Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Unstoppable: The Incredible Power of Faith in Action by Nick Vujicic

Book releases in two weeks from Waterbrook Multnomah. Watch the preview trailer below:

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

10 reasons to vote for Mitt Romney

1. He's not Barack Obama.
2. He's not Barack Obama.
3. He's not Barack Obama.
4. He's not Barack Obama.
5. He's not Barack Obama.
6. He's not Barack Obama.
7. He's not Barack Obama.
8. He's not Barack Obama.
9. He's not Barack Obama.
10. He's not Barack Obama.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Christian Ethics: Serving the homosexual community

Chick-fil-A (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Scenario: You work as a web developer and someone calls you up looking for a website for their  business. You give them your rates and how quickly you can have their website up and running, and they agree to everything, send you content, and you get to work. The business might be a local clothing store, for instance. You finish the website and they pay you and everything seems to be going okay. Sometime passes and the business owner calls you up again and asks about having another website built, but this one is for his upcoming nuptials. He would like a website that would celebrate his marriage to his partner, whom he tells you is also a male.

Do you:
A) Explain to him that you are a Christian and cannot work for him on this since you believe homosexuality is a sin?

B) Offer the suggestion that he might do better by uploading the photos to Flickr, Facebook, or Google+ and share them with friends and family that way?

C) Explain that you don't feel comfortable with such a request because of your belief system, but you know someone who could do the project?

D) Offer your suggestion here...

Note: this is sort of in response to the whole deal with Chick-fil-a being bullied because of what Dan Cathy did not say in his statements on Biblical marriage.
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Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Bible and Dan Savage

Dan Savage speaking at IWU as part of Gender I...
Dan Savage speaking at IWU as part of Gender Issues Week. Photo by soundfromwayout (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
This past weekend, shock-jock, gay activist, anti-gay-bullying advocate, and so-called sex therapist Dan Savage took to the stage at a high school journalism conference and called parts of the Bible the excrement of a bull. Savage's scheduled topic was anti-bullying. Instead, Savage chose to go into a tirade against Christians and attempted to accuse Christians of being selective when reading their Bible. To quote Savage:
"We can learn to ignore the bull---- in the Bible about gay people," Savage told the high school students. "The same way we have learned to ignore the bull---- in the Bible about shellfish, about slavery, about dinner, about farming, about masturbation."
Savage went on to call the Bible "a radically pro-slavery document" and referred to the walkout as "pansy-assed." (Source)
 According to one high school teacher, here is what was expected:
"We expected it to be about how student publications can promote anti-bullying programs on campus," said teacher Rick Tuttle of Sutter, who took six Sutter Union High School yearbook staff members to the three-day conference. "So we were surprised when it suddenly became clear it was not about that, but just a hostile torrent of obscenities and foul language that was completely inappropriate for a high school student audience and highly unprofessional."
A few things I want to point out.

  1.  What is with all this apologizing after the fact? This seems to be happening all too frequently.  Somebody says something that somebody else disagrees with and the media makes some big deal about it until somebody apologizes. To be frank, the words that come out of your mouth, reflect your heart. Does anyone really think that Savage is sorry for what he said, after everything else he said, has said, or is going to say? Anyone who knows who Savage is knows he's going to say something else. That's who he is. He basically hates Christians and makes no bones about it.  Stop with the apologizing already unless you are truly sorry for what you said.
  2. Savage seems to know what the Bible says about certain things, but he completely does not understand context. Yes, the Old Testament law condemned shellfish, masturbation, and homosexuality, among other things. The law was established by God to point to himself as the author of grace and truth. And no, the Bible does not condemn slavery, but it does tell us to treat fellow human beings with dignity and respect, which is not the same as affirming their sin. In the book of Acts, God shows Peter that the law is fulfilled in Christ when it comes to eating clean and unclean things such as shellfish. I guess Savage missed that part, because he likes to point out the parts that affirm his point. The fact remains that homosexuality is still a sin classified along the lines of murder and lying. Are Christians hypocritical? Sure, we are. We allow divorce in the church as common as eating fried chicken. A leader commits adultery and we look for ways to keep him in the pulpit. We allow professors in Christian universities to continue to teach even after they've fudged on their resumes. Yeah, we're guilty. But, we're also sinners. The difference is that some of us have been saved by grace through faith by Christ. He has changed our hearts, not through anything we have done, but by His grace. The problem is that people like Savage still see us as a bunch of moralists, and many of us are.

    [9] Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, [10] nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. [11] And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-11 ESV)
  3. Did the organizers not know who Savage was? This is a guy who started off his so-called speech about anti-bullying to teens suggesting they use birth control. Really? Is this the best the organizers of this conference could do just because Savage is the creator of the "It Gets Better" campaign? Savage is known for advocating multiple sex partners and non-monogamy in marriage. Savage is not exactly an exemplary model for teens, now is he? "It Gets Better" is a faux attempt to suggest that gay bullying among teens is an epidemic and that gay teens are killing themselves left and right. Here's a tip...calling a teen gay...and that teen commits suicide because of the bullying...does  not make that teen gay. The simple fact is that gay has been used as a bullying tactic for years before homosexuality became socially accepted. It's a word that hurts and bullies, even those who are heterosexual. Bullying is wrong, no matter what. That's a fact. Another fact is that the organizers got what they got when they invited Savage and they should have known that.

Pray for Dan Savage. Pray that God would grab a hold of his heart, pull it out, and give him a new one, one that would love Jesus, and bring him to repentance. Christian John Shore has come out supporting Savage on this one, even continuing to push his own petition to bully Christians into affirming homosexuality. Pray for John Shore as well. He used to have some sound doctrine, but essentially has no sound doctrine anymore. We shall be persecuted, but we shall not be dismayed because Christ is our Savior and Lord.

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Friday, March 23, 2012

What is a hate crime?

Suicide of Tyler Clementi
Suicide of Tyler Clementi (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Late last week, former Rutgers student, Dharun Ravi, was convicted of a hate crime in setting up a webcam to spy on his gay roommate who was seen kissing on webcam.  The gay roommate committed suicide soon after discovering that he had been watched. What's interesting to note is that the only evidence that was presented to prove this was a hate crime was the fact that the victim was gay. The prosecution and jury presumed to know what was inside Ravi's head. That is scary for our justice system.

In fact, presuming to know what's inside the defendant's head is the basis for most hate crime legislation. The Matthew Shephard act, federal legislation added to existing hate crimes laws to cover those of homosexual persuasion, is perhaps one of the worst pieces of legislation out there with regard to hate crimes laws. I say that because it appears years later that Matthew Shephard most likely was not killed because of his sexual orientation. 

It does not appear that Tyler Clementi was being viewed by his roommate because he was gay. The webcam was setup before Ravi even knew that. Ravi was a prankster as kids will be and he discovered via the webcam that his roommate was gay.  Why do people commit suicide to begin with? To be honest, it's basically because they feel that they have no one to turn to. Ravi had apparently tried to reach out to Clementi soon after the webcam incident, but Clementi was already in the middle of killing himself.

No one ever deserves to be bullied, but no one ever deserves to have their thoughts assumed to be that of hate. Hate is such a strong word and it is tossed around so much as if it's the end-all. The recent spat over Kirk Cameron's words over his stance on homosexual marriage proves such. He is now branded a gay hater because he takes such a Biblical view. Rosanne Barr (as if her opinion matters anymore) accused Cameron of being an associate to murder. Not much was said when Pastor Mark Driscoll basically affirmed what Cameron said to the same interviewer, Piers Morgan. Why? He's a pastor. He's supposed to say that.

The guy in Florida who shot and killed the unarmed black teenager? I'd say he was more motivated out of hate and fear that Ravi was. What if Ravi's roommate had been heterosexual and had gone out and killed himself after finding he had been watched while making out with his girlfriend? Would Ravi even had been charged with anything? Highly doubtful. What if a pastor preaches a sermon in which he touts the Biblical standpoint that homosexuality is sinful and a young man who has homosexual tendencies goes out and kills himself? Is the pastor responsible for this young man's death? Even if the pastor had offered counseling for those who might struggle with homosexuality?

There's a fine line with defining exactly what a hate crime is. I believe this case with the Rutgers student proves that hate crimes will and are being used as thought crimes. Christians are in the cross-hairs of those who advocate such laws and will be targeted at some point in the future. That's not to say that there are not professing Christians who do express hate toward gays and others, such as those who picket military funerals because of homosexuality. Those people are not expressing Christianity. As Christians, we must be sensitive to all people, while also standing firm on the truth. My viewpoint from the Bible is not hate. If anything, it is love that people would accept Jesus Christ and repent of their sin, whether that is homosexuality, lying, murder, etc.

What Ravi did to his roommate was not right, but does it qualify as a hate crime?
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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Christians Should Home School

Arne Duncan during Chicago Public Schools.
Arne Duncan during Chicago Public Schools. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Government public education is a mess. I heard on the radio yesterday that the graduation rate of public education students in South Carolina is at 66%, which is up from previous years, but it's also the third lowest in the nation. Not one state reached the stated goal of 90% graduates. That means that there are more than 10% of graduates dropping out of high school and not finishing their education. That's not to say that some of them are not going back and getting their G.E.D., but that is an alarming number when the government has put so much stake into this public education system. In fact the national average for graduation rates is a dismal 71%.

What about home school graduation rates? I don't have numbers here, but I have not heard of home school students dropping out. As home school grows in popularity, even among non-Christians, I would venture to say that there are a few, so I would probably hold the graduation rate at about 98-99%, but this is an area where it's hard to nail down figures. Private school graduation rates seem to be in the 90-95% range.

So, if these numbers are accurate, and based on a few searches, they appear to be so, then why does the government continue to insist on educating our children? Follow the money. On average, it costs the government between $10,000 - $12,000 per child in the public education system, and the government wants to increase that amount, while the graduation rates are only improving in very small increments, if at all. We recently spent $400-$500 on curriculum for home school next year for 2 children. Take into account, a mortgage payment, and my salary, and we still don't reach the government's money numbers.

Now, take into account what students are actually learning in the public education classroom. Evolution is being taught as fact without allowing any other viewpoints. Students are being taught separation from religion and to try to think away from religious thought. Christianity, particularly, is targeted.  Students are attending school in longer hours than ever before and nothing is changing. Teachers can't be fired for being bad teachers due to the Marxist/Socialist unions. All around, it's just a bad situation, and the government think that money is the solution.

The solution is for Christians to take a stand and to home educate their children again. Yes, I said again. Until the late 19th century, children were home educated. The industrial revolution started, men went to work in the factories, women had to start work, and children were handed to the government to educate. It's been all downhill since. If Christians were to lead in this area, and we are, in pulling their children out of public education to home educate, then the government would look at better solutions than money to fix their problem. I would love to see a school choice bill, at least in my state, become a reality. For one, it would give me back my money that is being thrown away on public education that I'm not taking advantage of. Another thing it would do, is give the parents of children for which the public education system is currently failing, another option. Private education might be the better option. Do you want to know why many of the great leaders around the world have been great? Home education or private education

There are Christian educators in the public school system, and I know some of them. We need to pray for them, that they would be salt and light in the dark world they work in. As Christian parents, however, we need to protect our children, and be able to give them the education they deserve. They don't deserve this mess the government is giving them. No child deserves that. Let's take a stand on this issue and give the government notice that their system is an utter failure.

Disclaimer: I am a public education graduate, but I have gone on to earn both a B. A. and a M. A., but times were different, even 18 years ago.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Caring for College Students

How do you care for the college students in your church who go away for college, but may come home for breaks occasionally? Do you talk to them when you see them again? Do you even know they are gone? What if you happen to be in the area where one of your students is attending? Do you make an effort to visit/contact them to encourage them? We had the opportunity to encourage one of the students from church this past weekend and we were encouraged at the same time. We knew we were going to be in the area a few months ago and my wife worked it out while we were there to visit the student. While visiting, we were able to take her to breakfast and just chat. When we got back to the campus, she showed us her room and had even re-arranged it the night before in anticipation of being able to show it off. While there, we were also able to pray for her and encourage her. Do you know our college students who go off to college feel like they don't belong when they come back? How do you encourage your college students?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

[Book Review] My Imaginary Jesus by Matt Mikalatos

Political Jesus, Social Justice Jesus, CEO Jesus, Hippie Jesus, Gay Jesus, Hipster Jesus, and so the imaginary Jesuses go on. Matt Mikalatos writes with humor and wit, while cutting to the core of what's going on inside us as Christians. What does your picture of Jesus look like?  Some of us have made a Jesus that caters only to our needs, such as the one that Mikalatos starts off with. His is an iPod-listening, occasionally-caring Jesus. I can see a little bit of who I think Jesus is at times in some of the different Jesuses presented by Mikalatos. The point is that Jesus is some of those, but not any of those.

Christians and even non-Christians have imagined different types of Jesus, but never the Jesus in the Bible. The homosexuals want to imagine a Jesus that overlooks sin and simply loves everyone. Many Christians imagine a Jesus that is condemning sin at every turn. Jesus is neither of those. Jesus says to "Go and sin no more," changing hearts. Jesus says to trust in Him and cast all our burdens on Him. This is the heart of what Mikalatos is getting at in his excellent book. We must stop imagining our own Jesus in our likeness and start looking to the Jesus of the Bible. Our Jesus overlooks certain sins and behaviors. The Jesus of the Bible tells us to go and sin no more.

Matt Mikalatos has been compared to C. S. Lewis in his satire and I would say the comparison fits. This book is somewhat comparable to what the Screwtape Letters is as far as satire goes. Mikalatos also wrote Night of the Living Dead Christian: One Man's Ferociously Funny Quest to Discover What It Means to Be Truly Transformed, another excellent book on what it means to truly be transformed by Christ. Matt Mikalatos has become a new favorite author me, while wrapping simple theology up into a truly engaging read. Once you pick up one of his books, you will not want to put it down until it's finished. I read this one in about 4 hours total over a weekend. It's a fun book, but it's also quite sobering.

Disclaimer: I received this book from Tyndale Blog Network for the purpose of this review.
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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Common Misused Passages of the Bible - Genesis 12:1-3

Abram Journeying into the Land of Canaan (engr...
Image via Wikipedia
How many times have you heard, "God will bless those who bless Israel, and curse those who curse Israel?" Plenty, right? Most particularly whenever someone is referring to protecting modern Israel. There's a problem with that particular phrase. It's not found in the Bible. The correct phrase is found in Genesis 12:1-3...

Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
(Genesis 12:1-3 ESV)
I suppose one could make a case that this could refer to Israel, but it really doesn't. In context, it's directly referring to Abraham. Even examining the original language of what you means in this passage doesn't help, as there is not indication that it's even you all. It just seems to be God saying, "I'm going to bless you, Abraham and curse those who curse you, Abraham."  Christians in the West seem to have this love affair with modern Israel in which they'll twist any scripture passage to their idea of who Israel is. I've had people argue with me that what I quoted in the first paragraph is what the Bible says, even after the Bible has proven them wrong. Do they really want to argue with King James?

That being said...

But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring. For this is what the promise said: “About this time next year I will return, and Sarah shall have a son.” And not only so, but also when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God's purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls—she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”
What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God's part? By no means! For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.
(Romans 9:6-18 ESV)

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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The New York Times' Definition of Reproductive Health

English: Roman Catholic church, Târgovişte, Ro...
Image via Wikipedia
The title of a recent  New York Times article exposes their bias before they even start into the article. It's titled: Growth of Catholic hospitals may limit access to reproductive care and the first paragraph says the following:
As Roman Catholic leaders and government officials clash over the proper role of religion and reproductive health, shifts in health care economics are magnifying the tension. Financially stronger Catholic-sponsored medical centers are increasingly joining with smaller secular hospitals, in some cases limiting access to treatments like contraception, abortion, and sterilization.
We've seen this type of language coming out of the White House over all this hubbub over the federal government's role in forcing businesses and health insurers to provide nearly all types of "contraception" regardless of religious beliefs. This includes the RU-486 or Plan-B drug which is technically classified as an abortifacient. Apparently, abortion is now classified as "reproductive health" and "birth control" all in the name of women's reproductive "rights." Be warned! The media often controls the hearts and minds of Americans. Be not swayed by what the media says is a definition, when it's only a political maneuver.

Note: I directly linked the RU-486/Plan-B to the Planned Parenthood definition of them so you can see that even the abortion opponents call it an abortion pill. Don't be deceived.
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Fundamentalists aren't the problem...

John Shore writes, answering a reader's letter...
Obviously, for fundamentalists it’s not really about critical thinking. It’s about a very conditional emotional security. Mainly of course through the influence of his culture and upbringing, the fundamentalist has ultimately surrendered himself to the considerable seductive powers of the simplistic.
It’s so easy not to think. It hurts to read, concentrate, analyze, logically process—especially if your education has left you without a lot of the tools for engaging in that sort of endeavor. No one enjoys riding in a car with flat tires and lousy steering. Better just to stay where you are.
Venturing outside the neighborhood in which you are comfortable can also take a bit more courage than most people are inclined to muster. It’s scary to wander away from everything you’ve known and been taught.
The fundamentalist goes: “Any fool can question and doubt. But you start using questions to punch holes in the house that is your belief, and pretty soon you might as well be outside. Others may not know what they believe, but I do. I know what I believe; I know what my family believes; I know what my pastor believes; I know what everybody at my church believes. Let others pick God apart, whittling Him down till He’s no bigger than they are. Let them set sail on waters so choppy they can’t do anything but get tossed this way and that, and go nowhere. My boat is sturdy; my waters are calm.
“Keep your endless questions; I’ll take God. And the Bible is the pure and uncomplicated word of God. Believe that—believe in the simple, righteous message of the Bible—and be saved. Doubt it, and good luck staying off that slippery slope straight down to hell.”
 The only problem is that in some parts of this, Shore is right. This is how some "fundamentalists" think and believe. I've met some of these folks. I'm from the South. It's pretty hard not to meet some of these people. However, Shore is also generalizing, as he usually does, and he usually comes out quite wrong in his generalizations. You see, I apparently fall into his mythical generalization of fundamentalism.

I do believe the Bible to be true in all it's words. I do believe homosexuality is a sin. I do believe that those who do not repent of their sins and trust in Christ as Lord and Savior are going to a real place called Hell for all eternity. By Shore's own definition of fundamentalism, whatever it is, as I have never been able to get him to answer me directly on it, I am a fundamentalist. If that is so, then so be it. Where John is wrong is that we do critical thinking. We do examine the Bible for what it says, and think logically about it. When I have confronted Shore on this, whether it's his blog or his Facebook group (of which I have been banned), he attempts to paint me as just another extreme fundamentalist who hates and is bigoted.

What else is wrong with Shore's response to the guy asking the questions about how can fundamentalists believe the Bible as literal? Simply put, Shore never brings faith into the picture. In fact, he rarely brings faith into anything he writes. It's all about being good for him. The homosexuals he loves to write about who have been so mistreated by us bigoted fundamentalists are good people and deserve God's grace. It's not about faith and trusting God. Grace, for Shore, is the answer. The short answer is that nobody deserves God's grace. We are all doomed for Hell, but...

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

(Ephesians 2:4-10 ESV)

Powerful words, spoken by God, through his servant and apostle Paul, to God's Church. We were created for good works to be done through the faith that God has given us. Shore chooses not to see that, because it destroys his concept of the homosexual "Christian." No, fundamentalists aren't the problem, as Shore is trying to paint it. Human beings are the problem. Our sin is the problem. All of us are sinners. None of us are good. We are dying and going to Hell. You erase Hell, you erase sin, you elevate God's grace. Grace is not to be taken lightly. Grace cost God the ultimate sacrifice. His life. Shore has cheapened God's grace by denying Hell, by denying sin, and elevating humanity. Try to confront Shore and people like him on that, and you too will be a backwoods, KJV-Bible thumping fundamentalist, who can't string two sentences together and who relies only what his pastor says. Yeah, I didn't put two sentences together in this whole post, did I?

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Thursday, February 16, 2012

#lintastic, #linsanity, #tebowing and a warning against idolatry

English: Tim Tebow, a player on the Denver Bro...
Image via Wikipedia
I've never been much of a professional sports fan. Growing up, I liked watching professional baseball, and going to games, but was never really a fan of football or basketball. In recent years, I've become more of a college football fan, at least of the Auburn Tigers. In the past 6 months, we've seen two different phenomenons which appear ocassionally in professional sports, that of the superstar who happens to be a Christian. We've seen this before with people like Kurt Warner. We've now seen it with Tim Tebow and Jeremy Lin. Most people know who Tim Tebow is by now. He just finished his second season with the Denver Broncos, and after becoming the starting quarterback several games into the season, he came out swinging as if he was still playing for the Florida Gators. Jeremy Lin is a graduate of Harvard and until a few weeks ago, was sitting on the bench of the New York Knicks until injuries to teammates allowed him to play. He has thrown the sports world off-balance by his meteoric rise to fame.

Both Tebow and Lin are outspoken Christians as well. Tebow is also stout on what he believes when it comes to certain branches of Christianity. He pulled out of an event sponsored by prosperity preacher "pew-jumper" Rod Parsley. That was impressive. Lin is known to quote John Piper, and to share Bible verses on his Twitter account. Being as involved in social media as I am, with following blogs, and Twitter, I see a lot of Christians posting items about Tebow and Lin on a daily basis. With all that, I see a danger. The danger is of being idolatrous.

I've always thought sports has the danger of being idolatrous. Churches often use sports as a way to attract men, with sports-themed Bible studies, inviting a sports star to speak at a breakfast, etc. There is nothing wrong with these, but if that's the only way a church attempts to attract men, then there might be a danger. Tebow and Lin aren't the only professional sports stars out there who happen to be outspoken Christians. Albert Pujols led the St. Louis Cardinals to their World Series win last year. He also runs a charity dedicated to making life better for disabled people. He shares the Gospel with base runners as they pass first base where he plays.

Every day, I see Christians posting/sharing videos highlighting what these sports stars are doing, making up words such as #tebowing, which is  reference to how Tebow bows on one knee. People have been "tebowing" in public, in the store, in school, etc. I've heard Christians talk about "tebowing" and then laughing about it. It's almost a mockery of something that Tebow is doing in faith. And we are idolizing it and idolizing Tebow. Tim Tebow is just a sinner like you and me, saved by God's Grace. The same goes for Jeremy Lin. They have the same Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I fear that we are making a mockery of their faith by putting them on pedestals. They have God-given talents, but so do a lot of other professionals who don't have faith. Maybe their faith does help them play better, but let's not idolize it. I believe they want to be just like us, but they have talents that we don't have. There are other just as talented players who are also believers. We are putting them down by focusing on others.

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality,
(Galatians 5:16-19; Galatians 5:20-26 ESV) idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

(Galatians 5:16-19; Galatians 5:20-26 ESV)

Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.”

Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.

(1 Corinthians 10:7, 10:14 ESV)

Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.

(Colossians 3:5-11 ESV)

For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry. With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you; but they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. For this is why the gospel was preached even to those who are dead, that though judged in the flesh the way people are, they might live in the spirit the way God does.
(1 Peter 4:3-6 ESV)

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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Character Matters - at least to me

English: Newt Gingrich at a political conferen...
Image via Wikipedia
I've written about Political Candidates and Moral Character before and it seems that can only come back around to this topic again. South Carolina is known for picking the candidate for the G.O.P nomination for President of the United States and this past weekend, voters decided on Newt Gingrich, former congressman and Speaker of the House from Georgia. Gingrich is one of dubious moral character, having cheated on previous wives and possibly asking for an "open marriage" from one of them. Surprisingly, Gingrich also won more votes from "evangelical" voters than anyone else with Mitt Romney winning more votes among the "non-evangelical" crowd. What this appears to be is a contest of evangelicals wanting to beat the Mormon candidate rather than picking the best person for the job, that person not being Romney or Gingrich, in my opinion. Surprisingly as well, the endorsement by the self-proclaimed 150 evangelical leaders of Rick Santorum didn't hardly help him at all.  In short, "evangelicals" in South Carolina have lost their moral compass and have chosen someone they knew from Georgia in order to simply beat the Mormon candidate. At least that's how I see it. To me, moral character matters in addition to pro-life records and consistent voting records. Santorum has a consistent pro-life record, mostly, but he does not have a consistent voting record, especially when it comes to big spending. My vote went to Ron Paul, the most consistent of the candidates and the only one most likely to get this country back on track if he were to win the election in November. It's not about beating President Obama, it's about consistency and on that, my conscience is clear.
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Monday, January 23, 2012

Church Discipline Scenario: Abortion Doctor

In late May of 2009, abortion doctor George Tiller was gunned down inside his church in Kansas (Source: USA Today). Outrage poured out at this doctor's assassination. This particular doctor was not just an abortion doctor, however. He also advocated for and performed many late-term abortions. He lived under the fear that someone would take his life one day with the many threats he had received over the years. What is interesting about this and something I never noticed was that this man was a member of a church, a Lutheran church. He was serving as an usher in the church. During the week, he would kill unborn babies at a point where the baby most likely would survive outside the womb. He would then serve his church on the weekends by ushering. Now that the scenario is being set up and how most Bible-believing Christians see abortion as murder and therefore a should we respond in our own church should a member be known for performing abortions?

Some verses to ponder...

“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”

(Matthew 18:15-20 ESV)

It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father's wife. And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you.
For though absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment on the one who did such a thing. When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.
Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people—not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”

(1 Corinthians 5 ESV)

The latter is referring to sexual immorality, but could refer to other sins in general as well. Would you be willing to execute church discipline on a church member who's occupation is the killing of unborn babies? Should we be practicing church discipline?

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Friday, January 20, 2012

The Final Four (G.O.P. style)

Republican presidential candidates are picture...
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So, the Republican race for the G.O.P. nomination for President is now down to four, with attacks mostly coming from the top two nominees in South Carolina. The contenders are Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, and Ron Paul. If you know me, you know that I'm probably going to vote for Ron Paul. In this day before the South Carolina "first-in-the-south" Open Primary, I'm going to give you another quick run-down of the candidates, with my take on them.

Newt Gingrich was the Speaker of the House in Congress in the 1990s under President Bill Clinton. He is primarily responsible for pushing a balanced budget in the '90s and keeping a Democratic President in check with a Republican Congress. That's about the only good thing I can come up with on him. He is a Southerner (from Georgia) and that's probably why a lot of people around here like him. It's how Jimmy Carter got elected.  Newt has also flip-flopped on issues over the years, so that you don't which way he may go on an issue. He is a conservative, pro-life candidate. He has "returned" to the Catholic faith in recent years and claims to be a family one-woman man now. I don't trust him. He's a rich politician, as they all are, and yet, his personal life has been in shambles. Who is there to believe about his personal life with other women? And yet, he wants to deny what his ex-wife (whom he cheated on) is saying about him with regards to open marriage. We've seen this type of person in the White House before with and intern.

Mitt Romney is the former governor of Massachusetts and a businessman who has made a lot of money. He practically saved the Salt Lake City Olympics from going under through his business skills. He is a good businessman. He claims to be pro-life, which is another point toward him. However, he is a Mormon. Now, you may say, so what to the religion side of things, but can Mormons be trusted. They are wishy-washy on their doctrine when it becomes expedient to do so. Their founding and doctrines are very closely related to Islam (with the exception of the everyone becomes a god thing), so much so that they have earned the label, the Islam of America.  If Romney were a Muslim, I'm pretty certain that he would definitely not be leading in the way that he is. The problem with Romney is that he's not consistent in his politics. He was pro-abortion and now is against it. He was for mandated healthcare (instituting it in Massachusetts) and now he's against it. So, who is the real Romney? What's to say he won't change when he's in the White House. He may be another Obama and just full of broken promises.

Rick Santorum was the Senator from Pennsylvania before being ousted by Bob Casey in 2006. Santorum also worked alongside Newt Gingrich in the '90s to push the balanced budget and welfare reform to President Clinton. That being said, he is also very much for racial profiling, even saying that all Muslims should be suspect. Now, who's to say who's a Muslim or not? Can you simply tell by the color of their skin? He wants to keep the Patriot Act around which gives unprecedented powers to the Federal Government over our liberties.  He's all for the failed "No Child Left Behind" law which basically passes children on whether or not they learned what they're supposed to or not. He has voted for many spending bills during his time as a Senator when President Bush was in office. He believes the War in Iraq was justified, when it is widely known that it was a made-up war. Now Santorum may be a family guy. He has a large family and cares about special needs children, even having one of his own. He is very pro-life. He is a homeschool dad and he too is Catholic.  I don't believe he is the fiscal conservative that the White House needs. Romney and Gingrich may be better at fiscal matters.

Ron Paul got into politics because of fiscal matters. Try to find some dirt on him and you won't find any. Most of what you find are distortions of truth and hatchet jobs. One newspaper recently tried to make the case that Paul was using taxpayer money to fly first class when he could be flying coach to save money. That's quite hypocritical considering that probably all the candidates are flying first-class. Paul is the only candidate who doesn't have a house worth over $1 million (it's for sale at about $350K).  Paul desires smaller government, the withdrawal of most of our troops from places around the world in order to rebuild our military to do what they were originally built for - to protect our nation, a securing of our national borders, the abolishment of many federal departments such as the IRS, education, and many others, and he is pro-life.  Some have taken issue with parts of his pro-life stance in his pushing it to the states. But, as a constitutionalist, he's pretty right on this. Unless an amendment is put to the Constitution, it is the state's right to ban or allow abortion on demand. He is the only candidate, I believe that doesn't believe in exceptions to abortion, such as in cases of rape or the woman's life is in danger. Many say his foreign policy stinks. But in reality, it makes sense. Our military is stretched thin, being the world's policeman in many quite random places. He's not anti-war, but he is for "just war". The Iraq War was not just, whereas the Afghanistan conflict was until we lost our focus, that is, not going after Bin Laden.  To be honest, Ron Paul makes the most sense for a Constitutional President. He has what it takes to bring the government back down out of it's debt. President Obama has created more debt in 4 years than Bush did in 8 and there are still people who think he's done something good.  The only promise he's kept is doing something about healthcare, and he only broke it even more.

In Summary, my vote is and will be with Ron Paul. I don't trust the other three candidates, based on their records, religion, and personal lives. Ron Paul is a committed Christian and he lives by his beliefs in the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the only candidate to put a statement of faith on his website. He supports homeschooling and believes in school choice.  He is consistent on every issue he has fought on while in Congress. This will probably be his last time to run for President. Let's make it count and let's not make it something we'll regret. Do you really want another George W. Bush in the White House or do you really want Obama to keep his position? Incidentally, have you noticed how much the media doesn't highlight Ron Paul very much? It's usually Romney in first, Gingrich in third, and Santorum in fourth in the media. The media knows something the average voter hasn't latched onto yet. Paul is probably the only candidate that could take on Obama well.
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Thursday, January 19, 2012

SOPA, PIPA and the Christian

NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 18:  Protesters demonst...
Image by Getty Images via @daylife
Yesterday, many internet sites decided to "blackout" their sites in protest of two bills currently sitting in Congress. One is the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA - House Bill 3261) and the other is the Protect IP Act (PIPA - Senate Bill 968). Both are dangerous bills to America's freedom of information on the internet. While I do believe that companies should be able to receive the money that is due them, and that these bills are well-intentioned, I also believe that these bills go too far. As followers of Christ, we should be opposed to online piracy and be willing to fight it whenever we can. However, the language of these bills indicates that every site on the internet will be succumbed to scrutiny and could be seized if even one complaint is raised. Religious sites could be easy targets by those who don't like religion. We've seen this happen in the Apple store when a few complaints caused the takedown of some Christian apps because of "anti-homosexuality" issues with the apps. This could happen widespread on the internet with these bills. I could not write what I do without the fear that I could be taken down because one person felt I infringed on his liberties. Do you see the hypocrisy yet? Or even the dangers? I realize these bills are supposed to be targeting online copyright and piracy infringement. Yet, they can and most likely will be abused for so much more. Contact Congress and let them know the dangers of these bills.
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