e429

Desiring to build others up & give grace to those who visit

Archive for the tag “religion”

Why Do We Fear the Direction This Country is Headed?

I haven’t written anything on here for quite a while, & I’m not really sure I’ll be able to adequately explain my thoughts on this subject.

But…

When I see conservative media outlets making doomsday predictions about what will happen to this country as our rights are supposedly slowly stripped away or as we slip into greater moral decline, I am not surprised; they are only doing what any good “news” source is supposed to do–keep their viewers (readers, listeners, etc.) coming back for more. However, when I hear Christians spouting the same talking points, it really grates on me.

Don’t get me wrong, I think part of our duties as salt & light is to try to preserve a moral society for the benefit of all & to expose those things that are evil, so I’m not opposed to pointing out & trying to change those things that we see as wrongs or abuses of this country’s laws. But it really bothers me when Christians take a secular-type of end-of-the-world attitude toward things the government & society are doing.

I have two basic thoughts on these matters:

1. (And this, I think, is the more important of the two) Why should we fear doomsday, end-of-the-world, apocalyptic predictions? Do you not realize or remember what the end of this world means?! It means Christ’s return! It means a new heaven & new earth! It means no more sorrows, no more heartache, no more brokenness! It means we will be like Christ & be able to see God face to face without being consumed! Is this not a wonderful thing? A glorious thing? A thing to be desired not feared?

2. If the end is not near (relative to what we can see of time) and the government does begin to openly oppose & oppress Christianity, so what? Yes, I think we should attempt to prevent that from happening if we can. But is the governmental oppression of Christianity necessarily a bad thing? An evil thing, yes, but all that is evil is not necessarily bad for us in this life. The oppression of Christianity in this country, should it happen, I believe would serve to refine the church as a whole as well as Christians individually. I think we would cease to see nominal Christians; those who continued to claim the name of Christ you could be fairly certain were truly Christians. That is not always true today. I think of other countries where Christians are martyred for holding fast to the Gospel, & I see a strength of faith that is largely absent in this countr]y (I include myself in that accusation). I WANT that kind of faith. I DESIRE to be so absolutely secure in Christ that I can completely, honestly say, “If God is for me, who can be against me?” I believe that there are many like myself who will have difficulty reaching that point unless we are forced to it by the stripping of our luxuries & distractions. This does not mean that I don’t believe God’s Word & do not trust in His promises, but it does mean that I struggle to live them out on a daily basis.

I believe; help my unbelief!

America will fall. The United States will inevitably disintegrate. The Stars and Stripes will bleed. The White House will turn to rubble. That is certain. We stand like Augustine before the sea. We pray that God will spare our nation. If He chooses not to, we ask for the grace to accep[t its demise. In either case, we look to Him who is our King and to heaven, which is our home. We await the city of God, the heavenly Jerusalem, whose builder and maker is God.

R.C. Sproul

Advertisements

The World Is Watching, And They See Our Inconsistencies…Please, for Christ’s Sake & God’s Glory, Represent Him Well

A friend of mine posed this question with his analysis of it on Facebook today:

If God is in charge of everything … and Mitt lost … why are so many Christians angry? It poses a paradox to me. Either you don’t believe that God is in charge, or you don’t like God’s path.

He followed up in the comments with this:

I’m not really saying the original post in a snarky manner either. I just want to reveal the logic flow or thought process of all these angry, vitriolic rants on Facebook from self-professed Christians. Help me understand how these points are reconciled, if they are. Or is it only God’s Will if it abides by your agenda? It just seems strange that so many people who would be celebrating “God’s Will” if a Republican were elected are now spewing venom because things didn’t go their way. Isn’t it still God’s Will? Or does that only apply when they get what they want?

This:

It’s just that the angriest posts I’ve seen come across the feed have been people railing about “nowhere in the Bible is gay marriage okay” and how Obama’s election is sending us straight to Hell and voters should be ashamed. Just real anger. I’m sure there are plenty of non-Christian Romney supporters. I just haven’t seen the specific citation of any sort of ethos in their rants. Mostly they’re railing about specific issues that they disagree with but no explanation as to why. My original post is aimed at a) getting people angrily citing the Bible to think about how they arrived to their anger and/or b) show that thought process out. Kind of like “I’m anti-abortion but pro-capital punishment.” Okay, explain… Both are killing, so how do you arrive at the conclusion that one is okay, the other is not? I’m not attacking anyone or their beliefs. I just want to see how they get from point A to point B, and it’s still consistent with the core belief.

And this:

So my question is kind of like, you say God is driving the bus. It turns left. Now you say the bus is headed to Hell. So if God is driving the bus, then why all the anger? Isn’t God driving and he knows best? But if you’re angry because YOU think you know best, then wouldn’t it stand to reason that you either don’t believe God is driving the bus or you think He doesn’t know what He’s doing? Which goes against the core belief. But you’re still angry.

I should not surprise me (& yet it did) that those outside of Christianity are so readily able to see how little many of us really understand our faith. This Facebook conversation (among other recent events) just solidifies the fact that those of us who are Christians need to dig deep & really strive to understand exactly what it is we believe. We need to take things to their logical conclusions & struggle with the hard things to ensure that we don’t mistakenly misrepresent our Savior & God. Heed the words of the apostle Peter:

“but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil. [emphasis mine]”–1 Peter 3:15-17 (ESV)

For the record, here was my response on the thread (please feel free to respectfully critique it):

It has been said that “The greatest single cause of atheism [or, in my opinion, agnosticism, rejection of Christianity, etc.] in the world today is Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips and walk out the door and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.” Your insight above at least somewhat seems to confirm this.

If God is sovereign over all things (& I believe that he is), then even the outcome of this election was not outside of His control. That doesn’t mean Christians can’t have concerns over President Obama’s policies. And it doesn’t mean they can’t be disappointed that he won because of those concerns. But at the end of the day, if you believe in God’s sovereignty, you should accept Romans 13:1 which says, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.”

Even if you believe President Obama is evil, you should recognize that God has used many evil rulers over the course of history to accomplish His purposes (this is extremely evident through the Old Testament).

Also, rather than spewing hateful words at the President & his supporters, Christians should heed the words of 1 Timothy 2:1-2: “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, PRAYERS, intercessions, and THANKSGIVINGS be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. [emphasis mine]”

I think it is also important that we keep in mind the full text of Romans 13. Do not forget that Paul wrote these words most likely while Rome was under the rule of Nero–not exactly a friend to Christianity!

As Christians in this country, we have a right & responsibility to stand against those things that are wrong, those things that go against God’s word, but we must do it with respect. We have a right to free speech, but that doesn’t mean we are obligated to express that right, especially in an angry & hateful manner. Meditate on Proverbs 13:3, 15:28,&  21:23; and on Ecclesiastes 5:2.

For some wise advice on how to respond to the outcome of this election, I recommend Christians, Let’s Honor the President by Russell Moore.

Bible Study

[Originally posted as a note on Facebook on May 16, 2010]

This morning I had the privilege of teaching the Disciple Hour (Sunday School) lesson to the men in my church without a prepackaged lesson (for those who might be curious, it was on 1 Peter 4:12-19). I have no idea how well I did; I think I did an adequate job, but I really am not worried about it either way. It was a gracious blessing to me from God to be allowed that opportunity if for no other reason than it forced me to study God’s Word more in depth than what I am used to doing on my own. I have never been very good at studying, & when it comes to the Bible, I have often used the excuse that I don’t know how to study as a way to avoid really getting into God’s Word. Many times I feel like I don’t have time to put into it, but it is more likely that I don’t WANT to put in the time & effort that good Bible study requires. What I would like to happen is that I read God’s Word & He just blasts understanding into my mind; what typically happens is that I read a passage or two of Scripture, have some sort of basic understanding of what it means, & there is no carryover of what I have read into my life. I now realize (I think I’ve always know this) that in order to get much out of what I read of God’s Word, I have to put much into it (& I don’t mean adding to God’s Word). It requires both time & effort; for me, it requires the use of multiple sources & translations. BUT, the effort is worth it! I can’t expect to be able to breeze through the Bible; I am going to have to take small sections & spend days or weeks or months working my way through them. I plan to continue working my way through the Bible on a daily basis because I think I do retain some of it, and I can’t say that I’ve ever read it cover to cover before. If I improve my basic knowledge of the Bible, I think it will make it a little easier to gain deeper knowledge of it. However, I also now plan to spend considerable time in a small passage to gain a deeper understanding of it & a deeper love of God. For this effort, I will be praying the IOUS (see below), & I would appreciate any prayers that others would be willing to offer.

I–Incline my heart to your testimonies and not to selfish gain!-Psalm 119:36
O–Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.-Psalm 119:18
U–[…], unite my heart to fear your name.-Psalm 86:11b
S–Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.-Psalm 90:14

God’s Gracious Curveballs

“Either we believe Rom 8:28-29, or we don’t: “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose; for those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son.”

What this means is that God is writing your life script. It means God is writing your story. And it means that your story is not without purpose – not your comfort, but your conformity to the image of Jesus Christ.

So when you wake up in the morning and something unexpected, surprising, horrifying, grievous, extreme, trying, terrible or shocking happens to you, you can know that it is coming from the hand of your good God. It’s a gracious reminder that you are not writing your life’s story. God is – the God who loves you so much that he sacrificed his son for your salvation. And the reason it’s a gracious reminder is that the greatest problem we have is that we spend far too much of our lives with self at the center, believing the lie that my life is my own, that I am in charge of my destiny, that I have life firmly in my control. These lies are just that – lies! And they only destroy us in the end.

So be thankful today for God’s gracious curveballs. They are the evidence that your loving Father is writing the story of your transformation from what you once were to all you were meant to be in Jesus.”–RW Glenn

Is Doctrine Important?

In short, the answer is, “Yes.”

Now, I’m not saying that there aren’t things that we should be willing to concede among brothers & sisters in Christ, but we must be careful to hold to the truths of God’s Word.

So, what can happen if we don’t maintain that doctrine is important? I submit for example an excerpt from a message someone I know (I don’t think I need to be any more specific than that for this person’s sake & because ultimately it’s not important to this post) sent me a few days ago:

“We had a ‘church consultant’ come in today to help ‘healing,’ but instead of talking about forgiveness and things that would have been relevant, he talked about ‘woman speak’ and ‘man speak (of course, woman speak is the one where someone says one thing but means and expects another– you know, ‘No, you don’t have to get me anything,’ etc. So basically, women are manipulative liars, and men are the hapless, direct creatures that have to follow them around and guess). It was bad enough, until he actually started saying that this could be avoided in marriage by occasionally giving a flower– ‘Not even a rose! Just one single flower!’– on some day where your wife isn’t expecting it, and then you’re out of the dog house for a while. THEN he said that that’s how we should view Jesus: He commands certain things for us, but he actually wants different things from us, and we should guess what that is. Obedience isn’t enough for him to love you, and neither is love; it takes weirdly spontaneous action that no one can predict or understand.”

How do you ever come to a conclusion like this unless you have abandoned doctrine & God’s Word completely?!

Read the Word. Study it. Think about doctrine. Work through those things that you have questions about. Ask questions of wise men & women who have spent much time studying these things. Pray.

How Could One Not Believe?

Psalm 19:1-6

During the drive home from work today, I was listening to a Wayne Grudem systematic theology lecture (you can get all 119 lectures free + shipping on mp3 CD or download each one free here) about the arguments for God, and as I listened I was thinking about Psalm 19 (I had been studying it last night, & Dr. Grudem mentioned it during this particular lecture), thinking about the expanse of the universe, thinking of the miniscule building blocks of our bodies and other things, & thinking of various things in between.

Do you know what struck me as I pondered these things? I was amazed! But maybe not by what you may think…

Yes, I was amazed at the beauty & intricacy of God’s creation. I was floored by the unfathomable depths of God’s creativity.

But…

I was even more astonished that there are those out there who do not believe there is a god. And, not only that, but there are those who go to great lengths to “prove” that we came to be by some unintelligent (this does not seem like an appropriate word choice) means.

I find it hard to believe that you can look at the vastness of space & the beauty of the stars; that you can see the sun rise & set; that you can hear the birds sing (& not just one kind of bird, but thousands upon thousands of different kinds); that you can study the complexity of the human body (not just the multitude of organ systems working together in harmony, but also the varied individual cells & the DNA & the processes that create energy & the billions of neurons in the brain…); that you can see the variability of the plant life & animal life & insect life; that you can study the structures of compounds & how atoms stick together in different structural arrangements; and that you can hear, see, smell, taste, & feel a thousand other things and not see proof that there is a God & that He is good.

And, yet, although I cannot understand that from a human perspective when I take the time to look & think about God’s creation, even God’s Word tells me it is this way:

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Romans 1:18-23 (ESV)

I am thankful for God’s grace & mercy upon me, undeserving though I am, that I have been blessed by God to be able to see Him. I have some friends that I would love to argue into God’s kingdom using various “proofs” & thoughts,  but I realize that no matter how good or how logical my argument may be, God is the one who calls & He does so via His Word.

So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. 1 Cor 3:7 (ESV)

“The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. Romans 10:8-17 (ESV)

Peace of Mind or the Peace That Passes All Understanding

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.[…] I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

Phil 4:4-9 & 11b-13 (ESV)

Being at peace with a decision is not the same as having the peace that passes all understanding. Making a decision that falls in line with your own desires is likely to produce a peace about the decision, but having a peace that passes all understanding is being at peace with the God of the universe through Jesus the Christ even though we deserve no peace from Him because we have committed treason against His infinite attributes (in other words, we have sinned against Him). If you have THAT peace, you can be at peace no matter what situation you are in regardless of whether it lines up with your desires or not.

“It is a by-product of the presence of the ‘God of peace’ that guards our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” The full reality of that peace comes to bear as we obey the command of verse 8 above: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”–in other words, saturate your thoughts in Christ & the Gospel. (Thank you Pastor Gary for that helpful insight!)

Do All Religions Lead to God?

I originally posted these questions in May 2009 as part of a rather lengthy religious discussion I was involved with on Facebook with some of my friends. One of my friends had, in essence, argued that there are many paths to God even though she claimed to believe in the God of the Bible. The following was part of my response to her in an attempt to get her to think through the implications of her claim. I still think they are important things to consider if you are going to try to claim that all religions are equally valid.

1. If Christianity is equal to any other religion, why does the Bible repeatedly say there is only ONE God & ONE way to Him?

2. What about Satanic worship? Is it a legitimate religion? And if not, on what foundation can you make that claim?

3. What about polytheism (belief in many different gods)? How does it fit into the “many paths to God” belief?

4. Why are different religions contradictory to each other if they all lead to the same God?

5. Why would God create multiple religions when any one religion is essentially available to the whole world?

6. Is it illogical to think that God would punish those that choose to deny the way He set forth regardless of how “good” they are?

7. Are we trying to conform God to our finite understanding?

8. If Genesis 1:1 is true, is it not possible that the entire Bible is true?

9. If all religions are viable ways to God/heaven, who goes to hell? Does anyone go to hell? If some people go to hell, what is the standard for sending them there?

And finally (and I personally think this is the big one):

10. Why would Jesus willingly sacrifice Himself if there were other ways to God? Why would He even lower Himself and come to earth?

Political Response

This was an email that I received today from my church that I thought was timely & quite helpful during this political season. I hope it is edifying to the few of you who might read it. 

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________

 
As we move closer into this current political season, may we heed to the following words of wisdom as we engage others. Whether it be through conversation, email and/or social media, consider this as a helpful guide.

 

1) Pray for our leaders

“No matter who is in office, whether we voted for them or not, whether they are of the political party we prefer or not, the Bible commands us to respect and honor them (Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-17). We should also be praying for those placed in authority over us (Colossians 4:2; 1 Thessalonians 5:17). We do not have to agree with them, or even like them, but we do have to honor and respect them. Politics is always going to be a difficult issue for Christians. We are in this world but are not to be of this world (1 John 2:15). We can be involved in politics, but we should not be obsessed with politics. Ultimately, we are to be heavenly minded, more concerned with the things of God than the things of this world (Colossians 3:1-2). As believers in Jesus Christ, we are all members of the same political party—monarchists who are waiting for their King to return (Revelation 19:11-16).” (gotquestions.org)

 

2) Political engagement often turns the church’s mission field into the enemy

“Political campaigns make this abundantly clear.  Fueled by a righteous cause, each side wages war with the carnal weapons of this age, and each side demonizes the other, employing the sharpest (and sometimes the nastiest) rhetoric.  That’s not the mandate for the church.  Instead, “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person” (ESV).  Those people out there may be the worst of sinners—you know, activist types—but such were some of you.  And yet, God washed you, sanctified you, and justified you in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and the Spirit of God (1 Cor. 6:9-11).  The world may be the enemy of God, as you once were (Eph. 2:1-3), but they need to be reconciled to God, as you have been (Eph. 2:4-10).  The world is our mission field.” (gty.org)

 

3) Apathy is not the answer

“My point is not that Christians should remain totally uninvolved in politics or civic activities and causes. They ought to express their political beliefs in the voting booth, and it is appropriate to support legitimate measures designed to correct a glaring social or political wrong. Complete noninvolvement would be contrary to what God’s Word says about doing good in society: “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Gal. 6:10; cf. Titus 3:1-2). It would also display a lack of gratitude for whatever amount of religious freedom the government allows us to enjoy. Furthermore, such pious apathy toward government and politics would reveal a lack of appreciation for the many appropriate legal remedies believers in democracies have for maintaining or improving the civil order. A certain amount of healthy and balanced concern with current trends in government and the community is acceptable, as long as we realize that that interest is not vital to our spiritual growth, our righteous testimony, or the advancement of the kingdom of Christ. Above all, the believer’s political involvement should never displace the priority of preaching and teaching the gospel.” (John MacArthur)

 

4) Our trust is in Christ, Not in princes or politicians

R.C. Sproul gives a great reminder about where our trust should ultimately be:

“Yes, we must always work for social reform. Yes, we must be “profane’ in Martin Luther’s sense of going out of the temple and into the world. We do not despise the country of our birth. But in what do we invest our hope? The state is not God. The nation is not the Promised Land. The president is not our King. The Congress is not our Savior. Our welfare can never be found in the city of man. The federal government is not sovereign. We live—in every age and in every generation—by the rivers of Babylon. We need to understand that clearly. We must learn how to sing the Lord’s song in a strange and foreign land.

America will fall. The United States will inevitably disintegrate. The Stars and Stripes will bleed. The White House will turn to rubble. That is certain. We stand like Augustine before the sea. We pray that God will spare our nation. If He chooses not to, we ask for the grace to accept its demise. In either case, we look to Him who is our King and to heaven, which is our home. We await the city of God, the heavenly Jerusalem, whose builder and maker is God.”

 

“But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ”

Philippians 3:20

What Our Culture of Death Has Wrought

After-birth abortion: why should the baby live?. As absolutely horrible as the ideas put forth in this article are to even contemplate (& as horrendous as it is that a peer-reviewed journal published it), having this article out could actually be a positive thing for those of us who value the sanctity of life. As John Knight of Desiring God points out, “[The authors] have, in fact, done a great service to the cause of the unborn by openly and clearly connecting the argument for infanticide with abortion.” And that’s just it, I think the average person would be appalled at the thought of infanticide, especially of otherwise “normal” babies. Most people, I suspect, would consider that to be murder (and rightfully so, I might add!). But, if someone considers abortion to be a  perfectly okay choice for whatever reason the mother wants (and many do think this way), then it is only logical that infanticide is also okay for whatever reason the parent(s) decide. The fact that this has been published in a well-respected peer-reviewed journal should, it seems, be an indication of the increasing acceptability of such ideas, at least at the academic level (which means it is only a matter of time before it is acceptable at the lay level).

Read more…

Post Navigation

%d bloggers like this: