Thursday, May 19, 2016

Seriously? When did sin become all right?

"Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!" (Isaiah 5:20 ESV) In our world today, we face the challenge that sin has become acceptable and calling sin a sin is not. It is offensive to people to say that homosexuality is a sin. It is offensive to people to say that a men's bathroom is for males and a women's bathroom is for females. It is offensive to say that to claim that you are no longer the sex that you were born because you feel like you are the opposite sex is an offense to God. It is offensive to say that Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation. It is offensive to say that which the Lord has said to us in the Bible, and not just your interpretation of the Bible but what it truly says. Everyone has become a Bible scholar and knows what it means, even if they don't follow the Lord, worship Him, be fed by Him in regular times of worship, or follow His will for their life. Then, when a Christian makes a statement, they are called hateful and terrible. They are told that their religion teaches them to hate.

Why? Satan has really pulled the wool over the eyes of our culture. In the U.S.A today we call evil good and good evil. We say that it is all right to sin and not all right to avoid sin. We claim to follow the God of the Bible when it suits our purpose and then claim that the same Bible is wrong when it suits us. We want to say "In God we trust" as long as it suits our lifestyle. When it doesn't, then we want to throw the trust in God out the window and then follow the ways of our sinful nature.

I guess that what the Lord said through Isaiah back in the mid to late 8th century B.C. (not B.C.E. which is also a way to say that we don't follow God in our history and world today). We call evil good and good evil. Homosexuality is good. Heterosexuality is just a way to condemn the homosexual and is a way of hiding our homophobia. Transgender is good. Wanting to keep our children (sons and daughters) and wives safe from having to wonder who is going to step into the same bathroom as them is bad.

The world today says, "You can believe what you want as a Christian, just keep it to yourself." Then it turns around and says, "I will believe that transgender and homosexual lifestyles are acceptable and you have to listen to me shout it from the mountaintop, say it on the TV, promote it on Facebook, and yell it at the top of my lungs from gay pride parades in cities across the nation." Good is evil, evil is good and you must accept it.

That is what the world says. I refuse to accept that. I will stand on that which God says. Evil is evil. Good is good. Right is right and wrong is wrong. How do we know the difference? Be real. We know what is right. That is what the world is trying to crush. That is what the Lord God almighty has said through the Holy Spirit in the Word. I do believe the time has come when "the court outside the temple (is left out), for it is given over to the nations, and they will trample the holy city for forty-two months." (Revelation 11:2) Even those who claim to be Christian are trampling the Word of God in their haste to be accepted by the world today.

"Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for , but weep for yourselves and for your children. For behold, the days are coming when they will say,'Blessed are the barren and the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!' Then they will begin to say to the mountains, 'Fall on us," and to the hills, 'Cover us!' For if they do these things when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?" (Luke 23:28-31 ESV) My friends, that time has come.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

A Nugget from Paul

I was reading in Paul's letter to the churches in Galatia. This is an amazing little letter. I know that I say that about each book of the Bible that I read. That is because each one is amazing. I am continually amazed how the Holy Spirit was able to inspire the writers of the books of the Bible, doing exactly what Jesus said He would do: "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you." (John 14:16 ESV) He brings into the thoughts of those who He inspired to write the words of what we call the Holy Bible. I am fascinated that through the several thousand years it took for all these books to be written, there was one central focus - the coming of the Savior of the world, the Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ. How amazing is that? (How many times can I use "amazing" in one paragraph?)

Anyway, I was reading in Galatians and read this little verse (along with many other verses), "For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ." (Galatians 1:10 ESV) Whom am I, as a pastor, trying to please? Whom am I, as a Christian, trying to please? That really is a tough question that should challenge each one of us. The answer is actually quite simple. I am trying to please God.

Yet, as I give that answer, I find that I am challenged each day because it is so difficult to follow through with this thought. For if I am working to please God, there will be times when I do not please man. In today's world, it seems that the focus of each day is to make every person happy, to not offend anyone and to live in such a way that we do not cause anyone to be upset with us and our actions. People are so quickly offended. If you say one thing, people will be offended. Yet if you say the opposite, other people will be offended. How do I make each of them happy? I don't say anything.

Really? I am not to say anything at all? Then how can I be a Christian? How can I be a pastor? As a Christian, I am called to tell the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Yes, even if I was not a pastor, I am still called in my life to tell the message of the Gospel. That Gospel is going to offend someone. To say that Jesus is the only way to salvation means that those who do not believe in Jesus will not be saved. That is offensive to those who don't believe in Jesus as their Savior. To say that God has called each one of us to a life of purity and morality based upon His Word, is to offend those who do not want to live a life based on God's Word. (Or they try to find some way to twist and turn God's Word to fit their corrupt and sinful lifestyles.)

What is the point here? The point is that in the end, we are called to live out our lives for God and not for man. We are to reach out to those around us with the message of the Gospel. We are to help those in need. We are to love all people with the love of Christ. We are to share with those who are less fortunate. Yet through it all, we are still be focused on living, acting and talking in a way that pleases God and not man. Is this easy? No it isn't. My heart wants to be liked by all people. As a person, I want all people to like me. As a pastor, I know that isn't going to be the case. If I point out a sinful action to someone, they may become offended. Does that mean I stop pointing out the sinful action? No. I must still do just that.

That is important in such debates as transgender bathrooms, homosexual lifestyles, alcohol abuse, emotional abuse, abortion and end-of-life issues and a whole host of other hot button topics in today's world. Is it easy? No it isn't. Is it welcome in the world today? No it isn't.

That didn't stop Paul. It didn't stop the early Christians in the 1st & 2nd centuries. It shouldn't stop Christians in the 21st century. Lord, guide me that I may live to please you and not man. I need the Spirit's help and guidance in this life. Forgive me when I am unloving and uncaring. Forgive me when I fail and seek to please man instead of You.