to prepare for us. If we insist on ignoring his call and choose to live in deliberate disobedience then the winds of justice will carry us to a place prepared for Lucifer and his followers. I'm sure that those who are in heaven feel assured that God is just because of the fact that hell does indeed exist.There should be no confusion at all about a God who is love and also who is just. These traits are perfectly reconcilable in the divine nature of God. As a parent, I must be loving and just. In fact, my love is often defined by justice. Kameron earned a reprimand this morning for defying his father. Did I love him less as I administered justice? No, my enforcement of justice was a demonstration of love. Hebrews 12:6 "...the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son." It is very comforting to know that God is love and he is also just!

Monday, April 6, 2009

How Long Must We Tolerate The Intolerant?

How long must we tolerate the intolerant?

Neil Warren worked with James Dobson and Focus on the Family for many years before leaving to start his own business, a matching service called e-harmony.com. After being pressured by the Civil Rights Division of California state government, e-harmony caved into providing a parallel dating service for homosexuals called Compatible Partners. Eric McKinley, a 46 year old gay male from New Jersey won a lawsuit against e-harmony and will receive $5,000 and a year of free membership. He accused e-harmony of being intolerant to those of his persuasion. Are there no gay websites for Mr. McKinley to go to for such a service? Are there not many other ways for homosexuals to find each other? McKinley stated that he was very hurt that he couldn't participate in the e-harmony dating service because he was gay. And so, in his endeavor to demand his own freedom he would so selfishly take away the freedom of another. Neil Warren is no longer free to be true the mission of his company which promoted marriage between a man and a woman and provided a dating service exclusively for those who believe that heterosexual relationships are scriptural and homosexual relationships are a violation of God's plan for mankind.

It seems those who shout loudest for tolerance are themselves most intolerant. Why do we tolerate a government that will so eagerly impose the values of a minority (homosexuals only make up 2-3% of the U.S. population) opon the majority. It looks to me like e-harmony is being punished because they are Christian and their mission of helping young Christians find each other has no sympathy at all with the governing body of California!! Everyone has a champion in government to fight for their rights except Christians. I believe our Champion would have us lean on Him and not depend on the government to protect of defend us.
Psalm 46:1 "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble."

The enemy who would be our friend.

The enemy who would be our friend.

Matt. 5:48 “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” We are most certainly bound in our human nature and we cannot become divine anymore than we can transform ourselves into an elephant. But, Christ would not have admonished us toward perfection if we were encapable of achieving it. Defining the term is most important. Perfection here means to be as complete as God intended us to be. He has a set and reasonable standard for us to reach. That standard includes being filled with all the fullness of God. We are to experience Christ living in us, the Holy Spirit filling us and enabling us to live clean and pure lives. We are to be empowered to do the will of God. We are to be rooted and grounded in love for God and for others. God is powerful enough to help us attain this. The sufficiency of Christ’s sacrifice and the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit enables us to attain this standard God has set for us.

Yet, there seems to be so little light, so little heat in the church today. The fresh bread has grown stale, even moldy. We aren’t striving for righteousness and purity, we are attempting to see how to get to heaven having accessed as little grace as possible. We trumpet as loudly as we can that ‘salvation is not by works’ and then feel comfortable producing no good works at all. Christians have become soft and undisciplined like a spoiled child in a privileged family. Disobedience is tolerated. Self-sacrifice and suffering are foreign to us. Instead of seeking for cleansing from all sin through the blood of Christ we rationalize and make excuses for sin. How the heart of God must surely be grieved by our manipulations! We comfort ourselves by declaring we have been saved from some of our sins, or at least saved from our worst sins while clinging fervently to our favorite sins.

Notes such as this are offensive to many but let me in boldness ask: Would not the grace and power of God be less remarkable if it is only able to bind the lion but not able to kill it? Why do we limit God’s grace by praying prayers like, “help me to control the sin in my life” rather than praying, “Christ Jesus, complete the work you’ve come to do and destroy the sin in my life.” If we cut down the tree, sprigs will soon appear and the tree will grow back. Is it not better to cut down the tree and rip out its system of roots?

Matthew 18:11 “For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost.” Christ stated the obvious purpose of his coming which was to destroy sin and to save souls. Yet, a multitude of Christians have dedicated their lives to defending their ‘right’ to sin granted them by their ‘human nature’. I must ask, whose side are they on? Christ never defended anyone’s 'right to sin' and he expects all of his followers to be warriors against sin, not champions of sin!

Christ said, “Be ye holy even as I also am holy.” He didn’t say, “Be as holy as you possibly can.” Nor did he say, “Be ye holy even though I know that is impossible for you.” He set the standard very high. He expects us not only to reach for it but to actually attain it through the grace he provides and the power found in his indwelling Spirit.



Sunday, April 5, 2009

Death our Savior?

Death our savior?

The fact that no sin will enter heaven is certainly beyond dispute. It is and will remain a holy place, undefiled by the presence of sin. So, at what point is sin removed from the soul of man? He can not take sin with him into heaven. Many would teach that sin will not be completely destroyed until death. Some take comfort in embracing the belief that it is okay to sin. In fact, they say, it is impossible NOT to sin. They proclaim with a sigh of relief that all must sin in thought, word and deed daily. Therefore we must await for death to separate the body and the soul before sin is ultimately destroyed. I have yet to find a scripture that teaches such a thing. Would death then become our savior instead of Christ himself? Would death not become our friend rather than our enemy? It is the magnificent power and marvelous grace of God that cleanses us from all sin, not the death of the body. It is also argued that a little sin in the believer keeps him humble. We all know that the very essence of sin is pride. How can we possibly reason that it is pride that humbles us?! It is only when pride (sin) is cast out of our hearts we may begin to experience meekness and humility. How befuddled must the heart be that invites pride into his heart to keep him humble and meek. It is only the grace of God and his indwelling presence that humbles us. Sometimes pride comes masquerading as humility in our souls. Even Satan himself was transformed into an angel of light. Have you ever met someone who was very proud of how humble they were?Sin can never be used as a constructive force, it is always and only destructive. The idea that sin is necessary in our lives to make us feel more humble and dependent and help us develop a deeper relationship with God is nonsensical. The effect of sin is just the opposite. Pride makes us feel as if we do not need a savior. Is it not more rational to believe that it is the absence of sin that brings glory to God, not the presence of sin? This same grace that saves us from all unrighteousness is also powerful enough to provide a continuous cleansing that keeps us pure and obedient to a just and loving Savior.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

If the Eagle and the Dragon fight, will they both die?

If the Eagle and the Dragon fight, will they both die?

I discovered recently that “China” means “The center of all nations”. I found that interesting in view of the type of relationship we now have with China. No two nations could be any more different than China and the U.S. Yet we find ourselves in an awkward marriage with a nation so unlike us. Our citizens take their rights for granted while the Chinese feel fortunate to experience any rights at all. Our citizens spend all the money they have and some they don’t have while the Chinese are notorious savers. Most of us live like kings in comparative luxury while most Chinese live on the brink of poverty.

It is certainly a marriage of convenience, of necessity. They depend on our consumers to fuel their massive productive factories. We’ve outsourced all of our production and are now defined not as a producer nation but as the world’s greatest consumer and debtor nation. In the city where I live there used to be a dozen textile factories. I don’t think there is a single one left.

So, what happens if the two of us divorce? Which of us has the greater chance of surviving without the other? They have been saving and investing while we have been spending. I’m looking desperately for someone to explain the insanity of how we’re going to work our way out of debt and regain the respect of our neighbor nations by spending trillions of dollars! Don’t underestimate the dragon! They hate capitalism and they would love to crush us. We must submit to the dragon because we are flat broke and we need the money they can lend us. How humiliating to be puppets on a string to the Chinese government! It’s very hard to build or sustain the world’s greatest military when your broke. In the meantime, China is experiencing a massive military buildup. If China gets impatient waiting for us to pay back our debt.....? I hate to think about what might happen! Perhaps Obama should send China’s president Hu Jinto an I-pod or a set of American movies on DVD!Perhaps we should start taking heed to the words of the world’s wisest man: “The rich rule over the poor and the borrower becomes the lender’s slave.” Proverbs 22:7

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Defenders of Faith or Defenders of SIN?

Defenders of Faith or Defenders of SIN??

There is always much talk among Christians about what Christ has done for us. He took on humanity, he lived among us, he suffered, he died and he rose again. He did all of this for us so that we might one day spend eternity with him.

But what about what he is doing in us? He has done all of that for us so that he might do something in us. He wants to create within us a clean heart. He wants to cleanse us from all sin. He wants to empower us with his Spirit and qualify us for heaven through his grace. "Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God" This purifying within does not come by death, lest death become our friend instead of our enemy. It comes in life. Like the timbers that are cut, measure and prepared to construct the physical church, we are being formed and prepared in the church militant to one day take our place in the church triumphant.

This sanctification of the heart is God's plan to restore us to his original intent for Adam and Eve. They messed that up in the garden so God sends his son to the pit into which we have fallen and Christ reaches down to lift us out of the despair caused by our separation from God. This restoration includes a certain level of expectancy in God's plan for our purification. Many claim that we can't be cleansed or perfected. Perfection in this sense is not absolute. It is a term that means completeness. We are completed in the sense that we can perform that purpose for which we were created.

Some compromise God's plan by holding tightly to their sin. Some would defend and rationalize sinful behavior by claiming that they can't help but sin because it is a part of their nature. The danger of embracing this belief is that it makes sin triumphant. It makes Satan victor. If God's grace can save us from sin but it cannot keep us from sin then we blasphemously limit the power of an omnipotent God. If we claim that he will not save us and keep us from sin then we question the very nature of a holy God who will never tolerate sin.

Will Christians then live sinless lives? Not likely. If sin appears in the true Christians life he immediately feels remorse and repents with sincerity and he wills not to repeat it. But how can we claim that it is impossible to live sinless without limiting the grace and power of the almighty God?? Sin is the doctrine of hell, the work of Satan. Christ came to destroy his work. Why are there so many 'champions for sin' in our pulpits today? In his good pleasure and by his sovereign will he can and will cleanse sin from the humble and receptive heart.