Friday, March 29, 2013

My Thoughts On The Same-Sex Marriage Debate


The teachings of the Bible reveal to us that marriage was designed by God to be a “picture” of the relationship between Jesus and His “church” (his true followers.) He did this to show His love and devotion, and to illustrate His role as “head”. Those of us that embrace the Bible see marriage as one of the most important institutions created by God. Therefore we cannot and should not try to redefine it. To do so would distort God’s purpose in creating it. Marriage is one of the most explicitly described concepts in the bible. It only has one meaning.


Ephesians 5:31-32, which quotes Genesis 2:24


Opponents of same-sex marriage are often described as bible-thumping bigots that hate people who have embraced the homosexual lifestyle. This is a fallacy that attempts to paint an opponent with negative stereotypes in order to discredit them. While there may be a few people out there that can be described in this way, most are not. There are good reasons to oppose the homosexual agenda, and it has nothing whatsoever to do with hatred or bigotry I will attempt to explain.


From what I can gather, the government is only involved in this issue at all because at some point it was decided that it would be in the best interest of the welfare of our society if the government incentivized marriage. Thinking that marriages produce families, and strong families produce certain benefits to society. This is not necessarily Bible based, but based on common sense and wisdom. It’s hard to argue the statistics that I’ve seen to show this to be true.


Some want to frame this as a civil rights debate. Others see the act of the Federal government effectively redefining the word ‘marriage’ to mean, well, whatever you want it to mean, as a bad idea. For now, some want to include same-sex couples into the definition. Seems fair. But what happens, when down the road, some want to include adult-minor couples? What about multiple-partners? Human-animal couples? It seems foolish to say these things, but remember, homosexuality was officially considered a mental disorder only a few decades ago. You might argue that it’s immoral for adults to marry children, or for a man to have multiple wives, but there is the problem. That word “immorality.” That assumes that there is such a thing. If there is such a thing, then who or what decides what is right and what is wrong. The “majority?” Elected officials? Unelected officials? The bible? Without a foundational moral authority that transcends humanity, then there is no such thing as immorality. You couldn’t fault anyone for doing anything, because even the argument for not harming another person is a moral argument. If you say ,”it’s wrong to harm someone else.” Says who? How much harm? Why is your harm more important than my pleasure? Can you see the morass that can quickly develop?


There is no law that I know of preventing anyone from having any kind of ceremony they want right now in any state. The debate is not about whether same-sex couples can have a wedding ceremony, the debate is about government sanction of the redefinition of marriage This is the cultural gut check. Do we want our government to redefine marriage, and therefore sanction benefits to same-sex couples, and by implication condone the morality of such a thing? If we do; Will this be enough? We know that it won’t be.


Opponents of the government sanctioning of same-sex unions (calling this marriage ) can see a day coming (and that day is here) where pastors are sued for objecting to officiating same-sex weddings. Churches will be sued for denying same-sex couples use of their facilities? Christians will be arrested for “hate speech” when they defend the bible’s teaching on homosexuality. The end-game is obvious. The pro-homosexual agenda will only be satisfied when anything or anyone that would label their lifestyle immoral… is removed and silenced…one way or another. They are fighting for institutionalized acceptance of immorality… I’m fighting for my freedom.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

My Paraphrase of Romans Chapter 14

(I wrote this several years ago. This paraphrase represents a careful study of this text and my attempt to paraphrase in such a way, not to replace the scriptures, but as a study tool to deliver the principles of this chapter in modern language. Feel free to compare this with the scripture [Romans 14])

1 With respect to differing beliefs on non-critical matters, do not dismiss the convictions of those Christians who you determine to have an immature faith. 2 It is inevitable that Christians will have differing convictions about what is morally right and wrong. 3 The Christians with opposing ideas on right and wrong must not belittle or think less of each other. 4 One Christian does not have the authority to judge another. God will give all Christians, at all maturity levels, the strength to endure.

5 All Christians should make every effort to have well-informed convictions and beliefs. 6-8 All personal convictions, no matter how conservative or liberal, are made so as to please God with our lives. 9 (This is why Christ died for you, so that you would live for Him. 10-12 Why do you continue to assume the role of God, and cast judgment on those who are His alone to judge. God will judge us individually at judgment day. That’s His job, not yours!) 13 Instead, make every effort to adjust your own behavior, so that you will not cause another Christian to follow you into an action that would violate his/her convictions. 14 Each of us must consult our own conscience to determine if something is permissible or forbidden. If someone’s conscience tells them, “this is wrong”, then, to that person, it’s immoral. 15 If you are with another Christian and you continue to do something that you know that he or she thinks is wrong but you think is permissible, then you are being selfish, and you are not showing love to that person. Do not let what you think is “OK”, cause damage to someone else’s conscience.

16 By the way, don’t let onlooking unbelievers see you bickering over these things and give them an excuse to think poorly toward Christians. 17-18 These issues have some importance, but are small in comparison to things like personal righteousness, peace among Christians, and the enjoyment of the Holy Spirit guiding your life. All these are pleasing to both God and other people.19 We are to place a high priority on doing the things that lead to peace and the building up of the body of Christ. 20-21 It would be better for you to give up all your Christian freedoms (things that you personally believe are “OK”), than to do anything that would cause another Christian to have a conflict in their spiritual convictions. 22 It is even better to keep your personal convictions to yourself, if arguing about those things causes division amongst fellow believers.

If you follow these guidelines, you will be admired by others, and even more, you will enjoy peace of mind so long as you establish convictions for yourself that cannot be condemned by your own conscience. 23 Here's the bottom line -- If you go ahead and do something that another Christian tells you is “OK”, but that thing violates your conscience, you have sinned. God would much rather you obey your conscience, because to Him, your conscience is a representation of your faith.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Some Thoughts On The Aurora Shooting



I absolutely hate it when I hear in the news about a mass shooting. My heart grieves for those that lost love ones. As the details emerged from this latest mass murder, I find myself imagining what it must have been like inside that theater. I wonder what I would have done had I been in there. I also find myself wondering, like many others, what would cause someone to do something like this. At this point, I would not presume to guess, because I do not have enough facts, but I do have some thoughts as to what could possibly motivate someone to do this. 
Romans 1:20 -21 & 28-31
20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. 21 For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.

28 And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful


So according to this passage, there are people that reject the God, whose divinity can plainly be perceived through the evidence of creation, and because of that God "gives them over" to a depraved mind. This phase is key to helping us understand what happens when someone "snaps" and goes on a murderous rampage. What does it mean for God to "give someone over to a depraved mind?" There is a concept in theology that's called "common grace ." It generally states that even though the universe is cursed because of sin, God acts to restrain evil and showers a certain amount of blessing to all creatures.
When God chooses to, He can withdraw that restraining (common) grace, and sin runs it's full course which leads to death. This can lead us into another troubling issue, and that is "Why would God permit the slaughter of innocents?" That's another discussion. 
There is only one way to prevent these terrible tragedies from happening. It's not more laws...it is for all people to repent and believe on the only one that can save them. Jesus
Acts 17

30  The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent,31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed (Jesus); and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”

Monday, February 6, 2012

My Paraphrase of Deuteronomy 6:4-18

This was a bible study exercise I did on my own a couple of years ago but have never published.  My goal was to be as accurate as possible in communicating the thought of the text, while paraphrasing into modern conversational English. I’ve converted all Old Testament references and illustrations into principles that a modern reader could understand.  This a loose, but carefully worded paraphrase, that is not meant to replace scripture, but to serve as a devotional study tool. or simply an encouragement for your personal walk with God. I’ve provided a link to the ESV translation if you would like to compare it to a real translation.

Listen up, all you who are God’s people. There is only one true and living God and there is no other. You must love God with every single fiber of your being. You must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands. Repeat them to yourself and to others. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are out with friends, at school, at work, or wherever you go; also when you go to bed and when you wake up. By all means, be creative and do whatever it takes to remember these things.

God has promised that you will experience blessings, that can only be attributed to God’s provision. It is God’s desire that you enjoy His blessing, but never forget who it was who blessed you. You must fear the Lord your God and serve him. Live with integrity and keep every promise you make. Live as if you fear God’s wrath if you break that promise.

You must not allow the religious or secular practices of your surrounding culture to steal away your attention and devotion of the one true God.  For YAHWEH, your God, desires your absolute devotion, and is displeased when you stray after worldly desires.  It is very unwise to test God’s anger by being unfaithful, as He has every right to judge sin at any moment. You must diligently obey the commands that God has given to you. It’s pretty simple actually; Do what is right and good according to the scriptures, and all will go well with you.
Deut. 6:4-18 ESV

Friday, November 4, 2011

Removing Planks and Seeing Clearly


Is it ever appropriate to speak out about sin even though we all have sinned?
Worded this way most of us would say, "sure!, of course. Especially if the Bible calls it sin."  And I would agree.
What if I worded the question like this?
"Since we have all sinned, and many of us sin terribly in secret, is it hypocritical to condemn the sin of someone else?"
This one should make us all think a little more before answering. 
I think Jesus spoke to this matter. In his famous Sermon on the Mount, Jesus spoke these words in Matthew 7:1ff
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?  How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?  You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
It would take a lengthy post indeed to explain this section of scripture in-depth, so I'm just going to make a few observations, and hopefully encourage you do dig further on your own.
People love to throw out Matthew 7:1 whenever anyone points out someone else s sin. "Judge not, lest ye be judged"...always in the King James too, it seems.  This has become the most often quoted scripture in public discourse...now quoted more often than John 3:16. I love Paul Washers response to people that misuse this verse.
"Twist not scripture, lest ye be like Satan!"
So how are people "twisting" scripture when that use this verse to silence people who condemn sinful behavior in others? It takes a careful look, because reading the illustration that follows, could further lead one to the wrong conclusion. In one of Jesus's most humorous moments, Jesus crafts a word picture that is fairly simple to understand. The simple meaning, "consider your own sin--which we see clearly, before rashly condemning sin in others--which can not always be so clearly seen."  This advice, along with this entire "sermon", was apparently spoken to his close disciples, even though in the movies. and Sunday-school flannel-graphs Jesus is always preaching to a huge crowd. The key to a balanced understanding of this section, is to focus on the idea of "seeing".  The passage concludes with the statment, "first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly..."  We can't see into the mind of another person, and we are never to pretend that we can do what only that person and God can do. That is the offence when we "judge" someone else. There is only one Judge. If we pretend to see the motives of someone else's heart, we attempt to unseat the one true and righteous Judge. 
So back to the question I first posed. "is it ever appropriate to condemn the sin of someone else?"
It depends. If dealing with a brother or sister in Christ, then YES!  Outward public sin, or hidden sin proved by many trustworthy witnesses must and should be "rebuked" (censured, admonished)...always with a goal to encourage repentance and restoration. If it's on a personal level, a humble, loving, exhortation is appropriate.
1 Timothy 5:20  Those who continue in sin, rebuke in the presence of all, so that the rest also will be fearful of sinning.
2 Timothy 4:2  preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.
1 Corinthians 5:6bDo you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough? Clean out the old leaven so that you may be a new lump...
Ephesians 4:15 Rather, speaking the truth in love,
We can't truly know the state of another persons soul, but when dealing with someone that most likely is a non-believer, I would say it's probably not the best idea to confront sin unless you are evangelizing that person, or trying to protect the innocence of children. And even then, done with love. 
Proverbs 9:7 Whoever corrects a mocker invites insults; whoever rebukes the wicked incurs abuse. Do not rebuke mockers or they will hate you; rebuke the wise and they will love you.

* This is a tough subject for a short blog post and it was not meant to be comprehensive. Please feel free to comment and add your own thoughts. 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Overcoming Temptation


Recently, a question was posed regarding overcoming temptation as a Christian. I deal with temptation the same as everyone else, and I've come to realize certain truths about this subject that I thought would be good to share. I found myself convicted by my own words. The following is what I wrote:

Remember that sin is what required the sacrificial death of our Lord on the cross. As Christians we need to see the temptation as the nails that would be driven into Christ's body, and see ourselves as the Roman Soldier about to drive them in.

We give into temptation when we are not believing sin is as abominable as God believes it to be. When we choose sinful pleasure, we (at least temporarily) reveal our disbelief that Christ suffered the full wrath of God to purchase our freedom from the clutches of Satan and the eternal suffering of hell. We defeat temptation only when we are so repulsed by sin that the disgust of that sin outweighs the temporary pleasure that it brings.  We will always choose to do the thing we desire most at any given moment, so giving into temptation is desiring temporary pleasure over felicity in your relationship with God.  And worse yet, it is a betrayal of the one who rescued you from the just penalty of your sin-- death. 


"For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Rom. 6:23
"Go, and from now on sin no more.", John 8:11"

Monday, October 10, 2011

The “Wisdom” of Steve Jobs

As a Christian, I must always be careful not to get caught up in the wisdom and philosophies that grow popular. With the recent death of Steve Jobs, there has been an outpouring of praise and adoration for this man who brought us really neat gadgets, and by many accounts was a tremendous success. With that success, many have wondered how they can also have such success for themselves. One way is to look at the life of someone like Steve Jobs and study his methods of doing business and his leadership techniques, and then try to imitate these things. But to really get at the core of someone like Steve Jobs, you need to understand the values and principles that led to his actions.

Over Ten Million people have viewed Steve Jobs' 2005 Stanford Commencement Address on YouTube and other places on the web. In this speech Steve tells his life story and gives the hearers a glimpse into the philosophies that drove him. Many of the statements were very motivational and inspirational to the audience, but I want to take a closer look and see how this “wisdom” compares with the true wisdom of God through the bible.

“Trust In Yourself”
One of my personal philosophies resembles something Steve Jobs said in his speech:
“The only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle.”
This is great. However, this statement preceded it:
"Don’t lose faith. I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did.”
It’s fairly clear that the “faith” spoken about here is faith in one’s self, not in God. In other words, “trust in your own abilities and in the hope that following your personal affections & desires will somehow work toward your personal success.” The book of Proverbs has something quite different for us:
“‘Trust the LORD with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding.” Prov. 3:5
“Follow Your Heart”
Here is what looks like some good advice from Steve Jobs:
“Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”
I understand the advice here. “Don’t try to be someone else or just lazily fulfill what others expect of you.” This is good in that it encourages creative thinking and frees up the individual to pursue greater things. No problem there. However, it’s the subtle and underlying, “follow your heart”, humanistic philosophy that troubles me. Here’s what the bible says regarding how we should trust our heart:
Jeremiah 17:9 (NIV)  “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.”
I think the balance here is to follow your dreams, but always realize that your carnal human flesh will only seek to satisfy it’s own cravings, so seek and submit to follow the “dogma” found in the scriptures.

“Live For Today”
"If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?" Steve Jobs
This is good advice. Even the great American theologian Jonathan Edwards wrote in his 99 Resolutions:
19. Resolved, never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do, if I expected it would not be above an hour, before I should hear the last trump.
Which translated into American English means, “I vow to live in such a way, that I will always consider each moment of my life as if it were my very last.”
Steve also has this to say about death:
“Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”
My translation: “Live for the moment because that’s all there is, do what you want”
Steve: “No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don't want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life.”
My translation: “Death motivates me to remember that all I truly have is today.”
This is the logical conclusion that anyone without hope in God arrives at. “Live for the moment, Do what you want, Carpe Diem!” This is the philosophy of the Godless, for it totally contradicts the message of the bible, which is, “life is a vapor, and your eternity is all that really matters.”

Here is an enlightening documentary on this philosophy and how it has been woven into our culture


Steve concluded with this quote: “Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.”  I’m well aware that this quote is not meant to be taken literally, and represents an encouragement to stay creative and playful. I’m good with all that, and have given that advice to people myself. But I want to encourage everyone not to get caught up in the moment and neglect to be discerning when is comes to embracing ideas that run contrary to God’s Word, which is our only true source of wisdom.

So, instead of “Trust In Yourself, Follow Your Heart, and Live For Today”, I would say, “Trust Jesus, Follow Jesus, and Live for Jesus!”

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Theology Debate!

I was having a pleasant conversation the other day with someone who I haven't seen in a while. The subject of Calvinism came up. Without knowing my personal position, this person began to express disdain for people who embrace any form of Calvinism. To which I politely replied, "Well, I'm a Calvinist." After squirming a bit from my unexpected statement, I was smugly asked the following (I assume, rhetorical) question:

"So, which one of your children did God create to go to hell?"

I guess that's supposed to be the ultimate gotcha question from the anti-Calvinist.  I, without hesitation, politely answered, "God does not reveal to us who is elect and who isn't, so I have no idea." My aquaintence squirmed a bit more and replied, "I just know that God does NOT create people just to send them to hell." At this point, to debate further would have made the situation terribly uncomfortable, so I wrapped things up by saying something to the effect of, "people are always going to have disagreements when it comes to the deep matters of theology." The conversation ended amicably, but afterward I myself thinking about what could have been said..


After thinking about both statements, I've come to the conclusion that this person basically is not willing to believe in a God that doesn't match up to their own definition of what's right and fair. I was very tempted to ask this person, "where in the scriptures, do you find support for your statements?" I might have continued, "when I read my bible, it says in Romans chapter 9,
14   What shall we say then ? There is no injustice with God , is there? May it never be! 15 For He says to Moses , “ I WILL HAVE MERCY ON WHOM I HAVE MERCY , AND I WILL HAVE COMPASSION ON WHOM I HAVE COMPASSION .” 16 So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy. ... 21 Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use? 22  What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? 23 And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory, 24 even us, whom He also called.
So, according to scripture, the only conclusion that can honestly be drawn from this text is that God, in fact, creates some for destruction, and some to show mercy.  According to the inspired author, to argue with this truth is as absurd as telling a potter that he has no right to do what he wants with his pile of clay. This is as plain as anything written in scripture, yet a clear argument from scripture has no effect on someone whose theology comes from their own thoughts and reasoning. This person wants to make God into the image they want...and that's just good old fashioned idolatry!

Did God create my children to go to hell?

I don't know. I certainly hope not. Here's what I do know. I am responsible to proclaim the gospel to my children until they die or are born again. I will raise them up in the admonition of the Lord, I will pray daily for their salvation, and I will do my best to show Christ to my family by the life I live. I rest easy knowing that is all that God expects of me.  Their salvation is not in my hands, and according the only authority (God's Word), ultimately it's not in their's either.
Romans 10:20 And Isaiah is very bold and says , “ I WAS FOUND BY THOSE WHO DID NOT SEEK ME, I BECAME MANIFEST TO THOSE WHO DID NOT ASK FOR ME.”

Friday, September 30, 2011

Is It A Sin To Cuss?

bar-of-soap-in-mouthOur culture’s view of cussing is obvious from observing TV and movies. Everyone cusses, even children and religious people. It’s the “grown-up” and “cool” thing to do. It’s fun, it makes people laugh, and makes you feel more powerful and popular. The clear message that is caught is: cussing is normal and expected, therefore there’s nothing wrong with it. It’s just words. As vulgarity becomes more and more accepted in our culture, the media that most people consume becomes more and more filled with it.

The question to be asked by the Christian should be:
What does the bible say about this subject?
 
The bible does not give a list of cuss words to abstain from using. The bible wasn’t written in English, and we’re not interested in legalism anyway. In the bible we find several passages that give us principles to apply to this matter.

It is my belief that anyone who calls him or herself a Christian should completely abstain from using any word that is, or even sounds like a cuss word…in public and in private, no matter who you’re with or what you’re doing.
 
Sound too rash? There are several reasons why I came to the conviction that I just stated regarding cussing. They are all based on principles that I have found in scripture. I will briefly mention 4.


1. The Hypocrisy Principle
  • We should always behave and speak as if we were constantly walking in the presence of Jesus. True believers know that they are ALWAYS walking in the presence of Jesus. To act one way at church and another somewhere else betrays unbelief and displays hypocrisy.
James 1:26
If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight reign on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.
James 3:6-12
6 The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. 7 All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, 8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. 11 Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? 12 My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.

2. The Ambassador Principle
  • As Christians we represent Christ to the unbelieving world. Our mission is to display Christ’s saving power and communicate the Gospel. When we carry the name “Christian,” yet act and talk like the Godless worldly culture, we are actually working AGAINST the cause of Christ.
Matthew 12:36
“I tell you that men will have to give account on the Day of Judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by yours words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”
Titus 2:6
Encourage the young men to be self-controlled. In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness, and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned

3. The Relationship Principle
  • Having a filthy mouth damages the personal relationship we develop with our Heavenly Father. Shame causes the worldly Christian to avoid intimate communion and prayer with his/her Creator.
  Isaiah 6:4 (after a lucid vision of God in heaven..,)
“Woe is me, for I am ruined!
Because I am a man of unclean lips,
And I live among a people of unclean lips;
For my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.”
4. The Obedience Principle
  • True Christians have a God-given desire to obey the Bible’s commands. This desire proceeds from the motive of love and reciprocity. God’s Word says it, I desire to obey.
1 John 4:19
We love because he first loved us.
Psalm 119:167
I obey your statutes, for I love them greatly.
Proverbs 4:24 Put away perversity; keep corrupt talk from your lips.
Ephesians 4:29a – Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for (encouraging others)
Ephesians 5:1 Be imitators of God…v4 …nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or course joking, which are (all) out of place, (for a Christian) but rather, thanksgiving.

The principle is really simple. Cussing is out of place for a Christian and should be abstained from. However, I admit the practice is sometimes difficult. The benefits of trying are worth the effort, I promise. If you want to clean up your mouth, I would suggest, as much as possible, stay away from anything or anyone that would expose you to unwholesome talk. Screen your entertainment choices. Avoid “friends” that have filthy mouths, and block “friends” that post obscene language to social networks. Avoid music with dirty lyrics, and games with cussing. Establish personal convictions and stick to them even if it creates an awkward or embarrassing situation.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Are We Asking The Wrong Questions About 9/11?

I had a few more thoughts regarding 9/11 that I wanted to get out.

On Sunday, Sept. 11, 2011, I watched a documentary about how people responded to 9/11 from a spiritual perspective. There were some that grew closer to God through the tragedy, and many that became bitter and turned away from their faith. The ones that turned away just couldn't seem to get good answers to the questions they were asking about what happened that day and why.

I am of the strong belief that we should always use the bible to inform our world-view. That way, we can at least hope to understand the world around us as close as possible to how God sees it since He made it. Otherwise, it's just guesswork. The scriptures provide a firm foundation on which to understand not only the world around us, but how God interacts with the world.

So, what does the bible say about 9/11? Here are two thoughts.

1. There is the story about the tower of Siloam. In Luke 13:4-5 we read:

"Or do you suppose that those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them were worse  culprits than all the men who live in Jerusalem ? I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”

We see here that, perhaps not a complete parallel to 9/11, but we see Jesus speak to a common misconception among the Jews that "bad things happen to bad people." We still believe this today, but we call it Karma. While it's generally true that living a righteous life leads to long life and goof fortune, Jesus points out that meeting an untimely demise, through any circumstance, is not as important as the state of your soul BEFORE you perish.

2. God is angered when innocent people are murdered. While I do believe that God seems to have shown our country special favor throughout history, I do not believe that America is God's new chosen nation, even though our country does do much in the name of good. And while we ought to remember the people that lost their lives on 9/11/01, we also must not forget that we are also a nation that has made legal the right to murder innocent human life. When you consider that more people are murdered through abortion every single day in this country than were killed on 9/11, it makes me wonder how long will God hold his hand in judgement. I'm not saying 9/11 was God's judgement for abortion, I'm just trying to make a point that we might be asking the wrong question.

Psalm 106:38-40
"...And shed innocent blood, The blood of their sons and their daughters, Whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan; And the land was polluted with the blood. Thus they became unclean in their practices...
Therefore the anger of the Lord was kindled against His people."

I share this passage knowing this was specifically talking about Israel. Just because our's is the idol of 'convenience', the point can be made that God abhors violence to innocent children, and also we see that His righteous anger can be provoked.

So, are we asking the wrong questions?

Instead of asking, "how could you let this terrible thing happen?" we might instead praise Him for continuing to show mercy and grace toward sinful people, including ourselves.

Most importantly, instead of shaking our fist at God demanding to know why this or that happened, we should consider whether or not we are ready to meet Him.