John 10:10 has always been among my favorite Bible verses. In this verse, Our Blessed, Glorious Lord Jesus said, “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” In this verse, our Lord is teaching about what we would call in our modern society our “quality of life.” The thief, of course, is the Devil, who wants to rob all of us, taking away our joy, satisfaction, and feeling of self-worth, and wants to kill and destroy us. Satan is so full of evil and hatred that he cannot even begin to comprehend or work anything good. All good comes from God. If there is any good in this world and in our lives, it is because of a very active God putting it there. Without God’s hand constantly putting good into our lives, we would be consumed by the natural order of sin and decay that has infected the entire universe of God’s creation. Satan, being in complete rebellion against God (Isaiah 14:4-17 and Ezekiel 28:1-19) has no good in him and cannot even conceive of good. This is what happens when any creature (including humans) rebels against God and gets further and further away from Our Loving Lord, the source of all good, and being committed to and mired in their sin.
So Satan, in his state of rebellion, is full of hatred and evil and has no concern or obligation to humanity. He could care less if we suffer, and he probably enjoys our suffering. Jesus, on the other hand, is speaking as God Himself as He was present at and active in the creation of the universe (John 1:1-3 and Colossians 1:16), to include the act of creating man (Genesis 1:26). Jesus was there at the moment when man was first lovingly crafted. I write “lovingly” because the Godhead (the Trinity) made man in Their Image, wanting this new creation to be amazing and to have some of the substance of God in him or her (Genesis 1:27-28). Moreover, if you read the account of creation, you see that God simply ordered or spoke into being all things, except for man. When God got ready to create man, it was a very personal and loving act. He didn’t just speak man into existence from His place on the throne. In Genesis 2:7, we are told, “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” This sounds like a very personal act as God is shaping man with His Very Own Hands, and after creating the substance of Adam’s body, He gave him life by breathing into Adam the very breath of God. You get the sense that God was “up close and personal” in this act of man’s creation.
Since Jesus lovingly made man, He has a deep familial connection to us and has an infinitely deep obligation and love to this creature, his crowning achievement, that He brought into this world. Since Jesus created us, along with Father God, and the Holy Spirit, and since He is One with the Father in Spirit, then He has a Father’s or Master’s love inherent in His heart for all people that have been created past, present, and future. He also has a High Priest’s love for the people He is serving (Hebrews 2:17 and Hebrews 4:13-15) and for which He serves as mediator between them and the Most Holy God. Moreover, he has an older brother’s (Hebrews 2:17 and Romans 8:29) love for His younger siblings that He is bringing into the family of God – all those that are cleansed by His Own Precious Blood, the Blood of the Lamb. I could go on with all of the connections that Jesus has to people, especially His spiritual children, but suffice it to say that Jesus is wholly committed and obligated to our happiness out of His Measureless Love as opposed to Satan who has no obligation and couldn’t care less. This understanding of the diametrically opposed attitudes of Jesus (The Good Shepherd) and Satan (the thief and the careless hired hand) is critical in grasping the spiritual battles we fight on a daily basis.
More on this tomorrow. I pray that you will walk in loving fellowship with your Awesome God today and that His Peace, Wisdom, and Joy will be upon you all.
Tyndale House of Wheaton, Illinois, is a well-known publishing company founded in 1962 by Kenneth N. Taylor while he was working at famed Moody Press, which was, itself, formed in 1894 by Dwight L. Moody. If you’ve ever visited a Christian bookstore and cracked open any number of books to read the publication information just inside the cover of that book, you’ve probably seen the name of Tyndale House. This includes the famous and popular Left Behind series of novels by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins. One of the most famous publications of Tyndale House, however, has been the short Josh McDowell book, More than a Carpenter, which was published in 1977. The website about the book notes the following: “With over 15 million copies in print since it's original publication, More Than a Carpenter has been translated into dozens of languages and has changed countless lives.” This simple, quick read book is a must read for all Christians as it lays out the apologetics case for Christianity in a short, simplified way that anyone can remember.
I highly encourage you to read More than a Carpenter so that you can talk intelligently about the proof which verifies that our faith is more than just blind trust. There is most definitely historical and intellectual proof for what we believe. God wanted and wants for there to be proof since He deals in miracles every day and since He has offered prophetic predictions of future events in proof of Who He Is. It is a very important for God to prove that He is real, so that He stands out far above man-made legalistic religions which operate under frail human power and work from sinful flesh. Although I want you all to buy a copy of McDowell’s book and read it (which can be done in one sitting easily), I have posted four resources on my website’s Bible Resources page concerning the book which may help you remember the main points of the book and commit them to memory. The four resources are a 2-page outline of the book, a 4-page outline with a little more detail, a 12-page synopsis with much more detail, and a 23-page synopsis with the most detail of all 4.
One of the most compelling arguments in the book is about the dramatically transformed lives of people who encounter Christ and ask Him into their hearts as Lord and Savior. Josh McDowell was one of those because he had been a devout atheist during his early years at college and had set out to disprove the Bible and to discredit Christianity. However, the more he researched the topic, the more he found the exact opposite. He kept finding more and more credible and empirical proof that God is very real and that the Bible is true. McDowell later turned this exhaustive research into his Evidence that Demands a Verdict series of books which list a mind-numbing number of details on a broad variety of subjects which verifies and validates the Bible and historical Christianity. But McDowell is only one among millions of people who have been changed by God once they were saved. You know, of course, of the dramatic transformation of the Apostle Paul from the vicious, legalistic persecutor of Christians to one of the greatest Christian servants in the history of Christians. I know the transformative power of God since He has delivered me from most of the symptoms of my PTSD, a feat that all the psychiatrists with all their pills could not accomplish, and a remarkable miracle when you understand how many millions of people have been permanently hobbled by this horrible malady throughout history, a result of traumatic events in their lives. In order to understand what was happening to me, I have conducted exhaustive research on the subject, reading a couple dozen books and hundreds of articles, including a few score articles which I pulled from medical journals one long day while researching at the Dahlgren Memorial Library for medical research at Georgetown University's medical school. The research was my way of grappling with and understanding this strange disease that afflicted me, causing me so much emotional and even physical pain from the psychosomatic issues as well as the direct physical manifestations from the probably permanent physical and chemical changes to my body (adrenal glands, adrenaline/epinephrine, cortisol, brain damage, etc.).
These same symptoms have been suffered by many people, but most especially soldiers and veterans throughout history, and PTSD has made their lives a living nightmare decades after their combat service. The VA is still treating Korean and Vietnam vets for their psychiatric issues from the PTSD and/or Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) that they developed during their time in combat (TBI shares many of the same symptoms as PTSD). So, believe me, when I cite my own life as an example of the transformative power of God. This transformative power is VERY, VERY REAL. I wrote about that this my posting on homosexuality a few days back.
The Bible verses about the transformed Christian life that I listed in that posting a few days ago are:
Romans 12:2 “be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind...”
2 Corinthians 5:17
“if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new…”
“we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them…”
“Jesus began to preach and to say, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’”
“Repent therefore and be converted…”
“walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.
I pray that you will experience and be aware of the transformations in you, if you are a believer, having been saved in the blood of Jesus. If you are not a believer, I pray that you would set that right today, praying from wherever you are sitting, reading these words. The words are not important – only the submission or humbling of your heart and your request for God to save you.
In retrospect, perhaps I was a bit too harsh in my criticism of the Bush administration in my posting a couple of days ago. I am most definitely NOT a perfect man. I have quite a few flaws -- just ask my sweet, wise wife. There were certainly good things done under George Bush's leadership. He did manage to keep us free from further terrorist attack. And, even Jimmy Carter recognized and praised George Bush’s tremendous impact on the continent of Africa for the good work he did there. My only criticism is aimed at the gigantic explosion in government size under his administration and the unnecessary duplication of effort inherent in the creation of the Department of Homeland Security. I also am greatly concerned about the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and their violation of so many Americans’ rights with their groping program going on at airports everywhere. TSA’s techniques constitute illegal search and seizure that is supposedly prohibited by the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. And TSA has abused this authority with impunity and with vigor. Unfortunately, most Americans as well as and our government leaders and representatives have sheepishly allowed this to continue without any sort of serious objection.
This is the main reason why I was very unhappy with the Bush administration. I’m not so sure that bigger government is ever the right answer to anything. Sure, government does some things right, but there are so few things that they do right and so tremendously many things that they do wrong. I have personally experienced just how bad our government has been and have paid for my stand against them with my job as I was fired in retaliation for my attempts to stand up for the right thing and to speak truth to power after I blew the whistle on rampant incompetence, corruption, and Americans with Disabilities Act/OSHA violations in the Army government agency I was working for at the time, the Army Human Resources Command at Fort Knox, Kentucky. I did manage to get them to investigate my allegations, but they simply made a "dog and pony show" of the investigation and then swept the whole thing under the rug. Then after waiting a couple of months to make it look like there was no connection, they fired me on very flimsy charges that they cooked up. They even reprimanded me for an incident in which I was verbally attacked and threatened with violence by one of their "chosen ones." I am currently fighting that situation through the Merit Systems Protection Board. But even this agency which is set up for making sure that civil servants get a fair shake has so far failed to do their job as has every government agency and department that was supposed to ensure government accountability along the path of my unjust persecution by government officials.
Our current United States government is one gigantic, bloated, out-of-control, redundant, incompetent, inefficient, and corrupt organization. I would venture to say that there are very few things that our government gets right. And this does not just apply to federal government. There are state and local governments all across this great land of ours that are a shame and embarrassment almost everywhere you look. There is one exception that I know of. In the town where I currently reside, Elizabethtown, Kentucky, which is just around the corner of Abraham Lincoln’s birthplace, the local government is surprisingly efficient (from my experience), and gets many things right. I see so many signs of a well-run local government, efficient police force, great improvements in traffic management, excellent road construction, wonderful parks that are well maintained, and the building of some world-class park facilities as well as an unbelievably well-done veteran’s monument. Perhaps some of my readers have seen examples of good government out there where you live. I would love to hear back from you on particularly good (and bad) examples of government that you have seen and experienced.
I pray that you will have a blessed day with God’s Boundless Love shining on you and giving you peace and joy.
Since I have written on homosexuality in the Bible, a reader has challenged me as to whether homosexuality is really condemned in the Bible. We need to be careful about “cherry picking” the verses out of the Bible that we want to obey and forgetting the rest. It would have made my life a whole lot easier if I had taken the Bible this way, but then I would have lived a life straight down the path to destruction. We are told in Proverbs 14:12, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” I will not judge any man or woman for their lifestyle, but I also will not sit silent and, therefore, become an accomplice to a lie such as the lie that the Bible does not condemn homosexuality. To maintain intellectual honesty, I have read both the commentaries that argue for and the ones that argue against the Biblical prohibition on homosexuality. My impression of the arguments that try to support homosexuality from the Bible is that they use convoluted/circuitous diction, tortured logic, logical fallacies, misstatements, false assumptions at the outset, and that they convey many unsupported assertions that are not backed up by reputable scholars. You can read the very plain language of the Bible verses against homosexuality for yourself as I have posted them below along with hyperlinks in case you want to ensure that I have quoted correctly. I have no fear of being challenged when I speak the truth.
These verses below tell fairly plainly that homosexuality is a violation of God’s plan for mankind. If we choose not to accept the plain truth, then we are being “willingly ignorant” of the truth. But if we set our own opinions higher than God’s, He will allow us that right to choose in this life, but we are playing with fire at that point. We should not fool ourselves into thinking that we will not suffer consequences. Galatians 6:7-8 tells us, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.” In Hosea 8:7, the Bible warns that sowing to the wind will result in reaping the whirlwind (i.e. tornado). You can call it karma or whatever you wish, but God has set up His universe in a way such that those who willfully violate His commands and His will for mankind, and live in open rebellion, will reap consequences, not only in the afterlife, but also in this world. Moreover, when we die, each of us will have to stand before God and give an account of our lives (Romans 14:12). I don’t know about you, but I would rather not be standing before a holy, righteous, and wrathful God at the Day of Judgment without the covering of Jesus’ blood.
The good news is that Jesus saves. Romans 10:9-10 tells us, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” He loves you more than you and I can comprehend. He will not reject you, but He also does not want you to suffer from the consequences of your own sin. No person, however, can come to God with a prideful or willful heart. Psalm 138:6 tells us, “Though the Lord is on high, yet He regards the lowly; but the proud He knows from afar.” The first step in approaching God is to humble oneself and to subordinate one’s desires to God’s control. When we do that and accept Jesus into our hearts, trusting Him for our salvation, He will give us the spiritual power to overcome any stronghold, no matter how great. But any life that truly has Christ within them will change. If you have not changed, then I would have serious doubts about whether you had a genuine experience (Romans 8:5-8).
Don't get me wrong. I am not about to start judging which experiences are genuine and which are not when one encounters God. I cannot see into a person’s heart. Only God can. However, as they used to say "the proof is in the pudding." If I see no change in someone's life and a willful commitment to an unholy lifestyle, then I have to conclude that God is not at work in them. The transformed life (Romans 12:2, 2 Corinthians 5:17, Ephesians 2:10, Matthew 4:17, Acts 3:19, Ephesians 5:1-33 ) is what sets Christians apart from all other man-made religions based in legalism. And change is what repentance is all about – giving up your own willful way and admitting to God that you got it all wrong and then submitting to God’s way. If you come at God with a bargain or a list of things you will and will not do, this is NOT submission. And it is not the Lordship mentioned in Romans 10:9-10 which I cited above.
Bible verses about homosexuality:
You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination.
If a man lies with a male as he lies with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination. They shall surely be put to death. Their blood shall be upon them.
16 Just then an old man came in from his work in the field at evening, who also was from the mountains of Ephraim; he was staying in Gibeah, whereas the men of the place were Benjamites. 17 And when he raised his eyes, he saw the traveler in the open square of the city; and the old man said, “Where are you going, and where do you come from?” 18 So he said to him, “We are passing from Bethlehem in Judah toward the remote mountains of Ephraim; I am from there. I went to Bethlehem in Judah; now I am going to the house of the Lord. But there is no one who will take me into his house, 19 although we have both straw and fodder for our donkeys, and bread and wine for myself, for your female servant, and for the young man who is with your servant; there is no lack of anything.” 20 And the old man said, “Peace be with you! However, let all your needs be my responsibility; only do not spend the night in the open square.” 21 So he brought him into his house, and gave fodder to the donkeys. And they washed their feet, and ate and drank. 22 As they were enjoying themselves, suddenly certain men of the city, perverted men,[a] surrounded the house and beat on the door. They spoke to the master of the house, the old man, saying, “Bring out the man who came to your house, that we may know him carnally!” 23 But the man, the master of the house, went out to them and said to them, “No, my brethren! I beg you, do not act so wickedly! Seeing this man has come into my house, do not commit this outrage. 24 Look, here is my virgin daughter and the man’s[b] concubine; let me bring them out now. Humble them, and do with them as you please; but to this man do not do such a vile thing!”
1 Kings 14:24
And there were also perverted persons[a] in the land. They did according to all the abominations of the nations which the Lord had cast out before the children of Israel.
Footnotes: “perverted persons” is the Hebrew “qadesh,” that is, one practicing sodomy and prostitution in religious rituals
1 Kings 15:12
And he banished the perverted persons[a] from the land, and removed all the idols that his fathers had made.
Footnotes: “perverted persons” is the Hebrew “qedeshim,” that is, those practicing sodomy and prostitution in religious rituals
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, 21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things. 24 Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, 25 who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. 26 For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. 27 Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due. 28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality,[a] wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, 30 backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving,[b] unmerciful; 32 who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.
1 Corinthians 6:9-11
9 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals,[a] nor sodomites, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.
1 Timothy 1:8-10
8 But we know that the law is good if one uses it lawfully, 9 knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, 10 for fornicators, for sodomites, for kidnappers, for liars, for perjurers, and if there is any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine,
7 as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.
I apologize for the late posting of my blog and I apologize in advance to anyone that may be offended by my opinions as stated below.As promised, I am finally returning to the topic of two days ago concerning government, politicians, and the response to the Boston Marathon bombing. As I noted, Representative King spoke of the need (in his perspective) to have much greater surveillance. I’m assuming that he has in mind the sort of system that London has. But, personally, I believe this is a dangerous road we’re going down. Ever since the Bush administration, we’ve assumed a mentality that “whatever it takes” no matter what it is, we will do it if it prevents another terrorist incident. The problem with this mindset is that we’ve opened Pandora’s box, letting out every goofy, ill-conceived idea and giving carte blanche to anyone who claims that they have a method to deal with any aspect of terrorism. Most of the “snake oil salesmen” doing anything and everything without regard to principles, morality, and legality can be found in the Department of Homeland Security. We can thank good old George Bush and his evil cohort in crime Dick Cheney for this monstrosity. I’m guessing that their Machiavellian lapdog, Carl Rove, had some hand in forming that gigantic cancerous, metastasized organization. Or perhaps it was that banana republic dictator Donald Rumsfeld that helped form the beast. As you may surmise by my sarcasm, even though I espouse many conservative principles, I was never a fan of the Bush administration and his gang of misfits. I despise Donald Rumsfeld for his heavy handed, dictatorial style in running the Defense Department because his style made it open season for any and all poisonous, people-crushing, dictators-in-waiting, so called “leaders” to rise to the top so long as they could produce results and so long as they would snap-to when THE Rumsfeld demanded something. America’s sons and daughters serving in the military are making and have made so many sacrifices to fight these ill-conceived wars that we’ve blundered into. These brave men and women deserve so much more from their leaders than what they got during the Rumsfeld era.Perhaps the Bush years were not quite as bad as I'm satirically portraying them, but they were definitely not the "Golden Years." More on this tomorrow. I pray that you will have a blessed day walking in fellowship with our Most Exalted and Loving God.
My apologies to my readers again as I want to put off one more day before I return to the topic of “Politicians and the Response to the Boston Bombing.” There’s a more urgent topic that God has laid on my heart. I think I may have addressed this in a previous blog a few months back, but I wanted to re-address the topic of how Christians should respond to homosexuals. Before I get into the meat of the discussion, I have to say that my own opinions over many spiritual topics have gone through a metamorphosis over the years, probably greater than Franz Kafka’s Gregor Samsa went through in that famous short story “The Metamorphosis” or if you read it in German “Die Verwandlung.“ I can see a stark difference between many of my earlier beliefs before I became so close to God and began to see things from His perspective. I would have to say that many of my earlier beliefs were probably an infantile version of legalism and not the true morality of Agape love that God wants us to walk in. But then, I was ignorant, just as ignorant as those people that crucified Jesus when He famously said from the cross, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do“ (Luke 23:34).
Those people truly did not know what they were doing. They were as ignorant as we all are before God’s Spirit trains us out of that ignorance in a lifelong process (sanctification) which begins after the moment of salvation. And, of course, salvation starts with trusting in Jesus and inviting Him into our hearts to supernaturally apply His blood to our sin. Romans 10:9 describes the act or process this way: ”[T]hat if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”
Another point I would like to make is that I have come to reject the modern strain of evangelicalism that I knew growing up. I have labeled it “kamikaze, ticket-punch Christianity.” In this form of what they call Christianity, there is not much time spent on the potential subject of your “witness.” You don’t form relationships and simply love them and try to meet their needs first as Jesus did when he walked this earth, waiting for an opportunity to share God’s love when they are convinced that you love them and care deeply for their needs as proven by your acts of service to them before you say much of anything about what you believe. If you love and serve them first, then wait for the prompting of God to know when their hearts are ready to hear whatever word of Scripture (it may not be the plan of salvation), then they will be ready to receive what you say because they will know from your service to them that you are the genuine article. They will know that you are not being manipulative in order to "proselytize" then, and they will know that you are not some impatient legalist that just wants to tell you what they think and believe and then move on to some other toy, a kind of “fire and forget” version of Christianity.
I believe that the kamikaze, legalistic Christians of modern evangelicalism may not even be Christians but rather may be simply legalists pretending to be Christians. They may be the so-called tares that Jesus spoke about in Matthew 13:25-30 who look a lot like the real deal and can even be found among the real loving Christians, but they are false with none of Christ’s love in their hearts.
I’m not sure if it is the kamikaze/tare Christians or the real ones who did so, but modern evangelicalism has failed a lot of people. A major reason why they have failed so many and allowed our culture to slide into decay is that they were not following the true morality of love and were not guided by the Holy Spirit. They have not relinquished control over their lives and yielded to God’s plan for their lives, including how they should minister to others. Instead, they just devised their own plans which fit how they wanted to live out their Christianity, and it is nowhere close to what God wants of them. In the process of developing their own brand of Christianity apart from the guidance of God, they have developed a list of labels for people as they judge everyone else and have developed a list of rank-ordered sins which they use to judge people, among which are homosexuals. The modern church has probably failed gay people more than any other group. This is not to say that all churches get it wrong, but I would venture to say that too many are like those legalistic jackasses at Westboro Baptist who harass families at military funerals for the sake of opposing homosexuality.
Please don’t get me wrong. Homosexuality is most definitely listed as a sin in the Bible. But as to whether it is the chief of all sins and worse than all the other sins, I’m not so sure anymore. I think that in modern evangelicalism, we have made it out to be the worst of all sins, and I’m not sure why because I know of no verse in the Bible that says THIS is the worst of all sins. As a matter of fact, I know and can tell you what the worst of all sins is. The worst of all sins is…….drum roll, please………..my own sin. And you can, of course, say this to yourself as well: “The worst of all sins is my own sin.” When you get as close to God as I have, spending many thousands of hours in prayer, meditation, and Bible study, and when you start to see more and more from the lens of God’s perspective, you get less concerned about other people’s sins and more and more grieved by your own sin. Paul even addressed this phenomenon in his letter to Timothy. In 1 Timothy 1:15, This very godly man Paul called himself the chief (meaning the worst) of all sinners. There’s another very godly man that you know who also took this attitude. You’ve most definitely heard of John Bunyan who wrote the Christian classic Pilgrim’s Progress. His autobiography, which is another must read for Christians was entitled Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners. So, even this godly man, as devoted as he was to God, thought he was a low-life sinner, worse than anyone else.
Once you get close enough to God, as I have and as these two godly men had, you stop worrying about other people’s sins and become convinced that you are the worst of all sinners. Moreover, then you stop judging others and simply love them no matter what sin they are in nor how deep into it. This is when you realize, “There but for the grace of God go I.” And this is when you realize that “they know not what they do.” And this is when you realize that you are no better than them and become as I am, simply a beggar trying to show other beggars where to find bread, the Bread of Life, Jesus. You stop judging them, stop comparing yourself to them, and stop feeling so self-assured about your own righteousness as exemplified in the proud Pharisee that Jesus spoke about in Luke 18:11: “The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector.’” Instead, you become more like the humble tax collector who “beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’” (Luke 18:13). As Jesus noted in Luke 18:14, it was this last man (the tax collector) rather than the former (the Pharisee) who was justified before and accepted by God. Most importantly, when you get to this point, you begin to see these people and all others (sinners and saints) through the compassionate, merciful lens through which God looks at all of us.
How does this apply to our response to gay people? We should not judge them, scowl at them, label them, make fun of them, nor treat them harshly, but rather, we should love them with the love of Jesus and pray for opportunities to show our love to them so that they will be convinced that we are the real-deal Christians, that we are genuinely concerned about their welfare, that we do not see them as having any less value than anyone else, that they are loved and cherished by God, and that we do not see ourselves as better than them. We should pray for them as often as we think of them during the day, every day, that they would be delivered, and we should pray for God to open up opportunities for either us or someone else to share with them the good news of Jesus' love and redemption not only at the moment of salvation but also at all times of trial in our life. He is our Everyday Savior. But as far as witnessing to this or any other person, keep in mind that it may turn out that we are not be the best person to deliver any spiritual message, so we should not try to force the issue. Just love them, serve them, pray for them for deliverance and for healing of whatever has made them vulnerable to this sin, and we should wait on God’s guidance as to what to do or say next as we interact with this person.
I pray that you will be filled with God’s Spirit, Love, and Power to reach others and that you will be guided by Holy Wisdom in knowing how to serve others around you and when and what to say when the opportunity arises to share anything about the Bible, about Jesus, or about your own testimony.
My apologies to all my readers. I will return to yesterday’s topic tomorrow. Instead, I thought it best to address a question that one of my readers raised, and to share with all of you what he asked and what my response was. I have set the mission of this Facebook page and of my website as being to give "a cup of cold water” to all who pass by, perhaps thereby bringing some simple comfort to their lives in a world where there are sometimes very few comforts. One of the most important ways that I can minister to my readers is to share with them the Truth, because, as Scripture tells us, “The truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). God’s Truth sets us free from the bondage of sin and ignorance and allows us to walk in the abundant, joyful, peaceful, and satisfying life that He intends for us all to have. The question that was raised by the reader mentioned above is: “[H]ow can it be father god and jesus the son when the 2 are both the one and same?” This question was in response to comments I made in yesterday’s posting.
I thanked this reader for his question. I appreciate all feedback, questions, and comments from my readers. I want to encourage intellectual and spiritual curiosity. This is how we learn. I believe that God has placed a curiosity within us that causes us to ask such questions and to seek Him out. I don't think God is threatened by our questions of Him, nor does He mind us asking questions. Nor am I threatened by anyone's questioning of my ideas or beliefs because it allows me an opportunity to share the most wonderful truths that I know and have lived concerning Our Most Awesome God. As I have noted before in previous blogs, I consider myself a beggar showing other beggars where to find bread – in this case, the Bread of Life that the Scripture refers to, which gives us eternal life. Additionally, I willingly admit that I don't know everything and will be completely honest when I have no earthly idea how to answer the question. I am certainly not perfect, nor do I “know it all.”
But I don't mind questions, primarily, because I am merely an ignorant, flawed man explaining the Truth. I am not the Truth, nor am I the source of Truth, so I do not have to "be right" in any argument. I have no interest in winning arguments. And, since I am not the source of Truth, the Truth does not rely on my explanations. Truth exists apart from me and is embodied in God Himself. As Jesus said, “I am the way, the TRUTH, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). Our God is very patient and kind, and He loves us immensely, understanding that we are all ignorant until He teaches us out of that ignorance. Moreover, He promises in Scripture that He is fully willing to share His Wisdom with us if we only seek Him out and ask Him for that wisdom. When we do, He will share generously with us as much as we can take in by little bites over a lifetime spent in prayer, meditation on Him, Bible study, gathering with and sharing with other believers, and following Him in obedience and submission.
That said, my response to the reader’s question above is that there are so many mysteries which I do not fully comprehend about God, and I am increasingly of the opinion that there are things I will never understand about Him because He is so high above me, so much greater than me, and so different from me that there are things about Him that are beyond my limited intellectual abilities to grasp. There is still so much that I do not know even after a lifetime (I'm 52 years old) of studying, memorizing, and meditating on His word, many thousands of hours spent in prayer with Him, and many thousands of hours of hearing others teach, preach, and share about Him, His Word, and His Ways. I also believe that the gap between God (the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) and me (a creation of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) is so tremendous that I may never be able to fully understand all about Him/Them.
My basic understanding of the Trinity is that The Father, Who Scripture tells us sits enthroned in Heaven, is a separate and distinct personality and/or entity from the Son (Jesus), Who sits on a throne at The Father's right hand, although Jesus departed Heaven from His seat beside Father God in order to be incarnated into bodily form in order to walk in a human life to experience all the same travails that we experience as humans so that He could be a Perfect Priest to minister to all of our needs. His main mission on this earth in His first coming was to bear the stripes of punishment for our sins and to shed His blood on the cross as payment for our sin in an atonement that would reconcile us permanently to God (at least all those who accept His covenant in faith and believe in the Son, Jesus, as their Savior and Lord). And the Holy Spirit, who is the projected presence of both the Father and the Son, is a separate and distinct personality from the Father and the Son. However, all three are joined together in spirit and are in complete unity in a mystery that still boggles my mind.
This is the best way I can explain these things, but I realize that my explanations may even miss the mark because of my limited understanding while in this flesh. I hope that this helps.
I pray that you will all seek out and receive His Wisdom and that you will walk in peaceful fellowship with Him today.
In Proverbs 18:7, we are told that: “A fool’s mouth is his destruction, and his lips are the snare of his soul.” This verse applies to virtually everyone as we have all said something foolish. But if the Holy Spirit is at work in us due to our having been saved by Jesus, then it is not likely that we will continue on the path of saying foolish things. The Holy Spirit will most definitely teach us when we do or say foolish things because Father God and Jesus the Son both love us so much that they would not leave us to wallow in our own ignorance. But as long as we live in these “earthen vessels,” we will always have the challenge of overcoming our own ignorance and sin. This is a never ending battle as God continues His work on us to sanctify us, building His Spirit up in us more every day. That said, there seems to be a certain group of people who sometimes say more than their fair share of foolish things. These people would go by the name of “politicians.”
Now, I am reluctant to sling mud at politicians, knowing that “there but for the grace of God go I” and knowing that it is impossible to completely understand the magnitude of suffering and difficulty experienced by any human being unless I can walk in their shoes, sharing in their unique experience of turmoil and pain. I know the stereotypes that most people have of politicians. I also understand, however, that these people have a very heavy burden of responsibility for the welfare and success of their constituents and the American people at large, regardless of whether they know and acknowledge this responsibility or whether they are on a self-aggrandizing power trip. So I am not hypercritical of all the things that politicians say because they are in the fishbowl where everything they say and do is seen and magnified. And knowing that we all have bad days, I’m quite sure that there are often times when these politicians say something and immediately wish they could take it back. We’ve all said stupid or inappropriate things, unless we happen to be paranoid legalists who do and say very little to others to avoid risk.
In any case, it is almost unavoidable that a politician will say something at some point that is not quite right. In this case, it was a politician who is actually a fairly decent fellow most of the time from what I’ve seen and read. But He sure didn’t get this interview right. The man of whom I speak is the Honorable, Representative Peter King (R-NY). He is a legislator from the lower house of our bicameral legislature, a group which I sometimes jokingly refer to as the “House of Reprehensibles.” The interview, of course, was focused on the Boston Marathon bombing. This interview is available at the link below if you care to see exactly what He said, but I have pulled out one quote that I found interesting.
The quote that caught my interest was his answer to how he thought we, as a country, should respond to this terrorist attack: “So I do think we need more cameras. We have to stay ahead of the terrorists and I do know in New York, the Lower Manhattan Security Initiative, which is based on cameras, the outstanding work that results from that. So yes, I do favor more cameras. They're a great law enforcement method and device. And again, it keeps us ahead of the terrorists, who are constantly trying to kill us.” The reason I find this so surprising is that we, as Americans, have too often thumped our chests and declared proudly what we are going to do when some disaster strikes. The more disasters we see with greater frequency, the more I believe that prideful statements are the exact opposite of what we should be saying in these situations.
More on this tomorrow. I pray that you will have a blessed day walking in fellowship with Our Loving God.
In meeting responsibilities as a parent, leader, or even as a Christian, too many become focused on the supposedly big things while missing the small things that are close to them. One of the most consistent and widespread failures that I’ve seen in military leaders is those who talk about caring for the troops as if they really do care about people, but then they hypocritically abuse their staffs and subordinates closest to them for any number of “gotcha” infractions from their book of limited, legalistic, self-serving morality. I am ashamed to say that I have met very, very few good leaders during my 23 years active duty and 4 years in the National Guard. I don’t doubt that there are more good ones. I’ve heard rumors. And admittedly, I have actually run into a few really good ones along the way. But, unfortunately, they are the exception by far rather than the rule. My experience of military leaders and bosses has been a long line of abusive, dysfunctional, narcissistic, “Type-A” personalities.
The military, for some reason, tends to promote these type people because they supposedly “toughen up the troops” and “get the job done.” But I’ve seen way too many of what the late David Hackworth called “perfumed princes” that would shine in the spotlight but would turn very ugly when attention was not focused on them and nobody was looking but the ones who were too weak to harm them. But people like this are probably endemic in businesses, churches, government, and various other organizations throughout our country. Part of the reason is that Americans have become “goal oriented” and “results driven” people. We have all bought into the philosophy that “you have to break a few eggs to make an omelet.” In other words, it’s okay to abuse, degrade, and belittle subordinates just so long as you can produce results. Such toxic leaders are probably everywhere in our institutions throughout the nation, mostly because we have turned away from God and quit doing things His way, thinking that we are now successful by our own hand and don’t need any divine help. Thank you very much, God, but you’re no longer needed here.
But as we’ve gotten further and further away from God, His Protective Hand, His Guiding Wisdom, and His Empowering Spirit have been pulled away from us with the evidence of the disastrous results all around us. Aurora, Colorado, Sandy Hook, Massachusetts, and the Boston Marathon bombing are just the tips of the iceberg of all the corruption, decay, and chaos that is rampant in all of our organizations, institutions, and communities nation-wide. And actually, I’m not so sure that God has withdrawn His Hand of protection or that we have pushed Him away, thinking that we could do things on our own, thinking that all of our successes were due to our expertise and “special-ness.” But the Bible is very clear about where ALL blessings come from. If there is any good in people’s lives, it is there because of persistent intervention of God even when we have shunned and rejected Him in our society. In spite of our willful sin as a nation in so many areas (abortion, homosexuality, arrogance, etc.), His Tireless, Persistent, Relentless, Overpowering Love is still pushed at us every single day, even though we are too ignorant to see it.
You’ve probably seen the bumper sticker “sh*t happens.” Of course, we all know that this sentiment is absolutely not true. Nothing happens, nothing moves, nothing persists in this world, society, or universe without causation. Things don’t just accidentally happen. Sure, there are various disasters in nature, but they are always either the result of Divine Will or the result of the supernatural effects of sin on the very land we stand on. All the sin past and present has a spiritual effect upon the universe around us, causing a constant stream of disastrous things to happen. Bad things are the natural order in this sin-fallen world. So if we are not overtaken by these bad things and live a relatively peaceful, safe life, it is because of His constant intervention on our lives and the lives of those around us. Scripture tells us, “Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not.” He not only works in a positive effort to make sure we have bountiful blessings of safety, security, food, clothing, warmth, protection, etc., but He also works in a negative effort to “rebuke the devourer,” on our behalf, keeping us from being consumed by all the sinful and demonic forces that are rampant in this world.
Otherwise, we would be constantly overtaken by the bad effects of this sin-fallen world or by the Devil and his demons who are hungrily stalking the earth looking for someone to consume. So, again, if there is anything good in our lives, it is there because of God’s Loving Intervention. Most of us, however, are completely ignorant of just how much God does for us, walking blindly through our lives, thinking that good things must be attracted to us, coming our way due to our good karma or because we are “special.”
I pray that God will open your eyes to His work, so that you can see just how much He does on your behalf and on behalf of the others around you. Once you see just how extensive and persistent God’s daily work is, you will be blessed, realizing how Awesome He is and How Indescribably Large His Love is.
In the 1976 hit song, “Get up Offa That Thing,” the inimitable James Brown sang, “I’m back, I’m back.” I would like to echo that sentiment as I resume my daily blog. I must apologize to all of my readers for the long break from my last posting, but as I noted, there were some urgent situations in my family’s life that required my full attention. I love my family dearly and I believe that they are the most important mission for me to succeed in while I walk this earth and while I try to be the best possible ambassador for my Awesome, Loving God. I believe that my family is a sacred trust from my Heavenly Father, and that I have tremendous responsibilities for their well-being, their education, their spiritual guidance, their character development, provision for all of their needs physical, emotional, and spiritual, etc. I take my responsibilities to my family very seriously and always have, just as I have taken seriously my responsibilities to my country and the people I have led during my military career and my short term as a manager in the “gub’mint”.
Fatherhood and military leadership are both sacred trusts that cannot be taken lightly. Both require higher principles of honor, sacrifice, and complete devotion to a greater cause. And for both of those missions, the greater cause is served best by getting both the small and the big things right. Unfortunately, we are often not smart enough to know which ones we should focus on, which is why we need our regular download of wisdom and spiritual power from God in our daily prayers. Praying and meditating on His Word are absolutely essential in living a successful life and in knowing which balls to focus on in our sometimes chaotic juggling act of responsibilities in life. The good news is that God will share very generously in His Guidance and Wisdom if we only spend time with Him and submit to His Will on ALL THINGS in our life. As Jesus said in John 15:5, “Without me, you can do nothing.” We’re just not that smart and shouldn’t pretend that we are. This is why it is essential that we relinquish control, that we let go of our grandiose plans that will fail anyway because they are not the right plan and would not be what’s best for us, that we admit to God that we don’t know what we are doing, and that we subsequently submit to His Guidance so that things can get repaired in our lives and can run smoothly the way they are supposed to. Only God is big enough to make that happen.
I have seen too many men and women fail in their family lives and in their military responsibilities because they pridefully “thought” they knew what they were doing. Moreover, I’ve seen too many of such failures because, while we operate in our own ignorance and our own power, we focus on the wrong things and get it all jacked up. The most important of things is to love those around us and to serve them as best we can, and they, in turn, will serve us as best they can, if they belong to Him, are spending time in prayer with Him, and are listening intently for the Master’s Still Small Voice which tells them the right thing to do. But all of us are “works in progress” for our Lord in this sanctification training program of His throughout our lives. Many of us, sinners and saints, are operating in ignorance and willfulness to some degree. This must be trained out of us. As Paul put it so eloquently in 1 Corinthians 13 (the love chapter), "For now we see in a mirror, dimly" (verse 12).What Paul meant was that we have such limited understanding in this world of what is true, right, and good. God spends a lifetime trying to teach the ignorance out of us. So even Christians are ignorant. We’re just a little less ignorant than those that are unsaved, outside of our spiritual family.
The big difference between us and the unsaved is that a piece of God’s Holy Spirit (however big or small, depending on how much submission and effort we put into the relationship with Him)—nonetheless a piece of God’s Spirit is within each and every one of us, the believers, so that there is always going to be some progress toward good and truth, even if it is not discernible to us or to others around us. Even if we are pit-bull stubborn and willful about what how we want to live our lives and what we want to be and do, God will eventually wear us down and overpower us with His Measureless Wisdom, His Infinite Power, and His Boundless Love. And when He does wear us down and get us back on the right track, we will be glad that He did, realizing just how wrong we were to begin with. But God will never give up on us no matter how bad we screw things up. Scripture tells us, “He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:6).
More on this topic tomorrow. I pray that you will be blessed to know God’s Plan and His Will for your life and that you will yield to His Way which is infinitely better than anything you can dream up.