Monday, July 18, 2011

Removing Religion from the Public Square

I don’t often agree with President Obama when it comes to religious views. However, on June 28, 2006, then Senator Barack Obama gave a speech at the Call to Renewal conference sponsored by Sojourners.

In part of that speech, he said,
“…secularists are wrong when they ask believers to leave their religion at the door before entering into the public square… indeed, the majority of great reformers in American history - were not only motivated by faith, but repeatedly used religious language to argue for their cause. So to say that men and women should not inject their "personal morality" into public policy debates is a practical absurdity. Our law is by definition a codification of morality, much of it grounded in the Judeo-Christian tradition.”

I could not agree more.

As Obama clearly points out, contrary to the protest from some liberals on the left, America’s founding was in large part based on the morality of Judeo-Christian principles. When the founding Fathers wrote the Declaration of Independence, they did not conceal or withhold their particular world view. No, they proclaimed it boldly, undeniably establishing that mankind is endowed by his Creator
“with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” This document’s foundation, upon which our nation stands, is based on a Christian world view that proclaims faith in a Creator.

There is a small, but loud chorus of individuals and organizations that are against anything religious, especially Christianity. Some, who resort to vicious name calling and disparaging remarks, do not completely understand what their own beliefs really are. So they lash out at anyone with whom they disagree, in an effort to keep from having to explain their own positions. Meanwhile, they try to silence any inference that the Judeo-Christian faith has had anything to do with the founding of our Nation. But, Obama correctly recognizes the contributions of people of faith, who throughout our history have brought about significant reforms to America. Because of these people, who lived by their faith, we live in an entirely different kind of country. Indeed, we live in an entirely different world.

Those who would silence the Christian voice in the public square are hypocritical at best, because they deny that they bring their own personal bias and morality into the discussions. Excluding the voice of Christianity will not bring about more freedom. Quite the opposite will happen; ultimately it will reduce freedom for all.


Thursday, June 30, 2011

Whom Shall I Fear?

We live in a world dominated by fear. Fear from home invasions, kidnappings, murders, rapes, car-jackings, floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunamis, climate change, car accidents, plane crashes, cancers, AIDS, heart attacks, tumors, old age, death. We do everything that we can to try to alleviate these fears: insurance (health, car, life, home, dental, pet), seat belts, air bags, doctors, medicines, mammograms, MRI’s, CAT scans, policemen, firemen, vitamins, botox, 401k, Social Security. But still, even with all of our efforts, we live in fear. Why? Maybe the answer lies in the reality that we no longer fear God.

Psalms 111:10 lays the foundation for our relationship with God.
“Fear of the LORD is the foundation of true wisdom. All who obey his commandments will grow in wisdom. Praise him forever!” Proverbs 9:10 reinforces the concept that in order to have true wisdom, we must fear God. “The beginning of wisdom is to fear the LORD, and acknowledging the Holy One is understanding.”

Why would God lay as the foundation for wisdom, a fear of Him? When God gave the ten commandments, Exodus 20:18-21, to the people, they were so afraid of God’s Presence that they asked Moses to speak to them instead. Moses responded and said to the people in Exodus 20:20,
"Do not fear (yare’ - verb “be afraid”), for God has come to test you, that the fear (yir’ah - noun “terror”) of him may be before you so that you do not sin." So, God uses our fear of His presence to provide us with a reminder not to sin.

Sin, the word that so many do not want to talk about. Some say, Let us not talk of sin, but let us talk of love. After all, the scriptures declare that “God is Love!” Indeed, it is right there in 1 John 4:8, but keep reading in verses nine and ten.
“Herein was the love of God manifested in us, that God hath sent his only begotten Son into the world that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” Webster’s defines propitiation as, “The act of appeasing the wrath and conciliating the favor of an offended person.” God’s wrath toward each of us individually, because of our sin, is appeased through the Son (Jesus). When we are obedient to Jesus’ teachings, then we are reconciled back to God the Father.

But to our modern day sensibilities, the notion of a wrathful God does not seem appropriate. We have a tendency to regard God as more like grandpa, kind and benevolent, always making excuses for us. My own grandfather is a prime example, I could do no wrong in his eyes. If I clipped the hose with the mower, no problem, he would say that he should have moved it out of the way. When my foot slipped off of the brake pedal of the riding mower, and I shredded the neighbor’s sapling tree, then he replaced it without a cross word. Another slip of the foot lead to a crash into a telephone pole, never mind, it was a just a small dent. His way of loving me never held me accountable for my actions.

But is this an accurate description of God? A God that never holds us accountable for our sins? Hebrews 10:31 tells us that,
“It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” You might be asking, But why should it be so terrifying? The rationalization goes something like this, God loves us, therefore there can be nothing in Him to fear and in some circles, love is perceived to be the only attribute that God possesses. But when was the last time that you made an effort to reflect on who God really is? God is Omnipotent, meaning that He has unlimited authority and power; Omniscient, giving Him complete and unlimited knowledge; and Omnipresent, therefore He is present everywhere simultaneously, including in both space and time.

That description of God is pretty terrifying, when you take the time to really think about it. Now, having said all of that, I am compelled to share with you something else that the scriptures tell us,
“For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7) God did not intend for us to live our everyday lives in fear of the physical world around us. Because that kind of fear, if left unchecked, will consume our hearts, our minds and our souls. Instead, God has given us courage (power) in the face of trials and tribulations, the ability to love, even our enemies, and to be strong (sound mind) in our understanding and compliance with the teachings of God’s Word. God has given these attributes to us, so that we might be effective in carrying the Good News to the world.

As we read in the first paragraph, we are inundated with a message of fear on a daily, hourly, and sometimes minute by minute basis. But there is one thing that many people fear more than anything else. Death. Once again the scriptures point us to the correct attitude that we should have concerning death.
“Dear friends, don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot do any more to you after that. But I’ll tell you whom to fear. Fear God, who has the power to kill you and then throw you into hell. Yes, he’s the one to fear.” Luke 12:4-5.

The cure for our worldly fears, is to fear the Living God. When we acknowledge His power and authority over all of creation, then we will realize that it is God and God alone, whom we should fear.


New Living Translation, New English Translation, New American Standard Bible,
New International Version, American King James Version,
Strong’s 3372: yare’: to fear, revere, be afraid, Strong’s 3374: yir’ah: fear, terror, fearing,,

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Stephen Hawking: Any Theory that Excludes God

Stephen Hawking: Any Theory that Excludes God
Isn't it interesting how many scientists will belittle those who, accept by faith the account of creation as described in the Bible. Yet, they will accept by faith any theory on the origins of our universe, as long as that theory excludes a Creator.
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Thursday, September 9, 2010

Intolerance Toward Christianity is on the Rise in America

Intolerance Toward Christianity is on the Rise in America
The rise in intolerance towards Bible believing Christians in America has become a stark reality. Polling data shows that a majority of Americans still claim to be Christians, but the evidence in our society causes one to wonder if that data is accurate.
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Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Big Bang Theory: Is it Science or Religion?

The Big Bang Theory: Is it Science or Religion?
There is a thread of inconsistency running through modern science: the world view that declares that there is no God. Because of this belief, The Big Bang Theory takes science through a metamorphosis, turning into an atheistic religion based on faith.
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Saturday, August 28, 2010

What is Truth? Two Opposing World Views

What is Truth? Two Opposing World Views
Can mankind the answer the question, What is Truth? The Christian world view stipulates that only through God and His Word can mankind find everlasting truth. But, the Humanist declares that it is mankind, through science, who gets to define truth.
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Sunday, August 22, 2010

Proposition 8 Ruling by Judge Walker Sparks Debate on State Rights Vs Federal Rights
In Judge Walkers ruling against Prop 8, the U.S. Constitution supersedes state constitutions concerning marriage. But, Federal Judge Tauro overturned the Federal DOMA law in favor of states rights concerning marriage. Which will prevail?
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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Associated Content Article by Michael Walker

Has academic freedom of speech been lost on America's university and college campuses today? Just ask Dr. Kenneth Howell, professor at the University of Illinois. He was fired from his position because of an email accusing him of "hate speech."

Please click the link to read more.
Political Correctness Overrides Freedom of Speech for Professor Howell.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

How can the World be Transformed?

In Matthew, Jesus tells us, "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." Our obedience to Christ Jesus is the key to transforming the world. Over and over, throughout the Bible God tells us that what He really wants from us is our obedience. The story of King Saul and Amalekites in 1 Samuel 15, shows us just how important that being obedient to the Lord is. In this story, we find that being obedient is better than trying to honor God through our own works.

Samuel, God's prophet, is told by God to have King Saul lead an army to destroy the Amalekites. In verse 3, God is very specific, "Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy everything that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys." The Amalekites had attacked the Israelites as they traveled from Egypt to the Promised Land and God was now going to punish them. So King Saul gathers an army and attacks the city of Amalek. But in verse 9, we find that God's command has not been followed. "But Saul and the army spared Agag and the best of the sheep and cattle, the fat calves and lambs—everything that was good. These they were unwilling to destroy completely, but everything that was despised and weak they totally destroyed." So, In their minds, the King and the soldiers were bringing back the best of the best to sacrifice to the Lord. They wanted to give to God an offering, they wanted to show God their devotion through these sacrifices.

But God is not pleased with this turn of events. We read in verse 10, "Then the word of the LORD came to Samuel: "I am grieved that I have made Saul king, because he has turned away from me and has not carried out my instructions." Samuel finds King Saul at Carmel, where Saul is setting up a monument to himself. So Samuel questions Saul about the animals that are there and Saul explains that these animals that were captured are to be sacrificed to the Lord. Then Samuel tells Saul, in verses 18-19, what God had spoken to him the night before, "And he sent you on a mission, saying, 'Go and completely destroy those wicked people, the Amalekites; make war on them until you have wiped them out.' Why did you not obey the LORD? Why did you pounce on the plunder and do evil in the eyes of the LORD?"

Saul is completely caught off guard by this. His response comes in verse 20, "But I did obey the LORD," and again Saul explains the reasoning behind his actions, "I went on the mission the LORD assigned me. I completely destroyed the Amalekites and brought back Agag their king. The soldiers took sheep and cattle from the plunder, the best of what was devoted to God, in order to sacrifice them to the LORD your God at Gilgal." Do we not act in the same way sometimes? God's Word is very clear about how we should live, but we decide that this verse or that verse just does not apply to us. We reason that even if we do not do exactly what God's Word says to do, that God will surely understand. Maybe not. Samuel's reply to King Saul is found in verse 22-23, "Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, he has rejected you as king."

Look at the words that are used in the last verse, rebellion, sin, divination, arrogance, evil, idolatry, rejected. These are strong words used to show how serious God is about disobedience. In order to make a difference in this world, we as Christians, must learn to be more like Christ Jesus. He is our Saviour precisely because He was obedient. Philippians 2:8 "He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross." In order for the world to be transformed, we must first be transformed through the renewing of our minds. Romans 12:2: "And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect." Let us cast aside the idea that we can in some way, do something for God. Instead let's turn to His Holy Word and apply His teachings to our lives on a daily basis. In Luke 9:23, Jesus is talking to the crowd, "If anyone wants to become my follower, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me." This is the model that Jesus set before us and only when Christians begin to follow this model will the world be transformed.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Church Needs to Wake Up!

Christian Smith and other researchers with the National Study of Youth and Religion out of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill conducted more than 3,000 interviews with adolescents. Their findings show that there is a systemic problem in the Church. The youth of America have developed a totally different view of who God is and how we have a relationship with Him. The researchers are calling this new belief system, Moral Therapeutic Deism.

These teens do not consider this to be a new religion, they consider it Christianity, because most of them regard themselves as Christians. But, their beliefs are far from the normal Christian doctrines that have been taught for two millennia. The researchers identified common beliefs held among these teens, when it comes to their beliefs in God. None of these common beliefs include a way of redemption from sin. Indeed, sin is not even included in the dialog. The central core belief of Christianity is that Christ Jesus is the Saviour of all of mankind and without His redemptive blood, we would all be lost. But this is no longer considered a necessary belief to be considered a Christian. This new "christianity" is not just among our youth, but is also becoming the norm in a large section of our society.

The Bible gives a description of peoples attitudes during the last days. You must realize, however, that in the last days difficult times will come. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, unfeeling, uncooperative, slanderous, degenerate, brutal, hateful of what is good, traitors, reckless, conceited, and lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God. They will hold to an outward form of godliness but deny its power. Stay away from such people. (2 Timothy 3:1-5 - ISV). Don't these verses describe our society pretty well? Notice near the end that some people will seem like Christians, but inwardly, they will not be truly committed to the Word.

How did we get into this position?
It seems that many leaders in the Church have adopted the attitude that the Church needs a kinder and gentler gospel. All this talk of sin and death makes people uncomfortable. So, they changed the focus from Jesus atoning for our sins to God wants us to feel loved. After all, doesn't the Bible tell us that God is love? The "new" gospel is God loves you and wants you to be happy. Too many Churches have become little more than civic organizations. Their emphasis is no longer on making disciples of Christ Jesus, but on making people feel good about themselves and their relationship with God.

What must we do to overcome this problem?
The Bible is the answer. We must get back into the Word, for only within the pages of the Bible lies the Truth and it cannot be found anywhere else. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete and thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17 - ISV).

Paul told us in 2 Timothy that these people hold to an outward form of godliness, but deny its power. We have to change the way the Church reaches out to people. Our first priority must be to make disciples, people who are committed to following the teachings of Jesus. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age. (Matthew 28:19-20 - NET)

We must let go of the fear that some people will reject the Gospel. Jesus was not afraid to take a stand that was so demanding of people that some walked away from Him. Remember the story of the rich young ruler? Luke 18:18-30 (NASB). This young man came seeking, but when Jesus required of him something that he was not willing to depart with, the young man left. Jesus let this young man walk away. Did Jesus not care? Certainly He did, because He does not want anyone to perish, but wants everyone to come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9 - ISV). So, why didn't Jesus chase this man down and ease the requirements to make this man stay. Luke 18:28-30 (ISV) tells us, Then Peter said, “See, we have left everything we have and followed you.” Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, there is no one who has left his home, wife, brothers, parents, or children because of the kingdom of God who will not receive many times as much in this world, as well as eternal life in the age to come.” Jesus had called to these men, "come" and they had dropped everything to follow. He would not lower the standard for the rich young ruler, nor will He lower it for this generation.

The Church must proclaim to the world the standards set by Jesus. Let us not have a spirit of fear, but when someone comes seeking, let the Church boldly proclaim to them the Good News.

Monday, June 14, 2010

What is Truth? Two Opposing World Views.

Where is the wise person? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? God has turned the wisdom of the world into nonsense, hasn't he? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know God, God decided through the nonsense of our preaching to save those who believe. Jews ask for signs, and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified. He is a stumbling block to Jews and nonsense to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ is God's power and God's wisdom. For God's nonsense is wiser than human wisdom, and God's weakness is stronger than human strength.
(1 Corinthians 1:20-25 - ISV)

"What is truth?" This is the question that Pilate asked, when he was questioning Jesus. It is the same question that many people ask today. We live in a society that seems incapable of deciding whether or not there is any truth. If anyone dares to declare that there is truth, then scorn is cast against them. They are derided for being "judgmental." The source of "truth" for many people in our society comes from self, each and every one of us gets to decide what truth is. It is really quite convenient, no one can challenge you, because your "truth" is yours alone and no one can take it from you. For the wisdom of this age is foolishness with God. As it is written, "He catches the wise in their craftiness." (1 Corinthians 3:19 - NET)

Is it possible to answer Pilate's question, "What is truth?" I guess it really depends on your world view. Do you have a Biblical world view or a Humanist world view? The Biblical world view professes that what is contained within the pages of the Holy Bible are God's truths. Humanism is a system of thought that rejects religious beliefs and centers on humans and their values, capacities, and worth. So, how does the world define truth? The Princeton wordnetweb website defines truth as: a fact that has been verified. Now this is a perfectly reasonable definition for the Humanist. The Humanist world view demands proof, preferably scientific proof, backed up with statistics and analysis. Their "truths" are not static, they change when "new" knowledge is gained or societies' opinion shifts. The Humanist god is self, and its religion is science. They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world's perspective and the world listens to them.
(1 John 4:5 - NET)

But, I would bring forth the proposition that truth is truth whether it has been verified or not. Just because we discover something does not make it true, it was already true. We were just ignorant of that particular truth. When Sir Isaac Newton discovered gravity, wasn't gravity already true? When Galileo discovered that the earth revolved around the sun, did that only become true at the point of discovery or was it already true? If truth can only be ascertained through verification, then mankind will continue to stumble through the darkness without any hope that he will find Truth. Now we have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things that are freely given to us by God. And we speak about these things, not with words taught us by human wisdom, but with those taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual things to spiritual people. The unbeliever does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him. And he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. (1 Corinthians 2: 12-14 - NET)

Friday, June 11, 2010

NeoGnostics - Modern Day Heretics?

You may have never heard of Gnosticism before, but I am sure that you have heard its teachings. Gnostics are not talking about the God that most Christians refer to. They describe a spiritual being that, according to them, is far above the God of Abraham, Issac and Jacob. Oprah promotes a teaching that says that God is so big that it is impossible for the human mind to understand anything about him. This is a central view in the Gnostic belief system, but it is quite contrary to what the Bible teaches. The Bible is full of attributes that describe God and how He thinks and feels, giving the reader a very good understanding of who and what God is. (Bible Gateway Link to "God is")

NeoGnosticism, my term, is an insidious belief system that can morph its way into any religion and it has made inroads into modern Christianity. It brings a mythical aspect to Christianity, with claims that you will have a better understanding of the scriptures. Gnosticism has always claimed to be more spiritual. This is the lure that is used by Gnostics, that they can provide you with "deeper" spiritual knowledge. No longer do the scriptures "mean what they say and say what they mean;" no, many Christians now depend on "revelations" from God to interpret the scriptures. Now, experience is just as important as scripture when it comes to rationalizing about how many Christians live their lives. Therein lies the problem. Too many Christians have turned to experience and "revelation" to guide them in their walk instead of obeying the scriptures. (Bible Gateway link to "Obey")

This is the essence of NeoGnosticism, that just following the teachings of the scriptures is no longer enough for the believer, we can have other sources of "truth" that can also help us in our Christian walk. Because of our modern sensibilities, it has become almost impossible to declare that something is true. We are now seeing the result of a whole generation of kids that were raised on the idea that there are no absolutes. "What is wrong for you, may be right for someone else" and visa-versa. Everyone is now entitled to have their own truth, which must not be challenged because you do not have the right to "push" your beliefs onto others.

This is true in the Church also. We are always "agreeing to disagree" even when something is clearly stated in scripture. The doctrine of "I believe" or "What that means to me is..." has become the defacto belief system in the Church. We are willing to believe in the teachings contained in the Bible as long as those teachings conform to our belief system. Modern day Christians are quite willing to jettison Biblical doctrine for a doctrine that is more in line with their own personal sensibilities.

So, what is to be done about this intrusion of doctrine into Christianity? First and foremost, Christians need to start reading the Bible. Romans tells us that through the scripture, we will have hope;"For whatever was written beforehand was written for our instruction, in order that through patient endurance and through the encouragement of the scriptures we may have hope." (Romans 15:4 - LEB).

Secondly, Christians must return to the understanding that only in the scriptures will truth be found. Paul, in his second letter to Timothy, reminds Timothy of the value that the scriptures bring to the man of God; "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete and thoroughly equipped for every good work." (2 Timothy 3:16-17 - ISV)

Third, If we believe that all truth is contained in the scriptures, then we need to find our interpretations of scripture from the scriptures themselves and not from our own interpretations. In Peter's second letter, he writes, "First of all, you must understand this: No prophecy in Scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation, because no prophecy ever originated through a human decision. Instead, men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit." (2 Peter 1:20-21 - ISV)

Jesus gave us the great commission; "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. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."
(Matthew 28:19-20 - NIV). If we are to teach what Jesus has commanded, then by necessity we must believe that His commandments are true. And if His commandments are true, then by necessity, they must be obeyed.

Have we become a modern day Israel?
"But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us? So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. But I ask, have they not heard? Indeed they have, for Their voice has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world. But I ask, did Israel not understand? First Moses says, I will make you jealous of those who are not a nation; with a foolish nation I will make you angry. Then Isaiah is so bold as to say, I have been found by those who did not seek me; I have shown myself to those who did not ask for me. But of Israel he says, All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and contrary people." (Romans 10:16-21 - ESV)