If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck…

I’ve never watched a single episode of Duck Dynasty.  Sure, I have heard of it and believe I have a fairly good understanding of the basic concept.  But it is never something that appealed to me because of what it is at it’s core: another reality tv show that is driven by drama.

But now, with Phil’s recent comments hitting the news outlets, everyone has an opinion about not only the show, but the family members as well.

While I feel that some of his comments could have been a bit kinder, I completely agree with the core of what he said.  And something we all need to remember at this time is that our tongue does not come with a backspace.

How can I say that there’s nothing wrong with what he said, only the delivery?  Because it’s right here in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11

Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.

It’s right there in the Bible.  It’s not one man’s opinion, and it certainly isn’t inflammatory hate speech.

I have friends that consider themselves as part of the “LBGT” community.  Frankly, I personally, don’t see that affiliation as something to point to as a sign of strength or a good thing.

Hear me out.

If sin is sin, and all sin is equal, as the Bible states, then we need to look at this through a lense different that what society often says is “right” and “decent.”  If homosexuality is sin, as the Bible says it is, and lying is also sin, as clearly stated, then why is a rainbow badge seen as a good thing?

What am I saying?

Remember back to when you read through the Scarlet Letter in school?  I’m talking about the letter that Hester had to wear day in and day out.  She wore her sin in a manner that was visible for all to see and thereby ridicule her for.

In essence, I see that as the same thing as people that flock to the “LBGT” banner.  They’re just wearing sin where it’s visible for people to see at the very core of the matter- (not getting into what the movement is working towards, just what it stands for.)

I was a liar.  I haven’t gone out to sign up for the Local Liars Club.

I was an idolator.  I don’t have a badge on social media that shows my support of Idols Inc.

I was a fornicator.  I do not have to walk around wearing a scarlet A.

Rather than trying to create controversy where there is none, it’s time to start looking at what the above passage truly says.  It’s not a message of hate, but rather, one of love.

I’m a sinner.

You’re a sinner.

Everyone is a sinner.

Rather than labeling people by their sin, it’s time to start looking at them as a creation of God, loved by Him, and in desperate need of His grace and mercy.

CPB

Of grace and salt

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
Romans 12:2

It’s easy to give in to the social pull to become just another face in the crowd, to blend in and essentially disappear.  But as a follower of Jesus, we are called to stand apart from the world.  From the moment one surrenders to the Lordship of Jesus, we are sealed for the day of redemption by the Holy Spirit and the slow, sometimes painful process of being transformed begins.

But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.
2 Corinthians 3:18

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
Ephesians 4:30

For whom He foreknew, he also predestined to be confirmed to the image of His Son, that He may be the first born among many brethren.
Romans 8:29

That transformation is all encompassing and is not something that can be hidden.  As Jesus is the light of the world, we are therefore becoming His lights in the world by following His example for us.

Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world.  He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”
John 8:12

“As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”
John 9:5

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.
Matthew 5:16

That means not hiding.  That means accepting the fact that as a follower of Jesus you will get attention, both for good and bad.  Being confirmed, slowly, to the image of Him means that it will both draw people to you and turn them strongly against you.  But when you see that happening, rather than pulling away for fear of alienating people and offending them, take heart that there is a change taking place, and have faith that He will continue the good work that He has begun.

being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;
Philippians 1:6

The reason all this is forefront in my mind tonight?  It’s been confirmed by others that every time I post a verse to social media, someone responds with either an atheist post, or one that is just anti-Christianity.  This has brought several things to my attention.

Namely, it shows me that someone that God has been trying to reach is getting a daily dose of the word of God whether it is being looked for or not.  Before one can believe, they must first hear the Gospel.

What it has also brought to mind, though, is that I must regularly check myself in this situation.  In order to properly serve the Lord, I am to show love to all, especially those that He is trying to reach.  While there are numerous verses that come to mind that I could post to my wall, being forceful about his need for salvation isn’t a way to show kindness to him, and certainly not God’s love.  My goal is not to make other believers that see the exchange wince at the verbal smack-down given by verse, but rather to make clear to even them, patience, strength and most of all love and caring.

If my response to his critical posts are not seen as attacking but rather standing my ground and defending, than I have chosen my verses well.  The moment, however, that I chose a verse with the intention of stinging him, I fail to shine the light of Jesus into the world and have sinned, not only against him, but most importantly, sinned against God.

Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.
Ephesians 4:29

Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each one esteem others better than himself.  Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interest of others.
Philippians 2:3-4

Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.
Colossians 4:6

 

CPB

Holy apostasy, Batman!

apostasy  n: 1: renunciation of a religious faith  2:abandonment of a previous loyalty : defection

I’ll start off by saying that I am aware this is something that I could spend days or weeks talking about, but I am going to try and do my best to make this concise and coherent.

For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching.  They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear.  They will reject the truth and chase after myths.

2 Timothy 4: 3-4(NLT)

Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold.

Matthew 24:12 (NLT)

So in flitting around the net today I came across a study that disturbed me.  It asked those that claim a religion within the US whether or not they felt their religion was “the one true faith” when it came to whether or not theirs was the only way to eternal life.  (To get to the results, you would have to click first “Beliefs and Practices” and then go to the bottom result for “Views of One’s Religion as the One True Faith.”)

70% of those in the United States felt that “many religions can lead to eternal life.”

Bear in mind, that’s across all religions.  Orthodox, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Christian, etc.

The scary part is that 59.4% of those professing the Christian faith believe, according to this survey, that many religions lead to eternal life.  (At the low end were the Jehovah’s Witnesses with 16% and at the other end of the spectrum are the “Mainline Churches” and “other Christians” both at a whopping 83%.)

Hence my title here: holy apostasy, Batman!

Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth and the life.  No one can come to the Father except through me.”

John 14:6 (NLT)

“You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate.  The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way.  But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.

Matthew 7:13-14 (NLT)

I want to ask if these people that answered the survey ever read their own Bibles, but I fear I don’t really want the answer to that.  It scares me to think that people could actually be becoming blind to what is right there in black,white, and red.

NO ONE comes to the Father, except those that do so through Jesus.  That means there is only ONE path to eternal life and it’s through his gift of grace.  Clearly, a narrow gate.  But just the same, a pretty blatant message to any that would read it.  Or should I say for those that have ears to hear?

And so the Lord says, “These people say they are mine.  They honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.  And their worship of me is nothing but man-made rules learned by rote.

Isaiah 29:13 (NLT)

I will stop short of saying those that answered Christian to the survey, (whichever flavor they care to call themselves,) and then answered that there are in fact multiple ways to eternal life are not in fact Christians, (although I myself could be counted as having backslid so far as to be counted among them at one time).  Clearly, however, they seem to be faltering in their study of the Bible.

Then Jesus called to the crowd to come and hear.  “Listen,” he said, “and try to understand.  It’s not what goes into your mouth that defiles you; you are defiled by the words that come out of your mouth.”

Matthew 15:10-11 (NLT)

The Bible spells things out quite clearly.  There is only one way to eternal life and that is through Jesus.  Either you take what the Bible says as the Word of God that it is, (which means that you take all of what it says of salvation- Thank God for the end of the old covenant!) or you don’t.  This is not a cafeteria plan to salvation.

By asserting to belief that there are multiple paths to heaven, you’re asserting that Jesus was lying when He stated that “no one comes to the Father except through” Him.

Saying that He lied, is to say that Jesus sinned, or bore false witness.  And yet even Pilate (and his wife) wanted nothing to do with the death of an innocent man. (Matthew 27:15-24)  Then there are the myriad of other verses that cite Jesus as sinless: 1 Peter 2:22, 1 John 3:5, 1 John 8:46, Isaiah 53:9, etc.

So it seems to me, to be pretty clear that our churches, (and dare I say political correctness resulting in a fear of offending by stating, even with love, that someone is flat out wrong,) are failing over half of the self proclaimed believers in this nation.

It’s time to draw near to God, and spend time in His word, for “what truth scripture has.”

 

CPB

K.I.S.S

I’ve wanted to say something about this for a few days, so will take the fact that this weekend’s sermon was related to this topic as a hint that I need to stop thinking and start typing.

We’re all guilty of complicating what is, in the end, supposed to be the epitome of K.I.S.S. (keep it silly simple.)

How?

We’ll let’s see….

Oh, but you must be baptized   You must be more than a ChrEaster believer,  (you know what I mean, one that shows at Church only at Christmas and Easter)  What do you mean that you haven’t taken communion?  You don’t religiously tithe ten percent?

Gasp.

You’re on the verge of being cut from the most exclusive club.  You sure you want to chance it?

Guess what?

None of that matters.

Doesn’t matter if you don’t give to the church, never show up in a pew, or if you are still an alcoholic.

How can I dare say something like this?  Easy.

But the other criminal protested, “Don’t you fear God even when you have been sentenced to die?  We deserve to die for our crimes, but this man hasn’t done anything wrong.  Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.”

And Jesus replied, “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

Luke 23: 40-43 (NLT)

This man was such a criminal that the Romans deemed him deserving of crucifixion; the worst death possible at that time.  He was never baptized.  He certainly didn’t tithe, (he may very well have tried to steal those donations.)  He never had time to partake in communion.  And yet, Jesus assured him that they would be together in Heaven.

People in general, seem to want to put all kinds of other requirements and standards on believers.  (This is what the sermon this weekend addressed.)  We may raise an eyebrow or bristle at seeing another believer in a liquor store, or speeding on the freeway, or any of a number of other “infractions”  all the way down to smoking outside the church before services begin.

Does any of that matter?  In the end, no.

What does matter, as clearly shown with the criminal on the cross, is Jesus.  In those moments, he acknowledged that Jesus had done no wrong, and expressed hope be thought of favorably by Him.  He knew he deserved to be on the cross.  He had done wrong.  He saw himself as the sinner he was when contrast with Jesus.  So in those last few moments, he was saved.

He could have stolen a coin purse from one of the soldiers that lashed him to the cross and he’d still be covered.  All because he acknowledged Jesus as being without sin, and as the Son of God.

With the simplicity, why do we seem to add so many requirements to it?  Is it possible that we, as broken humans, just see His offer as too good to be true?

Entirely possible.

But there it is, in black, white, and red.  Directly from God, to us.

All that you need is Jesus.  Period.  End of discussion.

CPB

Freedom of religion*

*The Constitution of the United States guarantees that those residing within its boarders should have the freedom to exercise their beliefs as they wish save for Christianity which must be kept private and practiced either within the confines of one’s own home or house of worship due to it’s highly offensive nature.

You mean there isn’t an asterisk within the First Amendment of the Constitution?  Could have fooled me.

I first started ranting to friends and family about this shortly before this years inauguration.  In the days leading up to the events, the pastor that had been chosen for the Benediction, Lou Giglio, stepped down from the honor amid a brewing controversy.

That controversy?  He had spoken out, according to his own recollection, about fifteen to twenty years before, against homosexuality, stating that it is a sin, (but here’s the real kicker-) but that they should still be loved and welcomed into the church.

The audacity.

One need only go as far as the comments on any news story on their homepage to see the strong reaction that people have to the message of Christianity.  One person even mentions Jesus in a comment and then five jump in and bash them for their “antiquated” and “false” beliefs, telling them to “keep their religion to themselves.”

Think about it.

I am sure that you have all had times where you have gathered with friends, or even family in a casual setting and the conversation turned to religion.  If those gathered were of mixed faiths, everything is fine, regardless of the religion being discussed and it even remains a casual discussion until the name of Jesus is put on the table.  Then things get serious and people begin to take offense.

How is it that someone that taught us to love our neighbor as ourselves (Matthew 19:19) can be a source of such offense?

I believe it comes from two sources.

1- the “audacity” of his assertion that “…I am the way, the truth and the life.  No one can come to the Father except through me. (John 14:6 NLT)

2- the fact that we, who are charged to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father the Son and the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19 NLT) are flawed humans.

In my limited studies, I have not become aware of another school of religion that claims to be ‘the only way.’ Many Eastern systems of belief teach that there are many paths to truth and that what really matters is reaching the destination, not necessarily the path you take to get there.  This thought that all religions are “essentially the same at their heart,” has taken a strong hold and is commonly espoused.

Unfortunately, if one is a follower of Jesus Christ, they know it could not be further from the truth and is instead, very harmful.  Let’s look at that verse again:

Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one can come to the Father except through me.”

John 14:6 (NLT)

No one.  Not a single person.  Doesn’t matter how “good” that person is.  Why?

As the Scriptures say, “No one is righteous- not even one.”

Romans 3:10 (NLT)

We are all sinners.  Every single one of us, was born into it.  It is inescapable in this world.  No matter how much we try to “be a good person,” we still fall short of God’s view of what it is to be good and righteous.  I believe it was the film Fireproof that painted the picture so well.  God’s standards are so high that to think that “I hate ____” is the same as murder.  Lusting after another is adultery.  We all know that “the wages of sin is death.” (Romans 6:23 NLT)

This is a far cry from other systems of belief that claim that, so long as you try to be good you will be rewarded in the hereafter/next life/etc.

But Jesus stood up and offered an answer.  That through Him, we could find guaranteed salvation.  Guaranteed!  What other system of belief lets you find peace knowing exactly what will happen to you when your time comes?  Rather than being a gamble, it’s assured.

But there is a great difference between Adam’s sin and God’s gracious gift.  For the sin of this one man, Adam, brought death to many.  But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and his gift of forgiveness to many through this other man, Jesus Christ.  And the result of God’s gracious gift is very different from the result of that one man’s sin.  For Adam’s sin led to condemnation, but God’s free gift leads to our being made right with God, even though we are guilty of many sins.

Romans 5:15-16 (NLT)

Then you mix this with the fact that those trying to pass this message along, (usually in clumsy electronic formats via posts, e-mails, texts, or blogs *cough*) are all flawed humans.  We misspeak.  We forget key parts of our “argument” when in the heat of the moment of a religious debate.  We screw up completely and come off as “preachy” or “greater than thou” instead of making it clear that we are coming alongside the other person as a fellow seeker and sinner offering the hope of the gift of grace that we have found.

So in the end, yes, I can see some of why it seems as though in this day and time, there is an asterisk after freedom of religion whenever it is brought up either by news outlets or even in general discussion.  Christianity can be very offensive depending on how it is presented.  We’re told to go out and teach.  Some see that as being told to go out and point fingers saying, “nu-uh, you’re wrong!”  But that is completely missing the spirit of the message- the grace of it.  If we miss the grace and leave it out of our discussions of Jesus, it’s as though we’re just passing on the message of a man who lived a good life.  But the fact is, that he died a sacrificial death for each and every one of us, in hope that we would accept the gift of grace despite our unworthiness, and thereby be reunited with our Heavenly Father.

CPB