Quick Thoughts on Refugees

As hard as it is, I am trying to look at the current refugee crisis carefully, thoughfully, morally and ethically.  As I think about this, I have to realize there are so many unknowns behind the scenes that make it impossible for me, with all certainty, to take a “right” position.  I find I have to remind myself to approach this very humbly.  

On the one hand, it is true that as a Christian, I am called to care for the poor.  I believe that something must be done for the refugees.  I’m not sure what that something is, because, at the same time, it seems incredibly unwise to open the door for what could allow terrorists to attempt a “trojan horse” operation as it has been reported that at least one did in Paris, and kill more.  God calls us to be compassionate, but He also calls us to be wise.

It is hard for me to outright support an influx of refugees, whatever their religious orientation, if it cannot be guaranteed that the people who are already here will not be safe.  We have a responsibility for them, too.  To be perfectly candid, there is no way I would welcome someone who looked potentially dangerous into my house with my family present, yet that is what we are doing if we are not careful and get this right.  At this point, I don’t have that confidence.  

So, what do we do?  Honestly, this is a tough one for me.  I am not at all comfortable with the extremes I’m reading about on Facebook.  I’m not comfortable hearing Christians speaking coldly about those who are running for their lives, thinking only about ourselves, and speaking poorly about the refugees, in general.  It doesn’t sound like Jesus talking.  On the other hand, I’m not comfortable with people saying that we are not acting like Jesus or aren’t being Christian unless we blindly welcome in whoever says they are a part of those legitimately escaping persecution.  I think it’s a bit more complex than that.  

Personally,  before I make a statement about how we need to take in and care for refugees, I need to answer the question, “What am I, personally, willing to do to help these refugees?”  It’s easy to take a position if I’m not directly affected; if it’s going to cost me nothing but a few more tax dollars.  So, am I willing and ready to personally get my hands dirty and provide for refugees?  If not and yet I say that it is un-Christlike not to take them in, I have to question if I, myself, am actually being Christlike.

It’s so easy to post a picture, share someone else’s profound-sounding post, or like comments made who share my position.  It’s harder to step back, think soberly and honestly about what really is Christ’s position; to consider Christ’s call…I’m talking about the one that says that, like the apostles sent out among wolves, we are to be both wise as serpents and innocent as doves (Matthew 10:16).  I’m not sure how much of either of those are being put on display at this point.

So, maybe we can ease up on the rhetoric, the chest-bumping, the guilt trips and the finger-wagging and spend a little more time sincerely praying for the mind of Christ and asking how we, as Christ-followers, can be part of the solution and live, first, as citizens of Heaven rather than citizens of the world.  

I’m not there yet.  I don’t have an answer.  In this very emotionally charged time, mine are all over the place and I vascillate between the different options with almost every news report of victims being killed in Paris and Beirut or displaced families running from ISIS.  I don’t see an easy answer.  That shows me that I’ve yet to find the mind of Christ here.  So, until I do, I will be quiet.

God, have mercy. 

Come and See

wpid-Photo-May-7-2013-958-AM.jpgAs someone who has studied apologetics extensively, I know and have used all of the logical arguments for the existence of God, the deity of Christ and the reality of miracles. I have talked with people about the rationality for believing in the reliability of Scripture and the resurrection of Jesus. As a natural skeptic, I tested my inherited faith against reality until it became a proven faith to me. I began to have a confidence in what I always thought was true as I scrutinized it and it began to make sense beyond the “blind faith” responses we often hear to questions about how we know it’s true or why we believe.

I was reading in John 1 yesterday and was reminded of how people initially came to Christ during His time on earth. Take a look at this passage:

35 The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples, 36 and he looked at Jesus as he walked by and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” 37 The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. 38 Jesus turned and saw them following and said to them, “What are you seeking?” And they said to him, “Rabbi” (which means Teacher), “where are you staying?” 39 He said to them, “Come and you will see.” So they came and saw where he was staying, and they stayed with him that day, for it was about the tenth hour.[h] 40 One of the two who heard John speak and followed Jesus[i] was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41 He first found his own brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ). 42 He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John. You shall be called Cephas” (which means Peter).

43 The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” 44 Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. 45 Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” 46 Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.”

Look at how that played out. When Andrew and the other follower of John asked Jesus about where He was staying, Jesus didn’t convince them to follow Him based on His trustworthiness or He deity. He simply said, “Come and you will see.” Whatever the rest of that day held, it was enough to convince Andrew that Jesus was the Messiah. So what did he do? He told his brother, Simon, which apparently roused Simon’s curiosity that resulted in Peter going to check it out for himself. Something tells me there was something that Simon saw in the way his brother had become so quickly convinced that set things in motion.

My favorite, though, is Philip with Nathanael. This guy is no push-over. He has questions. He’s not into “easy believe-ism”, even doubting that it can be possible that this is the Messiah because of where Jesus is from. Now, I would be tempted at that point to dive right into the apologetics and give the reasons as to why God could, in fact, bring the Messiah from Nazareth or anywhere else He chose since He is, as it were, you know…God.

Philip let’s me down, though. Not a word of defense. He doesn’t argue the historicity of Christ’s having actually been born in Bethlehem which lines up perfectly with the Old Testament prophecies or anything. He doesn’t engage in any arguments at all. Doesn’t he know that God needs these arguments? Please!

What he does say is awesome!

I love what Philip actually said: Come and see. It’s like, “Dude, I don’t know…see for yourself.”  That is incredibly powerful and how often I forget that part!

If Christ is real and alive and well, there is no need to try and argue someone to Christ. Just point them in the right direction and let Jesus do the rest.  Am I swearing off apologetics because of this? No. There is a place for helping people understand the reasonable nature of Christianity, but in my opinion, it’s not the strongest apologetic. You know what is?

A life well-lived.

That’s it. It’s like the apologetics of life. If I live my life according to the power given me through the Holy Spirit of God, my life will be the greatest apologetic there is. Joy in all circumstances. Hope. Purpose. Power. Love. Kindness. Grace. Man, if my life bleeds these things and they’re on display for all to see, then all I have to do is say to people, “Jesus is the power source for a life lived well. Come and see for yourself.”

I still struggle to get my mind around that…that “come and see” was all that these guys said, but think about what they did: they left the rest up to Jesus. They really trusted that Jesus would take care of revealing who He is Himself. Actually, I think there is more faith in that than the attitude we often take that it’s up to us to convince people of God’s existence. It’s almost as if we don’t really believe this stuff, so we have to make a really good argument so they realize this is a bargain they can’t refuse.  That’s not the heart of apologetics, but it can be our own attitude.  If it is, we have to ask whether or not we really believe in the working of the Holy Spirit and the power of God to draw to Himself anybody He chooses.

What does a “come and see” approach look like now?

Well, when Jesus was here on earth, it was possible to literally take them into his physical presence. Obviously, He’s not here anymore. Now, what?

Now, we are His physical presence. His transformational work within us is evidence of His presence so we can essentially say, “Watch what He’s doing in me and if you like what you see, follow Him. Believe in Him. Swear off following your own path and doing your own thing and watch what He does in you, too.” This is about living authentically, loving people genuinely, and not being afraid to give a reason for the hope that is in me. (1 Peter 3:15)

That last part is important, so make sure you hear what I’m NOT saying.

I’m not encouraging you to live according to that old saying, “Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary, use words.” I think words are most always necessary. Without words, our hope and joy can be attributed to anything: exercise, good fortune, positive thinking or Tums.  Paul certainly used an abundance of words in his reasoning for the faith.  Look at his life, though, and you can see why his words were so powerful.  They backed up a Spirit-fueled life.  If my life isn’t “preaching the Gospel” first, my words are probably weak.  That’s when we look hypocritical.  On the flip side, if my life is already communicating the results of faith in Christ in how I am living, my words will carry a tremendous amount of weight.

Yeah, I’m still big on apologetics. I still believe that reasoning with others about the legitimate claims of Scripture is important. I believe it is imperative that we know Scripture that points to Christ. I also believe, though, that a lack of knowledge in the area of apologetics keeps many people from feeling confident in sharing their faith and answering questions they have about God, but a life well-lived coupled with accrediting the One who empowers it is the strongest apologetic there is. In that, I don’t have to know all of the answers. Philip certainly didn’t know whether or not anything good could come from Nazareth and didn’t feel compelled to try. He just said what anybody can say: “Come and see for yourself.”

“Taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!” ~Psalm 34:8

Culture Warrior

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I hate that term. I hate the concept, too. “Culture Wars.” Who came up with that anyway? I mean, I understand the thinking: “Our Country is going to hell and it’s our responsibility as Christians to stand up and prevent it!” I think that’s what bothers me the most. Is that really our calling? Is it even within our ability to do so?

I’m not saying it’s not our responsibility to stand up, and I’m not saying it’s not our responsibility to stand against sin in our world. The greater question to me is how are we supposed to do it and what is our ultimate goal?

For so many (which, I admit, included me at one time), the idea of “fighting sin” was more along the lines of boycotting and writing senators and picketing and the like. While I readily admit there may be instances where people are genuinely called to take a similar stand as was the case with Francis Schaeffer, who at times picketed abortion clinics, I think that sort of action usually has limited results, often at the expense of the spreading of the Gospel. More importantly, I think the motivation must be checked before anything is done.

I have found that the usual motivation for taking a stand has less to do with wanting to see people come to know Christ and more to do with protecting our own way of life. While I understand the fear, I don’t share it.

Look at Jesus. When he ministered on earth, the Jews were under the rule of the Romans. Many who hailed the coming of Christ understood Him to be a great military and political deliverer. They were hoping for another Maccabean revolt, only this time with better results. They had no concept of the kind of Messiah He turned out to be.

In our day, Jesus would be expected to march on the Capitol, rebuke senators and call the president out to be the antichrist he surely is. However, Jesus didn’t do that in His own day, and I’m not sure He would do it in ours. He seemed to have a different agenda. It was a Kingdom of God agenda, which was more focused on spreading the good news that this, regardless of how good or bad it got, was not your best life now. There was much more to life than current experience. So, he didn’t overthrow the Roman rule (which was the vehicle God used to carry out His death). He essentially overthrew the Pharisee rule (which was the vehicle God used to bring about His death). He had more to say about the problems within the current religious establishment than the governmental one.

That is not to say that there are not plenty of problems with the governmental rule we are under here in the United States. There are a plethora of problems and we should stand against those that run contrary to Scripture. The issue I raise is how we go about it.

We will never be able to legislate morality and, because of that, we’ll not be able to win on all of the cultural battlefields that exist in our world today. These include everything from gay marriage to abortion to general corruption in government. It won’t happen. The only thing that WILL happen is that the Church of Jesus Christ will continue to be marginalized as just another right-wing, special interest group of the Republican Party (much the same way that the liberal churches are of the Democratic Party). When this happens, we lose our voice as The Church: The voice of God called out to speak to all of culture from a biblical perspective, NOT from a political one.

So, what are our options? As I see it, we have two very powerful ones:

1. Preach the Gospel. In Romans 1:16, Paul said, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes…”. This is an important point we must not miss. The gospel of Christ is the power we possess and through it, change occurs. We cannot legislate morality, but if, through the gospel, men and women are saved bringing about transformation in their lives, culture will change. Now, let me say something to clarify: I do not believe that everyone is going to be saved, nor do I believe that all the problems in this world are going away this side of Christ’s return. We’re told they won’t. Our goal is not to establish Utopia on earth. However, the goal of the Church is to be used of God to establish His Kingdom, not any earthly one. Preaching the Gospel addresses the issues we face, but does so in such a way that the Church maintains both her integrity before The Lord and also a humble, grace-filled reputation before the world. I rarely see “political Christians” with either.

2. Pray. Sounds like an over-simplified Sunday School answer, I know. Be that as it may, it is a powerful weapon against the evil in our world. Look at what God said to Solomon in 2 Chronicles 7:14:

if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

The healing of the land does not come through cultural warfare, but spiritual warfare. The problem is we are a people of action who want to see immediate results and if we’re not standing against those godless people in our world, we’re losing ground. The reality is that that view is short-sighted Christianity. It demonstrates we don’t have a clear understanding of either the warfare or the enemy. Paul was clear to point out who the enemy is:

…we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against lthe cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

If we understand this, our culture war will be replaced with the spiritual one, we’ll do battle through prayer against satanic forces and, unless Scripture is wrong, we may actually see the tides turn. We may actually see people coming to Christ, having their minds renewed, lifestyles altered and hearts softened, rather than the hardened attitude towards the things of God because of the actions of the people of God.

You may very well be called to take a particular action in the face of atrocities like abortion. That’s great with one condition: You have spent long, intensive amounts of time in prayer and are motivated from the grace of God to see people’s hearts change so that they will be internally motivated to cease the support of such atrocities. Then, and only then, do I think the glory of God will be revealed through His people in such a way that the battles will actually be won.

A Pivotal Day: Gay Marriage Before the Supreme Court

supreme_courtToday is a big day in our Country.  The United States Supreme Court will begin hearing arguments regarding California’s “Prop 8” ban on same-sex marriage.  The suit that will be heard by the Court is being brought by one lesbian and one gay couple, challenging the voter-approved ban.

As I’ve listened to the rhetoric on both sides, there is one statement that I believe frames the crux of the argument.  It had to do with what is “right.”

What is right?

The statement was made by a cousin of Chief Justice John Roberts who reportedly “came out” as gay this past week.  Referring to Justice Roberts, he said, “I love my cousin. I hope he does the right thing.”

The “right” thing.  I thought about for a long while, contemplating how often that is used, not as an objective perspective, but as a personal preference, or judgment.  Certainly, those on both sides of the debate look at their position as the right one. So, is it simply as the postmodernists have argued that right is relative?  Is it really a matter of perspective so that right is determined by the winners of a debate?

I will concede that this is very clearly the way our world runs.  Certainly the United States and other western countries operate this way.  Of course, no one is consistent with this position.  If we were, then everything should be on the table for debate, and I suppose it is if someone wants to bring the argument.

To some, murder is right.  Stealing is right.  Gang attacks are right.  So far, though, there haven’t been large enough groups to bring serious challenges, but according to our standards, nothing is out of bounds.  Nothing can be called “right” and nothing can be called “wrong.”  It is simply based upon the decision of the masses.

Again, we’re not being consistent because most people who take this position believe that their positions are objectively right and moral.  For instance, those who take the stand that homosexuality is good, believe that it is good and right for everyone and to stand against it or at the very least, against redefining marriage, is universally WRONG.

In Need of a Standard

At some point, we have to decide that absolutely nothing is objective and, therefore, no one truly has “rights” (in that there is nothing objective to state universal rights. You only have rights so long as you can win the fight).  If we do this, the argument needs to change, since the Pro-gay camp is claiming it is their human right to marry.  Who determined this?  Is it claimed that this comes from the United States Constitution?  That document certainly doesn’t hold up to “universal” scrutiny as it only guides the people of a single country.  I understand that it’s their desire to marry, but a right?  That’s not possible from a position of moral relativity.

Who Needs the Bible?

I get the arguments on the other side.  If one does not believe in a Supreme Law-giver, they are certainly not going to willingly submit their lives and practices to the directives of some “religious book.”  They are not going to buy into the argument that in order for there to be objective truths and laws and rights, there must be an objective standard that declares what is objectively right and wrong.

As a result, I believe it is only a matter of time before the laws do, indeed, change.  That may not be this particular case, but it will come because the collective “we” are guided by what the masses determine is good and right.  Since public opinion is quickly shifting towards gay marriage, that will soon become the law of the land.  Do I agree with it?  No.  Does that mean I hate gay people?  Absolutely not!

Very few people have said that gay people do not have a right in this country to live together and act like married people.  Though I believe that it is objectively wrong, according to the One who makes those determinations, I think they have this right, just as heterosexuals have a right to co-habitat (which is also objectively wrong and destructive) according to the same standard.  I simply believe that changing the very definition of the only Institution that can actually produce natural families (i.e. a man and woman, through the natural act of sex, producing other human beings and raising them with both a father and a mother), we are rendering the very term meaningless.

There is no need for me to rehash the same arguments over again.  They have been made time and again and rejected time and again.  Personally, I will continue to stand on the Truth of Scripture, regardless of where that leads me in the future. I will continue loving and caring for all people, straight or gay, but out of love, I am compelled to declare the warning of Scripture (which I didn’t write, by the way!):

God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a 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 dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.

28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.

If this is true (which is the basic issue that must be determined by the individual), then the reason why so many are buying into the arguments of the gay community must be attributed to God giving them over to sin.  I understand how harsh that sounds (and that’s not my intent), but is that not the straight-forward, logical conclusion to this?  That cannot be seen as God being OK with it, but the very wrath of God as He gives them over to be drawn into their own sinful desires.  That is not good news!  The only good news is that Christ can forgive.

Many in the Christian community will disagree with my position here, but I am not calling for gay people to simply “choose” not to be gay.  Personally, I doubt that is possible.  Due to the fall of man found in Genesis 3, I believe that we are born with all sorts of “bents” towards sinful desires (which are often wrongly judged to be “natural”).  So, I don’t necessarily believe homosexuality is a choice any more than I chose to be heterosexual.  What I do believe is a choice is what is done with it.  I have heterosexual friends who have never found “the one” whom they can marry.  Moral relativism says that’s no big deal, just find somebody to have sex with; play house together regardless of a love and a lifetime commitment.  However, they have taken Scripture seriously and remained celibate.

Biblically, my homosexual friends have no more right to give themselves over to their desires than my unmarried heterosexual friends.  That’s not good enough for them, though.  That means denying pleasure for righteousness.  Therefore, that type of righteousness cannot be right. It is redefined, then, as wrong.  After all, God would never call me to sacrifice my pleasure for His righteousness.  That whole thing about Jesus saying His followers must deny themselves, take up their crosses and follow Him was, well, just a joke. He was just teasing. He’d had a bad day when He said that.  Who knows, maybe He didn’t even say it at all.

The Heart of the Issue

Yeah, it all boils down to that.  What do you believe?  You either have to believe Scripture as it has been given to us or reject it completely.  I realize that many are redefining it as they are everything else, but that’s just dishonest.  I have much more respect for those who outright reject it than to play twister with it and make it into what it never said.  Just stop playing games with it.

To be honest, I don’t have a personal agenda in this.  If Scripture didn’t say it was wrong, I’d probably just take homosexual practice in stride and get used to it just like everything else. It would certainly be easier.  Heck, nobody wants to be called a bigot or hater or intolerant by all of the wildly tolerant people out there.  I prefer to be liked by everyone and, certainly, I could be liked by a whole lot more people if I compromised truth, too, but I’m bound by it.  I’m compelled by it. I simply can’t.

But I’m not a hater.

I’m not intolerant.

I think by peacefully stating my position and the position of Scripture while not engaging in dirty names or making threats but, instead, declaring that I will continue to live in peace with my homosexual friends, I am demonstrating exactly what “tolerance” truly means.  However, let it be known that I will do it with integrity and standing firm on my principles.  I will make it clear that, because I love people and believe that sin is not just “bad,” it is deadly, I will not redefine it away if the Bible says otherwise…but I will not do it with malice or disrespect or hatred or in a mean-spirited fashion.  As a minister of the God-breathed Word of Truth, I owe people that, regardless.

It is possible to disagree without being disagreeable.

 That is, after all

…tolerance.

 

A Deal-Breaker

As a pastor, I don’t officially endorse candidates. I am a registered Independent who makes every attempt to take a biblical approach to issues related to politics.  Though I try to refrain from talking about specific candidates and believe it is wrong to turn a church pulpit into a political “stump”, it is my responsibility to speak truth wherever I see it.

The following is an excerpt of an article I read this morning on the platform being adopted by the Democratic Party at this years convention.  Fiscal issues I may disagree with aside, as a Christ-following political Independent, I can never support a candidate who takes this position:

The 2012 Democratic party will officially adopt an extreme position on the issue of abortion on Tuesday. According to a copy of the party platform, which was released online just before midnight on Monday, “The Democratic Party strongly and unequivocally supports Roe v. Wade and a woman’s right to make decisions regarding her pregnancy, including a safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay.”

That last part—“regardless of ability to pay”—is an endorsement of taxpayer-funded abortions, a policy that President Obama has personally endorsed. (WS)

Clearly, there are thousands who agree with this position. That is beside the point.  It is beyond reprehensible to try and force people to pay who do NOT and who consider this practice to be nothing short of the legalized murder of a human being who has done nothing wrong but simply come into existence. I wrote more on the subject here.  

If there really is a desire to cut down on the number of abortions, how about government assistance for adoption instead?  THAT I could support.

Difficulty Facing A World of Contradictions

In my recent blog post related to the contradictory stand on the value of human life in American culture, I claimed that, according to the law of the land, a fetus is deemed human according to the desire of the mother. If the mother wanted to give birth to the child and the child is somehow killed in the womb, the perpetrator could be (and has been) charged with murder. If, on the other hand, the mother does not want the child, a professional can do the same thing and receive both legal protection and compensation for doing so. This second person has “constitutional protection.” Illogical, I know.
As a result of that, I was asked to give a “non-religious” argument to why abortion should be illegal (the absurdity of the above-mentioned contradiction notwithstanding). So, I offered the following:

1. Abortion kills innocent life.

2. Killing innocent life is, by definition, murder.

3. Murder is illegal.

4. Therefore, abortion should be illegal.

That’s not religious.

I was challenged on the point of calling abortion “murder”, the questioner claiming that I had misdefined the word because everybody knows that murder is “by definition,” a malicious act and I was just trying to twist the definition to suit my usage.
I got to thinking about that because I don’t want to do that. I seek truth where it can be found and am not interested in manipulation. On the other hand, I don’t want to deny reality just to satisfy a technicality, either.
So, the scope or limits of this post is to offer a reason for using that terminology and hope you’ll thoughtfully read this all the way through before you tune me out or jump to a quick conclusion.
It is true that at least some dictionary definitions include the word “malice” in the definition, but we know by experience that isn’t a full picture of the word. As a matter of fact, there arises, from time to time, serial killers who don’t exhibit any signs of malicious behavior. They feel no guilt or remorse and, frankly, feel no malice towards their victims at all. They often don’t know anything about them as individuals, including their names. There are entire fields of study dedicated to trying to understand these ruthless killers.
Michael Welner, MD, forensic psychiatrist, claims, “people who are true psychopaths really are cold and callous and lack empathy and have a detached way of feeling emotion.” In other words, they are not necessarily malicious. They’re just killers.
Do we call them “murderers”? You bet we do. ALL of us do, regardless of how the dictionary limits the definition. We know by experience and there is none among us who would argue otherwise (except fellow ruthless, maniacal, sociopathic killers…but they aren’t saying).
We know that murder doesn’t always involve malice. In fact, we reserve the most detestable names for these type people who kill without malice like sociopaths, psychopaths, cold-blooded serial killers, and animals. People like this who come to mind are the so-called BTK killer, Jeffrey Dahmer, Charles Manson and Dennis Rader. All very much murderers and all very much acting without personal malice towards their victims.
Is my point, then, to paint young women who choose abortion as cold-blooded maniacal killers? Of course not! By in large, these young ladies are often scared to death and unsure of what to do about a situation they knew was possible but never imagined would really happen. They’re looking for a way out and I understand that.
Though these young ladies (and the young men, too) bear responsibility for their own actions, they are too often not given great counsel on other very valid options like adoption, nor are they made aware that the child they are carrying is more than just tissue with the potential to become a human being. The only counsel they receive is often by those professionally trained to carry out abortions without malice, guilt or feeling (but don’t have the excuse of being mentally unhinged). They simply know that the more abortions they can encourage young ladies to have, the more money they get. It’s not usually that they get their jollies through torture, like mentally deranged killers. It’s worse than that…it’s just business.
That is simply the abortion culture in which we live and demonstrates why my explanation not only works but, I believe, is 100% accurate in labeling abortion as murder.
This is not some religious rant. It is a view of reality in which we live where a large segment of the population refuses to look at things as they really are because it infringes upon their rights. To see abortion as murder introduces guilt and we’d much prefer to continue our legal killing spree without that messy inconvenience.
Though this was not a “religious” formulation of the wrongness of abortion and the reason for which it should be illegal, my faith in Scripture as the Word of God tells me why it is objectively wrong, regardless of it’s legal standing. We do not have a right to play God and determine who lives and who dies when His Word does not give us judiciary instruction (which it often does related to criminal activity). We are not at liberty to take innocent life because it is convenient or because we simply choose to. I absolutely believe we should and will be held accountable for that unrepentant stand.
However, just as I believe that abortion is a sin against a Holy God and a devaluation of human life, in general, I know that same God is a God who restores. Through Christ, there is forgiveness and healing that comes to anyone who seeks it. I know that regardless of past actions, He has already dealt with the penalty of them through the death and resurrection of Christ that satisfies the just wrath of God towards sin. The removal of guilt, loneliness and hurt follows, but it only comes when we face reality, call it what it is and cry out for mercy to a loving, holy Savior.
In short, we have to decide we’re going to stop living a world of contradictions.

On the NSPA’s Apology For “Savage” Remarks

Maybe you’ve heard of the inflamatory speech by gay rights activist and “anti-bullying expert,” Dan Savage. I referenced this article about it on my Facebook page yesterday and many writers and bloggers have reported on it.

The craziest thing I’ve heard, though, is how the National Scholastic Press Association, organizers of the event at which Mr. Savage spoke, have issued an apology for his remarks:

“NSPA and JEA consider Mr. Savage’s use of harsh language and profanity to be inappropriate and offensive to many in attendance. This is not what our organizations expected. In his attempt to denounce bullying, Mr. Savage belittled the faith of others – an action that we do not support. Ridicule of others’ faith has no place in our programs, any more than ridicule of the LGBT community would,” administrators said in the statement.

“Student journalism, like professional journalism, is built on the foundation of free speech. It should not shy away from controversial topics and viewpoints,” the statement adds. “But it should promote and engage in civil discourse. Mr. Savage’s speech fell short of that standard, and for this our organizations apologize.”

I’m honestly baffled by the comment, “This is not what our organization expected.” Seriously? What did they expect? Had they never heard of Mr. Savage before? Did they expect him to be something other than he was? Less than five minutes and a Youtube search would have revealed more than enough information on who this man was, what his agenda is and what is tactics are. This is certainly not the first time this man has engaged in exactly this kind of rhetoric. My concern is that they knew exactly what to expect and pursued the invitation anyway.

Regrettable? I’m sure. Surprised? Impossible.

To Stand

For anyone who has been at The Gathering for any length of time, you know that I am regularly on the proverbial soap box regarding the absolute nature of Truth regardless of how normative the current culture speaks to the contrary. There is right and there is wrong. Right doesn’t become wrong over time nor does wrong become right. Certainly, living in a postmodern world, that claim is suspect if not outright rejected, but that is where I stand…which is the problem. Let me explain.

Those who claim to be Christ-followers, living according to the Scriptures (which, I argue, is the only way to BE a Christ-follower…another item apparently up for debate today) are regularly and systematically being challenged on where we stand on “cultural issues” due to the constant changes in what is considered acceptable, tolerant and even criminal (explore some of the “hate-speech” legislation that has come out recently).

Al Mohler has written an important article which needs to be read by everyone because everyone must determine where they land on these and other social issues:

The times now demand our most careful and biblical thinking, and they demand our clearest conviction matched to a missiological drive to reach the world with the Gospel. We must embrace the truth with the humility of a sinner saved only by grace, but we must embrace it fully.

The pressure is mounting for pastors and churches to very clearly define what they believe. Are we going to cave into cultural pressure and redefine right and wrong because taking a stand is hard and is painful or are we going to lovingly but with determination resolve to stand on the Truth of God as revealed in Scripture? By the way, there absolutely IS a way to be both loving and determined at the same time and those who argue that to stand against something is necessarily to hate those who embrace that something are simply wrong. That is a false argument. Every individual walking the planet, both outside AND INSIDE the church, have sin issues of various kinds that must be dealt with directly but compassionately. To follow the logic of the aforementioned argument to it’s conclusion, then, is to say that taking a stand against anything, whether it be something as heinous as murder to something as prevalent as gossip and slander, is to hate the individual who commits it (including the very people who are doing the hating!). Obviously, that is absurd.

So, where do you stand? Is your resolve to obey the absolute Word of Truth without feeling the need to redefine what is clearly written? To abandon ideas of modern interpretations of ancient truth in light of new societal circumstances? To lead in positive cultural change or to follow the cultural winds wherever they blow, adapting your beliefs as you go? If you have chosen the latter, where do you stop? What is your guide or even your authority other than yourself (which, unless you’ve never been wrong about anything in your life, you are not a very good standard to rely upon). Is it the culture; the collective masses that inerrantly determine what is good? That’s a dangerous place to rest your eternal fate. Or do you decide to stand or fall on the determination that a sovereign, all-knowing God has the power and desire to reveal Himself and His desires to a people of His choosing and that that revelation is what we know as the Bible. That is where I choose to stand.

To be sure, things could go badly in taking such a stand. It is not popular and if you choose to take a similar stand, you may be ridiculed as a close-minded bigot, a hate-monger or worse. Someday in the not-so-distant future, you may even be imprisoned for your stand. Jesus, Himself, said, “In this world, you will have trouble, but take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

I simply don’t see where there is an option. I must choose to follow Christ according to what He has revealed (including the compassionate way in which He treated all peoples) so that if someone rejects Christ, they are at least rejecting the REAL Jesus as found in Scripture.

Put another way, how much must we hate people that, if we KNOW the Truth, change the Good news that communicates the only way in which one can be saved from the Holy wrath of a Holy God leading to a watered-down, hedonistic message and a false sense of eternal security?

I may or may not like the way God has chosen to do things; I may or may not wish that there were other ways or that I were free to act or do whatever I wish and call it “good”. The choice, though, is not mine if I want an eternally right relationship with the one, true, living God. I don’t have that freedom. I am not God. Neither are you.

“…and having done all, to stand firm.” (Eph. 6:13b)

Loop-the-Loop Car World Record

This beats the roller-coaster ride I was on this past weekend, I guess. Cool stunt.

[vodpod id=Groupvideo.4301177&w=425&h=350&fv=viewkey%3D7d83a17ea033cedfc94b]

This made me think about the argument that all of creation is the result of blind chance.  If you notice how exact these calculations had to be to for this simple stunt to prevent catastrophe, imagine just how perfect the calculations had to be for the universe to sustain life just on planet Earth.  Even the slightest miscalculations just on the distance and speed of the earth around the sun would cause conditions to be utterly unlivable.  Chance? No chance.
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