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January 5, 2016, 12:00 AM

Mother's Day, Motherhood & Murder

Honoring our mothers is an absolutely appropriate and desirable action!  God Himself commands us to do it (Exodus 20:12; Ephesians 6:1)! For most people, it is easy to show honor for the person who was the vessel through whom we entered the world and has provided a lifetime of loving care.  For these reasons alone, I honor my mother, along with countless others on Mother’s Day and throughout the year.

Yet, even as we celebrate Mother’s Day, we recognize that it is a difficult time for some people who have experienced the death of a mother or have never had the blessing of a loving mother.  This pain also often includes those women who are unable to have children, for whatever reason.  For many, including men, Mother’s Day and the notion of motherhood is fraught with painful emotions and memories!

Mother’s Day and motherhood bring to my mind thoughts of murder---the murder of millions of babies through the often selfish and sinful act of abortion! Each year, particularly in the United States, thousands of babies are aborted.  For many mothers (and fathers alike) this is done as a matter of convenience.  The inconvenience of having a child weighs more heavily than the reality that the unborn fetus is an innocent child—a human person worthy of the preservation of his or her life!  

Some argue that the child is not yet a person, because they have not been born or reach some point (age) of viability.  Because the child is not able to live on his or her own without the connection to an umbilical cord, he or she is not deserving of protection or life.  Biblically, this argument cannot stand!  Since God recognizes personhood “even before we are in our mother’s womb” (Jeremiah 1:5), it is apparent that He would affirm personhood in the mother’s womb.  The Psalmist declares that [God] formed our inward parts and knitted us together in our mother’s womb (Psalmist 139:13).  

Others would say that potential physical or mental challenges would be sufficient justification for the killing of a baby in the womb.  I find this argument to be problematic on at least two (2) levels. First, it does not account for the sovereignty of God.  God points to His sovereignty even over that which is often called a disability.  He asked Moses, “Who makes [humans] mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the Lord? (Exodus 4:11).  Not only does this argument not concede authority to God over disabilities, it also takes authority from God and gives it to those who support the killing of a baby in the womb!  

Others argue for the taking of a human life, in the case of rape or incest!  Yet, even in this obviously heart-wrenching and extremely soul-damaging experience, the question remains: "Does it justify the killing of an innocent baby. As it often stated, “Two wrongs don’t make one right”! Does the sin of an evil, wretched man justify the killing of an innocent baby, even if that baby's life is the result of his sin!  If this issue is only from an emotional point of view or from the righteous anger directed at the man perpetrating the rape or incest, then a baby’s life will be required as payment for someone else sins!

The bottom line is that God, and God alone, determines the limitations of our abilities and humanity. He alone determines the circumstances under which any life may be taken.  He alone determines who and what bring glory to His name. The taking of any human life, particularly a child in the womb, must be done within the parameters of God's Will and not ours!  God alone is the All Wise, All-Loving, All Wise, and All-Powerful, All-Knowing, Righteous One! 

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October 1, 2015, 12:04 PM

Surprised by Sick People in a Hospital?

On a recent Facebook post, I asked a question similar to this:  “If the church is a “hospital” and Jesus is the Great Physician, why are we so surprised and critical when we find sick people within the ranks of the Church?"   The sick (the sinful) are those who need Jesus, the Great Physician!  Indeed, Jesus Himself declares this truth: “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick” (Matthew 9:12, ESV).  

The surprise and criticism may come from Christians and non-Christians alike.  It is, perhaps, understandable coming from the ranks of the unchurched. When it emerges from the ranks of the churched, however, it is often troubling.  The truth is that many of those persons in the “hospital” (church) are at various stages of spiritual disease and healing!  Yet, they are in the best place to receive healing (salvation) and seeking the best Physician (Jesus Christ)!  An interesting and note-worthy truth is that Jesus is the only One who has never been sick.  “He was tempted (vulnerable to sins and sickness) in all points as we were, yet [He] without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). He alone provides the only remedy for our sins and our sicknesses—Himself—His substitutionary death on the cross for our sins!  Jesus is the Doctor who writes the prescription and offers the only effective Remedy for our sins and our sicknesses!  

Interestingly, these critics, whether Christians or non-Christians (saved or unsaved) missed the fact that they too are sick and are in need of Christ, the Great Physician and the Church (the hospital for sick people).   The greatest sickness of humankind is not physical; it is spiritual!  Nevertheless, Jesus is the Only Solution for the problem.  The sin-sick sinner must come to Him, acknowledging their sins, and making a commitment to turn to Christ and accept His death on the Cross, as the payment and only remedy for our sins, and make a commitment to live for Christ. 
 
After accepting Christ, the possibility of being infested with the disease of sin is still a reality.  Yet, Jesus again is the Prescription and Medicine! He gives us the grace (enablement) to be sanctified, to be made holy, to be conformed into His image!  Whether we need a remedy for our salvation or sanctification, the “sick” must come to the Great Physician, Jesus Christ.  They should come to the “hospital”—the Church (Hebrews 10:24-25)!

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September 22, 2015, 12:00 AM

Media and Morality

I was listening to a recent media report concerning some policy changes made by the Pope towards marriage annulment. What struck me was not the issue of marriage annulment but how some in the media were characterizing it as a move by the church to be more “welcoming”. This buzzword word “welcoming” is often used to label a church or Christian that rejects biblical standards and capitulates to the latest cultural fad or societal definitions of morality. This same tactic is used with words such as “tolerance” or “discrimination”. Interestingly, these media personalities seem to miss the fact that they themselves are not very “welcoming” to any biblical or moral position other than the one to which they subscribe.

The power of the media is in the ability to not only reflect the cultural mindset and values but to shape and influence it. A subtle, pervasive, biased perspective influences many who are exposed to this kind of reporting. Reporters who readily criticize Christians of indoctrination or attempting to win others to Christ, including those of other religious persuasions, often regularly engage in their own brand of indoctrination. (Even though, supposedly, they are to simply just present the facts and not engage in advocacy activities).

Christians, therefore, must be spiritually discerning when exposed to all media—television, radio, movies, music, blogs, Websites, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Realizing that there is a subtle undermining of the authority of the Bible, the centrality of Christ, and a presentation of a non-Christian worldview, values, or perspectives, the Christians’ morality must be informed and shaped by the Word of God—the Bible!

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April 7, 2015, 12:00 AM

Same-Sex Marriage and Discrimination Against Religious Liberty

In our rapidly changing socio-cultural environment in the United States, there is increasing support for “same-sex marriage” and other declarations of sexuality. Along with these changes have come an increasing discrimination against those who hold to the historically orthodox Christian view of marriage as being between a man and a woman.   Interestingly, many proponents of “same-sex marriage” accuse Christians of discrimination, even though, at the same time, these supporters of "same-sex marriage" are engaging in legal, cultural, and economic coercion against those who hold sincere religious positions.  

A part of this strategy is to attach emotionally charged labels to those who do not support their declared sexual viewpoints.   Many of these labels such as “discrimination” and "intolerance“, were rightfully used in the fight against racism in United States.   A dangerous precedent, however, was set when the proponents of “same-sex marriage” highjacked legitimate categories and attach them to any group who did not affirm their newly declared positions! 

Several issues are of primary concern in this irreconcilable tension between what Dr. Albert Mohler calls “erotic liberty” and religious (Christian) liberty. First, it is the issue of redefining marriage.  The Bible reveals that human government was establish after the creation and institution of marriage (a union between a man and a woman).  Therefore, the government’s role was to affirm marriage and not to define marriage!  God never gave government the right to redefine anything that He had already defined!  Hence, we see a problem—the confusion between the ability to do a thing with the right to do it! 

Second, there is the presence of a venomous political and socio-cultural agenda, which seeks to use the mechanism of government to force a person of religious conviction or a Christian institution to follow another person’s theological, religious, and social perspective.  Furthermore, the majority (proponents of "same-sex marriage"), based on newly held assertions, is trumping the religious liberty rights of the minority. Even when the minorities’ actions are based on “sincerely-held beliefs”, a Christian baker, florist, or photographer, for example, would be forced to provide services for a “same-sex wedding ceremony”.  This could occur even though the Christian’s convictions are supported by the Bible and centuries of Christian teachings and affirmations! 

Third, when politicians with concerns for political expediency couple with activist judges who make law from the bench rather than interpret in accordance with legislative intent support this vitriolic cultural movement, it becomes an ever-increasing assault on the biblical and Christian position concerning sexuality and marriage.  Many seminaries and denominations espouse an neo-orthodox view concerning biblical interpretation that offers a poisonous mixture of “heretical hermeneutics” and liberal theology to further undermine the historically orthodox view of marriage and sexuality.   Pastors (and other Christians) who have lost their prophetic voices and capitulated to the “spirit of the age” (zeitgeist) are equally culpable in this assault on Christianity and Christians, even if unintended.

What are Christians to do in light of this new movement against religious liberties?  (1) Love God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength and love your neighbor (including all people regardless of their sexuality) as yourself; (2) Obey the government, except when what it commands us to contradict or violate what God ordains or commands; (3) let the Bible take its preeminent position over all other books or documents; (4) Stand for the Gospel of Jesus Christ, no matter what the cost!

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February 24, 2015, 8:00 AM

Church Discipline

Often in conversations with Christians across denominational lines, I have noticed a disturbing level of passivity or disengagement concerning the area of church discipline.  Sometimes, an elaborate but shaky support for the failure to act is offered. Interestingly, when other Christians carry out this biblical mandate, they are often branded as “angry” or “unloving”.  Although it is entirely possible to carry out biblical mandates in an unbiblical manner, obedience to biblical directives should not be automatically construed as “unloving” or “angry”.  Notwithstanding, church discipline is an essential and should be a non-negotiable Christian practice. 

In Matthew 18:15, Jesus Christ gives a clear command.  He said, “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother”.  Interestingly, Jesus Christ gives the responsibility to the one who has been offended.  Even if one has not been offended, a Christian should attempt to encourage a brother or sister to repentance.  The apostle Paul teaches in Galatians 6:1: “If a brother [or sister] be overtaken in a fault, you who are spiritual restore such a one in the spirit of meekness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted”.

One reason often cited for the failure to obey this command is the belief that the effort would not be successful.  Yet, Christ gives instructions for the potential failure.  He says, in verse 16, “If he does not [listen with the intent of repentance], take with you one or two more; so in the presence of two or three witnesses every word may be established.  These should be mature Christians who have redemptive motivations for engaging in the efforts. 

Church discipline is not only a mandate for the individual Christian; it is mandated for the congregation.  Sometimes, it is necessary to bring a matter before the entire congregation, as Jesus taught.  If a person is unrepentant after being admonished by a Christian Brother or sister and by a group of well intended, loving, humble, and mature Christians, then the matter is to be brought before the entire congregation.  

Obedience to the Lord, Jesus Christ, demands that a Christian and a congregation be a proponent and practitioner of Church discipline! 


 

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