Sunday, March 27, 2016

Lines in the Sand--Mercy and Judgment

2 Early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people were coming to Him; and He sat down and began to teach them. 3 The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery, and having set her in the center of the court, 4 they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in adultery, in the very act. 5 Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women; what then do You say?” 6 They were saying this, testing Him, so that they might have grounds for accusing Him. But Jesus stooped down and with His finger wrote on the ground. 7 But when they persisted in asking Him, He straightened up, and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 Again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. 9 When they heard it, they began to go out one by one, beginning with the older ones, and He was left alone, and the woman, where she was, in the center of the court. 10 Straightening up, Jesus said to her, “Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?” 11 She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more.” John 8:2-11
Only You know, Lord where the lines of mercy and judgment should be drawn. We must have boundaries, or we will have complete lawlessness. We must have mercy or we will become hardened in our hearts.

Your mercy does not allow for unjust acts towards the innocent or the righteous to go unaccounted for. Yet Your judgment doesn't mean that You never forgive intentional acts of sin. There is a balance that is just, fair and right. You know the balance. You know the hearts of men. You judge rightly every time.

Your judgment, when it gets in the heart of man, will cause them to forgive. Your mercy, in the heart of a man, will cause him to judge righteously. We need both.

Show us Your heart. Teach us Your ways. May we fully understand and properly balance Your Word which says:

"For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment." James 2:13


12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? 13 But those who are outside, God judges. Remove the wicked man from among yourselves. 1 Does any one of you, when he has a case against his neighbor, dare to go to law before the unrighteous and not before the saints? 2 Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? If the world is judged by you, are you not competent to constitute the smallest law courts? 3 Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more matters of this life? 1 Corinthians 5:12-6:3

Friday, March 25, 2016

Christian Reactions to Two "Hot" Topics

I have recently noticed a knee-jerk reaction among Christians that I feel needs to be addressed. Before I do though, I would like to mention that I admit many of my posts lately have been about political or social issues of the day, which I normally don't do so much. I usually write along the lines of biblical teaching. However, I feel the condition of America is such that if we don't address these issues, we may lose our freedom to live and preach the gospel altogether. This, of course, will make it much more difficult to fulfill the Great Commission and raise our children in the ways of the Lord. So here I will address what I feel is not necessarily an over-reaction, but a misguided reaction to two issues of the day.

First, is the U.S. Supreme Court decision in the summer of 2015 where they decided same-sex marriage was a constitutional right. Many Christians who oppose same-sex marriage, as I do, voiced their opinion. However, it often turned into a debate on the moral aspect of, or God's view on, same-sex marriage. This issue is best left to be discussed within the church. We cannot expect to debate the rights and wrongs of same-sex marriage with those outside the church. We share a country with those who don't believe the Bible or follow God. Arguing with them that same-sex marriage is wrong won't go very far, as we have seen. The better way to address the right or wrong of any issue with unbelievers is through prayer and evangelism.

The legal tragedy of the Supreme Court decision is that the Supreme Court usurped State authority. To be constitutionally correct, each State should determine for themselves if they will allow same-sex marriage. And each Pastor or person who has the legal authority to marry people, should be able to decide for themselves if they will perform a marriage or not. The government should protect this right to choose, not decide which choice is right. State's issue licenses--marriage licenses, driver's licenses etc. This usurping of authority by the U.S. Supreme Court opened the door for larger federal control. I feel that the same-sex marriage issue, and gay people in general, are often used as a pawn by those who promote larger governmental control. They choose "hot" issues because they know their real purpose will become clouded due to the strong emotional feelings on the subject. We need to be careful we don't allow our strong feelings on a subject to blind us to what is really going on.
"But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger;" James 1:19
Next we have the issue of gender choice. Many states, mine included, are trying to pass, or have already passed some type of policy or law in dealing with gender choice among K-12 students. Once again, outraged parents cry out. But what happens is that the proponents of gender choice come up with a policy that is very extreme. In Michigan they wrote one that excludes parental knowledge or control over their child's gender choice behavior at school, and also said that they have to be allowed to use the bathroom of their choice, not just a single stall bathroom. Of course they knew all along parents would voice their opposition, and others would voice their support, so they will most likely try to come up with a "compromise." This compromise however, will still allow the concept of gender choice to infiltrate our schools and our young ones. It is the frog being dropped in the water so to speak and they can slowly turn up the heat as time goes on. Instead, parents should insist that gender choice not be allowed at all in the schools, and emphasize the harmful effects of allowing this. To effectively do this though, parents have to be able to take their argument away from the moral rights and wrongs of gender choice and focus instead on protecting the kids from this harmful practice while they are young and still maturing in their gender. (For more on this click here.)

As Christians, we must learn to quit reacting emotionally when dealing with the legal aspects of these issues. Our emotions can be expressed in our prayer closet as we engage in spiritual warfare and battle for the souls and minds of those who are deceived. However, in the public and legal arena, we must address these issues differently, for, once again we share our country with unbelievers. Anytime the federal government takes control of an institution--like marriage licenses and public schools--we will run into this problem of who is going to make policy. We can argue back and forth, but ultimately we need less governmental interference, not more. We must keep the freedom of private ownership and control. If someone wants to start a private school with policies that we disagree with, then so be it. As long as we can also have private schools where we can implement the policies that we wish to follow. Maybe a higher number of smaller, privately run schools is the answer. The public school, and the government, may have grown to be too big for its own good.

Jesus said that lawlessness and deception would be prevalent in the last days so what is going on now should not surprise us. (Matthew 24:12, 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12). Although I agree that it is shocking to see the extent of sin and deception all around us today. However, the thing that is going to bring about the Lord's return is the preaching of the gospel of the kingdom to the whole world (Matthew 24:14). We need to keep that in mind as we become light and salt to our culture.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Fractured Families Weaken a Nation

If you've read any of my stuff before you've probably heard me discuss God's plan for mankind in the beginning. Adam and Eve were told to be fruitful, multiply, replenish the earth and subdue it. They were to rule in the earth. God's structure for a community, a society, even a nation, is built upon the family structure. Children that are taught the ways of the Lord early on, and pursue a genuine worship-based relationship with the Lord, will be productive members of the society. They will play a meaningful part in a community, blessing it with their unique gifts and call. We see this as the plan after Joshua led Israel into the Promised Land. They had no king and the people were free to do as they pleased.

However, the generation after Joshua's did not know the Lord and they departed from Him and served other gods. This got them into trouble. They were plundered and eventually brought into slavery. When they cried to the Lord, He raised up a deliverer, Othniel, who was the first judge. (Judges 2 & 3). After that, they had judges who judged them. These judges were also warriors who defended Israel, but they were not kings who dictated to the people what to do. I find it interesting that the judges were also warriors. They were those who understood the outside threats against Israel, as well as understanding the Law of Moses to judge within the nation.

It's important to note that the judges didn't make the law--they judged righteously according to the Law of Moses. I wonder if the founding fathers of the United States noticed this. The United States was founded upon "The Laws of Nature and of Nature's God" as Thomas Jefferson wrote. The phrase was most likely taken from Lord Bolingbroke who wrote, "...One follows nature, and nature's God; that is, he follows God in his works, and in his word." The judges of Israel judged according to the Law, but everyone still had a certain degree of personal freedom. In a free society, our freedom to follow God is the very thing that makes that society work.
"In those days there was no king in Israel; every man did what was right in his own eyes." Judges 17:6
Does this sound like the "right" way to run a country today? Everyone doing what they feel is right? You would think it would be utter chaos wouldn't you? In a nation that does not fear God, it would be chaos. However, this is the principle upon which The United States was founded. Everyone having the freedom to live as they choose, according to their belief in God. To accomplish this, the United States was not founded as a nation where the Government dictates what the people can or cannot do. It was structured so the people told the Government what it could and could not do. This is why John Adams said, "Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."

It wasn't until Israel wanted to be like other nations who had kings that they got rid of the judges and went to being ruled by a king. Of course God still raised up prophets to speak to the people, and to the kings, but the structure of the government had changed. The king ruled.

My point is this, God's best plan is for a nation to be structured around a family based society who has faith in God. As children are raised up by parents who will teach them the ways of the Lord, and lead them into a personal relationship with the Lord, these kids will grow up and bless society. As adults, their desire will be to please the Lord, following His law of love which means they won't wreak havoc in a society, they will contribute something meaningful in their generation.

This is why Satan does all that he can to fracture the family unit. Divorce, domestic abuse, drug addiction, alcoholism, homosexuality, pornography, adultery etc. are all tools of his to tear apart families. As families experience strife on a daily basis, or each individual selfishly cares for just themselves, the family bond diminishes and will finally dissolve. When this happens, the foundation of our society weakens and begins to crumble. We need strong families in order to have a strong nation. Children need to be raised up and taught the ways of the Lord, as well as His way for the structure of a nation.
"...Abraham will surely become a great and mighty nation, and in him all the nations of the earth will be blessed..for I have chosen him, so that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice..." Genesis 18:18-19.
If we've learned anything at all from the history of Israel, it's that each generation must experience a fresh encounter with the Lord themselves. We cannot assume that just because we follow the Lord, they will follow Him too, without teaching them or leading them in His way. We usually teach our kids to follow us, not the Lord, and this will not work--they need to become a new creation in Christ themselves.

So what do you do if your family has been fractured? If you are a single parent, divorced, or live alone, start where you are. Take whatever family pieces you have left and work with that.

  • Pray for unity in your marriage if you are married. Only He can cause your individual goals to become a unified goal.
  • Seek the Lord for your path in life--job, school, ministry, relationships etc.
  • Adjust your path to fit what the Lord shows you.
  • Teach your children the ways of the Lord and pray for them!!
  • Support others in your family in their desires and effort to reach their goals and purpose.
  • Recognize that our Government is not to dictate how, when, where, or if, we can worship God.
When our faith is in the God of the Bible, and we live according to His ways, our families will be blessed and strengthened. We will bless our communities, and cause our nation to prosper and live in peace.

Quote references:
Lord Bolingbroke and Thomas Jefferson, retrieved March 13, 2016
John Adams, retrieved March 13, 2016

Monday, March 7, 2016

The Church and the Presidential Primaries

Right now American political parties have an “in-house” decision to make—who they want to run against their opposing party for president. This is similar to what is facing the church right now. We have “in-house” issues to work out.

Within our party we are divided over who we want for President. Many Christians feel we’ve “heard from God” and our guy is the guy. This is fine, but our reaction to those who disagree with us tells us a lot. It reveals the condition of the church as a whole. Not so much that we disagree, but WHY we disagree and HOW we react to others who disagree with us.

Who do we vote for?

God is not double minded. He knows who He wants, but He wants us to come to the same conclusion because we have grown close enough to Him to think like Him. He has given us guidelines in His Word regarding characteristics of a leader, and He has given us His Spirit to guide us in these times. God knows the hearts of men, so we need His guidance. God promotes and demotes, but He leaves some things up to us. He may keep us from going in the gutter at times when we goof up, or He may let us reap the results of our foolish choices. Either way, He wants us to learn to see things from His perspective. If we ask the Lord for wisdom, He has promised that He will give abundant wisdom to those who ask in faith. (James 1:5). Just to clarify though, we DO need to vote. We can't just throw up our hands and say "Whatever happens happens, His will will be done anyway." No, there can be devastating consequences when we shirk our responsibilities! Look to His Word and seek Him in prayer regarding who to vote for.

So once we've made our choice, how do we respond to those who disagree with us?

We don’t want to yield to anger or fear when discussing issues with our brothers and sisters in Christ, or anyone for that matter. If we are angry, it is most likely because we are fearful of what will happen if things don't turn out the way we think they should. This anger and fear reveal our lack of faith and undermine our confidence that we have heard from God on who to vote for. This causes an unsettling in our spirit. This makes us anxious and we want everyone to agree with us because it will help us feel more confident in our decision. The solution in these cases is not to lash out at people, but to press in closer to the God of peace. Let's make sure that we are not only making the "right" choice, but that it is for the right reason. Let's humble ourselves before the Lord and seek truth. This is what will give us peace in the midst of this political storm. We can share our decision with others, and why/how we came to that decision, in an attitude of peace. And when others share their opinions with us we need to compare what they say with the peace in our heart to see if it bears witness. If we get worked up, we won't be able to do this.

The enemy will sow paralyzing seeds of strife and confusion wherever he can. Fear is good soil for those seeds. We must not have more faith in the candidate we choose than in God. We must trust the Lord above all else—the God of peace who WILL crush Satan! (Romans 16:20).

Our adversary wants us in discord. God wants us in unity, even when we disagree. Only the Lord can bring true unity. As we each press in to get closer to Him, seeking more truth and clarity in our own heart, He will direct all of our paths towards the same direction--towards Him. This brings us all closer to each other as well. Once we resolve this we will be a stronger church.

As the church begins to awaken together with a corporate vision our light is dim at first, which brings the cloudy chaos we’ve seen among us. We need to continue to awaken more fully so our corporate light shines brighter. None of us can elect a president on our own, or by our own opinion, no matter how strongly we feel. It's not the strength of our personal opinion that elects anyone, it's our unity. Of course I'm not talking about a false unity where we think we must be right simply because many other people agree with us. This is not true unity of the Spirit but a political spirit like at the tower of babel (Genesis 11). Instead we must humbly seek for a unity of truth in the Spirit as we all walk closer to the Lord. 

Arise and shine saints!