Tuesday, March 12, 2019

AMAZON, ABORTION AND A TALE OF TWO STATES

   
As a follower of Christ, I do not believe in coincidence.  I believe God is actively involved in our world today.  God allows us to exercise our will for or against Him, yet, He is able to overcome our greatest efforts against His will and still have His way.  This is true sovereignty.

          The Bible tells us the plans of the wicked will not prosper.   Psalm 21:11  Though they plan evil against you, though they devise mischief, they will not succeed.  

           Today's headlines attest to this Biblical truth.  Recently, most of America cringed in horror, as the State of New York giddily celebrated legislation allowing abortion, up to the moment of birth.  Click here for my post on this   Watching the maniacal grins of those present, as Gov. Cuomo signed the bill into law, should have turned the stomachs of moral people everywhere.  

               Meanwhile, the State of Tennessee has been working hard to make abortion rare.  In 2014, Tennessee amended the state constitution to declare, among other things, "Nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or the funding of abortion." TN Right To Life has more info on TN abortion laws.

                  On the heels of New York's abortion law, Tennessee's House of Representatives passed a bill restricting abortion if a heartbeat is detected.  Facing great opposition from pro-abortion foes, the bill soon goes before the State Senate for a vote, where it will hopefully pass and land on the Governor's desk.  

     Jesus said: Matthew 25:40  And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ Yes, I know Jesus was not addressing abortion in this passage, and yes, this is an end time passage, not pertaining, specifically, to the Church today, however, this passage does show God's heart for those without a voice.  Surely, God considers the unborn "one of the least of these".  

      Ironically, in the midst of New York's celebrating unrestricted murder of the the voiceless unborn, the state lost, what looked like, a slam dunk job boon from Amazon.com Inc.  Amazon, planning on building a second headquarters in New York, creating 25,000 high paying executive jobs, scrapped these plans after opposition from state and local protesters.  Though the decision to pull out of the New York project had nothing to do with the newly minted abortion law, I cannot help but see God's hand in blocking the state from enjoying the economic boost Amazon would have provided. Amazon now plans on distributing these jobs across the country in existing or planned hubs.

       Meanwhile, Amazon announced this week, the company plans on moving forward with building an Operations Center of Excellence in Nashville TN, creating 5,000 high paying jobs, averaging $150,000 each.  Whether Amazon plans on moving additional jobs to Tennessee, originally slated for New York, remains to be seen, however, with the current project, Amazon will now be Nashville's largest private employer. 

       I do not believe Amazon cares about the abortion laws of New York or Tennessee. I do believe God cares.  Is it a mere coincidence a great economic opportunity has been lost in New York at the same time Tennessee gains? Not if you believe in God and understand He is not to be mocked.  

       New York is not unique in expanding abortion laws, New York is unique, however, in how politicians disgraced themselves celebrating death.  Tennessee is not the first state to pass a "heartbeat" bill, but at the same time, Tennessee is not making national news calling attention to itself.  Tennessee is acting on behalf of those who have no voice as a simple matter of the natural course of doing business. 

 Matthew 6:6  But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. 

           Abortion is a scourge on America.  The slaughter of innocent life for convenience is a travesty and the selling of baby body parts is an abomination against God.  Planned Parenthood was exposed, in recent years, for profiteering off of dead babies CLICK HERE to read more  The abortion industry has become another form of human trafficking, preying on the misery and naivety of others.  

            As stated above, abortion is a national scourge.  While states like Tennessee are busy passing legislation restricting abortion, federal courts are just as busy knocking down these laws. Congressional protection for babies is not any better.  Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska sponsored a bill designed to save the life of a baby born alive after a botched abortion.  Incredibly, Democrats in Congress blocked the measure, including every senatorial presidential candidate.  What would cause politicians to vote against saving the lives of a baby who is born alive? Could it be because Planned Parenthood donated over $530,000.00 to federal candidates in 2018?  This figure is in addition to money donated to state and local races. Of the candidates receiving monies from PP, 99% are democrat and none are republican.  As in everything else, follow the money.

              If God is to judge us on how we "do unto the least of theses" America is in big trouble.  Planned Parenthood was never about women's health and never will be.  PP originally started as a eugenics project and has evolved into a baby body part factory.  Doctors all over America are speaking up against third trimester abortions, deeming them as completely unnecessary for protecting the life or health of an expecting mother.  An emergency Cesarean Section delivery would, in almost all cases, be more healthy for a mother in physical danger caused by a third trimester pregnancy. Unfortunately, abortion proponents will continue to lie about caring about women's health as long as there is money to be made selling the parts of well developed babies killed in, and now outside, the womb.

            Babies born pre-mature can survive outside the womb, with the proper care.  Read The Miraculous Plight of Baby Avery to see one such case that touched my community about four years ago.

       America cannot continue to allow evil people to profit from the destruction of those God considers "the least of these".  Prayer and education are key in wining this war.  Praying hearts to be softened and evil be exposed while educating young mothers about what is actually growing inside their wombs. If good people do nothing, evil will flourish.  Pray that God would protect the innocent and hinder the work of those who would promote their destruction.

Now, go live as Christ... and give the devil hell!



        

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

OVERCOMING SELF CONDEMNATION

    1 John 3:20  for whenever our heart condemns us, God is                     greater than our heart, and he knows everything. 

     As broken people living in a broken world, it is often difficult to see ourselves and others as God sees.  While some have an over inflated view of self, many suffer from the inner turmoil of self condemnation.  Haunted by missed opportunities and personal failures, paralyzed by self doubt and fear of the unknown, or damaged by the carelessness and selfishness of others, self condemnation is one of the most difficult adversaries to overcome.

       Self condemnation goes beyond the seasons of self doubt most people experience in the course of normal life.  Self condemnation can become debilitating, often leading to withdrawal from friends and family and, sometimes, self destructive behavior.  Self condemnation brings feelings of isolation and the perception of being unworthy of God's love.

          Understanding God is foundational to overcoming feelings of worthlessness.  So many relationships we experience are performance based.  Society defines value based on an arbitrary sense of contribution.  A case in point: R. Kelly, world renowned pop star, is facing serious charges for sexual deviance.  Some of these charges go back decades yet are only being addressed now.  Why?  Twenty years ago, R. Kelly was producing millions of dollars for the record industry, consequently, he was protected.  Mr. Kelly's contribution is no longer large enough to overlook his depravity and what everyone already knew about him is suddenly an outrage.  According to society, R. Kelly is only as good as his contribution.

            It is the societal definition of contribution and performance which leads many to self condemn.  Pressure to please others by meeting unrealistic expectations is hamster wheel futility.  Setting unrealistic expectations on ourselves and others will surely lead to disappointment and discouragement, the parents of self condemnation.  

             A healthy view of God and understanding His view of His children is a necessary first step in overcoming feelings of worthlessness and self loathing.  God, a benevolent Father who, on one hand demands perfection while on the other hand recognizes our weakness and makes provision for our inability to please Him in our own strength.  Psalm 103:13-14  As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him.  For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust. 

            Notice what garners God's compassion - our fear of Him.  Not afraid fear but awe and reverence fear.  Understanding God is worthy of honor and respect from the deepest level of our being.  God is not asking us to perform tricks for Him or entertain Him in some way. God is not asking us to provide some necessary service to Him.  God is asking for us to revere, trust and rely on Him.  

            Understanding God's love for us does not require performance or accomplishment frees us to accept God's love on His terms, not some man made construct.  Romans 5:8  but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

   If you are experiencing self loathing, no amount of platitudinal pep talking will help you, no matter how annoying or misguided your well meaning friends can be.  Job found no solace in the words of his friends either.  When Job was able to hear the voice of God he was able to place things in proper perspective.  Job's struggles were real and no amount of encouragement to "snap out of it" could help.  

       Know you are loved by God.  Sit still and listen for His voice in the midst of the cacophony sounding off in your head.  Understand God loves you as you are, but too much to leave you that way.  Know God sees purpose in you, even when you do not.  God sees purpose in you, even if you have been made to feel worthless by others.  God's people are not God and do not always represent Him well so if you have been harmed by someone claiming to represent God, they failed God.

If your heart condemns you, know this - God is greater than your heart.

Now, go live as Christ... and give the devil hell!          

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

IS JESUS REALLY THE JEWISH MESSIAH?


        
       I am taking the time to write this because of my great love for the people of God - the Jews. I believe the Jewish people are the Elect spoken of by the Apostle Paul.  Even a cursory study of the Old Testament prophets reveals a future time when God will restore the fortunes of Israel and rule the world from Jerusalem.

          It is my prayer for Jewish people to not "convert" to Christianity, but to embrace the True Messiah for the remission of sin.  Yeshua did not set out to start a new religion, He came to reveal God's redemption for His people. Many of the first believers retained their Jewish identity, only recognizing the sacrifices offered at the Temple were a foreshadow of the sacrifice of the Lamb of God and no longer necessary.  In fact, God took the Temple away for this reason.

        The Jewish scriptures, the Tanakh, clearly speak about a future golden age in which God will restore the fortunes of Israel and the earth will revert to a Garden of Eden like state.  Isaiah 65:17-25 speaks of a time when Israel shall experience peace and prosperity where even the most ferocious animals will be tame herbivores, just as they were before the fall of man.  This golden age is referred to as the Messianic age.  Ezekiel 37 speaks of a time when Israel will be reborn, the 12 tribes regathered into the land and united as one nation, and God will dwell among them.  Ezekiel 37:26-28  I will make a covenant of peace with them. It shall be an everlasting covenant with them. And I will set them in their land and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in their midst forevermore.  My dwelling place shall be with them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.   Then the nations will know that I am the LORD who sanctifies Israel, when my sanctuary is in their midst forevermore.”  Two very important key statements appear in this passage: "I will make a covenant of peace with them" and "My dwelling place shall be with them, and I will be their God"  

 Jesus, obviously, did not usher in this golden Messianic Age. Clearly His followers expected Him to and were quite perplexed when Jesus began to talk about going away.  In fact, Jesus' followers cowered in fear after the crucifixion.  Judas, so disheartened by the realization he had bet on the wrong horse, first betrayed his master, and then regretting his decision, took his own life. Following this, something changed, causing the remaining 11 to not only proclaim Jesus as the Messiah, but emboldened  them to stand by this belief through torture and death.  What changed?

              Throughout every Biblical age, from the Garden of Eden to the destruction of the Temple by King Nebuchadnezzar, God gave clear instruction as to His expectations, warned of the consequences for failure and made restoration once repentance was established.  God never left His people without a witness or a method of reconciliation.  Every covenant was contingent on man's ability to obey God's commands. Every covenant, until the one introduced in Ezekiel and Jeremiah, a future covenant, of which God says, Jeremiah 31:31-33  “Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah,   not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the LORD.   For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. God tells His people there will be a New Covenant and it will be unlike the Old Covenant.

    In the Garden of Eden, the covenant God made with Adam required Adam's obedience. When Adam failed, sacrifice was made to cover Adam. God warned Adam failure would result in death. The institution of substitutionary sacrifice was established to restore mankind to fellowship with God. 

  At the time of the flood, God warned mankind through Enoch, who prophesied judgement, and through Noah, the preacher of righteousness. Mankind failed to heed the warning and destruction came.  God restored mankind on the earth through Noah.  When Noah exited the ark, sacrifice was made and restoration took place. 

      Following the Great Flood, God told man to spread out upon the earth.  Man ignored God's command by establishing a city and building a tower of defiance.  God confused the languages and drove man apart. God then brought restoration through the bloodline of Abraham, establishing a people through whom He could reveal Himself to mankind. 

Out of the bloodline of Abraham, God brought forth the nation of Israel and  Moses the Lawgiver. Through Moses, God established a covenant with Israel.  Israel violated these instructions.  Tabernacle worship and sacrifice was established. God sent Judges to lead Israel to repentance and freedom from the consequences of rebellion.  Then came the time of the kings.

        During the time of kings, God sent prophet after prophet to warn the people to repent.  God warned of dire consequences for rebellious behavior.  The people refused to heed God's warning and disaster struck the nation.  Even after the Temple was destroyed and the city conquered, God brought restoration.

         In all these scenarios, God gave warning, followed through on his threats and provided a means of restoration.

  In 70 AD, Rome sacked Jerusalem and destroyed the Temple.  Where was the prophetic warning?  What did God prescribe to avoid this tragedy?  Now, almost 2000 years later, what form of restoration has God offered?         

     If God is true to Himself and truly loves the Jewish people as He claims, the destruction of Jerusalem could not have simply happened inadvertently, without warning or means to avert. What prophet did God send?  Was there a  message?  

If God provided no specific warning to Israel prior to 70 AD, then He lied to the nation when He spoke through the prophet Amos.
Amos 3:6-7 Is a trumpet blown in a city, and the people are not afraid? Does disaster come to a city, unless the LORD has done it?  “For the Lord GOD does nothing without revealing his secret to his servants the prophets. 

     God did, indeed send a prophet.  John the Baptist came preaching, "repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand."  John warned the religious leaders who represented the people to prepare for the coming Messiah. 

    Messiah did, indeed, come and He offered the Kingdom.  The first chapters of Matthew's Gospel reveal Jesus offering the kingdom to Israel.  It is only after Jesus is rejected, via representation, we see Jesus change the message and begin to expand His ministry beyond Israel.  At first, Jesus taught what we call the beatitudes, the rules for living in the Kingdom.  The religious leaders (priests) were established, by God, to represent the people before God. The High Priest, specifically chosen by God to represent the people, rejected Jesus' message, in effect, leading to a national rejection.   

        God gives another warning through the prophet Amos, indicating the Messianic Age coming only after great tribulation: Amos 5:18-20  Woe to you who desire the day of the LORD! Why would you have the day of the LORD? It is darkness, and not light,   as if a man fled from a lion, and a bear met him, or went into the house and leaned his hand against the wall, and a serpent bit him.  Is not the day of the LORD darkness, and not light, and gloom with no brightness in it? 
     Every Israelite knew the Day of  YHWH was the beginning of the Messianic Age. Through Amos, God revealed the Day of YHWH would not be a pleasant time for Israel.  

    Many today reject Jesus as Messiah because He did not usher in the Messianic Age.  Rabbinic Judaism continues to look for Messiah and modern day Jewish leaders state it will be easy to know when Messiah is here because He will fulfill the prophecies calling for the restoration of Israel and the destruction and/or subjugation of her enemies.  

      What many in the Jewish community fail to realize is Bible prophecy reveals a two fold ministry for Messiah.  Isaiah 53 refers to Messiah as a suffering servant who suffers death for the sins of the people.  The Talmud, the Septuagint version and the Aramaic translation found among the Dead Sea Scrolls all attest to Isaiah 53 referring to a specific man, not the nation of Israel, as purported by modern Rabbinic thought.

         Many ancient Rabbis and Jewish scholars could not reconcile passages of scripture attributed to Messiah portraying Him as suffering and dying and conquering and reigning.  Because of this supposed conflict, the two Messiahs theory was born.  On Messiah would suffer for the sins of the people, as described in Isaiah 53. This Messiah, it was believed, would be descended from the Patriarch Joseph through Ephraim, thus the title Messiah Ben Joseph.  The second Messiah, believed to be descended from Judah through David was referred to as Messiah Ben David.

          God did a neat little trick, assigning Jesus' adopted father duties to a man named Joseph.  Jesus, in his true lineage, descended from Judah through David, on His mother Miriam's side and humanly speaking Jesus was, through adoption, the son of Joseph.  Jesus fulfills both roles of suffering servant and reigning king and can rightfully be called both Ben Joseph and Ben David. Ben Joseph through adoption and Ben David through lineage. 

              The most important question you will ever have to answer is, "Who is Jesus?"  How you answer this one simple question will govern your whole life and beyond.  The matter of whether or not He lived is not worth debating as only the most intellectually dishonest among us will attempt this argument.  The question of His identity, however, has been debated and redefined for 2000 years, yet His followers continue to change the world.

             Sadly, many evil men have done monstrously evil things in the name of Jesus.  Today, evil men continue to do Satan's work disguised as Christianity.  Satan has been misrepresenting the truth of God since the Garden of Eden. 


The Torah and he Tanakh all point to the coming Age of Messiah.   I have written previously, how God has revealed in Psalm 60 how Israel will call out to Jesus in the Great Tribulation ushering in the Messianic Age

               My prayer for you today is, if you are Jewish, you will consider these things and understand, Jesus never set out to establish a new religion.  Jesus' mission was and is to set His people free from sin.  

               My prayer for you today is, if you are a follower of Jesus, you would represent the Messiah well and be burdened for the nation of Israel as the Apostle Paul who wrote: Romans 1:16  For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 



          Now, go live as Christ... and give the devil hell!!

Thursday, February 14, 2019

SO, WHO WAS ST. VALENTINE ANYWAY?



             With Valentine's Day upon us, love is on the minds of many people.  The question is, what really is Valentine's day and more importantly, what is love?

             A little background:

           According to Legend, Roman Emperor Claudius, in the 3rd century, was having a difficult time recruiting soldiers for war. Many men were reluctant to leave wife and family to fight wars on foreign soil.  Claudius came up with a solution - outlaw marriage.

Enter Valentine - a priest who secretly married several couples and was, in return sentenced to death. 

The legend goes on to inform us, while in prison, the priest fell in love with the daughter of one of the guards and sent her a letter signed, "from your Valentine."

Prior to all this, February 14 was known as Lupercalia, a pagan holiday, in which men of valor would draw the names of maidens from a box and thus become sworn protectors of the chosen maiden, or one year.

In order to incorporate Lupercalia into Christian practice, the roman church chose February 14 to be the St. Valentine's day, the patron saint of love.   Instead of drawing the name of a maiden, celebrants drew the name of a canonized saint and thus were charged with emulating the attributes of the chosen saint, for one year.  Over time, the observance evolved into the Hallmark holiday we celebrate today.

While Valentine is not the author nor definer of love, God is.

1 John 4:6  -  So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 

God's love supersedes anything man can express. Most romantic love is contingent upon a quid pro quo, so to speak.  We love and expect love and affection in return.  With God, love goes way beyond any ideas of reciprocation.  While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.  

Romantic love is great, if you can find it, but true love transcends feelings and emotions.  True love is sacrificial and expects nothing in return.  This is the love we receive from God and the love we are to strive to emulate.

If you are celebrating today with someone you love, love them well. If you find yourself without someone special to share this holiday, know you are not insignificant and most importantly, you are defined by your relationship with God and you are much loved!  

And in all things, faith, hope and love, but the greatest of these is love.

Now, go live as Christ.... and give the devil hell!

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

KNOWING WHY YOU BELIEVE VS WHAT YOU BELIEVE

     
  Have you ever been so sure you were right you were willing to stake your very reputation and even risk damaging relationships?  Few things engender such conviction as do faith and politics.  Often,  differences of political and religious views equate to an immovable object meeting an irresistible force.  For many, the idea of discourse to understand opposing views is foreign, leaving an argument of talking points and witty personal attacks as the preferred method of addressing disagreement.

      We no longer care why someone believes as they do, proving those with whom we disagree wrong is the main objective.  Is is possible to be wrong even when what you believe is right?  What if our main objective was to be correct rather than right?  How would this shape our approach to handling disagreements?

            What many believe on any given political or religious topic is, primarily, shaped by worldview.  Chances are, your views on abortion, gay marriage, the resurrection of Christ or the inerrancy of scripture is based on what you believe about the world in general and not based on any independent study of the particular topic.  On the abortion issue, for instance, your source of information will generally be from sources in agreement with what you already believe.  If you are pro-abortion, your sources of information, to defend your position, will come from Planned Parenthood.  If your position is pro-life, National Right to Life will be, most likely, where you turn to for information. 

       America is filled with arm chair quarterbacks, content with allowing others to provide the arguments in defense of political and religious positions.  When was the last time you read a scholarly piece from an opposing viewpoint on an issue you hold?  Christians lose credibility when we spout off on a divisive topic on social media and then have no ability to actually defend the position. 

         When we form opinions based on our identity with a group that holds a particular view, without first investigating the position for ourselves, we contribute to further polarization of society.  Without understanding a person's reason for holding a position, it becomes easy to demonize them and pronounce all sort of evil intent over them.  Is this really what Jesus had in mind when He instructed us:  Matthew 5:44  But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,?

        Obviously, we cannot thoroughly investigate every controversial topic.  I have strong opinions on many topics but refrain from sharing some publicly as I do not feel I have done my due diligence in supporting my argument.  Not every opinion needs to be shared on Facebook or Twitter.  If you do share your opinion on social media, you better be able to defend yourself against attack.

       If, for instance, as a Christian, you choose to post something on social media concerning your opposition to gay marriage, you are well within your right to do so.  Please, however, have a better defense than the ridiculous "God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve!" cliche.  If your argument can fit on a bumper sticker, you do not have an argument and should probably keep what you think to yourself.   Uninformed opinions are like bowel movements, everyone has them and they usually stink. 

        If I claim the moon is made of cheese and offer no empirical evidence to support my thesis, I have no credibility in anything I say.  "Because that's what I have always believed" or "that's how I was raised" are not arguments for any position, yet when it comes to faith and politics, these seem to be common statements of the uninformed.  Spouting off uninformed opinions, without any factual evidence to support said opinion, only serves to contribute to further polarization of society. 

        As followers of Christ, we have allowed our voices to be silenced in the court of public opinion for fear of offending.  The Gospel is offensive to unbelievers.  Jesus was offensive to the status quo powers that were, in His time.  It is time we learn the difference between being offensive and speaking the truth in love, which may be offensive. Speaking arrogantly or belittling others with whom we disagree is offensive behavior, which should never be practiced by God's people. Speaking the truth, in love, may offend inadvertently, but the offense is a result of truth, not our poor behavior.

         Know what you believe and know why you believe it.  Educate yourself.  If what you believe on any given topic is truth, you should not fear opposition.  Resist opinion formed of emotion or false reason, void of factual representation.  If you hold a position on an issue based on feelings, you will lose every time.  

    You may be surprised to find many people who hold opposing views to yours are motivated by a desire to make the world a better place.  Learning what motivates a person helps shape your presentation of the facts. Do not demonize those with whom you disagree. Many times, finding common ground is the best place to start a dialogue.  You may not change someone's mind immediately, but you may cause them to think, which is a very good start.

      Our ultimate goal should never be merely winning an argument or debate, the ultimate goal is to represent the truth well.  1 Peter 3:15-16  but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. 

         Based on what I witness on social media these days, this passage seems to be missing from many Bibles. If God's people can practice  these verses in he court of public discourse, we may find far less polarization and more profitable dialogue.  Know the truth, present the truth in love and leave room for the Holy Spirit to water the seeds you sow.

Now, go live as Christ... and give the devil hell!!

Thursday, January 24, 2019

NY CELEBRATES DEATH OF THE INNOCENT AND THE CHRISTIAN RESPONSE

           


     The state of New York passed landmark legislation legalizing abortion at any and every stage of pregnancy.  Previously, abortion in New York, was legal up to 24 week, and could be performed only by a licensed doctor.  All that changed this week, as Democrats, for the first time in years, took control of the state senate and hastily decreed death to viable babies, who's only crime was to have not yet taken a breath.  

      Disguised as a reproductive health issue, the new law allows for the murder of an unborn child based on the "viability of the child or the life and health of the mother."  On the face of it, this seems almost reasonable.  It simply gives a woman the right to avoid the pain of going full term only to deliver a dead or dying baby or the right to preserve her own life if carrying the baby to full term was somehow a terminal situation, right?  Well, maybe...

      Here are a few reasons why this law is about more than protecting the health of women

1.  The "health of the mother" portion of the law is the extremely broad and includes mental health.  In other words, a woman, in labor, can decide she is too stressed out or mentally strained to raise a child and she can choose, at that point, for the sake of her "health" to terminate the baby before it takes a first breath.  
    
       Yes, this is an extreme scenario, but, nonetheless, one made legal by the good people of the New York legislature.

2.  Allowing abortions to be performed by medical personnel other than doctors.  Previously, only licensed doctors could perform abortions, now, nurse practitioners, physician's assistants and midwives can perform non surgical abortions. 

       So we are to believe allowing a midwife to perform an abortion is somehow safer for a woman than being under a physician's care?
The whole idea of protecting a woman's health as the primary purpose of this heinous law falls apart at this point.

3. Killing a baby in the womb is no longer considered homicide, even if the killing is done against the mother's will.  So, if a pregnant woman believes she is carrying a baby in her womb, she would be wrong under the new law, as anyone could cause death to the unborn child and not face a homicide charge.  Kicking a pregnant woman in the stomach and causing the death of her unborn baby would now be considered assault rather than murder.  

4. Unabashed celebration. As if this horrific piece of legislation was not enough, Governor Cuomo's glee as he signs the bill into law is nothing less than astounding. According to the proponents of abortion, it is solemn private matter and should be safe, legal and rare.  So we celebrate greater access to something considered solemn and private?  This is about far more than a woman's health and privacy.  And, if the giddiness of the sponsors and signatory is not enough, the city of New York lit up One World Trade Center with special pink lights in honor of this most festive occasion.


What should our response be to this horror show in New York?  Do we attack Governor Cuomo on social media and call him evil?  Do we spew hatred to those on the other side of this issue or do we love our enemies as we are commanded in scripture? 

     Is Governor Cuomo an evil man because he joyfully signed this bill into law?  I will submit to you, Gov. Cuomo signed this bill into law because he is an evil man.  Signing this does not make him evil, his evil lead to sign.  Let me explain: all people are evil at heart. Mankind has, historically, been brutal and destructive to one another. Gov. Cuomo is no more evil than your neighbor down the street, he only has greater capacity to exercise his evil because of his position of power.  Without the righteousness of Christ, imparted to me by God, I would have the same untamed evil nature, restrained only by my fear of consequences.  

 Our response, as followers of Christ, can never be hate.  We were able to see what unbridled hate led to earlier this week when the media misrepresented the Covington students.  Today is a day for prayer, for introspection and a redoubling of our efforts to save as many babies as possible.

What can we do?

1.We can support local Women's facilities which offer faith based counsel and support for unwed moms, pregnant teens and others who are at risk of terminating a pregnancy.

2. We can support legislation limiting and restricting abortion.  Here is a link for a petition started by author and Christian apologist, Heather Schuldt sign the petition to end 3rd trimester abortion  

3. Support adoption.  Either consider adopting or help families who are in the adoption process. Adoption fees and lawyer costs can range between 10 and 50 thousand dollars.  This is the biggest obstacle to adoption.  

4. Help educate the next generation. As the next generation has access to greater technology, the big lie told by the abortion industry can be exposed. Groups like Planned Parenthood would have you believe an unborn child is nothing but a lump of nonviable flesh.  A beating heart and brain activity proves otherwise.  

5. Engage your local, state and federal representatives.  Planned Parenthood receives federal tax dollars, even after being exposed for selling baby body parts. Almost every republican in office, including President Trump, campaigned on eliminating funding for Planned Parenthood, yet, government funding continues.  We need to hold our politicians accountable.

     Now is not the time to give up or get discouraged, now is the time to pray, educate and act.  Women who have had abortions need to know God loves them and offers forgiveness through Jesus Christ.  Many women suffer horrible guilt after an abortion, it is not our job as the Church to make them feel worse. Jesus is our example, when He told the woman caught in adultery, "neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more,"

       Abortion is not the disease, abortion is a symptom of the disease. The disease is sin. We have been commanded to go and make disciples. Disciple making is the cure for the disease.  Cure the disease, eliminate the symptom.  God loves Governor Cuomo and God loves the foolish people who are celebrating this abominable law.  Let us not forget, hate is not an option.

Now, go live as Christ... and give the devil hell!

       

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

A LESSON FOR THE CHURCH FROM THE COVINGTON SCHOOL DEBACLE

   

       What can we learn from all the controversy surrounding the two students from the Covington Catholic school and an elderly Native American man?  This weekend, a tiny portion of a much longer video surfaced, edited in such a way, as to portray two young men, at the March for Life rally, as bullies, harassing an elderly Native American man.  The mainstream press, along with much of the liberal community, was very quick to rush to judgment and condemned the high schoolers.  Verified Tweeters of a left wing persuasion called for violence against these boys.  In fact, threats of violence caused the school to suspend classes.

      The liberal left showed it's true colors in an avalanche of hate and threats spewed all over social media.  Some wished for a school shooting to take place at Covington, a record label owner called for the boys to locked in the school while it was burned down, journalist Eric Abriss was fired for wishing death to both the boys and their parents and a female SNL writer offered sexual favors for anyone who punched the boys in the face.  Celebrities jumped on board the hate train and accused the boys of everything from being Nazis to Klansman.  Daily Show host Trevor Noah opined his desire to punch the boys in the face.

      Days later, an avalanche of mea culpas is flooding the world of social media.  "I am sorry for rushing to judgment" is the new rally cry across the Twitterverse.  Too little, too late, in my opinion.  Shamefully, Twitter was slow to react and did not suspend accounts of those who vomited threats towards minors, until the full video was released and the truth of the event was revealed. The elderly Native American man who was portrayed as a victim was actually the villain of the story.   Nathan Phillips, a known provocateur, orchestrated a media event, in order to advance his agenda. 

     The lesson we must take away from this is do not rush to judgment based on initial appearances.  Whether it is a news story, a juicy bit of gossip or something  heard in church, until you are able to verify the information, tread carefully.

    The Bible says a matter is established on the testimony of two or three witnesses. Before you run off and tout something you heard, verify the information.  As believers in Christ, we cannot allow our emotions to run away with us or cause us to believe the worst about someone with whom we disagree. 

     The  Apostle Paul commended the Berean people for fact checking his message with scripture. How many false teachers and heretics would lose their followings if modern Christians were as noble as the Bereans and checked their doctrines in light of scripture?  

        In the world of fake news, fact checking is more important 
than ever.  Also of utmost importance is fact checking your faith.  Know what you believe and why you believe it.  If your faith is based solely on something you have been taught all your life, you are building your house on sand.  2 Timothy 2:15 - Study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman that needs not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth

 Don't just take someone's word
       
            God gave us His Word and His Spirit to help us understand His Word.  You are ultimately responsible if you believe bad doctrine. Shame on those who would use the Word of God to manipulate and deceive others but shame on those who do not study scripture for themselves and fact check.

The truth is always true


        If what you believe is the truth, never fear the questions.  The truth is always true and the questions all have answers.  People who never question and follow blindly often come to a crisis of faith when they cannot defend a hand me down religion. If you do not have a reason for your hope in Christ, you may not truly know Him.

If a religious leader discourages questions, he probably has something to hide

       If you have been part of a church that discourages questions, as I was, many years ago, you may have become suspicious of the leaders and, sadly, even suspicious of God. A pretty good rule of thumb is, if your religious leaders discourage questions, they probably have something to hide.  Some ministers discourage questions for fear of being exposed as a fraud, some simply do not know the answers to tough questions and are embarrassed, and some ministers have actually become atheist but are trapped in a job.  Walk, don't run, away from a church leader who gets hostile if you dare question something he has taught.  "You just have to have faith" is probably one of the worst possible answers a minister can give to a tough question.

         Be sure to learn what you think you know.  Ask questions if you don't understand something and remember, if you are a believer in Christ, you have the Spirit of God indwelling you.  Verify what you hear and check your emotions  before you react and you will be better off than all those who rushed to judgment against two kids who did nothing wrong.  Do not allow your personal bias to become part of the narrative until you have all the facts.  1 Peter 3:15-16 -  but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. 



        Now, go live as Christ... and give the devil hell!
           

     

Thursday, January 10, 2019

THE SOLOMONITE CHURCH - DENY NOT THYSELF - OR CHRIST'S CHURCH

Matthew 16:24  Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 


      What did Jesus mean when he gave the command to deny self, pick up your cross and follow?  It's hard to know, looking at the condition of what passes itself off for Christianity in America.  It may be hard to tell by what passes itself off as Christianity in my own life, sometimes.... maybe, a lot of the time.  Have we become a church of Solomons?  Do we have all the wisdom and resources of God and fail to honor Him with what He has given because we are erecting monuments, amassing wealth and indulging our sexual whims?

          God has blessed the American church with almost unlimited resources and we, like King Solomon, squander what God has given on the indulgence of the flesh and monuments to self, bigger houses, nicer cars, fancier church buildings etc. There is little we deny ourselves, if we are truly honest.  

            Our entertainment, alone, would have made a demon blush in past generations, yet we find no problem being entertained by things God calls an abomination. We have no problem allowing our children to indulge in sin as a right of passage because they may have reached some magical age where suddenly exposure to or participation in sin is somehow acceptable and no longer destructive.

           Oh, we know all the right things to say and we give great advice and counsel but our behavior does not match our words.  Solomon wrote the book of Proverbs. Solomon imparted wisdom to his son, in the hopes his son would live an upright and honest life, honoring to God.  Solomon, however, showed his son a very different example than what was written. Solomon built monuments and palaces for himself and his glory.  Solomon amassed great wealth to his glory.  Solomon collected women like a child collects bottle caps. 

              Solomon's son was far more influenced by his dad's behavior than anything his dad ever wrote or said. We know this by reading the account of Rehoboam's first days as king of Israel.  In 
1 Kings chapter 12, we see Rehoboam blow his first big test as king, which resulted in his losing more than half his kingdom.  

           We tend to glamorize King Solomon and his exploits. We admire him for his great wealth and how he used it.  We do not realize the destructive heritage King Solomon's lifestyle wrought on his children.  Solomon spoke like a prophet, yet, he lived as if there were no God to whom he must answer. The book of Ecclesiastes chronicles why Solomon is not a man to be revered nor emulated.  

             So, what exactly did Jesus mean when he said we must deny self, pick up our cross and follow Him?

Let's look at each piece separately first and then put it all together:

1. Deny self

         To deny self is to recognize not all things we feel or desire are good for us. Proverbs 14:12  There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death

           Do you pretty much do whatever you feel?  Solomon denied himself nothing and instead of finding satisfaction he only found himself wanting more.  To deny self also goes beyond simply avoiding obviously sinful practice but actually allows you to find sufficiency in God by removing distractions from your life.  Denying your impulses and urges, denying yourself through fasting and denying yourself indulgences allows you to move from seeking satisfaction in things superficial and temporary to finding sufficiency in God who is the same today, yesterday and forever.

God has set parameters in order to protect us. God's commands are a protective fence, not a prison yard.  

2. Pick up your cross

     This is probably one of the most misunderstood passages of scripture.  So often people speak of hardship as "my cross to bear".  This is not speaking of hardship. The cross represents purpose.


Jeremiah 1:5  “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” 

  Jesus recognized His purpose was to bear the cross.  When we are told to pick up our cross, we are being instructed by God to get busy serving according to our design.  God made you with specific talents and a place in the Body of Christ, the church.  Just like a human body, if members do not function properly, the whole body is mal-affected.  You were not designed to merely sit in church for an hour per week, you were designed with purpose and have a ministry tailored to your design.  

True fulfillment of life is found in serving according to your purpose and design


3. Follow Jesus

     Following Jesus means recognizing His voice, obeying what you hear and doing what He did.  


John 10:27  My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.  

Following Christ may not lead you where you expected, or maybe even where you wanted to go, but He will lead to a path marked with peace and joy.  The path may be difficult and, at times, treacherous, but as the Psalmist wrote, "yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil for thou art with me."  

Following also means not running off on your own and trying to do ministry under your own power.  Follow God's lead and you can be assured you are right where He wants you, even when things seem difficult

Putting it all together

  When we take all the components of self denial, acting according to our purpose and following God's lead we will begin to see God's power manifest in our lives like never before.  Do you feel as if your life is adrift and unsatisfying?  It is because you are pursuing self rather than pursuing God's best for you.  

Solomon lamented a wasted life and realized at the end the purpose of our existence is to honor God and obey His commands.  By the time Solomon realized this, the damage to his son was done.  Do not allow the lie of the enemy or the urges of your flesh rob from you and the ones you love.  Do not be a Solomonite.

Now, go live as Christ... and give the devil hell!

    


 



Sunday, December 30, 2018

SPIRITUAL GOAL CHALLENGE FOR A NEW YEAR



   The New Year is upon us and as we look back over the last 12 months, it is a good time to reflect on what worked for us and what did not.  

     The million dollar question is, "What do yo plan on doing differently next year to grow in Christ?

This question does not assume you had a bad year or failed your goals, this question simply acknowledges real growth comes through building on success and learning from failure.  As a believer in Christ, the goal should be growing in your faith, becoming more like Jesus and developing your God given gifts of service.  Hopefully, you implemented some spiritual pursuits which helped in this endeavor, over the past year.

         If something worked for you, continue the practice.  Just as important, do not make the same mistakes, learn from them.

Here are some Biblical guidelines to successful goal setting:

SET REALISTIC GOALS
Micah 6:8 - What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God?

         Setting realistic goals is the key to success in any endeavor. Setting reasonable goals allows you to experience success, while setting ridiculously large goals will lead to discouragement. If you have never read through your Bible, setting a goal to read the whole thing in a year is a realistic goal.  Deciding to write a commentary on the whole Bible when you have not read it all, may not be very realistic.  Deciding to get involved in local outreach is a realistic goal, winning your whole city for Christ may be a bit outside your reach. 

SET GOD'S GOALS
Psalm 127:1 - Unless the LORD build the house, the builders labor in vain

Understanding God's supernatural empowerment to accomplish His goals for you opens the door to unlimited possibilities.  Saying, "I want to reach a million souls for Christ this year" may seem a bit lofty, but if God chooses to work through you and you follow His lead, why not. The only caveat is: make sure your goal is God's goal. Nothing will lead to failure and frustration quicker than running ahead of God.  

SEEK OTHERS WITH SIMILAR GOALS
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 - Two are better than one, because they have a good return on their labor, if one falls down, the other can help him up... though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves, a cord of three strands is not quickly broken

Surround yourself with those pursuing the same purpose.  For instance, if you are planning a trip to Alaska, do not partner up your preparations with a guy planning a trip to Hawaii.  The Hawaii guy will have very different preparations and chances are, you will hinder one another.  If your plan is to read through the Bible in a year, find others with the same goal and hold one another accountable.  

DO NOT BE DISCOURAGED BY SETBACKS
Proverbs 24:16 - For the righteous falls seven times and rises again

Everyone of us experiences setbacks.  The Apostle Paul had a goal to reach Rome to preach.  If he gave up when he was imprisoned in Jerusalem or shipwrecked on the Island of Malta many books of the Bible would not have been written.  Paul did make it to Rome and had fruitful ministry there, the path was not how he envisioned, but the goal was met.

      Even if you do not have a specific goal beyond knowing God better, pursue knowing God with all your heart.  Psalm 37:4 - Delight yourself in the LORD and He will give you the desires of your heart.

What do yo plan on doing differently next year to grow in Christ?

What are your goals for the new year?  Do not plan to fail by failing to plan. Get together with your Father, who loves you, and get His plan, set some goals and watch God do His thing.

Now, go live as Christ... and give the devil hell!

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

CHILDREN OF A GARDEN PARTY FROM HELL

       Went to a garden party to reminisce with my old friends
       A chance to share old memories and play our songs again
      When I got to the garden party, they all knew my name
      No one recognized me, I didn't look the same
           But it's all right now, I learned my lesson well.
You see, ya can't please everyone, so ya got to please yourself
                   
                                                                     - Rick Nelson

            If you are my age or older, you probably remember this catchy little tune from Ricky Nelson circa 1972.  Garden Party's chorus easily gets stuck in your head: But it's all right now, I learned my lesson well. You see, ya can't please everyone, so ya got to please yourself   This was a pretty common sentiment in 1972, essentially, look out for number one. Who is number one?  Why ME of course!
             What a self destructive societal plague this sentiment is!  Imagine a world where a majority of people are serving their own best interests and everyone else be damned?  Well, you don't have to imagine it, look no further than Washington DC and you can see Ricky Nelson's words in action.
            This is not just a Washington DC problem.  If you are honest, fear of consequences govern more of your better behaviors than altruism.  No, I do not believe everyone is a miscreant, but then again, what would a day free of consequences mean for you?  
                      What would your life look like if you were suddenly Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, if you knew tomorrow would reset everything and nothing you did today would be remembered, except by you?  If your mind is running wild with possibilities you may be a miscreant at heart! 
                       Who are we really, when no one is looking? Do we all pretend to be better than we are for fear of exposure? Can your friends and family see the real you?
                    The problem is, we are all tainted with selfishness because of a Garden Party from hell almost 6000 years ago.  In the Garden of Eden, Adam traded God's protection and provision for a chance to please himself.  This resulted in Adam realizing he had made a grave error. Adam's attempt to hide from from God was futile.  Adam's children have been trying to hide from God ever since.  

                 Adam's attempt to please himself ended in abject disaster.  Not much has changed in 6000 years.  The Bible has a good deal to say on this topic:   Jeremiah 17:9  The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?      
 Proverbs 14:12  There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.   Our attempts to take care of number one will always leave us unsatisfied, frustrated and disillusioned.

             The remedy is putting God first: Proverbs 3:6-7  In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil.  Following God's method will lead to fulfillment, peace, joy and satisfaction.  

     No one spent more resources and effort in pleasing self than King Solomon.  In his winter years, he looked over his life and realized the futility of all he pursued. Solomon came to this conclusion: Ecclesiastes 12:13-14  The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil. 

      It's true, you can't please everyone, so you should try to please the Lord. You have an audience of one and what He thinks is all that should matter.

Now, go live as Christ... and give the devil hell!!