Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Lipstick on Sin

There is a phrase used in common Western conversation that makes reference to putting “lipstick on a pig.” This phrase is used to convey the message that making superficial or cosmetic changes is a futile attempt to disguise the true nature of a bad product or a bad idea. In other words, you take an idea or a product that is horrible and you try to disguise it as something better than it is by putting lipstick on it. This is very common in advertising and politics. And, it is becoming very common in the Church today - where it should never be common at all.

There are many in the Church today who have adopted a view regarding certain, if not many, sins that is entirely a human view. They have hypocritically called “hatred” that which is not hatred. And, they have glorified as “love” that which is not love. In doing so, who are the true hypocrites? The implied criticism of this post in no way excuses self-righteousness either. Self-righteousness is sin just like beautifying sin is also a sin. Two wrongs don’t make a right. But, at the same time, a Christian adopting a view as his own that disagrees with God’s view is the exact opposite of being crucified with Christ.

Sin is defined by God and God alone. And, God defines it as repugnant rebellion in no uncertain terms. Who is man, especially a “Christian”, to say otherwise? To be a Christian means that we surrender all definitions to the only One who has the right to create every definition. The last thing that we are to adopt is a human definition over God’s.

You might be reading this and thinking, “I see sin as sin the way God does, but I also love the sinner.” That is beautiful – It truly is, because that is precisely what God does for you and me. But, do your actions back up your words. To defend a sin, glorify a sin, excuse a sin, all in the name of love is the moral equivalent of deceptively putting lipstick on a pig. It is just another form of rebellion against God. Since God is love, and He therefore defines love, it is the exact opposite of love to beautify actions which He calls ugly. Further, it is the exact opposite of love to not help people see sin the way God does because we are supposed to reconcile men to God. Blurring others’ view of their own sin by masking it with counterfeit love does not lead to reconciliation with the Author of love. Reconciliation requires knowing fully where you stand with God. If I am deluded by “Christians” to think my sin is in any way beautiful, I would have no clue where I stand, because God disagrees with my opinion of my GPS coordinates. In order to be reconciled to God, we must know where we are located first. Leading others astray with lipstick will not lead them to God’s all-forgiving grace, mercy and love.

Likewise, we as Christians should also not vault one sin as better or worse than another. Sin is sin. Every sin that God has defined for us is repugnant and ugly. We are just as guilty of putting lipstick on the pig if we think our sin is not as bad as the next person’s. Yes, if you are reading this, your sin is just as bad as the next person’s. Romans 3:23 says, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” That is pretty clear, don’t you think? When God says “all” He means it.

Furthermore, if you want to have a complete picture of how God views sin, you need to also study and understand the Old Testament, which is where He began defining it. However, I hear many Christians criticize the Old Testament as not very helpful in a post-cross Kingdom mentality. I believe God would beg to differ. Ironically, if you were to ask Christians which is the least helpful book in the Bible, probably the vast majority would put Leviticus near or at the top of their list. Therefore, let's take the challenge to show how Leviticus can in fact be useful in this discussion.

The book of Leviticus outlines God’s law and all of the basic instructions for His Hebrews concerning the administration of the Temple, priests and all of the sacrifices, etc. For those reasons alone, you might be disregarding it as irrelevant to you today. However, whenever God speaks it is relevant. And, when God speaks, He reveals truth. For example, in relation to this discussion of beautifying sin, Leviticus 5:11 says regarding a poor man’s sin offering, “But if he cannot afford two turtledoves or two pigeons, then he shall bring as his offering for the sin that he has committed a tenth of an ephah of fine flour for a sin offering. He shall put no oil on it and shall put no frankincense on it, for it is a sin offering.” Notice the closing requirement. If a poor man brings a sin offering of flour, he is not to put oil or frankincense on it. You might have read that before and not focused on this revealing truth. But, this is vitally important. The sin offering was for sin. Therefore, it was not to be made nice or pretty in any way. Adding oil or frankincense (perfume/seasoning) would make the sin offering nicer or more aromatic. But, sin is the pig and oil and frankincense would be the lipstick.

Is there any sin on which you put lipstick? Stop and let sin be sin – and let God be God!

You can purchase the book "Reason If You Will - How To Answer Questions Regarding Faith" by clicking HERE. You can also follow @ReasonIfYouWill on Twitter.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Are You Willing To Die?

A few days ago, yet another video was published of members of ISIS beheading 21 Coptic Christians in Egypt. These are the continuing blossoms of the “Arab Spring” and other unwise political decisions. And, the worst is probably yet to come. Before we share some thoughts regarding what all this means to you, we pause to celebrate these Christians. As I see the photos sprawled across the media airwaves, I am filled with sadness mixed with breathless inspiration. These 21 brothers were true martyrs. They paid the ultimate price. Our prayers go out to these families that God’s Holy Spirit would heal and comfort as only He can. We pray also that this example will inspire the faith of all Christian brothers and sisters throughout the world today because the Bible warned us of more of the same before Jesus returns. Growth in inspiration will likely become more necessary in the tragic days to come.

We can say with reasonable certainty that there is more to come as Revelation 20:4 says, “Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.” It is probably not a stretch to suggest that what the Apostle John was seeing in his vision was precisely what we are watching today. Yes, beheading was nothing new as even John the Baptist was beheaded. But, the style of killing Christians during John's day was crucifixion, not beheading. If this is fulfillment of yet another prophecy, it serves as even more proof of the Bible's divine inspiration. 

Also, with regards to prophecy in the Bible’s final book, remember that Revelation (specifically chapter 17) refers to the “whore of Babylon” and her “harlot.” And, Babylon is modern day Iraq from which ISIS currently emanates. Further, many believe that the Whore’s “harlot” in Chapter 17 is the church – more specifically the false church. Does it make anyone wonder why the Vatican is reaching out to Islam and even inviting Muslims to pray to Allah in her Cathedrals? I am typically hesitant to interpret prophecy, but if the church embraces to any degree the notion of Allah as God, she is worse than a whore in the eyes of the one true God.

These events should cause every Christian to ask and answer some pretty serious questions. For example, are you willing to die for what you believe about Jesus? Are you willing to die for the One who died for you? Are you willing to lose your life to gain everything? You might be answering these questions with affirmative resolution, while admitting that you don’t look forward to such an outcome. That is only human. In fact, Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane modeled for us the candor in which our flesh can reasonably cry out. But, we must also prepare ourselves, as Jesus did, to surrender to our Father’s will. And, after all, Jesus deserves no less from us. It is okay to wish for a less painful outcome while surrendering to whatever our Father demands.

But, for those who find themselves wondering if they can follow through with it at all; for those who ponder the notion with a pang of retreating fear; for those who see this as a distant possibility; haven’t you missed the point? Jesus called us to take up our cross daily, not just one point in time in the fuzzy future. This concept should not be distant to us. In Luke 9:23-26 Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.” In that passage (and others) Jesus called us to lose our lives now/today/daily. We are already supposed to be crucified with Christ. Galatians 2:20 says, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Does the fact that these realities of martyrdom seem distant to you suggest that you are clinging to something that needs to be crucified?

True followers of Christ are crucified with Him. And, all that remains for us is the physical portal that leads to our true and better eternal lives. Yes, that portal will likely be accompanied by pain. But, that pain is temporary. And, what lies beyond is Jesus. The thought of seeing Jesus face-to-face; the thought of embracing the one who took my place; the thought of feeling the warmth of His embrace, is worth any measure of temporary pain that the enemy might throw our way.

How perfect is it that the ISIS murderers referred to our martyred brothers as “People of the cross?” Would you refer to yourself as a “person of the cross?” Or, is the cross something that you either shun or wish to avoid? The time is at hand to stand and be counted. Are you standing? Are you willing to die for Jesus? Or are you only willing to die for you?

You can purchase the book "Reason If You Will - How To Answer Questions Regarding Faith" by clicking HERE. You can also follow @ReasonIfYouWill on Twitter.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Science Has Discovered God!

For years secular-bent scientists have declared the unchallenged notion that science suggests that there is no God. They have further claimed that there is no evidence for the notion of God - or at least that this notion can't be tested inside the confines of the Scientific Method. While, that is true to a reasonable extent, is it true that science suggests that there is no God? Is that really true? What if science has in fact discovered God? And, what if scientists have decided to hide the fact that they did? If they hide such a fact, what does that suggest? Regardless, if science has in fact discovered God, how would that inspire your faith?

For much of this post, I have gleaned from the work of Dr. Gerald Schroeder. Schroeder holds Doctorate degrees in both Physics and Earth Sciences with over 30 years of research and teaching experience. He earned his Bacherlor's, Master's and Doctorate degrees at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He later moved to the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel and thereafter joined the Volcani Research Institute (in addition to running a research laboratory at The Hebrew University).

Based upon Schroeder's work, the true irony/scandal is that science has in fact discovered God - have I caught your attention? Allow me to show you. Using an internet search engine, if you type in "WMAP," which are the initials for a satellite, you will find a diagram labeled "History of the Universe" (you can also click HERE). This diagram shows the development of the universe from its beginning (creation) to now. This is a timeline depicting what we have collectively discovered regarding the history of the universe. Every word on that diagram comes from the NASA site. This diagram is the condensed knowledge of the scientific community of how the universe began (was created) and how it got to where we are today. Each of the vertical lines in the diagram represent a billion years (we can debate the measure these time intervals - but that is a separate topic for another day).

The diagram starts at the extreme left with a burst of energy/light (the big bang) and proceeds to the right end of the diagram which is an expanding oval that indicates that the universe is expanding in all directions. But, with regards to the extreme left edge of the diagram, this depicts the near unanimous view that the universe in fact had a beginning. Ironically, approximately 50 years ago, the prevailing majority of scientists claimed that the universe was eternal with no "beginning" per se. And, for the past 50 years these majority of scientists used this declaration of the alleged universe's eternality to attack the Bible as being scientifically false from the very first sentence ("In the beginning"). However, science has definitely now concluded that the universe did in fact have a beginning. And, this conclusion probably has near zero opposition today.

To support these claims the scientists of Bell Labs years ago discovered the "echo" of the big bang (or the energy left over from this massive explosion). These scientists were operating under prior hypotheses that the universe began with a single and spectacular explosion. So, they set out to find the remnant energy from such a universe-sized "bang." And that is precisely what they found. And, literally overnight, without fanfare, the Bible was found to be correct as it always is. Science absolutely supports the Bible's assertion that the Earth had a beginning as first recorded by Moses so many centuries ago.

With that, let's return to the diagram to see what else Science has supported in the Bible. The black that surrounds the diagram is nothing. This blackness literally represents the nothingness that surrounds the universe. This is not a vacuum since vacuums exist inside the diagram and not outside. In fact vacuums are empty space - and space is something (not nothing). The nothingness that surrounds the diagram represents literally nothing (in every sense of the word). This nothingness does not fit in the human brain because we tend to think in a box confined to time, space and matter/energy. No human, no matter how intelligent, is capable of thinking outside of that box. We are entirely incapable of totally conceiving the concept of nothingness or nothing. We can fool ourselves into thinking that we have. But, this self-fooling can only be delusional. Any concept that we can come up with of nothingness always has an element of something to it. The fact that science has discovered that the universe is surrounded by nothing is crucially important.

How is all of this reflect the scientific discovery of God? Notice at the far left of the diagram at what is labeled as the cause (or creator) of this big bang. The cause or creation of the big bang is credited to "Quantum Fluctuations." In other words, the universe allows for the creation of something from nothing provided that you have the laws of nature. But, let's pause there and examine these claims. First, the laws of nature are something and not nothing. Therefore, we are still stuck with the unanswered question of what caused the laws of nature to exist? But, with regards to the central claim, over 40 years ago, Drs. Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson were published in the Journal of Nature revealing the scientific support for the universe allowing for the creation of something from nothing provided that you have the laws of nature (quantum physics, relativity, etc.). And, where else have you heard this concept of creating the universe from nothing? Again, this is declared by the Bible. Hebrews 11:3 says, "By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God's command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible." The Bible made a bold declaration that the universe was created "ex nihilo" or from nothing as recorded by the author of Hebrews in the First Century A.D. And, for decades, some of these same scientists decried this Bible reference as foolish. Now, they embrace the concept, but only for their own ends. In spite of the Bible again proclaiming truth that took science thousands of years to prove, the human author of Hebrews (and God) is never given credit, while the Bible continues to be attacked. But, who is the bad actor, the Bible or those hiding its proof?

And, that is not where the scientific discovery of God ends. With all of that said, let's now summarize what science has actually discovered - the universe can be created from absolutely nothing provided we have the forces/laws of nature. Keep in mind that the laws of nature are not physical. Rather, they act on the physical. Therefore, if they created the universe, that means that these laws pre-date or existed before the universe. Therefore, science has agreed that the creator of the universe is the laws of nature. And, these laws of nature have the following characteristics: 1) They are not physical, 2) They act on the physical, 3) They created the physical from nothing, and 4) They predate the universe, which means that they predate our understanding of time. Put that all together and it sounds very familiar doesn't it? That is in fact entirely consistent with the Biblical definition of God. God is not physical but acts on the physical. God created the universe from nothing and predates time (in fact God is not bound by time). Science has discovered God and refuses to admit it.

God does exist and science supports this notion. And, regardless of your beliefs, this same God is active in your life today. After all...if God didn't cultivate this moment in time, would you be here reading this? That means that this same scientifically-supported God that is eternal and created the universe from nothing is active in your life today. All you need to do is join science in embracing this scientific truth - except as you do, do so by His true name. That name is Jesus!

You can purchase the book "Reason If You Will - How To Answer Questions Regarding Faith" by clicking HERE. You can also follow @ReasonIfYouWill on Twitter. 

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

If You Truly Want To Fight…

In almost every example, wars are only won when one side conquers the power source or nucleus of the other. While the front line battles help to stop the advance of the other party, the war is only won by killing the source. Therefore, those intent on winning must have a strategy that targets the nucleus of its enemy. Otherwise, our energy is wasted on fringe battles while losing sight of the war at large. This same dynamic is currently at play in America between those who seek to fight the individual moral battles of our day on the battle lines that are drawn, while ignoring the power source that lies beyond the battle lines. If you truly want to win the war, you can’t be content with winning an individual struggle while the main enemy remains intact. After all, that is only a temporary victory because the strength that your enemy lost can easily be regained.

Law in human society is “a system of rules that are enforced through social institutions to govern behavior.” From this definition, laws are meant to govern morality not redefine it. Laws are only meant to prevent people from doing that which the majority deems immoral and worthy of imposition of law. The notion of laws is not meant to prohibit trivial freedoms that the majority do not see as immoral. Therefore, what does it suggest when the behaviors that social institutions govern are morally trivial? What if laws are passed to govern a behavior based upon assumptions of morality for which there is no consensus of the governed? What does it suggest when politicians and lobbyists attempt to force their assumptions without consensus? What does it suggest when the minority seeks to force the majority from freely doing things that only the minority deem immoral? It more than suggests an oppressive Government that acts against the will of the Governed.

By the way, the broader answers to all of the above questions should be obvious. When we allow our Federal Government to write laws that redefine morality in terms that the governed do not consent to, the few who are forcing such laws become the rulers, and not the law itself. Then the law becomes a tool of the few to subject the many under the oppression of immorality. For example, should my “carbon footprint” be regulated? Is my carbon footprint immoral? Is man-made climate apocalypse true? Even if it is, should the Federal Government be delegated authority to restrict our freedoms to drive certain cars, recycle a certain way, and steal our alternative forms of energy? Are we willingly surrendering our God-given authority over the earth and our individual decisions to the god of the “secular elite” and their unsupported faith deceptively labeled as science? How is it more immoral for me to drive an SUV than it is to sanction the killing of 50 million unborn children? Has mankind lost its mind? When will the governed begin to govern again? When will we return to the rule of law? Will we really allow a few corrupt and fallen humans to rule us against our will? Or should the consensus of the governed authorizing the passage of law consistent with our Constitution be our guide? When will it be too late?

Now that our nation has almost entirely turned its back on God on the vast majority of social issues; now that we have turned over the definition of morality to perversion; now that we have submitted our morality to the glorification of murder, sexual debauchery, and generational theft; maybe now is the time to stop fighting those wars and instead dismantle their power source – Government itself. Maybe America needs a spiritual awakening and a return to the rule of the “States and the People.” Maybe now is the time to remove the cancerous tumor of Federal Government and the disgraceful centralization of corrupt power of man.

For the Christian, whether this happens or not, eventually it all ends in the same outcome: “Every knee shall bow!” We know how this story ends no matter which road we take. However, by continuing to fight for that which is beyond lost, are we distracted from fighting something that is much more hideous and at the nucleus or power center of what we fuels the fight in the first place? What gives the secular elite the power to do what they do is the power of the centralized Federal Government. Maybe instead of fighting the individual battles that this monster’s tentacles carelessly rage, we should start killing the monster. After all, without the Federal Government and all of its unconstitutional power, we can more effectively wage a more effective war over our culture and the souls within it. And, the fight to dethrone this beast is moral. After all, at the point of guns, she takes our taxes and forces us to pay for the killing of unborn children. I say, “Off with her head!”

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t prescribe fighting a culture war over the war for souls. God's Kingdom is first priority. However, we as responsible Christians will exercise our stewardship over voting and reasonable political engagement. As we do, we should not let politics consume or distract us. However, as we do, we should also do so morally. The Democrat party and the Republican party are the same in this – they are both entirely corrupt. And, regardless of what either party claims, Jesus is neither Democrat nor Republican. Jesus is a King who presides over a Monarchy. And, in America increasingly the largest force that stands between God and lost souls is an overpowered Federal Government that seeks to persecute Christians, silence the Bible, regulate the Church, punish thoughts, and ultimately distort Christian evangelism into hate speech.

While I am undeterred from open passion for Jesus Christ regardless of Government threat, my vote and my political engagement will either consent to it or not. Are Christians actively consenting to Government perversion without realizing it? Are we fighting for political parties without realizing that they both oppose God? Are we continuing to plow energy into lost fights when that energy can be better spent in slaying the giant? If you truly stand for “power to the people” then you need to start voting like it. You need to start speaking like it. And, you need to more passionately start loving like it.

Genesis 1:26-28 says, “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’” Christian, when will you realize your God-given authority over your God-given dominion?

In conclusion, the power of God is the Gospel (Romans 1:16). And, the power of God’s people is in the advancement of that Gospel. This is our calling. As we answer the call, let’s be truly aware of what it means to be a good steward of our Government (i.e. our dominion). After all, you may be sharing the Gospel while you vote against it. Stewardship of this earth will not take the form of managing our carbon footprints. True stewardship of the earth can only take the form of keeping our Government in check with God’s authority, humbly ruling over our dominion without domineering, and fostering the freedom of man as God did “In the beginning.” Are you for freedom or do you stand against it? By the way, God is for it, so choose wisely. 

You can purchase the book "Reason If You Will - How To Answer Questions Regarding Faith" by clicking HERE. You can also follow @ReasonIfYouWill on Twitter.