Thursday, July 30, 2015

Why Lions Seem More Important Than Babies

Why are we more concerned about the death of a lion named Cecil than we are about seeing a human child separated into parts in a pie plate? Matt Walsh suggests that it is because we’ve built up a reservoir of outrage and someone gets the brunt of it. But why a lion instead of a baby?

It starts to make more sense when we see the murderous spirit that runs through both. This isn’t a case where people want to murder children, but they don’t want to murder a lion. This is a case where people want to murder children and they want to murder a lion hunter. Their thought is a fetus gets in the way of a woman’s happiness, so destroy the fetus. Their thought is also a lion hunter kills one country’s national pet, so kill the lion hunter. But along with the people who have that murderous spirit, you also have people who have a love for life. The lion hunter did something he shouldn’t and the lion is one of God’s creatures, so the people who love life end up siding with those with a murderous spirit in the situation with Cecil the lion, but when it comes to Another Boy, whose parts are being sorted in a pie pan, those who love life are on the opposite side of the issue from those with a murderous spirit.

But that’s not the whole story. Maybe we aren’t calling for the lion hunter to be killed with a dentist drill. Maybe we aren’t separating and selling body parts or defending those who do. But what about our attitude toward the abortion providers? As the various videos showing the activities at Planned Parenthood have been released, I’ve seen a few comments along the lines of tearing the abortion providers apart and seeing how they like it. People want to think that is righteous indignation, since they are defending the innocent, but is it, or is it that same murderous spirit that calls for the death of the lion hunter and the death of the unborn?

It is something we should consider carefully. It is something we should repent of, if we see it in ourselves. The Bible says that murderers don’t have eternal life (1 John 3:15), so if we feel hatred toward abortion providers, or Democrats, or Republicans, or whoever, we ought to consider carefully whether we are saved or not. Jesus is still saving sinners, so it isn’t too late…yet. But we do need to make sure that we’ve accepted Christ before it is too late.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

For Those Who Want Us Dead

The first time I read The Trail of Blood was when I was still a child. I remember sitting at the kitchen table as I was reading it and talking to my mother about the Christian martyrs and how they refused to deny Jesus Christ, even when facing torture or the killing of their families. She said, “We might face that someday.” At the time, my thought was, “What a great way to die!”

About thirty years have passed since that conversation and my thoughts have changed. It’s still a great way to die, to be numbered with those who have shown the world to be unworthy of them by staying true to Jesus, even unto death, and to depart this life in a way similar to the death of our dear Savior. Let’s just say that my previous experiences with pain have caused me not to look forward to a martyr’s death.

But if recent events are any indication, it is far more likely today that we will suffer or be killed because of our stand for Jesus than it was thirty years ago. Thirty years ago, you would’ve had to have left the United States to have much of a chance of dying a Christian martyr’s death. Today, you can hardly mention the name of Christ without someone accusing you of hate. In online conversations, I’ve had people curse me. I don’t mean they used profanity. One woman who didn’t like something I said, said that it was a terrible decision that my mother didn’t get an abortion.

When people begin to think that people who hold certain beliefs shouldn’t be alive, they’re already committing murder in their hearts and the next step is for them to take up a weapon to strike the fatal blow. As some have pointed out, these are people who have no hope for the future. Even though some of them attend “church,” they don’t have faith. They have no hope of eternal life, because they don’t really believe it exists or they don’t believe it is attainable for them. Their lives can be summed up with four letters, YOLO (you only live once). When your whole life if built around the belief that you have to do whatever it takes to make you feel the best you can now, because you only live once, you’re going to do everything you can to push those who make you feel bad out of the way. You don’t want people telling you that you are evil, because that makes you feel bad, so force those people to shut up. Use the Government to do it if you can, but if you can’t, then use other methods, because you only live once, right?

Contrast that with what the writer of Hebrews said about the martyrs in Hebrews 11:35 says about the martyrs of the past, by faith, “others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection.” (And this was in reference to people who had not seen the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus.) What a difference the belief in the deliverance of God and the resurrection of the dead makes. People who realize that they can have life after this life have a very different perspective. If I suffer in this life, that’s okay, because this life is just the beginning. If obedience to God means I can’t enjoy the things people lust for in this life, that’s okay, because God has promised far greater things for those who obey him. If someone gets in the way of my happiness, I don’t like it, but I don’t wish them dead, because happiness in this life is such a small thing compared to what is available to us in the life to come.

So, how do we resolve this problem? If someone who hates Jesus kills me, that’s a good death, but it would be better to reach them for Christ. What message should we be communicating to these people? Should we stop telling people that immoral behavior is wrong? Should we teach nothing but “the love of God?” No. It got them killed, but none of the great preachers in the Bible ignored the topic of sin. And what many people mean when they talk about teaching on the love of God is that we shouldn’t tell people that they are sinful and just tell them that God loves them and wants them to go to heaven. “Don’t judge,” they say. No, to focus only on God’s wrath or to focus only on God’s forgiveness won’t help anyone.

The message that people need to hear is the message of John the Baptist and the message of Jesus. “Repent! For the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Think about that message for a moment. You can’t repent if you don’t know you are a sinner. But notice also that it is a message of hope for the coming kingdom. There would be no reason for people to repent if they couldn’t be part of the kingdom of heaven. The message the people who believe YOLO need to hear is that they are sinners, but if they repent and put their faith in Jesus, they can have hope for the future.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

When We Can't Love Our Enemies

Jesus said, “Love your enemies. Do good to them that hate you.” (Luke 6:27) This is something I struggle with. It isn’t that I don’t desire to follow the command of Jesus. My problem is that I don’t know how to do it. In the past few weeks, I’ve encountered a number of enemies. There’s no question but that they hate me. Why? Because I have voiced my belief in God and his Word, and my belief that homosexuality is a sin. Many of these people were both homosexual and atheists who not only argued against my interpretation of the facts, they wouldn’t accept the facts and they became angry and resorted to profanity and name-calling. How do we love people like that?

I encountered these people online. Sometimes, I wonder whether I should engage in online conversations, but the Internet is where people are. If we’re not talking to people on Facebook, we’re ignoring a very large segment of the population that the Lord has sent us to reach. But online conversations are difficult. People read a comment and they file it away as “This person agrees with me” or “This person disagrees with me.” The people we encounter don’t tell us the problems they are facing, but that is one of the ways we love people, by providing a solution to their problems. It does us no good to tell people we love them. Love is an action and when we do it, people know it. Love has broken through the hard shell of many enemies. But I don’t see a way to love through the Internet.

Does that mean we should just give up? Should we just let the conversation play out without adding our voice to the mix? I’m reminded of Paul on Mars hill. When he spoke, there’s no evidence to suggest that this was anything other than a public forum that included people Paul had never met. He introduced them to Jesus and called for them to forsake idol worship. Some mocked him. Some delayed making a decision. But some believed.

Loving our enemies is something we all need to do, but sometimes, the only thing we can do is inform them of the truth. Some will mock us, telling us that our God was made up by man. Some will call us names and use curse word and profanity. Some will call what we say hatred. But I’m confident that the Holy Spirit will use our words to reach a few. We may not see the results directly, but some will listen.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

On Getting Rid of Marriage Licenses

Marriage licenses have been around since before I was born, so growing up, it seemed to me that a marriage license was just one of those things that people had to get, if they wanted to get married. I didn’t give much thought to why it was required. I remember hearing a story about a preacher who had conducted a wedding and sent the happy couple on their way before he realized he’d forgotten to have them sign the license. So, he chased after them, presumably so they wouldn’t be living in sin. But recent events have made me question, what is the purpose of that piece of paper?

When you think about it, a marriage license serves no purpose in getting people married. The purpose of the marriage license is to prevent people from getting married. The state requires people to have a license to get married, so if a man walks into the office with his sister and says, “We want to get married,” the state says, “no, we don’t issue licenses for that.” Now the reason the state doesn’t issue licenses for that is because they don’t want the man and his sister procreating. Doing that increases the chance of birth defects and isn’t good for the population.

I’m sure you see a problem with that. In spite of the state’s good intentions, many people have gotten away from the belief that fornication and adultery are wrong. On Facebook, I said something about premarital sex being wrong and someone quickly responded, “This is the 21st Century.” Marriage licenses don’t prevent immoral behavior anymore. And though we’re disappointed about the Supreme Court redefining marriage, marriage licenses never prevented homosexuality and we can’t expect that the ruling will increase homosexuality.

When I hear about states considering getting out of the marriage license business altogether, I think that is probably a good idea. That doesn’t mean that marriage can’t happen. What about the man who wants to marry two women? You might ask. Well, that would likely be permitted, but the Supreme Court may have opened the door for that anyway. Besides which, if there is a man out there who wants to marry two women, he’s probably sleeping with two women already. Marriage licenses aren’t doing what they are intended to do.

I’m a little surprised that the rogue Supreme Court justices attached gay “marriage” to the 14th Amendment and not the 1st Amendment. I suppose they were afraid to declare marriage to be a doctrine of the Church, but I’ve often wondered whether the state had any Constitutional right to tell churches who they could and could not marry. The only basis I saw for doing so was that it is beneficial to the State to have strong families. But if we throw out that argument, as the Supreme Court has done, the State has no reason to waste money issuing licenses that prevent no one from getting married.

As far as the State is concerned, marriage is a contract. You don’t have to have a license to enter into most contracts. As far as churches are concerned, marriage is more than that. When you stand before a preacher and say your vows, your vows are not only to the person you are marrying, but you are vowing a vow to God. Whatever the world may allow when it comes to marriage, churches still have a responsibility to uphold the standards for marriage that the Lord has set. It doesn’t require a state issued license for churches to do that. So, let’s go ahead and get rid of marriage licenses that serve no purpose, but as churches, let’s be very selective in the marriages that we choose to bless.

Monday, June 29, 2015

When the Lord Hides the Truth

Recently, we’ve been seeing a lot of the hashtag #lovewins. We know that love wins, but what does that look like? “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not parish but have everlasting life.” That’s what it looks like coming from God, but what does it look like coming from us? Jesus died for the gay man as much as he did for anyone else, but most of us are not called to die or give our family members over to death in order to show our love for the homosexual. What can we do?

Among some of the other posts I’ve seen recently, I saw the video below of Adrian Rogers concerning the most terrifying passage in the Bible.

Must see: One of the Most Terrifying Verses. This short video is almost 3 minutes, but please watch it all. Very powerful from Dr. Rogers.

Posted by Love Worth Finding Ministries on Friday, June 26, 2015

This passage doesn’t apply solely to homosexuality, but it includes it. Think about what it means that God himself has sent strong delusion to people, so they won’t turn from their sin and accept Jesus Christ. We see a similar statement in Romans 1:26, in which God gave people over to their vile affections. It reminds me of a story told in 1 Kings 22 and 2 Chronicles 18, in which he wanted Ahab to fall in battle at Ramothgilead. Many of the host of heaven offered suggestions, but a spirit stood before the Lord and said, “I will persuade him. I will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.” So the Lord commissioned that spirit to go do that.

I’ve always liked that passage, because it gives us a picture of heaven and how the host of heaven function. But I’ve wondered whether a lying spirit is a servant of the Lord or one of those Satan took with him during his fight for power. In looking at the II Thessalonians 2 passage, it appears this lying spirit may we be from the Lord. Consider also that the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart when the children of Israel were preparing to leave Egypt. There are many instances in the Bible in which the Lord caused people to do things that resulted in self destructive behavior, but always because they had already rejected him.

My first thought was, if the Lord has sent strong delusion, then why should I bother with these people? I state my beliefs and they respond by calling me names and criticizing my beliefs. They claim that the Bible and Christianity is the work of men. Though the preponderance of evidence points to the truth of the Bible, they refuse to accept it as true. Isn’t this evidence that the Lord has clouded their mind to hide the truth from them? Nothing I can say will convince them if the Lord has sent delusion or hardened their hearts.

But does that mean there is no hope and we should just give up? Is this the “sin unto death?” I don’t believe so, or we wouldn’t see homosexuals being saved. We do see some sin in the Bible that resulted in a quick death. Ananias and Sapphira died when they lied to the Holy Spirit about their gift to the church. Some men who opposed Moses were killed when they tried to do the priestly duties. A man died when he touched the Ark of the Covenant. Herod was killed by an angel when he allowed people to describe him as a god. In these cases, I don’t think there’s a thing we could’ve done, but the homosexuals are still alive for a reason.

I think back to the story of Moses when the Lord looked at the wickedness of Israel and was ready to kill them all and let the promise be fulfilled through Moses. Moses pleaded with the Lord to not destroy those people and the Lord changed what he was going to do. Now, let’s consider what that means in the current situation. The Lord is sending strong delusion to not only the people involved in homosexuality, but the people involved in many other sins across our nation. Because of that strong delusion, they will not accept Christ. But if we pray for these people, it may well be that the Lord will remove the strong delusion. Our prayers, just like the prayers of Moses, can change the mind of God. The thing that is missing is the prayers of righteous men and women. Your prayers are more important than you realize.

Remember the stoning of Stephen? The man we know as Paul was there. The people stopped their ears, because they didn’t want to be persuaded by his preaching. But Stephen, with his dying breath prayed a prayer, “Lord, charge not this sin against them.” Had it not been for that prayer, Paul may have never had another opportunity to accept Christ. The Lord is sending strong delusion, but our prayers can convince him to turn that delusion into persuasion.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Now That "Marriage" Has Been Stolen

Sadly, the US Supreme Court has passed down a ruling that redefines what the government calls marriage to include same sex unions. Because of their ruling, the state governments are now required to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples, no matter how opposed to this the residents of those states may be. This is disturbing, but it isn’t unexpected. The homosexual movement has eroded values in America, even among the people of God. How can we expect the US Supreme Court to have better values than we do?

But what are we to make of this? As Christians we must remember that though it is now legal for same sex couples to commit to each other in so called “marriage,” this is not a marriage that is recognized by God. Nowhere in the Bible will you find any reference to people obtaining a license from the Government to marry. I don’t know when that started, but it doesn’t appear that a license is required for a marriage to be valid. Since a license isn’t required for a marriage to be valid, neither can a license validate a marriage that God doesn’t recognize as valid. In other words, homosexual unions are no more valid marriages now than they were before the Supreme Court redefined marriage.

So, what is required for marriage? Is it that two people stand before a preacher and he marries them? It would seem that this isn’t the case. We don’t see that happening in the Bible either. At its heart, marriage is a contract. The two people involved are committing to each other and to God that they are going to fulfill their responsibilities to each other and to their children, for life. But before you ask why that can’t be true of a homosexual union, consider that there are significant differences between men and women. God designed the family in such a way that these difference come together in such a way that a family can accomplish greater things than the individuals alone can accomplish. This doesn’t happen within homosexual unions, because half the puzzle is missing. The union ends up with too much of some things and not enough of others.

Given that the Supreme Court has stolen the word for marriage, it would be nice if we had another word that specifically referred to the union of a man and a woman, committed for life. We need people to realize that when we are talking about marriage, we aren’t talking about just any union between two people, but we are referring to this special, godly union between a man and a woman.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Should Women Be Deacons?

In preparation for an upcoming Sunday school lesson, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to what the Bible has to say about deacons. It actually has far less to say than I would like. Primarily, there is Acts 6, which some people debate whether it is about deacons or not and 1 Timothy 3. One of the big debates is whether 1 Timothy 3:11 is referring to the wives of deacons or to women deacons. The word that is translated as “their wives” could also be translated as “women,” so there is some thought that Paul is giving qualifications for three distinct groups, pastors, deacons, and deaconesses.

First, let’s be clear that the Bible makes it clear that women should not be preachers. Not only does 1 Timothy 3 talk about pastors being the husband of one wife, 1 Timothy 2:12 declares, “I suffer not a woman to teach, nor usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.” Since one of the qualifications of a pastor is to be able to teach, it would be impossible for a woman to fulfill the role of pastor and abide by 1 Timothy 2:12.

But what about deacons? Deacons have no requirement to teach men or to teach at all, so 1 Timothy 2:12 doesn’t come into the discussion. In Acts 6, the church was instructed to select seven men, but that doesn’t necessarily rule out the selection of women later, only that men were to be selected at that time. Besides which, some people see Acts 6 as the selection of a board of elders. Then there is Romans 16:1, where Phebe is called a servant (deacon) of the church.

Not every use of the word that is translated as deacon is referring to the office of a deacon in the church. So calling Phebe a deacon may or may not be referring to her serving in that office. Most other uses of the word are clearly not referring to the office of deacon. Given what little the Bible tells us about the office of deacon, I think we have to look at the 1 Timothy 3 passage to get the answer, since it is the passage that most clearly defines the office.

Let’s suppose that Paul intended to give qualifications for three different groups. First, there is the long list of qualifications for a pastor. He then moves into those of deacons, but separates male deacons from female deacons. For men, he says that they must be grave, not double tongued, not drunkards, not greedy, hold the mystery of faith in pure conscience, proven, blameless, one woman men, and rule their house well. But for the women he says they must be grave, not slanderers, sober, and faithful in all things. How do we explain this much shorter list for the women. If the women he is talking about are intended to do the same task as the men, then why give them a separate list of qualifications? Some might argue that the women must meet the same qualifications as men. If that is the case then the men deacons must also meet the qualifications of a pastor, since the same likewise that would link the women’s qualifications to that of the men would like the deacons qualifications to the pastors’. Since that isn’t the case, then the qualifications for women are less stringent than those of the men. For example, a female deacon doesn’t have to be proven and how she rules her house doesn’t matter. If it matters for men, why doesn’t it matter for women?

It appears to me that the better explanation is that the translators got it right. He isn’t setting up an office of deaconesses here, but he is talking about the wives of deacons. Why should it matter what the deacons wives are like? Because when a Christian wife is submissive to her husband, she serves right beside him. Suppose a deacon is carrying out the classic task of deacons, which is to carry food to widows. Don’t you think he might take his wife along with him? Perhaps not every time, but part of the time. Don’t you think he and his wife will discuss the situation he finds there?

Even though the role of a deacon is not the type of leadership role some people have made it out to be, it is still a leadership role within the church. A deacon serves, but he also leads others in service. In church work, I believe the Lord intends for men to take on that role, so I don’t believe that the Lord intends for women to be deacons.