Monday, February 16, 2015

A Warning to be Heeded in the Brian Williams Debacle

What is the lesson to be learned from the Brian Williams embarrassing debacle?  It is the lust of pride can never be satifisfied, no matter how much the ego is stroked, it always hungers for more.  Proverbs 16:18 tells us this, "Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before stumbling."  And just in case you think this couldn't happen to you (just on a smaller scale) remember the words of Paul to the arrogant Corinthians in I Corinthians 10:12-13a, "Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall.  No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man.

We are all pride infested creatures, and pride is pernicious and its tentacles show up in every area of our life and thoughts.  Beware that you are not seduced, deceived, and taken captive by your pride; for it will eventually make of fool of you, just like it has of Brian Williams.

Monday, February 09, 2015

The Issue is not Homosexuality---

No, the issue is not homosexuality, it is sexual immorality, of which homosexuality is but one of its iterations.  Granted, homosexuality is a lower, more degraded form of sexual immorality (Romans 1:24-27); but the root issue here is one of sexual immoraltiy.  And what is sexual immorality?  It is the sexual activity outside of the marriage bond of a man and a woman.

What then would be included in sexual immorality?  Let's make a short list:

1. Fornication:  This includes casual sex, recreational sex, hooking up, one night stands, and even friends with benefits. Yes, even if you are serious about one another, in love, faithful or engaged to the one you are having sex with, all sex outside of the marriage union is immoral.  Whether you are 15 or 45, single, divorced, or never married, sex outside of marriage is a sin. The Bible calls this sin.

2. Adultery:  This sexual sin is well known, and unfortunately very common.  It is having sex with anyone other than your spouse after you have been married, or someone who is single having sexual relations with someone who is married, and it also includes those who have more than one spouse. Our culture has euphemized this term down to extra-marital sex or pre-marital sex.  It is never condoned in the Scriptures.

3. Pornography:  The root for this word is from the Greek word porneia, which means illegitimate sexual activity.  This sexual sin is a blight upon our society, and has spawned a huge internet industry.  Unfortunately, because sin can never be corralled, pornography has also extended its reach to children, and to the point of international child pornography rings.  I have heard some people say, well its just pictures, so what.  Well, that "so what" is still a sin.  Why?  Because you cannot look at pornorgraphic pictures and not be affected, and in all cases, isn't that why the pictures are viewed in the first place.  In Matthew 5:28 Jesus says, "but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart."  And yes, this applies to women as well, in the narrative pornography they read.  Most R rated movies contain pornography, and many of the PG-13 movies range from sexually suggestive to soft porn.

4. Incest:  This is sexual relations between immediate family members. I should not even have to mention this, but there is a push afoot to normalize this here in our country.  I remember on a trip to Paris back in the eighties seeing a music video on public television entitled "Incest is Good," and it showed an older man with a young girl. It was not graphic, but it made its point.

5. Homosexuality:  This sexual sin is between members of the same sex, and even though its proponents have tried to reword the Bible concerning this, it is always protrayed as a sin in the Scriptures.  So, even if the same sex couple is "married" it is still a sin.  Romans 1:24-27 lists two specific judgments of God on those who commit this sin, and the sex act is called shamless/indecent. 

These are the sexual sins that are common place in our country; and they all have their genesis in sexual immorality, the abandoning of a sexual morality that prescribed that sex was to be kept and to only take place within the bounds of a marriage relationship between a man and a woman.

Homosexuality is gaining a greater place at the table of normalcy because our soceity has become accepting and condoning of sex outside of marriage.  No thought or shame occurs any more because couples live together.  No thought or shame occurs anymore because someone becomes pregnant outside of marriage.  No thought or shame occurs anymore when unmarried people talk candidly about their sex lives in any media outlet. Once the barrier of shame has been taken away concerning sex outside of marriage, then it is only a short distance to the removal of all sexual shame.

Every magazine at the cashier's stand will have some article dealing with sex, and it is almost never about sex between marriage partners.  Our culture has becomed consumed by sex, and thereby have become consumers of sex.  There is such a preoccupation with sex in our society, that many pastors have sermon series on sex so they can be considered relevant with the times.

Heterosexual sex outside of marriage has been normalized in our culture, and the logical next step of the normalization of sex outside of marriage is the acceptance and promotion of homosexuality.  In light of this, the stand that the church should take is not against homosexuality per se, but should be against any and all sexual immorality, all that the Bible lists as sexual immorality.  In a very real sense, the church has waited too long to speak out.  Because the church has been silent all these years regarding the proliferation of the acceptance of sex outside of marriage, speaking out against homosexuality now makes it appear that the church is singling out the homosexuals.

Let us as the church, as individual Christians, speak up and out against all sexual immorality.  Let us speak up and out for a biblical sexual morality.  Let us call all sexual immorality what it is, sin before a Holy God.

Sunday, February 01, 2015

Prosperity Theology and Christ

The Prosperity Gospel wing of the Charismatic camp is its dominant, most popular, therefore its most visible wing.  Prosperity theology never considers God Himself in the person of His Son the Lord Jesus Christ worth knowing.  Therefore Prosperity preaching never presents God Himself, never presents Christ, as someone who is worth knowing. They never present the Lord as the pearl of great value, as the One who surpasses all else in value, as the One who surpasses all that is in this world.  Their emphasis is not on Him, but is solely on the things of the world that you can get from Him, as His only value is in what you can get from Him. 

What does the Bible tell us?  "What does it avail a man to have the whole world, yet lose His own soul?" Friends, don't forsake the Lord, don't ignore the Lord, for the mess of pottage that this world and its Prosperity preachers offer.  For the world and all that is in it is passing away, and one day will be destroyed.  We entered this world with nothing and will leave it with nothing.  All the things of this world will pass, and it is only a relationship with Christ that will last.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Being a Gay Christian (?) and Our Identity in Christ

We, as the church, must understand what has truly happened by being "in Christ."  Our identity, how we define ourselves, must be based on what God has done for us through salvation in Jesus Christ, not on who we used to be.

One thing that continues to bother me is the special status that is accorded to being gay. Now it’s gay Christian. See this article:
Why not prostitute Christian, or gluttoness Christian, or pornography Christian, or alcoholic Christian, or ex-con Christian, or wife-beating Christian? I think you get my drift.

If we as Christians are truly washed, then we are also made new; the old man has died, and the new man has arisen with Christ. We are not that old man any more as we have been made new in Christ, and as we continue to be conformed into His image we grow to be more like Christ and the person that we were is left further and further behind.

Does this mean that we have left behind particular temptations and their pull, such as gluttony, or pornography, or alcohol, or homosexuality, or immorality, or sensuality, or pride, or covetousness, or worldliness behind? No, but it does mean that we have victory over those temptations when they occur by the power of Christ in us.  We have been crucified with Christ (Galatians 2:20, Romans 6:6-7) and it is no longer we that live, but Christ who lives and reigns in us.

One of the problems in our current church culture is that we, many times, have adopted the philosophy of the 12-step therapeutic culture. Such as once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic; once a sex-addict, always a sex addict, so that we are always in a state of recovery, but never recovered. This tends to be applied to being gay as well…once gay, always gay. The result of this is that people become defined/identified by what they were/who they were, not by who they are now. Paul tells all of us this in I Corinthians 6:9-11 “ Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of God.”  Jeremiah 17:14 tells us this, “Heal me, O Lord, and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved, for You are my praise.” We are now in Christ, healed in Christ and saved in Christ. In Christ the old man is dead, long live our new man and our new identity.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

God's Grace for the Prodigal Son

The story of the prodigal son in Luke 15:11-32 is the most beautiful picture of the grace of God in the Bible.  Grace is the term the Bible uses to describe the unconditional favor that God bestows on any and all that come to Him.  It means that He is favorably disposed to those who come, He does not count their past against them (II Corinthians 5:21), He is eager to receive them and forgive them (Psalm 86:5), He will abundantly pardon them (Isaiah 55:7), and He will keep them and never let them go (Romans 8:35-39).  This grace is everyone's for the asking.

In the story of the prodigal son we see God's grace for those will repent and turn to Him. God's grace is exemplified in this story, a truly amazing story of an amazing God.  What makes the story so amazing and so compelling is that all of us fit into the role of the prodigal. Some of us have never considered having a relationshiop with God, others of us have been close to God, but for reasons much like the prodigal in the story, we have wandered away from God.  In either case we have found ourselves in a far country, far away from the love of the Father who created us in His likeness.

Despite our distance from Him, and despite the reason(s) for our distance from Him, He is eager and willing to take us to Himself if we would but lift up our eyes and heart toward Him.  The picture in this story of the father lifting up his robe to run to the son coming home, is a beautiful picture of the joyous response God has when we come to Him; and this joyous response is for whomever will come, no matter who they are.

And come we may, but we must come to the Father through the Son, the Lord Jesus Christ (John 14:6).  This is the way God has provided for us to come to Him, into His very presence. Christ lived a perfect life by being perfectly obedient to the will of the Father (John 14:31) for us, and then dying for the sins of all who would believe in Him and turn to Him as the Savior. So, because of His life and His sacrifice, He is the only way to come to God. It is the grace of our good God that has provided a way to come to Him and be with Him for all eternity, when we were totally impotent to make a way to Him on our own.

How about you my friend?  Are you in that far country, far away from God; or are you near, but yet so far away, as the other brother in the story.  In either case, turn to God and He will come running to meet you with arms wide open and joy in His heart.

Friday, January 09, 2015

Preaching to Inspire Worship?

In our preaching, does the way we present
God and His Son show their worth so as
to inspire the people to get out of bed on
Sunday to come and worship them?
Do we present God as God Most High,
and do we present Christ as Lord of all?

Thursday, January 08, 2015