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Posted on Aug 22, 2017 in Blog, Culture, Featured, Hope, Truth

Purveyors Of Hope

Purveyors Of Hope

1 Peter 3:14-16:

Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. 10 For,

“Whoever would love life
    and see good days
must keep their tongue from evil
    and their lips from deceitful speech.
11 They must turn from evil and do good;
    they must seek peace and pursue it.
12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous
    and his ears are attentive to their prayer,
but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”

13 Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? 14 But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.” 15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.

I have lots of thought about what’s going on in the world right now. I’m wired that way. I think & process internally. So, I spend a lot of time thinking about things, thinking about the world, thinking about why this or that is happening. I’ve written some about what I see going on. We’ve talked about this around our table here at church. In fact, we just talked about this today. Jim was sharing about how our response to evil should be to do good. And I wholeheartedly agree. It’s biblical. It’s not just in this passage, but Paul also mentions the same idea elsewhere.

But, this thought is striking me today. “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.”

Many of the people who should have the most hope seem to have the least. 

I live in a pretty Christian world. I’m a pastor. I’m surrounded by many Christians. Yes, I also know plenty of non-believers, but the majority would definitely lean towards believers. You would think that, since the majority of people I know are believers, then the majority of information I see them share on Facebook or hear from them in conversations would be hopeful.

But, that’s not the case.

Why do those of us, the ones who should have THE MOST hope on the planet, seem to be some of the main culprits of pessimism and negativity?

I’m sure there are a lot of reasons. We, just like everyone else, are inundated with negativity. Why? Because negativity sells. Negativity gets ratings. Negativity gets your attention and gets you to click. It’s easy to get sucked into it all. I do. One of my friends on one side will post an article and I’ll read it. Then another friend will post another article on another side and I’ll read it. Before too long, I’m started to get filled up with negativity and despair.

But, I think there’s another reason. I think many of us, falsely believe that we in a war against those among us who believe differently than we do.

May I make something clear? We are not in a war against other people made in the image of God.

Before you go thinking I’m this or that, let me explain. We are not in a war against people, we are in a war against deception. There are many among us who are deceived. There are lies being hurled to and fro. There are lies driving one side to attack the other and there are lies driving the other to retaliate. Our battle is not against people who think differently than we do. Our battle is against deceit.

How we see people changes everything. If we see people who believe differently than us or who have been deceived by this or that, we have an incorrect view. Every human being is made in God’s image. No matter how right, no matter how wrong.

Without getting into the muck and mire of all that’s going on, I do also need to say, there is truth. There are absolute truths that exist. There is an order God has designed and put into place, and when we operate in accordance with that order, we thrive. Truth, however, is not found in the agendas of various organizations. I don’t care what viewpoint or stance or side, all organizations are driven by an agenda of some kind. Some good, some evil. But, the truth for humanity is not found within that agenda. We must be very careful about allowing ourselves to be led by organizations that are not clearly lined up with God’s truth. Why? We may find ourselves being used as a pawn in someone else’s game.

We only find truth from the one who is the truth. Who is the only person that lays claim to the truth? Jesus. He also happens to be the only one that has proven He is the truth and worthy of the title. The one about whom hundreds of prophecies were written and fulfilled, the one who spoke of things yet to come in his life that were also fulfilled, the one who predicted his own death and resurrection, the one whom hundreds of witnesses saw ascend into Heaven and the one who sent His Spirt of truth to dwell in his followers is the only source of truth in all creation. We do our best, as believers to interpret other things in light of God’s truth, but the only absolute truth that exists is the truth that The Truth Himself created.

I think that’s part of where we are. We’ve allowed ourselves to become pawns in someone else’s game or games. That’s why we struggle with hope, because we’re not really in the business of hope. We claim to be, but our real loyalties are in the agendas of these other organizations. We don’t have a reason for the hope we have, because our hope is no in the power of God working in the hearts of people our hope is in the power of “the man” and making sure that “the man” in charge is “our man.”

Hope Doesn’t Seem To Be Anyone’s Platform.

I don’t hear a lot of people talking about hope right now. I hear a lot of tearing down. We’re pretty good at that at the moment. We tear down people who disagree with us. When someone disagrees with an opinion, we can’t just have a civil disagreement and remain friends, we have to unfriend them on Facebook and take some kind of “principled” stand against them for holding such beliefs.

I’ve watched quite a few of the videos that have been posted of what’s going on at these “protests” and “rallies.” There’s not much in the way of hope. A lot of back and forth derogatorial statements. But, it seems that the platform isn’t so much hope as it is hate. For some reason, at this present moment, we hate those who disagree with us.

Hate is a strong word, but that’s the only word I can come up with. The fruit of hating people who hate you is hatred. That fruit is very much in season at the moment. Hate has flooded the market. And it’s driving us all down in the process.

Where is our hope? 

Jesus is the only hope. There is no other source of hope. Jesus died to set us free from our bondage to the lies and deception of this world. There is coming a day when He will return and everything will be made right again. All that is wrong with the world will be gone forever and only truth will remain. We have the hope of that day that is still yet to come.

But, we also have hope for today. Jesus didn’t just die to set us free from the power death holds over us, He also, send his Spirit to dwell in us. Which, by his own words is the spirit of truth. And the Spirit of truth will teach us all things, and guide us into the truth. (John 16:13) That means we also have hope for the right now. The Spirit of truth wants to transform our lives today, in the here and now present realities we are living in. And if the truth sets us free, then we can also experience freedom today. We have hope for today.

And, for us who believe, who have already received the benefits of this hope, who have the future hope awaiting us…we need to become the purveyors of this hope.

What is a purveyor? A person who sells or deals in particular good; a person or group that spreads an idea, view. etc.

Purveyors of Hope

This is my agenda for this article. This is the platform I would like to see built by believers across this country and around this world. I do not have a big following. I do not have an extremely popular blog, nor am I a pastor of a mega church. I am just one person. But, if you’re reading this, that makes two of us. And together, we can start moving people towards hope.

What if, instead of responding to those with whom we disagree by spouting more incendiary comments, we sought to be the peacemakers we were called to be? What if we sought to become masters in the ministry of reconciliation? Not just reconciling person to person, but seeking the ultimate reconciliation, bringing lost sons and daughters back into a right relationship with their father.

Maybe we can join those who have gone before us and make our small contribution to the cause of humanity by joining them in dreaming of a better tomorrow. Maybe we can become those who are more interested in selling people on a dream for the future of this country than we are in trying to get more people on our side of the red rover line. Maybe we can get bold about hope, get bold about the good that we see, get bold about the dreams we have and the dreamers we know. And instead of allowing ourselves to be drawn into negativity, we find ourselves boldly standing up with the hope that we have.

May this become our platform

  • May we find ourselves, when standing in the midst of negativity and hatred of all kinds the brave voice, willing to stand up for hope. Willing to say, I see a better way forward for all of us. Willing to say, we may never agree on this issue or that, but there are things more important than our agreement. After all, what kind of agreement is it if we have to force upon one another. Instead of being drawn into negativity and bitterness, hatred and unforgiveness, we will boldly proclaim that there is hope for us all.
  • May we seek the brotherhood that was once written about and sung about by our ancestors and may that brotherhood truly become our crown.
  • May we become masters in reconciliation, quick to admit our wrongs and quicker to celebrate others accomplishments.
  • May the footprints that we leave, everywhere we live and walk, be the footprints of feet fitted with the gospel of peace. Not just peace between men, but peace between men and God.
  • May we seek to be filled with righteousness, not our own righteousness or righteousness in the eyes of the a world that is constantly changing the definition of it, but filled with the righteousness of God. And may we be so filled with that righteousness that it overflows out of our lives onto the world around us.
  • May we become passionate about the truth. The truth that gives actual meaning to life. The truth that tells us what is actually right and what is actually wrong. The truth that is not only knowledge, but presence. Not only factual but practical. Not only intellectual but effectual.
  • May we become more focused on being and living rightly than we are about pointing out how others aren’t.
  • May we become instruments of Justice, God’s true and lasting Justice for the oppressed. Not justice that makes me feel good, but justice that seeks a long lasting, effective solution.
  • May we become a people so internally changed by the grace and mercy of God that we are passionate about mercy.
  • And and may we all do this with the utmost humility. May we understand that it is God at work in us, causing us to will and to act according to His great purposes. Apart from Him we are nothing, in Him we have the fullness of life.
  • May we constantly work at turning the eyes of this world away from the hatred and violence and negativity and point our eyes towards the hope. The hope that we can all possess if we choose. The hope that is available to all people of all nations of all genders and races. Pointing people to the hope that when it is fulfilled looks like people from every nation, tribe, people and language standing before the throne and before the lamb…holding palm branches (a symbol of victory) in their hands…having endured great trials and having been washed by the blood of the lamb…we will one day be sheltered by the presence of the almighty, at that time we will no longer hunger or thirst, the sun will no longer scorch us and the lamb will be our shepherd who leads us to springs of living water and will himself wipe every tear from our eyes.

We’ve got a lot of work to do. It’s going to take a lot of effort, but if we all get busy spreading hope things will get better.

Will you join me?

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Posted on Feb 2, 2016 in Blog, Church, Featured, Truth

Definition: Abide

Definition: Abide

Waiting can be hard. I don’t know if you’ve had to wait for something, but I have. It can be challenging, stressful, annoying. The waiting is often the worst part. We get impatient. We want things now. We can’t wait for our birthday. We can’t wait for Christmas. We can’t wait for summer. We can’t wait for our wedding. We just have a hard time waiting.

Today I would like to look at another word: abide.

What is the meaning of this word that Jesus used in a very important teaching? If you want to know the context of this word, go read John 15.

What is the literal definition?

In the english dictionary the word is defined as:

verb (used without object), abode or abided, abiding.
1. to remain; continue; stay: Abide with me.
2. to have one’s abode; dwell; reside: to abide in a small Scottish village.
3. to continue in a particular condition, attitude, relationship, etc.; last.
In the greek dictionary, the definition is similar:
  1. to remain, abide
    1. in reference to place
      1. to sojourn, tarry
      2. not to depart 1a
    2. to continue to be present 1a
    3. to be held, kept, continually
    4. in reference to time
      1. to continue to be, not to perish, to last, endure 1b
    5. of persons, to survive, live
    6. in reference to state or condition
      1. to remain as one, not to become another or different
  2. to wait for, await one

There is a key verse outside of John 15 that I want to draw your attention to: 1 John 2:28

“And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming.”

Let’s Define it:

Abide means to remain, to continue in, to be present in continually. What is the big deal with “abiding in Christ?”

That’s the key question we need to answer. Why do we need to abide? There are a few reasons:

To avoid drifting

The key temptation we face in waiting for someone is that our focus can drift off to something else. It’s like having kids. You may have noticed it can be a challenge sometimes to keep your kids attention for long periods of time. You may be talking to them, but a bird flies by the window and they’re distracted. Maybe the TV is on in the background while you’re talking and a funny commercial comes on and they get distracted. Or one of the siblings comes into the room and they get distracted. Before long, you realize it’s taken you 15 minutes to say something that should have only taken about 15 seconds.

The same is true for us. We need to abide in Christ, remain in him and be present in our relationship with him so that we don’t find ourselves drifting off course when life comes along to distract us. And it always will. There will always be a distraction. There will always be an opportunity to drift. We must abide.

To produce fruit

From the very beginning of the bible to the very end, God has been in the business of gardening to produce fruit. In this key passage in John 15 we discover the key to producing the fruit of the kingdom. Can you guess what it is? The key to producing fruit is remaining in, being present – abiding in Christ. The fruit of the kingdom is contrary to the fruit of the world. (Yes the world produces fruit – and it’s desirable too, just ask Eve.) If we want to produce the fruit of the kingdom of God which is making disciples, spreading the gospel and seeing love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control in our own lives, we can only do so by remaining in Christ.

To be ready for His return

In  this verse in 1 John 2, we also see that abiding in Christ is what makes us ready for His return.

They key to not making mom and dad mad when they get home from a date is to make sure the house is ready for their return before they get home. And I’m not talking about rushing to clean the house in the last few minutes before they arrive. It’s easier to be ready for their return if we have kept the house clean all along. Other wise, we may find ourselves trying to clean up when they get home a few minutes early.

If we want to be ready for Christ’s return, we must abide in him continually. We must be present with him continually. We must remain in him. This means we are actively working on our relationship with him. This means we are presently pursuing him. This means we don’t wait for Sunday to come to hear from his word, but that we are in his word daily. We are devoted to this relationship and we are going to choose to make our relationship with him a priority. We’re not going to make a mess of our lives all week long and then hope it can be fixed up and cleaned up on Sunday. We’re going to continually reorder our lives around the call of the Kingdom. We will use Sundays as earmarks to make sure we are in a state of constant pursuit.

That’s why abiding is such a big deal. We must abide.

Will you abide in Christ today?

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Posted on Sep 22, 2015 in Blog, Culture, Featured, repost, Truth

Truth: Judge & Defendant

Truth: Judge & Defendant

I write about truth a lot. I talk about truth a lot. I’m old school that way. You may think truth isn’t that big of a deal. The truth is, the truth is a massive deal. The sad truth is, truth has been completely undermined in our society.

We have decided that we get to decide what’s right and wrong. We have decided we are the source of morality. We think we know what’s best and that we have the perspective to be able to make that decision.

“If God even exists, He is too outdated to know what is happening today. I don’t need to trust in some archaic principle that was created to control people. I know what’s best for me and I’m going to believe in me.” That’s the mantra we recite to ourselves.

Now we have entered into a time that is really hard to navigate. Because individuals (instead of God) are now the creators of truth and morality, everyone has their own truth and their own moral code. And because everyone has their own truth and their own moral code, it is virtually impossible to speak about any topic without offending someone.

It’s impossible, because saying something that is contradictory to someone’s truth and moral code is now an offense against their very being. We have wrapped ourselves up in our own identities. So any attack against my beliefs is an attack against me and my identity. The problem: we are identified by morality we have created for ourselves. We are defined by ourselves.

[tweetherder]The problem: we are identified by morality we have created for ourselves. We are defined by ourselves. [/tweetherder]

So, we try to make things “politically correct.” We say things in hopes that we won’t offend one group of people. While at the same time, knowing that what we say can be offensive to another group. But, the problem is, as many people as there are who follow the idea that truth is relative, are the same number of possible options that exist for identities. So, it is literally impossible to have a term that is “politically correct” because what’s politically correct for you is not “politically correct” for me.

Still, we try to judge, based on the popularity of specific ideas at this point in time, what is the most true for the most people. Actually, we try to decide what is the most true for the most people who agree with what we think is true. People who disagree don’t count. People who disagree are the problem and need to be dealt with.

Here is the great crisis we face as a result of this type of severely flawed thinking:

Imagine you are the prosecutor in a case against a serial killer. We’ll call him Doug. This maniac has killed 13 people in very grotesque ways. His victims include people of all ages and genders. He did not discriminate in who he chose to kill.

You think you have a solid and easy case. There is a very high probability this guy is going to jail for life.

As you take your seat at your table, you see Doug sitting at his table.

The bailiff comes into the courtroom. He, as he always does, says: “all rise.”

But then things go drastically different.

The bailiff continues, “The honorable judge Doug is presiding.”

And Defendant Doug leaves his spot at the defendants table to go sit in the judges seat.

You are flabergasted! “What in tarnation is going on?!” You shout out across the courtroom.

Judge Doug calls for order.

“May I approach the bench, your honor” you say to Doug.

“May I ask what is going on?”

This is precisely what is taking place in our society. Don’t hear me wrong. I’m not arguing for our country to be a theocracy. I’m not arguing for Christianity to be endorsed by the government as the official religion of our country. That’s not my aim.

My point is, who decides what is truth? Who decides what is right and wrong? When we try to adjust the Moral Code that God created from His position that is external and objective, we are removing him from the Judges seat and making ourselves both judge and defendant.

If God is not the one who creates morality, which human gets to decide? And how do you get that power? Who chooses who is going to decide what the truth is going to be? And how does someone get their name on the list of potential candidates to be the truth decider? What are the qualifications that have to be met so that they qualify? Do we all get to vote on this person who will be deciding our truth?

This is a major flaw in the idea that truth is relative, that we all get to decide what is right and wrong. We don’t get to decide. We choose whether or not we are going to believe in it, but we don’t get to decide. The truth is true no regardless of our belief in it.

Why don’t we get to decide? Well, I could decide to create a moral code where I get to kill whomever I choose. And my moral code could allow me to do unthinkable things to other people. My moral code could allow me to do unthinkable things to you. And as long as I’m the one that gets to decide the truth, you just have to deal with it. Because I’m the judge and the defendant. And the case is always going to be decided in my favor.

Let me help you out, let me help us all out. Truth does not change. Truth is not voted upon. Truth is not flexible. Truth is not always easy to deal with. Truth has hard edges and boundaries. Truth is always true.

Let me help you out a little further. You are not the one who decides your identity. Your identity is not wrapped up in what you have done, what you feel, what you desire and what you think. That ought to be good news to you. Your Identity and mine is wrapped up in God’s identity. God made us in His image. Yes we are fallen and broken, but we still reflect God. Your are not defined by anything you think or do. You are defined by the creator of the universe. And that’s the truth.

Whether you agree with it or not.

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Posted on Sep 11, 2015 in Blog, Featured, Truth

What Today Isn’t

What Today Isn’t

I remember. If you were alive, you remember too. I found out about the tragedy in class. Dr. Kutz informed us all of what had gone on before we arrived in his class. We didn’t have TV, so we didn’t see the news. This was before social media, even before cell phones and texting had become prominent. News didn’t travel as fast then.

I skipped chapel and went to the basement of Aslan’s Howe and turned on the news. It was unreal.

After a couple of hours of watching, it was time for lunch. We were sitting around talking about what we couldn’t believe had happened. Multnomah is relatively close to the Portland International Airport. In the lawn where we were eating, you could usually see many planes landing and taking off. But not that day. There were no planes in the skies except for F-15’s that would go screaming across the sky from time to time.

I remember hanging flags in the back windows of my car. And I remember a patriotic parade a couple of days later in Portland. A parade of cars and individuals expressing their patriotism.

That was 14 years ago today.

A lot has happened in 14 years. There have been other horrific events. There have been other joyous occasions. 14 years is a long time. I got married and had 4 kids. I’ve worked at 5 different churches. I’ve lived in 6 different houses/apartments.

That’s a lot of water under the bridge.

My oldest is 9 years old. She wasn’t alive. She doesn’t remember. She’s in the 4th grade. There are 7th and 8th graders who don’t remember. In 4-5 years, all the students in school will have been born after 9/11.

And I’ll be honest, I’m worried. I’m worried about what our kids are going to hear and learn about this fateful day. There are theories that stray from the truth of what happened. There are crazy conspiracy theories about what this day was. And I’m worried about what my kids and others are going to believe about this day.

This day isn’t political.

This day isn’t about a conspiracy by our government against our own nation.

This day isn’t a chance to promote an agenda.

This day isn’t an opportunity to attack capitalism and our country.

This day isn’t even about war.

Unfortunately, all these things and more are what this day has become. We have defrauded the families of the victims and repurposed a day of mourning to be a day to promote our stance on something.

What is this day about? Of course it’s about the pain and suffering of those who lost loved ones. It’s about mourning their loss. It’s about the lives of the heroic police officers and firemen/women who gave their lives trying to save others. It’s about the attack of thousands of civilians who were murdered. (Yes war is awful. But this wasn’t war. It was a murderous attack.)

But, I think there’s something more this day is about too. Something that has been lost in our time. In only a few short years, it has disappeared.

I could be wrong. If I am, I mean no disrespect to the families of the victims. But today is also about unity. Our country was unified in a way we may never again experience. On that day, and the weeks and months that followed, we were like minded. We mourned with those who mourned. We wept with those who wept. We were all a part of this tragedy.

We use this phrase ‘never forget’ as we talk about this day. Did you know that phrase originated from the holocaust? How many of us truly understand the depth of the tragedy that took place on that day? We don’t know a lot of the horrific details of what occurred as places like Auschwitz.

Like the holocaust, we face the same danger of forgetting this day. Our kids won’t know unless we tell them. If we don’t tell them, we run the risk of them believing whatever cockamamie conspiracy most suites their fancy. But, if we tell them…if we remind them…if we remember, we do the best service we can offer to those who were lost.

Especially as so many seek to use this day for their own agendas and purposes. If we remember the pain and horror of this day, we honor those who were lost. We dishonor them by allowing conspiracies and agendas to cloud this day. We dishonor them by taking this day and using it for our own gain. But, if we remember what happened, if we mourn with those who mourn, if we remember what actually and really happened on this day, we honor those who were lost.

Do you remember?

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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 Jun 17, 2015 in Apologetics, Blog, Culture, Featured, Grace, Intentional Living, repost, Truth

Forcible Diversions: A 6 Step Response To The Issues Of Our Day

Forcible Diversions: A 6 Step Response To The Issues Of Our Day

Recently, I found myself in a conversation with someone about one of the hottest topics of today. I don’t want to get into what it was or the details of the debate. I have no desire to belittle someone who is struggling with any of these issues we hear of. I felt as though I was being forced into a debate I didn’t want to have. Especially in this case. Fortunately it was lunch time, so I had an escape hatch. But, as I was in the conversation and for days afterward, I found myself wondering how can I share the gospel with the person whey they so clearly believe I am wrong for believing the Bible on issues of morality. Here is my response on how we ought to respond. It’s long, but hopefully worthwhile.

Let be begin with some background.

We are passionate about the gospel at our church. We believe in it’s work and that it is the one thing we would love for everyone we come in contact with to experience. All of our efforts as a church are designed to lead people to it. We spend a great deal of time training our people to live it out and share with the people in their sphere of influence. This is the main thing for us. The gospel, the good news is that Jesus’ atoning sacrifice on the cross and resurrection from the dead sets us free from the punishment of our sins and gives us an inheritance as a child of God in the Kingdom of God.

Problem #1

I have talked in the past of the struggle we face in our culture today due to the justification of sin. So many issues that we would classify as sin have become justifiable rights. The challenge is, if we no longer sin, why do we need grace? So our first problem is, the moral boundaries are being pushed further and further out. The road is getting wider and wider – so to speak.

Problem #2

I have also heard it said that you can’t legislate morality. Which I don’t necessarily agree with. But, let’s say that’s true – that you can’t legislate morality. What appears to be happening now is that we are trying to legislate a guilt-free society. A society where we can do whatever we want and we don’t have to feel guilty about it. So, we make more laws (or do away with existing ones) that make it legal to do or be whatever we want in the hope of not having to feel guilty about whatever it is.

If the cross is supposed to put us in a right standing with God (atonement), there has to be something that put us in a wrong standing with God. Right?

Problem #3

We have also talked, at length, about truth. There is such a thing as absolute truth. Truth is not relative. The fact that you may or may not believe in something does not make it true/untrue. It’s true whether you believe in it or not. 2 + 2 = 4. Always. You may choose to believe that 2 + 2 = cat, but that does not make you right.

So, we have justified sin, legislated out guilt and rid ourselves of the idea of truth.

That makes it a challenge to share the gospel with people. It’s hard to tell people they need grace when it would appear we have done everything we can to erase the need for any kind of externally received grace. We, in essence, have become our own savior.

Forcible Diversions

So then, how are Christ-followers supposed to respond when issues of morality are forced upon the church?

Let me explain. For me, grace is the most important issue. All the other sin-issues are secondary. We all sin. We all have sin issues. That’s the problem. The solution to that problem is grace. So, the primary issue is grace. To be honest, I don’t care what your sin issue is. We all have sin in our lives that requires grace. The more important thing is grace.

So, how are we to respond when sin issues triumph and are touted as a primary right?

One more clarification. You might be surprised to hear me say this, but you do have the right to do whatever you choose. You can be as nasty of a person as you want to be. God gave you a free will, and you are free to exercise that free will however you choose. But, as you have probably read, “You are free to choose, but you are not free from the consequence of your choice.” You may choose to be as evil as you wish, but you are not free from the consequence of that choice.

Our culture is working really hard to remove the consequences of our bad decisions.

So, you are free to live however you wish. And yes, you can even say you have the right to be whoever you want to be and do whatever you want to do.

But, what you may not do is require truth to change to alleviate the guilt you feel or the consequences you encounter as a result of your choosing.

This is where some veins of the church are getting into trouble. They are allowing the pressure of an unbelieving world to affect the truth that we have believed and been guided by for Millenia. People can live however they please. But, the church is not under any kind of obligation to acquiesce to the demands of society to alleviate the consequences of that choice.

How do we respond? 

The temptation is strong to want to get into a verbal exchange about how we are right and they are wrong. While I believe we need to know what we believe and be able to give a defense of our beliefs – the majority of people aren’t brought to grace in this way. Honestly, I wish they were. Because the logic of scripture is infallible, it would be much easier to just argue the truth of our faith with those who don’t believe. But, that’s just not the case most of the time. In fact, when you find yourself in a conversation that has been forced on you, you will realize that truth has no place in the argument. Trust me. I have been in these conversations. Logic doesn’t matter.

So, how should we respond?

Let me first say, I don’t think it does us a lot of good to get into debate that is devoid of relationship. Instead, I think we should get to know someone and build trust with them. Does that make the dialog harder? I guess it can. But, remember the ultimate truth is that they are ultimately lost if we don’t. We want to set ourselves up for the best chance to have the most important conversation. We don’t want to put more up more road blocks.

So, this is how I think we should respond.

1. We love people unconditionally. 

No matter how repulsive their behavior is, we still love unconditionally. Of course, we don’t want to put ourselves into unnecessary danger. But, we have to be in the mess if we are going to be used by God to redeem people out of it. Your hands will get dirty. You may suffer some scars and bruises. But, everyone is made in God’s image. Regardless of their beliefs or actions, they still deserve to be treated with dignity and respect because of whose image they resemble.

2. We follow the truth unswervingly. 

As difficult as it is becoming, we still cannot neglect the truth. When we are pushed to condone a behavior, we simply cannot. It sounds intolerant. You will be called intolerant. You will be called a bigot. Get used to it. How can we condone a behavior when someone doesn’t believe and then condemn it once they do? Do they have the right to do whatever they want? Yes. Does that make what they are doing right? No. We believe that following God’s design for humanity is what brings about human flourishing. If we live by it, we find a better way of life. When we live against it, we struggle. If we compromise on that truth, we are not living by God’s design.

3. We live out the gospel universally.

We cannot have any area of our lives where we aren’t living out the gospel. No, we don’t have to be little holiness machines, running around trying to scrub the earth of any form of ungodliness. But, we have to be consistent in all facets. You never know when someone will encounter you in a different arena than they normally do. You need to be the light, even if you don’t think anyone is watching. Every chance you get, be the light. Do good deeds so that people will see God through you. Live out Micah 6:8 in all areas of your life.

4. We share personally. 

While it may be difficult to tell another person they are sinning, it’s not difficult at all to point to the sin in your life and how you have been forgiven. Don’t focus on trying to make the other person feel guilty for what they are doing. Instead, speak of your own life. Speak of how the price you had to pay for your wrongdoing was paid by Jesus. And how amazed you are by grace.

5. We pray incessantly.

Pray for those you encounter without ceasing. Pray for them in your head while you’re speaking with them. Pray for them as you’re walking away. Pray as often as you can. Pray that God will send His Spirit to open the eyes of their mind and heart to His truth. Pray and expect that God will not only do it, but that He will give you opportunities to share with them.


6. We  invite them to receive freely. 

Invite them into the Kingdom of God. The door is open for all who choose to walk through it. It’s not our job to decide who can come in and who can’t. It’s our job to invite freely. Instead of condemning their lifestyle, invite them into something they can’t experience on their own. Don’t try to get them to your side of the argument. Instead, show them what they’re missing out on. Then, maybe they might be drawn into the Kingdom and be willing to lay everything outside the gates.

Perhaps we’ve been focused for too long on trying to convince people that they are evil instead of trying to show people the joy and goodness that awaits us all in the Kingdom of our Creator. The next time you find yourself in a conversation where someone is trying to force you to condone a behavior the bible says is wrong, remember that you too once stood on that side of the argument. It is only by grace that you stand on the other side now. It will only be by grace that they come stand with you. Focus on inviting people into something instead of on what’s keeping them out.

Life the life. Don’t compromise. Invite people in.

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