Jun 222016
 

pinocchio_180x180Last week I wrote about the Orlando tragedy and our tendency to almost immediately jump in the fray and spout our political arguments while displaying little concern or mourning or grieving for the great death and suffering afflicted upon the victims and their friends and families. 

Part of the ensuing discussion revolved around at what point can we say something “political”. 

My thoughts were that it takes some discretion. 

I can’t speak to the perfect balance of timing and balancing political concern and personal concern in each and every situation because I’m not nearly wise enough to do so.  But I believe there are times where there is an obvious lack of discretion, and unfortunately those times are decidedly only growing in our evermore toxically divided culture.

Which brings me to my thoughts for this week on a related subject that shouldn’t take any discretion at all. 

Yet, we may be even worse at this one.

That is, when we are making our case, whether political or theological or otherwise, and we misrepresent the opposition.

There should be no discretion needed here.  I’m not speaking to when we honestly get mixed up or are unaware about something, but rather when we knowingly misrepresent someone. 

When we do this, we bear false witness.  Sometimes our misrepresentations may even reach the level of libel or slander. Even if we don’t meet the legal definition of such, our spirit is certainly there. 

I believe even to the extent in cases where we’re unsure about something and know we could be wrong and yet don’t bother finding out the facts and just go ahead and make our charges and then end up being wrong, we still bear false witness.  Those times when we know there’s a good chance we’re wrong or know that we aren’t very well informed about the subject or know that we have little evidence or justification for our charges, and yet make them anyway.

Coming out of the Orlando tragedy I witnessed what I believed to be many misrepresentations and false witness in the political haranguing.  Many of them likely done knowingly, or at least with little regards in trying to find out what is actually true.  But this was no surprise as it seems to be par for our current course.

Let me pause to speak to one example.  That being of President Obama.  I have many disagreements with things he has said and done while in office.  Overall, I do not think he has been a good president for our country and too many times it seems to me as if he is more concerned with sticking to a political agenda than he is with doing what is best for the country.  (Of course, the same could be said of many politicians.)

With that said and the point of this post not being to argue about the Obama presidency, I don’t know how many times I have seen or heard blatant misrepresentations of President Obama.  Whether on social media or other forms of media or even in personal conversation.

Obama is a Muslim.

Obama is a closet homosexual.

Obama is about to take executive action to take all of our guns.

Obama is not going to allow the next election for president.

And so on and so on.

The saddest thing is that almost every time I hear one of these false accusations, at least in regards to Obama, it is coming from a professed Christian.  It’s as if anything goes in politics.  The “other side” does it so we can, too.  All’s fair in love and war.  And it ain’t the love part that’s doing the driving.

One more example – the transgender bathroom issue.  I previously have spoken my concerns here and other places about the opening up of restrooms and the like and the endangering of women and children because of men (non-transgendered men) who I believe will take advantage of the relaxed rules and will violate the women and children.  It is a very big concern I have, and yet why can’t we just stay honest when we’re making our arguments?

For instance, I recently came across a pamphlet proclaiming that some Pennsylvania bills currently in legislation would mandate all public places (schools, government buildings, etc.) to have open restrooms.  In fact, the information said it would even extend to private institutions such as Christian schools.  However, the truth is that these bills are for the expansion of current Pennsylvania anti-discrimination laws to cover people based on sexual orientation and gender identity.  There is nothing addressing restrooms or the like in the bills.  Now, the real concern is that these bills could then later be used as a basis for requiring open restrooms.  However, there is no language in the bills themselves that would instantly require all restrooms be made open to one’s gender identity as one was led to believe by the pamphlet.  It intentionally misrepresented the bills to make them appear worse than they really are.     

Truthfully, these deceptions and attitudes extend beyond politics.  Whether it’s theology or work or anything with which we have a disagreement with another, too many times we will misrepresent the other in order to gain an advantage or win the argument.

Even here on this blog, I see it sometimes.  I don’t or can’t always keep up with all the theological debates but it seems to happen most often there.  Many times the debates are healthy and robust and much good comes of them.  But at the same time there appear to be times where people and positions are knowingly misrepresented.  Sometimes the misrepresentation occurs due to misunderstanding or lack of clarity.  But other times it seems to be pretty clearly intentional.  And I’m not talking about those times when an obvious exaggeration is made to make a point.  When everyone understands the exaggeration is not factually accurate but is made to make a point.  But when the accusation is made of someone or something that is knowingly not true and yet portrayed to be true, in efforts to make that person or position look worse than they really are and score points for yourself and your position.

Why can’t we stick to what we know to be true and put forth our best honest argument and then let the cards fall where they may? 

To trust God’s will be done and understand that it’s not up to us to make sure it happens. 

To let our yes be yes and our no be no… and let God take care of the rest. 

Jun 212016
 

links_image1Don’t you wish it were true?

Not doing ministry like Uzzah…

What is an evangelical?

Trumped-up charges…

The names for God in the Pentateuch…

The SBC,race, and a path to more growth…

Now, this is funny…

Will evangelicals sit this election out?

World Orthodox leaders meet…

More on the Orthodox synod…

When you are done with church…

Seven questions to ask an atheist…

Seven things Christians should know about refugees…

Who would Jesus blame for Orlando?

Preached to death…

Why would anyone sing in church these days?

The unbelievable tale of Jesus’s wife…

The church and the American flag…

Why Leroy Barber lets ministries go…

Excellent article on cultural anomie…

What missionaries aren’t telling you…

Dr. Packer answers your questions…

10 things you should know about election…

Wenatchee on the Driscoll lawsuit…

The dangerous divide between theology and practicality…

The Christian virtue that can change your life…

Gothard and the cult next door…

Trumps meeting with evangelicals…

Some bad bible teaching…

Satan and sexual abuse…

Good link…punching down on working class Christians…

Thanks to EricL not only for the link help, but for putting my book into the hands of 1200 more people in 7 different countries.

Support him at top right…just a blessing to work with him.

 

Jun 202016
 

thinking_man_ape_wood_3d_sculpture_thinker_think-480x3251. Greg Laurie warns that unless America “turns back to God” we could end up like Pompeii.

Really? A big volcano is going to wipe us all out?

I wish one of these apocalyptic messengers would illuminate us about a few things.

For instance, when was this golden age of holiness and piety that we’re supposed to turn back to?

I can’t seem to find it in any history book.

Second, can any of these men show us biblically how America “parallels” Israel?

No they can’t, but they keep doing it anyway.

Israel was a theocracy, directly ruled by God.

We are neither.

All “parallels” collapse at that point.

Third, why is God so upset with the U.S?

Seems to me that there are any number of oppressive regimes around the world that deserve the Pompeii treatment way before us…

America is not the center of Gods universe…His kingdom is.

It would greatly aid us to discern the difference…

2. I’m keenly aware of our societal and cultural problems. I also have more problems personally than I’ve ever had. I still wake up every morning excited about what God might do today…

3. The message of the Gospel is all about how God has provided a path to reconciliation with Him, not about how much He wants to bury you in ash…

4. My guess is that I’m the only person here mourning the end of hockey season…

5. Pornography is a far greater threat to “traditional” values than transgender people…and it’s tearing up families in the church.

6. I watched another video of Laurie’s where he said that the reason that America isn’t found in Bible prophecy is that all of us are taken out in the Rapture. I think the proper answer to that question is “I don’t have a clue”.

7. The moment that you accept that there are “real” believers in traditions other than your own, you acknowledge that your tradition may have errors in it’s understanding of “what the bible teaches”. It’s in that moment that you can embrace others and have unity in Christ, rather than secondary doctrines about Him.

8. It’s when I started caring about how I would be remembered that I began caring more about how I live today…

9. Facebook must have sent out a memo that said the more names you call someone, the better your argument sounds…

10. Lord knows I’m on a lot of meds right now and my thinking may be skewed…but I truly believe that there never has been a better time in history to be alive. Perhaps the sin we are really being disciplined for (if we are being disciplined) is not some sexual or moral failure, but a lack of thankfulness for all we’ve been given…

 

 

Jun 182016
 

thumbnail.aspxO GOD, the Creator and Preserver of all mankind,

we humbly beseech thee for all sorts and conditions of men;

that you would be pleased to make thy ways known unto them,

thy saving health unto all nations.

More especially we pray for the good estate of the catholic Church;

that it may be so guided and governed by thy good Spirit,

that all who profess and call themselves Christians

may be led into the way of truth,

and hold the faith in unity of spirit,

in the bond of peace,

and in righteousness of life.

Finally we commend to thy fatherly goodness all those,

who are any ways afflicted or distressed in mind, body, or estate;

[especially those for whom our prayers are desired;]

that it may please thee to comfort and relieve them,

according to their several necessities,

giving them patience under their sufferings,

and a happy issue out of all their afflictions.

And this we beg for Jesus Christ his sake. Amen.

Jun 182016
 

MYOA Book1 Cover-4jGet it while it’s  free on Amazon…

Update…

Big thanks to you who haven’t seen this news on Facebook…

Thanks to all of you we’re the #1 free book in Devotions, #1 in Meditations, #1 in Religion and Spirituality short reads and #23 in the whole Religion and Spirituality category.

Thank you and thanks to Reader Hill and Eric L for all the work this weekend!

Jun 182016
 

bible-word-of-god_thumbMatthew 5

The Sermon on the Mount

The Scribes were the keepers of the Scriptures – they were like the seminary professors who studied and knew the Law and interpreted it for everyone else.

The Pharisees studied under them.

The scribes put themselves under the scripture – but Jesus spoke as one who had authority over the scriptures – see Matt 7:28-29 – “And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.”

So Jesus could come along and say something like “the son of man is Lord of the Sabbath.” That is kind of a big deal.

Or – Jesus could say “here is what I meant when I said it the 1st time. (in the OT)

_______________________________________________________________

1 Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him.

  • Seeing the crowds, (back to 4:25) Jesus heads for the hills.
  • To whom is Jesus preaching the Sermon on the Mount?
  • It is important to distinguish between the masses and the disciples.
  • To whom did he give the Office of the Keys?
  • The responsibility for the Supper?
  • The Great Commission?

The Beatitudes

Follow along here and note – these are not laws, not instructions, not something to follow. These are pure gospel – the Christian is…

The Beatitudes are not a prescription to how to reach your spiritual potential.

It is a blessing – Jesus is blessing His New Israel

Blessed are you = Jesus’ words give what they promise

We often hear that the Beatitudes are to be the “BE” Attitudes – that we are to “BE” – and we are to “BE at it.”

But this takes away from the gospel of Jesus. When you hear the Beatitudes you should walk away trusting in Christ – faith in Christ. NOT scratching your head thinking – I must be doing something for my blessing.

If so, you missed it.

Just as when Moses went up on the mountain, before the 1st commandment God says “I am God” This is what Jesus is doing.

And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:

  • Taught them – the disciples

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

  • What is a blessing or what does it mean to be blessed?
  • It is here 9 times
  • Again, these are not commands – not imperatives – they are descriptive.
  • Descriptive of who Jesus is … and those described get Jesus
  • But we are “in Christ” so they become descriptive of us
  • These are the marks of a Christian – are you in Christ?
  • How does the world describe who is blessed?
  • Rich – Great – Honorable
  • Who are the Poor in Spirit? They get Jesus and His salvation.
  • But we see Jesus’ description in Luke 18:9-14/ Pharisee & the Tax Collector
  • “9 He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: 10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ 13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

 

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

  • Mourn = Perhaps sadness over our sin – or the realization that we can’t do anything about it on our own.
  • Isaiah 61:1-3the God of Comfort
  • “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me
    to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
    to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion— to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes,
    the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.”
  • 2 Cor 1:3-5The God of Comfort
  • “3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.”

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

  • “Poor in Spirit” = our relationship with God
  • “Meekness” = our relationship with each other
  • Meekness = humble in recognition that we too are sinners.
  • An inner confidence that we are God’s holy children by faith in Jesus Christ.
  • We can safely trust his care and providence in our life.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

  • Because God gives it to you (the satisfaction)
  • Not their own righteousness, but Jesus’ righteousness imputed to you.
  • Righteousness = to be in the right place – to be doing the right thing – being back to being what you should be.
  • God does this for us / to us through Jesus
  • Jeremiah 23 speaks of a Messiah whose name is The Lord of our Righteousness.
  • We will also see in verses 10 & 11 that it is for Jesus’ sake.

In a grouping we can see that the 1st 4 are the same – the persons are the same. Jesus is giving to those who have nothing and they need everything. What he says he gives “Blessed are you.”

The last 5 will deal with the last days that are upon us.

 

Jun 172016
 

heart-200x148I fired my cardiologist this week.

Ironically, it was because he has no heart.

The occasion that prompted his dismissal was my appointment with him on Monday.

He was to review the latest test results and perhaps set the day for open heart surgery if the results merited such.

I was more than a tad nervous when he walked in the office.

He sat down and using the language of his trade spoke to the papers in front of him for a few minutes.

The only thing I understood was that I was to return in six months and he dismissed me from his presence.

I received my paperwork from the front desk and went to my truck to start home.

I glanced at the paperwork as I started the engine…and was stunned to see a new diagnosis on the front page.

“Aortic aneurysm: not ruptured”.

That’s a good thing…because if it was ruptured I’d be reading about how I died.

He hadn’t mentioned this new problem to me.

He evidently wasn’t concerned enough to do so.

He also was unconcerned that reading that would send a reasonable patient into a panic.

It could give them a heart attack…

It was really bad news with no words about a hope or a cure.

I tell you all that not because it’s important for you to know my medical history, but so you won’t imitate my cardiologist.

Christians have read all the paperwork and become adept at diagnosing the ills of the world and their fellow men.

We proclaim the sins of others and the world like that paper proclaimed my disease.

We declare the bad news without any words of hope or cure.

We pronounce that the end is near and judgment is upon them.

We do so, too often. without any semblance of the heart of God.

We wonder why, for the most part, we’ve been fired.

We speak the language, but not the concern, of our texts.

We see the problems, but have no heart.

Bad news can condemn and terrify, but knowing the bad news can be the first step toward healing.

However, it can only bring healing when accompanied by good news from a Healer.

I’m off to find one of those…I suspect that others who understand their diagnosis are as well.

Make your own application…

 

 

Jun 162016
 

Here is the video follow up to Calvary Albuquerque’s “Follow The Leader” sermon we wrote about last week.

I’m at a loss for printable commentary…

Jun 162016
 

5445024975_2374e497dc_mTherefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made.” (Matt 18:23-25)

In the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant, Jesus describes a servant who owed his master 10,000 Talents. One Talent was equal in value to about 6,000 Denarii or 20 years’ wages for a laborer. Therefore, this servant owed his master approximately 200,000 years’ wages. One commentator described 10,000 Talents as representing more than the total sum of money then in circulation in the whole of Palestine.

When it came time to settle the account, the servant couldn’t possibly repay this astonishing debt. So his master ordered that the servant, his family and all his property be sold to repay the master. Under a civil government, the master’s remedy was just and honorable. No one listening to Jesus would have blinked an eye. I can imagine some people sneering under their breath that this servant got exactly what he deserved. People understand that civil laws must be enacted and enforced to maintain the peace and punish evil. Without civil laws, in this case regarding commerce, people wouldn’t extend credit or loan money. Therefore, the master was in the right to mete out justice to the servant in this manner.

The astronomical debt illustrates the gravity of our sin in the eyes of God.

Like a master who settles his accounts with his servants, God also keeps and settles His accounts with all of us. When we sin we amass a debt to God, a debt which this parable teaches is astronomical and impossible to repay.

But God desires to settle our accounts by sending forth the preaching of His Law, by which we learn to know what we owe, for example: “You shall have no other gods”, but esteem only me as God and love me with all your heart, mind, soul and strength. Through the preaching of His Law, God shows us our obligations, where we fall short, and the enormity of our debt. But there’s one more shoe to drop.

“And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made.” (Matt 18:25)

The last shoe to drop is the sentence. Punishment follows sin. God has not given his Law to allow those who disobey it to escape punishment (temporal and eternal). His Law is holy and just, not sweet or friendly. “[H]e has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness.” The wages of sin is death (Rom 6:23). God is in the right to mete out justice to all of us for our sin against Him.

“So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’” (Matt 18:26)

The settling of his account brings the servant to his knees. He is convicted, humiliated and fears the sentence. But he reasons like the world reasons. Somehow, he must propose a repayment plan; nothing is free. Of course the servant can’t repay the debt. However, no matter how large or impossible the repayment, it is in our nature to try something, anything to work it off, help our self, to demonstrate at least a small measure of good work that might impress the master. (Recall in the Parable of the Prodigal Son that when the younger brother was returning he had the idea that he would ask his father to treat him as a hired servant, presumably to repay his debt.)

But this marks the point in the parable where Jesus shows us for the first time the kingdom of heaven. The kingdoms of the world march on ruled by the Law, but where the Gospel is preached, a door is opened to another kingdom, which is ruled by grace. God knows we know nothing of grace and are captive and bound in our sin, so he must set us free.

“And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt.” (Matt 18:27)

At this point in the parable, Jesus introduces us to the kingdom of heaven. It is not your banker or any branch of federal or state government, and we must never conflate the two. The kingdom of heaven is brought near by the preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to a conscience that has been convicted and sentenced for his sin. The Gospel says to us: stop working for what you can never repay; My Son Jesus has ransomed you; I grant you a full pardon for your sins; go in peace friend.

Jesus atoned for our debts to God, and His pardon is pure mercy and grace. To this no works can be added; the two, works and grace, cannot be tolerated together. In the kingdom of heaven, only grace and mercy reign. So the master released his servant and forgave the debt.

“But when that same servant went out…” (Matt 18:28-35)

Please read the remainder of the parable at Matt 18:28-35. The master’s servant was pardoned and entered the kingdom of heaven by faith. Afterward, he was expected to go out into the world within his vocation(s) with the same message of Law and Gospel. Why? Because it is through His kingdom people (the master’s servant, you and me) that Jesus goes out into the world today in search of, finds, and saves His lost sheep. The master’s servant was to deliver the Word of Law and Gospel to his fellow servant.

But, the first servant didn’t get it. God forgave his debt, 200,000 years of wages, which shows not only the depth of our sinfulness before God, but the enormous ransom that Christ paid to win our freedom. Yet, the first servant was unwilling to forgive the trifling by comparison offense committed against him by his fellow servant (depicted as 100 days wages). The first servant’s conduct could be considered just and honorable from a purely civil government perspective. But, citizens of the kingdom of heaven are called to reflect the forgiving character of Christ to His lost sheep. One cannot proclaim the forgiveness of sins in Christ’s name and in the next breath withhold one’s own forgiveness.

When a Christian forgives his neighbor’s sin against him, faith becomes visible to all. Forgiveness is not a work which sets us right with God. The parable shows clearly the order of salvation. But the visible sign of forgiveness has been given to us as a great confirmation and comfort that we may see that our faith is real. We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers.” (1 John 3:14) Conversely, if we are not willing to forgive sins committed against us, then our faith is dead. In that case, our sins against God will not be forgiven.

We love because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19) God knows we are weak and often unforgiving. In our weakness Christ does not forsake or abandon us. Christ is the Shepherd who goes in search of the lost sheep. He is the One who offers unlimited forgiveness. He is the One who loved his own “to the end.” Therefore, if we struggle with an unforgiving spirit, remember that Christ is for you in his Word of Gospel. “Repent and believe the Gospel.” Amen!

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