Thursday, September 15, 2016
Thursday, June 16, 2016
Anger is never without a reason, but seldom with a good one. — Benjamin Franklin
Anger is one of the few moral reactions that can be both a virtue and a vice. Love doesn’t fit that category—at least not agape love. Neither does meekness or honesty, or almost any other virtue that I can think of. This is why anger can be so dangerous. One, for instance, may say, “I love the sinner but hate the sin” and yet do everything they can to make life miserable for the sinner.
Take the gay bashing Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) out of Topeka, Kansas, which in the name of Christ picket military funerals simply because the solider wore the uniform and sacrificed his or her life to protect American freedom, including homosexual rights. Even though their protest signs may read “We love the sinner, but hate sin” these Baptist are angry people, and I might say unchristlike to say the least. Why? Well, the answer is that they have tried to sanitize their free float homophobia to disguise their true feelings. Instead of taking the Biblical route to control their disgust, they have allowed their anger to control them. They have appointed themselves moral policemen of the public at large.
Strangely enough, I find nowhere in Scripture that God has appoint them or anyone else as forceful arbitrators of morality. Not even Christ did that. He came to offer hope not condemnation. It is not the church’s duty, either, to take the law in their own hand, even if it is the moral law. To do so violates human freedom. God will judge the sinner in His own time.
Coincidentally, this is precisely what Omar Mateen did in Orlando at the gay nightclub where he shot and killed 49 people—that is, he set himself up as judge and executor. Yes, he was Muslim; however, had he been Christian would that have lessened the pain and suffering or awfulness of this hideous crime? Certainly, not.
Make no mistake, homosexuality is condemned in Scripture, and, no, Jesus did not condone the practice, either. Stretch his Gospel of love as far as you can and it will never get beyond one man and one woman (Matt. 19:4-6).
Be that as it may, however, we must never let our anger go beyond that which God allows. Personally, I am against indiscriminate abortion, as I believe any Christian should be. That, however, does not give me a God given right to blow up abortion clinics or murder abortion providers.
We must not just assuage our anger with kindness, we must channel it into a loving response.
“Be angry and sin not” is still an active command, as is “we should not let the sun go down on our wrath (Eph. 4:26).” And, in doing so, I believe it is high time that we get over our homophobia and learn what it truly means to minister to the LGBT community, as well as the jihadist Muslims in our midst or abortionist. We have our pulpits and the voting booth to register our complaints, and we should. Our local and state, as well as, national legislators have their responsibilities, too.
Now, stop and think with me for a minute: Could you imagine Mother Teresa carrying a hate sign against anyone regardless of the atrocity of their sin? Perhaps, a placard inviting them for an evening meal, but never one of hate. Christ expects no less from us, either.
On a practical level, this election, in my opinion, is going to be settled on the issue of anger and hatred, may we have the God given wisdom to direct our anger in the right direction—that being, the direction of love, not a seething hatred.
Tuesday, August 25, 2015
And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. Phillipians 4:14
Dear Friends, prayer and financial partners,
One of the highlights of my life was when I visited the historical site of Zarephath, when driving up to the hill on which the city traditionally set, we stopped to watch a widow (dressed in black) as she picked up sticks to build a fire. No, it was not a staged scene, nor are most people aware of the traditional site of Zarephath.
Recently, I revisited 1 Kings 17:1-19 which tells the story of the despondent Prophet Elijah as he fled from the wicked King Ahab and his wife Jezebel.
Then the word of the LORD came to Elijah [the scriptures read]:
"Leave here, turn eastward and hidein the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan. You will drink from the brook, and I have ordered the ravens to feed you there."
Later, we are told that the brook dried up and God then sent him to Zarephath where the story unfolds of him meeting a widow at Zarephath who was picking up sticks. The first thought that crossed my mind is why would God send him to a brook that was going to dry up; then, of all things, transfer him to Zarephath?
Well, first of all it is obvious that God also wanted to work a miracle to keep this poor lady and her son from starving. But, why the brook for Elijah? Why not send him straight to Zarephath?
Of course, there are many real life parallels that can be drawn from the story; however, I wish to concentrate on just one of these, and that is the tremendous faith and courage that Elijah demonstrated when God told him to move on to Zarephath because He had prepared a widow there to take care of him. Then when Elijah got there he found out that she really did not have any of the supplies that God had promised. All she had was just a drop or two of oil and a handful of grain to make perhaps a couple of pieces of pita bread.
How dumb is that?
Most—well, perhaps not most, but many of the Christians I know would have given up when the brook dried up, then to face the odds to depend on a dirt poor widow to survive is almost unimaginable.
The problem with that way of thinking, however, is that Elijah did not depend on a brook for water and scavenger birds for bread and meat or on a poor penniless widow to smooch off of for survival. God was his source.
Often we get all tied up in knots because things are not going the way we think they should. We have stepped out by faith and now the brook dries up; and when we finally muster enough faith to move on to what we expect to be the next great miracle in our live we faced with another hopeless situation.
It has happen to all of us at one time or the other in our journey through life, and when it does our mettle is really tested to the point that we just want to give up.
Take courage, there is always another brook or widow that God has prepared for you to help you along the journey. Winning the lottery or some rich uncle dying and leaving his fortune is not the answer, either. Wishful thinking will get you nowhere; however, to trust in God under the bleakest circumstance will.
As far back as Habakkuk 2:4 the Bible tells us that the just shall live by faith. No, neither Paul nor Luther were the first to discover that wonderful truth. No that principle has been there all the time even before Habakkuk’s days. God is and always has kept his word. He continues throughout history to prove himself a very safe place in time of storm.
I have found that to be true and I can assure you that if you are facing bankruptcy or cancer, or for that matter a wayward child, God is there. He is not passive, either, in these circumstances. He is actively at work in the most minute and unimaginable ways. All we need do is trust and He will provide a way.
Now, may God use the words in some small way to help pull you along in the journey even in the face of the most unlikely circumstances.
Wednesday, July 08, 2015
Often the most trivial of eccentricity in others is a real source of complain. Common comments that we hear are: “Why doesn’t she do something with that mop of hair of hers? It is an absolute catastrophe?” Or, “I just can’t stand that sleazy smile of his. Bet there’s a whole lot more going on in that mind of his than you can imagine.” And, on and on it goes.
Sunday, June 28, 2015
- By believing in Christ (John 3:16; Acts 16:31)?
- By repentance (Acts 2:38; 2 Peter 3:9)?
- By baptism (John 3:5; 1 Peter 3:21; Titus 3:5)?
- By the work of the Spirit (John 3:5; 2 Corinthians 3:6)?
- By declaring with our mouths (Luke 12:8; Romans 10:9)?
- By coming to a knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:4; Hebrews 10:26)?
- By works (Romans 2:6, 7; James 2:24)?
- By grace (Acts 15:11; Ephesians 2:8)?
- By His blood (Romans 5:9; Hebrews 9:22)?
- By His righteousness (Romans 5:17; 2 Peter 1:1)?
- By His Cross (Ephesians 2:16; Colossians 2:14)?"
Monday, May 18, 2015
“Nothing can make injustice just but mercy.”— Robert Frost
Most seminarians are familiar with the name Dietrich Bonhoeffer and his book The Cost of Discipleship and that, of course, he was executed for his alleged involvement in a plot to kill Adolph Hitler just 2 weeks before the Nazi Concentration Camp he was held in was liberated by the Allies.
What many are not aware of, however, is that he reportedly lost his faith during the time he was a prisoner—although, he did retain his strong sense of justice right up to the end. Some historians have therefore because of this labelled him a Christian atheist. In other words, he had the morals of a Christian, but the theology of an atheist. Nonetheless, his influence on religion and political scientists has been enormous, particularly through his writing.
For Bonhoeffer discipleship cost his life; but more tragically, if the reports are true, his faith. Although, I am not altogether too sure that by losing his faith that he lost the faith. Unfortunately, he did not live long enough to substantiate my assessment, so I will simply have to with my assumption.
My assumption is this. It is my belief—rather, I should say, my observation that it is a good thing for some to lose their faith, especially when “their faith” does not square with “the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 1:3).” My feeling is that given enough time Bonhoeffer would have adjusted his theology to fit the facts. The facts are that sometimes evil triumphs, and God is prepared for that because he has a backup plan. Well, so what, some would say. Is it fair? That’s God’s call, not mine, I would say. Be that as it may, however, I can assure you on the strength of God’s word that none of the evil that we experience in the world today, including the atrocities of the so-called Caliphate Nation of Islam, shocks God in the least. He is well aware of the proclivity of man towards evil because as far back as Genesis 6:5—
This I contend because I do not have the choice of making God into something He is not. Theology for me, therefore, has always been a given, not a choice.
Is God then cruel? Yes, he is certainly cruel if we assume that this is it, that he has no backup plan, or that he condones evil.
However, justice is promised, and justice will prevail. Furthermore, he will never violate our freedom to choose. So, the choice is ours, either we struggle with questions that we insist on answering for ourselves or we trust in his everlasting mercies. For as Robert Frost so rightly observed—“Nothing can make injustice just but mercy.” And, how true that is.
Quibble all you want to about the justice of God, and what is right and what is wrong, but none of this will, however, change the given—that is, evil is, and evil is never fair.