Category Archives: Love

Cancel Culture

I just finished reading Gary DeMar’s latest article on American Vision. You can read it hear. It got me thinking, and I have come up with a few questions, some of which come from the article itself.

Why is it that it is acceptable for other religions to publicly display their beliefs but not Christianity? Why are atheists so insecure in their thinking that they feel the need to shut Christians up? Why are those who demand the Constitutional freedom of speech the same ones who would deny it for those who disagree with them? Why is it that a race of people who cannot get over the oppression of their descendants have no guilt or remorse for oppressing others in their quest for superiority? Why is it that companies and corporations believe that promoting deviant lifestyles will serve to increase their business?

Why is it that those who most hate being judged by their skin color hate others for theirs? Why is it that legal immigrants, many of whom came to America with much difficulty, love America and the Constitution more than many citizens by birth? Why do so many historians hate history so much that they are willing to make it up as they go along? Why is it that those who have not read an author’s work are often the ones who object so strenuously to its content? Why is it that the most ignorant among us can’t help but demonstrate that fact publicly? Why is it that institutions of higher education turn out so many poorly educated people?

Why is it that the people who object to the pledge of allegiance because we are not a nation under God are the ones who have no problem spending money with In God We Trust printed on it? Why is it that you can often tell the nature of one’s spirituality by counting how many times they take the Lord’s name in vain? Why is it that someone so quickly uses the words God and Jesus Christ as expletives, but no one uses the name Buddha or Krishna this way? Why is it that an organization that hates the gospel of Jesus Christ and deceitfully manipulates its members can call itself a church?

Without having any good answers to these questions, this middle-class white male is not giving up or giving in. After all, watching those who differ ideologically with me go ballistic when I defend my faith that, though there may not be a white culture, there is undoubtedly a Christian culture that for over two millennia has provided developments in science, medicine, technology, books, music, and so much more. Their screaming and antics are more fun to watch than anything on T.V. these days.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

Revelation 21:1–4, ESV

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.

Revelation 22:1–5, ESV

Then I fell to my knees, and looked up toward my Lord, and said, Thank you for answering all my questions. Maranatha, come quickly, Lord Jesus.

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Filed under Comfort, Humanism, Love, Racism, Sin, Truth, World View

PEASAGLE #2

The horror you inspire has deceived you, and the pride of your heart, you who live in the clefts of the rock, who hold the height of the hill. Though you make your nest as high as the eagle’s, I will bring you down from there, declares the Lord.

Jeremiah 49:16, ESV

“Behold, the day! Behold, it comes! Your doom has come; the rod has blossomed; pride has budded.

There is an old proverb, “Pride goeth before a fall.” It comes from the Bible. “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:18, ESV) Proverbs is a book of wisdom, and it has a lot to say about pride. “The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate.” (Proverbs 8:13, ESV) “Whoever belittles his neighbor lacks sense, but a man of understanding remains silent.” (Proverbs 11:12, ESV) “Scoffer” is the name of the arrogant, haughty man who acts with arrogant pride.” (Proverbs 21:24, ESV) “One’s pride will bring him low, but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor.” (Proverbs 29:23, ESV)

Pride is sometimes challenging to define. When I have written or preached about pride, I often get a response, “Isn’t it ok to be proud of your work or of something you have done well?” The first definition of pride in a dictionary is, “Inordinate self-esteem; an unreasonable conceit of one’s own superiority in talents, beauty, wealth, accomplishments, rank or elevation in office, which manifests itself in lofty airs, distance, reserve, and often in contempt of others.” (Noah Webster, Noah Webster’s first edition of An American Dictionary of the English language., 2006.) This is the definition of pride that I believe explains the sin of pride.

This is not to deny that the word pride has other meanings. Among the many definitions offered by Webster is this one, “Generous elation of heart; a noble self-esteem springing from a consciousness of worth.” (Webster, 2006) Most of the definitions, though, include the negative aspect. In Webster’s first definition, notice the words inordinate, unreasonable, lofty airs, and contempt. Not very flattering.

Theologically, the argument can be made that the sin of pride is essentially a failure to recognize one’s place in creation and status before God. As created beings, there can be no pride in who we are because everything we are is God’s gift in making us in his image. The only thing we have ever brought to our being is sin. Our joy, exaltation, and appreciation of the creation are merely recognizing who God is and results in worshipping him. However, all of that joy and worship are marred by sinful pride.

Every other sin boils down to pride. Sin declares that I am greater than God. I get to choose my destiny. Yet, the problem is there are more people than just me. These people are all influenced by pride, too. So, everyone is at odds with everyone else because our pride demands that we are each god. As Israel learned a few millennia ago, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.” (Deuteronomy 6:4, ESV) Pharaoh was a proud ruler over Egypt. The Pharaohs were gods to the people. Therefore, the one God had to crush the little god and his followers revealing that there is no other. Each of the plagues Moses brought to Pharaoh was an attack on a specific Egyptian god.

Sadly, we humans never seem to learn. This all-powerful God who defeated Egypt and drowned the Egyptian army was their God. He had called them. He had made them a nation. So why did they whine about being in the desert, about being thirsty and hungry? The Israelites even began to say that they should go back to Egypt. (Keith Green writes a great song about this.) If you think about it, the only answer is their pride made them think they could control God. I’m hungry, so feed me!

Israel continued throughout its history to express their pride. God always responded with the principle he expressed in his Law.

“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.

Exodus 20:2–7, ESV

Pride, it turns out, is the fundamental problem in all disputes. In our world, pride runs rampant. I used to like to play and watch sports. Not so much anymore. It used to be that some of the greatest players scored a touchdown without some kind of display, saying, “In your face, man, I’m better than you.” End zone dances, flips, stunts took the joy out of watching for me. When the NFL wanted to curtail such demonstrations, the fans complained about it along with the athletes. Now athletic pride shows itself in athletes thinking that their opinions outside of sports should be more highly valued than those within the field they are talking about. Colin Kaepernick knelt during the traditional Star Spangled Banner. LeBron James brought Black Lives Matter to the NBA.

Even the idea of Critical Race Theory rests upon some kind of prideful belief that one race should be treated better. Ok. Aside from the fact that race itself is a human construct dividing people, is it really reasonable to claim that all white people are inherently evil racists? Even the President, with hubris, declared that white supremacy is the greatest threat to America today. I say the greatest threat to America is pride. Too bad I don’t have an athletic platform to exploit.

Please excuse my sarcasm. Some things need the light of the Gospel to highlight them. Paul had a great solution to pride, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” (Philippians 2:3, ESV) That is the test for pride. The word more significant means “to be of surpassing or exceptional value—‘to be exceptionally valuable, to surpass in value, to be better.’” (Johannes P. Louw and Eugene Albert Nida, Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: based on semantic domains, 1996, 1, 620.)

Just think. If we all saw everyone else to be of surpassing or exceptional value, there would be no disputes, no theft, no covetousness, no crime. We would never worry that we are getting ripped off. There would be no pornography, very different television, and music and books without adult content labels. That day will come. In the meantime, we can turn to Jesus Christ.

Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Philippians 2:4–8, ESV

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A Church?

I confess. I did not watch the Superbowl. I was not tempted to watch the Superbowl. Generally speaking, I do not share the sentiments of the NFL , or most professional athletes, for that matter. I like the sports, but I do not like the pettiness of multimillionaires whining that they don’t get enough play time, make enough money, fail to fulfill their contractual obligations, and the quarterback doesn’t throw me the ball often enough. Its all a little bit phoney to me.

For instance, in football, a human being spots where the ball should be placed, sometimes from some distance away. Yet to determine if it is a first down, sometimes they have to measure to a pole connected to a ten yard chain which was also placed by a human eyeing it to where the ball actually is. Moreover, if the nose of the football comes short of the pole by the smallest of margins, it is not a first down. For me, if your going to eyeball it, then do it, but don’t bring in some kind of measuring system that gives it some kind of objectivity.

This blog post is not about football or professional sports, per se. It is about something that happens because of the Superbowl. The increased importance given to the Superbowl over the past fifty-five years has given us another tradition, Superbowl commercials.

CBS opened the bidding for 30-second commercial spots for Super Bowl 55 at $5.6 million, which was the average cost of the same length advertisement for last year’s game.

https://www.sportingnews.com/us/nfl/news/super-bowl-commercials-cost-2021/o496m61j4lkn19kxoygv9690a

These commercials are often humorous. They try to be more catchy than normal ones. However, there is a trend that became more the norm than not beginning just a couple of months ago. Commercials right now try to awaken our senses to the need for social justice. Some people have made a joke out of this tendency trying to guess what product is being sold by what is going on in the commercial. Yes, you guessed it, they often fail.

Social justice is an emphasis that will be with us for a long time. My personal problem with those trying to convince me that being white male makes me among the lowest lifeforms on the planet is that by doing so, they perpetuate the same kind of social injustice they are complaining about. All of this is grossly unbiblical. Then again, what does contemporary social justice have to do with the Bible? For instance, Jesus said, “Judge not, that you be not judged.” (Matthew 7:1, ESV) What does this look and feel like?

The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.”

John 8:3–7, ESV

I am not suggesting that any and all judgments are not to be made. What I do think is that we have no right to judge a human’s soul. Nor do we have the right to harm or kill another human outside of the government acting in accordance with true justice.

Therefore, I submit that modern cries for social justice are from those who should not cast stones because of their own sins. If everyone would observe this principle, there would be room to openly discuss the wrongs and injustices in society and find just answers to deal with them. Our tact now is that those who scream the loudest and the longest get laws passed in their favor. Such laws are often of themselves unjust.

With all of that said, here is my complaint about one Superbowl ad that aired Sunday that baffled me. It is the one where Bruce Springsteen talks about a small church in the center of America (the lower 48). The commercial is a play on our Americanism in an attempt to draw us together. It even ends with the word Re-united States. Why a call for unity? Why now? The clear implication is that now the evil Trump has been ousted, we can re-united and move forward as one nation (under God?). I cry foul. Hypocrisy. Manipulation. And I say that this ad, along with many of the pleas we hear today are not for unity but for uniformity.

Start with this. Why has there been such turmoil for the past four years? Because the Democratic Party acted like a spoiled brat and blocked anything the President tried to accomplish. They tried to void the first amendment right of free speech. They whined that when Trump was elected, the votes were in accurate and the election was stolen. They created a phoney scandal to impeach the President. They supported rioting, violence, and twisted facts into damnable falsehoods. Now that we have a new President, Trumps similar claims are ridiculed and discounted. One news reported did everything he could, badgering his guest Rand Paul into saying there was no fraud in the election.

Paul neither confirmed not denied whether or not there was actual fraud. What he did seek was the right for investigations to take place. The news caster was incensed. Even the courts have ruled there was no fraud he claimed. Paul again tried to bring rationality to the discussion pointing out that the courts refused to hear the cases stating those who brought the suits had no standing. That is far different that proving there was no fraud.

Do I think there was fraud? I personally believe that there is a good chance of fraud in every election since they are conducted by sinners on both sides of the aisle. But again, this is not my point. I want to know how people who saw no problem with defacing church properties, pulling down statues of Christ, and as a mob objecting to everything Christian as racist, can all of a sudden turn to the church as an icon for unifying the currently diametrically opposed sides? Bruce Springsteen can use the most calm and quiet tone in reading his script, but how many times has he been to church in his life? Better yet, has he tried to live a life guided by Jesus Christ and his commands? And what about the others?

How many members of our Federal government regularly attend church? How many take guidance from the Bible? How many seek to have a relationship with godly pastors? I’ll let you answer. As for me, I have a hard time accepting anyone who claims to be a Christian as just and devout who murders unborn babies, who let men play in women’s sports because they feel feminine, or who unjustly enrich themselves. Pastor, church member, non-church member, social justice warrior, whoever, look to the log in your own eye before you try to take the spec out of someone else’s.

The principles of the Constitution of the United States lie squarely upon that which is proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence. Free speech is expected to be reasoned speech. Free exercise of religion is expected to be respectful of others who practice a different religion. Freedom of the Press expects that those who report the news report all of the significant facts truthfully without bias. America rests on law that protects everyone’s rights as bestowed by their Creator.

None of what I have written makes any difference for my decision to show the office of President with respect. It makes no difference whether I agree or disagree. I am legally allowed to publish both. However, those who govern are God’s appointed minister’s, and rebelling there (apart from biblical exceptions) is counted as rebellion against God. (Romans 13) But, please do not use the name of Christ or the image of his church as an icon for unity when you are not interested in true unity under Christ Jesus. After all, the commercial (for Jeep, by the way) discounts Catholic, Orthodox, Judaism, Islam, and any other religion not old country church. How unifying is that?

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Narrative

The idea of narrative has become a central focus in politics, social justice, education, and opponents to changing the narrative. What exactly is narrative all about?

NAR´RATIVE, a. [Fr. narratif.] Relating the particulars of an event or transaction; giving a particular or continued account.

Noah Webster, Noah Webster’s first edition of An American dictionary of the English language., 2006.

Narrative relates to story telling. There is a fairly recent school of theology called Narrative Theology. In essence, narrative theologians want to focus on the meaning of the story and not on the particulars. Another way of putting it is, narrative theology does not believe that propositions, principles, or laws should not be deduced from the text. The story of Scripture is to teach us how to have a relationship with God.

Now, there some consequences to changing to a narrative hermeneutic. First is the loss of propositional reasoning and logic, especially in terms of God. It is not so much that God planned to create and then spoke creation. The story of creation is to teach us about living within the creation, living with one another, and living with God. Second, narrative theology has opened the door to individual interpretations of biblical material. There is no absolute truth, only what this means to me. Traditional Bible studies have shifted from discerning what the Word says and how I feel about the text. Much of what is called Spirituality today is a result of this approach. Third, the Word of God ceases to be positive Truth, but all metaphor. If the Bible is narrative, then so is theology, church, and basically traditional Christianity.

The kingdom is explained in metaphors, similes, images, and pictures. It is impossible to put all the images into one simple, rational definition for a dictionary. You can’s codify these descriptions or contain them in a neat box. Jesus’s words point, open, and suggest rather than conclude and define. This idea of the kingdom of God is filled with imprecision that can’t be pinned down; it invites us to risk entering a world we may not be able to control or manipulate for our own needs (like going through the wardrobe into Narnia). This may be frustrating; it may create consternation in those demanding precision; but it invites us to risk having our imaginations invaded by the God who is endlessly elusive. … Scripture does not so much define reality as invite us onto a journey in which we discover the world God is creating. … Entering the missional waters is not about strategies or models; it is about working with the currents that shape our imagination of what God is doing in the world.

Roxburgh, Alan, and Boren, Scott; Introducing the Missional Church: What It Is, Why It Matters, How to Become One; Baker Books, Grand Rapids,, 2009; pp. 38-39.

The above quote is typical of the movement in theology in the 21st century. Traditional interpretation is characterized as simple, uninviting, pinning down God, and manipulative for our own needs. The narrative has already changed because every theologian from antiquity forward has been wrong. In 2015, Tod Bolsinger published a book titled, Canoeing the Mountains: Christian Leadership in Uncharted Territories. Here is how Amazon describes the book (mostly taken from the back cover):

Explorers Lewis and Clark had to adapt. While they had prepared to find a waterway to the Pacific Ocean, instead they found themselves in the Rocky Mountains. You too may feel that you are leading in a cultural context you were not expecting. You may even feel that your training holds you back more often than it carries you along. Drawing from his extensive experience as a pastor and consultant, Tod Bolsinger brings decades of expertise in guiding churches and organizations through uncharted territory. He offers a combination of illuminating insights and practical tools to help you reimagine what effective leadership looks like in our rapidly changing world. If you’re going to scale the mountains of ministry, you need to leave behind canoes and find new navigational tools. Reading this book will set you on the right course to lead with confidence and courage.

https://www.amazon.com/Canoeing-Mountains-Christian-Leadership-Uncharted/dp/0830841261

I can barely take missional church language anymore. Narrative has destroyed Truth and reason. How many Presbyterian Churches or Denominations still hold the Westminster standards in high regard. They are in our Constitutional Book of Confessions, but few members have studied them or read them. They aren’t narrative. Of what use is the Heidelberg Catechism or the Belgic Confession if no one teaches them or preaches them any more? It’s ok, though. We don’t need such old, dusty books because we are climbing the mountains without a map and we don’t really know what we get where we are going because we don’t know!

Changing the narrative is how the church has been able to change historic church doctrine. God didn’t really mean homosexuality is an abomination. God loves everyone, and don’t even try to define what that means. God didn’t really become human and the death and resurrection of Christ are just stories. When narrative theology dominates, there is no longer any real meaning to anything. Just go with the flow. It’s ok because we’ll get wherever it is we are going.

When God fails to be the ground of all meaning, there is no ground for any meaning. Lack of meaning in the world results in humans creating their own meaning and where has that gotten us? The world needs a specific, identifiable God. Without him, all we have left are millions of people trying to be god. Are we surprised that our national history is being erased? We can no longer rejoice in the wisdom of the Declaration of Independence because some “god” wrote the “1619 Project,” and it is no longer about facts. It is about the trajectory of America according to “The Fight Over the 1619 Project Is Not About the Facts.”

I remember when the comment, “Don’t confuse me with the facts,” was part of a comedy routine. No longer. We must forget the past and look to the future. And because we are existentialists (actually little gods), we can make it into anything we want it to be. Since there is no absolute God with absolute morality, we can lie, cheat, steal, manipulate, force whoever we want to come out on top and get our way. Don’t worry about some judgment of God after you die; it is only a metaphorical narrative.

So, what do we do? Jump into the river and flow? How can we possibly fight the current political power that is not based upon any facts? The only way Christians are called to respond and called to live. Die loving our enemy. However, the love we are called to is not the romantic ethereal love that makes everyone feel good. We are called to the kind of love any of us would naturally display when we see our three-year-old going into a busy street. Grab them and bring them back.

But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.

Jude 20–23, ESV

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints…

Ephesians 6:10–18, ESV

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The Law of Laws, part 10 of 10

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.”

Exodus 20:17, ESV

Webster defines the word covet:

1: to wish for earnestly 〈covet an award〉

2: to desire (what belongs to another) inordinately or culpably verb intransitive: to feel inordinate desire for what belongs to another

Inc Merriam-Webster, Merriam-Webster’s collegiate dictionary., 2003.

So, the first thing to note concerning the word covet is that it can be a good sense or it can be in an evil sense. In the Creation story we see it in both uses. When Man is placed in the garden, God’s work is described, “And out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” (Genesis 2:9, ESV) The Hebrew word translated covet in the tenth commandment is here translated “pleasant.” The addition of “good for food” makes us aware that the “pleasant” creation of vegetation is to be desired, even strongly desired.

However, once the first couple are in the garden, they are instructed not to eat of a certain tree. Yet, “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.” (Genesis 3:6, ESV) Here, the Hebrew word is translated “to be desired.” The problem is, how did Eve know that the tree would make one wise? Only by listening to the chief of liars, the serpent. And here is the conflict. Eve was told she should desire every other plant and tree. But God said not to eat of this one. Who was right, God or the serpent?

Before we answer too quickly, I present this dilemma to illustrate the difference between good coveting and evil coveting. By listening to the devil, Eve began to desire the forbidden fruit. This desire became so powerful that it drove her into action. She ate the fruit ignoring what God had said. If anyone thinks choosing to listen to any voice opposed to God is good, then they are in serious trouble. Someone may say, “But just listening is not really bad.” It is, though, because listening to falsehood plants a seed of desire in one’s heart that will eventually grow into action. So, God commands us to not covet, and he lists a number of things to not desire: anything that belongs to your neighbor.

We may first note that the forbidden fruit of coveting is property. Everyone has a right to their own property. (Do not be confused in regard to a man’s wife. It is not the woman per se that is property but the love and devotion which was vowed to him in marriage.) Unfortunately, the American culture is deeply rooted in coveting. You may not end up actually stealing from your neighbor, but to “keep up with the Jones'” is to covet a lifestyle based not in what is good, but what is mere appearance. The result is often serious indebtedness from which many cannot recover. Yet we approve of this behavior by giving the person in debt and easy out with bankruptcy.

Now, some may think that this is the fault of Capitalism. I think the fault lies within our sin nature, thanks to Adam and Eve. Socialism is the system based on covetousness and envy. No matter how it is presented, the root of socialism is that it is wrong for people to have too much property because then those who are poor will have less. This, then, is second. The desire to have because others have is erroneous thinking. That some people are extremely wealthy and others are not is not the economic system, but only he envious desire to be like the rich. However, it is far more than that because the desire mutates into thinking that says, “If I can’t have what you have, they you can’t have it either.” This results in theft and harm done to your neighbor.

This is exactly the same as our representative parents faced in the garden. If God has it, so should I. A Socialist economy has failed wherever it has been implemented. So why do politicians play the envy card so often? Because if they say it long enough and loud enough, people will begin to believe it. When people believe enough, they elect and re-elect people to office. These elected officials work hard to gain control over you and me. An example? Under the guise of helping the poor, they decide to redefine healthcare. Now, in principle, no one should be turned away from the care they need because they don’t have the money to pay the bill. Everyone must have the same access to healthcare. So now, the government controls what healthcare costs and who can receive what care.

Third is that Socialism is founded on a wrong view of wealth in the world. The presupposition is that there is only so much wealth in the world and everyone deserves equal access to that wealth. On the face of it, such an idea seems wrong. How can it be that there is more wealth in America today than there was 100 years ago? In contrast, a free market allows anyone access to wealth and the world will not run out of it. The issue comes when the conditions to gaining wealth in a free market are more stringent than in Socialism. To get rich takes diligence over sloth, work over sitting around in a city park spending the free money that is handed out on liquor, Cigarettes, and drugs.

I do not deny that there are people who have become trapped in the endless cycle of addiction, mental illness, physical limitations, and more. All of these people and more need help, but that is where charity (not charities) comes in. How can real charity be done when one third or more of your income is taken by the government and redistributed to the “needy” without accountability? Giving money is not charity. Giving life is, and that can only be accomplished through building authentic relationships with others. The good Samaritan knew that there was no government program that would take care of the wounded stranger. He knew that he had to act. Nobody forced him into it. And the money the Samaritan used to care for the man was not watered down by government administrative costs, corruption, or just plain waste. All that he gave was useful and effective.

As I mentioned earlier, power and control are the name of the game. The government forces control over you by claiming your property for “the common good.” The government wants control over how much you earn and how much they take from what you earn. The government lays claim to all of your property, all in the name of “the common good.” How does the government create a populace willing to accept this illegitimate right of theirs? Covetousness.

Covet that which is good. What is good? There is only One, Jesus Christ, the Word of God. Covet a righteous relationship with him.

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The Law of Laws, part 9 of 10

“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

Exodus 20:16, ESV

The big question I have with this commandment is, what does it mean? Is it only in reference to my neighbor? Or, its it about lying in general? Years ago, when I attended a Christian College, we had a required course where the textbook was “Situation Ethics,” by Joseph Fletcher. It has been a long time since I read the book, but what I remember most is that Fletcher attempted to define ethics in terms of the context and that there are no absolute values.

WEEELLLL – not really. For Fletcher, there is one moral absolute, namely, that of brotherly love. Even my uneducated mind recognized the moral relativism being applied to God and the Bible. However, like all claims to moral relativity, there is still a need for at least one absolute. Fletcher chose for his absolute brotherly love, a very Christian sounding ideal. But what exectly is brotherly love? How do you define brotherly love (yes, I recognize that in today’s language this is misogynistic)? Jesus made very clear who our brother is in the parqable of the good Samaritan. Yet, pinning down a definition for love is much more difficult.

You may be thinking, “What does this have to do with the nineth commandment?” I suggest that the greatest violation of this commandment is the way love has been defined as social justice, and that Jesus’ ministry was all about social justice. This interpretation of the gospels is a good example of eisegesis (reading a passage in terms of a preconceived position). And I propose that interpreting Jesus’ ministry this way is bearing false witness against him.

The only one who has a right to interpret Jesus’ ministry on earth is Jesus and the Father. Jesus performed many acts that we might consider as examples of brotherly love. Take healing, there are many who would say this is what Jesus meant by love. Such people carry over that idea to universal healthcare. In other words, if we want to love like Jesus loved, we need to have those who have money use it for those who do not. The same goes for the homeless and hungry poor people. Now, I am NOT suggesting that we don’t have a responsibility to help where we can. But the good Samaritan did not have someone force him to help the injured man. No one said he had to pay for a night’s lodging. The good Samaritan was good because he chose to get involved.

There are other problems with the false rendering of Christ’s earthly ministry. Jesus did heal many people. However, he did not heal every sick individual. Nor did he every say that if individuals would not be charitable, that they should be forced to be charitable by taking their money or property to provide for these needy people. In truth, the exact opposite is the case. In Matthew 25, at the end of the chapter, Jesus speaks of the judgment to come. At that time he said he would divide all humanity into two groups, the sheep and the goats. What was the basis of this division and the final estate of each group? The willful choice of the individual to be charitable to those in need.

I do not believe that forcing people to be charitable is real charity. As history has shown, all of the programs the govenment has established to heal the sick, house the homeless, or feed the poor have only created more people who are sick, more people who live on the streets, ans more hungry people. Therefore, to say that Jesus was a social warrior by our terms and definitions results in bearing false withness against him.

How many Evangelical churches have changed the gospel into some kind of justification of forced charity? I will not judge, but Jesus will. And, I can point to a passage that denies that Jesus came to help the poor, etc. John six relates the event where Jesus miraculously fed 5,000 people by the Sea of Tiberius. After the meal, the people with full stomachs sought to make him king.

So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves left by those who had eaten. When the people saw the sign that he had done, they said, “This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!” Perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself.

John 6:13–15, ESV

To say he was the Prophet was to identify him as the Messiah. In this judgment, they were correct. So why did Jesus depart and go to the mountains by himself? Because he did not come to fill bellies. He came for a very different reason.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

John 3:16, ESV

Jesus is the Christ. But the role of the Messiah was not to rule by might, but to save by his sacrifice. When the twelve disciples bickered about who will be the greatest in the Kingdom, Jesus recognizes that they have the wrong idea of his Kingdom. Using a child, he taught that the one who is like a little child shal be the greatest. He was speaking of humility. Before Pilate, Jessus said, “My kingdom is not of this world.” The issue centers around Christ’s mission to die for the sins of his people and to establish the seeds of the Kingdom of God on earth.

Until we can learn the humility that Jesus spoke of, until we quit trying to define Christ, we will violate the nineth commandment. Situation ethics or not, submission to the truth of Christ and the truth of the Word, do we really need to ask other questions. And, by the way, love is defined in both Old and New Testaments by obedience to the commandments.

Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth...and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him. And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us.

1 John 3:8, 18, 22-24

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Peace and Joy

Merry Christmas Eve! and Merry Christmas!

These are words that have been progressively pushed out of our culture. How sad it is that in a land in which so many have lost their lives to purchase the right to speak openly and freely, that the words merry Christmas have become such words of disdain.

The truth is, there would be no holidays if there had not been Holy Days. Our civil calendars have borrowed from the ancient Church calendar celebrating the Christ, Jesus our Lord. The yearly cycles tell the gospel story from a humble birth to a glorious crowning as King of kings and Lord of lords. The world views dominating culture today all take from the truth of Christ and use it for their own ends.

Those who embrace their Creator, his life, death, resurrection, and ascension are, by their faith, declared righteous and promised everlasting life. Why? So the glory of God shines forth as he determined it should through his creation. We human beings are the highest of that creation. This is not because we have earned it or deserved it, but because God ordained it. All who reject their ordained purpose make God a liar and a fraud. He is neither of these things.

Christmas should be merry, full of celebration, and joy. The coming of Christ in the flesh is a momentous event, one that has forever changed the world. To us the change is new. To God it is a change back to the original. However you look at it, giving gifts, eating banquets, decorating festively, and worshipping Christ with joy, music, and laughter are all appropriate for the season. We can be merry because of Christ. If anyone doesn’t like it, they have made their choice. Part of our Christmas celebration should and must be to pray for them. We must seek God’s mercy for them and his judgment upon their rejecting hearts.

The church has been doing things differently for three quarters of 2020 due to a pandemic. Some have rebelled against shut-downs and limitations. Others have remained closed and tried to worship through videos, podcasts, of vlogs. The difficulty for me is that the church is much more than mere communication. Liturgy requires real presence, not electronic connections. A good, short introduction to the concept of Christian Liturgy can be found in Liturgy and Psalter from the Theopolis Institute. In any case, churches, families, and individuals will be celebrating Christmas in disparate ways. The hinderance to celebrations should not stop us from observing the Holy Day.

My church is very small. We do gather on Sundays to worship, but we have been careful to follow the mandates of the state of Washington. Though the people may be limited in number, it is not limited in heart, faith, and creativity. One of the members created a video by going to various members’ homes and filming decorations, carols, and Scripture readings. I recorded a short Christmas Eve message at the end. I invite anyone interested in viewing this video to go here. This was our attempt to gather the family together as best as we can. In the church, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Nevertheless, for a few minutes this Christmas Eve, we will make the best connection we can.

No matter how you choose to celebrate Christmas, do so with a heart of joy and gratitude. Don’t prevent the celebration just because you cannot gather in large groups. Don’t allow football, basketball, or any non-Christmassy activity to hinder your celebration. May the Spirit of Christ be with you all this Christmas Eve bringing peace and quiet anticipation. May he be with you Christmas Day with the joy of the promise fulfilled. The birth of Jesus was the beginning of the gospel’s realization of all God’s promises to his people. The coming of Christ Jesus to us is the assurance of the ultimate perfection of God’s ordained creation marked by the New Jerusalem.

Merry, merry Christmas!

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The Law of Laws, part 6 of 10

“You shall not murder.” (Exodus 20:13, ESV)

The traditional writings simply said “Thou shalt not kil.” (Exodus 20:13, Geneva); “Thou shalt not kill.” (Exodus 20:13, KJV 1900). However, the Hebrew word in this commandment is never used in general killing.

In summary, rṣḥ can be defined as a crime against life and limb of another Israelite. Because the root already includes the notion of a victim (a fellow Israelite, a resident or transient alien [Nu. 35:15], or a Levite’s concubine [Jgs. 20:4ff.])…

F. L. Hossfeld, Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament, 2004, 13, 634.

The studies of the word usage in context gave rise to the current translations like the ESV quoted above. If we believe in the doctrine of inspiration, we take great care in translating the Word of God, for every word is inspired. When we forget the significance of the words used by the inspired authors, we run into many interpretive errors. The sixth commandment has been used to create theologies of pacifism and injustice. Good Christian women and men are swayed into believing heresies such as there is never a just cause for war or legal executions are always wrong.

The 1995 movie Dead Man Walking was based on a book written by Helen Prejean. Sister Prejean makes the mistake by attempting to get the reader to sympathize with those being executed for their crimes. As Hollywood does so often, the man on death row is a blending of the men in the book. Yes, his crime of murder and rape is worthy of the death penalty. Yet with the use of many Christian symbols throughout, we are manipulated toward a thou shalt not kill because such killing does not consider the criminal’s family, nor does it ease the suffering of those who lost their children by the man’s hand. The final scene is most disconcerting. Sean Penn appears remorseful as he is stretched and bound on a table shaped as a cross.

The theological equation is that if God forgives the sinner, should we not also forgive him? However, civil executions do not deny that God can and does forgive sinners who repent. This forgiveness does allow one to enter the Kingdom of God for eternity , vis-à-vis the thief on the cross next to Jesus. Yet the crime has been committed and the civil government, ordained by God for the righteous order of society, must still carry out sentence. Failure to do so leads to the kind of society in which criminals act with impunity and life itself becomes of little value.

Thou shalt not murder. Murder is one of a commonly used triad including stealing and adultery (the next two commandments). Whereas theft can be restored, but life cannot. To say that a life stolen does not require the penalty of a life is to devalue both lives, a sin against the Creator of life and the giver of the law. A life sentence in prison may be a riskier kind of life, but it still falls short of restorative justice. The question we must all ask today is, what is a life worth?

Maybe the question is really, is one life equal to another life? Today there are people who are calling for equality among all people. Do they really want “All men are created equal?” White people are worth less than black people. Born people are worth more than unborn people. Poor people are worth more than rich people. Uneducated people are worth more than educated people. With these and other inequalities it becomes normal to steal from people wealthier than you. It becomes normal for people to kill the unborn. Soon it will become normal to kill the elderly, the infirm, the mentally incapacitated. After all, survival is for the fittest and as Hitler preached, survival requires acts of violence. Ask any Jew how that one turned out.

Thou shalt not kill. Any individual or communal act against another’s life will be judged. Many who have died at the hand of another will live forever. All unreptented murderers will themselves die forever. Is it not more loving and compassionate for the civil government to justly stop and prevent killing through the death penalty? Of course, not all executions are just. In these cases, those who are killed become the murderers. They may not receive righteous judgment in this life, but they will certainly be judged in the next. Governments are not immune to the Law. Those who govern are under the government of Christ the King, who did not come to kill, but to be killed. He did not come to be served, but to serve.

Life is the gift of God. He controls the beginning and the ending of life. Humanity thinks they control life. That is why all humans are dead in their sins and their trespasses. But there is a new life offered because of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The commandments are juxtaposed, you shall not commit murder; you must be born again. Jesus gave up his life emphasizing the true value of life. Repent and be saved.

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Take Up Your Cross, part one

Now at Lystra there was a man sitting who could not use his feet. He was crippled from birth and had never walked. He listened to Paul speaking. And Paul, looking intently at him and seeing that he had faith to be made well, said in a loud voice, “Stand upright on your feet.” And he sprang up and began walking. And when the crowds saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying in Lycaonian, “The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men!” Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul, Hermes, because he was the chief speaker. And the priest of Zeus, whose temple was at the entrance to the city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates and wanted to offer sacrifice with the crowds. But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of it, they tore their garments and rushed out into the crowd, crying out, “Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men, of like nature with you, and we bring you good news, that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them. In past generations he allowed all the nations to walk in their own ways. Yet he did not leave himself without witness, for he did good by giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness.” Even with these words they scarcely restrained the people from offering sacrifice to them. But Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, and having persuaded the crowds, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead. But when the disciples gathered about him, he rose up and entered the city, and on the next day he went on with Barnabas to Derbe. When they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God. And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed.

Acts 14:8–23, ESV

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24, ESV)

Many of us have heard these words many times. Take up your cross. Does this mean we are to expect suffering. That depends. If you are a typical American then suffering is a bout of the flu, or a setback in the market, or your car suddenly quits running. If these, and many more like them are considered suffering, then I don’t think that counts as a cross. These things are just life and everyone who has ever lived and will live will experience these minor things.

What I believe Jesus meant was that he discipline of the Christian life is hard. Moreover, standing firmly in the Truth and proclaiming the gospel in our world may, for many, result in physical harm. For those of us in America, this kind of suffering may be closer to reality sooner rather than later. (I am not trying to predict the future, but no one can deny the mob in Portland was intentionally burning Bibles.)

In Acts, Luke gives us a dramatic example recalling Paul being stoned and left for dead in Lystra. I have never experienced this degree of suffering. I hope you haven’t either. Taking up our cross does not need to be a complicated thing, but it is probably the hardest thing one will ever do. Taking up your cross means that Christ becomes the greatest priority in your life. Yes, greater than possessions, time, loved ones, hopes and desires, and yourself. Our relationship to these things can be lived two ways.

First, you can play with God like we did when I was a child. We all got together and had church. The game did not last long, though, before we all got bored. We didn’t know what church was, so we played to entertain ourselves. Enter many churches and nominal Christians today. We choose the church we go to because of the music, or the pastor, or the possibility of anonymity. The basic word for this is humanism: we put ourselves first and forget about anything else.

Much of the turmoil today is rooted in humanism. I deserve to be seen, treated well, fed, housed. None of these things is bad. It’s the word “deserve.” Modern day interpretation, “It’s my right!”

There is an essential flaw with this approach to life. There is no standard to balance one individual’s right against another’s. Those who want to “de-fund” the police seem to think that everyone is essentially good so we can work this out together. Such fantasy is not worthy of reasonable thought. The death and destruction in large cities during the past three months should be a reality check.

Without any standard for balancing differing rights, there is also no standard for morality of any kind. This issue goes deeper into the core understanding of humanity. Thanks to the “science” of evolution, we all came from whatever you want to insert here. The only value is the one natural law of survival of the fittest. If you can’t see the problem here, just imagine that every human being wants to be a god with absolute authority over everything else.

This, too, is not as far as we may want to think. When I can burn you home or store, when I can beat you or even kill you, then I am claiming a right over you that no human has over another. How do I know? Without a moral standard, there would be no progress, no creativity, no development, no education. What would be left is endless fighting and violence. Thankfully, there is another way of living in the world. That is to recognize there is one God who created the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them. He created humanity to be those who care and tend all of the creation which includes caring and tending one another.

All things have been made by the One Eternal God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. All things are created for his glory. Therefore, all things are connected to one purpose which is the glory of the Most High God. Being the Creator, he ordered all things so that they may serve his glory. He gave us moral law because from the first humans, humanism has taken hold of the heart, so we need to know how to love God, how to love one another, and how to love the rest of creation. For me, this is the pursuit of happiness.

And that is what taking up your cross is all about. Without human sin there would be no need of a cross. But there is one, the one Jesus was crucified on. This is the cross we are to take up, the cross of Jesus Christ. Everything in life is about living according to our created purpose. Everything is about dying and if we die with him, we will most assuredly be raised with him.

The suffering of the cross is our suffering. As Paul points out in Acts 14:16, “In past generations he allowed all the nations to walk in their own ways.” The time for that has passed. Now there is a new way, the way of Christ. Let us all pray that we might know and have strength to live in his way.

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The Great Divide

A Sermon

Now at Iconium they entered together into the Jewish synagogue and spoke in such a way that a great number of both Jews and Greeks believed. But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brothers. So they remained for a long time, speaking boldly for the Lord, who bore witness to the word of his grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands. But the people of the city were divided; some sided with the Jews and some with the apostles. When an attempt was made by both Gentiles and Jews, with their rulers, to mistreat them and to stone them, they learned of it and fled to Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia, and to the surrounding country, and there they continued to preach the gospel.” (Acts 14:1–7, ESV)

Our world is seriously divided today. The divisions are greater than almost anytime I can remember, though the Civil Rights movement along with the protests against the Vietnam military action (war) were pretty serious too. Yet there was a significant difference. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a man of peace and he worked hard to keep the civil rights battle non-violent. He did not sacrifice his principles, and what he was calling for was a specific change. Everyone, especially now, should read again and again that famous speech King made on August 28, 1963. You can find it here.

Today, the violence in our major cities is irrational. How can such destruction, crime, and death result in life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? I am afraid that there are some people who in the past, restrained by the Spirit of God, simply want to destroy anything they can see and touch. As in Iconium, their minds have been poisoned by unscrupulous leaders, university professors, politicians, and just plain anti-nomians.

At the same time, the American churches have forgotten the gospel. We have remembered part of it; the part with God’s love and grace. We have preached that anyone and everyone can enter the Kingdom if they would believe in Jesus Christ. But we have forgotten the hard part.

“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 10:34–39, ESV)

These words of Jesus are an echo of the prophecy of Micah:

The godly has perished from the earth, and there is no one upright among mankind; they all lie in wait for blood, and each hunts the other with a net. Their hands are on what is evil, to do it well; the prince and the judge ask for a bribe, and the great man utters the evil desire of his soul; thus they weave it together. The best of them is like a brier, the most upright of them a thorn hedge. The day of your watchmen, of your punishment, has come; now their confusion is at hand. Put no trust in a neighbor; have no confidence in a friend; guard the doors of your mouth from her who lies in your arms; for the son treats the father with contempt, the daughter rises up against her mother, the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; a man’s enemies are the men of his own house. But as for me, I will look to the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me.” (Micah 7:2–7, ESV)

It is frightening how the words from the ancient past accurately describe what we are living today. The basic truth, though, has never changed. All humanity is effectively separated from God by sin. The promise of Christ who would come to bring reconciliation would naturally cause the division between God and humanity to the fore. Those who look to God and Christ for their salvation do find it and experience forgiveness of sin and relationship with the Creator of all that is.

However, from Adam throughout all time, there are those who make the choice to oppose Christ and his salvation. They have a better way. And so, as in Iconium, peace becomes division all because many turned their lives to the one and only God. And division plots violence against God and his people. Haven’t you wondered why Americans tolerate every religion under the sun except Christianity? Could it be because Christians answer to a greater God and have his authoritative word? To make accommodation to any governments of the world is to deny the rule of Jesus Christ.

I am not suggesting that Christians become opposition to the government. Some have taken it this way. But we are to remain apart from the world while respecting the government as an instrument of God preserving life and order while he continues to gather his sheep. And that is the real problem. For decades, we have allowed human ideas to prevail over godly ideals. We have trusted the ungodly to educate our children naively thinking they had no agenda other than reading, writing and arithmetic. Once it became too late, we discovered that all humanistic education was a transforming of young minds slowly, generation by generation, until we arrive to a world that has not taught our children how to reason and think but what to think without reason.

So, in 2020 we have arrived. The great divide between God and man is before us in dramatic fashion. Jesus said it would happen and this is not the first time it is happening. And now can be the Church’s finest hour, or its saddest. We call all people to the gospel. We call them to the love of Christ who died for them. We call them to the grace of God who sent is Son to die for them.

When Jesus said he would bring a division between parent and child, he was not saying the child must stop loving the parent or the parent must stop loving their child in order to love God and become a disciple of Christ. He was saying that there must be a priority of love. “Whoever finds his live will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” The great chasm between God and man has been bridged by the love of God. When the Spirit brings Christ’s reconciliation and applies it to me, I become a different me; one who loves the Lord my God with all my heart, all my strength, and all my mind.

The divide will be closed one day. Jesus will return to the earth for his final judgment. He will separate his sheep from the goats, his wheat from the chaff. It is interesting to me that in Acts 14, what has been translated as “unbelieving Jews” is really “disobedient Jews.” The “Jews” part is not what is important and to be clear, disobedient Jews implies there were obedient Jews. Paul was one. But the interesting part is that disobedience is really the foundation of all unbelief. Opposition to God, oppositions to God ordained government, opposition to the Word of Truth is what we are facing in our world today.

The judgment of God comes in many forms, and the rebellion and irrationality of violence may be one of them. But it is God who judges. We do not bring judgment on anyone. However, as my mother always said, actions speak louder than words, and we can discern those who love God from those who do not by their actions. And seeing so many who have been led astray must break our hearts. Because we have the only answer there is.

Nevertheless, division will remain, and Christian faith will always be a matter of bearing a cross. You can label the division however you like:

  • Democrat versus Republican
  • Conservative versus Liberal
  • White versus Black or Black versus White
  • Educated versus Uneducated
  • Rich versus poor

When all is said and done, none of these divisions, perceived or real, is what Jesus Christ will look for when he returns. There is only one great division from which all others flow: the division between those who believe and those who don’t. Care must be taken by those who believe, for we all know that our faith was not something we could produce on our own. Neither is it possible for the unbeliever to turn from their disobedience apart from the grace of God and the Holy Spirit.

In the meantime, we who believe must pray for peace and proclaim the gospel always and everywhere. It is our calling. The Truth proclaimed is for those who do not believe that they may believe, or that they have no excuse when Christ returns.

Maranatha. Come quickly Lord Jesus. And make us faithful.

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