Love Thy Neighbor

I was happy to see the Arizona Governor veto the bill that would allow business owners to refuse service to gays because of religious objections.  That might seem like an odd thing for a Christian to say. I am by no means supporting the homosexual lifestyle. I believe the Bible clearly states that it a sinful lifestyle. But I am supporting Christian values and human dignity. I am standing up for what the Bible commands Christians to do.
The Bible commands us to love people. We are to love our neighbor and we are to love our enemies. Gays are not our enemies, they are human beings caught up in the trap of sinful behavior. The Bible tells us that we are not at war with people, but with demonic spirits. We are not giving our consent to the homosexual lifestyle if we sell a gay person a tube of toothpaste or serve them a hamburger. We are only selling a product to a human being. Who knows that along with that toothpaste or hamburger we might also be able to impart a word of friendship and plant a seed showing the love of Christ? If we deny service, we are cutting ourselves off from the very ones whose lives we need to be touching, not to mention we are not doing what the Bible commands us to do, “love your neighbor as yourself”!

On the other hand, I hope we can get away from the current prevailing thought that we hate everyone we disagree with. We can have differences of opinion and still be friends and not hate each other. A Christian who hates people for any reason is not living the biblical Christian life. But when Christians stand with the Bible and say that Homosexuality is sinful, that is deemed to be “hate speech” and we are called homophobes. I’m not afraid of you nor do I hate you just because I disagree with you. Christians must tolerate Homosexuals, but Homosexuals apparently don’t have to tolerate Christians! Where’s the fairness in that? Shouldn't we all be held to the same standard and be required to give life and freedom to each other?



We have become a country of enablers. Under the guise of love and tolerance, we have enabled people to live in sin and not feel guilty or ashamed of their actions. As a matter of fact, guilt and shame have become dirty words themselves. No one can be held accountable for their actions because they are either ‘sick with a disease’, ‘born that way’ or ‘free to live their lives as they see fit’. They can't help it, so how can we blame them? We must accept them as they are and love them and their ways. I am afraid to think of what is coming down the pike next, but I’m sure we’ll find a way to accept it no matter how perverted or evil it is.
What God calls sin is sin. There’s no way around it, over it or under it righteously. We may not hold ourselves or others responsible, but God can and will. We may candy-coat the truth, spare people’s feelings and enable (even reward) bad behavior, but God will not. He will punish it. It will feel the full weight of His wrath. There will be no excuses accepted, no humanistic reasoning debated and no tear-filled cries for mercy granted on the judgment day. Mercy is only available in the here-and-now. Make things right before you die or suffer the consequences before a Holy God.
I feel badly for the millions of people who have fallen into deadly sin because society has put their stamp of approval on it. People use to turn from sinful living when their conscious’s bothered them. But now society has declared that not only can we live any old way we want, but we must tolerate, respect and even admire others who live perverted lifestyles. And I’m not only talking about homosexuals. Alcoholics have a disease, thieves have a disease, sex addicts have a disease, child molesters have a disease, adulterers have a disease, and on and on. No one is responsible for their evil deeds. And how dare you Christians quote from some ancient fairy-tale book to tell us different. There is no absolute truth. There is no moral standard. There is no God.

The Bible says there was a time when every man did what was right in his own eyes. It says there was a time when the Earth was so full of sin that God destroyed it with a flood. It says that there was a time when man’s thoughts were only evil continuously. Look around and see history repeating itself.  The final cleansing will be with fire, not water; and sooner than we think.  


Fixing what ain't broke

I read about 'seeker-sensitive' churches and about 'doing church in a whole new way' and churches where 'the unchurched feel comfortable'. Here are some of my favorite quotes and articles on that subject:

"It is a myth that man in his natural state is genuinely seeking God. Men do seek God. But they do not seek him for who he is. They seek him in a pinch as one who might preserve them from death or enhance their worldly enjoyments. Apart from conversion, no one comes to the light of God." ~John Piper

"In the Garden of Eden, when sin came into the world, who hid? Jesus came into the world to seek and to save the lost. Jesus wasn’t the one who was hiding. God is not a fugitive. We are the ones on the run. Scripture declares that the wicked flee when no man pursues. As Martin Luther remarked: “The pagan trembles at the rustling of a leaf. The uniform teaching of Scripture is that fallen men are fleeing from God.”
People do not seek God. They seek after the benefits that only God can give them. The sin of fallen man is this: Man seeks the benefits of God while fleeing from God Himself. We are, by nature, fugitives."  ~RC Sproul

""the natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Cor. 2:14 ESV) Deal with it. Like Paul said above, it’s all foolishness until the Spirit opens their eyes. All too often, your church feels more like a middle school cafeteria than a church storming the gates of hell. It’s as if the message is “Won’t you please like us, pretty please! Let’s connect on Facebook – BFF LOL!” We should expect the gospel light to be offensive to those in darkness. Jesus warned us that would be the case. So why are we so focused on creating an environment that makes those who are perishing feel comfortable?
It’s about where you put your focus. What’s the point of designing your church to seem attractive to those to whom the gospel is unattractive? Is it just to get them in the door? I’ve got to tell you, at times your church more resembled a network marketing meeting than a church service. Been there done that. Just get people to the weekly meeting and let the flashy band, superstar speaker, and stellar child care do the rest. Don’t forget to take a sample and sign up on your way out – oh, and tell your friends about us!
At some point later, I guess, we’ll talk about all that tougher stuff about dying to self, forsaking all to follow Christ, and – gasp — hell and sin. But for now, just push that Easy Button. Settle back into your stadium seating and enjoy this riveting drama and dance routine we’ve cooked up for you while we smile incessantly.
Sounds like the classic bait-n-switch to me. I don’t recall Jesus charging his disciples to “lure potential recruits in with flashy programs, comfy chairs, and a free foot massage. Then, when the mood is right, guys, drop the whole repent thing on ‘em – but subtle, boys, subtle with a capital S and that rhymes with – well, you know – that word we do not speak of. (Wink!)”
Quite the opposite, I recall him telling us to go out into the world, not bring the world into the church. He has called us to be ambassadors who go out, not sales reps who stay in, lurking at the hotel to sign up prospects lured in by the promise of sweet treats and easy riches. He told us to make disciples, not water down the gospel power to make it more seeker-friendly." ~Bill Blankshaen (in "Why I left your seeker-friendly church")

"Seeker-sensitive services originally promised to woo post-moderns back into the fold. Out the stained glass window went the somewhat formal 45-minute exegetical sermon, replaced by a shorter, story-based talk to address the "felt needs" of the congregants while reinforcing the premise that following Jesus would dramatically improve their quality of life.
Contemporary worship had already found its way into the mainstream, but their new model nudged the church further toward a rock-concert feel. Finally, programs proliferated, with programs for nearly every demographic, from Mothers of Preschoolers to Red Glove Motorcycle Riders.
None of these changes were pernicious or even poorly intentioned. In the case of my previous church, choosing the seeker model began innocently. The staff endeavored to create a wide on-ramp for folks who might ordinarily bypass the sanctuary in favor of Starbucks. (As an incentive, we provided fair-trade coffee and bagels each week.) Trained not to assume that everyone was on the same page politically or spiritually, we sought to have friendly, nuanced conversations with visitors.
Being aware of those who come through the doors of any organization is a good thing. I have walked out of many services without a single person engaging with me. However, many churches gradually, and perhaps unwittingly, transitioned from being appropriately sensitive to the needs of their congregants to becoming–if you'll permit some pop-psychologizing–co-dependent with them.
What does co-dependence look like within a church? Avoiding sections of Scripture out of fear that certain power pockets will be offended. Believing that repeat attendance depends primarily upon the staff's seamless execution of Sunday morning–rather than the manifest presence of God. Eliminating doleful songs from the worship repertoire because they might contradict the through line that "following Jesus is all gain." ~Dorothy Greco


Science and Religion

When I was a kid in church, we were led to believe that science and religion were mutually exclusive.  I got the gist early on that faith and reason were as well. Scientists were just trying to contradict and disprove the Bible. People of faith didn't need to understand why things were the way they were, we left all that to God. Never question, just believe.
The Bible tells us in the book of Romans (and elsewhere) that God has chosen to reveal himself in what He has created. It tells us that no man has an excuse to not know God because God can clearly be seen in nature. Science is the study of God's creation. Scientists look, measure, test and then report what they find. Now, I know that some scientists have an agenda and because they don't want there to be a God, they try to use their findings to prove that He doesn't exist. But have you noticed how many times recent scientific discoveries jive perfectly with what was written in the Bible thousands of years ago?
There is only one truth - God's truth. When scientific data contradicts what the Bible clearly states, the scientist has misinterpreted the data. When the theologian's teaching from scripture contradicts legitimate scientific findings, the theologian has misinterpreted the scriptures. God has chosen to reveal Himself in scripture and in creation and the two revelations must agree! There is only one truth!
I can remember not too many years ago in the Holiness denomination, people believed that the moon shined it's own light. You would be excommunicated for agreeing with science that the moon only reflected the sun's light! Then again, there was a time when the best scientists in the world said the Earth was flat and all the other planets and the sun revolved around it. In both these examples, the facts were misinterpreted. Scientists can be wrong and Theologians can be wrong. Unbiased scientific findings and unbiased scriptural interpretation will always agree.


Teach the Children

Have you noticed how many children from Christian families go off to college and return minus their faith in God? Good, humble, church-going kids go out into the world and agnostic (or downright atheistic) kids return home. And it's all our fault!
It's easy to blame the atheistic professor, the worldly education system or someone else's 'wild children'. But the fault lies with us: parents, uncles and aunts, youth ministers. We tell the children what to believe, but not why they should believe it or even why it's believable! We give them scripture verses and Bible stories and think that's enough. They go away strong in faith but weak in theology and reasoning skills. They show up at college easy prey for atheistic professors who question their faith. They don't know how to defend their faith with sound doctrine and logical, reasonable arguments and cave to public humiliation. You can bet their professors are ready with logic and reason to defend their godless  arguments!
The Bible warns us to be ready to give a defense of what we believe. We need to be ready with an answer for why we believe what we believe. Faith is not the opposite of logic and reason. The Christian faith is both logical and reasonable. Our children are looking to make sense of this crazy world and if we don't answer their questions biblically, someone else will answer them for us.
Encourage your children to question their faith. Encourage them to ask questions and teach them that their faith is logically and reasonably defendable. Don't stifle their curiosity, but feed it. Of course if we adults don't study to show ourselves approved, then how will we be able to answer our children's questions?