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Baloney Sandwich

Since when did loving someone mean that you have to agree with them on everything?  Recently I have been seeing this image floating around on Facebook and other places.
Dont judge
The implication is that if I say that homosexuality or some other form of behaviour condemned by God is wrong that I am not loving.
Well that is a big old baloney sandwich if ever I have seen one.  Who would ever say it is unloving to stop my kids from trying to live on cheese puffs and sodas?  What if I actually stood up to a friend and told them that their drinking is going to kill them when they are putting away a fifth of vodka every might when they get off of work.  Or how about teaching my son to drive his car in accordance with the traffic laws?  I doubt any reasonable person would for a moment think that I was being unloving to any of them.
So why would saying this is what God says be any different?  If I am going to claim to live the christian life then does that not include saying what God says is wrong is wrong?  Sure these things are easy.  It is easy enough to speak out about homosexuality, and to be honest I think Christians, myself included, have made the terrible mistake of targeting in on this one sin while turning a blind eye towards some others.

Not just missing the forest for the trees

When was the last time you heard any one claiming to be a christian speaking out against gluttony? Or when did you last hear a sermon talking about how sloth was destroying the fabric of society.  If we are going to live a life that by example points towards God, a life guided by the Christian ethic, then we must not kid ourselves into thinking that only those things that are easy to find fault with and that perhaps you and I have no temptation towards are the ones we should rail against.   It’s so easy to point at something that isn’t and never will be a problem personally, but what about getting the speck out of my own eye while holding others accountable.

Love people, but love them enough to tell them the truth.

Instead we need to adhere to the standard set out by our Master, Jesus.   Be honest about what God has said, yes homosexuality is wrong, see romans chapter 1, but so is drunkenness, lust, gluttony, even that “little white lie.”  As christian men we don’t get to decide what sins count and what ones don’t.  Which parts of the Bible we are going to follow and which we can ignore because it is inconvenient.
Love people enough to tell them the truth.  Even when it’s hard, even when they don’t want to hear it, even if it means making a few enemies.

Are you willing to make some real enemies?

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I killed Him!

English: The National Sin Offering, illustrati...

English: The National Sin Offering, illustration from the 1890 Holman Bible (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Up until today I had always thought of the priest as the one who killed the sacrifice in the Old Testament.  A person would disobey one of the commandments, they would bring a lamb, or what have you depending on the sin and their personal financial status.  The priest would kill the animal and then away they would go.
Leviticus 4:28-29 “Or if his sin which he hath sinned, come to his knowledge: then he shall bring his offering, a kid of the goats, a female without blemish, for his sin which he hath sinned.  And he shall lay his hand upon the head of the sin offering, and slay the sin offering in the place of the burnt offering.”

Who did the killing?

 

Go ahead read it again, the one who sinned.  Not the priest, the priest would bring the blood before the lord.  But the actual killing was done at the front door.  And it was not done by the priest but by the one who had done wrong.
I sin, I kill.  No one else can do the killing for me.  To do the killing is to take responsibility.  Only by killing the sacrifice can I receive forgiveness, for there can be no forgiveness without the shedding of blood.
Jesus became that sacrifice for you and I.  We killed him by our actions, our failures, our disobedience, our sin.  And tho I know that, I still find myself doing wrong, even when I know what’s right.  Because of that sin he died, that willful, self-indulgence drove the nails through his hands and pierced his side.
If I would only pause a moment before I took that action.  Stopped to see the creator of the universe, his body racked in agony, the consequences of my actions, would I  behave the way I do?  Or would I pause, contemplate the out comes of my actions.  Stopping to take in the pain and suffering I cause because of my selfishness, maybe if I had to physically kill the Lord of all I would not run to sin so quickly.  Yet I don’t, I often just plow ahead doing my own thing.

If you and I really believed that Christ died because of our sins would we ever purposefully sin again?

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Are there things in the Bible that are hard to understand?  How about things that I wish, at least on a certain level were not true?  Yes without a doubt.  Just a couple of examples.

I have both a cousin and a couple of friends from high school all of whom are involved in same-sex relationships.  Yet Romans 1:27  “And likewise also the men leaving the natural use of the women, burned in their lust one towards another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet”. Wow do I wish that wasn’t there.
Now that’s tough, but for me it gets worse.  Jesus said “I say unto you, that whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery”. Being a single red-blooded male I fail at this pretty much on a weekly basis.  I could go on and on.  But I think you get the point.

Does what I think matter?

R.C. Sproul talks about a revelation he had while at graduate school, “You are required to believe and to preach, and to teach what the Bible says is the truth, not what you think it ought to be.”  Maybe the examples above don’t bother you, but I’m sure if you haven’t found something you wish wasn’t there you will.  What ever it is really doesn’t matter.
I may not like what the Bible says, but if God is real and who he claims to be, which is what I believe to be true based upon what I can know.  Then I have to accept what He says to be true even if I don’t always understand why.  Otherwise I am assuming the role of God, and I have elevated myself to god hood.
Perhaps I should embrace something Jim Rohn used to say, “Don’t wish it were easier, wish you were better.”  Taking it a step further.  Don’t wish God was different, don’t just wish I was better, but work strive study to be better.  Work on disciplining my thoughts and emotions in order to be who God created me to be rather than wishing I did not have to be that person.

 

Are you willing to work to become the man God made you to be, or are you just going to wish God was different?

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Personal,but not private

Night Light

Night Light (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. Matthew 5:16

Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. Matthew 6:1

Ever try reconciling the above?  Seems, at least at first glance, that they contradict one another. The best I can figure out the first is about our lifestyle, the second is about our financial choice.

Either way it seems to make clear in the first case that my relationship with God is meant to be personal, my actions impacted by who I am in relation to Christ. But that within that relationship, my actions are to be public otherwise others could not see and glorify God.  Too bad what others all too often see would not reflect very well on the Father.

But those are my marching orders

My actions are to be done in such a way that they glorify God.  When I was younger that was rarely the case.  Rash, brash, and self-absorbed, I would rush head long often doing the first thing that came to mind.  Actions that would often not bring glory to God.  Want I needed to do was slow down, stop and think about how what I am about to do and how it will reflect on God.  Still I far to often still jump in with both feet without asking how does this show the Father, what will people think of God if I take the action I am thinking about?
Just like me, most people probably identify you as a Christian.  It probably doesn’t matter if you’ve told them or not.  The question is do you let your light so shine that people look at you and glorify your Father?

What are you doing to make your light shine brighter?

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You can give without loving, but not love without giving.

Christians should be wildly generous because God has been radically generous with us by giving himself freely.  When I did not deserve it God loved me.  When I was not only apathetic but out right hostile, God came to this world to show His love to me.

Who does that?

Or the even bigger question is why.  Why did God choose to give himself to us?  Why would he choose to love us?  I’ve heard some speak of God loving his creation because he made us.  That doesn’t sem to satisfy me, does it you?  Never the less He does, which then leads me to consider how then should I live my life?
As much as on one level I tend to be selfish and self centered I have to ask myself how can I not be generous with others.  Since God loved me how can I not love others?  After all they go hand in hand, being generous and loving people.
But being generous isn’t just about money.  What about time or talent?  I don’t know about you, but I get just as much if not more out of investing my time and energy in other people.
Now that’s all well and good when it comes to people I like or at least tolerate.  It’s easy to be involved with people who are like me, or people I like.  But what about people I don’t?  It’s easy enough to say love your enemies, even easy enough to say “yes I love those that persecute me.”  But what about actually being generous with yourself towards those people?

God’s love is radical, His generosity is incomprehensible so I must be generous, not just with other Christians but with

those that are hostile.  After all His love was radical, so I need to be as well.

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Yep I struggle with this, more than I really want to admit.  Surfing the net at work, not doing everything I should for my clients, or not doing things as good as I can.  Sometimes just phoning it in.  SOmetimes my Christian ethic is not what it should be, and it bothers me even if I am the only one that knows.

1Corinthians 10:31 says pretty clearly “Therefore, wether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”  Now maybe you will or won’t sing hymns or praise songs while your working, but that is secondary.  Do you out perform everyone you work with?  Do you work in such a manner that it brings glory to God?  Or does your boss think, I’m never hiring a Christian again?  Are you working like Jesus is standing across the room?

Saying I am going to and actually doing it are two different things

I keep saying I am committed to do the best job I can, not just for my boss, or my clients.  But because I really believe that when Jesus said I am with you always, he meant it.  I want my actions, big or little to bring glory to God, and at the same time raise questions in those around me as to why.  Yet I fail more than I would like to admit even here among friends.
I want those I work with to ask, “Why do you work so hard?”  “Why do you do the extras,?”  What’s different about that guy that he tries harder than everyone else.  I want to “let your light so shine before men that they see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” Matthew 4:16, also see Collosians 3:17, and 1Peter 4:11
What about you, will you act in such a way that others will notice that there is something about you that is not like everyone else?
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Over-Zealous

English: Resurrection of Christ

English: Resurrection of Christ (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of the guys at my church has a tendency to be a bit aggressive, at least for my taste, when it comes to talking about Jesus to people outside the church.  Am I being overly sensitive? Too timid?  Maybe his approach is needed more, but I think for me if I did not know Jesus I would be turned off by his way of doing things.

I was thinking of Peter cutting off the ear of one of those sent to arrest Christ, John 18:10.  I hate the idea of “balance” when it comes to living the Christian life.  I don’t think it’s about balance, it’s about being extreme.  How else do you explain ideas like love your enemy.  But do we try too hard to bring about the good while not understanding the great?
Do those pressured into a profession of faith stick?  Or is the gentle reasoned approach more likely to produce a changed life?  I’m sure there is a place for both, a time to push and a time to pull, but what is the best.  Does the highly aggressive approach to evangelism work, but when it doesn’t does it bring reproach?  Does a more gentle approach produce fewer results but leave room for follow-up?
What brings the greatest glory to God?  After all isn’t that what we are created for?  Maybe it’s just my bent to want to take the more gentle approach, 2 Timothy 2:24, but am I doing all I can?
Not sure there is a best answer and I suppose different personalities would have different answers,

but I am wondering what you think.

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The God who suffers

Listening to a lecture given by Tim Keller on suffering, and he states that “Christianity is the only religion with the audacity to claim that God suffered”. I thought that was both simple, and yet profound (yes I realize it is not original with him, never the less).  Why would God suffer?  Not just suffer in a general sense but in a very real very literal way, and for us.

 “All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. (Revelation 13:8 NKJV)”. How amazing.  God did not just suffer, but Jesus was slain from the foundation of the world, not destined, not a future tense but past, was slain.
Can you imagine what that conversation was like?  The Father and Son discussing creating man.  And perhaps the Spirit chimes in and asks, yes but what about when they rebel?  The Father none the less says, let us make man in our image, but Jesus you know what this means.  And in that moment the Son not only sees the future, the beating, the suffering, the death.  Not just a knowing or a feeling, but he in that moment experiences being slain.  For God is outside of time in the way we know it.  In that moment the spear pierces his side.  The nails puncture his hands and feet.  The thorns dig deep,into his brow, as the blood pours forth  and he says.  “Of course I will die for them.”

 

I can barely fathom it.  

Can you?  Can you imagine what that moment felt like?  The sense, being slain before we were created?  Can you imagine knowing that your kids would literally kill you before they were born, and yet deciding to give birth to them anyway.  Maybe thinking oh well by the time it happens I will be old and besides they will have done a few nice things here and there.  A couple of breakfasts of soggy cereal and cold pancakes in bed, a few hand drawn birthday cards.  I know they will be the death of me, but it will be worth it.  No I can’t imagine either let alone going thru with it.  But imagine what this really means, before the hugs and kisses, before the “I love you” before a single moment of joy, you will suffer and be slain, and only then will you be allowed to enjoy those few of your children that don’t spit in your face and curse your name.
If that’s not love I don’t know what is.
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Faithful Unto Death – Christianæ ad Leones (Ch...

Faithful Unto Death – Christianæ ad Leones (Christians to the Lions). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Notice I didn’t say like.

Our command, our marching orders are to love.  Not because it’s easy, or even fun, but that’s the Christian ethic.  Sometimes we have to love people we may not even like very much.  We are not told to revolt, rebelling against the rightfully, God established government.  Neither are we to collaborate, trying to reach some weak-kneed compromise.  And don’t even think about withdrawing, if Jesus wouldn’t pray that we be taken out of the world, then why would we ever think that’s the best answer.

I am still hearing all kinds of goofy talk about revolting against the authorities in place.  Not sure what part of Paul instructing the early Christians to submit to the magistrate some people are thinking does not apply to them.  Lets be honest any kind of “persecution” you or I face today as a result of our Christianity is little more than a pinch compared to what the early church went thru.  I don’t know about you but I have not heard of a single Christian in America being used as a living torch for an executive BBQ.  No reports that I am aware of a circus lion noshing on anyone for claiming the name of Christ.  So let’s get real about persecution.  Let me be blunt and probably irritate more than a few, but the Church in America should be so lucky as to come under real persecution.  Before you rant go look at what is happening to the church in China.

Love isn’t compromise

The another option is to collaborate.  I know some would say let’s find the common ground and work on that.  Now I’m not saying be antagonistic for the sake of argument.  But what is going on when a church leader is ignoring the Christian ethic we are commanded, not a suggestion by the way, to tell and show the truth.  For example what the heck is the snuggling up to Hinduism, Buddhism, or some other ism because there is 10-15% similarity.  Are you really going to try to convince me, or worse yourself that God is going to someday in the future tell you that since you had good intentions that is good enough?  I would love you to show me where you read that in the Bible.
Finally, disappearing into the mountains in Montana with freeze-dried food and a handful of guns isn’t the answer either.  If Jesus wouldn’t pray for his disciples to be taken out of the world, what makes you think your special?  What’s more the world needs you, your salt, your light.  You have an obligation, a duty to show people Jesus, in word and in deed.  If you’re not then what value does your “Faith” really have?

Not easy doesn’t mean hard.

What the heck made you think it was going to be?  Maybe someone told you when you came to Christ the suffering would be over.  “Just come to Jesus and it’s all going to be  rainbows and unicorns.”  I hope not, but if they did I’m sorry.  It’s not easy, but compared to the alternative what else are you going to do?  Being a Christian is not for the faint of heart.  On the upside the one who runs the show has said he will be there no matter what happens.
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The Last Judgement

The Last Judgement (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Beauty, Creativity, Arts, & Science

 

The very best in all of these disciplines should be coming out of the Christian community.  We have access to the biggest and best creative pool anyone has ever known and additionally we are tied into the source of all knowledge and wisdom.

So why is so much art generated by those who would call themselves by the name of Christ mediocre?  Now before you go getting all defensive, I did not say all but much, and before you comment go turn on a Christian radio, TV, or movie and honestly evaluate and compare. Are the production levels, the performances, the sense of it up to what the rest of the world produces?  Or is it more like comparing a Hollywood blockbuster with a 14 year olds hand-held production.  Is the musicality there or is it akin to listening to an 8-track from the 70′s?
We, the church, used to lead.  It did not matter if it was Art: the David, the Sistine Chapel, or countless others, Music: Bach, Brahms et al, Science Newton, Galileo, and others.  So what happened?  When did it change?  And when are we going to reclaim our place of leadership?  It’s way past time for those who would call themselves Christian to stop shying away from or even being antagonistic to art and science and realize our God-given talents.

Lead, Excel, Be Great

Do you really think we should just put it out even if it’s only mediocre?  I have to wonder even with this blog and some other things I am working on if it is the best it can be.  Am I just phoning it in?  Is it good enough, or am I short-changing not just you, but also God?
I believe that the Christian ethic demands to do what I can to produce the best product I am capable of creating.  That includes taking the time and effort to become better.  This blog, the classes I teach, if they’re not better this month than they were last then what value are they?

“And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;” – Colossians 3:23

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