Thursday, June 29, 2017

God's Design for Marriage: Defending the Biblical View

Jesus Christ was once asked about marriage and divorce.  He replied in this way:

“Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” -Matthew 19:4-6 NIV

Jesus was saying essentially that the bond between husband and wife is a sacred union.  Jesus made it clear that God's design for marriage is sacred, permanent in this life, and not subject to change.

The biblical formula for marriage is between one man and one woman. The scriptures are abundantly clear about that.  God's design for marriage is beautiful, artistic, and a wonderful joy.

Unfortunately there is a progressive element in the world today that seeks to redefine and change things in society to reflect the subjective views of a select few of elite social engineers.  Increasingly there is a faction of society in the west that wants to change and "evolve" society as they see fit. There is a lot of money and support behind this movement. Today, there is mounting pressure in Europe, Canada, and the United States for Christian organizations to turn coat on the issue of marriage, gender, and other concerns.

In recent years some Christian organizations and denominational movements have made moves to change their marriage doctrines to allow for gay marriage to be practiced.  The arguments have been that this is about love, inclusion, tolerance, and equal rights for gay couples.  The results have overwhelmingly been that there is a mass exodus from the movement.  And with the core principles of the churches compromised, soon other compromises come about, and the movement dies off completely. 

We must never, never, never endorse a practice that the scriptures show clearly to be sinful. So in your life and witness, you may come across Christians or groups of individuals, or activists who will be working within your church movement to get the movement to embrace gay marriage, gender ideology, and other non-biblical positions on issues of the day.  I'm encouraging you today to boldly stand up against these attempts to circumvent God's word.  I'd like to arm you today to contest with these activists and show from God's word the plain truth of God's design for marriage.  Let's take a look at some scriptures.  

Regarding homosexuality, the New Testament writer, the Apostle Paul addressed this issue in the flagship book of Protestantism, the book of Romans.

Paul was writing regarding those who disbelieve in God, who refuse to obey His standards when he wrote: "For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.

Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised.Amen.

Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error."
-Romans 1:21-27 NIV

Critics say that this scripture doesn't apply because the context is that it's addressing idolatry. It is true that the context is how God deals with idolatry, which is that he then gives people over to indulge in sin. It makes sense, if people don't want Him, then he turns them over to their own desires; desires which God defines as sinful. And God indicates that these sinful desires include homosexual activity. Which means despite the context being idolatry, implicit in the scripture is the clear truth that homosexual practice is indeed sinful. Another attack on this scripture is saying that Paul was addressing the pedophilia practiced by men in Rome. But Paul doesn't say children, he says men. Which means he's talking about adult men. And he also talks about women indulging in sinful behavior with women. How could that have to do with pedophilia? Paul wasn't addressing pedophilia. He was addressing idolatry, and implicit in his description of idolatry is the truth that homosexuality is a sinful practice.

Another attack levied against biblical marriage are ceremonial laws of the Old Testament. The objector will start listing off ceremonial and judicial laws from the Old Testament, mainly from Exodus and Leviticus. They say: "Do you eat pork? Do you eat shell-fish? Should you stone your wife if she commits adultery? Do you think a woman who is on her period is unclean? How can you pick and choose!"

The answer to this is that the levitical laws were ceremonial rules for the ancient nation of Israel, mainly for their health and safety. These laws were for an ancient nation 4,000 years ago, to help them stay healthy and to eat the right foods, and so on and so forth. We are not under the ceremonial laws. The judicial laws in exodus were for the ancient nation of Israel once again, as rules for an ancient people to begin to learn to obey their God. They were the very beginning of government laws for an ancient people.

The Bible is what we call a "progressive revelation." Meaning over thousands of years God interacted with people by slowly revealing His will and plan in ways they could understand. We still look back to the Old Testament at things like the 10 commandments in Exodus, because those commands are spiritual in nature. We still look back to the OT in other areas for inspiring stories and wise teachings, but the ceremonial and judicial laws are no longer binding. We are directly under the teachings of the New Testament today. And time and again homosexuality is directly prohibited in the New Testament (1st Corinthians 6:9-11, Romans 1:26-28, 1st Timothy 1:10).

In fact during the spread of the early church in the book of Acts, the Jerusalem council meets to decide if Gentiles (non-Jews) should be required to keep the OT laws (See Acts 15:1-35). The decision is made that Gentiles must not be placed under the OT laws, because of the grace of Christ, but that the Gentiles should be taught to live holy lives, and it's specifically mentioned at the Jerusalem council that gentiles should be taught to abstain from sexual immorality. Included in the umbrella term "sexual immorality" is of course prohibited homosexual practices as described in the NT.

Look, I'm not trying to be mean, or judgmental, or unloving. But the Bible says what it says, and doesn't say what it doesn't say. And given the choice between the Bible and someones opinion, I'll take God's word every time. 

Here's the deal: When you debate with someone who is attacking God's design for marriage and pushing the gay marriage issue, especially within the church, if you debate with them long enough you'll notice that behind their objections is one prime factor: They reject the authority of scripture.  They don't really believe the Bible is God's word.  That is the problem. The solution is to rally people to His word and invite them to believe it.  

Let me be clear: That is the issue with people within churches.  For those outside churches, biblical arguments aren't going to have any sort of impact, because they don't recognize even partial authority in the scriptures.  They reject them as the creeds of evil men bent on misogyny and bigotry.  We know they are not that, but that's how they are thought of in modern culture.

There is a very simple question to ask: Is the Bible the word of God?  If the answer is indeed "yes" which it always ought to be, then we have absolutely no business encouraging that which God has forbidden. It's just that simple.

At the end of Romans 1 Paul also writes: "Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them." (v.32) Do we want to join the growing number who have decided to approve of those who practice such behaviors?  Of course not.  So I encourage you, take a stand for God's beautiful, wonderful design for marriage. 

Additional scriptures dealing with homosexuality: Genesis 19:1-13Romans 1:26-271 Corinthians 6:9;1st Timothy 1:10; Matthew 19:4-6

Articles regarding the Bible & homosexuality: 

Now, if you are looking for arguments and defenses for natural marriage when dealing with non-Christians then I highly recommend this presentation by Frank Turek, Phd.  He looks at scientific and logical arguments against gay marriage:

When we embrace gay marriage, or we simply ignore the issue, we turn people away from the healing power of Jesus Christ.  There are entire ministries devoted to helping those who are lost in gender confusion and homosexuality.  I participated with a church in my hometown of Wausau that had an outreach next to a gay bar.  And I saw several young men come into the church, repent, and get saved by the power of Jesus.  
Watch this testimony by Dennis Jernigan titled "Freedom from Homosexuality"  It will open your eyes to the redeeming power of Christ! 

This is a very tough issue.  Let me repeat that: this is a very tough issue.  The culture is quite convinced that anyone standing for natural marriage is on the same level as the most demented, backwards, evil bigot.  Human rights organizations have and will condemn anyone who dares to a take a stand on this issue.  Those who stand for natural marriage have been and will be called hate-mongers, bigots, homophobes, and discriminatory religious zealots. In fact government human rights organization called "religious liberty" code words for bigotry and hatred.  

But it's worse than that. Sadly gay activists have taken to suing Christian businesses, slandering Christians who take a stand, and getting Christians fired from their jobs for standing for their religious values in the public square.  Some in the government wage a war on religious liberty, demanding that Christian business owners be forced to participate in gay marriage ceremonies or be shut down and fined hundreds of thousands of dollars.  That could very soon continue forward into the area of ministry and pastoring.  
The Obama/Loretta Lynch Department of Justice was demanding that gender be redefined and that all public schools and public institutions be required to have a transgender bathroom policy.  Thankfully the Trump/Jeff Sessions DOJ reversed that edict. But it's clear that many along the political spectrum see it as the government's job to socially engineer culture and require that Christians be forced to come along for the ride, and if they resist, they will be fined, charged with crimes, or put in jail.  Even if you don't have any interest in politics, watch out, because politics is taking an interest in you.  

Many top companies in the U.S.A. have taken to bullying states to push forward the redefinition of marriage and gender.  National companies may boycott you or your entire state, as Indiana was boycotted for attempts to protect religious liberty and how North Carolina was boycotted by musicians, employers, and over 120 different major U.S. companies.  Some of the companies involved included: The NFL, the NBA, Paypal, Starbucks, Microsoft, Facebook, Twitter, Pepsi, Whole Foods, Hyatt, and many others.  We may find ourselves attacked, boycotted, and slandered for defending natural marriage, but who do we want to be?  God's people or the favorites of the world? 

God is real.  He is active in the world.  God's Bible is real, true, and infallible.  It is the description of God's timeless truths.  Thus when the Bible tells us something is sinful, we must never call it anything but that.  There have always been heavy pressures from the cultures we engage in.  

Should we change our marriage stance?  Should we encourage that which God has forbidden for the affection of the LGBTQ community, for the acceptance of U.S. businesses, for the sake of "equality and inclusion?"  Never.  Because it doesn't matter what happens to us, live or die, fired or labeled haters, none-the-less, Christ lives!  And though heaven and earth pass away, His word will never pass away.  It's truth is eternal.

In conclusion, let me encourage you to rally support within your church movement or organization for God's design for marriage.  Take a stand against those activists who are attempting to push their unbiblical ideology.  Gather together like-minded individuals and begin to organize.  Seek out those elements within your churches that are attempting to lobby for the redefinition of marriage and gender.  Encourage them from the scriptures to embrace God's design for marriage.  If they will not agree with the scriptures when going to them directly, then go with one other (perhaps a leader) and if they still refuse, expose what they are doing to the entire church. If they still refuse to repent, they should not be welcome any longer (Matthew 18.)

When debating with non-believers remember to be wise, kind, and polite.  As 1st Peter 3:15b says "Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect..."  When dealing with a secular non-believer remember to make it clear that God wants all to come to repentance and to be found in the love of Christ.  Homosexuality is a sinful practice, but it's not a special sin.  Many wonderful former-homosexual individuals are now shining witnesses to the power of Christ, just as I try to be a shining example of how Christ loves and redeems drug addicts.  Check out the Facebook page "Ex-LGBT Through Jesus Christ." When talking with a person who identifies as LGBTQ remember that you are dealing with someone made in the image of God.  Invite them to know the love of Christ, invite them to church, and invite them to repent of their sinful practices and embrace Christ.  Christ forgives all when we repent and come to Him!

Our application of God's word adapts to the culture as it shifts.  But the eternal truths found in God's word do not change.  Marriage is a sacred union between man and wife, to the exclusion of any other combination.  Let's carry the message of the gospel in the fullness of grace and truth, standing firm in His word despite what the culture demands. Here we stand, we can do no other.

Here are some good Facebook pages to share content from regarding biblical marriage:
Marriage Conservation
1,000,000 in support of Traditional Marriage
Institute for Religion & Democracy
Family Research Council
Protect Biblical Values
The Public Discourse
The National Organization for Marriage

Please feel free to share this article and the pictures.  Please consider being an active advocate in your area for a biblical foundation of marriage, family, and core theology in your church, organization, or movement.  We need voices like yours, standing firmly for the truth.  Thank you! 

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Sunday, June 25, 2017

The Future Destiny of Man: The New Heavens and the New Earth

Accompanying Video:

Audio Message:

I’m not going to die, I’m going to live forever. Christ Jesus our savior has done it. So we have a future. We are the blessed ones, who need not fear death, but we get to live forever. Imagine it: To live forever.

From Isaiah 25 verses 8 and 9, God gave Isaiah a preview of the future, he said, “ he will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove his people’s disgrace from all the earth. The LORD has spoken.

9 In that day they will say, “Surely this is our God; we trusted in him, and he saved us. This is the LORD, we trusted in him; let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation.”

So in the next life, which the Bible calls the new heavens and the new Earth, we will rejoice. And we’ll be happy. C.S. Lewis said, “Joy is the serious business of heaven.” That is the truth.

The new heavens and the new earth. This is what we labor for day in and day out. This is why we live differently than the world. This is why we deny ourselves when so many others indulge endlessly. This is why we preach the gospel. This is why we stay up to the wee hours of the morning praying for strangers. This is why we dedicate our lives, our souls, our hope, our futures to a Jesus Christ we’ve never met face to face. We live day by day for this hope of immortality itself, to gain access to the fountain of youth, the tree of life, in a place where all is made right.

Jesus spoke often of this place. In fact Christ is our way there. He is our escape hatch from this broken reality we see around us. I know I can feel it in my life, that things are not the way they should be. It’s like a splinter in the mind, driving us mad. We can sense there is something wrong with the world. Even non-Christians would admit this fact. We can sense it. 

Thankfully there is a way out of this broken reality, where there are so many problems. There is a doorway to a new place, a new heavens and earth where there is no war, no famine, no corruption. And Jesus Christ the savior of the world came into the world and told us all about it. There’s room for me, there’s room for you. 

Jesus said,”My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?

And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.

You know the way to the place where I am going.”

So Jesus was crucified. He resurrected from the dead. And then he ascended to heaven. That was two thousand years ago. And at some point in the future Christ will return in the same way that he left. And His word says that every eye will see him.

Jesus promises in John 14:2-4 that he left to prepare a place for us in this new world, and He will return to bring us there.

Jesus will bring people from the east, like China, India, even North Korea, and people from the west, like Europe and us here in the United States, and the North and South, like Russia, the continent of Africa, and all across the planet. And it says in Luke chapter 13, verse 30 that the first will be last and the last will be first.

I love that. What that means is that people who seem really important in this life won’t be the important ones in the next.

Heaven is a real place. It’s a reality. God declares it in his word, so we should believe that it is true. Let’s consider the state of affairs. This is the future destiny of the human race. We’re really right now in a tangent reality destined for destruction. This fallen Earth we live on right now is a contingent reality, subject to change.

If we could look at a timeline of humanity’s past, we’d see that humanity was created at it’s first phase as the centerpiece of a perfect universe, on a perfect Earth, in communion with a perfect heaven. In fact it says that on this perfect Earth, in Genesis, God himself walked among the garden of Eden where the first humans lived. The second phase begins when the fall event occurs. Humanity turns away from God, betrays god and tries to play god for themselves. This event is magnified from the choice of the first humans and it explodes outward, in what we know as the fall, the curse upon creation, and the Earth itself becomes fallen, the human heart becomes fallen, and this is the reality we live in now. Things are messed up, as a reaction to the first human’s attempt to play god and desire a world without god.

Phase 3 could be seen as the victory of Christ at the cross and the spread of his church on the Earth. And the 4th phase begins when Jesus Christ returns to Earth to set all things right. Our enemy the fallen angel Satan is defeated at the return of Christ, the thousand year reign of Christ begins on Earth, and at the end of this 1000 year period, finally, the fallen earth passes away, and the new heavens and new earth are established.

So our future destiny as a people is to live in a new, perfect Earth, in a perfect universe, once again communing with the perfect heaven, to live in the full presence of our glorious God.

Phase 1, perfect, with a perfect Earth in the garden. Phase 2, the fall, which is where we are today, and Phase 3, Christ crucified, resurrected, and the revolution of the church spreads across Earth. Phase 4, the new heavens and the new earth, our future home, forevermore.

Heaven is for real. Will we be conscious? Yes we will. Will we be able to walk around and talk to people? Yes we will. Will I still be me and will you still be you? Yes, absolutely. In fact I’d argue your going to be more you than you are now. Because the sinful nature will be removed, and you’ll be able to truly be yourself without having to fight against constant sin and fear.

I walk around in my life with so much anxiety, and so much fear, and uncertainty, and depression at times. I’m really looking forward to the fullness of joy and peace in the new world.

Will we eat food? Yes we will, Revelation says we will eat the fruit of the tree of life. Will we have bodies? Yes we will, the Bible says we will have new immortal bodies. Though we may have a hard time recognizing one another, because we’ll all have the appearance of being probably about 25 years old. Will we see Jesus? Yes we will. He is the lamp of the eternal city. Will we see God the Father? Yes we will. We will see his face, it says. An incredible honor.

Revelation 21:4 says "He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death' or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

Raise your hand if you’ve ever cried! NEVER AGAIN! Never once we are home.

Raise your hand if you’ve ever had a loved one who died. NEVER AGAIN! Never once we are home.

It says no more mourning. No more crying.

Check this one out: No more pain. Thank you Lord. Thank you. There is so much pain in this life. I look forward to a time when there will no longer be any pain.

Let’s talk about the new earth. We find that the new earth is a place of beauty and glory. There is no need for a sun or moon, or stars, because God himself is the light of this new earth. I imagine we’ll have access to explore a beautiful planet Earth, with mountains, jungles, fields, valleys, and all the animals will not be afraid of us, but will walk up to us and enjoy being with us, as we enjoy being with God. We’ll ride lions, and sit with lambs. Birds will fly through the air and land on our shoulders. We’ll swim with the dolphins and ride upon the backs of whales. People sometimes make it sound like heaven will be boring. Heaven will not be boring. We will not run out of things to do. And the joy will never grow tiresome. Joy is infinite in it’s happiness, as multifaceted as life itself. Nature will amaze us, the glory of God will astonish us, and every moment will be a moment of worship, glory, grace, and goodness. We’ll live at peace with our family, the church of Christ. We’ll visit with family, friends, neighbors, feast, and talk, and dance and sing, and there will be no divisions, and no problems. It’s true. It’s real!

Though we will have free roam of the Earth, we will reside in a giant city. This city, as we’ve talked about before is shaped as a giant cube, 1500 miles tall and 1500 miles wide. The city is made of transparent gold, with twelve foundations, decorated all sorts of various precious gems and jewels. The entrances of the city, the gates are giant pearls. This tells us about the creativity and the artistic soul of God, he builds a beautiful city for us to reside in. It seems so incredible to imagine living in a city like this, but it’s true, it’s real. We’ll be there, I’ll be able to find all of you, to walk up to you there, if I can recognize you, and give you a hug and say “see, we made it! We’re really here!”

The city itself shines with the glory of God. Brightly shining. Perhaps like the stars at night. Angels stand at the gates. And there is apparently a great street that runs through the center of the city. The throne of God, where God resides is literally in the city, and from His throne flows a river they call the water of life, as clear as crystal, down the middle of the great street in the city. And this river flows to the tree of life, which is at the center of the city. The metaphor is beautiful here. God almighty is on his throne, the river of water, sent by God, represents Jesus Christ, the water of life, and as we follow this river, it leads to the tree of life, eternal life.

There is a heaven. It’s a real place. And there is a hell. This is also a real place. Those who have trusted in Christ Jesus will go to the eternal city, the new city of God, and those who have rejected Christ will go to hell, which is a place of darkness, disconnection from God. And God is absolutely just to send people to hell. Why? Because why should God invite people into his presence who have rejected him their whole lives. Hell is just a place without God. That’s what so many atheists and non-believers want, they want a world without God. That’s what hell is.

The idea of hell terrifies me actually. I don’t want to be sent away from God. Which is why I try to do what is right, to trust in Christ, and to carry the gospel. I’d like to once again direct your attention to our primary imperative as the church of Christ: To deliver the gospel. The souls of people hang in the balance. I’d direct your attention to the fish on the altar. Will you be brave enough to carry the gospel to those in danger of hell?

I believe you will. Because we must. I want to bring as many people as possible to this wonderful eternal city as I can. In Revelation 22 Jesus says to us today: “12 “Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.

14 “Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city.” Amen, come Lord Jesus!

A Philosophical Transformation Series
1. What is Truth? A Battle of Worldviews
2. Science & Faith: The Existence of God
3. God's Overarching History: The Big Picture
4: Theology: Understanding God
5: Sociology: The Divine Image, the Family & The Social Order
6: Redemption of Man: The Cross (Paradise Regained)
7: Practicing our Faith: Principles to Live By
8: Government & Law: The United States: A Dream Realized 
9: The Future Destiny of Man: The New Heavens & New Earth
10: Everything is about Jesus

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Thursday, June 15, 2017

The Truth Shines Through: Debunking Lies of the Culture

Let's talk about the truth. It's out there, I promise you. The bad news is that it tends to be hidden behind a phalanx of lies. The good news is the truth tends to break free.  All the lies, all the revisionist history, and all the smear campaigns cannot withstand the breakout power of the truth. When someone comes upon the truth it's as addicting and exciting as a viral video and just as prone to explode across the world in mere moments.  

Let's cut to it shall we?  We've held hands long enough.  Let's wade right into it, and I'll spare you the usual pleasantries and the teeth grinding academic idioms like "let me wet your appetite" or "I have just one caveat."  Nails on a chalkboard, truly.  Spare me! 

As I came into the worldview that I've believed and accepted now, I've gone back in my mind over things I've learned during the short years of my life.  And I've come to realize more and more that I've believed lies, and I've believed things that were told to me that were not true.  

And I've gone on a mission to discover what the truth really is. This has been an exhaustive process of reading dozens of books on history, science, Christianity. government, wars, and dozens of other subjects. It's far from over.  But I've come to learn time and again that I'd been taught and built up into a world where certain key facts have been kept from me, and certain facts have been smeared and changed and rewritten, and certain events and ideologies have been magnified while still others were ignored or minimized.  

So I'd like to share with you a few of the key discoveries I've made. Many of them are quite astonishing, yet never-the-less happen to be true.  

1.The theory that religion causes all the worst wars is false. After the 9/11 terrorist attacks the so called new atheists had quite a field day taking a rope, and wrapping Islam and Christianity together, and attempting to throw them jointly into the sea.  Of course they failed, but in this they attempted to tie the evils of radical Islam with the failings of Christianity and somehow show that Christianity, or "religion" in general had been the most terrible force for evil in the world.  

It became an increasingly common social idiom that religion had led to more wars in human history than any other single issue.  But is that true?  Let us examine the most horrifying wars.  Hitler was not a Christian, though he claimed to be one at one point to win over the protestants of Germany.  But it was clear from what Hitler did, the fruit he as a tree produced, that he was an atheist, socialist (national socialist) putting into practice the ideas of the will to power put forth by the famous atheist Frederick Nietzsche.  Joseph Stalin who committed genocide against his own people; also an atheistic communist.  Mao Zedong in China, 78 million dead, also an atheistic regime.  Today, North Korea is an atheistic regime, South Korea, a majority Christian nation, and highly prosperous.  

In comparison, as far as Christianity goes, if you look to the very worst crimes of supposed Christians over the ages you could go to the Spanish inquisition.  How many people were killed? About 2,000.  What about the Salem witch trials?  Hundreds of thousands?  No, the total was 19 people.  What about the crusades?  Well, it's important to remember that the crusades were a defensive war, a fight against Muslim conquerors who were invading Europe.  A pope called for a "holy war" to fight off the invaders.  Was that a mistake? Maybe, maybe not.  I suppose it depends on your view of the idea of a just war.  Do Christians have the right to defend themselves against invaders? I believe they do.  Obviously it didn't go very well.  No one really knows how many died, but an estimate could be about 1 million people.  Still nowhere near the genocides by atheistic dictators.  

As far as wars, according to a history of wars, only about 9% of wars throughout human history were motivated by a connection to a world religion.  And if you substitute Islam from the bunch, the number goes down to 3.2%.  In conclusion, the suggestion that religion is the root cause of most wars is utterly bankrupt and false.  It's a total lie.

2. "Science is paving the way to the future and religion is declining as science discovers why everything actually works."
 That's the suggestion anyway.  The general idea is that science is disproving everything religious people believe in, and showing that religion is dumb, and solving all of humanity's problems and everything is just great because the great atheists of history developed the scientific method and fought back the evils of religion.  Sound familiar?  Oh yes it does. Too bad it's not true.

Here's something our science and history textbooks in public school never mentioned: The scientific method was created by Christians.  I kid you not.  True story.  All, I mean all, of the great scientists of history, Newton, Bacon, Galileo, Pascal, and Copernicus were all Christians.  Francis Bacon created the scientific method, and Francis Bacon was a Christian.  Mic drop, your welcome.  Take that new failatheists.  Check out this presentation that Prof. Tim Keller gave to Google employees, he goes into some of these facts. 

3. The Bible and other myths?
If you were to ask most young people why they don't believe in God, many would say something to the effect of: "Why should I believe in ancient myths that are no different than Greek gods?"  Sounds like a public school education to me.  In fact I remember being in 5th grade and the teachers pushed a TV in front of us and played Carl Sagan's little video in which he famously said, "The cosmos is all there is, ever was, or ever will be."  A scientific statement? Not at all. That is in fact a statement of belief, unprovable by science.  In fact, atheism being pushed on children with your tax dollars.  It's a stronghold we need to deal with, but I digress. 

Is it true that Christianity and the Bible are no different than Greek myths?  The answer to that question is no.  First, very quickly, we could simply say look at the most well-respected encyclopedia (Britannica) which devotes over 20,000 words to the person and historical works of Jesus Christ and never once suggests he didn't exist.  Mic drop #2.  The encyclopedia says Jesus really existed, therefore the Bible is at least somewhat accurate.  But I'd go much further.  The fact is, the Bible is historically accurate. It's archaeologically accurate. It doesn't read like legendary myths it reads like recorded history.  True it does contain miracles, but if God exists, then miracles aren't a problem for an omnipotent God.  The idea of just tossing out the Bible as a book of myths is utterly bankrupt, and false.  That's the short answer, but there are so many myriad facts that go to this argument for the authority of the Biblical manuscripts.  Read "I Don't Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist" by Norm Geisler and Frank Turek to learn more about that.  Or if your more of an audio/visual learner like me, click here for a video

4. "The civilized world is leaving behind religion."
 Yeah, not even close to true. Though there is a slight decline in religious faith in the western world of the United States and Europe, Christianity is taking off in countries like China, India, and the continent of Africa. As of 2010 it was estimated that 84% of the people the planet Earth identify with a world religion, with about 2.2 billion associating with Christianity in it's various denominational forms.  Is the world rushing toward atheism? Not at all. 

5. "There must be a wall of separation between Christianity and government."  Oh boy, here we go.  Christianity should never be enforced, obviously, but everyone already knows that.  It's a scare tactic used by groups like the ACLU.  No one is suggesting Christianity should be forced on anyone, ever.  A theocracy is obviously a nightmare.  It failed in the past.  And it will never happen today. Yet there is no mandate in government to build a wall of separation between education and faith or government and faith or business and faith.  That is a total lie, propagated by atheists and academics. 

The Constitution protects the right to believe and the right to practice those beliefs in public, while at work, while at home, and while holding government office.  Christians are allowed to be in government, of course they are, every president has claimed to be a Christian!  But Christians are under attack in our country.  And religious freedom is under assault, mainly by the courts. The first amendment of the United States Constitution says that the right to free speech will not be infringed and the right to practice religious faith will not be violated by government.  This concept is under attack today by courts and secular lawyer groups. Unfortunately LGBT groups are also attacking religious freedom, they even go as far as to say that "religious freedom" is code for hate and discrimination.  The freedom to practice faith in America is not hatred.  To suggest such a thing is madness.  The phrase "separation of church and state" never occurs in the Constitution.  It's from a letter written by Thomas Jefferson.  The only issue is that government may not establish a state religion.  That's all! Yet judges use this amendment to tell school children they can't pray in school, and so many other violations of liberty.  Read more about that on websites like Liberty Institute

The founders of the United States were for the most part deeply religious people.  A short list includes: George Washington, Patrick Henry, Samuel Adams, John Adams, and Benjamin Rush.  The truth is we've been lied to about this too.  Many have written and debunked at great length attempting to rewrite history so that the founders were secular or just deists.  It's a big lie.  Watch a video on that here

6. "Christianity is anti-science." Absolutely false. Better watch out, because there is a lot of fake science out there.  And they shut down debate by declaring that "evolution is fact" and "global warming is fact."  And if you dare attempt to engage in debate about it, your branded as a "climate denier" or a "science denier."  Scary stuff.  What comes to mind is priests being forced to "recant" if they wouldn't get behind the orthodoxies of the day.  The truth is over 31,000 scientists are skeptical about climate change.  And the Discovery Institute has documented a growing dissent again Darwinian evolution, including the names of over 1,000 scientists who are skeptical about Darwinism

In fact a lot of "fake science" exists in school textbooks to this day.  An incredible book on this topic is called 'Icons of Evolution' by Jonathan Wells. Also check out the follow up called 'Zombie Science.'  Absolutely fascinating to see how these pillars of evolution have been disproved and debunked over the years.  

A fascinating documentary to check out is called 'Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed.'  It shows how in the scientific community and the secular media a myth is propagated of "science vs. religion" when really the Darwinian community is attempting to lock out any possibility of intelligence as a cause of the universe.  I think you can watch it free on YouTube if you just do a search for it.  

The truth is that belief in God is reasonable.  Intelligent design as a theory for the origin of the universe is reasonable.  But people are defending a worldview called naturalism.  This view excludes the possibility of God before even beginning inquiry.  Naturalism's doctrine is that everything can be explained by material natural means.  That doesn't sound scientific, it sounds philosophical.  And it's not provable.  Because there are many things that aren't material, like consciousness and ethics.  We've been brainwashed to exclude God a priori.  Learn more about that from Stephen Meyer who has written extensively on this topic.  Here is a video presentation by Dr. Meyer

In conclusion, if there is one thing I can encourage you to do, it's to study and learn and grow.  Wisdom and knowledge are great things to have in a world full of lies, distortions, half-truths, advertisements, and get-rich quick schemes.  I'm just at the very beginning of my journey into truth.  But I've found early on that God is the mastermind behind this elegant, yet troubled universe we find ourselves in.  Study, learn, and grow.  I encourage you to seek after wisdom and truth with all your mind and desire.  It will find you, if you seek after it.  Or as the Proverb says:
Get wisdom, get understanding;
    do not forget my words or turn away from them.
Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you;
    love her, and she will watch over you.
The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom.
    Though it cost all you have, get understanding. -Proverbs 4:5-7 NIV

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Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Are you Jaded with the Church? How to Resist Jadedness in Ministry

Any individual working in the many fields of ministry will face the challenge of disillusionment.  When I first got into ministry work I had some naive notions about it.  I was hoping to find a burgeoning vibrant Christianity rallying unified, as one, carrying the gospel like intrepid soldiers into the depths of the darkness of the world.  

Now don't get me wrong, that certainly does take place.  But it's much more a mixed bag than that.  There are some who live it out, and some who do not.  In some church movements the idlers may be the majority, in the others the activists may be the majority.  

I was hoping to see Finney-Edwards style revivals take place, I was hoping to lead dozens of people to Christ each year.  Unfortunately it hasn't happened that way. 

Then again, there's nothing wrong with having hopes such as those. We should dream big dreams and hope for great transformations.  

The daily in and out however can become tiring and weary-some. Dr. Ravi Zacharias called it the "horror of the monotonous." Day in and day out watching lives not changing, watching the news, hearing about terrorist attacks, learning about the millions of abortions year round, and watching the numbers slowly decline from churches across the country.  It's very challenging.  Then we see other Christians, who we think ought to be rallying against the night.  But instead they are idle.  They seem to be thoroughly inactive for Christ.  And it frustrates us.

Further still we begin to see in ourselves more and more so our own failings and inadequacies.  We see that the sin problem is not just outside us, but within us.  We struggle with it on a daily basis and we wonder, how can we do a good thing in the world when the problem is not just around us but within us?  And how can we make a difference?

Yet we keep fighting to make a difference.  On the horizon we see entire church movements beginning to turn against sound biblical teachings on marriage and the sanctity of life.  We see relativism invading the church.  We may even see it gaining ground in our church movements.  This is terribly disturbing to us because we know every word of the Bible is God's word, and we know that if the church declares sin to be holy, then the darkness has indeed become powerful within us.  

So we raise our voices to challenge these false doctrines.  Yet we are told to be quiet.  We told to stopping being so judgmental.  We are told we need to be more accepting and inclusive.  Yet we know that God's word doesn't change.  And to love someone is to tell them the truth, even if it's hard to tell them it.  

Yet we also find great reason for hope.  Africa has gone from 2% Christian to near 50% Christian.  The fastest growing Christian movement in the world today is in China of all places.  South Korea has a massive Christian presence.  The new atheists and the secular progressives had proclaimed the demise of religion at the turn of the 21st century.  Yet their predictions of disaster for Christianity failed to materialize.  In fact Christianity is stronger in the world today than at any previous point in history.  We see the gospel finding new means of distribution and propagation through social media, blogs, apps, radio stations, television, and websites.  We see charities like Compassion flourishing and reaching millions of poor youths for Christ.  

So we've noticed it's a mixed bag.  There are many wonderful things happening (though they never make the news) and there is a lot of apathy and relativism in the church.  Is this odd?  Is this a strange circumstance to find the Christian church in?  Absolutely not.  Why? I'd like to direct your attention to Matthew 13:24-30 (NLT).

Jesus said, “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a farmer who planted good seed in his field. But that night as the workers slept, his enemy came and planted weeds among the wheat, then slipped away. When the crop began to grow and produce grain, the weeds also grew.

“The farmer’s workers went to him and said, ‘Sir, the field where you planted that good seed is full of weeds! Where did they come from?’

“‘An enemy has done this!’ the farmer exclaimed.

“‘Should we pull out the weeds?’ they asked.

“‘No,’ he replied, ‘you’ll uproot the wheat if you do. Let both grow together until the harvest. Then I will tell the harvesters to sort out the weeds, tie them into bundles, and burn them, and to put the wheat in the barn.’”

Jesus told us in his parables that within the kingdom, the wheat and the weeds are being allowed to grow together.  In fact in the parable Jesus specifically tells his servants not to attempt to uproot the weeds or the wheat might be accidentally uprooted instead.   

Listen to Jesus explain the parable to his disciples (Matthew 13:37-43) 
Jesus replied, “The Son of Man[d] is the farmer who plants the good seed. The field is the world, and the good seed represents the people of the Kingdom. The weeds are the people who belong to the evil one. The enemy who planted the weeds among the wheat is the devil. The harvest is the end of the world,[e] and the harvesters are the angels.

“Just as the weeds are sorted out and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the world. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will remove from his Kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. And the angels will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in their Father’s Kingdom. Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand!"

If we let the failings of other church members turn us away from Christ, we're not being wise. Other Christians will make mistakes, terrible mistakes, because we are fallen sinners redeemed only by Christ. And we must also remember that there are non-believers sown amongst us, by the enemy, and they will often be the ones who dishearten us.

But I want to remind you that even the redeemed elect will cause you discouragement as well. We still make mistakes and mess things up. Pastors and lay leaders will also make grave mistakes. Which is why we shouldn't look to pastors or authorities, if we do, we will become jaded and bitter. 

If we look to the perfection of Christ, and trust Him alone, then we will rejoice in our sufferings. After all Christ said in his parables that He will deal with this problem at the judgment, not us (Matthew 13:24-30). 

So if we turn away from Christ because of our jadedness with abusive churches or church leaders, we're not being wise. We must look to Christ alone, and we then can never become jaded. Yet we also look to those around us to be an example. There's nothing wrong with that.  And we should go to our fellow believers when we see them doing wrong and ask them to turn from those ways.  But when I start to become jaded about what I see around me, I once again force my gaze to turn from the problems of the world to the total perfection and sovereign authority of Jesus Christ our Lord and savior.  I look to the work of the Lord Holy Spirit in the world and realize God's will is being done.  I don't control things, I can't force things to go differently.  His will is that which will be done. 

Jadedness is a threat to our effectiveness in carrying the gospel, we must battle and fight the temptation to become jaded, not yield to it in frustration. That is the whole key of this article, if I could leave one key thought with you it's this: Battle against jadedness. Fight against bitterness. Struggle against it. Do not yield to it.  Never! Fight, fight, fight for hope in your heart.  Do not allow the jadedness to make a home, but once again look to Christ and be filled with hope and fire.   

Consider the letters of Paul to the early churches: Scandal after scandal, problems, issues, controversies, and we expect different today?

The letter to the church in Corinth described factions, believers were arguing over which apostle they were following, whether Paul, or Peter or Apollos (1st Corinthians 1:10-17).  

Paul wrote to Timothy encouraging him in his ministry to resist false teachers which were common, and would come up against him (1st Timothy 1). 

Paul again wrote to Titus urging him to resist the circumcision group, a group of probably Jewish-Christians who were attempting to require new believers in Christ to be circumcised as a requirement for salvation (Titus 1).

James the brother of Jesus wrote in his letter to the Jewish tribes scattered among the nations, urging these believers to not be idle, but to practice their faith (James 2:14-26). 

And finally, if one reads through Revelation, Christ's exhortations to the seven churches, we see that every sort of problem was wrestled with by the early churches (Revelation 1-3).  

All of this to say, we must, must, must not be surprised when we come up against situations, people, and places that threaten to push us toward bitterness.  We must actively fight against bitterness.  We must make war on bitterness, and reject it, committing ourselves to a higher way, refusing the now, refusing discouragement, refusing to let ourselves become negative, but instead focusing on the long game, continuing to serve faithfully, and recognizing constant problems as hallmarks of Christian service.  

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