Sunday, February 26, 2006

Is Holiness Necessary?

I was reading an article recently on the subject of holiness based on a recent survey by the George Barna Research Group, and a conclusion of the survey was that only about 3 in 10 American Christians viewed holiness as a necessary part of their Christian walk.

Holiness is a matter embraced by the Christian Church, but it is not one that many Americans adopt as a focal point of their faith development. This is partially because barely one-third of Americans (35%) contend that God expects you to become holy. A larger share of the born again public believes God has called them to holiness (46%) but that portion remains a minority of the born again population.The Barna Group, Ltd, 2006

Many it appears, question the possibility that they could be holy. As a result, holiness was not a reasonable goal for which to strive. To be certain, much of this Christian worldview on the un-attainability of personal holiness stems from the image of church and church leaders that have been proffered by what I call American Religiosity particularly throughout the 20th and so far into the 21st century. This strain of church leadership suggests that people need a proxy for themselves before God. We need a person of infallibility that is only offered through formally trained and credentialed church leaders, who are the only ones who can boldly go before God’s Holy throne. The result of this insidious teaching is a body of believers in Christ who see themselves as incapable of or unworthy to go before God for themselves. But God says plainly in the Bible to: Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. (Hebrews 12:14 NIV) God says without holiness you will not see Him. So where does that leave the roughly 60+% of people, church-going people who by their own assessment appear to be pursuing unholy but still Christian lives? At the minimum they appear to be dreadfully deceived, and at worse perhaps are not Christians at all. I’m convinced that most of these people do want to see God. However, to do so the Bible gives them a necessary requirement to live holy. It does not say live perfectly. It does not say live lives of sinless perfection. But it does suggest living with a desire to be holy.

John the Baptist was one person whom the Bible referenced as a holy character: For John had been saying to Herod, "It is not lawful for you to have your brother's wife." So Herodias nursed a grudge against John and wanted to kill him. But she was not able to, because Herod feared John and protected him, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man. (Mark 6:18 NIV) Here, an example of holy living was being able to clearly see and being willing articulate to an offender, that adultery is wrong. However, in a different setting, this same holy man was doubtful about the legitimacy of Christ as evidenced by the following scripture: When John heard in prison what Christ was doing, he sent his disciples to ask him, "Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?" (Matthew 11:2-3 NIV). John wasn’t presented as perfect, but he was presented as holy.

The hard question for most is what do you do to be able to live holy? We’ll, I can’t articulate the 3-step approach here in this blog, but the Bible sure can. And that perhaps is the problem that the Barna research uncovers. There is an old saying that the acronym for the Bible is this: Basic Instruction Before Leaving Earth. The instructions to live a holy life are contained throughout the Book of the Bible. Having a desire to read it and the discipline and commitment to do so, will provide the instructions that is needed in order to know how to live the holy life that God expects.

If you are someone who is uncertain as to your ability to be holy, don’t let men or the world suggest to you that it is unattainable. Seek out the Bible, God’s Holy Word for yourself. Let the Holy Spirit teach you about true holy living. Sinless perfection it will not be. However, a continual earnest desire to learn about Jesus and a willingness to be more consistently obedient to his Word, will have you on the path to holy living right before your very eyes.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

What Will Heaven Be Like?

The title of this post is an age-old question that people have asked for generations: “What will Heaven be like?” Many books have been written on the subject. Countless songs made; as you would expect even Hollywood has attempted to capture the imagination of Heaven’s promised blissful existence. To be sure, there are many who don’t share the idea of a heaven. For some it is a state of mind; to others, a crutch used by ‘weak’ humans to avoid dealing with the harsh realities of a seemingly merciless world.

The concept of heaven is mainly developed through the acknowledged existence of God. Given that the Bible has been universally acknowledged as the book that reveals God to people (though some will vehemently disagree and scoff at the simplicity of the notion), I wonder how many of those artists, authors and musicians have actually searched the Bible of God to give them the answer to the question? I mean really search it with an open mind…content to accept what it may reveal, as opposed to looking to confirm or validate a pre-conceived idea of heaven?

For those who are willing, I will suggest an honest reading of the Book of Isaiah, Chapter 65. It paints a vividly accurate portrait of the human condition, and just as vivid a portrait of the creative, suffering but still merciful God that made us all. Here, some might ask: suffering? God suffers?? If God is so powerful, who can make Him suffer? Read God’s Word in the following: "I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me; I was found by those who did not seek me. To a nation that did not call on my name, I said, `Here am I, here am I.' (Isaiah 65:1). Can you feel the pain in God’s statement? Can you feel the hurt? As a father of children, I know I can. Picture you saying the same thing to your son or your daughter, and having their response be…indifference or hostility. As a parent, that breaks your heart! And I believe that is close to God’s feeling. The Bible continues...showing our response to God’s request for our attention: All day long I have held out my hands to an obstinate people, who walk in ways not good, pursuing their own imaginations -- a people who continually provoke me to my very face…who say, `Keep away; don't come near me…” (Isaiah 65:2,3 & 5 - truncated). And we wonder why we live in a merciless world? A world of diseases, pain, sickness, natural calamities and unending bloodshed and death?

But in the midst of our casual and callous rejection of a pleading God who yearns for our attention and obedience (just like we do from our own children), despite all this, God offers some of us His mercy! This is what the LORD says: "As when juice is still found in a cluster of grapes and men say, `Don't destroy it, there is yet some good in it,' so will I do in behalf of my servants; I will not destroy them all. (Isaiah 65:8) Many will be destroyed; I dare so most will probably be destroyed, as the Bible puts it: For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. (Matthew 7:13). But for those who’s hearts are opened…the answer to the question “What will Heaven be like?” will be revealed. God gives us a very clear glimpse in this chapter: "Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind. (Isaiah 65:17); No more babies dying in the cradle,or old people who don't enjoy a full lifetime; One-hundredth birthdays will be considered normal--anything less will seem like a cheat.They'll build houses and move in.They'll plant fields and eat what they grow. No more building a house that some outsider takes over, No more planting fields that some enemy confiscates. For my people will be as long-lived as trees, my chosen ones will have satisfaction in their work. They won't work and have nothing come of it, they won't have children snatched out from under them. For they themselves are plantings blessed by GOD,with their children and grandchildren likewise GOD-blessed. Before they call out, I'll answer. Before they've finished speaking, I'll have heard. Wolf and lamb will graze the same meadow, lion and ox eat straw from the same trough, but snakes--they'll get a diet of dirt! Neither animal nor human will hurt or kill anywhere on my Holy Mountain," says GOD. (Isaiah 65:20-25 The Message Bible)

What kind of God is this merciful to his creation who reject Him at every turn? None of us who will experience the bliss described above will have done anything to deserve such mercy. Yet we will be there. Even the animals will be there! My parting question is this: will you?

Don’t rely on artists or musicians, authors or actors to try and show you what heaven will be like. Read Isaiah 65 and let God show you, and offer you His mercy.

Note: All scripture courtesy of the NIV Bible, unless otherwise noted.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

George W. Bush & the Faith Hating Mob

I’m sure the above title tells you much about the content of this post. However simplistic or perhaps overdone, after 5 years of watching unending attacks on President Bush by the mainstream press, the United Nations, most World governments and assorted other organizations, it is astounding how unified these disparate groups have been in their venom towards the current President. For someone who can’t be so bad that he got elected twice, it is virtually impossible for him to be as consistently awful a character as his enemies make him out to be on a daily basis. If from time to time his enemies would acknowledge even some redeeming aspects of the man and his governing, people may take them more seriously when their inevitable attacks do come. However, it appears that George W. Bush’s detractors are almost insane in their instinctive dislike for the man. This insanity drives them (especially the mainstream media) to invent a new “we're going to bring Bush down with this one” story virtually every month.

So what has this man done to have engendered such vitriolic loathing? On balance he doesn’t necessarily come off as a particularly loathsome character. As President, he makes some good decisions and some bad ones (generally as you would expect from most human beings). He appears loyal to his wife and family, and he doesn’t appear to be particularly unlikable or have an unusually difficult personality. But then the there is the faith issue. The one issue that I believe unifies almost all of this President’s detractors. Generally speaking, I believe if you took a poll that was responded to honestly by those who dislike President Bush, I can guarantee you that at least 75% of them would be non-believers in Jesus Christ as the Son of God. If that percentage is lower, it is probably African Americans as a single demographic who would make it so. And their response is more culturally generational rather than anything specific to the man or his policies. For more on that issue see my post at this link.

No one is more of an accurate predictor of future events than Jesus himself. In the Bible, Jesus said this about people who, like President Bush, believes in Him as the Son of God: All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. (Matthew 10:22 NIV)

So lets break down some of the more prominent Bush haters and review their actions in light of Jesus’ perfect truth above:

The Mainstream Press
Comprising roughly 80% of the nation's newspapers and virtually all of the major TV new networks including ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN and MSNBC, one can virtually no longer watch these outlets for impartial news about President Bush or his Administration. It is laughable that the talking heads or reporters for these outlets pretend each day on the air or in their newspapers or websites to be “objective” sources of news regarding Mr. Bush. But watch how these outlets cover anything having to do with real Christianity: NBC recently broadcast a TV series "The Book of Daniel" that was based on presenting an exaggeratedly debased view of a Christian Pastor and his family, and NBC is gleefully anticipating an upcoming episode of "Will and Grace" which mocks the crucifixion of Christ. ABC of course gave us the infamous Peter Jennings documentary "The Search for Jesus", using exclusively liberal theologians. In 2004, CBS News broadcast an episode of its 60 Minutes program, which claimed documents disproved Christ's Resurrection. Just strictly as a “news” item, it is interesting how these “objective” outlets never broadcast a news program about proving the validity of Jesus’ claims (especially using bible believing Christian leaders beyond liberals such as Jim Wallis).

The United Nations
This group is comprised of nation states that fancy themselves to be a defacto world government. Established ostensibly to provide a balanced framework from which to provide a fair hearing to many underprivileged nations, this body has predictably deteriorated into an amalgam of power hungry self absorbed diplomats seeking to enrich themselves and their cronies whose only unified voice is heard when it comes to criticizing and obstructing the nation of Israel (the only nation founded by God) or wailing against being ignored by President Bush. Here again you have a decidedly secular group who represent nation states that are appalled at Bush’s rhetoric of somewhat faith based governing, quoting biblical passages and actually claiming to believe in the power of prayer. To underscore their aversion to Jesus Christ, writer Ben Rast wrote the following in a 2002 story:

In an age where evangelical Christianity – and for that
matter, Judaism – is seen as too “intolerant” or “divisive” for a civilized
world, interfaith movements, the New Age Movement, and Unitarian Universalism
are gaining in popularity. Nowhere is that more evident than within the United
“The New Age Influence at the United Nations”

Assorted World Governments
Simply look at the usual Bush bashing world governments and you will see the common thread of non-Christian or secular nations all around the world, spearheaded by France, China, Russia and assorted Muslim countries. On the other hand, nations that are more open to Christians such as the Philippines and South Korea are typically steadfast in their support of President Bush.

What are we to make of the anti Christian bent of those who so dislike President Bush, and what if anything does it suggest for future Presidential aspirants who are unabashed in their worship of Jesus Christ? I suppose only time will tell, however I suspect that God’s grace has been on President Bush for awhile now, and I for one am not so sure that He will permit too many other openly Christian politicians to rise to such prominence in future years. The detractors are many, and their satanicly inspired rage grows stronger it seems everyday. Note here that I am certain that most of them are completely oblivious to the fact that their motives are at least partially driven by satanic influence. Speaking of Satan, one thing is quite clear when you look biblically at many of those who are arrayed against Mr. Bush. I guarantee you that it will look very much like the future unified supporters of the ultimate “anti-Christ” that the Bible predicts will eventually rise to power to form a true world power: The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise his authority for forty-two months. He opened his mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander his name and his dwelling place and those who live in heaven. He was given power to make war against the saints and to conquer them. And he was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation. All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast--all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world. He who has an ear, let him hear. (Revelation 13:5-9 NIV)

Sunday, February 12, 2006

The Rise of Tattoos

As a Christian, you look at everything that goes on in life within the context of God’s biblical timetable. That said, there is however always the danger of becoming over-zealous in your interpretation of things in order to fit the biblical worldview…particularly as it relates to attempts at ‘time-setting’ the return of Christ. On that point, always keep in mind that Jesus himself said: "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. (Matthew 24:36 NIV). However the Bible makes very clear that there is indeed a biblical time-table for our world, and with each passing day we naturally move closer towards the end.

Throughout the Bible, God gives us many clues to observe the behavior patterns that will emerge in people that signify the unstoppable move towards the climactic events at the end of the age. One such human phenomenon that I believe meets this criteria is the explosion of “human branding” or tattoos that has developed throughout our culture in recent years. The ‘art’ of tattooing up until fairly recently was by and large limited to subculture groups such as motorcycle gangs etc. However driven by the makers of popular culture – sports athletes and pop celebrities, Americans of all ethnic groups and gender have adopted this kind of human branding…most ostensibly to communicate something of personal or social significance about themselves to the rest of the world.

Let us pause here and take a look at this development within a biblical context: During the early social development of the Israelites whom God created as the model for the people whom He would separate for Himself, God commanded the following: Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the LORD. (Leviticus 19:28 NIV). Here God was very specific about forbidding the practice of tattooing and as this Bible version puts it: “cutting your bodies”. The actual application of tattooing includes the piercing of one’s body in order to apply the ink for the finished product. In what I consider to be a related activity, let’s now fast forward to the latter stages of human history as described in the Bible where again the tattooing or branding of one’s body plays a central role in human events: All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast--all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world…(Revelation 13:8 NIV) Then I saw another beast, coming out of the earth. He had two horns like a lamb, but he spoke like a dragon. He exercised all the authority of the first beast on his behalf…(Revelation 13:11 NIV) He was given power to give breath to the image of the first beast, so that it could speak and cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed. He also forced everyone, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on his right hand or on his forehead, so that no one could buy or sell unless he had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of his name. (Revelation 13:15-17 NIV)

As more and more ‘regular’ people lose their inhibitions regarding getting tattoos (in other words “marking their bodies”), I believe this is setting the stage for the “marking” that is referenced in the above scripture. People will not see it as problematic whatsoever to receive a mark in order to buy and sell and participate in the normal commerce of the world order that the Bible states is definitely coming. But as we ponder these things, please note what God has to say about those who will accept these “marks”: A third angel followed them and said in a loud voice: "If anyone worships the beast and his image and receives his mark on the forehead or on the hand, he, too, will drink of the wine of God's fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. He will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment rises for ever and ever. There is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and his image, or for anyone who receives the mark of his name." (Revelation 14:9-10 NIV)

All of the activity that is occurring around us and throughout our culture today all happen within the context of the biblical battle for the souls of men and women. The devil being fully aware of the “mark” that is to come that will irreversibly seal people to eternal loss, is slowly breaking down the instinctive natural barriers that would prevent people from being so accepting of taking his coming “brand”. Today’s NBA stars, Hollywood stars and musical stars (feel free to fill in the names) are the devil’s all too eager tools of use to get star-struck Americans to rush into the tattoo parlors to imitate their heroes and heroines. And to the celebrities who respond that their tattoos is their way of acknowledging God and therefore should not be judged, God says this: ..."What is more pleasing to the LORD: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Obedience is far better than sacrifice... (1 Samuel 15:22 NLT truncated).

Not to be left out of course is the multi-million dollar media owning corporations with such outlets as “The Learning Channel (TLC)” and the “A&E Network” both of which recently began airing competing TV reality shows chronicling the comings and goings of tattoo parlors and tattoo artists. For our part, the citizenry eagerly absorb these seemingly innocuous images not realizing the demonic planning that is setting the stage for their ultimate demise.

Sure, to the cynic all of this sounds like the ranting of another ‘religious’ lunatic, who sees the devil in everything; or there are those who read this and will shrug their shoulders and move on with nary a second thought. To them I reference the following scripture: The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie…(2 Thessalonians 2: 9-11 NIV). There are others however of whom God will use this blog to get their attention, and will cause a change in thinking regarding the insidious activity of tattooing. To them my prayer is an echo of one of God’s most favored servants: "All this," David said, "I have in writing from the hand of the LORD upon me, and he gave me understanding in all the details of the plan." (1 Chronicles 28:19 NIV). You who are simple, gain prudence; you who are foolish, gain understanding. (Proverbs 8:5 NIV).

Bloggers Note: According to the Bible, having a tattoo does not disqualify you from being saved through Jesus Christ. The mindset that caused you to want to get the tattoo in the first place is what God is trying to change.

Friday, February 10, 2006

How is being Anti-God Determined?

A reader responding to my recent post on “ The “10 Commandments Illusion” wrote something that I think is worth focusing on: that being the question of to what authority do we submit ourselves during our lives? What benchmark do we use to make judgments about the affairs of the world? The reader, in response to my statement that in our culture “progressives are really anti-God in nature” wrote the following:

The ACLU defends Christian displays when the government illegally tries to get them removed. Your claim that "progressive" means "anti-God" is in error. ACLU's position is that of the founders: The government doesn't get to advocate religion. It's not anti-God at all -- it's religiously free, giving everyone the right to worship as their conscience dictates. Is freedom anti-God? I don't think so.

The above indicates that the benchmark for deciding whether “progressives are really anti-God, is the “founding fathers”; that progressives generally reaffirm the intent of the founders of this nation. I submit to this reader and all others of similar thinking that my benchmark is not the “founding fathers” but The Founding Father (God the Creator). His authority supercedes all others. It is by His tenets as stated throughout the Bible that I make the assertion that progressives are typically anti-God. To date I have seen no behavior pattern nor political bent taken by progressives that embraces the singular theme of the Bible, that: “…all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. (Romans 3:23-24 NIV) Instead, the theme of progressives can be best summarized by the following scripture: We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way…” (Isaiah 53:6 NIV) Progressives generally pursue interests that put the individual’s rights above God’s commands. The abortion issue is the most deadly example of this pattern of thinking.

Focusing on the issue that the founding fathers “didn’t advocate religion” therefore lending justification to the ACLU’s actions attempting to reaffirm this notion, here the inference is that in the pursuit of defending this so-called Constitutional principle, if the worship of God gets trampled in the process, well that is what the founding fathers must have wanted. But what about what God wants?

It is sobering to know however that in the end God will have the last say since we all (including the "founding fathers"), have an appointment before Him ahead of us: Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:11-15 NIV)

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Ishmael’s Rage

The Danish cartoons depicting the image of the Muslim Prophet Mohammad is just the latest ignition switch for the rage of the Muslim world against seemingly everyone else. However, as you read or hear the headlines about the daily torchings and fire-bombing of Western Embassies by Muslim mobs, do not fail to note the prediction of an all-knowing God about these latter day events during His creation of the Muslim lineage outlined in the first Book of the Bible: The angel of the LORD also said to her (Hagar - Abram’s wife's maidservant): "You are now with child and you will have a son. You shall name him Ishmael, for the LORD has heard of your misery. He will be a wild donkey of a man; his hand will be against everyone and everyone's hand against him, and he will live in hostility toward all his brothers." (Genesis 16:11-12; italics mine) So Hagar bore Abram a son, and Abram gave the name Ishmael to the son she had borne. (Genesis 16:15)

Ishmael through Abram (who’s name God later changed to Abraham), was the father of today’s Muslim community.

It is with these next verses of scripture however, that the stage was being set by God, for the history of conflict that is continuing today to be played out in hostility all over the world: …And Abraham said to God, "If only Ishmael might live under your blessing!" (Genesis 17:18); Here is God's reply:…as for Ishmael, I have heard you: I will surely bless him; I will make him fruitful and will greatly increase his numbers. He will be the father of twelve rulers, and I will make him into a great nation. But my covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah will bear to you by this time next year." When he had finished speaking with Abraham, God went up from him. (Genesis 17:20-22) God chose not to establish His covenant with the line of Ishmael despite Abraham’s understandable request for his first-born. God instead established His covenant with Isaac (the father of Israel through Abraham). Hence the centuries-old blood war between the Arabs and the Jews, through whom God sent the Savior of mankind – Jesus Christ.

A perfect brew of hostility through which Satan (Jesus’ paramount enemy) has worked, to bring the world to the brink of total destruction. However, read your Bible, there is so much more to come.

(All scripture courtesy of the NIV Bible)

The 10 Commandments Illusion

I often say that modern day America is a picture book example of the biblical adage “having a form of godliness but denying its power.” (2 Timothy 3:5 NIV) Nowhere is this clearer than in the on-going debate about the display of 10 Commandment signs and symbols throughout the country. On one side you have the progressives (code for anti-God) – the ACLU types who want all current images or references to the 10 Commandments removed from all public property. On the other side is the so-called traditionalists or Christian adherents who fight bitterly to prevent such removals. These fights have occurred over displays in public parks, courthouse buildings and other government property. By and large, the ACLU types generally win these arguments mostly on the establishment of religion clause in the Constitution, although recently, the US Supreme Court ruled that displays that have been in existence for a lengthy period of time could not be challenged.

Generally, when the displays are preserved, the religious types are happy, along with a sizeable majority of the general public who undoubtedly do not share the ultimate goal of the progressives of wanting all references to God removed from the public square. However, when one reads the New Testament of the Bible, it is clear that this “controversy” as it relates to spurring true worship of God among the citizenry, is nothing more than a powerless debate that generally misses the mark of drawing people to true worship of God through Jesus Christ.

In the US, the 10 Commandments are generally viewed as a good thing, because it theoretically acts as a biblical guide toward decent living. To God however, the 10 Commandments serves exclusively to show man his evil and depraved nature and thus his need for the salvation offered through Jesus Christ alone. In the New Testament, the Bible says: Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory, fading though it was, will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious? If the ministry that condemns men is glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness! For what was glorious has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing glory. And if what was fading away came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts! (2 Corinthians 3:7-11 NIV) Here the Bible states that the 10 Commandments glorious as it is, condemns men…not spur them to decent living. The Bible refers to it as “a ministry that brings death”! This ministry doesn’t kill the body, but kills the souls of men for eternity. Yet in 2006 America, in our pious and artificial fa├žade of religiosity, we latch on to this symbol of “the righteous God” and yell to the hills that it must be displayed for the betterment of the common man. This passage of scripture is telling us that the engravement on stone will not save us. Instead, it is the engravement on the heart that ultimately will save. This heart engravement says scripture, comes solely from “the ministry of the Spirit”. The quality of life in America would be significantly enhanced not by ceremonious granite displays, but by genuine spiritual displays of the human heart…made so by the changing nature of a life submitted to Jesus Christ. The scripture says “how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness!”

A knowledge of the 10 Commandments (which the Bible refers to as “the law”) is a good thing. If public displays educate about such knowledge, then wonderful. However, this is simply a means to a much more relevant end. That end is not “good living”. There are many who’s lives displayed “good living”, but who on the day of judgment will hear these horrifying words from the mouth of Jesus: Not everyone who says to me, `Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven… I will tell them plainly, `I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!' (Matthew 7:21 & 23 truncated – NIV) The true end of the 10 Commandments is this - As it is written: "There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one." (Romans 3: 10-12 NIV) Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin. But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. (Romans 3:30-24 NIV)

Friday, February 03, 2006

Hal Lindsay off TBN

Christian author and broadcaster Hal Lindsay removed his weekly Christian television news broadcast "The International Intelligence Briefing" from the programming lineup on The Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) after network officials notified him that his shows would now be subject to pre-screening for censorship prior to broadcast approval. This unusual step was the result of TBN’s disapproval of a Lindsay broadcast in December 2005, which the network said was too inflammatory towards Muslims.

I have reviewed the transcript of Mr. Lindsay's broadcast and I find nothing in it’s content that is not backed up by God’s scripture, nor did I find anything that would be considered overly zealous or purposefully sensational with respect to potential attacks on Muslims. To the extent that TBN, one of the most widely available Christian TV networks would take this position is quite incredulous. One of the reasons for the need for ‘Christian’ TV networks is to enable the presentation of a genuine Christian viewpoint on all aspects of daily living including world affairs. This perspective is patently absent from the secular media, so hence the valuable service being provided by Lindsay and others via broadcasting entities such as TBN.

TBN’s stated reason for this action is that they feel that perceived criticism of Muslims hinder the effect of preaching the gospel to them, so as a result it ought to be carefully handled or in Lindsay's case censored. I could understand if Lindsay was being malicious or unnecessarily disingenuous in the content of his program, however, given the unending events in the Middle East, with Muslim world governments such as Hamas and Iran calling for the destruction of Israel etc. etc., just how should a Christian broadcaster “position” such stories in lieu of biblical history and teaching? God obviously did not see it necessary to soften the senses when He wrote something like this: "Son of man, when the people of Israel were living in their own land, they defiled it by their conduct and their actions. Their conduct was like a woman's monthly uncleanness in my sight. So I poured out my wrath on them because they had shed blood in the land and because they had defiled it with their idols. I dispersed them among the nations, and they were scattered through the countries; I judged them according to their conduct and their actions. (Ezekiel 36:17-19 NIV). And God said this about His own people!

TBN’s conduct in this affair is so emblematic of the ‘comfortable Christianity’ that is so entrenched in the American church. It’s what I call the “let’s not offend anyone syndrome”. Let’s offer the faithful nice sounding music (translation: something that entertains them) and offer the unbelievers a watered down message lest they call us judgmental. Oh, and if the ‘bite’ in God’s commands is softened in the process, well at least we’ll be able to attract more people! God on the other hand has no such concerns about who He offends when it comes to the delivering of His Word: For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. (Hebrews 4:12-13 NIV) His Word when spoken in spirit and in truth “penetrates”. It is not there necessarily to make the audience “feel good”. It is spoken to show men the evil of themselves such that they will realize their need for forgiveness – offered only through true repentance and the acceptance of Jesus’ death on the cross for the forgiveness of man’s sins: Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6 NIV)

In this affair, Hal Lindsay is correct, and TBN is very lacking. The Sky Angel and Daystar TV networks have since picked up Mr. Lindsay’s broadcasts, proving that God will always make a way for His Word spoken in spirit and in truth to go out to people. As Jesus said so often in the Book of Revelation: He who has an ear, let him hear. (Revelation 13:9 NIV)

A link to the transcript in question from Mr. Lindsay's website is no longer available so previous links from this post has been removed.

A God who sends people to Hell?