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Posted on Aug 9, 2017 in Blog, Featured, Lost Virtues, Love

Definitions: Love

Definitions: Love

This is a big one.

Love is one of the biggest driving forces in the world around us. Love may be THE dominant force in the world. It definitely rivals power.

We use the word all the time. We love our family, we love our cars, we love our pets, we love this dessert, we love that movie. We love God and we love the way God loves us.

Do we really have any concept of what love is? Where have we derived our definition for love? Have we allowed the world’s idea, misuse and manipulation of love to affect how we think of love?

How does the world define love?

  • “Love is when you don’t seem to know why you’re attracted to a person.”
  • “Love is handing someone a loaded gun and believing he won’t pull the trigger.” “Spongebob”
  • “If you love two people at the same time, choose the second. Because if you really loved the first one, you wouldn’t have fallen for the second.” – Johnny Depp.
  • “We’re all a little weird and life’s a little weird. And when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall in mutual weirdness, and call it love.” – Dr. Seuss
  • “What is love? Baby don’t hurt me, don’t hurt me, no more.” – Haddaway

But, if the Beatles were right, and, love is all we need, shouldn’t we know what it is? Is it a feeling? Is it a choice? Is it strongly liking something? What is love?

If love is, “Baby don’t hurt me no more” then most of us don’t really love the people we claim to love the most since the people we most often hurt are the ones closest to us. Therefore, the people we really love the most are the ones we know the least.

If love is finding someone else with the same weirdness as me, then apparently I’m in love with everyone else who hates onions as much as I do.

If love is who I’m falling for next, then I’ve never really loved anyone.

If love is trusting someone won’t hurt me, that’s kind of like Haddaway’s love.

If love is not knowing why you’re attracted to someone, then love is not just merely physical impulses, but it’s stupid.

What then, is love? 

To know what love is, we need to go to the one who created it and see how He defines it. We must used God’s definitions to define love. We cannot allow ourselves to veer off course and let our surrounding culture define love? Why, because in my lifetime alone, culture’s definition of love has drastically changed. What used to be love is no longer love. What is now love, didn’t used to be love. It’s a moving target.

But, it’s worse than just a simple moving target that’s hard to stake down. The reason the target is moving is just as concerning as the fact that the target moves. There are many different agendas out in culture who are driving the shifting definition of love. Their desire is not what’s best for you, it’s what’s best for their agenda.

We, not just when it comes to love but in everything, must first seek to know God’s truth. We must allow God to define love for us, and when God’s definition of love stands in stark contrast the culture around us, we must also have the courage to embrace God’s truth. Even when it doesn’t make sense to us. Why? Because God actually has our best interest in His heart for us. He is not trying to use us or manipulate us. His truth is the foundation for the things we long for in life: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-control.

Also, God is love. (1 Jn. 4:8) If that is what God is, then wouldn’t He know best how to define it for us?

Ok, seriously, what is love? 

The Bible actually has several different words for love.

In the Old Testament we have the words:

Ahab: To have affection for

Chashaq: To cling, to love, delight in, desire, long

Dod: To boil, to love, a love-token, lover, friend, beloved, uncle

Agab: To love sensually, amorousness, inordinate love,

Racham: To fondle, to love, to have compassion, mercy, pity

New Testament:

Agapao: To Love, Deliberate assent of the will as a matter of principle, dute and propriety. Of the head.

Agape: Affection or benevlonce, dear, love

Thelo: To determine, choose or prefer, be inclined, delight in, to love, to please,

Philadelphia: Brotherly love, kindness. Of the heart.  (Other variations of this word, to love your spouse, humane…)

Bigger than we imagined.

All of the words above are translated love in different parts of the bible. Some translations will translate them differently, adding word to help add clarity (which, I personally prefer when they do this but I know others who don’t). So, some things become very important.

1.) When we’re reading our bibles, we need to remember they are translated from a language that is very different than ours. We don’t build words the same way words were built in Greek and Hebrew. In Hebrew, even the individual letters carried their own meaning. When you take the definition of the word and add to it the meanings of the individual letters, you get a much bigger idea.

For instance, the Hebrew word for love is ahava (אהבה), which is made up of three basic Hebrew letters: aleph (א)hey (ה), and vet (ב).

From these three root letters of a-hav-a, we can discover two root words.

The first is hav from the two letters hey (ה) and vet (ב), which means to give.  The letter aleph (א) modifies this word making it אהב,which means I give, but ahav is also the Hebrew word for loved.  (Jewishmag)

This Hebrew word, therefore, contains this tremendous truth: giving is fundamental to loving. (From: http://free.messianicbible.com/feature/love-and-the-hebrew-language/)

So, we need to do a little deeper digging to help find the meaning of the text. Which word for love is being used? Agape or Phileo? Ahab or Agab?

2.) We cannot use our one, culturally driven definition of love to inform our understanding of what the Bible means with the use of the word Love.

So, what is a biblical definition of love? 

One of my favorite bible study resources is bible.org. There is a ton of great material there to help us really understand God’s word to us. So, let’s look at how love is defined there:

Love is the heart-felt affection of the Christian in response to the love God has shown toward us, especially in the gift of salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. Love is an affection which prompts the Christian to action. Love is first and foremost directed toward God and then toward others in an order of priority: God, family (especially our mate), fellow-believers, our neighbor, and even our enemy. Love subordinates the interests of the lover to the one who is loved. Love inspires our deliberate, diligent, self-sacrificial service to others, which is intended for their good, at our expense. (https://bible.org/seriespage/31-what-thing-called-love-romans-129-13)

Now, we’re getting somewhere. Love is the heart-felt action I have in response to the Love God has shown me through the sending of His son to pay the ransom that sets me free from the prison my sin created. It’s not just a feeling, but it is a feeling. It’s a feeling that leads me to action. What is the action that this feeling leads me to? First, to Love God with everything I am. Then to love others. But that’s not all. If we stop there we stop short of what love really is.

Because, we love in the way God has loved us. How did God love us? Sacrifice. God sacrificed His own son for us. The Son sacrificed his position in Heaven to walk among us. The Son gave his life. God sacrificed for the ones he loved. This is what love is. Love is sacrifice. It is laying down your life for God and others. “Greater love has no man than this, than to lay down his life for his friends.”

While love is partly feeling, love is also deliberate. Love is something I choose to do and I keep on choosing to do. I keep on choosing to love by sacrificing myself because love is also diligent. And I do this, not for what I will get out of this person in return, but at my own expense.

Love is also action. Love is not just a feeling that makes me feel good about myself. That’s what too many of us have done with God’s love. We’ve hoarded it for our own benefit. But, becoming love – becoming God’s love – moves us to action.

The love which God calls for is a holy love, a love which hates sin and loves righteousness. The love God calls for is a sacrificial love. It requires us to subordinate our desires and interests, so that we may serve others selflessly. The love which God calls for is one which looks for long-term rewards rather than short-term pleasure. It endures hardship, suffering, and pain, for the benefit of others and for the service of the King and His pleasure. It is a love which takes risks and which shines forth when others are shrinking back. It is a love which responds to and reflects the love of God for us. (https://bible.org/seriespage/31-what-thing-called-love-romans-129-13)

Love is first received from God before we can truly love another. Until we have been “Rooted and established in Love.” we have no source from which to pour out love on others around us. That was Paul’s prayer for the church at Ephesus:

16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

We have to be rooted and established in love to grasp “how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ…” that we may be filled to the measure – which means – filled to the full of all the fullness of God. Why would we need to be filled to brim?

So that we have the power to:

“Live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” Eph. 4:1-6)

God’s sacrificial love, poured out over us and filling us up to the brim is the power source for the life of love we are called to live. Without this filling of God’s love, all we have is empty religion trying to earn our own salvation and position with God – which is impossible.

16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. 17 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? 18 Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

19 This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence: 20 If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. – 1 John 3:16-20. 

Love is action. If love is not acting, love has broken down. And when we receive the filling of love that leads us to the feeling of affection for God, which helps us begin to understand the fullness of God’s love, which leads us to the deliberate pursuit of God and diligently living out the commands of God (“15 “If you love me, keep my commands. Jn. 14:15), then we our lives become truth. We aren’t just in alignment with the truth, but we become truth. We are a part of truth. And we are now better able to worship God (“24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” Jn 4:24)

This, not all the other rubbish the world is hurling our direction, this is what love is.

And, this love is better than life. (Psalm 63)

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Posted on Oct 18, 2016 in Blog, Church, Culture, Lost Virtues

When Is It Okay To Leave A Church?

When Is It Okay To Leave A Church?

“This church just isn’t meeting my needs.”

I can’t read your mind. No pastor can. (Though some think we have that super power. If I could choose a super power, I don’t think that would be it, haven’t you ever watched Bruce Almighty?)

But, if I could read your mind, I’d be willing to guess you’ve had that thought about your church. “I think it’s time to start doing a little church shopping because I’m just not getting what I need here.” “If they would do this program like this other church, I might stay, but…” “If the pastor was funny like the other guy…” “If the pastor would just feed me instead of making me laugh…” And the list goes on. And the list goes on. (Insert Sandi Patty music here.)

So, we go shopping trying to find a church that is going to meet our needs. And everything changes.

We go from being a part of a loving community to being a consumer of a good or service. We stop thinking about the good of the whole and start thinking about our own good. Without a thought of how our actions are affecting others, we just change everything.

Churches aren’t commodities. Churches aren’t storefronts or business. Churches don’t exist to please its constituents.

I’ve had several conversations with people who have left our church over the past few years that I’ve been here. If someone leaves, I try to talk to them and find out why (if I don’t already know). Not once, has the issue been something relevant. “We are leaving because you’re teaching heresy.” It’s always been something preferential. We need this or that. We want this program. We want our kids to have this thing. When I ask the question, “Have you considered how you leaving will affect the rest of our community?” people don’t really have an answer. Some have thought about it, but their own personal desires trump the good of the whole.

(By the way, I’m not writing this post in response to someone leaving our church. In fact, we’ve had some new families join us and stay. So, that’s why I’m writing it now. It’s a good time to write about when you’re not having the problem)

Maybe you’re thinking about looking for another church. Let me as you a question: who is church for? If you’re answer is you, then you should probably do your church a favor and leave. “Harsh words man, lighten up a little bit.” Sorry, but that might be what you need to hear.

Churches exist for worshipping God, for the good of the local body of Christ and for shining the light of God’s love into the darkness.

“My personal pleasure” is not a role that churches are supposed to play. To reduce your church to pleasure puts it in the category of a social club, and we have not interest in being that for you.

You’re not getting anything out of church? Maybe that’s not the point. What have you given to your church lately? What have you contributed? Have you loved your brothers and sisters in Christ in a way that serves them? Or are you just looking for people to meet your needs and serve you?

These are the problems we face in the church today.

Reasons people leave church:

  1. My needs aren’t being met.
  2. I don’t like being under authority.
  3. I have a disagreement/conflict with someone in the church and it’s easier to leave than work it out.
  4. I don’t like the style of music.
  5. I don’t like the teaching.
  6. My kids’ needs aren’t being met.

There are others. Honestly, too many to list here. What makes these wrong?

Your needs will be met if your in true biblical community. True biblical community starts with me sacrificing myself. If you have a problem with authority, you will have a problem with every church, because your problem is not with the church but with God. If you can’t solve conflict, you just shouldn’t be around any human, stay at home and watch a TV preacher. There must be someone who likes the style of music your church uses, think about what’s best for that group of people and not what you want most. Is the teaching heretical? If not, there is something you can learn. If your kids’ needs aren’t being met, maybe that’s why you’re there.

“Okay, what’s the point of this article preacher man?”

You are where you are for a reason. What can you do to be a part of the solution? Maybe God wants you to help your church serve one another better, but He needs you to get over yourself first. I don’t know. What I do know is that God wants you to be committed. And until you make a commitment, you will be constantly disappointed because church isn’t about you and that’s what you’re trying to make it about.

Commit to worshipping God. Commit to the body. Commit to shining the light. Put your name on a pew. Be so committed that people know where you sit and notice when you’re missing. Meet the needs of other people in your church. Meet the needs of people in your community. Love God above everything and love your neighbor as yourself. Get those two things right and not matter what church you are in, you will be blessed.

When is it okay? Well, if the pastor is teaching heresy, that would be one. If something immoral is happening and not being addressed, then maybe. But only after following what the Bible says to do about confrontation, etc. Aside from those two things, there’s not much.

What are your thoughts? When is it okay to leave a church? Mad at me? Let me hear it!

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Posted on Apr 26, 2016 in Blog, Culture, Featured, Lost Virtues

It’s Like Taking Advice From A Compost Pile

It’s Like Taking Advice From A Compost Pile

We’ve always had compost piles in our family. We dump grass clippings and leaves in a pile. We throw food scraps in there. Corn Stalks and other dead plants from the garden. We never had the fancy tumblers like people use today. Just a pile. And the pile would always decompose. The pile would start out huge, but over time, it would shrink down as the things in it continued to die. They were dead already. They were dead when we put them in the pile. But, as they continued to die, the pile got smaller, slimyer and smellier.

The following spring, it would be used to help the next years plants grow as we would put it on the garden and mix it into the ground where we would soon be planting seeds for another crop.

Can you imagine taking advice from this heap of decomposing death? It sounds ridiculous. I know.

BUT WE DO IT ALL THE TIME!!!

This world we are in is broken. It’s cursed. It’s falling apart, piece by piece. It’s literally decomposing. It is death. And yet, for some unknown reason, we allow this world to have influence in our lives on a daily, hourly, even minute by minute basis.

We surround ourselves with input sources from this decomposing pile and then make decisions based on what we see happening in the pile. Then we are surprised (when really it should come as no surprise at all) when our own lives start falling apart, decomposing.

Not only should you check your input sources, but you should surround yourself with sources that give life instead those that take it.

I talk often about the importance of being rooted in biblical community. It’s very important. I know this as someone who has been without it for a while. I know what happens when we aren’t in community with other believers. I know it can be weird to go back to church after you’ve been gone for a while.

But, I also know the potential of what you can find there if you’ll plug yourself in.

Who cares what the world thinks? It’s death. Why do you care what the world thinks of you as a Christ follower? You’ll never blend in enough with them to win them over. It’s not possible. All they’ll see then is someone who compromises their morals. They’ll see another hypocrite who claims to believe one thing, but lives another.

It’s like the scene from “The Walking Dead” where Rick Grimes covers himself in the decomposed tissue of a zombie so he can walk among them without being detected. Then it starts raining, and the dead around them pick up the scent of life as the rotting flesh gets washed off of Rick. The same will happen to us, if we try to blend in with a dead and decomposing world, eventually we will be exposed for the life we actually are. And, the death around us will just try to consume us.

The lost around us don’t need us to try to be more like them. They need us to be more like Christ in their presence. You’ve been washed clean of death, why would you try to put it on again? You’ve been set free from the power of death, why would you submit yourself to death’s pull and lure?

John 12:24-25: “Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.”

We have passed from death into life. We have been buried with Christ through baptism, and raised to a new life in Christ. If we have been given new life, why would we continue to live in the death we have been resurrected from? Why would we allow that death to have any say so in our lives? Why would we try to be like it? It’s death. It’s decomposing. The only hope for it is that the seed of the gospel be planted in the midst of it so it can produce new life.

What if you’re the one that supposed to plant that seed? How can you plant the seed if you’re trying to blend in?

When the world tells you the bible is outdated, don’t listen to it – that’s just death talking.

When the world tells you that church is old fashioned, don’t listen to it – that’s just death talking.

When the world tells you that you should work hard and ignore your family, don’t listen to it – that’s just death talking.

 

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Posted on Oct 21, 2015 in Blog, Culture, Featured, Humility, Lost Virtues

The Definition Of You

The Definition Of You

Facebook is filled with it. The world wants desperately for you to choose it. It’s a secret most don’t want you to know. Because if you find out, there’s a good chance it will have devastating consequences for the way of life that is derived from it.

What is “it”?

“It” is the way we define ourselves. “It” is about the source of our identity.

You see, the world wants you to find your definition in all of the things that keep the world’s profit margins up for the shareholders.

They want you to define yourself based on the compare and contrast model. You contrast yourself to someone else and see how you compare.

I’m not just talking about possessions. Yes it is one of the areas. You see that your friend has a new phone, so you want a new phone. Your ride in your friends new car so you want a new car. You start to define your level of success based on your ability to keep up with your friends. A big part of the danger is that you’re not just comparing yourself to one person, but to many. One friend has the means to buy a new phone, but not necessarily the means to buy a new car. While the one person you are trying to keep up with may make close to the same amount as you, that’s not true when you add them all up. You are trying to keep up with a multimillion dollar enterprise when you consider the incomes of all the different people. Possessions is an aspect, but it’s only one.

We see someone with a different body style and chemistry post a picture of themselves on Facebook or Twitter. We see, in one snapshot, the effects of a journey they have been on. They have been working on it for years, and we see the progress they have made. And we compare ourselves to that picture. We don’t compare ourselves to the journey, we compare ourselves to the results we see. And we don’t measure up.

We see someone who has a gift or talent that we don’t have and what they are able to do with it. And we compare. They have a natural ability that makes them so good at what they do. We aren’t even close. We wish we were.

We see the highlights of someone else’s life that they post and we compare ourselves to them. We see the snapshots of what they did today but didn’t see the work that went into that one snapshot. We see the picture of their kids, but we didn’t see the coercion that took place before the picture was snapped to get the kids to look at the camera. We don’t see any of that. We just see the one moment of perfection and compare it to our lifetime of imperfection.

We see someone all dressed up and going out for a fun night, but didn’t see them before they got into the shower.

I currently have 1,137 friends on Facebook. How many of you instantly compared yourself? How many of you instantly decided you were more or less successful based on whether you have more or less friends than I do?

I have 1,137 friends on Facebook. That’s 1,137 different lives. That’s 1,137 different highlight reels. That’s 1,137 different snapshots. It is impossible for me to keep up with what’s going on in that many lives. I can’t do it, let alone try to keep my life up with their lives. I can’t compare my life to that many lives and keep up. I may be able to keep up with one other person. Maybe two. But not 3, 300 or 3000. It’s impossible.

And that’s what we do every day. We look at the 50 people who post updates that morning and we compare ourselves to them. But for those 50 moments in time we see, there were also thousands of moments that led up to that one moment we saw.

For instance, my mom has been posting pictures of my dad’s progress in painting his barn. I see drastic differences in between the pictures. It’s amazing. But my dad has been hard at work scraping and pressure washing and painting a coat of primer and a coat of red paint. There has been a lot of work I haven’t seen. Hours and weeks of hours working to get to the point I saw.

Why do we define ourselves by comparison? Why do we contrast our lives with the lives of others and see how we measure up?

I think the answer is simple. It’s because we are still at the center of our universe. We are still responsible for our own identity. And when we are responsible for our identity the only way to know if we are making any progress is to look around us and see if we are ahead of or behind of the others around us.

But, what if we’re not supposed to be at the center of our own universe? What if we weren’t built for everything to revolve around us? How would that change things?

What if you weren’t defined by what you do? What if you weren’t defined by your successes or failures? What if you weren’t defined by your abilities and talents? What if you weren’t defined by your possessions? What if you weren’t defined by your highlights? What if you weren’t defined by polished moments you are willing to share with the world?

Wouldn’t that be freeing? Wouldn’t that change everything?

The truth of the matter is, that is the truth of the matter.

You aren’t defined by comparison. You aren’t defined by you.

You are defined by whose image you are made in. Your value does not change based on your ability to outperform people on Facebook. Your value does not change based on anything you can do or own. Your worth is not based on the amount in your account. You are made in God’s image. That means you have value no matter what. That means you are irreplaceable. There is only one you. God created you and designed you. You have worth just as you are. You have worth because you are made in God’s image.

You have so much worth that God sent his son to die for you. You have so much worth that the creator of the universe left behind his kingly throne, walked this earth, paid the ransom for yours and my sins. You have so much worth that God went through all that so that He could walk with you, know you, dwell in you.

That’s who you are. That’s your definition. It’s not your past. It’s not the mistakes you’ve made. It’s not your sexuality. It’s not your income. It’s not your family. It’s not your body type. It’s not your blood type or your skin type. It’s not the color of your hair, the size of your pants or your address. It’s not how up with culture you are. It’s not which political party you affiliate with. It’s not the causes you fight for. It’s not who you were. It’s not the others you wish you could be. It’s none of that.

See yourself, today as God sees you. Made in His Image. Worth the life of His son. Valuable. Priceless. Irreplaceable. Loved. Sons and Daughters of the Most High God.

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Posted on Aug 5, 2015 in Abortion, Blog, Culture, Featured, Lost Virtues, repost, Truth

It’s a Human Rights Issue

It’s a Human Rights Issue

I’ve been struggling with where to begin on this planned parenthood disaster. I have pages of notes and they will be coming to you over the next several posts. I recognize taking a stand on this will cause some people to unfriend me, dislike me and get angry with me. There will be those who get angry at the stance I will take. But, I refuse to let the fear of rejection be something that keeps me from speaking up for those who can’t speak for themselves. This won’t be the only post on the topic, and it may not be the best place to start, but it is a starting point.

But let me say, right off the bat. My aim is not to offend. My aim is not push people away. My aim is to be a voice for those who can’t speak for themselves. My aim is to speak the truth into a very dark and disturbing situation. And it’s hard to know where to begin and what to say. So please bear with me.

Even as I try to think of ways to illustrate the monstrous events that are occurring, I realize that there is no logical comparison. Laws exist to protect us as human beings from this kind of treatment. Doctors can’t kill people to sell their organs. Doctors can’t sell organs. People can’t sell their own organs. People have to give consent to have their organs donated after they have died. They don’t get sold to the highest bidder. They are donated to save another life.  By the way, this makes me strongly reconsider the idea of organ donation. If these are the ethics driving doctors today, who’s to say they wouldn’t choose to let me die so they can sell my liver? Not to say that there aren’t ethical doctors, but how am I to know that I will get an ethical doctor if these ethics are a possibility within the field?

These people being abused don’t have a choice in the matter. They are being sacrificed for convenience without the opportunity to deny consent. They are vulnerable. They are in need of our protection and provision. Instead they have been destroyed and their body parts sold to make a profit.

Many will argue that this is a women’s rights issue. There is truth to that argument, but not in the way it is being used. Neither I nor anyone else who is appalled by this barbaric act would in any way argue that women should be denied health care. I would never argue that women shouldn’t have access to it. I just also happen to think that the babies have access to the same rights.

If there is such a thing as human rights, this has to be the pinnacle of human rights issues. We cannot simply decide something isn’t a right because it’s inconvenient. We can’t decide something isn’t a right because it conflicts or contradicts with the kind of lifestyle we want to lead. A human right, by definition is something that is a right to every human. Our personal motivations, agendas and ideologies are cease when the come in conflict with the rights of another human being. This is true in all of life. I can choose to have whatever beliefs I wish, but if those beliefs threaten the rights of another human being, I must stop. I cannot kill people who disagree with me. They have rights as a human, and if my beliefs conflict with their rights, it is my beliefs that change not their rights as a human being.

But, come on! Are you willing to trust someone with your own health who is choosing to make a profit by selling the organs of tiny, indefensible babies? That would, for most logical people, be a huge red flag. You wouldn’t go to a doctor who made money selling the leftover parts of a hysterectomy (which is a procedure done with the knowledge of the patient) let alone go to a doctor who stole a patient’s organs without their knowledge and sold them. And if that doctor had to kill people in order to get the organs they need for their bottom line, you would be appalled. If you discovered that your doctor was stealing the kidneys from women to sell for a profit, wouldn’t you be a little bit upset? (Of course, if a doctor were to do these things, they would lose their license to practice medicine, be thrown into jail and maybe even worse.)

Will we not stand up for those who can’t stand up for themselves? Those who are defending planned parenthood have the ability to make a stand. They have a voice in the debate. They have representation in the government. But, what about those who don’t have the same ability. Are we to simply abolish them because they are too vulnerable. What about others among us who lack such abilities. Shall we demolish them as well. I’m sure there is some profit to be made from the dissection of their remains.

This is not simply a women’s rights issue, it is a human rights issue. I think women should be protected when that is the need. I think women should receive the service of caring doctors. There are many Christian clinics that have risen up to help provide. There are many other, government funded clinics who do not commit such atrocities. But there are also babies, children and even men who have rights.

It’s amazing how we will stand up against American companies who outsource production to countries who mistreat children and women. These products are made in factories where women and children make a couple of dollars a day if they’re lucky. And we will be outraged. Rightly so. And I think that is an injustice we should be working to solve. Women and children should not be taken advantage of, no matter where on the planet they reside.

But, we will boycott and protest such companies who use these means of production, while at the same time defending a company who, on American Soil, sold the body parts of babies to other companies on American soil. Really? We won’t buy products made in India because of child labor, but we’ll stand up for a company that kills, dissects and sells the body parts of a child? Why do we not see the hypocrisy in that?

We will hang from bridges to try to keep a company from drilling in the arctic, but we applaud the efforts of Planned Parenthood? Is stopping a company from drilling for oil really more important than stopping a company from profiting off of selling the salvageable parts of an abortion?

Every life matters. Regardless of race, sex, age, diseases, dysfunctions, handicaps or any other qualifier you can use, every life matters. The lives of those who make mistakes matter. The lives of those who have different sexual preferences matter. Every life matters. Why? Because every person on this planet is made in the image of God, regardless of their belief in Him. Every single person. There is no exception. And every single one of us entered this world in the same way – through our mother’s womb. There is no difference between any of us when it comes to our value and worth because that resides in each of us. And it’s there because of whose image we reflect.

I say we stand up for the rights of the workers in India, for the rights of women in America and for the rights of people who are being sacrificed, dissected and sold. It will not be easy. It will be a struggle. We have been lured into an apathetic coma and now we find the muscles needed to stand up have atrophied. But they will strengthen as we begin to use them. As we stand up for God’s creations, God will give us strength to stand up for those who can’t stand up for themselves.

And if enough of us wake up, stand up and speak up…maybe…just maybe…we will be a part of the movement that stopped this barbaric act. Maybe we will see human life valued once again and babies will cease to be treated as a product to be sold.

This isn’t a women’s rights issue because it’s a human rights issue. It just so happens the most vulnerable have been taken advantage of. Their inability to voice their dissent does not mean we should violate their rights. It means we must be their voice. We must be the mouthpiece for their right to live.

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Posted on Apr 28, 2015 in Blog, Culture, Featured, Grace, Lost Virtues, repost, Truth, Values

Has The Good News Become Bad News?

Has The Good News Become Bad News?

We are living in a different day and age than the one I grew up in. We have gone through an enormous amount of change in the last 20 years. I know things are always changing. I have said before, every morning we wake up to a world that has changed over night. But, things have changed a great deal. And they are changing faster all the time.

In contrast, the gospel never changes. Just as truth is always true, the truth of the gospel never changes. The hope for all of humanity is found in Jesus.

So, what is the challenge?

The challenge is our vast desire to eradicate guilt from our society. For this to be done, we must also do away with a lot of sin issues.

We have a hard time talking about sin anymore. I have a hard time with it. It’s hard to tell someone that what they are doing is sinning. It’s hard to look at my own life, see the areas I fall short in and call them sin. It would be much easier if sin didn’t exist and I didn’t have to feel as though I come up short.

And I’m not the only one who feels that way. In fact, I think this is what is behind the legalization of a lot of issues that used to be considered sin. I’m not going to single anything out. That’s not the point of this post.

But, if something makes us feel guilty because it’s against the law, and we change the law, then we don’t have to feel guilty about it anymore. Right?

Now, imagine building a relationship with someone and wanting to share with this person about the most important relationship in their life. I’m not talking street evangelism, I’m talking someone you care about.

What is the premise of the gospel? Is it not that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God?” Is it not that we live in “glad rebellion” against God, as Matt Chandler puts it? That we are born into a fallen world as fallen individuals, and if we are left to our own we will choose what makes us happy instead of what’s right.

God had a design and ideal in mind when he created the world, and we chose to do something different. We had to do things our way instead of God’s way. As a consequence, we also lost relationship with God. We no longer walked and talked with God in the garden.

But God provided a way for us to be reunited with him. While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. While we were still rebelling against God, He sent His son to die for us. Thank God for grace! Thanks be to God that there is a cure for my rebellion. And the price that needed to be paid for me to be in relationship with God was paid by Christ on the cross.

It’s an amazing story. It’s an amazing offer.

But, what happens when you take sin out of the equation. If there is no sin, then what is the need for the gospel? What is the need for grace?

Our attempt and desire to rid ourselves of the guilt that results from sinning, is resulting in ridding ourselves from the gospel.

“We haven’t done away with all sin!” you might be saying to yourself. Sure, there are areas that we have yet to venture into when it comes to justifying our desire for sinning. But, we sure have done away with a lot of them. And we hear more and more justifications for bad decisions all the time.

Of course, this all has to do with truth. If there is no absolute truth, then there ultimately is no sin. More on that later…

If there is no sin, there really isn’t anything to be saved from, therefore, there is no need for a Savior and no need for the gospel.

It would even seem that the good news has become bad news. Once we have legalized things that used to be classified as sin so that we can rid ourselves of guilt, if something comes along and makes us feel guilty (besides our own conscience) then that’s a bad thing. We have made our peace and no loner feel guilty and thanks to our progressive culture, we don’t have to worry about getting in trouble for it anymore either. But then someone comes along and shares the good news of Jesus.

But, it’s not so good anymore, because instead of being good news that Jesus saves us from the penalty we deserve for our sin, it’s pointing out that we should feel guilty about this thing. And we don’t like that, so the good news is actually bad news.

So, how do we share the gospel in a world that is doing away with sin more and more every day?

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