What’s going on?

Patriot Day

I remember it like it was yesterday.  I had been a bivocational pastor for just a couple of weeks and was new to being a classroom teacher.  The rumor came that a plane had hit the world trade center.  How tragic I thought.  We turned on the news in our classroom and like most of America were stunned to see a second plane hit the other tower.   I knew we were at war.  Many thoughts ran through my mind.  Which country was to blame?  Why commercial airlines and not their own planes. As more details came out pictures of the pentagon and news of a 4th missing plane surfaced.  Terrorists was the word we started getting.  I recall kids asking, “Why?”.  Why would anyone hijack a plane and kill themselves and innocent civilians by intentionally crashing it into a building.  I was more pastor than teacher that day.  It is difficult for us to understand a culture so devoted to hate that they would attack others due to disagreeing with our freedoms.  That it was done to make us feel less secure and force us to convert to their murderous brand of religion or die.  Now word has come of 11 airplanes “missing” in Lybia.  The news and social media are filled with the atrocities being done by followers of radical Islam.   They have an army that is sweeping Iraq and Syria.  They are persecuting Christians and anyone else who dares to refuse to follow their murderous and hateful teachings.  They have publically stated, like most nations in the Middle East, that they want to destroy Israel and drive them into the ocean.  Their friends in Hamas rain down rockets upon Israel and the world has the audacity to criticize Israel for defending themselves by destroying the sites from which the attacks were launched.

 

What is happening in the world?  Why does life seem to mean so little to so many today?  I personally feel we are seeing the prophesy of Paul play out before our eyes.  He said in 2 Timothy 3:1-7 NKJV “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of goodtraitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

 

We need to pray like never before.  Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.  Pray for God to preserve us. Pray that His love will overcome their hatred and they will give up their brutality and know the peace of God.

Liberty

libertyI’m an American and the principle of having liberty is deep within my heart, I want to be left alone to succeed or fail without an army of bureaucrats coming in and interfering. I have an awesome mother and do not need the government to act as a helicopter mom for me. From the things I eat, the cars I drive, to the light bulbs I use, I want freedom! Leave me alone and I’ll leave everyone else alone

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However, in discussing liberty in 1 Corinthians 10, Paul informs believers that we sometimes must voluntarily give up our freedom for the sake of the people we are with. In Corinth, most meat markets were selling meat from pagan temples. After blood or portions of animals were used in sacrifices, the rest would be sold at the market. Paul discussed the fact that the Corinthians were free to eat whatever they wanted with thanksgiving, He also advised that if their host mentioned the food had first been offered to idols, then for the conscience of their host, they should abstain. By mentioning it, the host obviously assumed it would be sinful to eat. The dilemma for the believer was to eat because it wasn’t sinful and be viewed to be an idol worshiper, or to abstain and fulfill the expectations of the host. A believer’s testimony would be hurt if he ate after being warned. Paul concluded the discussion this way, “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense, either to the Jews or to the Greeks or to the church of God, just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.” (‭I Corinthians‬ ‭10‬:‭31-33‬ NKJV)

In our efforts to influence people for Christ, we sometimes will have to limit our freedoms. Instead of blatantly flaunting our freedom from ritualistic laws and customs, we need to consider the effect of our actions on the audience. Ultimately, we are advised to do all for the glory of God. Instead if seeking our own profit, we should seek the profit of all, “that they might be saved.”

Although I love my liberty, I will sacrifice it temporarily in order to win someone to Christ, After that, I will work on helping them embrace liberty as well.

Focus

eyes-33216_150We’ve all heard it. It is one of those legendary lines Moms use on wayward kids. When the unsuspecting child discovers that amazing entertainment of crossing their eyes, their ever diligent Mom says, “if you keep doing that your eyes will get stuck that way!” Little did I know they were right. Last week, my wife and I took our kids to see a movie. Since we are behind on our movie going, we went to the bargain movie theater to catch the film we wanted. Normally, that works fine, but this movie was in 3D. I’m not sure if it was in the equipment or the operator, but the movie never totally worked. I wore my stylish 3D glasses but things stayed out of focus. After squinting and straining I was able to get the center clear enough to watch. After 2 hours of this the movie ended with the hero winning, when we got in the truck to drive home, I was puzzled by the blurred road. My eyes were stuck! It has taken a couple of days to get over that forced wrong focus.

Maybe that is why God inspired Paul to write “Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable — if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise — dwell on these things.” (‭Philippians‬ ‭4‬:‭8‬ HCSB). The things upon which we focus stick with us. They make an impression and set a pattern for us. For example, by focusing on a lie long enough and performing mental acrobatics to twist our brain, we begin to think the lie is true and the truth is a lie.

Let’s stop pushing and straining to make ourselves fit this world. Instead, we need to have our minds fixed on the things above. High and noble thoughts which conform to the word of The Lord.

The problem today

culture clash

The problem on so many issues today isn’t really a new one.  There has always been a clash between the culture of  the world and the teachings of the Bible.  Many of the hot button issues being debated today really come down to one foundational belief:   “What is your view of the Bible?”

If you view the Bible as God’s word in which He gives to us His ideas on our lives and values, then it is to be obeyed and followed.  If on the other hand, it is a dated document that needs to be re-translated to fit our modern times it can be adapted to suit our culture’s ideas.   The problem with the later views to me is where does it end.  If I want to get drunk, I simply say the prohibition against being drunk only applied to the 1st century.  If I desire to cheat on my wife, I say the 10 commands, and Jesus’ endorsement of them in the New Testament are outdated and need to be redefined.  In other words, I can ultimately write my own Bible to justify whatever my heart desires.

Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 3:16-17, “All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” HCSB.  

The Bible is inspired, literally  “God-breathed”.  He chose different authors from different times to use like an artist might use different brushes and colors, but His hand directed their strokes.  His thoughts were recorded for us without any error.

His word is profitable for us!  In His word, we find out what His standards are.  It is the rock upon which we can build our lives. You don’t have to use things the way the owner’s manual says to use them, but there are often consequences for disregarding them.  Just ask someone who has submerged their cell phone in water.   The Bible was written by our manufacturer (creator).  When we start using our lives in ways God didn’t intend for us, there are consequences to suffer.   Nothing can separate us from His love, but when we misuse His word to justify sin, we are opening ourselves up for a world of hurt through the consequences of our sins and the discipline of our loving Father.

We must quit trying to adapt the word to fit our world, and go back to trying to get the world to follow His word.  That is ultimately done as individuals become disciples of Jesus.   In all the political debate, court cases, protests, etc it is easy to loose sight of that.  No matter what judges or laws say, wrong will always be wrong and right will always be right.  Our mission is to lead people to the truth.  We can win the world 1 life at a time.