Tuesday, June 20, 2006

God's Sunset

I happen to be driving home this evening around 8pm and was enjoying myself listening to a song I really like (“Sunrise” by Simply Red). As I was driving along, I came around a slight bend in the road, and was overcome by the view. There straight before me in the twilight of the evening was this awesome scene of thunderstorm clouds in between clearing in the sky and just behind all this was the most beautiful sunset that cast a Godly glow on the whole scene.

What an awesome God we serve! A God that by His words created the incredible beauty of this natural scene…the sun, the clouds, the sky and even the talent of singer Mick Hucknall of Simply Red the words of who’s song was (for me) a perfect background to this awesome scene. Ok it was a sunset, but I didn’t care.

God’s scripture is full of so much truth: Now no one can look at the sun, bright as it is in the skies after the wind has swept them clean. Out of the north he comes in golden splendor; God comes in awesome majesty. The Almighty is beyond our reach and exalted in power; in his justice and great righteousness… (Job37: 21-23 NIV)

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Escape from the Curse of AIDS

This week, I happened to be in the company of someone who is dying of AIDS. The ravages of AIDS is well known in our world yet it never loses it’s devastating effects when you are up close to one who is in the grips of the disease and who is also very young. The gentleman is in his 20s or early 30s and is homosexual, so presumably he has contracted the disease during this activity.

As has been typical with homosexuals whom I have known, this young man whom I had only met on one previous occasion, comes across as a genuinely nice guy and one who certainly does not appear to deserve his current plight. But then again that is simply a very human response on my part. By virtue of our rejection of God based on our universal human behavior, we all deserve nothing short of death. Simply put: God made us and we have rejected Him. There are sure to be those who would take vehement exception to this statement, pointing earnestly to the virtues of their honest lives and absence of any “real bad behavior”. But the Bible is clear: We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him (Jesus) the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:6 NIV parenthesis mine) This scripture suggest that at birth there is a way to turn…and for all of us we have turned to “our own way” and as the verse implies, away from God. That is why Jesus chose to be the sacrifice for all of us – who have turned to our own way: But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed...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...yet it was the LORD's will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand…God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood…For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. (Isaiah 53:5; Romans 3:22-24; Isaiah 53:10; Romans 3:25; Isaiah 53:12 – all truncated - NIV)

What is my dying friend’s sin to perhaps have brought the curse of AIDS upon himself? The same general sin that I myself have committed throughout the course of my own life – that being going our own way and rejecting the will of God for our lives. But I accepted Jesus’ reprieve. I have thanked him for suffering on my behalf. I pray that soon, my dying friend will do the same. And that so too will those who happen to read this post, and who have yet to accept Jesus’ offer of the pain that He endured on their behalf.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

MSM's Godly Illiteracy

One of the more amusing aspects of watching the steady and sure decline of the mainstream media (MSM) such as ABC News, NBC News, CBS News, most major city newspapers and CNN among others, is to see how despite their obvious desire for improved ratings and publication, they struggle with connecting to regular people (the ones they privately decry as living in ‘flyover country’). Reading the liberal blogs one can easily see why the contributors to these outlets demonstrate the lack of connection between regular Americans, and the mainstream media, who’s worldview and narrative are more closely aligned with these bloggers than that of middle America.

An object lesson in the hot button issues that unite the MSM with their liberal blogging colleagues can be seen in the response to the Ann Coulter book “Godless” – which despite Ms. Coulter’s consistent over-the-top rhetoric, aptly captures the malaise of those on the left and their mouthpieces in the MSM. These groups are at minimum illiterate and at worst hostile when it comes to the honoring of God and the worship or reverence of Him as Master and Lord of all that is creation. This to me is the primary reason for the disconnect between the MSM and their ever shrinking audience. Have you ever seen an ABC or NBC anchor or reporter in non-scripted on-air conversation make deference to God during an interview or in verbal byplay with their fellow colleagues? They simply don’t know how to do it. On top of that, they don’t even want to do it! This “godless” persona is not lost on the people in regular communities all across America. Sure the masses in the large liberal cities clustered in the northeast and on the coasts welcome this absence of “religiosity”, but unfortunately for the MSM there is not enough of them to make you a ratings winner. If you’ve read any of my posts, I consistently call attention to the lack of true and consistent worship on the part of most Americans, their stated belief in God notwithstanding, however by and large, regular Americans not only believe steadfastly in God, they are also very suspicious of those (such as the MSM) who are willingly ignorant or open hostile to the God who people know instinctively is their Creator and who controls the whole world.

The biggest and most amusing aspect of the MSM decline is that it has largely come at the hands of “alternative” media (conservative talk-radio, Fox News etc.) who are far more natural in infusing the deference to God in their own narrative. I was watching “Fox News Live Weekend” this morning, and during an interview with a little girl and her mother, the host (Julian Phillips) concluded his interview by saying “God bless you” several times as a closing salutation to the guests. As normal as that may sound to those who live in “flyover country”, it probably borders on abhorrence to those in the liberal enclaves and would probably be perceived as a foreign language to the anchors on the Today Show, Good Morning America or the CBS Early Show. In the world of these MSM, “religion” is “private”...never to be uttered outside of the pews of the churches. I wonder how God’s Great Commission works in that environment: Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you... (Matthew 28:16-20 NIV). One sure way to fail at going out and making disciples of all nations, is to be private about your "religion" and never incorporating it in public living.

The MSM and their liberal blogging colleagues especially lament and lambast Fox News for what they consider pandering to the religious right. Is Fox pandering or are they in fact infusing their on-air talent with people who are similar to the regular folks, at ease within their skin in wishing others a simple “God Bless” when passing each other in the supermarket? I suspect the latter. As such, it is quite normal to expect that the regular folks will gravitate natural to Fox and by extension away from the CNNs and MSNBCs of the world. The interesting thing to watch , is whether the MSM will give in to their natural impulses for revenue and try to mimic the formula of Fox or will their aversion to all things religious cause them to seek other alternatives and run the risk of further eroding ratings? So far it seems that they are choosing the latter, and predictably their slide continues.

One of the things about true worship of God, is that it cannot be contrived, packaged and marketed (modern American style). The consistency and omnipresence of the media causes minimal rest from “presenting the package”, so as a result, a contrived biblical persona would wear thin eventually if for no other reason than it would be hard to always maintain appearances. Ironically, it is somewhat easier for some smarmy televangelist to uphold appearances while milking the populace of their bank accounts, because he only has to turn it on when the cameras are rolling or every Sunday morning for a few hours. The MSM have stories to cover each day, and godly hypocrisy should they attempt that, would surly present itself to the devout sooner or later.

Jesus, as the Bible predicted, is the ultimate stumbling block to those on the left, on the liberal blogs and in the MSM. The following passage of scripture captures this in essence: Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength. (1 Corinthians 1:20-25 NIV) To those in the MSM, Fox News’ utterance of “God bless you” to that little girl is seen as “foolishness”. The passage of scripture goes on to say: Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things--and the things that are not--to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God--that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: "Let him who boasts boast in the Lord." (1 Corinthians 1:26-31 NIV) Boasting is something that the media does very well. It is a staple of their strategy to market their product. It is also a mantra of today's “look at me” generation. However, it is instructive here that the Bible says "Let him who boasts boast in the Lord." Unfortunately for the MSM, you can’t boast in the Lord if you do not want to present the Lord.

The scripture continues...When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power, so that your faith might not rest on men's wisdom, but on God's power. (1 Corinthians 2:1-5 NIV) You see most of those who work in the media were cultured in the godless institutions of higher learning – many via the schools in the Ivy Leagues. By and large, they worship their “wisdom”, their “learning” their “scholarship”. It permeates from them as the preen with self assurance while they talk at you from their anchor desks or from some exotic locale in far flung places (“where in the world is Matt Lauer?”) However God says that He did not come in eloquence but in fear and humility. Christ lived in deference to God the Father. If it was good enough for Christ, should it not be good enough for us? Who is heaven’s name are we? Does an Ivy League degree or an anchor desk on the CBS Evening News give one license to be hostile to the same God whom Christ Himself worshipped on earth? Oh…that’s right not everyone believes in this so-called Christ. However, it seems that enough people do, as they continue to tune out the mainstream media in ever increasing numbers. May God bless them all.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Gay Marriage Amendment Timidity

As President Bush and his opportunistic band of Republican politicians again raises the issue of a gay marriage amendment vote, this spectacle once again demonstrates man’s impotence in trying to forward “moralistic” policy without the power of God’s Word behind them. This is akin to trying to get a monolith of people to agree with you simply because you say so. This argument inevitably will fall flat on it’s face, as the inevitable push back from the other side (those in favor of gay marriage) will undoubtedly be…”who are you to tell us what is right; what glass house have you been living in?”

You see this timidity in arguments against gay marriage using rationale such as “it will weaken the institution of marriage” or “it will put us on a slippery slope towards legalized marriage by multiple people etc.” If you happen to be one of those who truly believe a gay marriage ban is the right thing to do, are the previous phrases among your counter-point lines to try and “sell your argument”? If so…why do you think that secular humanists, liberals and an increasing American plurality will be persuaded by your opinion? Are their opinions any less valid than yours?

The problem is that largely absent from the anti-gay marriage rhetoric such as the phrases above is the authority of God’s Word as the sole reason for opposing gay marriages. God’s Word is definitive on this topic and needs no additional human arguments to stand with it. It has the credibility of God’s spoken declaration behind it, and as it says in the Bible: So will the words that come out of my mouth not come back empty-handed (void). They'll do the work I sent them to do, they'll complete the assignment I gave them. (Isaiah 55:11 – parenthesis mine- The Message Bible). Here God declares that His Word will not return void; it will accomplish its purpose. In this gay marriage debate, too often gay marriage opponents (almost all of whom resist it on religious grounds) fail to wrap themselves and their position in the infallibility of God’s Word when defending their position. Instead, you get the pragmatic “let’s not seem too preachy or judgmental” phrases such as “the slippery slope” argument or that it will “devalue the institution of marriage” What? Will it devalue the institution any more than a 50+% divorce rate, on which you can add another X% above that where one or both persons in the marriage are cheating on each other. How about the seemingly blissful marriages wrought in verbal or physical spousal abuse? God has very definite comments for these aspects of the marriage institution as well.

But since we are on the topic of the proposed gay marriage amendment, we will have far more credibility in God, if we were to make our argument based on his Word – and by the way, not in condemnation or judgmental abuse, otherwise our bellicose sinfulness will simply nullify our own credibility as spokespersons for God’s inerrant Word which says: Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-10 NIV) – by the way aside from homosexuals, readers please take note of all the other offenders who are grouped together in this same declaration. Elsewhere in the Bible speaking of those who were to inevitably reject His authority, God says: For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools… therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator--who is forever praised. Amen. Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion…although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them. (Romans 1:21-22, 24-27, 32 NIV)

Despite protestations to the contrary, God’s Word is very consistent on the issue of homosexuality. He is equally consistent on his decrees for marriage: Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said, "This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called `woman,' for she was taken out of man." For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. (Genesis 1:22-24 NIV); Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral. (Hebrews 13:4 NIV). It is always interesting to point out, to all those judgmental (and unscriptural) Christians who are quick to condemn and vilify homosexuals: God’s Word is just as pointed towards your own sins – the adulterer defiles the marriage bed as much as the homosexual union pretending to be under it’s authority. And it (the homosexual union) can only be a pretend, unsanctioned-by-God union. His Word makes that very clear.

So, as the opportunistic politicians again attempt to use this issue simply to curry votes, for the genuine Christians among us, always stand on God’s Word. It’s the only authority that you will ever need on this topic. Remember, God calls us to spread His Word; we in and of ourselves are unable to change people’s minds. Spreading His Word is our only responsibility. Changing people's hearts and minds belongs solely to Him.

A God who sends people to Hell?