Christianity

What I Learned This Year (but I could be wrong)

Image result for what i learned today People should probably applaud me for having posted virtually nothing during this whole election year.  There was so much I wanted to say, but knew it just wouldn’t be helpful.  This blog was never intended to be politically focused, though anyone who tells you that a Christian needs to keep faith and politics separate is only out to keep you silent.  There is no aspect of your life that God should not touch. 

Before I go much further I want to make two things very clear —

First, I believe that deeply faithful followers of Jesus Christ have made choices in their votes that they profoundly believed ware the only choice they could make considering the alternative.

Secondly, I did vote in this past election.  I did not vote for either of the top Presidential candidates.  I wrote in a vote.  And the reason I did not choose either of these candidates is the reason for this posting.  I realize many will disagree with me, but I this is MY deeply held belief and I wish to share it.  Image result for vote As a Christian there was no way I would vote for Mrs. Clinton or any other democrat candidate for that matter.  I would have to compromise my faith to vote for a party who’s platform supports abortion on demand, helps to promote the gay agenda, seeks to squash faith in the public square, suppresses free speech when it doesn’t agree, and believes its absolutely just to take the wealth earned by others and give it to those who have less even though it does not raise the standard of living for those on the receiving end. One cannot force another to “give” – giving is a matter of the heart.

However, as a Christian, there was no way I could vote for Mr. Trump either.  Though I may agree with SOME of his political platforms, his moral character leads me to believe he is a man who will do and say whatever he must to achieve his objective.  While he may fulfill many of his campaign promises I’m sure his supporters will be equally as disappointed in the ones he changes his mind on.  While that’s par for the course for most politicians, it was his history of name calling, bragging about his sexual exploits, that he did not believe that he had done anything to ask for forgiveness for, and that he has held opposing opinions on fundamental things like abortion and personal property rights that were the proverbial “nails in the coffin” for me.  As much as I opposed Mrs. Clinton, I could not hold my nose and pull the lever for Mr. Trump either.

But this is not even a blog about the candidateImage result for the lesser of two evilss per se.  It’s about the response of many Christians to the choices they were presented with.  It was the astounding willingness to accept the “lesser of two evils” as a viable choice.  Conservative Christians were in a panic over the thought that the election of a democrat for four more years could mean the economic collapse of the nation and the loss of liberties for those who hold to the sanctity and reliability of Scripture.

Let me insert here that I love my country. I served in the US Army in West Berlin, West Germany during the Cold War.  I was there when there was still a Wall.  I have seen first hand what a socialist society looks like.  Barb wire did not surround West Berlin to keep West Berliners out of East Germany, but to keep East Germans from escaping into West Berlin.  Governments who serve and protect their people do not need to worry that their citizens should want to flee.

Duty in West Berlin was considered hazardous because it was understood that, should the Russians begin an assault on the NATO countries there would have been no way for the men and women serving in this sector of the world to be evacuated to safety in West Germany.  We would have been lucky to get the civilian dependents out of harms way.  So we were very aware that our fate was to die or be captured.  It was not a thrilling prospect, but we knew our mission was important to the ultimate safety and security of our Nation.

Having said that, while I love my country, my ultimate allegiance is to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  When the good of the country comes into conflict with the standards and teachings of my Christian faith, as laid out in Scripture, then I must acquiesce to Scripture.  My Home is not here.  My confidence is not in either political party.  My ultimate freedom is in Jesus Christ, regardless of whether my country allows me to exercise personal freedom.

1 Corinthians 7:29-31 says, “What I mean, brothers, is that the time is short.  From now on those who have wives should live as if they had none; those who mourn, as if they did not; those who are happy, as if they were not; those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep; those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them.  For this world in its present form is passing away.” (NIV)

1 John 2:15-17 also states, “Do not love the world or anything in the world.  If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  For everything in the world — the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does — comes not from the Father but from the world.  The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.” (NIV)

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I believe in the sovereignty of God.  I believe He sets those in power whom He chooses according to His purposes; whether for good or ill.  But my concern should not be whether I make sure God is able to get the right person into power by use of my vote, but whether I am living my life and exercising my rights as an American in a way that glorifies Him.

Pastor John Piper, chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary in Minneapolis, Minnesota, stated it much more eloquently, and I believe prophetically, than I ever could.  He said, “We vote, if we vote, because the Lord of our homeland commissions us to vote.  And He does not absolutize this act above all other considerations of Christian witness.  In this election, with the flagrant wickedness of both party candidates the logic that moves from ‘Be subject, for the Lord’s sake, to every human institution’ to the binding obligation always to vote is blind to three things.
Number one, that logic is blind to the radical meaning of ‘for the Lord’s sake.’ and how it relativizes all human authority and brings to bear many, many other considerations.
Number two, the radical freedom of the children of God from inherent authority of human processes and governments and institutions.
And number three, it is blind to the aim of every citizen of Heaven, in all their human engagements, to display our allegiance to the values of another world.”

Conservative Christians had every right to “fear” the possibility of a Clinton win and what that would mean to their right to openly practice their faith.  There was every reason to be concerned about further progressive policies and the already teetering state of the American economy.  The rights of Christian businessmen and women to exercise their faith in the way they operate their business was certainly in peril.   Had Mrs. Clinton won the election certainly every American would continue to be economically involved in the inhumane slaughter of the unborn in the womb.

There is no doubt that had Mrs. Clinton won that pressure would have been placed on those churches who hold to the inerrancy of scripture and consider homosexuality to be a sin to either keep silent from the pulpit on such matters or lose their 501c3 status.  Eventually, the Justice Department would have pursued charges against those pastors, teachers, and religious organizations who spoke out against the practices of the LGBTQ community for hate crimes.

Christian faith would have been pushed further and further out of the public square to the point of near invisibility.  That is a near certainty.

These were valid concerns.  These were my concerns as well.

What I learned this year is how painful and wrenching it is to make a stand knowing that it could result in all the things you fear coming to pass.  What I learned is that when you stand on the principles you say you espouse in every other aspect of your life, that even those you believed held the same principles will at times decry you because “there’s too much at stake”.   What I learned is that the Church in America needs to reexamine it’s understanding of the sovereignty of God and our role as “salt and light”.  What I learned is that Christians don’t see the “lesser” of two evils as still being an evil.

I was astounded by how many in the clergy stood up to say that they had to look past all the “flaws” of the Republican candidate because the alternative was too horrible to contemplate.  No candidate is perfect.  No candidate is completely moral.  Our nature is a fallen one and I certainly recognize that fact.  But the tastelessly conspicuous and even egocentric glee of Mr. Trump towards is moral failures was beyond the pale.  While President Bill Clinton’s contriteness for his moral failures during the Monica Lewinsky scandal may have been manufactured, Mr. Trump proudly asserted he had never done anything for which to ask God’s forgiveness.  

Neither candidate was ethically suited to take the oath of office of the Presidency.  While the is no Scriptual obligation for the Church to endorse a candidate during election years, it should always be firm and public in its stance on issues of personal morality, including that of candidates for public office.  Instead, the Church became split on the subject.  It was okay for Conservative Christians to question and bemoan the morality of those on the left, but one was being asked to not look so closely at the foibles of the Republican candidate.  It was more important, in the opinion of some, to win the election rather than stand on conscience.

The unspoken statement among some seem to be, “we

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have to help God put the right person in the Oval Office.  Otherwise He won’t be able to fulfill His purposes for this country or the World.”   In the western hemisphere we seem to have come to the opinion that without the United States as the Super Power in the world the gospel will not be spread to all nations, Christianity will become a minor religion, and the whole earth will be in desperate danger of moral collapse.

For 8 years Christians have been saying, “if we don’t stop this collapse in the morality of the American culture we will face the judgement of God.”  With the election of President Trump they are now saying, “Look, God has given us a second chance.”

I don’t believe that’s what has happened at all.  I think, in fact, that what God has said is, “I gave you the chance to nominate a candidate with a strong moral foundation and instead you nominated a man of more than questionable character.  I then gave you an opportunity to be salt and light and to tell the culture ‘even though we know this could mean the loss of our freedom as Christians we will trust in the Sovereignty of our God, knowing He will always do what is best for us, and say that we cannot and will not support a man who brags about his sexual promiscuity, who does not bend his knee to God, and who belittles and denigrates those who oppose him.’  Instead, not only have you rallied behind him, but some of you have joined in the denigration of those did take a stand in opposition, while others have you chosen to simply stay silent.”

While we may have several years where we see a renewal of the Super Power status of America, a strengthening of the economy, and perhaps even a revival in the Churches, I strongly believe that God has allowed us to set our course.  Ultimately we will be called to account; not because of Trump himself, but because the fate of the country was more important that the righteousness of God.  Because winning the White House was of greater worth than being a light in the darkness.  Because we did not trust that no matter what trials we must endure from our government that God is still in control and He will always do what is for our good and for His glory.  We instead settled for “the lesser of two evils” in hopes that everything will be okay, at least for a little while longer.

“He has showed you, O man, what is good.  And what does the Lord require of you?  To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8)

I don’t believe that God is surprised by the outcome of this election.  And I do believe that Donald Trump will take the oath of office next month, because that is according to His plan. (“In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps.” Proverbs 16:9, “Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are His.  He changes times and season; He sets up kings and deposes them.  He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning.” Daniel 2:20-21)  But God also uses those plans to allow us to make greater spiritual decisions.  And there are consequences to those decisions.

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But…I could be wrong.

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NO COMPROMISE

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If all our choices were simply between a single scoop of vanilla or the Belly Buster Mountain of Fudge life would be simpler.   If we only had to decide whether to buy the 52″ flat screen or pay the dentist bill — no brainer.  Or should we tell slightly senile Aunt Meg her cat learned the hard way it could not take on the raccoon or fib and say “well, he may have just run away”.

Maybe most of our choices aren’t monumental life and death decisions, but every now and then we’re faced with that “moral dilemma” situation.  Do I stand on my convictions or do I give in to the pressure from…friends…co-workers…the boss…society…other Christians?

James seemed to be pretty clear about what decision to make: “So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.” (James 4:17)

It’s pretty cut and dry when the choice is between not taking money from the till or cheating with your best friends husband.  It’s not so much when it’s your boss telling you to “pad the account a little bit” so the quarterly report looks a little fatter.  It’s not an easy decision when you’re the driver on “girls night out” and the rest of the group decides they want to see “Fifty Shades of Gray”.  And it’s really difficult when a fellow Christian confides in you about a blatant sin and you know they’re expecting your rejection and judgement.

It’s easy to justify what we know to be wrong.  “My job is on the line and I can’t afford to lose this paycheck.”  “I’m the one who said I’d drive.”  “I don’t want to hurt my friend.  That’s the Pastor’s job.”

It’s hard to hear your boss say, “well I’ll just hire someone who CAN do that.”  It hurts to hear your friends say, “It’s just a movie.  You’re such a killjoy.  Next time we’ll get your ‘approval’ before we go out.”  It’s painful to say, “What you’re doing is so wrong.  I can’t support your decision to do this.  I love you, but I don’t love what you’re doing.”

D.A. Carson said, “We drift toward compromise and call it tolerance; we drift toward disobedience and call it freedom; we drift toward superstition and call it faith. We cherish the indiscipline of lost self-control and call it relaxation; we slouch toward prayerlessness and delude ourselves into thinking we have escaped legalism; we slide toward godlessness and convince ourselves we have been liberated.” (For the Love of God, Volume 2)

Sometimes it’s painful.  Sometimes it’s costly.  But it’s right.  No compromise.

 

FADE WITH A WHIMPER OR GO OUT WITH A BANG

not_with_a_bang__but_a_whimper_by_nu_cross_d3bhzsm_answer_2_xlarge     I was on my way home this evening, listening to the local radio station, when the Casting Crowns’ song “Thrive” came on.   As I listened to the chorus I thought to myself, “Yeah, that’s what we sing out loud, but inside we’re actually saying, ‘We know we were made for so much more than ordinary lives.  But just for now we’re glad to just survive.  We’ll wait for Heaven to thrive.'” I follow a blog called “Fire Breathing Christian”.  While I don’t agree with everything he says (he seems to have a bent towards Dominion Theology — the teaching that Church will grow and grow and overcome the powers of darkness here on earth and take dominion.  Then Christ will return.), but he’s been talking recently about how the Church in America has wimped out on the Great Commission.  We seem to limit it to just missions and we don’t realize that we are supposed to have an impact on not just “foreign fields”, but we should be fighting for our own culture as well; the arts, entertainment, politics, social welfare, etc… In my last posting I know I sounded like I was just throwing up my hands and saying, “There is no hope.  We’re doomed.”  And, if you look at the parallels between the United States today and the Roman Empire nearly 2000 years ago then, yeah…it doesn’t look good for us. But the song on the radio just jarred something in my brain.  We don’t have to be like that!  We don’t have to fade into the annals of history for generations to come to read about and say, “Wow, wish I’d been there.”  In fact, I think we’re going to have a LOT to answer for if we do. I’ve heard that the Church in China is actually praying for the collapse of the United States and the persecution of Christians.  NOT because they think we deserve to suffer because they’ve had to.  No!  They are hoping that maybe that is what it will take to get us to get out of our Western Religious stupor and stand up and say, “We’re mad at Hell and we’re NOT gonna take it anymore!”  That we’ll stand up to our culture and say, “Not one more inch!  You will not force us to stay silent!  We will stand on the truth of the Word of God and we will NOT back down and kowtow to your political correctness!  We will not sit in front of your electronic Colosseums and watch you destroy our children with the crap you broadcast!  We will not attend your endless of orgies of ‘do whatever is right for you — your truth is your truth’ and applaud the ‘bravery’ of ‘Doogie’ and Ellen and Whoopi!  We will bow to the false gods of Rob Bell and Oprah and Universalism!  Your Caesars will not legislate us into accepting sin and removing us from the Public Square!  Your Siren’s songs by Beyonce and Jay-Z and their ilk, who encourage our kids to dishonor their own bodies and kill cops and treat each other like objects rather than human beings will be called out for what they are…garbage!  We don’t demand you believe what we do, but we will not let you be the only voice!  And, the firmer we stand the quieter your voice will become!” There are millions of Christians in the world living under oppression and poverty and the threat of death!  How dare we, here in America — the freest, most prosperous country in the world — cower in our closets with our copies of “Left Behind” just praying the Jesus returns soon to take us out of this horribly corrupt world!  How dare we wring our hands and say, “There’s nothing we can do!  ‘Be in the world not of the world.’  You can’t show the love and power of Christ in politics or in the work place or in Hollywood.  You can only do small things!'” There is a whole world out there depending on us to stand up, even if it is just one last time, and live out the Great Commission.  The Apostles didn’t stay in their churches and just let the world go on it’s merry way!  They stood before the Religious and Political and Cultural establishment and said, “There is only ONE Way, ONE Truth, and ONE Life and NO ONE comes to the Father but through Him.”  They risked ridicule and beatings and the loss of everything, including their lives, to fulfill their calling. The early Christians did the same thing!  What makes us think we can do any less?  This country may be heading for disaster, but will we give up in silence or go down swinging?  When Christ returns for His Church will it a noticeable loss or great relief to the rest of the world?  This world may be fading away, but will pass with a whimper or go out with a bang? It’s time to get off our collective duffs Church in America and start living more than ordinary lives!  It’s time to Stand and to Thrive!

What did you think would happen?

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I haven’t written for awhile.  I went back to Montana to see family last month and since coming home I’ve been in an almost constant state of spiritual agitation.  I have wanted to write so many things in response to inner turmoil I’ve been going through, but knew it was better if I didn’t.  I didn’t want to say anything that was only out of my frustration or irritation.  I want to be sure that I’m conveying the heart of God and not my opinion of the way things should be.
It’s not been easy…believe me!
I have to be honest, the book “Crazy Love” by Francis Chan utterly ruined me.  And “Not A Fan” by Kyle Idleman has been my undoing.  Watching videos of sermons by Pastor Chan, David Platt, Tim Challis, Greg Laurie, MarK Driscoll and others have left me wasted.  Watching Todd Friel’s “Wretched” and even some of the funny, but poignant “Cartoons” of Lutheran Satire (all on You Tube) have totally upset my inner peace.  I’ve become so dissatisfied with the “comfortable”, the “passive”, the “non-confrontational”.  I’m not talking about legalism, I’m talking about just laying the Truth out there no matter the consequences.  And that’s where I’ve been in conflict.
I’m hired by the church to clean and I usually do that on Saturdays. I usually have a Bible Study group in the morning and clean in the afternoon, but this past weekend we cancelled the Bible Study till next week.  So I was just going to run down to the Church and get the cleaning done and then head off to town to get some shopping done.  As I pulled up to the Church I saw a car there.  I would normally have just keep going, not wanting to disturb anything that might be going on at the Church that morning.  But I decided to just get it over with and I would work around whoever was there and whatever they were doing.  I could always finish up whatever I didn’t get done later.
It happened to be one of the ladies in our Church who is a real prayer warrior and she was there praying.  I don’t know why, but when she told me she had been praying for the Church I just blurted out “I could use some of that.”  And when she asked why I poured out a portion of the frustration I was feeling.  And then we prayed.  A huge weight just melted off my shoulders that morning.  It was totally a “God thing”.
Now, God didn’t change anything but my frustration level, but He did give me the strength to keep hanging in there; to keep perservering.  God’s not done yet.
I have to be honest about the reason for my frustration though.  I’m frustrated with the Church.  My church and the Church in America overall.
I read a 2009 Barna survey examining the changes in the worldview of Americans since 1995.  From the report:

Defining Terms

For the purposes of the survey, a “biblical worldview” was defined as believing that absolute moral truth exists; the Bible is totally accurate in all of the principles it teaches; Satan is considered to be a real being or force, not merely symbolic; a person cannot earn their way into Heaven by trying to be good or do good works; Jesus Christ lived a sinless life on earth; and God is the all-knowing, all-powerful creator of the world who still rules the universe today. In the research, anyone who held all of those beliefs was said to have a biblical worldview.

National Results

Overall, the current research revealed that only 9% of all American adults have a biblical worldview. Among the sixty subgroups of respondents that the survey explored was one defined by those who said they have made a personal to commitment to Jesus Christ that is important in their life today and that they are certain that they will go to Heaven after they die only because they confessed their sins and accepted Christ as their savior. Labeled “born again Christians,” the study discovered that they were twice as likely as the average adult to possess a biblical worldview. However, that meant that even among born again Christians, less than one out of every five (19%) had such an outlook on life.

Society has been on a rapid downward spiral, which started long before my generation ever came into being.  We’re long past the point where people were livid at “Gone With The Wind” because Clark Gable’s character, Rhett Butler, said “the ‘D’ word”.  Cable t.v. brings that and much worse into our homes every day.  And the days of married couples shown sleeping in separate beds because to show otherwise was inappropriate has been replaced with what would have given you a “X” rating at the movie theater just 45 years ago.  Today Michael Sam is a hero and Tim Tebow is a pariah.  To be politically incorrect could get you charged with hate speech. 
As I reflected in an earlier post the Church in America during Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s visit before WWII is very similar to the Church today.  We haven’t changed.  In fact, any many ways we’ve gotten worse.  Not only have we spent years in public silence over the changing culture of America, we’ve given people a god that is commerically sellable and socially palatable.  We’ve gone from Christianity being a walk to being a product and the Church has become a business in search of a marketing plan to attract more consumers.
Worship staged like a 30 minute rock concert.  Coffee bars.  Groups for every issue of life: parenting, exercise, singles, divorce.  Events.  Seminars.  Outreaches.  None of which is, in and of itself, bad.   I don’t want to suggest they are.  But when they becomes the things that attract new members, rather than solid, biblical teaching I think we have a problem.
The lives of many who call themselves Christians don’t really look all that different from the rest of the world.  We’ve replaced compassion with tolerance.  To avoid being perceived as “dogmatic” we’ve stayed away from the “hard teachings” of Scripture and chosen instead to sermonize on your finances, your relationships, “Your Best Life Ever”, your purpose, your blessings.  We stick to the milk of Scripture to avoid “choking” on the meat.
And yet we still seem to be surprised at the way society has gone so rapidly.  We wonder out loud how it got this far.  And we are shocked when it’s our own children that are caught in that fast moving stream and swept away.
But what I find personally shocking is what is stated in the Barna survey: most who claim to call themselves Christians don’t believe in moral absolutes or the inerrancy of scripture.  They believe that good works can earn you a place in Heaven and Satan is only a symbol or force, rather than an actual spiritual being (which likely means they don’t believe in a Hell, which then means they most probably have a Universalist worldview).  They don’t believe it’s likely that Jesus led a sinless life or God is really omnipotent or omniscient.  But I guess it shouldn’t, because how can anyone know what they haven’t really been taught?  We dance around the subjects:  we kind of float around the peripheries or say those are more the subjects for small group Bible Studies.  I’ve heard suggested that Sundays are more reaching out to those who may be coming for the first time rather than instructing the regular attender. 
While it’s been wonderful to send missionaries to foreign fields (who are probably more receptive) we’ve neglected the mission field in our own backyard; partially because we haven’t really shown our own members how to go about reaching out to our friends and neighbors and partially because our own people don’t even really know what they believe and why.
And now the attacks on Christians and the Church in America are becoming more frequent and more direct than ever before.  The push is on to monitor and regulate what can and cannot be said from the pulpit.  Entities are putting pressure on the government to remove the tax-exempt status from churches who express opinions on matters deemed political in nature (such as abortion), while others push for legislation that would label as “hate speech” sermons that oppose the LGBT “lifestyle”.  Christian organizations are forced to pay for “medical” procedures they may oppose (contraceptives and abortions) through the new healthcare law.  And there are outreaches that feed the homeless that have been shutdown because they didn’t meet Health Department guidelines or have the necessary permits to distribute the food.
As the pressure on Christians and the Church to conform more to society increases, it becomes a greater imperative that we instruct our members in the essential doctrines of faith.  They must know what they believe and why they believe it.  They must have the conviction of those beliefs to be able to stand against those things that come in opposition to it.
A few years ago Washington State was preparing to vote on whether gays and lesbians should have the right to marry.  Our local church took a stand opposing the ballot initiative.  But there were young members who protested outside the church’s front door because they believed it was a civil right that should be granted to anyone who wanted to make that kind of commitment in a relationship.  I can’t totally fault those young people for that opinion because it was clear in my discussion with them that they didn’t understand the overall moral implications or why the Church must make a stand on such things.  By the time the initiative came up it was too late to lay that foundation for them.  Consequently, because the leadership stood opposed to what they did, they left the church. 
For too long the Church has chosen to ignore the weightier issues because it turned too many people off; they felt it was too judgmental.  The emphasis was more on increasing membership rather than spiritual growth and depth.  Deeper growth was encouraged, don’t get me wrong, but the onus was the individual to make it happen, rather than on building each other up in faith.
The Apostle Paul gave Timothy this charge: “Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke, and encourage — with great patience and instruction.”  (2Timothy 4:2)  It’s time we took this charge to heart and return to preaching THE WORD.  Our understanding of finances and relationships and our purpose will come as a result of that.  But the emphasis now needs to be placed back on the Word itself.  That will lead to spiritual growth and help Christians to be able to stand against the pressures and onslaughts from society.
We may not be able to, at this point, turn society around — and if it does happen it will come only over great time and with great effort.  However, we can give our members a firm foundation on which to stand and the knowledge and encouragement to so.
“But in your heart set apart 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 so with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.”  (1Peter 3:15-16)
I pray earnestly, that we will return to applying our hearts to instruction and our ears to words of knowledge. (Prove 23:12)

An Open Letter to Richard Stearns of World Vision (not that he’ll ever read it)

Dear Mr. Stearns,
I received your letter of apology today for the previous decision of World Vision to allow same-sex couples to serve in the same capacity as other heterosexual couples.  And I do accept your apology for having made that decision.  However, I still don’t think you get it.my-bad
I don’t doubt that you feel that World Vision made a grave mistake in that decision, but it seems to me that it’s more about the fact that so many were outraged by it and you lost sponsors than it was that the decision was a wrong one.
In your initial statement at the announcement of allowing same-sex couples you stated that the World Vision board had prayed about it.  First, I don’t know why you would ask God whether it was a good decision to do allow something His Word states is wrong in the first place.
Second, I would assume that, after you had been in prayer, you all felt like His response was a “big thumbs up”, which is why you went ahead.  Third, you equated same-sex marriage to the issue of divorce (which scripture does allow for) and forms of baptism (which is not formally designated in scripture; ie., you must dunk or you must sprinkle).  Scripture is very clear on its stance on homosexuality.  Despite the attempts to reinterpret the so-called “clobber passages”, one cannot logically claim that God has lowered His standards of Holiness.
I totally get that you are a member of the Presbyterian Church USA, which is probably how you arrived at your initial decision regarding same-sex marriage, as the denomination is very liberal and very open to claims that God did not really mean what He said.  I get that.
But you need to understand this:  I am a woman who has same-sex attraction, who loves and worships a Holy God, and without equivocation accepts the entire canon of scripture as the inerrant Word of God.  Believe me when I say that I have spent decades trying to “convince” God that He needed to change His mind about certain things, that He gotten some things obviously wrong, and if He looked at other things from a different point of view He would see that there are two sides to every story.  It is very apparent to me that God is not interested in my opinion on these weighty matters.
It seems to me that for a long time now, different people and groups have gotten it in their heads that if they just press God hard enough and show that the “majority” of opinion is against Him on certain stances that He has taken, He will relent and rubber stamp certain behaviors as “really not as bad as I originally said.”

I believe Job had a similar encounter with the Almighty and it did not go in his favor either.
Why we have elevated sexuality to such a level of such utter importance that the right to express it as we deem fit overrides the God’s right to set the standards is beyond me.  As though our need for pleasure — both physically and emotionally — is greater than God’s command for Holiness.  That our temporary “happiness” here on a temporary earth during a temporary life surpasses the Eternal joy prepared for those who truly love God and follow His commands.
I don’t recall anywhere in scripture where it states that God must explain to us why some behaviors are o.k. and others are not; though some are rather obvious.  So I take it on faith that God knows something I don’t, that He created things to work a certain way for a reason, and that, since God has repeatedly shown Himself faithful, His reasons must be totally fair, totally righteous, and totally good for me.
So when someone, some group, some denomination comes along and says, “Yeah, we’ve decided that the stance that scripture has held for thousands of years is incorrect and we’re doing things different” I have to believe that they don’t truly believe that the same God who created the entire universe, established the laws of entropy and gravity, set the orbits of the planets, wrote out each person DNA individually, and gave us the seasons actually knows something I don’t or the way things should work, is not faithful, and is neither fair, righteous, or interested in what is best for me.  Or perhaps they just don’t believe that scripture is actually the infallible Word of God; in which case I’d like to know what they base anything they believe on, as it seems to me only opinion.
So, while I do accept your apology that you’re sorry I’ve decided to no longer support your organization, I don’t believe I’m totally convinced that your sorry you thought same-sex marriage was acceptable in the eyes of God.  And since you even state in your letter of apology that the mission of World Vision is to “follow our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in serving the poor and bearing witness to the good news of the kingdom of God” , I can only assume that you are talking about a different “good news” that I am.
There are many other mission organizations that are working with the poor and disadvantage and are remaining true to the Gospel and I would prefer to support them, as their goal is foremost to proclaim Christ.  His Truth seems to be secondary, at least, to your organization

Sincerely

Why “Confronting Galatians”

For most of my life I have been no different than anyone else.  I didn’t pay attention.  I didn’t pay attention in school, I didn’t pay attention in Church, I didn’t pay attention to my parents, I didn’t pay attention to what was going on the world around me.  Not that I was indifferent — being apathetic was never a problem for me.  It crushed me to see an animal hurt and I would cry myself to sleep each night as teen demanding God do something about all the suffering children in the world.  But to pay attention…I mean to REALLY pay attention…requires one to act.  You cannot be passive if you are paying attention unless you are, indeed, apathetic.  So I could “think” about starving children without really paying attention to them.  I could think about hurt and suffering without paying attention to it.  In other words, I could think about the boy in school with cerebral palsy and not pay attention when he fell down on the walkway and couldn’t get back up.  I could pretend I didn’t see it or was not the right person to render aid.  I could not pay attention when he was crying because others had teased him and then harbor resentment towards God for allowing this to happen to him.  In other words — I pitied what happened to him, I just didn’t want to get involved.
Getting involved opens one up to all sorts of unpleasant possibilities: ridicule, confrontation, being misunderstood, being maligned, falsely accused….and at times, rightly held accountable.  You risk being called a hypocrite, judgmental, self-righteous,
sanctimonious, a know-it-all.  You could lose your friends, your could lose respect, you could be told to sit down and shut up.  You could be called to account and have no response.  At the very worst someone might beat you up physically or emotionally.
So, like the rest of the people around me (with few exceptions), it was easier to “go along to get along”.  Oh, you could show “moral outrage”, but only over those things that society deemed to be appropriate to be outraged over — war, poverty, discrimination, disease, etc…  But not in a specific sense, as that would require acting on it), but more in an overall general sense.  And the appropriate response is “Why doesn’t someone do something about it?”
But paying attention also meant you had to grow.  It meant that your concept of the way things ought to be and how they should be dealt with that to “evolve” (as it were) over time.  When you are a child you can be very accepting of everyone and everything (except for those things that are truly evil and bad — like “Wicked Witch of the West” kind of evil or your friend’s parent who was always drunk and beating his kids kind of bad).  For the most part things weren’t really black and white.  There wasn’t really truth and lie.  For the most part things were gray; anything that sounded good was a truth and lies were really just…well…fibs.  You know…is it REALLY your place to tell someone they’re wrong?
But as you get older…as you grow…things aren’t so gray anymore.  You begin to realize that some things truly are wrong, some things truly are right.  Some things really are truth and some things really are lies.  You can opt to maintain that “childlike innocence” (though by now it’s more cynicism) and proclaim like Pontius Pilate “What is truth?”  Or you can begin to pay attention.  In doing so, some of your deepest held convictions come under scrutiny.  You begin to realize that many of your truths were actually lies.  Not everything you once thought sounded good sounds good to you any more.  Some things become downright distasteful to you.
If you’re paying attention this dilemma begins to bother you.  It requires introspection — why did I believe that in the first place?  Or, conversely, why didn’t I believe that?  It requires examination — you have to actually investigate and scrutinize what you have believed or not believed as to whether they are true or not.  This requires your time.  It is at this point where many stop and return to not paying attention as they see their lives as too busy to do otherwise.  It also requires honesty.  You have to be honest enough to say, “I was wrong.”  And for many, that is too frightening a prospect.
So why “Confronting Galatians”.  In the Scriptures the Galatians were former pagans who had accepted the teaching of the Apostle Paul and become Christians.  But, like most pagans, they were very open to all kinds of teachings that were presented to them.  Thus, Judaizers (who taught that justification by obeying the Law rather than by faith) came into the congregation and began to lead them from the Truth presented by Paul.  Instead of paying attention and examining what was being taught they readily accepted it.  So Paul confronts them “as we have already said, so now I say again” (Gal 1:9a).  “PAY ATTENTION!  I’ve already told you this once!  I shouldn’t have to repeat myself, but I will.”
This blog is meant to call Christians to “Pay Attention”.  I ask the reader to pay attention not just to what is going on in the Church, but what is going on in the World.  For too long we have not paid attention.  Many “different gospels” have infiltrated into the Church and it has refused to pay attention.
— It has become enslaved by a doctrine of “I can do Christianity on my own terms”.  The Judaizers of Galatia taught you were justified by following the Mosaic Law.  Today, many follow their own “law” and seek to justify themselves by being “good people” and doing “good things”.  This allows them to set their own parameters for what constitute “good enough” to be saved.  And they set the bar very low.
–It has substituted the Gospel of Jesus Christ with a “what’s in it for me” philosophy.  It has become about “MY purpose”, “MY comfort”, “MY health and wealth”, “My personal fulfillment.”  There is no “cost”, there is no “sacrifice”, there is no considering it all “a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” (Phil. 3:8a)
–It has burdened itself with the “yoke of slavery” to numbers.  How many butts in the seats?  How many hands raised at the Altar Call?  How many baptism?  How much money in the collection plate?  How many programs are offered?
But we haven’t paid attention to what is going on in the world around us either.  I don’t say this from the perspective that one’s “politics” must be correct.  But what is happening in the world does now and will to an even greater extent affect us as Christians.  I am speaking to North American Christians.  For long we have taken the freedoms we have enjoyed for granted.  We have always assumed that we would always freely believe, freely preach, freely proselytize, freely evangelize as we wished.  It never really occurred to us that a time would come when we would become more and more restricted in that freedom.  With all of history behind us to warn us of what could await us, we failed to pay attention to the growing storm clouds.  It is no longer out of the realm of possibility that taking a doctrinal stand will be considered a hate crime.
My attempt in writing is to point the reader to those events and trends that we should, we MUST pay attention to.  While I personally believe in the soon return of Jesus Christ, He has not told us the day or hour.  His “soon” could be tomorrow or 50 years from now.  And I do not see from scripture where we should just “let it ride” and hope “it all comes out in the wash”.  Even Abraham pleaded for Sodom & Gomorrah, though their destruction was all but inevitable.  Even Ninevah had a change of heart.   So I don’t believe we are to just “throw in the towel”.
But more important than the chance that we may postpone the inevitable for our culture is our duty to be the Watchman on the Wall; to sound the warning.  Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “
Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”
I intend to confront the Galatians.
” Be merciful to those who doubt; snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear….” Jude 22-23.