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Saginaw, Michigan, United States
A sinner who may come before God because of Christ

Thursday, December 25, 2008

The year Christmas Lost the "Magic"

This year Christmas lost the "magic" at our house.

Now some will say this is a bad thing.  I find it quite good since for so many years Christmas has been more about the dream of the gathering of family and the perfect gift and the warm memories than about the significance of the event.

What caused this change from a "magical", romantic, wonderful Christmas?

First, our youngest turned 10 and Santa became who he is to her - a secular symbol.  It is not that she quit "believing" in him, it is that the fantasy of him no longer had a meaning and she became more focused on her part in "Christmas" such as participating in decorating, making items, shopping for gifts for others, and paying a little more attention in church to the significance of the birth of Christ.  It was noticeable that this year was less about her and more about others.

Second, we were pounded by so much winter weather that the "magic" of a "white" Christmas turned into the reality of the temperature being too cold, the conditions too unsafe, and the shoveling too tedious.  When you have to shovel your drive for the umpteenth time and are running out of places to put throw the stuff, the ho-ho-ho becomes bah-humbug rather quickly and you are ready to throttle the next "little child" who you find out is praying for more snow!

Third, the "magical" gathering of family wasn't.  It was better.  

Our families are getting older.  They have jobs and relationships and lifestyles and live in locations that are spreading out.  It is just darn near impossible for all of them to get together at the same time in the same place. 

In order to "see" everyone Christmas moves from one huge gathering to a number of small ones.  Some are momentary to exchange a gift and a hug,  a lunchtime meeting that lasts a couple of hours,  to the all day party. 

In some ways it is sad not to see everyone at one time, but this spreads out the time and allows for a little more enjoyment of each other.  There is less of that "oh, I didn't get to talk with..." regrets.

I have always strived to consider each gathering as if it were our last.  I know that seems a little morbid but it also increases the specialness.  One day it will be our last, so let us relish in the moment now. 

Finally, church services were a little flatter.  Our regular church is not real big on the holidays.  It is their tradition to downplay the "holidays" and the Christmas eve service is very low key.  My wife, however, comes from a background where Christmas at the church was a major celebration with numerous Advent and Christmas services filled with litergy and ritual, trumpets and tympanies, choirs and circumstance.  

this year, our church cancelled the Christmas Eve service in advance of expected bad weather and the pastors being out of town.  Instead we went to my wife's old church, with her childhood experiences as an expectation.  We went to the "contemporary" service and got a rock band (that could have used a better mix) playing some souped up carols ("with a new twist" is how the pastor introduced them), a touch of litergy, a "nice" sermon, and  then the evening ended with a very slow, almost depressed, version of Silent Night.  

It was not the celebration we had anticipated, but to me it was reminder that the first Christmas had very little "magic" in it.

There was this little baby born in mundane circumstances, far from family and friends, with a minimal celebration.  Yes, there were angels telling some shepherds, which puts a little "magic" to it, but that is about it. Life did not immediately change for most of the people at the Inn nor in Bethlehem nor in the rest of the world.  Life went on.  

This Christmas changed me.  It is the loss of a dream, a fanatsy, a romantic vision of what Christmas should be with the reality of what it is - a time we stop and think about someone other than our self, or at least try to do that.

As Christians, though, this is a daily task, not just one set aside at Christmas or Easter or any "special" day.   Christ never instituted holidays or celebrations of Himself and I find that very interesting since the Jews had a ton of them.  It is because God moved from being out there somewhere at a distance to inside me close to my heart and soul.  Every day is a celebration of His birth, His death, His resurrection.  Every hour is the moment before Christmas.  Every minute His gift to me.

So the "magic" of Christmas left but was replaced by the reality of Christ.  A much better thing, I would say.

For His Glory,

Monday, December 08, 2008

Don't Pray to Congress for Help

I cannot say if this Fox News article accurately portrays what happened at this "Worship Service", but it left the impression on the writer that the prayers were to Congress to help out the automaker.

Now, this in itself is not an inappropriate prayer, but the aticle starts out:
DETROIT —  With auto workers in the pews and sport-utility vehicles at the altar, one of Detroit's largest churches on Sunday offered up prayers for Congress to bail out the struggling auto industry, Reuters reported.

This sure reads like the prayers were to Congress and not God.

Now I went to the church web site and their statement of faith (what we believe) is solidly centered on the Word and on Christ.  There was an announcement inviting auto workers to a special "Service" for prayer and annointing.

This in itself is not wrong.  Many churches some 47 years ago had special services after Pearl Harbor to pray for the dead and our nation.  Same with other events, tragedies, and circumstances.

The workers in the US auto industry and related employers are nervous.  The structure is trembling and at risk of falling putting hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of people out of work and threatens our basic economic well-being.  

It is more than apt to pray about this situation, but our prayers should be for God to be glorified and for a solution to this problem to come forth.  

We don't know if the loans will work.  They seem like a panic reaction to me, but putting that to one side, the danger, and in this case it came true, is that it leaves the impression the prayers were to Congress, not for Congress.  

It sounds like they believe the solution is the loan (or bail out), and that is their prayer, and in doing so left the impression that they were praying to Congress - at least to the writer of the article.

Our response in difficulties is to rely on God.  Our hope is in Christ alone, and we need to be very careful about leaving an impression otherwise.  

I am hoping that this church, which appears to do some great ministry to the people of Detroit, did not do as the article stated,  and, instead, truly gave some real "good news" to the autoworkers, that their true salvation is not in their employers, not in their government, not even in their churches, but in Christ alone.

Friday, December 05, 2008

The Atheist Placard in Washington State is great news

According to a Fox News and others, an atheist group in Washington State, from a demand of "equal time", have been allowed to erect a display near a Nativity Scene on the State Capitol in Olympia in honor of "Winter Solstace".  The placard on the display reads, in part,: ""There is only our natural world. Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds."  There is also a "Holiday" tree up as well.  All the displays are placed by private groups.

There is a minor uproar about this, coming from Christian centers, because the statement is an overt attack on "religion".  It would not surprise me to learn if there are not protest letters and small rallies being held on the Capitol building planned as "Christians" are "offended" by the statement.

I think, though, that this is sign is great news, and if we Christians waste our time trying to silence the statement we will miss that opportunity.

Obviously Washington State is now allowing displays that do more than "honor" a holiday, like the sign by the Nativity indicates, but allowing for the discussion of what that religion believes, like the sign by the Winter Solstice.

For years, the criteria from the courts has been that "religious" displays, such as the 10 commandments, are allowed if they are "cultural" or "historic".  

Thus, in Washington State,  the Nativity Scene was placed near a "Holiday Tree" and, in past times, there was a Menorah.  In many places, Nativities on public grounds have to have other signs of the season such as Santa or reindeer or such.

Now, though, at least in Washington State, the display can do more than make a cultural statement, it can actually be used to promote your viewpoint!

The atheists' statement is clearly proselytizing their beliefs.  It is not a explanation of the holiday like the one next to the Nativity which says that the disply is to "commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ which is celebrated by Christians around the world".  

So, since atheists are now allowed to openly express their beliefs, irrelevant to the holiday, then I would urge the private group to change the sign on the Nativity to something like -"For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son and whosoever believes in Him shall be saved". Maybe they could even have a little stand there with some tracts to "explain" their beliefs more fully.

While many of my brothers and sisters in Christ will lament this display as another "loss" in the culture wars, it is really a victory.  A victory for free speech and for the re-opening of allowing divergent viewpoints to be displayed.

It will be a victory only if we take this great news and use it to tell the Good News, but that should be our response to everything, anyway.  In all news, point it to the Good News.

By the way, if Santa were to use the 10 Commandments, would you be naughty or nice?
To find the answer, click here

For His Glory,

Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Gift That Ends The Giving

If you have that someone on your list who is just hard to buy for, who has everything, who is sexually active and will need birth control, that STD treated, or even an abortion in the near future, then consider this - Planned Parenthood is now offering Gift Certificates.

Ever since the early days when Planned Parenthood was started by Margaret Sanger and targeted the poor, black communities to:

a. to raise the level and increase the intelligence of the population.

b. to increase the population slowly by keeping the birth rate at its present level of fifteen per thousand, decreasing the death rate below its present mark of 11 per thousand.

c. to keep the doors of immigration closed to the entrance of certain aliens whose condition is known to be detrimental to the stamina of the race, such as feebleminded, idiots, morons, insane, syphilitic, epileptic, criminal, professional prostitutes, and others in this class barred by the immigration laws of 1924.

d. to apply a stern and rigid policy of sterilization and segregation to that grade of population whose progeny is already tainted, or whose inheritance is such that objectionable traits may be transmitted to offspring.

e. to insure the country against future burdens of maintenance for numerous offspring as may be born of feebleminded parents, by pensioning all persons with transmissible disease who voluntarily consent to sterilization.

f. to give certain dysgenic groups in our population their choice of segregation or sterilization.

g. to apportion farm lands and homesteads for these segregated persons where they would be taught to work under competent instructors for the period of their entire lives.

(Plan for Peace by Margaret Sanger

Never has it be easier to give the gift of death to someone you love or care for, or to that person you think should not reproduce.

"The most merciful thing a large family can do for one of its infant members is to kill it." - Margaret Sanger

Friday, November 21, 2008

My Thoughts On "the homosexual issue"

I recently read a blog by Tony Jones, an emergent theologian (of sorts) who recently endorsed same-sex marriage (of sorts) (it is always "of sorts" with emergents).

His blog offered the opportunity to comment so here is what I wrote and it seemed the best I've been able to put down my thoughts on this issue:

Mr. Jones definitely is struggling with this issue, but it is based not on the
rule of God's law but on one's own experience.

We Christians tend to twist our role in the world as the policemen of God's Law to the world when, actually, we are to see the sin of the world and use that to police ourselves. We should not "hate" the person engaging in homosexual behavior any more than we should hate ourselves for our lusts of the flesh.

Sin is sin to God, and the difference is that we Christians are at war with our flesh through the Spirit for our soul. Those without Christ do not have the spirit so they are at war with their own image of themselves. So, to put homosexual behavior as any worse (or any better) than any other sin is ludicrous and we should be repentant about that.

However, to sanction a sin is another thing. I have seen this with heterosexual couples living together, in church, and no one saying anything in tacet approval.
We are called to be God's Ambassadors. That means we speak the truth, in love, about the sins of ourselves and others. We approach people as co-conspirators against God, the difference being that we know the Truth and want to share that Truth.

We cannot do that by screaming or by staying silent.

What causes one to have Homosexual desires is still unknown. It may be part of a genetic aspect and a developmental aspect, but most of the homosexuals I know have this preoccupation with sex (kind of like the rest of the world). It is an idol and holds bondage over them. The best response is to love but not endorse.

This is a fine line to walk, a difficult line to walk. Love is doing that which is in the other person's best interest. We should preach the Gospel while cleansing their wounds. We should heap coals that both burn and warm. Sanctioning will not change their hearts, but condemning will not save their soul. We should support their needs without supporting their sin. We should comfort them in this world while warning them of the dangers to come.

To do otherwise is to fail in our duty to love Christ.

Well, that last line about sums up my sense of it. We are to do our duty in the love of Christ towards others. Tell them the Truth about their condition but treat them with kindness, respect, dignity, and always with their best interests in mind.

It is tough, and I often fail to do so (and that is NOT a "sort of") but I still need to run that race.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

That Which The Lord Hates part 6

(Proverbs 6:16-19) There are six things that the LORD hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.

The fourth thing that is an abomination to God - "a heart that devises wicked plans".

It is one thing to do wrong, it is another to plan to do this.  

In law, premediated crimes tend to carry a harsher punishment than those that just happen in the spur of the moment or by error.   There is always rooms for mercy and for understanding.

What this verse says about God is that He has that mercy and understanding, but doing evil on purpose, and especially when planned out, His wrath is deserved.

Today's modern portraits of God hold Him to be this loving and kind god, almost a door mat, but He is not.  He gets angry, He finds actions detestible, He has a deeper sense of justice and righteouness than we can even begin to fathom.

So, what are we to do with that concept?

It should cause us to tremble with respect for the perfection of God, and to have a deep thankfulness for any mercy He gives to us.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Today we lost an election, but the truth of our ideals have not been defeated.

I posted this on my facebook page.

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. -- Matthew 6:34 (NIV) The people have spoken. It is not the first time I disagree, but I recall how glad I was when Bush won and it is good to feel a sting of loss. We need to remember, though, that a losing does not have to mean we are defeated. Our political history is one of ups and downs. Some years we do a good job of selling our ideals, other years other circumstances take precedence. Liberals never are defeated. As a former one, we tried for the incremental, and when that failed, we got back up and tried again. We know that a wall is built or torn down one brick at a time. Conservatives, however, have a flaw - we tend to be all or nothing at all people. We see ourselves as trying to hold the wall together instead of building (or removing) one. We tend to give up. Wilberforce and John Q. Adams stood against slavery for all their lives. Wilberforce saw the fruit of that effort, Adams did not, but both men were wall-builders. They saw victory even in their defeats because, like Edison, they learned what did not work. We are at war with a set of ideals that leads to destruction. History shows that when a society becomes morally and economically liberal, it will soon fail - Greece, Rome, USSR - all collapse inward first. We must take this battle one step at a time. Our arguments are valid and compelling but we need to learn to speak them rather than shout them, to convince rather than overwhelm, to help to understand rather than impose. To trust the power and plan of God rather than the strength and wisdom of any man. Today we lost an election, but the truth of our ideals have not been defeated.

Monday, November 03, 2008

What will come

It is election eve of "the most important election, ever", or so I have heard for the 9th time.  Every election is the most important ever.

We will see change.  We always do.  No new President has ever carried on the policies of the old one, or even been elected promising to carry them on.  That concept is for parliaments where one elects a party and not individuals.  In the US we have conservative Democrats and liberal Republicans.  Very often someone becomes a particular party because that is the one that gets him/her elected.

I grew up in the Detroit area, and the battle for most of the elections were during the primary.  It was a given that from the Congress to the dog catcher, the Democrat would win.   Some of the people elected were really Republicans, though, at least philosophically or ideologically.  They had more agreement with that party platform than the one offered by their own party.

Which brings us to the problem of what is Christian.  In this election, interestingly, we have two men who claim to be Christians, but theologically they are far from that (though I base this on their own statements about how they view their "faith").

One attends a church where Jesus is not viewed as God and the "Christian" faith is about liberating people from their oppressors.  The other attends a church occasionally and his Jesus is wearing a red, white, and blue robe and who has blessed this nation because it deserves to be blessed because of its greatness.

Given their world view points, I expect to see more pragmatism, more growth of a secular viewpoint, more repression of overt Christian expression in the public square, and the continued marginalizing of Him.   Maybe God is sending a message to His church - seek first Him and His Righteousness, then vote, then become a political force not from the pulpit but from the heart of men.

We need to remember that neither Mr. Obama nor Mr. McCain can thwart the plans of God.  The one who is elected will be there because God allowed it, and allowed it for His purposes, not because one was more closer to His throne than the other.

I will disclose that I am voting for Mr. McCain, somewhat with my nose held because Mr. McCain's viewpoint of government and issues is closer to mine.  Since we all fall short, every choice is about the lesser of two evils, and the laws that are passed, or repealed, show how much lesser they are.

I have a sense about who will win this election and it will be interesting come tomorrow night (or most likely Wednesday morning), but my hope lies not in either candidate, either party, nor no legistlative body or rule of law.  My hope is in Christ and Him crucified.  My hope is in the working of the Holy Spirit on my life.  My hope is in the Father as He directs the course this world until the return of His Son, Jesus.

Our response to the election is to remain steadfast in the hope of God and not be discouraged when we lose...or win.  Let Him be glorifed through you.


Wednesday, October 08, 2008

That Which The Lord Hates part 5

(Proverbs 6:16-19) There are six things that the LORD hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.

The third thing that is an abomination to God - "hands that shed innocent blood".

What a powerful way to state opposition to murder. This is killing without just cause.

The first image my mind makes with the word "innocent" is that of a baby. They are innocent, totally reliant upon others for not only their basic needs but also for their existence. The cannot purposely cause harm to others, steal from them, lie to them. Their innocence comes from their vulnerability. They need us and most people automatically melt in the presence of a baby, holding so much potential.

To shed the blood of a child is a most despicable act to most right thinking people. It is hard to fathom that a baby could cause this reaction in another human being, but people murder when they cease to see others as human.

A woman on a radio talk show the other day was talking about her being undecided, the hose mentioned he could never vote for a supporter of abortion because that takes a human life. The woman interrupted and said "potential human life". That is a view that allows for the shedding of innocent blood.

Think of the tragedies brought by men to others - villages destroyed by soldiers, house invaders killing the occupants, heirs poisoning their elders. The Lord finds these an abomination.

But more chilling to us Christians is the concept laid forth in Matthew 21-22 where Jesus speaks:
"You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.' But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, 'You fool!' will be liable to the hell of fire.". Our mere anger, where we want to kill someone we are angry with, is tantamount to the shedding of innocent blood.

Pretty sober thought. That is why we are to bring every thought captive to Christ! (2 Cor 10:5).
We are to be angry about sin, but not condemning the one committing the sin. It is not up to the Christian to bring the judgment of God to others by enforcing His commands. Our actions should be such that the sinner will see their sins and repent of them, just as we need to see our sins and repent of them (thou are repentance is to honor God as we have already been forgiven).

Let us stand firm in opposition to that which is an abomination before God. First in our lives, then in the world. Their struggle is as great as ours and only we offer the true hope - the one who will bring true and everlasting peace - our Lord, Jesus Christ.

For His Glory,

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

If God is so powerful how come bad stuff happens?

Here is the powerful answer to this question by Rev. Voddie Baucham.

Friday, August 29, 2008

That Which The Lord Hates part 4

(Proverbs 6:16-19) There are six things that the LORD hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.

Unfortunately, the content was inadvertently deleted, but the gist of the blog was that the lying tongue lies to all, including the liar.

For His Glory,

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

That Which The Lord Hates part 3

(Proverbs 6:16-19) There are six things that the LORD hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.

When we see a sin, how do we react? Are we shocked by others? Do we turn from them in disgust? Do we go the next step and attach the sin to the value of that person?

"Haughty eyes" is a term you don't hear every day. It is not a compliment. It is an "old" word in that most people don't use it much. It has been replaced with more pejorative language as our culture has become more and more coarse and debased.

Haughtiness literally means "proud eyes" and it is seeing yourself as more important than you should. It involves either ignoring or seeing one's own sins as not as bad as the sins of others. It is measuring yourself against others and coming out ahead - way ahead. It is putting yourself right up there next to God, or maybe even in God's place.

Haughtiness is also about our spirit. It is a critical eye. It is a condemning eye. It is an eye that God wants to pluck out because it is an eye that does not view the world from His broken heart but from a heart made of stone.

We have no right to be haughty, ever. We have not earned, inherited or had the right bestowed upon us. It is a forgetting of our place before God and our equality with others in our sinfulness.

In fact, Christians should be the least haughty because we know enough of our sinfulness to realize we need a Savior. Haughty people think they are the Savior.

We should be humble with others. We should be gentle with others. We should be patient with others. We should be with others how God would want to be with ourselves.

Unfortuately we don't do that. Christians can often be the black eye of Christ. Gandhi is often attributed as saying he would have become a Christian were it not for Christians.

Whether he said that or not, it is a true testament on those in the body. We can be a haughty bunch, but this shows His grace even more so.

Let's not forget that. Let's respond to His mercy by giving that to others. Even homosexuals, even liberals, even adulterers, even drug addicts, even those who directly wrong us.

Our moment to moment prayer should be for us to share God's mercy...and to pluck out our haughty eyes.

For His Glory,

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

I Will But I Don't

"What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. Hewent to the first and said, 'Son, go and work today in the vineyard.' "'I will not,' he answered, but later he changed his mind and went. "Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, 'I will, sir,' but he did not go. Which ofthe two did what his father wanted?" "The first," they answered. Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, the taxcollectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you." -- Matthew 21:28-31 (NIV)

I will but I don't.

That pretty sums up most of our Christian walk, doesn't it.

We Christians have this great desire to serve God fully with all our lives, all our heart, with evey molecule and atom of our body...but we don't.

In fact, to twist and paraphrase Ghandi: It is the Christians that give the church a bad name.

I don't beleive that we can be anything but hypocrits - in the sense that we do what we don't want to do and don't do what we want to do. We profess this great love of Christ but fail to follow His simplest of commands - to love one another, to serve one another, to put your self last - and this brings great shame to the body (the church - those who profess Him Lord and Savior).

We are pretty good with the Savior part. I have that down pat. I live with the assurance of my salvation. Unfortunately that leads me to live this horrible, prideful lie that because Christ is good that I am now good. I am in terms of how God no longer holds me to account, but I still sin - sometimes purposely, sometimes callously, sometimes with great resolve, always without regard for God and what He did for me.

Oh, we say we will but we don't, so let's stop kidding ourselves. We are not only co-conspirators with other sinners, we are instigators and, worse yet, betrayers of Christ. We Christians hold the nails to His writs waiting for the "sinner" to hammer!

Our response to sin needs to be to look at ourselves first and see if we have said we will and didn't. When we go to rebuke a sin, we must do it in context not as a superior but actually as someone worse - someone who knew better and did it anyway. Someone who didn't do a "mistake" but did an "on purpose".

It is okay to point out sin, but we need to start from within first, and then move outward.

For His Glory,

Friday, August 08, 2008

That Which The Lord Hates part 2

(Proverbs 6:16-19) There are six things that the LORD hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.

Last post on this I talked about how, with our modern mind set it is hard for us to see how a God who is Love can possibly hate. We see hate as the opposite of love, but it really is not.

Because the English language is not always precise in meanings, or at least people are not always precise in the use of the language, many words have multiple meanings. There is often a blending of definitions that, over time, expand the initial definition.

We have blended the terms love and hate with emotions. To many they mean strong like or dislike.

But the Biblical definition of Love is not a feeling or an emotion, it is a relational term. It is how we will think about someone in terms of them and not us. As a former pastor of mine defined it: "Love is doing what is in the other person's best interest". This does not involve "feelings" at all. In fact, out of love, we ignore our feelings and act in a way that is helps another person.

The real opposite of love is indifference. This is also about how we think of someone, or maybe how we don't think about others.

Hate, however, is a feeling. It is a strong dislike. It is not really relational, though it can be carried out that way. The Biblical definition of hate is focused not on people but on actions.

In this verse, we are told some actions that God really dislikes. In fact, they disgust Him. As a whole, they are acts we do towards others which reflect how we are inside. They reveal an indifferent heart. These are offenses not only to God but towards others.

I find that interesting that God finds it an abomination when we are rotten to other people. Abomination is a strong word that means a total disgust. It is something He really really really does not like.

I think this stems because God does not do these things to other people. They are opposite to His Character and since we are created in His image, we are distorting Him when we act in this way. His intent in creating humans was that we would reflect Him. Instead our sin has cracked that mirror and twisted His image in us. What was beautiful is now ugly. What was good is now evil. What was pure is now contaminated.

The other sense here is that it is also heartbreaking. These actions tend not to only hurt or harm others, they hurt the one doing them. As a dad, when my children act in any of these ways I am both angry and sad. Angry at the action and sad because my child is, ultimately, hurting himself. It may not be immediate, but those character flaws inevitably end up creating damage to himself. God knows this as well.

Our response to this verse should be one of taking a deep look at our actions and using them to measure our heart. Do we love, or are we indifferent?

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

That Which The Lord Hates part 1

(Proverbs 6:16-19) There are six things that the LORD hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.

We don't like to use the word "hate" much in our culture. It is such a "negative" word, and we want to live in a positive place - a place where we are affirmed and grow and prosper, where peace abounds aplenty and there is no conflict.

Much of the current view of God is that He is loving, which means to many that He will bring "good" upon us (meaning stuff we want). When we mention things like God's wrath, God's punishment, sin, God's anger - this can take one aback a little. Whoa, a kind, tender, loving God wouldn't get angry or punish - well, He might "time out" or "scold", but not bring down His ire like thunder on a mountain!

Well, He has and promises He will. Our vision of God is often this big, huggable guy - the friendly giant, the sweet old man next door (some even paint Him as the nice grandma, but that's another blog, another time). We fail to realize that God is as complex and multi-dimensional as we are and even more so.

Scripture tells us that He has emotions. Not the out-of-control, mind-of-their-own human-type emotions but perfect emotions (why wouldn't they be perfect, He is God?) So God reacts perfectly to every situation. He knows how to perfectly respond so that His attributes of perfect mercy and perfect justice are met as well.

God warns us about the things that make Him mad. The passage at the start of this is one of them. There are more.

If my dad said to me, "Tom, stop talking" guess what, I shut up. If I didn't I would "get in trouble". This could be any number of options, but if he said "Tom, stop talking or I will spank you" then that pretty much cleared things up. I would usually shut up.

That is how God has done this. He has warned us (pointed out that which is a sin) and given us the consequences (usually eternal time out - death by separation from Him, which also means that we are no longer under His protection from pain, suffering, etc.).

If you are a true Christian, one who is repentant of sin and under the Lordship of Christ, meaning that you are no longer living for yourself but living for Christ, then that means someone else did your punishment for your sins, which is a pretty wonderful thing to me, personally.

So my attempts at obedience to Christ is out of love for Him for what He did rather than out of fear of God for what He says He will do because I sin. This is the essence of the Christian walk - to love Christ more through knowing Him deeper by obedience to Him. That is our response to the Cross.

I will get into the specifics of "That Which The Lord Hates" in more blogs as I look at our response to Proverbs 6:16-19

For His Glory,

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

You Have To Be Pretty Stinky To Smell Yourself

This summer I tried riding my bike to work as weather permitted. It is a nice ride and helps to clear my mind and ready me for a day at work.

The 10 minute ride is primarily down some side streets. That way I avoid the traffic (and potholes) on the main roads. Usually there are a few joggers and occasional dog-walkers, but for the most part it is a quiet ride. This gives me time for some good conversation with God.

I like riding the bike, but a hindrance for me is that I don't want to walk around work all day sweaty. Being overweight, even on cool days I arrive with my collar, back and underarms fairly damp.

Now I am one of those fortunate people who usually has minimal body odor. If needed, I can go a few days without a shower and no one knows the difference (so long as I wash my hair). About the only time I really smell is when I get really odoriferous is from activities like from mowing the lawn. playing softball or walking for exercise (or chasing the kids around an amusement park).

So, a concern for me is not the wetness, but the smell. That I will be at work all day, sitting in meetings, interacting with co-workers, and being smelly. Having worked with people with disabilities for most my life, I know that body odor can be disruptive and an unpleasant addition to the day.

See, part of the situation is that most people cannot smell themselves. We get used to smells pretty quickly. I worked in a steel mill for a few years and the air of sulfur awful walking in but within a few minutes, it was not even noticeable.

For me, I have to stink pretty bad for me to smell myself.

This is probably true for most people, though I have never taken a pole.

That is how our own sins are as well. We have to really get deep into sin sometimes before we can really see our sinfulness.

Most people see themselves, in balance, as pretty good. Sure, we do the occasion lying or minor stealing (how many pens from work are sitting in a drawer at home?) and lusting (in our heart). Yes, we worship some idols like money or our girlfriend or our sexuality. True, we covet the job we didn't get (and was given to someone so much less able to do it than our self) or the neighbors BMW. . . and when was the last time we called our mom or dad?

Well, doing the above broke a whole number of commandments, but we see them as minor and unimportant. We didn't kill anyone (accept in our hearts) or hurt others on purpose.

No, we have trouble smelling ourselves because we have become used to the stench. We say, "well, don't smell too bad" or we slap on some more perfume or deodorant to cover up our smell, just like we try to cover up our sins. This usually makes the smell more nauseous and makes our sins worse.

The best thing to do is to realize you need to realize that it is easy to get used to the smell, like it is easy to get used to the sins.

Christians should be looking for sins in themselves. We need to take a moment and smell the air. Is that wafting odor ourselves?

Just like we need to shower regularly to deal with the odor from our body, we need to take some hard looks and go to God to deal with the regular sins in our lives.

No one likes to sit next to a stinky body, including God.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Mistakes and Bad Choices

I did not become a Christian until I was 37 years old. It was August 4, 1991. 17 years ago in just a couple of weeks.

I am an awful sinner. I just did not realize it before this time. I thought of myself as a "good" person who did wrong things, made "bad" choices, opted for some "mistakes".

It would be great if I said that on August 4, 1991 that I ceased sinning.

I didn't.

What happened though, is that my eyes were opened to be able to see past my own desires. Prior to that August day, I could see the sin in others, but ignored my own sins - unless they worked against me. Then I would often lament more at being caught in the sin than about doing the sin in the first place.

This, I believe, is how most people see their own sinfulness and react when their sins are pointed out. This was Adam's first reaction - to blame Eve, to blame God Himself, so it should not be surprising when our own first reaction is to "blame" someone else. Given our culture, where even the guilty are viewed more as victims than perpetrators, it should not be surprising that Christians be seen as hypocritical.

Most Christians (but not all) tend to view sin from the eyes of a co-conspirator rather than a judge, but it is almost impossible to convey that clearly. In our society, increasingly, the mere act of calling something a "sin" is worse than the sin itself.

We Christians also often fail to heed the command of Galatians 6:1 - "Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted".

Our response to the sins of others need to be in a way that does not bring about sin to ourselves. That is why we are admonished in Matthew to "take the log out of our own eye" first.
That is the warning in the last line of Gal 6:1 - "lest you be tempted" - tempted to see yourself as superior, tempted to force the other persons obedience, tempted to use blunt force instead of a gently tap.

The bottom line is that we need to be dealing with sin in our lives while we help a brother (or sister) to deal with their sin - all through Christ, and we need to be doing that in the spirit of love - which is doing that which is in their best interest.

God may treat our sin as forgotten, but we should never forget them, and we should always strive to react to the sins of others in a way we would want others to react to in our sins - to lovingly rebuke and restore us.

For His Glory,

Saturday, July 19, 2008

A Stand Should Be A Stand

I get a number of "updates" and news letters and came across one that struck close to home.

It was about a counselor working for a secular counseling center who was fired for referring a lesbian client to another therapist for relationship advice. The counselor referred the client on religious grounds and because she thought the other counselor could best help the client.
(Read the article here )

I also like reading through the comments section for the opinions expressed by readers of the article. One comment on this article struck me - it said "What would her employers have done if she counseled according to the Bible? She knew they would fire her so she did the right thing and opted out."

While the small article only gives us a brief synopsis, there is an interesting contrast here.

While I admire her one stand, it is interesting to note that she was willing to be fired over her religious beliefs in viewing homosexual behavior as a sin, but not over the sufficiency of the Bible, upon which her faith is centered.

The secular world kneels at the altar of psychological theory, and so many Christians have embraced any word by a "psychologist" as a revelation from God.

Most psychological theorists have either atheists, agnostics or pantheists. Most have been vehemently anti-Christian. Many psychological conclusions, particularly in terms of providing therapy, have not come from a scientific analysis of human behavior but from the theorists own mind or observations - many of which are antithetical to what the Bible indicates.

For example: it is almost universally held by therapists (and the psychological community) that the main reason why most normal (that is people without a chemical imbalance - mental illness, or people without a developmental disability) do harmful things is because of poor self-esteem. Victimization runs rampant through the therapeutic community as well. The Bible says our problems stem from too much pride and not enough humbleness or self-sacrifice. (I have even heard "Christian" counselors say that in order to love others must first love one's self!)

Having been a social worker for neigh onto 30 years now, I have seen personally seen how little success "psychotherapy" brings about. Studies have indicated that going to a "professional" counselor is no more effective than not (or talking with close, loving friends).

So, along comes a lesbian who wants relationship advice and a stand is taken to not provide counsel but one wonders if she referred away other "sinners" - an adulterer, a person struggling with truth telling (a liar) or a person who is going through a divorce.

While I applaud her stand, one must wonder if she is being consistent in the application of her religious beliefs by even working for this agency in the first place...by even being a "professional" counselor in a setting where she is allowed to use any method she desires - except the one she should (self) require - the Scripture.

I am watching this all the time, because I know that I must be prepared to the possibility that I could be asked to do something that violates my faith. Fortunately, those concerns did not come up during my tenure as a "social worker" (I am in administration now).

I hope God strengthens me to do stand firm - in all things, because my Savior is more important than my job.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Sense of Christ's Death

Blogger Clostridiophile said...

Also, Christians are never very explicit on how God having himself killed by us (which makes no sense) makes it easier for him to forgive sins that he knew in advance we would commit. Care to explain?

We don't really say that it makes it "easier" for Him to forgive our sins, we say that it DID forgive our sins.

For example, my step-son recently got a ticket for not wearing a seat belt. $65.

Now, he could have whined about how unfair that was. He was only not wearing his seat belt. It wasn't hurting anyone else, etc. But he didn't - because his dad paid the fine for him. His dad took on the punishment for his child. His dad was out the money so his son was free from the burden of the ticket.

This is what Christ (God) did on the cross. He paid our $65. The punishment for our sin was "paid" by someone else.

Now, my step-son had been told by driver's ed, told by us, most likely told by his dad, that he should always wear a seat belt. It was a good idea for him to do. It was safer. It was the law, and there was a fine if you did not wear it and got caught. He knew all this in advance, but still refused to wear his belt. In fact, we (his parents) all knew that we was not wearing his belt.

You're right, though, in that it does not make sense.

My step-son's dad should not have paid the ticket. It would have been a better lesson for him to have paid the fine himself.

The problem was that he did not have the money. Ignoring the ticket could result in a license suspension, larger fines, bench warrant, an arrest, even jail. His dad loves his son, so it was not "easier" but it was out of that love that he paid the fine for his son.

Now, as a result, my step-son should have with a greater appreciation for his dad, who sacrificed his own money for the benefit of his son. This should also help him to remember to buckle up, because of what his dad did for him.

It is out of love for us - even though we have broken His laws, we have spurned Him, we have opposed Him, we have been His enemy - that He sacrificed Himself on the cross.

If not for Christ would I have to kill Homosexuals?

Blogger Clostridiophile said...

"Now, why am I not running out stoning or executing men who have sex with other men or adulterers or my children who curse me? Because in Matthew 5:17 Christ tells us He is the fulfillment of the Law."

Oh, so if it had not said this, and you only had the OT to go by...you would kill homosexuals..or anyone for that matter due to something a book tells you?

Well, since I committed adultery, I engaged in homosexual behavior myself, I participated in the murder (through abortion) of my children - so I would not be doing the stoning, I would be stoned.

It is interesting that so many focus on the punishment or consequences, trying to make them seem extreme or unfair - and they are - from our point of view since we are the ones who could be the recipients of the punishment. Unfairness is always unfair in the eyes of the person on the short end of the stick, even if they chose that stick themselves. The guilty either proclaim their innocence or the injustice of their punishment.

Now, when we, meaning people, make laws, we don't usually make the consequences based on how we would feel if we had to serve that punishment. No, we based the punishment on how severely we view the crime, so, obviously, God views these "crimes" - adultery, homosexual actions, etc as very severe.

Why? because they pervert His image (we are made in His image) thus smearing His Name.

This may not seem like a big deal to you, but to God, it is very important.
This may seem tyrannical. This may seem petty. This may seem like overkill on God's part, but we cannot possibly see something totally from God's perspective.

We close our eyes, though, to the evidence. The pain and suffering that is brought about by our sins, not only to others but to ourselves.

In love, God says do not do these actions. In justice, He says these are the consequences and they must be exacted (or it would not be justice). In mercy, He "became sin for us" and took the consequences Himself. In charity, He offers the choice to each of us - repent of our sins and receive Christ - or - take the punishment on yourself.

Friday, July 11, 2008

The Cross and/or the Flag

An area I have struggled a bit with is patriotism.

My dad was a lifetime member of the VFW, and he instilled in us kids a deep sense of patriotism.

That sense was diffused by my 'liberal' education at college and I actually, for a time, was more ashamed of my country than proud.

Then I repented of my sins and received Christ as Lord and Savior.

Now scripture talks about the "church" as the "body of believers" and this body transcends the boundary lines of any country. In fact, we are told that we are really citizens of another place, being alien visitors (not the kind found in flying saucers, but the kind that have immigrated to a new place). We are warned not to get too attached to this world, but to live in it, obey laws, be kind to others, live at peace, and basically be good neighbors and citizens.

The "line in the sand" comes when we are required by our country (government) to violate the doctrines and tenets of our faith. We are to obey God over man.

So where does Patriotism fit in with all this? Should the flag of the country be flown in the place where God is being worshiped? Do songs that mix God in with country truly glorify and honor Him?

My sense is that we need to be discerning about this, that we need to make sure we have not become syncretic - trying to reconcile or blend those sometimes opposite emotions of a strong love of country with the deep love of God. God should always be first.

We should participate, vote, pay taxes (yes, pay taxes), support candidates, discuss issues (from a Biblical perspective when possible), but not be fretting over loss or salivating in any win.

We need to remember that it really all is about God. He is sovereign. He is in control. Today is just one more step closer to the completion of His plan which will restore His Glory and man's relationship with Him and no win or loss at the polls will thwart or impede His will.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Psalm 10 - a big question answered

Psa 10:13 Why does the wicked renounce God and say in his heart, "You will not call to account"?

This is a big question.

One of the blessed curses of the internet is instant access to information and news, and so often that news is not good for Christians. It seems that the world is spiraling downward rapidly, especially on the moral front (just look through your junk mail file and see what most of the spam is about). It seems that humans are not becoming "better" but actually worse. The depth of how people are denigrating and harming their fellow human being almost makes Hitler's perversions seem mild.

It can seem overwhelming and faith busting. Read Psalms 10.

It starts our faith-busted: "Where are you God?", it asks, as the wicked prevail. One can almost hear the sound of gnashing teeth and the ripping of clothing. People doing evil and mean and rotten things are getting away with it. They are shaking their fist in Your Face and spitting on Your Sacred Ground!

Not only are they opposing You, God, they are getting away with it and prospering!

The psalm asks "Why don't You do something about this Lord?" and "How can You let this happen?" One can almost hear an unspoken whine of "That is not fair!"

Then, the psalmist comes to right mind. The psalmist sees, for the moment, Who God really is and who the psalmist is before Him. "You do see".

It is interesting how comforting that is: "You do see". It means that He is watching. It means that He is working. It means that He is waiting. His ways are not our ways. He is doing as He wills for His purposes. He is not unsympathetic nor unloving. He is in control and we need to understand that He works all things out for good.

These terrible times we think we are living in, worse than ever before, are really not the worst of times. They are just times, and God is patiently playing out His plan and we need to stop, take a breath, and realize that.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Response to Clostridiophile on Homosexuality

>Clostridiophile said...”Peck, are you for putting homosexuals to death? It is Biblical, afterall.”

Response: No, I am not for putting “homosexuals” to death unless they commit a crime that is against the law of the country they live in whose consequence is death.

Leviticus 15:33 & 20:3 says that if a person engages in the homosexual act, this is an abomination and that person should be put to death. There are also a number of other actions that are abominations and require that the person who engages in those behaviors be “put to death”. These include adultery, cursing their parents (maybe not a bad idea…) or engaging in sorcery.

Generally speaking, when a law-maker (King, legislature, city council, and parent) makes a law, they require a consequence for breaking the law – in the hope that this consequence is sufficient enough to make one think twice about breaking the law. It is also a statement about how terrible the behavior is viewed by the law-maker. The more an action is wrong, the more severe the consequence or punishment.

For example, it used to be that a drunk driver was usually escorted home by the police. Today, because we view drunk driving as a terrible crime, the consequences are large fines, loss of license to drive, jail time. The idea is to make it not worth the cost to drive drunk and to make a statement about how terrible a think it is to drive while intoxicated.

The reverse occurred with the crime of adultery. It used to be that if a man committed adultery, he could be imprisoned. Now it is not even viewed as a crime and seems rampant in our culture.

So, God is the ultimate Law maker. He obviously views homosexual behavior, along with a lot of other behaviors, as a terrible offense to Him, and the consequences are that if you engage in this behavior you should be put to death…if you were in the nation of Israel while it was a theocracy (interestingly, the Israelites later on asked God for a king to rule them for they did not trust God, but that is another blog at another time). Perhaps it is because God’s Law was perfect and man, being imperfect, cannot keep the law or it is too great a burden.

Now, why am I not running out stoning or executing men who have sex with other men or adulterers or my children who curse me? Because in Matthew 5:17 Christ tells us He is the fulfillment of the Law. That means that when He died on the cross, He took our punishment for breaking God’s Law, even homosexual actions, and we are no longer required to exact the consequences, since it has already been exacted on Christ.

As Christians, we are no longer required to enforce God’s Law on others (though we should strive to keep it ourselves). The exception to this is when it is for the good of the church (the body of believers) – Matthew 18:15-20 – and then it is only to remove that person from fellowship until the person repents of the action that caused the division.

Homosexual actions are no different than lying or stealing or adultery or fornication outside of marriage (or cursing parents) and it really bothers me how some of my brothers and sisters in Christ have conveyed it as more of sin than any other.

The reality is that we have all failed to meet God’s standard (even Bill Graham, even Mother Theresa, even the Dahlia Lama). We are doomed by our own actions, but are saved by Christ when we repent of our sins and receive Him as Lord and Savior.

Then, we no longer define ourselves by the color of our skin, the heritage of our genes, or our sexual desires. We define ourselves in Christ and seek to deny ourselves and glorify Him. Not always good at that last part, but it is our goal.

Response to Capt. Howdy part 2

>Captain Howdy wrote: Most evangelicals believe a huge chunk of people will end up in the Lake of Fire. That means that every child born faces a huge risk of being damned to hell.

By aborting the unborn, you're ensuring all those little souls go right on up to heaven.

Those babies are giving up a speck of time here on earth in exchange for eternity in heaven by aborting them.

Why aren't you an enthusiastic supporter of abortion? You should be doing it even if it's a sin, because you're ensuring paradise for dozens; hundreds of their unborn little souls even at your own soul's expense.

[Note: Don't actually even consider really doing anything like this. I'm just showing how weird your religion is.]


Christians are not in the position to decide who goes to hell or who goes to Heaven. Only God knows the heart. (Psalms 44:1). We have been commissioned to tell the Gospel (Mark 16:15), not to build Heaven or Hell. We are messengers, not provocateurs.

As to the comment in the bracket: “I'm just showing how weird your religion is”. I would agree to some extent – it is weird in that Christianity rejects many of the ways of the world but many Christians either don’t or fail in that rejection.

I would disagree about the religion part. Christianity is not about “becoming” a Christian; it is about repenting of our sins and receiving Christ as Lord and Savior. Unfortunately, we sometimes ignore the Lord part and rest too easy on the Savior part.

Response to the question: Is the pro-life position the most logical?

>Captain Howdy asked: “Why is the pro-life position the most logical? (see comments under the entry entitled:

Abortion and voting

Response: The “pro-life” position is most logical because it does not place a value on one stage of human development over another. To do less is tantamount to racism or sexism or xenophobia: it is saying that a person who has not achieved a certain developmental stage is not afforded a basic right of all people – the right to live.

We make laws to protect children (birth to 18) from abuse or neglect, but if those same people are at the fetus stage, then they lose those legal protections, merely because they are fetuses.

The “right” of the mother to not have a babe supersedes the right of the fetus to live, yet, magically, when that fetus leaves the birth canal, suddenly those rights get reversed.

So, if a mother was to drink excessively during pregnancy and the child is born with fetal alcohol syndrome and dies, she could be arrested. If a mother drowns her 4-year old child, same thing. If she fails to protect the child or neglects to assure food or shelter, same thing.

Yet, if that same mother had aborted that child at fetus stage, then there are no legal consequences. Where is the logic in that?

There isn’t. The most logical position, then, is that all human life – be it zygote or fetus or baby or toddler or teen or adult or senior – should be valued enough to be protected from arbitrary death at the hands of another.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Encouragement from Saginaw 6-24-08

This is the latest Encouragement from Saginaw e-letter.

Dear Brothers and Sisters through Christ,

Greetings from Saginaw where it appears that summer has finally arrived (though our April showers have come here in early June). As a result, the grass is green and the Michigan State Bird (the mosquito) is in full force.

Since my last letter, Pastor Mark has completed the Romans series and embarked on a summer look of people in Scripture who had Encounters with Christ, and what we can learn from those Encounters. (by the way, shameless plug alert: all sermons are available on line at http://podcast.immanuelbiblechurch.com/).

The two so far brought home some very solid, and simple, reminders about who He is and who we are (or aren’t, as the case may be).

It is so easy while we are in this world to be distracted and pulled off course. Sometimes it can be big, life changing events like a marriage, a death, a divorce, a birth. Sometimes the littler things like a change in job duties or a rough (or good) phase of a relationship. It seems we have poor spiritual attention spans.

Earlier this year, Pastor preached on the need to encourage new believers to seek to know Christ more and to seek to fall in love deeper with Him – that we did not exchange one set of rules, the Law, for another set: the 35 things every Christian must do. No, we exchanged the rules for the relationship, and just like any relationship, it takes both parties effort to make it better, to have it grow stronger, to have it achieve a depth of meaningfulness. Christ is already there with us, but we are not there with Him, I would assert, until the day we go before Him and truly experience the joy and pleasure and sensation of His love in His presence.

What we are living now is just a plodding along as we struggle with our sinful flesh, but it is a trek worth taking and one that we are not walking alone as The Spirit is with us and Christ is interceding for us.

If I remember just one thing from the list of conclusions that Pastor culled from the encounters of others, is that this is not a journey to Him but with Him, for I have already gained through Christ.

My hope is that you are remembering what you gained from Christ and that your journey is with Him in all that will come your way. His is our goal, He is our aim, He is who we now are.

For His Glory,


Sunday, June 22, 2008

Abortion and voting

For me, the stance on the legalization of abortion is a high priority. Putting my faith aside, where Christ showed us, through His sacrifice on the cross, that every life is important to Him, the pro-life position is most logical.

How can one draw a line and say that life is only worth protecting if it has reached a particular point in development. Whether you call it a fetus, an embryo, a baby, a toddler, a teen, an adult, or a senior - they describe the various phases of human life.

The highest measure of a person's integrity is how that person views life. This will play in a lot of areas of public policy. For instance, why is protecting a child at an elementary school in a poor side of town not as important as protecting a fetus in a middle class high school teen or a frozen embryo that might one day after millions of dollars lead towards a cure for cancer?

Most stances are arguable. Raise taxes, lower taxes (I prefer the lower); end the war, continue the war (I prefer end, but in a way that does not endanger my family); help the poor (but not through conscripted and involuntary donation).

But for me , a stance on abortion is one of those "make-it-or-break-it" issues. It says much about how important life is to that candidate, so I will never vote for a pro-choice candidate because I cannot trust him or her to protect all lives, especially our most vulnerable ones.

It is pretty simple as that.

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Friday, June 20, 2008

Hypocrit Christians

I recently received a communication that called me a hypocrite.

My first response was, yes, I am a hypocrite. I sometimes do opposite of what I profess. I stumble. I sometimes do, as Paul said in Romans 7:15 - I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.

But actually, that is not hypocrasy, at least as the word is defined.

Hypocrasy has an element of not doing what one believes, but it is actually pretending to believe something and doing the opposite of that. Hypocrasy involves not the action, but the belief.

So, for me to be hypocrite, I would have to profess something that I do not believe and then act in an opposite way.

So, after this introspection, I am not a hypocrite. I am a sinner. I have sinned and will sin until the Lord returns, but I strive to live as I believe though I fail. I am inconsistent. I fail to live as I profess. I make poor decisions. I succomb to temptation.

The real hypocrite is someone who professes with their mouth but does not believe in their heart.

Since a true Christian is one who believes in their heart and professes with their mouth the Christ is Lord (Romans 10:9), then a true christian cannot be a hypocrite even though they sin.

A false Christian, one whose profession is from the head and not the heart, even though they live as they profess, they are hypocrites.

If we profess Christ, we must first search our heart if it is turned to Christ, submitting to Him, and seeking His glorification and pleasure above our own.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

I just read an article where the (alleged) footprint of Jesus (when he was a child) in a rock was damaged in a fire in a Church in Egypt:http://www.christianpost.com/article/20080618/32871_Egypt_Church_with_Jesus_Footprint_Damaged_in_Fire.htm

Supposedly, this was a footprint from when Joseph & Mary fled with their child from Herod.

I won't go into how far fetched it seems to me that, first a child's footprint would be in a rock and second, of how anyone could possibly know it was Christ's since this event would have to have occurred some 25-30 years before His ministry.

Putting that aside, which is hard, the article, from Christian Post, allows for discussion. These discussions are usually as interesting and telling as the article itself. Christians have some pretty strong and diverse opinions on these things and non-believers often jump in the mix.

One post really struck me. The author was arguing that, despite the danger of idolitry, people need something tangible to grasp onto, and this helps their faith to grow.

I am not sure about that. Hebrews tells us that "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." (Heb 11:1)

I would like to visit the Holy Land, to see where Christ walked in His human form, speculate on what He touched, what He saw, but I should not worship that ground. I should not "venerate" or make holy some object that was His (or in most cases might or might not be His).

He, Christ, is about salvation. We, us, are about knowing Him better and doing His will.

It is interesting that in the New Testament we are given few "rituals" to perform, and the focus is on the inner man and not the outer appearance. We are told we are new creations, made children of God, freed from the bonds of sin, and that we have the Holy Spirit living within us.

The Christian walk does not require pilgrimages to some sacred site or paying homage to some iconic object.
It IS about seeking more of God and less of self. It IS about sharing the good news and doing good. It IS about standing firm for His Word and His Way.

Our response to these should be, well, that would be really interesting it really was Christ's footprint as a child in a rock, but what is important is Christ's imprint in my heart and life. That is where I would prefer to place my energies.

For His Glory,

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Happy Father's Day

Father's Day is much different than Mother's Day.

There is an intrinsic bond to our mothers that goes deep. We were once as close as two human beings could be, nuzzled inside her, relying totally on her for our nourishment. Over time, the developmental process continued until the inevitable day of separation from her physical connection.

We don't experience that with our fathers. There is a different kind of emotional link. Our mother's comes almost instinctively, our father's is because he chose to do this (and there are many fathers who choose not to do so).

This is our relation with the Father. He chose to link to us. He chose to make that route to us through Himself as Christ. He softens our heart, which is not naturally linked to Him, opens up our eyes, and draws us to Him where He makes us His child.

So, this Father's Day I am reminded that it is a day to remember the ones who chose to love us - our father here but more so Father God.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The hardest form of persecution

As Christians, we should expect persecution to come to us from any side, at any time as our faith is a radical repudiation of the world's standards.

I think, though, that the hardest persecution comes from within. It is those moments of doubt. Those times of realization that I am so far from being the Christian that I want to be or think of myself as being that the pain runs the deepest because it lingers the longest.

I wish I could point you to a Bible verse, snap my fingers, and say "go away", but that is a power God has not given to me or the Scripture. Perhaps because this is the reminder that I am not only not God, but that I am so far from being God.

The other day I got into a "pity" party with some friends about the state of the world. It is spiraling so far away from the Creation He made that it is hard to fathom...but then when was this world as God created?

The solution to this problem is to accept that one is a flawed individual. That one has great penchant for doing evil - as defined by God. That one cannot change one self but must relinquish the power to change over to God.

That is not a pretty sight. It is not an easy road. It leads to more purifying and testing and struggle. It is the hardest persecution, but it is also the best because we become just that much closer to God.

Monday, May 05, 2008

The Change Christ Brings.

When you become a child of God...
You will want to change some habits.
You will want to change some friends.
You will want to change some attitudes.
You will want to change the way you've been.

You will want to change obedience.
You will want to change your life.
You will want to change to go His way,
You will want to change to no longer strife.

The reality is we cannot change
Just because we want
Our old self resists to conform
And our sins in us do haunt.

Instead of striving with your own flesh
That way to change is absurd
Rather seek to know Him deep and more,
Through prayer and through His Word.

Come towards the place where self is gone.
Where our past no longer defines.
Our self is now changed by our Lord,
By Him in His own time.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Who Is Under Attack?

I get a number of newsletters and email alerts about censorship of various kinds and from various perspectives.

The almost universal element in all of these citings is that "we" are under attack from those who oppose us. Whether it is left, right, liberal, conservative...the theme is the same - "they" have censored what "we" have said.

As a Christian, I should expect persecution. I should not be surprised when people oppose me or disagree or are even hostile (don't have to like it, just remember it is reality). From the get-go, the message of Christ is offensive - you are a sinner (i.e. a bad person) and need a savior.

In this age when "offense" is anything you disagree with, then being accused of wrong-doing should be our norm.

How we respond, though, should not be as the world - which is to either attack in kind or wimper in pacificity - but to speak the truth in love. To stand firmly but not obnoxiously. To speak straightforwardly but not coarsely. To defend but not be defensive.

We should expect our words to be misconstrued, mistaken or even purposely distorted.

It does not matter. As Christians, we are called to do what is right in the eyes of God, as He has commanded, not as we desire.

To do this, though, takes a power greater than our own, and that is where Christ comes in for us. He has not left us alone in this battle, but gives us the Holy Spirit who will give us our words, control our emotions, strengthen our resolve, and comfort our wounds.

Let us remember that and respond to this world in a way that brings the Glory to God and not embraces the world.

For His Glory,

Friday, April 18, 2008

Where have I been?

It has been over 3 months since my last blog. What happened?

Well, life kind of got in the way of this "hobby". Mostly, I started teaching a class at church on Apologetics and Worldview. I was using a variety of sources and it took me a lot of my free time to research and pull together.

The other aspect was that I decided to take a break from writing and then writing took a break from me. Also, caught a flu/cold that has lingered for over a month and turned into a cough but am doing better now.

Finally, this was a rough winter. I think I caught a touch of SAD (Seasonal Affect Disorder) and the Michigan winter seemed long, or at least bleak. We seemed to have just a few days of sun and it has been somewhat bitterly cold for a long time.

Well, nice weather has come, my cough is much better, and baseball season is here (though the Tigers have been struggling a bit).

Also, I get a daily email with a Bible verse and a quote (http://www.cqod.com/cqodlist.htm) and this one struck home and I just had this unction to write.

The verse is:
"Who can withstand his indignation? Who can endure his fierce anger? His wrath is poured out like fire; the rocks areshattered before him." -- Nahum 1:6 (NIV)

It reminded me that while we have a God of Love, we also have a God of (righteous) Wrath.

One of the things I have been thinking about while "off-line" is how miserable I was feeling- sick, cold, drab, yucky is only a taste of His Wrath.

Now, I am not saying that God brought these to me, but they are the result of Adam's sin (thanks Adam!) which brought death and pain and misery to this wonderful world created by God.

It also reminds me that most people walk around in dire straights in their relationships with God and they are blindly walking into that wall of His Wrath because so much that passes for Christian faith and general spirituality shouts about His Love but mumbles about His Wrath. They don't want to talk about it because who wants to hear all that negative stuff!

The end result will be a lot of people existing in a permanent long, suffering, miserable, winter of eternity. There will be no spring or summer for the lost.

(warning: a Tom non-biblical supported pontification alert) One wonders if the only tears we will have is all the times we failed to speak His Truth in love.

For His Glory,