Saturday, June 27, 2015

Christian Bums, Wake Up!

Christian Bums, Wake Up!

The Christian Church in America has gotten drunk on the offerings of this world, intoxicated with pleasure, comfort, and position.  Even in things done in the name of evangelism and outreach, this can be seen.  Christians must awaken from this drunken stupor, clean the vomit off their faces, drink a cup of strong black coffee, and deal with what's happening in the world, first, in your own families, and then in your churches.  

Are you really making disciples of Jesus Christ?  Are you teaching your children and churches to Think like Christ, to Believe like Christ, to Pray like Christ, and to Behave like Christ? 

Christians, we have passed the crossroad, and are now speeding down a one-way street toward America's demise.  To change course now, we can only pray for a miraculous turnaround, a divine u-turn, a revival, an awakening, etc.  And even if God were to grant such a blessing, what would we do with it?  

What was the aftermath of revivals and awakenings of the past?  How long did the societal change really last.  All the bars and prostitutes came back, Jonathan Edwards was fired from his church, and American society and culture swirled one more revolution down the toilet.  

Most of us have two arms and two hands.  With one, we must do our best to reach the enemies of God with the gospel of Jesus Christ, and with the other, we must protect God's sheep.  

The enemy is on the rise, the camp is being surrounded.  What will you do now?  

This urgency affects my preaching, teaching, my conversations with family and friends, the way I think about the future, etc.  

It may be unpleasant to think about, and it is certainly unpopular, but it's reality, and so far, fantasy has never set anyone free, so wake up, and go to work.  

Friday, June 19, 2015

Compassion For The Reprobate?

Compassion For The Reprobate?

Not because they don't know better
Not because they are victims themselves
Not because they had no choices
Not because society dealt them a bad hand
Not because they have issues we can never understand

Each and every person is responsible for their own sin.  Primary, is the sin of not believing in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, and this is true whether they understand it as sin or not.  

We can have compassion for the reprobate, because as human beings we all have great intrinsic and eternal value, and as some among us make decisions which lead to total destruction, they are destroyed, and it's a pitiful thing they have done to themselves, it's pitiful what they have done with the image of God, and His gift of life.  

If they only did things God's way, if they only called out to the Lord in faith. repentance, and obedience.  If they only chose light over darkness, they would not be where they are, they would not do the things they do, living in the depravity they so much enjoy.

Who could take pleasure, seeing a homeless child eating out of a dumpster, and enjoying it as if she was in paradise.    This is what it's like when one of Gods highest creation, mankind, chooses the filth if sin, over Gods righteous.  

Human beings are worth so much more than that, and for this, we can have compassion in those who reject it.  

This, I believe, is the way God loves the sinner, with pitiful sadness, saying, "it could have been so much better, you could've had so much more, if you would've only trusted me."

What About Forgiveness?

What About Forgiveness?

Forgiveness is often misunderstood by Christians.  

It is commanded by Christ, and is therefore, not only possible, but is also necessary.  Forgiveness does not mean, a restoration of relationship, or going back to the way things were before, nor does it mean forgetting, and/or pretending nothing ever happened.  In other words, where wisdom and godly discernment require a relational separation, or protection from further abuse, forgiveness is not equivalent to stupidity, forgiveness does not mean, blind to reality.  But with the exception of criminal abuse, forgiveness, typically, will allow the offender the ability to re-establish trust.  Forgiveness recognizes the truth of the offense, but turns it over to God.  Forgiveness is understanding, and agreeing with God, that the debt owed me, is actually owed to God.   The offense/sin committed against me was really committed against God.  So, we forgive a person, not necessarily because of our love for that person, but out of our acknowledgement of the great extend of which we have been forgiven, and out of our love for God.

Forgiveness is not turning your enemies into friends.  We are to love our enemies, we are to forgive them, and yet, they may still may be enemies.  It must also be noted, that the refusal to forgive leads to torment and unforgiveness by God (Mt 18:21-35).

A major consequence of unforgiveness, is that it can lead to hatred, and there is a serious spiritual conflict for the Christian who harbors hatred.  John said, "Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling.  But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes" (1John 2:9-11).  

In looking at the response of the forgiven servant in Matt 18:28 - we can see a man who is walking in darkness, a man who has been blinded, and does not know where he is going.  After being released from such a great debt, instead of choking the fellow servant, he should have forgiven him.  He should have said, "You know that 100 denarii you owe me?  You now owe it to the king, you owe me nothing!"  This is forgiveness.  One step further, would be to have a response like that of Christ, "Father forgive them, because they think what they have done is right."  

Are we afraid to forgive?

We may fear that if we forgive from our heart, we are empowering the offenders, and allowing ourselves to be vulnerable once again.  This should not be the concern of the Christian.  As Christians, we should never be afraid to obey God.  God can be trusted with these offenses, He can be trusted with these offenders. 

If I forgive, what about justice?

   “A Psalm of Asaph. Truly God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart. But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled, my steps had nearly slipped. For I was envious of the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. For they have no pangs until death; their bodies are fat and sleek. They are not in trouble as others are; they are not stricken like the rest of mankind. Therefore pride is their necklace; violence covers them as a garment. Their eyes swell out through fatness; their hearts overflow with follies. They scoff and speak with malice; loftily they threaten oppression. They set their mouths against the heavens, and their tongue struts through the earth. Therefore his people turn back to them, and find no fault in them. And they say, “How can God know? Is there knowledge in the Most High?” Behold, these are the wicked; always at ease, they increase in riches. All in vain have I kept my heart clean and washed my hands in innocence. For all the day long I have been stricken and rebuked every morning. If I had said, “I will speak thus,” I would have betrayed the generation of your children. But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task, until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end. Truly you set them in slippery places; you make them fall to ruin. How they are destroyed in a moment, swept away utterly by terrors! Like a dream when one awakes, O Lord, when you rouse yourself, you despise them as phantoms. When my soul was embittered, when I was pricked in heart, I was brutish and ignorant; I was like a beast toward you. Nevertheless, I am continually with you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. For behold, those who are far from you shall perish; you put an end to everyone who is unfaithful to you. But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all your works.” (Psalm 73:title–28, ESV) 

The bottom line, is that God will take care of those who sin against us, because, "Truly God is good!"  

Though wicked offenders seem to get away with continuing to hurt people, and it seems as though they will never receive justice, regarding the wicked, the psalmist says to God,  "Truly you set them in slippery places; you make them fall to ruin. How they are destroyed in a moment, swept away utterly by terrors! Like a dream when one awakes, O Lord, when you rouse yourself, you despise them as phantoms.... For behold, those who are far from you shall perish; you put an end to everyone who is unfaithful to you."  

God can be trusted to administer justice, and as we forgive those who sin against us, we leave the offender in the hands of God.  It should be understood that the prosperity of the wicked is, at most, temporary, for their Day of reckoning is at hand.

In most cases, forgiveness does not eliminate the hurt or any other consequence of the offense, but forgiveness does give God room for providing healing, comfort, and spiritual growth.

We forgive out of obedience, out of love for God, and out of faith.  "But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all your works.