Friday, December 06, 2013
From the Preacher's Heart
“Pathetically Illogical or Powerfully Illuminating?”
Wednesday, September 11, 2013 Comments (0)
“Now therefore” (Jeremiah 32:36)
It should have jumped off the page at me the very first time I read it. There should have been brain-cramps, a mental dumpster fire, and a confused “uh, what” expression on my face every time I saw it. Yet, it wasn’t until yesterday that it hit me. Jeremiah 32 is utterly illogical! There is no human rationale that can make sense of how the final nine verses of the chapter result from what is portrayed in the first thirty-five. It’s as if numerous pages have been torn out of the book or the DVR recording skipped over a twenty minute segment of the movie. We must be missing an important transition that has occurred in the plot! If there isn’t edited & altered material between verse 35 and 36, then the actions of Character are either pathetically illogical or powerfully illuminating.
The great Bible teacher Donald Grey Barnhouse once said that Hell was the only logical doctrine in the Bible. Though there may have been some exaggeration in his statement, his point comes across loud and clear. That an omnipotent, perfect God would punish sinners and wrong-doing with eternal separation from Himself seems to be the only logical, rational course of action. The first thirty-five verses of Jeremiah 32 (along with much of the first thirty-one chapters!!) offers a detailed report of God’s loving choice of Israel, God’s faithfulness to His people, and Israel’s intentional and persistent spitting in the face of its Lover. God uses other nations, particularly Babylon & Nebuchadnezzar, to overthrow and enslave Israel. As Israel and its leaders refuse to repent and continue to sacrifice babies to the self-serving idols in the land, we should expect God to respond in Jeremiah 32:36 with something like “Now therefore I, the Lord, will demonstrate the depth of my purity and the height of your unfaithfulness by allowing Nebuchadnezzar to annihilate all of you from the face of the earth, never to be remembered again…After that you’ll burn in the Lake of fire for all eternity.” That’s logical. That makes rational sense. And, that adheres to the rules of the English language when one uses the word “therefore.”
For the worldly mind, God’s actual response to unfaithful Israel seems pathetically illogical. Paul labels it as “foolishness to those who are perishing.” How do you dissect grace in the lab of human reasoning? How do you rationalize the actions of a God who provides spiritual breath to those who have willfully drowned themselves in the ocean of sin? No wonder Jesus said regarding salvation, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” For God’s people, Jeremiah 32:36-44 proves to be powerfully illuminating rather than pathetically illogical. God’s grace illuminates God’s heart for all to see. God’s beautiful, free, commendable grace demonstrated most passionately in the death of Christ puts the spotlight directly on the love of God. God’s grace only begins to make sense in the mind of the one who has been given a glimpse into the heart of God. So today, let us celebrate the grace of God that has brought us peace with God. Let us be thankful that God’s rationale isn’t always as simple and straight-forward as man’s logic. Let us rejoice in the reality that God has made possible that which seems utterly impossible and illogical, the salvation of our souls!
Be the Towel!
"The Wrath of God was Satisfied": A Biblical Response to Dr. Bob Terry
Friday, August 09, 2013 Comments (0)
One of the songs that we often sing at Glory Fellowship is under attack. Related & more importantly, a vital aspect of Christ’s atonement is being minimized, if not outright denied, even in some Southern Baptist circles. Here’s some quick background on this centuries-long controversy that has again come to the forefront in our own backyard. Recently, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) made an attempt to change the lyrics of the song “In Christ Alone” from “till on that cross as Jesus died, the wrath of God was satisfied” to “till on that cross as Jesus died, the love of God was magnified.” The writers of the song, Keith Getty & Stuart Townend, refused to allow those lyrics to be changed (Good for them!). Therefore the hymnal committee of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) refused to put the song into its new hymnal. Now, Dr. Bob Terry, president & editor of your Alabama Baptist Newspaper, has engaged in this controversy by writing a tragic editorial that at best minimizes, and at worst completely denies, the penal substitutionary atonement of Christ (Aug. 8 edition pg. 2).
If you’ve attended Glory Fellowship for any length of time, you know that I often preach that God’s love, demonstrated most vividly in Christ, cannot be fully & rightly understood apart from God’s wrath. However, let’s again go over what penal substitution is & why is it so vitally important. Theologian Wayne Grudem offers a clear definition for us: “Christ’s death was ‘penal’ in that He bore a penalty when He died. His death was also a ‘substitution’ in that He was a substitute for us when he died…This has been the orthodox understanding of the atonement held by evangelical theologians, in contrast to other views that attempt to explain the atonement apart from the idea of the wrath of God or payment of the penalty for sin” (Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology, pg. 579).
Those who, like Terry, argue against penal substitution often base their position on the love of God. They would say something like what Dr. Terry says in his editorial of this week’s Alabama Baptist Newspaper, “Sometimes Christians carelessly make God out to be some kind of ogre whose angry wrath overflowed until the innocent blood of Jesus suffered enough to calm Him down. It is the ultimate ‘good cop/bad cop’ routine where God is against us but Jesus is for us…But God is not the enemy. He is our seeking Friend. That is why I prefer to focus on His love evidenced at Calvary rather than on His wrath" (Bob Terry, The Alabama Baptist Newspaper, Aug. 8 Edition, pg. 2)
As one author labeled it, this perception of God’s love is a “squishy love.” This understanding of God’s wrath (an ogre, really?) is flawed, which makes the remainder of his argument flawed & dangerous. The powerful promise of Romans 3:26 doesn’t occur without Romans 3:24-25!! God cannot be “just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” unless “God puts forward (Jesus Christ) as a propitiation (“covering & wrath-bearer”) by his blood.” Well-known pastor and theologian John Stott beautiful & powerfully intertwines God’s love and God’s wrath, “It is those who cannot come to terms with any concept of the wrath of God who repudiate any concept of propitiation… It is God himself who in holy wrath needs to be propitiated, God himself who in holy love undertook to do the propitiating and God himself who in the person of his Son died for the propitiation of our sins. Thus God took his own loving initiative to appease his own righteous anger by bearing it his own self in his own Son when he took our place and died for us" (John Stott, The Cross of Christ, pg. 167 & 172).
In short, the “love of God was magnified” on the cross because “the wrath of God was satisfied".
Dr. Terry’s unbiblical understanding of the atonement, and the fact that is presented as truth in a Baptist arena, is repulsive and demands action on the part of Alabama Baptists and our leadership.
Walking with Christ,
"A Clingy People"
Monday, July 22, 2013 Comments (0)
Jeremiah 13:11 “For as the loincloth clings to the waist of a man, so I made the whole house of Israel and the whole house of Judah cling to me, declares the Lord, that they might be for me a people, a name, a praise, and a glory, but they would not listen.”
Have you ever known anyone who was clingy? You know, the individual who is overly obsessed with you and wants to spend what seems like every waking moment talking to you, talking about you, following you, imitating you, and relying on you. It’s almost as if his or her world revolves around you. This person finds his or her identity in you. Just entirely too clingy! Do you have someone in mind? Yeah, I can hear you internally screaming as you think about it…Would you please just go away so I can do my own thing for a few minutes!! There is absolutely no doubt that overly clingy people have some unhealthy self-identity and relational issues. Yet, these individuals provide us with a useful, albeit imperfect, picture of what God desires from His people.
In Jeremiah 13, God tells Preacher Jeremiah to offer the Israelites a visual sermon using a loincloth. The inner loincloth symbolizes the closeness and intimacy God desires to have with His people, then and today. In other words, He wants us constantly clinging to Him. You know, Christ wants that individual who is overly obsessed with Him and wants to spend what seems like every waking moment talking to Him, talking about Him, following Him, imitating Him, and relying on Him. It’s almost as if God wants our worlds revolving around Him. He expects us to find our identity in Him. Casual Christianity would say, “That’s just entirely too clingy!” Yeah, God can hear you internally screaming as you think about it…Would you please just go away so I can do my own thing for a few minutes!!
Obviously, the Israelites agreed with casual Christianity because they refused to cling too closely to God. They were stubborn, clinging more closely to the “promised” protection of Nebuchadnezzar and other surrounding nations than to the protection offered by Yahweh. The Israelites clung much tighter to the idols and pleasures of their day than to the hand of God. And, because they would not listen, repent, and obey, God declared them to be “good for nothing” and sent them into exile in order that they would be broken to repentance.
In Christ, God causes us to cling to Him. He desires for us to be a people set apart for Him and His purposes. He desires for us who carry the name “Christian” to make His name famous throughout the earth, as others see Him working in & through us. He desires that we become praise to Him and a source of praise as others see our good works and give honor to God. He desires that we become the beauty & fragrance of Christ, thus glorifying the One who has taken filthy rags and made us into a beautiful Bride. So, let us this day resolve in our hearts that we will forever be a clingy people, clinging to Christ as if our eternity and witness to the world depend on it.
Walking with Christ,
"Marriage Redefined & Christ's Church"
Wednesday, June 26, 2013 Comments (0)
Weep and mourn, but don’t panic. After the Supreme Court’s decision today that gutted the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), many Christians will act as if the sky is falling with nowhere to turn. Don’t get me wrong, today’s Court decision is most definitely a watershed moment for this nation. This decision of the Supreme Court is another step (and a very big one) down the path of redefining marriage in America that started decades ago. As Professor Denny Burk tweeted, “The floodgates are wide open. Same-sex marriage will be the law of land very soon.” This decision has obvious moral, marital, religious liberty, freedom of speech, and economic implications, none of which will provide for a healthier America in the years ahead. Yes, it seems obvious to me that America is heading down the wide road to destruction at an alarming pace. Yes, it is evident that our culture is mired in the middle of the same evil spoken of by Jeremiah the prophet to the nation of Israel, as well as the depravity spoken of by the Apostle Paul concerning all of mankind in Romans 1:18-32. This attempted assault on God’s authority & His ideal for marriage isn’t the first and probably won’t be the last. So, we shouldn’t panic as if the sky is falling. However, this decision should serve as a long-overdue wake-up call to the Church which forces us to consider our own failure to uphold marriage in God-honoring ways and commit anew to the sanctity, purity, and beauty of God-honoring marriage.
The alarm of today’s decision should awaken the Church to surrender itself to God’s standard for marriage. Much of the discussion revolving around God’s ordination of marriage centers on heterosexuality versus homosexuality. However, God’s standard for marriage goes beyond simply the genders that make up a marriage. The Scriptures depict marriage in terms of “Christ and His Bride,” and the Bible relates the responsibilities of a husband and wife to the roles of Christ and the Church. Marriage is to be a picture for the world of how deeply & sacrificially Christ loves us and how devoted we become to Him & His leadership for all eternity. Is the culture hearing that message from many Christian marriages? Yet, far too often, even in the Christian community, marriage is entered into without the faintest notion of the covenant that is being made. Marriage as honorable worship & effective evangelism would seem to be oxymoronic! It appears that the culture (TV, Internet, etc.) is educating our young people on what marriage is far more than the Church. When was the last time you saw the Church discipline the culture of divorce that is so rampant within the community of believers? If ever the Church is to make a powerful presentation of the life-changing Gospel of God, then these deficiencies in how Christians view marriage & persevere in marriage must be addressed.
Today’s decision leads me to agree with Christian author Trevin Wax in that healthy, Biblical marriages between a man and woman who devotedly & sacrificially love one another will in the not-too-distant future be a featured designation that marks a couple as Christian. He tells this story concerning healthy marriages in an unhealthy culture, “Not long ago, a friend who lives in D.C. told me that whenever he sees a young father and mother pushing a stroller with a couple of kids, he immediately thinks, ‘They must be Christians.’ Why? ‘There just aren’t a lot of intact families in our area. When you see one, you just assume they’re religious.’” Obviously, this won’t be universally true, but I think you get the picture. Christian marriage is a testimony of the Gospel’s power. As such, the Church must hear today’s Court ruling as a divine alarm that causes us to consider our own deficiencies in interpreting & living God-blessed marriages.
Walking with Christ,
"Don't Forget the Procedure!"
Monday, April 15, 2013 Comments (0)
Joshua 5:9 “And the Lord said to Joshua, ‘Today I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.’ And so the name of that place is called Gilgal to this day.”
What incredible peace and joy must have overcome Joshua and the Israelites upon hearing God speak these words, “Today I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.” Shame, slavery, and shackles had continued to haunt & taunt the Israelites even after they had crossed out of Egyptian borders. Their rebellion in the wilderness led to reproach from other nations. Sin, shame, and dreadful slavery all went hand-in-hand, just as they do today. Then God gave the blessed promise at Gilgal. Gilgal, which means “a wheel or a rolling,” was aptly named as it was the place where the guilt and shame of everything related to Egyptian bondage were forever removed and rolled away. A fresh, exhilarating start in Israel’s walk with God was beginning.
The human tendency is to read a promise of God like this one in Joshua 5:9 and claim it as our own. We want the demons & shackles of our past removed, and we desire to hear that we are blessed by God. We long to take hold of our “Promised Land,” watching God overthrow all obstacles & enemies who may stand in His way. We really like the sound & thought of experiencing the Kingdom of Heaven in our lives, homes, and churches, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with desiring any of these things! But before we too quickly move into how the promise of God played out in Israel’s victories at Jericho (Joshua 6), Ai (Joshua 8), and Canaan (Joshua 10 & 11), it is imperative for us to remember that Gilgal was also the place where the people were circumcised. The promise of God didn’t come without the supernatural procedure from God.
This physical cutting away of skin in Israel signified the covenant of faith between God and His people. In the New Testament Paul tells us that we must have the circumcision of Christ, which is cutting away the flesh of rebellion towards God. It is heart circumcision which results in our “being crucified with Christ” (Galatians 2:20) so that it is no longer we who live but Christ who lives within us. The spiritual Gilgal is where repentance from self-centered worldliness occurs. The spiritual Gilgal is where the procedure of being born from above takes place. The spiritual Gilgal is where God “rolls away the reproach of Egypt (and slavery to sin) from you.” We can never hope for the Promised Land of God’s favor until we go through the painful procedure of having our sinful hearts torn apart by God’s Spirit so that He can put a new, pure heart within us.
Perhaps today, you need a Gilgal experience where God “rolls away” the guilt, slavery, and shame of your lifestyle which continues to hold you in bondage. Allow the Spirit of God to perform his supernatural surgical procedure on your life, and you’ll begin to experience life anew. Perhaps you are already a Christian, but something seems to be amiss in your life, home, and church. Return to your Gilgal to reflect upon the procedure and promise that God performed so many years ago. Whether it is spiritual awakening or revival that we desire, many of us need to spend some time at Gilgal this week.
Walking with Christ,
"Is My Worship Impacting the World?"
Tuesday, March 26, 2013 Comments (0)
John 12:3 “Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.”
Mary’s intentions weren’t that she be remembered throughout the entire world for all eternity as the one who had anointed Jesus for his burial. Nor was it her motivation to fill the entire house with the fragrant perfume so that others would be reminded that something special had taken place. It never entered Mary’s mind that someone would bring up the cost of the offering she poured on Jesus and languish about the fact that the perfume could’ve been sold and used to help the poor who were in town for the upcoming Passover. While eating dinner and listening to the miracle stories told by Simon the ex-leper and once-dead Lazarus throughout the evening, Mary’s heart had one motivation: demonstrating her love by worshipping the Lord. And, although it was never her intention or motivation, Mary’s pure worship has made a lasting impact on the world since that evening. Her worship became her lasting witness.
Christ continues to use Mary’s worship in impacting the world because it was pure, acceptable worship. Notice a few characteristics of Mary’s worship:
1) Mary takes the position of a slave at the feet of her Master. She understood her role and Jesus’ glory. She was intent on serving & honoring her Master regardless of what others thought or said. Pure Christian worship comes from the heart of a devoted, grateful slave who experiences the greatness, glory, and grace of the Master.
2) Mary let down her hair to wipe the Master’s feet. A woman’s hair is her glory (cf. 1st Corinthians 11:15), yet Mary humbly & unashamedly laid her glory at the feet of Jesus, taking no thought for herself. Her only concern was that the Master be honored. Christ isn’t honored when we “keep our hair up” so as to maintain some semblance of self-dignity before Him. Self-dignity keeps many from purely worshipping the Master who gave up all dignity to die for sinners.
3) Mary worshipped with what she possessed. The flask of perfume was indeed costly, but what is honorable about worship that costs nothing? I believe Mary understood better than the apostles what Jesus was about to endure, and with his suffering in view she couldn’t withhold her full expression of love from Him. There was no hesitancy, only pure heart-filled love and worship. Having the benefit of the New Testament Scriptures that detail the sufferings and sacrifice of Christ on our behalf, how can we be hesitant about offering our talents, homes, time, and money to the Master?
In Mary’s act of pure worship, we see that “this completely unself-conscious act given to Jesus turned out to be the very means by which the aroma of glory to our Lord was spread to others. As Mary humbly gave herself, with no thought of her own glory, she became a primary means of spreading the blessing.” God sovereignly used Mary’s worship to impact the world. The purity of Mary’s vertical worship had powerful horizontal implications. Her worship of Christ became her witness to the nations.
What is your flask of perfume? Will you make it your flask of worship? If you’re concerned about how great an impact you will make, your worship with that flask isn’t pure. Simply lay your life, and all that is associated with it, on the altar as a sacrifice of worship to the One you love and seek to honor. Only pure vertical worship has powerful horizontal implications.
Walking with Christ,
"Did Jesus Pass Math Class?"
Thursday, February 21, 2013 Comments (0)
“I wish I could have been there. To walk with Jesus and his disciples through the streets and Temple of Jerusalem during the week of the crucifixion would be priceless.” In many ways, these sentiments are mine. Think about being a part of the following: 1) Following Jesus into an ecstatic Jerusalem as the crowds shouted…it was like a spiritual pep-rally! 2) Being amazed as that once healthy fig tree withers from the roots overnight. 3) Seeing the looks on the faces of the money-changers when Jesus toppled their tables. 4) Hearing the Prince of Preachers describe the Great Tribulation like he did in Matthew 24 & 25. And we haven’t even gotten to the events of Thursday evening, Friday, & Sunday morning! Being there would have been exciting, scary, heart-breaking, & life-transforming all at the same time. Truthfully, I couldn’t tell you how I would respond to Jesus’ questions, teachings, & miracles. (I pray that I would respond with uncompromising faith, obedience, & devotion, but it isn’t likely.) However, there is one event during Jesus’ last week when I know exactly how I would have responded. I would have looked & sounded utterly stupid, and chances are you would have too. In fact, had most any American been traveling with Jesus in Jerusalem during the week of his crucifixion, this one scene in the Temple would have led any one of us to ask the question, “Jesus, did you pass math class?”
Jesus is walking through the Temple constantly unloading on the hypocrisy of the Sadducees and scribes. He is calling them out! Then, the Master walks over and sits where he can see the Temple treasury. He’s people-watching. We’re people-watching with him. “Did you just see that guy put that $10,000 check in the offering plate? Wow!!” We’re impressed…Jesus is not. Then, after watching for thirty minutes as people continuously put bag of money after bag of money into the treasury, this old widow-woman comes walking up and puts two paper-thin copper coins amounting to nothing into the pot. “What is that? What is she thinking?” We’re not at all impressed…Jesus is. Jesus pointedly remarks to us, “Um, guys, this poor widow has put in more than all those other folks with whom you’ve been impressed during the last half-hour.” I wouldn’t have been able to stop myself, “Uh, what? Jesus, did you pass math class? Can you even count?”
Jesus can count just fine. The difference between us and him is this: in his Father’s math class, the method of counting is based on sacrifice, not abundance. The widow gave in such a way that required her to trust in the provision of God if she was going to eat her next meal. “Christ’s standard of commendable offering is not our superfluity, but our deficiency—not what will never be missed, but what costs us some real sacrifice.” Real sacrifice stems from a heart of real trust, real love, and real obedience. Real sacrifice reaps the reward of pleased Master. How can we look at the lesson of this sacrificial, dependent widow without evaluating whether or not our giving & living demonstrate dependence upon the Provider? How can we experience the life that was given to us by the Great Sacrifice without stopping to ask whether we’re really sacrificing anything at all? Giving out of abundance may impress the pastor and other church leaders, but giving that costs is the only giving of which Jesus approves. We may have passed our earthly math classes, but have we passed the Father’s math class by understanding that His method of counting is based on sacrifice, not abundance?
Walking with Christ,
"Have You Had the Stomach-Bug?"
Tuesday, February 12, 2013 Comments (0)
Mark 11:12: “On the following day, when they came from Bethany, he was hungry.”
By now, you’ve probably heard of or experienced the stomach-bug that seems to be making its rounds this winter. Nasty stuff. As I was reading through Mark this morning, the ole stomach-bug came to mind, specifically regarding Jesus in Mark 11:12. Why is the One who turned five loaves & two fish into a meal for thousands so hungry? It is Monday morning of Passion Week (the week of Jesus’ crucifixion) when we read that Jesus is hungry. The previous day, He had ridden from Jericho into Jerusalem on the young donkey with the crowds shouting Psalm 118:26 about him, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” Sunday seemed to be a party atmosphere, and most people eat during party times. But, on Monday morning Jesus is hungry. We know that during the four nights before the Passover & betrayal Jesus stayed in Bethany with his close friends Lazarus, Mary, & Martha. Did they not feed him? Were they not hospitable? Far from it! They loved Jesus and were more than willing to serve & cook for him (remember from Luke 10:40 how Martha labored in the kitchen). So, why was Jesus hungry?
After reading about the events late on that Sunday afternoon & evening, it becomes apparent that Jesus hasn’t eaten because his spirit is deeply disturbed by the situation ongoing in Jerusalem & its Temple. From Luke 19:41-44, we know that after Jesus’ celebrative ride he mourned over Jerusalem & lamented the hardness of the people’s hearts. We also read in Mark 11:11 that Jesus took an investigative walk through the Temple on that Sunday evening absorbing all the “defiled religion” that was taking place (he would be back the next morning to confront the “defiled religion”). As one Bible scholar notes, “The Temple was doing ‘business as usual,’ and Jesus was deeply grieved by this.” Jesus was hungry on Monday morning because he was heart-broken on Sunday evening. His stomach had no appetite because his spirit was filled with a righteous anger toward sin & the hypocritical religion of Israel. Although we can’t be certain, it isn’t a stretch to think that upon arrival in Bethany that Sunday evening Jesus skipped supper to find a quiet place where he could pour out his heart to the Father.
Have you ever awakened hungry? Have you ever awakened to a hunger that resulted from a day of missed meals because you had the “stomach-bug” of sensitivity toward a personal sin that you can’t tolerate any longer? As you do an investigative walkthrough of your personal devotion & the local church body with whom you worship, have you ever wept over the presence of hypocritical religion to the point where you couldn’t eat? Have you ever sowed the tears of spiritual mourning in hopes of reaping a spiritual harvest in joy? Jesus wasn’t constantly mourning and neither should we. However, Jesus’ spirit was gripped by what he saw in the Temple, and there are times when you and I should be spiritually gripped by what we see & experience in our world, so much so that all desire for food is momentarily quenched. May there soon come a day in your life when you awake to an intense physical hunger because you’ve had the spiritual “stomach-bug” that has quenched your appetite.
Walking with Christ,
"I'm Gay": The Slogan of the New American Hero
Tuesday, April 30, 2013 Comments (0)
“This is a huge step forward for our country. We’ve got your back” (First Lady Michelle Obama). “I hope that everyone, particularly Jason's colleagues in the NBA, the media and his many fans extend to him their support and the respect he has earned” (former President Bill Clinton). Billie Jean King, the former tennis great who went on to win the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her work advocating gay rights, said, “This is a day of celebration for the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, & Transsexual) community and for all of us. I look forward to the day when the news of anyone coming out, is a non-issue and once we reach that point we will know we have arrived.” In addition to these two comments, President Obama personally called Jason Collins to congratulate, celebrate with, & support him. ESPN opened their world-renowned SportsCenter telecast yesterday evening with a celebration of Jason Collins as if he had recently won a championship or been inducted into the Hall of Fame. Sports Illustrated has Collins on their cover.
Who is Jason Collins, and why are terms like “hero,” “bravery,” “leadership,” & “character” suddenly being used in the same sentence with him? Did he rescue one of the victims in the Boston bombings a few weeks ago? Has he given his life in an effort to disarm the nuclear weapons in North Korea or Iran? Nope, he did neither of those things. Jason Collins is an NBA player who yesterday became the first active male athlete to announce publicly that he is gay, and for this announcement he is receiving almost universal praise & applause. He is today’s new American hero. In fact, during the previous 24 hours anyone who hasn’t offered unconditional support & praise of Jason Collins has been ostracized & identified as “intolerant.” Just ask Chris Broussard.
After Collins’ announcement yesterday, Chris Broussard, a basketball analyst for ESPN, was asked to be a part of ESPN’s show “Outside the Lines.” During the interview, Broussard, a Christian, offered his opinion on Collins’ announcement. (You can listen to Broussard’s comments here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HCOXBgBjDgY) Broussard unashamedly said that he disagrees with Collins’ sexual lifestyle. He labeled it as “sin,” adding other Biblically-grounded comments. Broussard has now become the piñata that the media, the LGBT, and human rights’ activists are beating & persecuting. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Broussard fired by ESPN for his comments. Obviously, tolerance only applies to those who share the same perspective & ideals of “the agenda” in America.
The spiritual & moral landscape of America has been running downhill at an increasing rate for quite some time. Yesterday’s announcement & the subsequent praise for Jason Collins should alarm, anger, & sadden Christians, but it shouldn’t surprise us. Please understand that nothing less than unconditional support for homosexuality will be accepted in America. The homosexual agenda doesn’t simply want a table at the banquet in which they can debate their position; they want to own the banquet and exclude anyone who would offer a contrary opinion. For example, Greg Laurie is a California pastor who was invited to lead the National Day of Prayer event at the Capitol in Washington DC. Now, serious pressure is being put on the organizers of the event from gay rights’ activists to disinvite Laurie from Thursday’s event because he preaches that homosexuality is sin against God. Only a few short months ago, Pastor Louie Giglio voluntarily removed himself from saying the inauguration prayer due to the vehement demand from the activists. Dialogue won’t do…the homosexual agenda demands control.
As Michael Catt noted this morning, “Revival won’t begin in the White House. It will begin only in the church house.” Christians must seek the face of God. We can’t expect God to move upon the hearts & sin of the nation until we have allowed Him to move upon each individual heart & the sin in our life. Christians must speak the truth in love, even if we become ostracized & ridiculed like Chris Broussard, Greg Laurie, or Louie Giglio. Spurgeon warred against the moral decay of his day in a controversy known as the “Downgrade.” President Obama has labeled the moral decay of this nation as “the evolution of America.” So, just as the Apostle Paul and Charles Spurgeon used spiritual weapons to wage war against the spiritual enemies of their day, let us use those same weapons to wage war against the evil in our day. Be strong and take courage for the Lord your God goes before you!
Walking with Christ,
"Fit for a King"
Tuesday, February 12, 2013 Comments (0)
Mark 1:3 “Prepare the way of the Lord; make his paths straight.”
“Make sure those clothes fit before you tear off the tags,” my momma used to remind me. “That goal-line stand was a fitting end to the game,” the sports enthusiast might scream. The clothes needed to be suitable for my body, and the ending needed to meet the high standard at which the game was played. In the culture of Jesus’ day, when kings would make trips to various cities, it was customary for the servants to go days beforehand & make certain that everything was fit for the arrival of the king. Things had to be suitable & meet a high standard for someone in such an honorable position as king. The servants would “prepare the way” & “make the paths straight” by leveling the bumpy, pot-hole filled roads & making them easily passable for the King. These servants would also continually prepare the people in the host cities for the king’s imminent arrival. It was a difficult & often unnoticed responsibility, but the focus of the servants was that everything be fit for the king. Don’t you do something similar in your home when special guests are expected? I’m certain that you want everything to be fit for the occasion.
It is this custom which Mark 1:3 pictures in describing the role of John the Baptist. His preaching of repentance was a call to the people to prepare their hearts for the coming of King Jesus. In essence John was telling them, “The unrepentant, unregenerate heart is not a suitable place for the King to dwell.” God loves the sinner & He desperately desires for the sinner to be reconciled. However, there is an important reason He cleanses us at the moment of regeneration: An evil, dirty, materialistic life is an unfit home for the King of Glory.
Friends, King Jesus is here! His infinite worth & glory have arrived! Our Creator desires to fill the home of our heart to the point of overflow with Himself. Shouldn’t we at least give Him the opportunity to continually make us into suitable hosts? Shouldn’t we at a very minimum give Him some uninterrupted time each day when he can “level the bumps” and “fill the pot-holes” of our lives? Shouldn’t we strive with all our being to “prepare the way of the Lord & continually make his paths straight?” Starting today, make your time & life available to be enriched by His powerful Word. May your life & my life constantly be a warm & welcoming vessel that is fit for the King!
Walking with Christ,