Wednesday, January 27, 2010

What I Learned on the Way to School

What I Learned On the Way to School

I wasn’t eating while driving. I wasn’t shaving while driving. I wasn’t texting while driving and I certainly wasn’t drinking while driving. But I was guilty of praying while driving. I was praying for direction. I was praying for wisdom. I was praying for patience. I was praying for holiness.

1. Deer Crossing

As I was driving along, it was cold and frost still clung to my window. And suddenly there in the middle of the road was a lone doe. She was in no hurry. She stopped right there in my lane and I had to come to a complete stop. It was very unusual. A deer on drugs? Most deer scramble to get out of the way but she just stopped as if to say, “What are you doing on my road?” The driver coming up behind me had to hit his brakes so as to not rear-end me.

I know a doe never travels alone. Sure enough, out of the right side ditch emerged another doe. She too, meandered across the road. When I was sure all was clear I proceeded on my way.

Application: Sometimes our paths are obstructed. I don’t know why those deer just happened to be crossing the road when I was passing that way. Maybe it’s just a coincidence when people and things get in our way. Maybe it’s providential when those things happen.

Psalms 57:6 “They dug a pit in my path….”

Hosea 2:6 “Therefore I will block her path with thornbushes…”

I had several options…I could have just plowed them over. Deer hunting with a Forerunner. Meat for supper. Devour the obstruction.

I could have swerved dangerously, maybe ending up in a ditch, off the roadway. In a place I shouldn’t be. That move could lead to an accident, perhaps a very destructive accident, maybe even a fatal accident.

When obstructions get in the way we don’t just plow recklessly through them. We don’t adopt dangerous maneuvers to avoid them. We use caution. We slow down. Maybe even stop if we have to. Maybe we consider another path.

If God has allowed these obstructions to come in our pathway he has allowed it for a purpose. We don’t always see why. We can’t see the big picture. So, we must simply trust him for all things. Sometimes we just need a healthy dose of faith in the providential sovereignty of God.

2. Railroad Crossing

I continued down the road toward my destination. As I ascended a hill on Fortson Road and began my descent I saw a line of traffic stopped at the railroad crossing. The single track serves the local gravel pit only and its very unusual to be stopped there for a train but sure enough, the engine was dragging car after car filled with gravel out of the stony pit.

There were probably a dozen cars in front of me waiting patiently, all but one. He maneuvered his car until he got turned around and in his frustration he gunned it the other way. Thirty or forty seconds later the train passed and we were able to move forward. I thought, if the fellow had only been a bit more patient he would be on his way now.

He probably reached his destination this morning but I’m very sure it took him longer to get there than it would have had he just been patient and waited a few more seconds for the train to pass.

Colossians 3:12 “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with ….. patience”

Sometimes we cross paths with those who are moving toward a different destination than we are. We sometimes get impatient with those in our lives who are either way ahead of us or way behind us. We get impatient when we don’t see things the same way, when we can’t agree on which path to take, when our goals seem to differ greatly.

In those moments when we feel most impatient….we are tempted to turn around, to take another path. How often is the awaited blessing just ahead? So close, so very close. How sad that so many turn around just before experiencing the victory, just before the blessing is manifested.

Psalm 37:7 “Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; do not fret…”

Micah 7:7 “But as for me, I watch in hope for the LORD, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me.”

Romans 8:25 “But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently”

3. The Four Way Stop

I know now after the deer and the train that I’m going to be late. But now I must negotiate the 4-way stop. The four-way stop is a place of courtesy. It is a place where you proceed only when it’s your turn. There is a time to go and a time not to go. It’s dangerous, because if you go before it’s your turn you may have an accident.

You would be surprised how many people seem to have no idea what to do when they get to the 4-way stop. You have to think several moves ahead. If you are the fourth to arrive, three others will proceed before you do.

Sometimes it’s prudent to let others proceed even when it’s your turn. It might be wise to sit back and allow another to have their way rather than risk an accident.

Some of those people move out of turn because they are self-serving. They do everything to benefit them selves and they don’t even hesitate to step on someone who gets in their way. Some of those people are distracted. They are talking on cell phones and they are not capable of thinking four moves ahead while their minds are preoccupied with something other than the task at hand.

What are you to do when someone is discourteous, when someone violates your right to a turn, when someone delays you because they are selfish in their own efforts. If this happens you should pull in behind them, gun it, pull parallel to them and then gradually run them off the road. You then take the hammer from the bed of your truck and methodically beat all the windows from their vehicle. No!

Ecc. 5:19 says that God enables us to “accept our lot.”

2 Corinthians 12:9 “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

Conclusion: I was late this morning, about 8 minutes late. I realized all my fretting was in vain when I pull in the parking lot only to discover that I was the first teacher to arrive.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Is Homosexuality a Choice

Is Homosexuality a Choice
California’s Proposition Eight gay marriage ban is being challenged in the California Courts. Gregory Herek, a social psychologist from the University of California was called on to the testify on Friday, January 22. Herek reminded the court that mental health associations stopped regarding homosexuality as a mental illness decades ago.

The central question the court is trying to decide is whether homosexuality is a choice or not. If it is not a choice then the whole movement can be categorized as a ‘rights movement’ alongside racial and ethnics civil rights movements in America’s past. The goal of the trial is to determine if state laws that ban homosexual marriage are unconstitutional.

Herek declared that gay, lesbian and bisexuals do not choose their sexuality. This is a topic I have a great interest in so I was alerted to the findings of an expert social psychologist. Upon what basis did he establish his findings? This is the whole basis for his conclusion: he did a survey and found that 88% of gay men said they had no choice regarding their sexual inclination and 68% of lesbians said they had no choice. So, the overwhelming evidence the court is suppose to accept is a study that says homosexuals have no choice in the matter because they said so!!

“The vast majority of lesbians and gay men and bisexuals as well, when asked how much choice they felt they have ... say they have experienced no choice or very little choice about that,” Herek said.

As a Christian I am very much aware that God’s love and justice will apply equally to all people regardless of their sexual orientation. One of God’s clear directives regarding homosexuality is found in Leviticus 18:22 - "Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable." God never commands us to do something we are incapable of doing. The sin is recorded when the act is committed. It may very well be true that a man has no choice in the fact that he is born with certain feminine traits or even with a deposition toward homosexual behavior. This man has not sinned until he has yielded to his own fleshly desires.

1 Corinthians 6:9-10 - "Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God." (NIV). If what Mr. Herek proposes is true would it not also be safe to say that those who are born with a predisposition to thievery cannot help but steal and those born with a predisposition to alcoholism can’t help becoming alcoholic? If so, then the justice of God is much compromised and it is quite unfair for him to command us to do things we are incapable of doing.

A man who desires alcohol doesn’t have to become an alcoholic. A man may be strongly tempted toward adultery in ways that other men are not but he doesn’t have to become an adulterer. A man may be strongly tempted toward homosexual behavior but he doesn’t have to participate in the sinful act.

Perhaps the missing element is the power of God in our lives. One might argue that because of our sinful nature we must sin. When we confess our sins and submit to God he gives us the power of his Spirit to resist sin. In ourselves, we cannot do it, but through the power of his Spirit he makes it possible to live lives of empowerment and purity.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Crisis brings out the best and the worst

Crisis brings out the best and the worst

Nations are squabbling and fussing with each other like young school children competing for a toy. There is massive confusion at the only available airport in Port-au-Prince. Hundreds of millions of dollars of aid is pouring into the country and that is a good thing. But distributing the aid has proven to be a logistical nightmare. Even before the earthquake Haitians were greatly dependent on foreign aid. After the mess is cleaned up and the bodies buried and the injuries treated, who will assist the Haitians in rebuilding their economy and weaning them off of international aid? The old proverb comes to mind about giving a man a fish to feed him for a day but teaching a man to fish will feed him for a lifetime. The Haitians need more than just change in their pocket, they need to learn how to be independent and how to be creative in establishing economic opportunities for their people. Giving them lots of money only delays the final and total collapse of their society unless it is followed up with humanitarian efforts to teach them how to develop a working economy.

Obama pledged several hundred million in aid to the Haitians. How can our nation, trillions of dollars in debt, offer hundreds of millions that we don’t have? Will we borrow that money from the Chinese or will we just fire up the printing presses?

The criticism the U.S. is getting from certain countries seems undeserved. We have taken the initiative in helping these poor people because we are geographically positioned to help them and we have the means to administer aid. Food and medical supplies have accumulated at the airport and they remain undelivered while people suffer and some die. But, how can the supplies be delivered before security is established? To deliver before securing would invite massive social unrest.

An official in the French government has accused the U.S. of using the crisis as an excuse to militarily occupy the nation. Why would we want to occupy the weakest, poorest nation in the western hemisphere? What can Haiti do for us besides siphon more and more of our resources. If we’re going to occupy a nation in the Western hemisphere lets go for the gusto, how about Venezuela, or Canada or maybe Brazil, but certainly not Haiti.

Why can’t we all just get along? This isn’t a competition for international recognition. This shouldn’t be about a power grab by the U.S. or the U.N. This shouldn’t be about criticizing those who have the will to take the initiative. This is about helping the poor, the destitute, the widow, the orphan, the injured, the hopeless.

If Any Man Deny Himself

If Any Man Deny Himself

We make it all about ourselves. When do we ever realize that it’s not about us, it’s about Him? We are like those in the Old Testament who tried to build monuments to themselves. God is angered and disappointed when we build our Towers of Babel. We often behave like the disciples when they were wrangling over who would sit at the right hand of Jesus. We are always trying to find a better seat nearer the head of the table.

It’s not enough to be guests, we want to be recognized as special guests. We want our shelves to be full of trophies to display to others. We want to flash our degrees and credentials on the walls of our offices. We spend too much time being too much aware of what others might be thinking about the clothes we wear, the cars we drive or he houses we live in.

We live our whole lives for the praises and accolades of men and when it all ends we are lowered into a grave and forgotten. One hundred years after our death hardly anyone will remember or even have any record that we even lived. Our meager accomplishments will fade or completely disappear in the next generation. Many of us know very little about our grandfathers and some know nothing at all about our great-grandfathers.

So, why do we try so hard to make a name for ourselves? Why are we so consumed with our ‘accomplishments’? Is it because of our pride? God hates pride more than any other thing because it is the wall we erect to keep God at bay. Psalm 10:4 “The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts.”

Jesus tells us we must die to ourselves if we are to experience his fullness. Before a glass full of milk can become a glass full of water the milk must be poured out. Christ wants to pour out all our sinfulness so he can fill us with his holiness. “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it." It is a great paradox, in order to experience the fullness of life we must first die. From death springs life. Like a seed buried in the ground that eventually springs forth in life.

This quote is heart searching. It’s so painful sometimes to look in the mirror and see yourself for who you really are. God is not so polite as to spare us. He shows us every ugly blemish and offers us abundant grace and wisdom to make necessary adjustments in our lives. He loves us always, even when we are ugly and disgusting.

Dying to Self
When you are forgotten or neglected
or purposely set at naught, and you don't sting
and hurt with the insult or the oversight, but your heart is happy
being counted worthy to suffer for Christ,

When your good is evil spoken of,
when your wishes are crossed,
your advice disregarded,
your opinions ridiculed,
and you refuse to let anger rise in your heart,
or even defend yourself,
but take it all in patient, loving silence,


When you lovingly and patiently bear any disorder,
any irregularity,
any impunctuality
or any annoyance,
when stand face to face with waste, folly, extravagance, spiritual insensibility,
and endure it as Jesus endured it


When you never care to refer to yourself in conversation,
or to record your own good works,
or itch after commendation
when you can truly love to be unknown,


When you are content with any food,
any offering,
any raiment,
any climate,
any society,
any solitude,
any interruption by the will of God


When you can see your brother prosper and have his needs met,
and can honestly rejoice with him in spirit and feel no envy nor question God,
while your own needs are far greater and in desperate circumstances,


When you can receive correction and reproof from one of less stature than yourself,
and can humbly submit inwardly as well as outwardly,
finding no rebellion or resentment rising up within your heart,


Monday, January 18, 2010

Christ's Message Was Radical

Christ’s Message is Radical
We dare not make the message of Christ any less radical than he made it!! My father used to tell me, "Nothing of any worth comes without cost." A relationship with Christ is the most valued possession a man can have on this earth. But it comes with a price..."None of you can be my disciple...who does not give up all his own possessions." Christ doesn’t share his throne with anyone. We can’t make any 50/50 deals with the Lord and Savior. It brings to mind that old cliché I’ve heard so often, “He will be Lord of all or he will be Lord not at all.”

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Devil is a Sly Old Fox

The Devil is a Sly Old Fox

Paul taught an astounding truth regarding human nature. He said that we are constantly battling the flesh. In fact, our whole lives are pretty much a struggle between spirit and flesh. Paul exposed his own struggle, “for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.” (Romans 7:15b) He, along with countless other Christians have discovered that fighting the flesh is a losing battle, it is a war we cannot win without the help of the Holy Spirit of God dwelling in us. The power to overcome the flesh is not something we can conjure up within ourselves. “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you” (Acts 1:8)

When I was a child my mother used to teach this concept to me by telling me that there were two powers vying for my soul. She said that the devil sat on one shoulder telling me to do wrong while and angel of God sat on the other telling me to do right. If I followed the advice of the angel I could overcome fleshly desires and put a smile on the face of God. If I listened to the imp on the other shoulder I would lose my battle against the flesh and displease God my Father. It may sound like an oversimplified theology but I don’t think my mother was far off the mark.

My father taught me a song when I was a young child. It goes something like this:

The Devil is a sly old fox,
If I could catch him
I would throw him in a box
I'd lock the door and throw away the key
For all the tricks he's played on me.
I'm glad I've got salvation.
I'm glad I've got salvation.
I'm glad I've got salvation.
I'm trusting in the Lord.

My father was trying to teach me that Satan never, never gives up trying to get us to succumb to our fleshly nature. I’ve learned he was right. It is a lifelong battle. Now I’m older than he was when he taught me that song. I’ve taught my own son, who is only four years old, the concept of the angel and the imp sitting on each of his shoulders and he sings the Devil is a Sly Old Fox beautifully.

I am attempting to teach my son what my father taught me: That our adversary is not to be underestimated. He is subtle, crafty and much smarter than we are in every way. I often warn my apologetics students to never attempt to argue with Satan. He has thousands of years of experience and he is much better at debating than any of us could ever hope to be. If we underestimate him we do so at our own peril, Paul said as much.

“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12)

An American Native grandson was talking to his grandfather. He asked the old man how he felt and this was his reply, “I feel as if I have two wolves fighting in my heart. One wolf is the vengeful, angry, violent one. The other wolf is the loving, compassionate one.” The grandson was intrigued by these words and asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win the fight in your heart?” The grandfather answered, “The one I feed.”

We can’t win the battle over our fleshly nature if we insist on feeding our fleshly desires day after day. The television, computers, I-pods, and various forms of other media make it very tempting and very easy to do that. We grow in the Spirit by feeding our spiritual nature. Wasn’t that what Paul was talking about when he said, “whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things” (Philippians 4:8)

One day God will evaluate the fight we’ve fought. If we use the tools the Holy Spirit makes available to us we can fight a good fight and overcome the flesh. We will be able to say with Paul, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith” (2 Tim. 4:7)

Friday, January 15, 2010

A Father's Love for His Son

This is a great inspirational father of a father's love for his 'able' son.  There are fornunate to have each other.  As a Christian, Patrick will one day be restored when he gets to heaven.  In all the eternity that will follow, the father will not regret for one moment all the effort he invested in his relationship with his son.  I can't help but make a comparison, when we are restored in heaven, our Father will not regret for one moment sacrificing his son to purchase the love relationship with him that will last forever and ever!!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Unacceptable Conversion

Unacceptable Conversion

Conversion is so much a part of the American way of life. We seem to be much polarized these days and we are involved in the lifetime pursuit of attempting to convert others to our way of thinking. I remember clearly my mother trying her hardest to convert me to become a lover of peas, broccoli and spinach. But I was much devoted to all vegetables yellow and despised the greens. Eventually I did convert but only after I had become an adult and no longer under duress from my mother.

I remember attending Meadville Junior High School where all my best friends wanted me to convert from basketball to football. I didn't like football because I had a natural instinct for self-preservation and because I weighed less than one hundred pounds in the seventh grade. But, against my better judgment I succumbed to their influence and tried out for the football team. During the first practice the coach lined me up in a one-on-one blocking drill with the biggest, meanest kid on the team. I realized my disadvantage from the start. The equipment I was wearing weighed more than I did. I really couldn't get up any speed or momentum. He hit me so hard I saw stars for three days and had to go to the dentist to repair a chipped tooth. Needless to say, I didn't convert to football.

90% of my childhood friends were Catholic, some Italian Catholic and some Irish Catholic. I was the lone protestant and Terry Wecas was the lone Jew. I must say, I was strongly attracted to the idea of cleaning my slate every Saturday morning with a simple confession to the local priest. But, I remained well rooted in my Protestant beliefs and enjoyed many a debate with those dear friends as we tried to promote our own faith.

I attended a private boarding school in a border state: Kentucky. Many southern friends tried to convince me of the advantages of southern living. I suppose they did convert me because I never returned to my native state, Pennsylvania. I've lived in Columbus, Georgia for over 25 years. But, I still hate black-eyed peas which seem more like a bean to me. I'm still a Penn State fan and I'm still loyal to the Pittsburgh Steelers. I still don't like corn bread, nor have I ever learned to endure the heat of southern summers. But I love southern fried chicken and no one can make pecan pie like my wife's grandmother who hails from Greenville, South Carolina.

So many are trying to convert so many other! Democrats and Republicans, Baptists and Methodists, Arminians and Calvinists, Alabama fans and Auburn fans. CNN fans and Fox News fans. Conversion is as American as Coca Cola (or Pepsi) and Apple Pie. It is much accepted and creates variety which adds spice to our lives.

But, there seems to be only one conversion attempt that is absolutely unacceptable. It's a mystery but it’s true. You may try to convert anyone to anything….but don't dare try to convert someone to Christ. That is considered crude, crass, arrogant and hateful. Just ask Brit Hume. It's a mystery but its not surprising. Jesus warned his followers: "All men will hate you because of me." Luke 21:17

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Build-a-Bear Jesus

Build-a Bear Jesus

Jesus saw more people walk away from him than toward him. If the success of Christ’s ministry would have been measured by modern day standards he would have been declared a great failure. He didn’t have the numbers. He wasn’t pastor of a great mega-church. He wasn’t surrounded with entertainers. Jesus was aware that he was losing many followers so he asked this question, “Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word.” (John 8:43)

Jesus understood why they were leaving: “I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill.” (John 6:26) Few people want to come to church to hear the hard words of truth but if you pass out free hotdogs many more will be persuaded to come. Paul’s word to Timothy encases the problem perfectly, “For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.”

Four years ago my wife and I adopted a precious, four month old little boy. It had been a couple decades since I had been connected to the world of infants and toddlers. Kameron received a Teddy Bear as a gift from some friends of ours. I learned that it was a Build-a-Bear product. If I understand correctly, you can pick and choose so as to develop your own creation. You can even put your own voice in the bear!

Isn’t that what so many people are trying to do today with Jesus? They want to create their own Jesus. They decide what he looks like, they decide where he goes and what he says. They worship their own idol and they call him Jesus. I witness a sort of “Jesus Cult” going on in our society. People make a lot of money selling Jesus songs, Jesus T-Shirts and Jesus jewelry. Sometimes I cringe when I see the precious cross of Christ draped around the neck of some of our Hollywood celebrities whose lifestyle is contrary to what he taught.

I used to have a Jack-in-the-Box when I was a child. It had a little lever on its side. When you wanted to play with Jack you just wind the lever and he would pop out of the box. It seems many want to put Jesus in such a box. Wind it up and let him pop out only when it’s convenient or when he won’t cause any embarrassment.

We are enamored with who he is. We are fascinated with Jesus the person but so many have no clue why he came, what his true mission was. They don’t start resisting Jesus until they begin to hear his words. They accept him as an icon for moral living, as an example of love and tolerance but they resist him when he presents himself as the only way to salvation, as the only solution to their problems. Cultural icon, yes. Savior and Lord, no. That’s too hard to accept.

Jesus asked his ‘followers’, “Does this offend you?”. Do my words trouble you? The truth cuts like a two-edged sword. Maybe that’s why we like Christmas so much. Jesus is non-threatening laying in a manger unable to say words.

Jesus spoke only words that were true: He said he was the bread of life, he said he was the only way to the Father, he said he was he only path to heaven, he said he was the living water, the only water that could quench the insatiable thirst in the human soul. He made it simple and there are only two ways to react to his words: rejection….”This is a hard saying, who can receive it?” or acceptance. Jesus asked Peter if he too, would leave and Peter answered, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Brit Hume: Blacklisted by hostile peer journalists

Brit Hume: blacklisted by hostile peer journalists

Brit Hume was discussing the downfall of Tiger Woods with Bill O’Reilly. Tiger has claimed the Buddhist faith publicly on at least one occasion. Brit said, “I don’t think that faith (Buddhism) offers the kind of forgiveness and redemption that is offered by the Christian faith. So my message to Tiger would be, ‘Tiger, turn to the Christian faith and you can make a total recovery and be a great example to the world.’”

Now, why would Brit Hume say that to Tiger? Perhaps, as an evangelical Christian, Brit is trying to follow the directive of Jesus Christ to proclaim the gospel “to the ends of the earth.” In Brit’s own words, “all hell broke out” after he offered that advise. Why? If Brit were a New Ager and he suggested that Tiger do some deep meditation and some yoga to achieve peace of mind would anyone have objected? If Brit were a Muslim and suggested Tiger visit his mosque this week, would anyone have objected? Absolutely not!

So why do people object to Christianity so vehemently? A journalist for one of our local papers here in Georgia, Jay Bookman of the Atlanta Journal Constitution, criticized Hume sharply by saying, “Faith is a private matter between that person and God, and is not a matter to be judged by some pompous TV anchor.” Rest assured, had it been any other religion other than Christianity Bookman would have no words on the matter.

I recently watched Tim Tebow endure a great amount of criticism for displaying his faith so openly and Colt McCoy, the Texas quarterback has also received flack for referring so often to his Christian experience. This hostile reaction to Christianity is nothing new. Americans have been protected by large numbers of those of like faith down through the centuries. But, this has not been true for Christians in Korea, China, Somalia and many other parts of the world. Religions that carry no truth endure no hostility. Christians endure the angry retorts and persecutions of so many haters because the truth “cuts like a two edged sword.”

What two words have stirred more dissension and controversy than any other two words in history? Jesus Christ. In the course of Jesus’ three year ministry, he saw many more people walk away from him than walk toward him. His words were too difficult to accept. People today hate Christ for the same reasons people hated him in Galilee 2,000 years ago. They hate him because he claims to be the Son of God. They hate him because he declares himself to be the only path that leads to God. They hate him because he says he is the only solution to their problems, he is the only one who can fill the void in their hearts.

They hate Christ and all those who follow him because his words call for them to confess their sins, and if they truly submit to him they will find themselves living by a certain biblical standard that is in direct contradiction to their non-Christian lifestyle. They hate him because they feel guilt.

There is a certain dog in our neighborhood that I dislike greatly. Every time I see him, I feel like picking up a rock and trying to hit him with it. I think I hate this dog because he tried to bite me one time and when he comes around I fear him. Fear spawns hatred. We almost always hate that which we fear. They hate Christ because they fear him.

Someone will read these words and hate me while they accuse me of being judgmental and arrogant. It’s easy to distinguish between the Christians and non-Christians. Jesus said you will know those who belong to me by their love for others.

I am inspired by the boldness of Brit Hume to declare his faith. Who can know how much he actually risked to say what he did. But I am more inspired by the words of Hans Haslibacher (12/20/1571 in Berne, Switzerland) as he was about to be decapitated for his faith, "I am ready to suffer my head to be struck off, much rather than apostatize from my faith."

Let we who are Christians declare Christ boldly to as many as we can as often as we can!! And let us say with Esther, “If I perish, I perish!”

Brit Hume to Tiger Woods: Seek Christ!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

"We are five days away from fundamentally changing the USA." - Obama

"We are five days away from fundamentally changing the USA." - Obama

These words were spoken by Barack Obama just days before the people of the United States elected perhaps the most under-qualified president in its history. In one year's time much has been done to "fundamentally change" America.

The U.S. government made unprecedented power grabs in the areas of auto manufacturing, healthcare and banking. This was done in an attempt to redistribute wealth and promote a more socialist state. The liberal faction of Congress is in the process of creating more and more entitlements that will multiply our national debt to the point that it will be impossible to ever pay it down. We have become foolishly dependent on the Chinese and other foreign governments to sustain our economy by selling them our debt. We have transformed from the greatest producer nation in the world to the greatest consumer nation. Our masses are lulled into indifference and apathy by the availability of welfare entitlements and massive amounts of available entertainment.

U.S. national security is just an illusion as was demonstrated in Detroit last Christmas. Janet Napolitano, head of the Transportation Security Administration declared shortly after the attempted terrorist attack that the system worked flawlessly. After the president finally came off the golf course to address the issue he indicated that some flaws existed in the system. Napolitano voiced agreement with the president. If you are confused it's probably because they are confused. It was 48 hours after the attempted attack before we heard from the White House. It was 72 hours after the attack before we heard from the vacating president.

The terrorists are not confused. They are emboldened. Khalid Sheikh, the mastermind of 9/11 was rewarded for his terrorist efforts by qualifying for a civilian trial in New York City. Obama is treating the greatest terrorist attack in U.S. history as if it were a legal issue and a group of peers need to get together and debate whether he broke any rules when he blew up over 3,000 innocent Americans. Obama and his ilk don't really perceive that we are at war. Those who accuse Obama of being narcissist argue that he believes that his messianic presence and willingness to negotiate with the terrorist will drop them to their knees in submission. They perceive him as being weak and cowardly and they are reveling in what they consider unprecedented opportunity.

Obama's leftists are hanging on to the now discredited global warmers for dear life. This determination to hang on only gives credence to those who insist that it's not about global warming at all, its all about redistributing the worlds wealth. It's about taking from the wealthier nations and giving to the poorer, developing nations.

Obama is fundamentally changing the USA by creating controversy in education. Kevin Jennings, a radical homosexual activist known for his previous activities promoting the sexual corruption of innocent children is now in charge of providing a safe atmosphere for our children to learn in.

The health care crisis is a façade. If you go to a hospital and you need treatment for a life threatening injury or disease, you'll receive treatment whether you can afford it or not. This is the best system in the world. If its not broken, don't fix it! The government could create a safety net for those who are uninsured but they don't have to socialize the system in order to do that.

Fundamental change is coming to America just as President Obama promised but its not the kind of change most of his supporters envisioned when they went to the polls to vote for him.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Mad Rush Over The Cliff

Mad Rush Over The Cliff

Thanks to a Nigerian named Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Transportation Security Administration has advanced to the next level of stupid. Who wouldn’t be in favor of more screening and extra measures to ensure the safety of innocent Americans? But the TSA is just too chicken to call a spade a spade. Because we are so gutlessly fearful of offending anyone who might be Islamic, we refuse to racially profile. But, last time I checked, every single terrorist attack in recent history was committed by a male between the ages of 20 and 45 who embraced the Islamic religion.

So, why are we so foolish as to adhere to the policies of political correctness, diversity and multi-culturalism while the terrorists blow us to pieces? Is this insane? We will ignore someone going through airport security if they look like a terrorist but we’ll pull every tenth individual even if they are 99 years old and so frail they couldn’t pull the trigger on a water gun!

If you’ve traveled much by air you’ve witnessed this scenario. A very frail, 88 year old woman sets off a metal detector. A very patient husband who has been pushing her about in a wheel chair because she has recently had hip surgery patiently stands by. The pins inserted in her hip prompted the detector to go off. She is taken to a back room. She is frisked thoroughly. She is wand waved several times. She hands her inspectors a hand written note from her doctor explaining the surgery but to no avail. Her husband has no angry words because this seems to happen all the time. Meanwhile, the man next in line, who has a Yemeni passport receives smiles as he passes through the detector unquestioned.

Why do we insist on harassing innocent American citizens but we cater to foreigners? Are we wimps? Are we gutless? Are we afraid of offending someone? We would rather put hundreds of innocents at risk than break the politically correct code of racial profiling. There are certainly some situations where racial profiling is hurtful and even despicable but if it will save hundreds of innocent lives it seems pretty sensible.

Whom do the radical Islamic terrorists hate more than Americans? They hate the Jews. The Jewish airline, El Al, has a superb record when it comes to foiling terrorist attempts. Why? Because they racially profile the living daylights out of any suspicious looking individual boarding one of their passenger jets. Common sense (Israel) verses just plain dumb (TSA)

Why are we so petrified to identify the enemy? Why do we insist that the shooter at Fort Hood acted independently? The media would like us to believe he was just a lone wolf who probably snapped. Are we to believe that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was acting alone? Are we to believe Sirhan Sirhan acted alone in the assassination of Robert Kennedy? Are we to believe Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in the assassination of JFK? Did James Earl Ray act alone in the assassination of Martin Luther King? I have difficulty in believing that all those men acted alone.

We are afraid to identify our enemy. Barack Obama is constantly defending Islam and reminding us that it is a peaceful, non-violent religion. Although the majority are peaceful, their faith has been hijacked by radicals. Most Germans were peace loving but they stood by passively while the radical Hitler took them over. The same can be said of the revolutions in Cambodia, China and Russia. Those who passively refuse to oppose the evil sins of the extremists within their own religion or country will certainly suffer the consequences of sitting back and doing nothing.

It’s not surprising that extremists are attacking us in the name of Islam. More troubling is that the peace loving majority silently, very silently, refuses to resist or interfere.

Policies of TSA remind me of those old cowboy movies I used to watch. A huge herd of cattle panic when the storm comes and they head straight over the cliff. It seems we will follow this politically correct cattle rush to our death. Sadly and stupidly.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

"This is a hard teaching, who can accept it?" - Part 1

“This is a hard teaching, who can accept it” Part 1

By Kevin Probst

In Capernaum, Jesus had to deal with a large number of false disciples. Thousands turned away from him and his true disciples must have been very discouraged. Many who followed him were selfishly motivated. They were enamored by Christ, they were amazed by his miracles. They were attracted by the things he did but when they hear his words “it was a hard saying they could not endure.”

These false disciples never really discerned who He was. They never really understood why he came. They never perceived what it was he wanted to accomplish. When he puts his finger on their spiritual need, when he tells them they are without an answer to the problems in their life they are offended and they walk away.

They never believed that he was God in human flesh. They ridiculed him when he claimed to be the Son of God. They smirked when he claimed to be the Messiah with power to save them of their sins. They bristled at the idea that he was the Savior of the world.

When does Jesus lose this group? When he moves from deeds to words. He was alright when he was passing out free fish sticks, and it was really cool when he entertained them with all those miracles but when he started talking this stuff about being the bread of life, about eating his flesh and drinking his blood, about being one with him in spirit, about accepting him as the solution to their problems, as the light to their darkness, as the bread that would satisfy their insatiable appetite…it became a saying too hard to accept.

This group goes to church for entertainment. They look for a church that will pander to their own fleshly needs. They run from the truth, it cuts too deeply, and they yearn for soft words that will make them feel good. 2 Tim. 4:3 “For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.”

Jesus addresses this group: “I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill.” – John 6:26

Some go to church because they feel guilty if they don’t. Some go to church because they are lonely and they need to socialize. Some go to church because networking with the people of the community is good for business. Some go simply to be entertained. These false disciples don’t go to church to worship the one and only God of their salvation.

America’s churches are full of those who love the benefits offered but who hate the words of Christ. How many pastors will be accountable to God for preaching a soft gospel so as not to run anyone off? Maybe that’s why we make such a big thing of Christmas. The world loves Christ in a manger, a little, helpless babe who can’t yet talk. They feel safe with a Christ like that. Put and keep him in a sheep stall.

I see multitudes of T.V. preachers teach about the love of Christ, how sweet he is, how wonderful are his works, how amazing are his miracles. How marvelously he will bless those who will send a check to the church. But very seldom do I hear those preachers refer to the words of Jesus, words that say, “You’re a sinner, you’re on your way to hell and I’m the only answer to your dilemma.”

The problem here is unbelief. These false disciples refused to accept his words! It’s not that they didn’t understand. It’s that they found his words objectionable. It was offensive.

What did they object to? The idea that He said he came from heaven. The idea that He said he was the only answer to their spiritual need and the idea that he spoke of eating his flesh and drinking his blood. They found all of this intolerable. “Who can hear this, who can accept this?” They wanted a Messiah but they wanted to mold him themselves. So many today want Christ but they want a ‘build a bear’ type Christ. They only want him if he fits their own mold.

"This is a hard teaching, who can accept it?" Part 2

This is a hard teaching, who can accept it? part 2

By Kevin Probst

After the thousands had deserted Christ at Capernaum, there were only twelve left standing and one of these was a devil, Judas. These eleven were true disciples of Christ. They believed what he said. John 8:31 ”Then Jesus said,…. ‘If you continue in my Word, then you are My Disciples indeed’”.

There seems to be a sort of Jesus cult in our society today. They sing Jesus songs, they wear Jesus T-shirts and they wear Jesus jewelry but in many lives there is very little evidence of any true transformation. For many its the same sinful life lived under the Jesus banner.

Real true discipleship is that which accepts and believes the words of Christ. It is not a preoccupation with his person, it is not a demand for more miracles or constant emotional stimulation, it is embracing the truth of his words!

I teach high school students who sometimes get taken up in the Jesus cult thing. I will ask them:

“Do you know Jesus?” “Oh, yeah. He’s the man. Jesus is so cool.”

“Do you know Jesus said you shouldn’t have sex before marriage?”

“Yeah…well, I don’t know if anyone can really do that.”

“Do you know that Jesus said he is the only way and there is no other?”

“Yeah…well, I think that may be wrong.”

“Do you know that Jesus said if you are a follower of his you have to step down from the throne of your life and give him total control?”

“Yeah….well, I’m not sure I’m ready to do that.

The problem is, they accept the person of Jesus, he is really cool. But just don’t let him make any demands of me. I like who he is, the son of God…whoa! But I don’t want him commanding me to do things I don’t want to do.

A true follower of Christ hears and accepts all of his words. He hears his condemnation of sin, he hears his call to moral purity, he hears and responds to his call to separation. Most men don’t refuse Christ because they don’t understand, the plan is simple, he made it so an eight year old can understand. They refuse Christ because they feel condemned by his words and they refuse to listen, they refuse to believe.

Jesus asked them in John 6:61, “Does this offend you?” Is this too much for you to swallow?

They had two majors problems with his words: He claimed to have come from heaven and they didn’t like the idea of eating him!

So Jesus addresses these problems: “You don’t believe I came from heaven? V. 62 “What if you see Me go back there, would that help you with your unbelief?” Pretty good reply. You’re hung up on the idea I came from heaven. When you see me ascend back into heaven will you then believe? In Acts 1 he went straight up into a cloud. “I’m going back the same way I came.”

Jesus addressed the second problem. “You don’t believe I am talking literally about eating my actual body, do you?” I’m going to ascend back into heaven. I’m going to be physically intact, not eaten!”

Jesus then nails it in v. 63. “It is the Spirit that gives life, the flesh profits nothing.” I’ve come that you might partake of my Spirit. It is not my physical body that needs to be in you, it is my Spirit that needs to be in you. It’s not the outward me, it is the inward me that you need.

Jesus saw the thousands walking away. Then, one of the most poignant passages of scripture in all the Bible, he looked at his true disciples and asked, “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Can you feel the brokenness of Jesus? His heart hurts when anyone walks away from him. When he sees a soul walking toward eternal death he knows what that is and it crushes him.

Faithful Peter, the impulsive one, who often spouted off foolish words stepped up and said exactly the right thing here, v. 68 “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”

My father passed away over 25 years ago. Do you know what I remember most about my father? I remember his words. Almost every day I remember something my father said.

Peter was saying, it’s not about your person, it’s not about your miracles, it’s all about the truth embodied in your words.

There are only two ways anyone can go here. You can either reject his words: “This is a hard saying, who can receive it.” Or, you can accept his words, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Looking Back (2009)

Looking Back (2009)

1. We elected our first African-American president. He started out with quite a bang but the novelty of it all has pretty much worn off. He clearly intends to use his office as a bully pulpit for socialism and he strongly promotes the religion of Islam. Though he claims to be a Christian he certainly doesn’t demonstrate any loyalty at all to Christ, the church or to Christians in general.

Earlier in 2009 Barack Obama not only didn’t participate in our National Day of Prayer he wasn’t even present but he was strongly visible when a day was set aside to honor Islam.

We saw the largest increase in government spending since….George W. Bush. Bush spent 20% of the gross domestic product for the federal budget. Obama is spending 25%. Bush was actually far more of a practicing socialist than Bill Clinton!

2. We experienced a great recession. We witnessed a great trend of bank failures. The government made an unprecedented grab for control of American businesses and seemed determined to put as many people as possible on the dole. Cash for Clunkers was a perfect example of governmental incompetence. Millions sold their old car for several thousand dollars and subsequently went in debt for a new car. If the plan was to imprison more Americans to indebtedness then it was masterful.

3. People sought escape. Charles Darrow became a multi-millionaire by inventing a very popular game during the Great Depression. People sought desperately to escape the pain of poverty by playing a game in which they could fantasize they were rich. Monopoly is still very popular. The box office did a smashing business in 2009. Americans escaped reality by going to the movies. It reminds one of the ‘bread and games’ strategy of the Roman government. Keep the masses content by feeding them and entertaining them.

Some believe Hollywood is only about entertainment and money and they don’t really promote any type of social or cultural agenda. If this were true, then why is it that Americans proved they have a greater appetite for ‘G’ movies by attending more ‘G’ rated movies than those of any other rating but Hollywood still continues to produce far more ‘R’ rated movies than ‘G’ rated movies. Wouldn’t it be good for business to produce what your clientele are asking for?

4. Sarah Palin resigned as governor of Alaska and presented herself as the great hope of conservatism. I’ve got her book lying on my desk right here in front of me. I haven’t read it yet but it’s next on my list. I’m not sold on Sarah yet, especially after learning that before she resigned as governor she appointed a far-left, radical feminist, pro-abortion advocate to Alaska’s Supreme Court. That seems to contradict everything Sarah wants us to think she stands for. Maybe there’s a good explanation. It’s one of the questions I’m going to be listening for if she runs for president. The Republicans are not our saviors. I’m feeling less and less Republican and more and more …I don’t know what. Relativism is a cancer infecting both Republicans and Democrats.

5. Facebook and Twitter really exploded in 2009. Facebook grew at a rate of 1300%. I just answered another friend request today which puts me at 685 friends. If Facebook is what friendship is all about then friendship has become a very, very shallow thng. Wouldn’t it be better to call them contacts or connections, not friends? Some of my 685 friends I’ve never spoken to. Facebook encourages less and less face to face interaction and more and more isolation. It’s very convenient for making connections with old classmates but it’s not going to help you create deep, lasting, sincere, committed friendships.

I’m still not sure what it means to be poked. I surely don’t care who has just made another cup of coffee and I don’t get into fantasy farming. I’m not anti-facebook but I certainly do recognize that much of it is banal.

6. The Evangelical Lutheran Church of American (ELCA) met to approve homosexuals as ministers in their church. Unbelievably, a tornado struck the very church they were meeting in ripping off the steeple. Was God sending a message? It could be a point for debate. A few years ago homosexuals met in New Orleans for a sexfest and a hurricane wiped out the city. Judgment of God or coincidence?

7. 2009 wasn’t a good year for our celebrity gods. Tiger Woods came crashing down. The great power politician of the northeast, Ted Kennedy, passed as did one of the most popular pop culture icons, Michael Jackson. It is delusional to think of these social icons as being immortal, they are not. It was a bad year for Al Gore. The ‘global warming’ scare lost credibility and renamed itself ‘climate change’.

It seems very evident that our culture is in severe decline. But there are some positive and encouraging signs. Christians are lifting their voices and becoming more proactive in regard to redefining marriage, humanism in education, sexual filth in entertainment and corruption in government. I sense a stronger awareness and deeper hunger for the one and true God.

For those who aren’t Christians I can only suggest Jesus Christ. Without Him it’s depressing and discouraging and desperate. But for those who are Christians the future looks brighter than ever. Resolve to give yourselves a daily dose of assurance of the sovereignty of Almighty God. He was, is and always will be in control of all things. Be hopeful!

Credit: Kevin Swanson of Generations Radio.