Monthly Archives: January 2014

Which Way do You Run?

The difference between a Christian and a non-Christian can be found in the direction they run. Back in the Garden of Eden, God would come to walk with Adam and Even in the cool of the evening. I am sure that they would run to be with God. Then everything changed. Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit. When God came to walk with Adam and Eve they ran in the opposite direction. They hid from Him.

Most people try to live their lives ignoring God; acting as if He doesn’t exist, is not interested in them or just doesn’t care that much. But when people are confronted with the presence of God they must react. They just can’t stay still. They have to move and they will either move toward God or move away from God, attempting to hide from Him.

The Exodus is a great example. The Children of Israel had been in Egyptian captivity for 400 years. They had really lost contact with who God was. The Egyptians had never known God. They both came into contact with God in a major way. The Israelites were gradually drawn to God. The Pharaoh on the other hand hardened his heart against God. The greater the contact the harder his heart became. The plagues against Egypt were each an assault against the power and authority of the Egyptian gods. At each step the Pharaoh could have stopped and acknowledged the power and authority of the one true God, but instead he resisted. This continued way beyond any kind of rational thinking. God’s power and presence was simply undeniable and yet Pharaoh resisted. It was insane.

In the future there will be another dramatic encounter with the presence of God. Christians typically relates this to the Second Coming of Christ. The Old Testament often referred to it as “The Day of the Lord”.

Revelation 6:14-17

Then the sky receded as a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island was moved out of its place. And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, and said to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the lamb! For the great day of His wrath has come and who shall be able to stand?

When Christ returns those that know Him will rejoice in His coming; they will run to Him. Those who don’t know Him will be terrified by His coming and will run from Him.

So which do you do? We are like little kids. When we do something wrong and Dad comes home we are confronted with a dilemma. There are two sides to dad. He is both justice and love. We know that discipline is likely to come. We also know that he loves us and would never do anything to really harm us. At some level we know that everything he does is for our ultimate good, but the fear is still there. So, do you run to him, confess your sin and ask for mercy? Or do you hide your wrongdoing and avoid your father; hoping that he will never find out.

I have seven kids. Each of them reacted to me in different ways. The truth be told I think they all feared me a little more than they understood how much I loved them. Some were well behaved and did little wrong. When they did they were anxious to make it right. Some hid things. Some would openly confess everything that I already knew. Their confessions were carefully worded and filled with half-truths. I continue to worry about them to this day. You see the way that my children relate to me is a direct reflection of how they relate to God. For these children there will continue to be a barrier between them and God; something hidden that keeps them from open fellowship.

I had one encounter with one of my children that will haunt me forever. He/she (I won’t tell you which one) had done something wrong. I can’t even remember what it was now, but I remember the process. He/she was caught. I took him/her into private for discipline. I had read all the books and heard all of the stories as to how to do it right.

  • You calmly confront the child
  • Get a confession
  • Talk about what they have done wrong
  • Determine if there is a need for discipline or mercy (whichever will be more effective with that child in that particular situation)
  • Talk about how to behave in the future
  • Hug and comfort the child, reassure them of your love and restore fellowship

That is how the books said it should work, but tragically that didn’t happen. He/she was paralyzed with fear (at least that is what I think was happening). He/she would never confess. We never talked about what went wrong in any constructive way. It ended up being a lecture and discipline with no repentance; no instruction, no comfort, no healing and I believe permanent damage to our fellowship. It was awful. What is really sad is that I had predetermined that I wanted to extend mercy. But without a confession I couldn’t. My hands were tide. I was forced into nothing but judgment.  I think this refusal to confess sin and admit wrong has continued to affect his/her relationship with God.

We are all told to fear God. It is a repeated theme throughout scripture. Some would like to water that down to just a healthy respect or reverence. I don’t think so! God is powerful and He holds our destiny in His hands. We should FEAR Him. We should also understand that He loves us more than we can imagine. The irony is that those who fear His judgment so much that they refuse to confess their sins are bound to experience His wrath. Those who run from Him will be chased down and destroyed. On the other hand those who understand that God is not only just but also merciful will run to Him, confess their sins and receive His forgiveness and live in fellowship with Him.

1 John 1:8-9

If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

A Christian or a non-Christian can be identified by which way they run.
Which way do you run?

War on Poverty

It has been 50 years since President Lyndon Baines Johnson declared war on poverty. Many TV news channels are doing special reports to commemorate this anniversary. They bring on some political experts to answer the question, “Are we winning the war on poverty?” Then they go on to debate the various programs that Johnson started, along with the myriad of programs added by every other President since him. Typically they like the programs started by their party and criticize the programs started by the other party. They conclude with some kind of statement that we have made progress but the War on Poverty is not over and there is a lot more to be done.

I want to ask a very basic question that no one else is asking. Why did we declare a war on poverty? What is wrong with poverty? To most people that seems like a really stupid question. Everyone knows that poverty is bad—right? Well what is wrong with poverty? If you really try to answer that question you end up with two long lists. One is a list of all of the horrible things that are associated with poverty.

  • Poor nutrition
  • Poor health
  • Obesity
  • Violence
  • Crime
  • High school drop-out rates
  • Higher divorce rates
  • Higher rates of teen pregnancy
  • More out of wedlock births

Note that some of these are considered to be a problem because they are viewed as a contributor to poverty which makes them a circular argument. Some are true problems. All of them are a simple correlation. They do not prove cause and effect. Does poverty lead to crime or does crime lead to poverty. The same can be said of divorce. Does divorce lead to poverty or does poverty lead to divorce. Maybe we have declared war on the wrong things? Maybe it should be a war on divorce, violence, crime, and out of wedlock births.

The second list we create all of the things that a person cannot buy if they don’t have enough money.

  • The nice house in the nice area
  • The car
  • Education
  • The things for our kids
  • A false sense of security that money brings
  • Freedom and freedom from worry

Somehow we still believe that money buys security and happiness, at least at some level. We believe it so strongly that we don’t just want it for ourselves we want it for others.

The Johnson administration firmly believed that the problems of the world were based on poverty and that poverty is the lack of money. If that is the problem then it can all be fixed by giving people money or helping them get jobs. Well none of that is true. Poverty is as much the symptom as the problem.

Jesus was poor, very poor. Was he desperate, in need of someone rescuing Him? Would giving him money somehow have made His life better? Would it have made Him a better person? Jesus often associated with the poor, but not exclusively; He also associated with the wealthy. When Jesus was invited to read scripture in the synagogue He chose a passage from Isaiah 61:1 about Himself.

Luke 4:18

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed;

Jesus didn’t come to rescue the poor by giving them money. He came to preach the gospel to them. In fact in the Sermon on the Mount He called them blessed (happy). He taught that we shouldn’t worry about what we will eat or what we will wear, but that God knows our needs. We simply need to place our faith in Him. We need to seek first the Kingdom of God and all these things will be added to us. His warnings were not about the plights of poverty, rather he warned regularly about the plight of the wealthy. It was the wealthy that would find it nearly impossible to enter the Kingdom of God.

Luke 18:25

For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”

Maybe we should have declared a war on wealth; they are the ones that need help. We have bought into a major lie, right out of the pit of hell. Jesus didn’t say that poverty was the root of all evil. In fact He said quite the opposite. The love of money is the root of all evil.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that we should not care for the poor, the truly destitute that are unable to take care of themselves. We are instructed to do so many, many times in scripture.  We are instructed that when we care for the poor we are caring for Christ. We are told not to oppress the poor. We are to heal the brokenhearted and to come to the aid and defense of the oppressed. These are all clearly spelled out in scripture with instructions as to how it should be done. But a War on Poverty fought by the government is not the answer. That war can never be won. Jesus said that we will always have the poor with us.

Christ came to bring the poor into His kingdom, we should do the same. It is only there that we can find fulfillment, meaning, purpose, comfort, true security, love, acceptance, and righteous living. Let’s care for the poor but realize that money is not the answer, Jesus is.

Getting Your Priority Straight

It is the beginning of 2014. It is the time to make resolutions, set goals and reevaluate priorities. Today I want to talk about priorities. The typical Christian sets priorities something like this.

God first, me second, then my spouse, followed by my children, my work and my church. One clever little acrostic spells out JOY.

Jesus
Others
You

Some look at their time allocations to help them gain some perspective as to which things they find to be most important. Each person will approach it a little differently and the lists may differ slightly.

From a Christian world view, what should our priorities be? The question is, “what is most important?”

Jesus was asked a simple but profound question, “Which is the most important commandment?” He answered by quoting a famous passage of scripture, known to Jews as the Shema. It begins,

“Hear O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.” (Deuteronomy6:4,5)

Then Jesus added a quote from another passage. “… you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Leviticus 19:18)

Actually that sounds a lot like the little acrostic above, Jesus, Others, and You.

One day I was talking with my nephew, Todd. He was telling me about a new insight he had into the Shema, particularly the phrase “the Lord is one”. Normally theologians look at this as one of the key passages supporting monotheism (there is only one God). Todd pointed out that the passage supports that idea, but it doesn’t stop there. The Hebrew language is not as specific as English. There just aren’t as many words so the specific meaning is often found in the context. This lack of specificity also allows the writer to create layers of meaning. We do something similar in English humor. We call it a pun, or a play on words, where we start a story leading you to think a word means one thing and then there is a twist that makes you realize it was something totally different. I like this one.

“The best floor exercise gymnasts come from Palm Springs.”

Let’s get back to the Shema. In Hebrew the word “one” can mean the number one. It can mean a single entity such as, ‘there is only one God’. It can mean the first or starting point. It can mean the most important, as in the phrase, “we’re number one.” You can see that sometimes the vagueness of a word works for you. In this case it creates layers of meaning. There is only one God, He is the source and the starting point for everything, He is the central point of everything, and He is of supreme importance. Pretty cool how scripture can pour so much into one phrase.

The Shema tells us that God should be our number one priority but it doesn’t end there. It goes on to tell us how we should respond to this God. We shall (a command) love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. So what is left? Nothing! If there is nothing left after loving God then what about all of the other priorities in life? What about Jesus’ command to “love our neighbor as our self”? Think about it. If God is our one and only priority then it changes the framework by which we approach the rest of life. Loving my neighbor is no longer a second priority. It is now an extension of the first priority. I love my neighbor because I love God (1 John 4:7-8), or I love my neighbor as an act of loving God (Matthew 25:34-40). I love myself not as something separate from God but as someone inseparably tied to God. I love myself because God loves me. Because Christ has redeemed me and given me His righteousness (that is the only way I can be loveable).

Now the priorities fall into order. God first and everything else is to serve Him. My family is in the framework of me being a channel for God’s love, protection, provision and training. My work is to demonstrate my love for God (work as if unto the Lord, Ephesians 5:5-7). The money I earn is to provide for the service of the Lord and to advance His kingdom. It is also to enjoy His blessing and I should respond with gratitude. My home exists to serve the Lord, so how will I use it to accomplish that task. And the rest of life should fall in order.

You can formulate your own “priorities”, but from a Christian World View there is only one priority. He is God and everything and everyone exists for the purpose of bringing glory to Him.

HE IS WORTHY

It may take a little work but it is time to get your priority straight. Time to reevaluate, what we do and why we do it. We may find that there are some things we need to think about differently. Some things we may need to do differently. There may be some things that we need to start doing. There may be some things that don’t serve God in any way and it is time to get rid of them.

Get your priority straight.

Stealing Roses

A number of years ago the Anheuser-Bush company ran a very successful add campaign for their Budweiser beer brand. You may remember the slogan, “THIS BUD’S FOR YOU”. It was a very successful ad campaign. The phrase became known by everyone.

A few months later The Florists Association of Greater Cleveland decided to piggy-back on that campaign with its own, “THIS BUD’S FOR YOU” ad campaign. I thought it was a brilliant move; so did Anheuser too. They also thought that it was theft. The Anheuser Bush Company had spent millions of dollars promoting the phrase “THIS BUD’S FOR YOU” and someone was effectively stealing all of that money, time and effort and using it to promote their own product; that is theft. They took the case to court and won.

Well, The Florists Association of Greater Cleveland is not the only ones stealing buds. The gay activists are trying to steal away the Pasadena Rose Parade. This year the 125th Tournament of Roses Parade included a same-sex marriage atop the AIDS Healthcare Foundation float. Pasadena has spent the last 125 years developing and promoting this New Year’s Day parade to display all of the best of Southern California, exemplified most by our great weather and flowers. Each year the organizers, volunteers, companies and organizations work tirelessly to put on the Parade. The gay activists have stolen the Parade and manipulating it to push their agenda. I am outraged to say the least. Unfortunately that is just exactly what they want. They want to take the millions of dollars that others have spent to promote their organizations and to divert that focus to them. They want to effectively steal away all of the work of the organizers and thousands of volunteers and turn them into workers to promote the gay agenda. They want news broadcast to lead with the story about the controversial gay marriage that took place on the float at the Rose Parade.

You see, they learned long ago the old Hollywood adage, “There is no such thing as bad publicity”. They also know that controversy is easy to create. All you need to do is to ask the right question, make the right proposal, do the right public activity and the controversy begins. Then they use the media to portray the gays in the most positive light and to vilify their opponents.

I read a few news reports and saw some broadcasts about the Parade. Every one of them focused on attention on the gay couple in a positive light and played down any opposition. The gay activists succeeded in sealing the Roses as planned. Many other deserving companies and organizations were hoping to get some air time, but they were bumped in order to promote gay marriage in California.

There was another much more direct theft of millions if not billions of dollars by the gay activist that was in plain view and yet went unnoticed. No one commented about the float they were on or the organization that sponsored the float. The organization was the AIDs Healthcare Foundation. Now what is the connection between AIDs Healthcare and Gay Marriage? Why is money that is given to fight AIDs being used to promote the gay agenda? It may come as a surprise to you but this has been going on since the 80’s. Early on gay activists realized that they could use the AIDs epidemic as a way of funding their agenda. The methods are quite simple, form hundreds of organizations to “fight AIDs”. Get government grants, promote benefit concerts with Hollywood celebrities, collect donations, get “RED” products sold and take a portion of the proceeds and on and on. Everyone is in favor of “fighting AIDs”. Then run informational ads in every gay publication in the nation, effectively funding the publications with “AIDs money”. Do the same thing for gay parades, gay fairs, and health fairs. Hire gay “AIDs specialists” to write books and tour the country with the “AIDs message” which includes key components of the gay agenda. Use the money to “educate” lawmakers; which is simply funding gay lobbyists; Fund gay activist “health researchers”. The worst I heard about was the gay bathhouse that became an “AIDs clinic”. They would distribute condoms; give instruction on how to use them and provide rooms in which they can be tried out; all funded with taxpayer money.

I don’t know anyone who is against fighting AIDs. Most people I know have given to an AIDs organization. And great, positive things have come out of the research and treatment. My goal is not to stop the funding for AIDs research and treatment. All I am doing is pointing that gay activists have been very successful in promoting homosexuality, but they didn’t do it by gathering money and media on their own. NO! THEY STOLE IT.

There are a few things they have attempted to steal:

They have tried to steal the Rose Parade and all of the good it stands for and apply it to themselves.

They have tried to steal AIDs funding and use it to promote gay causes.

They have tried to steal the Civil Rights movement and treat homosexuality as if it is a race.

Now they are trying to seal the honor and respectability of Holy Matrimony and apply it to their shameful sexual acts.

I am not going to sit calmly and let it happen. I have to say something.  THIEF! THIEF! These things do not belong to you. You cannot take the years and years of hard work that people have done for respectable causes and then apply them to you. That is theft, plain and simple. If you want to make your case, then do it on your own merits. You don’t get to piggy-back on other people’s work.

Stop stealing roses. This bud is not for you.

I will close with one other thing that gays have tried to steal—the rainbow. Somehow they thought it would be a good symbol for them. I think it was thought that it would help them put together a coalition with other groups, and it has worked some. But the rainbow does not belong to the gays. It was a symbol given by God to remind Himself of His promise to never again destroy the earth with water. It should also be a reminder to us that God’s patience does not last forever. Eventually when the earth becomes corrupt enough He will take action. So next time you see a rainbow at a gay parade remember that God will judge sin.