Archive for the ‘Faith’ Tag

No Leap of Faith   1 comment

Image result for image of fog shrouded bridgeThere’s a place we hike to that has a rope bridge to cross a wild Alaska river. The first time we hiked there, it was shrouded in fog and we had to make a choice. Trust that the bridge was connected on the other side, even though we could not see it or wait for the fog to clear.

Brad cast me a beserker grin and said “hey, this feels a lot like faith.”

Faith is not a leap into the dark as the modern philosophers would have us believe. It’s a step onto a fog-shrouded bridge.

We are not given definitive proof that God exists, that Jesus is God, that if we trust Him He will save us. We’re given hints — small bits of evidence that we can either follow to the bridge or ignore.

The leap of faith comes to us from Soren Kierkegaard. Modernism had promised a unified explanation for all of reality through science (without God), but by the time Kierkegaard came around, people had begun to despair of ever reaching that answer. Unwilling to accept that there was no answer that didn’t include God and that without that foundation for Truth, you just end up with a bunch of half-truths, Kierkegaard conceived of a dichotomy between reality and faith. He concluded that mankind cannot achieve anything of true metaphysical importance without taking a “leap of faith”. In doing so, people have to separate the rational and logical from faith. We shouldn’t expect the world to make sense according to our metaphysical statements. It’s not necessary for our faith to have meaning in the world and if we think that it does, then we’re deluded. But it’s fine, because we can have faith so long as it is completely divorced from the physical and material world.

Hence the leap of faith.

But Christian faith is more like crossing a bridge that you can’t see the other end of rather than leaping off a cliff. In Hebrews 11 we find the roll call of faith, a listing of the men and women who trusted God without knowing how things would turn out. Noah, for example, built a huge boat in the middle of a desert because God told him to. Yeah, that made no sense to his neighbors … until it started raining. What was Noah’s evidence that building this boat was a good idea? Less than mine is for believing that Jesus will save my soul. God spoke to Noah. His neighbors thought he was crazy … until it started raining. I investigated what there is to know about Jesus and Christianity and I read the Bible while getting to know and coming to trust Christians. I followed the evidence to the bridge.

The bridge of faith is shrouded in fog and uncertainty because we need to cross it in faith. That crossing requires that we trust the bridge enough to hold us up even though we can’t see all of it. Crossing means letting go of the certainty we feel standing on solid ground or believing what Neil deGrasse Tyson puts forth on Cosmos. Crossing means leaving what we now put so much stock in to believe that what is waiting for us on the other side is far more valuable.

The prospect of crossing is scary. It’s potentially dangerous. And we can’t see the far side to assure that it is properly attached, that it will hold our weight and not dump us into the roaring river below where the rapids or hypothermia will kill us. But it is a whole lot less scary than leaping off a cliff into pea-soup fog with no idea of what is on the other side. That would be totally stupid! So we trusted our friend, who built the bridge, and crossed. There’s a beautiful cabin in a awesome forest on the other side Our friend gave us a key and it is worth the risk to cross the bridge. We’ve now done it dozens of times and we no longer feel nervous if we can’t see the other side.

Eternal life rests on the other side of faith’s bridge, Who is Jesus Christ the the Savior. God provided ample but not conclusive evidence for His existence in nature, history, archeology and the Bible. If we follow that evidence, we end up at the bridge. He invites us to cross that bridge to live the kind of life He wants for us because He loves us, but He doesn’t give us all of the evidence up front because He wants us to approach Him through faith, to trust Him as Adam and Eve refused to trust Him in the beginning of time. Why? Well, you find that out when you get to the other side of the bridge.

Source: No Leap of Faith

Posted November 27, 2016 by aurorawatcherak in Faith

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God’s Restorer?   2 comments

So last week in Sunday School, a friend who is really not an idiot, avowed how he believes that Donald Trump is being raised like Cyrus to restore America as a Christian nation.

I managed not to roll my eyes. Thank goodness for coffee cups. You can stare into them as if reading tea leaves and pretend you are having profound thoughts on the pronouncement.

So who was Cyrus and how does he relate to Donald Trump?

Cyrus (whose name was, interestingly enough, pronounced ko-resh in Hebrew) became king of Persia in 559 BC and conquered Babylon in 539 BC. He is mentioned in a majestic passage in Isaiah where the Lord says of Cyrus,

“‘He is my shepherd, and he shall fulfill all my purpose’; saying of Jerusalem, ‘She shall be built,’ and of the temple, ‘Your foundation shall be laid.'” (Isaiah 44:28)

In other words, Cyrus would be the one who would cause Jerusalem to be rebuilt after it had been destroyed decades earlier by the Babylonians.

Isaiah said about Cyrus as the prophecy continues into chapter 45:

“Thus says the LORD to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have grasped, to subdue nations before him and to loose the belts of kings, to open doors before him that gates may not be closed: ‘I will go before you and level the exalted places, I will break in pieces the doors of bronze and cut through the bars of iron, I will give you the treasures of darkness and the hoards in secret places, that you may know that it is I, the LORD, the God of Israel, who call you by your name. For the sake of my servant Jacob, and Israel my chosen, I call you by your name, I name you, though you do not know me.'” (Isaiah 45:1-4)

Image result for image of cyrus the greatNotice the beginning and the end of this passage. Cyrus, a non-Israelite king, is called God’s anointed, a term ordinarily used only for Israelite leaders. Second, Cyrus, although called by the God of Israel, doesn’t actually know the God of Israel. Instead, like the vast majority of people in the ancient world, he worshiped different deities in the form of idols.

In fulfillment of this prophecy, the Scriptures record how Cyrus made this decree to the Jewish people living in Babylon, where they had been taken in exile:

“Thus says Cyrus king of Persia, ‘The LORD [meaning Yahweh], the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and he has charged me to build him a house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whoever is among you of all his people, may the LORD [Yahweh] his God be with him. Let him go up.'” (2 Chronicles 36:23)

A pagan king encouraged the Jewish people to return to their homeland and rebuild their temple, also helping to finance the endeavor. It’s an important to realize that Cyrus did not only do this for the people of Israel. This became a standard Persian policy, allowing exiles to return to their homelands and rebuild their temples as subjects of the Persian empire.

We know this from the Cyrus Cylinder discovered in 1879. There, we read that Marduk, the chief god of the Babylonian pantheon and called “the king of the gods” in the text, “took the hand of Cyrus . . . and called him by his name, proclaiming him aloud for the kingship over all of everything.” We also read in the text that Cyrus restored the various idol temples in his empire, which gives further confirmation to the Biblical account.

The Babylonian god Marduk is given credit for the reign of Cyrus in Babylonian records. In the Bible, it is Yahweh, the God of Israel and the only true God, Who takes the credit. Obviously, Cyrus did not know Him, just as Isaiah said.

Could Donald Trump be a modern day Cyrus? Could it be that Trump, like Cyrus, clearly does not know the Lord in a real and personal way but could still be used by God to accomplish His purposes?

Sure. God can use any vessel He chooses, even those hostile to Him. It’s up to Him to do what He wants to do. Only He can answer this question for sure.

But recognize that God did not raise up an idol-worshiping king to rule the nation of Israel. That would have been a curse rather than a blessing.

So when I heard Christians are talking about God raising up Trump to lead America, I immediately think this is very different than Cyrus being used to help the exiles return to Jerusalem and rebuild it. While God could certainly choose to use anyone in this capacity, there is another possibility to consider.

 

There was another ancient king named Nebuchadnezzar, the Babylonian leader who, decades before Cyrus became king, led his armies to destroy Jerusalem, burn down the temple, and send the Jewish people into exile in 586 BC.

He too was an idol worshiper, yet shockingly, Yahweh called him “My servant,” stating plainly,

“behold, I will send for all the tribes of the north, declares the LORD, and for Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, my servant, and I will bring them against this land [meaning Judah] and its inhabitants, and against all these surrounding nations. I will devote them to destruction, and make them a horror, a hissing, and an everlasting desolation” (Jeremiah 25:9; see also 27:6; 43:10).

So, Cyrus was anointed by God to restore the Jewish people from captivity and to rebuild Jerusalem after Nebuchadnezzar, as a vessel of divine judgment, was called by God to send the Jewish people into exile and to destroy Jerusalem.

Two pagan kings, both raised up — one to bring judgment on a rebellious nation and other other to bring restoration to a repentant nation.

Is Donald Trump a Cyrus or a Nebuchadnezzar, if either?

Let God be God, and only time will tell. While we wait, watch, vote and act, let’s not forget to pray: God, have mercy on America!

The one thing of which we are certain is that this is a very critical season in the history of our nation.

Posted November 20, 2016 by aurorawatcherak in Christianity

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Election Results in Retrospect   1 comment

In 36 hours, the fat lady sings and the world as we know it may be over.

Not really.

Yeah, this is an important election in which, if you insist upon voting either Democrat or Republican, you really don’t have any good choices. A friend who grew up in communist China reminds me that “In communism, there are no choices.”

Two days from now, our nation’s fate, probably for the next three generations, will be decided and none of it will be good. Each of the two incredibly flawed leading presidential hopefuls, chosen by an incredibly flawed system, would lead us on a distinctly different, distinctly flawed path to a distinctly different and uniquely flawed future. Neither Hillary Clinton nor Donald Trump is presidential timbre.

Image result for image of reapers in a field of weedsClinton is corrupt, a serial liar who looks increasingly pathological, with a public and private stance for every occasion. Trump is an erratic, compulsive boor who plays fast and loose with the facts. He is a pig with women. Any decent person would grieve their child grew up to be like either of them.

Their nominations are a sad indictment of our election process. These two specimens of inequity were tapped to represent their parties over far better qualified choices. Nonetheless, we will be saddled with one of them as 45th president on Jan. 20. It is mind-boggling anybody would vote for either. It is likely many are casting ballots more for future U.S. Supreme Court picks, or vice presidential nominees, or the economy, or immigration reform, or simply against one of the two.

Listen closely and you can hear the Founders rolling in their graves.

It’s a time when the country desperately needs good choices, so it is unfortunate that there aren’t any. Even if voters were to stop playing the elites’ game and elect Gary Johnson, things just aren’t miraculously going to be better. Yes, I am concerned about the direction of the country. Violence is rampant, the economy is fragile and morality … yeah.

But don’t panic. I’m not. There is no reason to freak out, though you might want to seriously consider stocking up on food and ammo if you haven’t already. Remember, it’s better not to use a credit card for either one, because that tracks back to you and you don’t want the government knowing what you have. It makes it so much easier for them to come take it from you. But, still, preparing doesn’t mean we freak out.

Why not?

God is still on His throne. Yes, we are in a horrible mess. No, God didn’t do that. We the people of the United States did that! Through our lack of care, we allowed the elites to take over our country and make a horrible mess … a mess that might take generations to clean up, if we can do it at all.

Christians, that’s no reason to be anxious that God has or will forsake us, because He won’t. As Christians, we should take a different view into an election cycle that the rest of the world does. Our view is through the lens of faith. We believe this truth:

And we know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

Ultimately, who is in the White House doesn’t matter one wit because God is in control. Make no mistake, rough times are coming. No matter who wins the White House, it will not be a good time for Christians. Americans in generalhelped to make the mess we’re living in and the mudslide that is about to wash over us is one that we helped create. The churches have been remiss in preaching the gospel and in calling ourselves to task for the immorality that is rampant in our world. No, I am not saying we should be rallying to demand a return to morality in secular society. I’m saying we should be examining ourselves and our focuses over the last several decades and calling OURSELVES to task and then cleaning house.

In that calling and cleaning, it is highly likely that we will draw the ire of the current government, no matter who wins the White House. Consider it discipline. God is not saying “Well done, good and faithful servant.” He’s saying “We have a problem here and you need to listen to Me on how to fix it.”

I know that’s a hard lesson to learn … that sometimes God lets bad things happen to us so that we will listen to Him … but there is the lesson we need and it is the lesson that will be given, no matter who wins the White House.

Jeremiah 29:1-23

The prophet Jeremiah sent a letter to the exiles Nebuchadnezzar had carried off from Jerusalem to Babylon. It was addressed to the elders who were left among the exiles, to the priests, to the prophets, and to all the other people who were exiled in Babylon. He sent it after King Jeconiah, the queen mother, the palace officials, the leaders of Judah and Jerusalem, the craftsmen, and the metal workers had been exiled from Jerusalem. He sent it with Elasah son of Shaphan and Gemariah son of Hilkiah. King Zedekiah of Judah had sent these men to Babylon to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon.The letter said:

“The Lord God of Israel who rules over all says to all those he sent into exile to Babylon from Jerusalem, Build houses and settle down. Plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters. Find wives for your sons and allow your daughters get married so that they too can have sons and daughters. Grow in number; do not dwindle away. Work to see that the city where I sent you as exiles enjoys peace and prosperity. Pray to the Lord for it. For as it prospers you will prosper.’

“For the Lord God of Israel who rules over all says, ‘Do not let the prophets or those among you who claim to be able to predict the future by divination deceive you. And do not pay any attention to the dreams that you are encouraging them to dream.They are prophesying lies to you and claiming my authority to do so. But I did not send them. I, the Lord, affirm it!’ 

For the Lord says, ‘Only when the seventy years of Babylonian rule are over will I again take up consideration for you. Then I will fulfill my gracious promise to you and restore  you to your homeland.29:11 For I know what I have planned for you,’ says the Lord. ‘I have plans to prosper you, not to harm you. I have plans to give you a future filled with hope. When you call out to me and come to me in prayerI will hear your prayers. When you seek me in prayer and worship, you will find me available to you. If you seek me with all your heart and soul, I will make myself available to you,’ says the Lord. ‘Then I will reverse your plight and will regather you from all the nations and all the places where I have exiled you,’ says the Lord. ‘I will bring you back to the place from which I exiled you.’

29:15You say, ‘The Lord has raised up prophets of good news for us here in Babylon.’ But just listen to what the Lord has to say about the king who occupies David’s throne and all your fellow countrymen who are still living in this city of Jerusalem and were not carried off into exile with you. The Lord who rules over all says, ‘I will bring war, starvation, and disease on them. I will treat them like figs that are so rotten they cannot be eaten. I will chase after them with war, starvation, and disease. I will make all the kingdoms of the earth horrified at what happens to them. I will make them examples of those who are cursed, objects of horror, hissing scorn, and ridicule among all the nations where I exile them. For they have not paid attention to what I said to them through my servants the prophets whom I sent to them over and over again,’ says the Lord. ‘And you exiles have not paid any attention to them either,’ says the Lord. So pay attention to what I, the Lord, have said, all you exiles whom I have sent to Babylon from Jerusalem.’

The Lord God of Israel who rules over all also has something to say about Ahabson of Kolaiah and Zedekiah son of Maaseiah, who are prophesying lies to you and claiming my authority to do so. ‘I will hand them over to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon and he will execute them before your very eyes. And all the exiles of Judah who are in Babylon will use them as examples when they put a curse on anyone. They will say, “May the Lord treat you like Zedekiah and Ahab whom the king of Babylonroasted to death in the fire!This will happen to them because they have done what is shameful in Israel. They have committed adultery with their neighborswives and have spoken lies while claiming my authority. They have spoken words that I did not command them to speak. I know what they have done. I have been a witness to it,’ says the Lord.” 

We did not listen to Him when we had opportunity. We chose rulers to put between ourselves and God and now, well, we’re going to reap that harvest of what we have sown. But don’t be anxious, because God’s plans always come about, in His good time, when He has our attention.

 

 

 

Posted November 7, 2016 by aurorawatcherak in politics

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Property as Foundation for Freedom of Religion   1 comment

“Shame on you! As a Christian, you shouldn’t be for private property! Read your Bible!”

This was the reply to a comment I made in an Alaskan newspaper.

Don’t challenge me if you don’t want to hear my full opinion.

Many Christians, while they cherish religious liberty, are uncomfortable with the concept of property rights, and the commerce that arises from the establishment of property rights. They feel it is somehow un-Christlike to want to own land and stuff or to make a profit in business. This is contrasted with some of the agnostic free marketers I know who insist that all we need is property rights and the rest will take care of itself.

Pope Francis is often held up as an example of a Christian who reads the New Testament as a treatise on socialism. He views commerce as grubby business purely based on self-interest, tending inevitably toward exploitation, and the opposite of charity. This flawed reading of the New Testament is similar to Karl Marx. Marx was militantly opposed to religion, but praised Christianity in what he saw as its declamation against private property in the name of an otherworldly denial of self.

Christians had a hand in founding both the Fabian socialists in the United Kingdom and the Progressive Movement in the United States. Why? Well, a couple of reasons. Some of these future socialists took their inspiration from Jesus’s insistence that Christians should take care of the poor. That was an admirable basis. The second strain of Christian progressivism held that since Jesus came down to earth, our task as Christians is to build a heaven on earth. Many early Quakers believed that, although there is absolutely no Biblical basis for that teaching. Although many socialists were atheists, many Christians allied with them for either or both of these reasons.

In today’s America we can see the heart of the leftward movement in our government is a claim against property that insists that the divisions among us are as deep as they are because of economic inequality, and if we do not address that inequality today, it will worsen tomorrow. Many well-meaning and misguided Christians think this way.

The most formidable enemies of property rights are formidable precisely because they know better than to separate the issue of property rights from the issue of other freedoms, including freedom of conscience and religious liberty. They recognize human beings are an odd integrity of soul and body. Marx understood clearly that if you like the way the human being is organized then you are going to have to protect it all. If you do not like that integrity, then you are going to have to uproot it all. Thus he made clear in the Communist Manifesto that overthrowing the age-old institution of property will involve “the most radical rupture with traditional ideas.” If private property is going to be abolished, everything will have to be abolished. Marriage and religion are two prominent targets for elimination in Marx’s writings.

Several decades later, in the Fabian Essays in Socialism that led to the founding of the British Labour Party, George Bernard Shaw and others tried to downplay that side of Marxism. They claimed that they intended only to destroy property rights—that socialism is not about getting rid of the family or religion. They weren’t entirely convincing because they didn’t really believe their obfuscations. Shaw, for instance, wrote that “a married woman is a female slave chained to a male one; and a girl is a prisoner in the house and in the hands of her parents.” Graham Wallas, co-founder of the London School of Economics, argued that it is inefficient for families to eat their meals separately in their houses, and lamented that it would be a long time “before we cease to feel that an Englishman’s home [is] his castle, with free entrance and free egress alike forbidden.”

Clearly, the Fabians’ ideal society involved more than the redistribution of wealth.

There are obvious parallels in our own time and country. In 2008, President Obama campaigned on the idea that we should “spread the wealth around,” and had little to say about the family and religious liberty. Money wasn’t the only thing he and his allies wanted to change, however. After he was elected, the President altered his position about the nature of marriage, and now the enforcement of a new understanding of gender identity is pressed upon us through powerful legal and social means. A friend who is an administrator at a small Christianity college says the staff there have had conversations with their legal advisors on whether it will remain legal for them to separate their student body into dormitories for men and women. Will the swelling chorus that denies any connection between nature and sex to conjure up countless new so-called genders compel colleges built around faith concepts to join the new zeitgeist or close their doors? It is not inconceivable that Biblical teaching may soon be declared hate speech and therefore become illegal. So this fight is not just a fight about property.

On the other hand, let’s analyze it as if it were.

I own myself, which means I have a right to control my life. So, let’s say my son decides he wants to go to this college. He’s 18, so owns himself and that constitutes a right to control his own life. He wishes to live in a dormitory with similarly-minded other men because he recognizes that as a good way to not have sex until he’s married. The school owns the dormitory, so should be able to set standards for the facilities. They offer housing to students and to their parents, who are often footing the bill, based upon the contractual obligation that this is a good clean environment in which young people can concentrate on learning. That is the product they’re selling and the parents and students are buying. That’s a free monetary exchange of property value for property value.

If the school is forced by the government to open dormitories up across gender lines, then the school has been deprived of a primary marketing tool, which is another property value. They can no longer advertise their school as a wholesome environment for Christian students. Therefore, a theft has occurred. If parents and students decide students would rather remain at home and attend college digitally, then the school has been deprived of tuition and the students and parents have been deprived of the right to spend their money as they see fit (yet another property value).

A theft has occurred.

The converse of this is that there are private colleges that want to open dormitories across gender lines and market themselves as an exciting alternative to the Christian school experience. Again, the college has a right, by virtue of property ownership, to market themselves in this way and students and parents have a right, by virtue of their property stake in their money, to buy that experience. To deny them that right is to steal money from both the college and the parents/students.

I know a lot of Christians who would get angry that I am saying this, but the fact is that we have been denying “the world” its property rights for a long time, so now that the worst of secular society has decided to turn the tables on us, we shouldn’t be surprised. Which is not to say that we should embrace the tyranny. You do not recompense the theft of one person’s property rights by stealing the property rights of the original offender. The only moral solution is for all powers to stop stealing from one another.

 

Moving the Boundaries   Leave a comment

Our pastor is a systematic preacher, which means he preaches through a book of the Bible rather than jumping around reading on various topics. Most of the time, his sermons have nothing to do with the world at the moment, but occasionally, his system converges with world events and then he preaches a powerful sermon. This Sunday was such a convergence and I only hope I can do it justice.

I said, “Oh, the feeling in the pit of my stomach! I writhe in anguish.

Oh, the pain in my heart! My heart pounds within me.

I cannot keep silent, for I hear the sound of the trumpet; the sound of the battle cry pierces my soul! 

I see one destruction after another taking placeso that the whole land lies in ruins.

I see our tents suddenly destroyedtheir curtains torn down in a mere instant.

How long must I see the enemy’s battle flags and hear the military signals of their bugles? 

The Lord answered, “This will happen because my people are foolish.They do not know me. They are like children who have no senseThey have no understanding.They are skilled at doing evilThey do not know how to do good.” Jeremiah 4:19-22

Thus, I set the table for you. I’ve sat at it quite a lot in the last decade or so, watching the world in its ways and the churches in their struggles. Sometimes it’s hard to know how to respond when our society clearly ignored God. I’m an individualist. I believe salvation is a personal decision between a single person and God. I can’t force anyone else to bow a knee. All I can do is pray for them and hope I set an example worth following. I can warn where the Bible warns and I can cast a light into the shadows. You can lead folks to the Truth, but  you can’t force them to accept it.

In this, I join the ranks of Jeremiah and Hosea and many other prophets. I don’t consider myself their equal, but they probably didn’t consider themselves equal to others. God spoke directly to them; He speaks to me through their words. Those words are no less meaningful today than when the warnings were spoken thousands of years ago, because the human race has not progressed, no matter what our delusions may tell us.

I look on our society with anxiety in my heart and the clear understanding that the churches are being rebuked, knowing that it is already too late because God’s judgment has been passed on us. I’m not talking to the people of the United States of America, the not-Christian nation that was so richly blessed by the generations of a faithful plurality that no longer exists. I’m talking to the churches and the individual Christians who compose them, who have failed in their responsibilities to live the gospel of Jesus Christ out loud, come what may, undeterred by the world’s whispers in our wandering ears.

Blow the ram’s horn in GibeahSound the trumpet in Ramah!

Sound the alarm in Beth Aven! Tremble in fear, O Benjamin!

Ephraim will be ruined in the day of judgment! 

What I am declaring to the tribes of Israel will certainly take place! 

The princes of Judah are like those who move boundary markers.

I will pour out my rage on them like a torrential flood! Ephraim will be oppressed, crushed under judgment, because he was determined to follow the command of men. (Some translations substitute “worthless idols”. Either works.) Hosea 5:8-11 

Hosea and Jeremiah were contemporaneous prophets. Jeremiah preached in Judah, where King Rehoboam, the son of Solomon, had made treaties with Egypt and Assyria, against God’s express commands not to do that. Hosea preached in Israel where King Jereboam had set up “high places” for Baal worship, also against God’s express commands not to do so. The places named in the text were known seats of Baal worship in Israel. Both prophets saw the handwriting on the wall and had the courage to tell the people what they knew was coming. Both were ignored. Israel would be conquered by Assyria. Judah would later fall to Babylon. The question is “Why?”

God makes it clear through Hosea that the rulers were breaking His rules. Time and again, God warned His people not to reset the boundary markers of their neighbors. (Leviticus 26:26-35; Deuteronomy 19:14; Deuteronomy 27:17). Go ahead. Read them and come back.

Yeah, yeah, but that’s the Old Testament. Jesus had nothing to say on the subject. Oh, really?

He answered, “Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator made them male and female, …” (Matthew 19:4)

Jesus affirmed an ancient boundary stone set back God. We may not like that boundary stone. We may even choose to move that boundary stone to show our displeasure with it, but we cannot say that Jesus never spoke to it. Moving a boundary stone in the Old Testament was a cursing affair — and I’m not talking about offensive language, but God’s judgment. The princes of Judah had moved one of God’s boundary stones and He punished them with devastation for doing so.

In Israel at the time of Hosea and Jeremiah, there was probably a remnant of folks who listened to them and resolved to repent, but the majority ignored them and lived through God’s judgment. So did the faithful people. They had to trust God to see them through what was coming, because they couldn’t do anything about it.

Churches and the Christians who make them up, we’ve allowed God’s boundary stones to be moved. We’ve got a good 50 years of mealy-mouthing our way into a cozy relationship with the world while we’ve built mega-churches filled with smiling people who have never heard the gospel preached. They think God is their giant sugar daddy in the sky who will love them no matter what and never ever take away their favorite sin because that would make them sad and we know that above all else, God wants us to be happy. We divorce and remarry at the same rate as the world. Our children have sex outside of marriage. Now there are welcoming and affirming churches that honestly preach that God destroyed Sodom because they weren’t friendly enough. You can walk into churches and never see a Bible opened and have the motivational speaker massage your self-esteem into glowing good health, but never hear that Jesus died for your sin because you do have sin. We teach this easy believism that so long as you have strolled down an aisle and said some magic words, you’re fine. There’s no need to examine yourself, repent of sins or make amends. Your faith doesn’t have to affect any other area of your life besides maybe how you spend your Sunday mornings. No, God loves you too much to make you feel uncomfortable in this world.

So now the State that sanctified your marriage says yours is equal to that of a same sex couple and that Christians who don’t want to participate as caterers or florists or musicians will lose their businesses, be forced into reeducation programs and perhaps be jailed. That same State now says you no longer have a right to a modicum of privacy in a public bathroom, that people of the opposite gender are free to come watch you in a state of undress. And you’re all lathered and boycotting Target and maybe pulling your kids out of public school. Those aren’t bad things, by the way, but in your ardor to suddenly uphold God’s commands, you’re missing the point.

What is happening now is God’s judgment on us, Christians, for following the commands of men and allowing God’s boundary lines to be moved on a whole host of issues.We have compromised and not just on lifestyle issues like gay marriage and divorce and remarriage inside the church. When a Christian businessman is known for his dishonest dealings with the public, but remains deacon of his church — that’s compromise. It’s a boundary that’s been moved. When pastors conduct marriage ceremonies for people who are not Christians and so have no understanding of covenant marriage — that’s compromise and a boundary that’s been moved. When a Christian couple who has been living together decides to get married and everybody celebrates their “coming to their senses” without ever discussing their sin — that’s compromise. To say you’re a Christian and yet vote for a politician who supports abortion — that’s compromise.

Yes, it’s punishment from God that Obamacare forces Christian businesses to pay for insurance to cover their employees’ abortifacients. Hobby Lobby may have gotten an exemption, but many others have not. But that punishment also has a silver lining. When Fred Phelps said no to baking a wedding cake for a same-sex couple, he forced the rest of us to seriously consider whether church members ought to be approving of second-marriage weddings within the congregation. When we are now creeped out at the very idea of going into a public bathroom, it seems a really good time to pause and ask ourselves if Jesus would approve of our rampant consumerism. Maybe we should stay home and stop feeding the beast and spend our reacquired time and money in prayer for all the folks who just don’t see what the problem is and on ministries that bring people to the Truth of Christ rather than a shallow fairy tale version.

We can’t stop the judgment, folks. By the time Jeremiah and Hosea preached, it was already too late for their respective nations. Judgment was upon them. The same is true of when Jesus walked the Earth. Israel was already a captive nation, desperate for an earthly king to rescue them, which is why they mostly ignored the Savior when He walked among them and then hung Him on a cross when He annoyingly confronted their sin.

Judgment is upon us. In some ways, in most ways, it is our own doing. We replaced the instruction of God with politicians. We tried to legislate morality instead of preach the gospel. We thought our salvation would come from getting cozy with government. Well, a bunch of unelected bureaucrats at the direction of an elected king who won by only 1.3% of the vote just moved a boundary line and claimed they were dispensing justice on our behalf. Are you feeling warm and fuzzy yet?

After centuries of being a respected plurality in the United States who could influence society for the better, Christians are now scoffed at and marginalized and told that the world gets to tell us what our beliefs are and which of them we may exercise this year. Doesn’t that feel a little like what the conquered nations of Israel and Judah must have experienced?

Accepting judgment does not mean that we meekly do what our conquerers require of us. That wouldn’t be repentence to the King who is higher than Barack Obama. If you haven’t been serious about your faith, Christian, it’s time to get serious now … not to protect the liberty we’ve already lost, but to honor He who has saved our souls for something other than our good standing in society. We will have to make painful personal choices about our conduct in a world that now considers faith to be a negative and personal conviction to be illegal. I think it’s going to get worse and it may not get better anytime in our lifetimes. Many of us have totally earned that.

But Jesus knew we would face times like this, Christians

Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father is well pleased to give you the kingdom. Luke 12:32

Remember, Christians, all this “reality” that we consider so important right now … it’s all going to burn like the fiction that it is and the day will come when God ushers us into His kingdom and says “Well done, good and faithful servant.” (Luke 19:17; Matthew 25:21-23). I hope He doesn’t have to have a bema seat conversation with me about compromise before I get to pass through the gate.

Posted May 16, 2016 by aurorawatcherak in Christianity, Uncategorized

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Disintegrating World   2 comments

This will be a series. Check out the links at the bottom as they come.

We live in a world that is disintegrating, so why are we surprised when our world shows its rotten parts?

God created the universe to be perfect. You can discover that truth scattered throughout the Bible, but it’s actually in the first verses in Genesis. There was no death. Death is a function of disintegration. Logically, if the world God created was not subject to disintegration, it was perfect.

But that state of perfection soon ended. God didn’t do that. Even Satan didn’t do that, though he played a part. Human beings did that. Eve listened to Satan’s lies, but the Biblical account makes it appear that Adam was standing right there.

Mankind had a choice. God created mankind with the ability to make a choice. God placed Adam and Eve in a garden where all their needs were met and He gave them ONE rule to follow so that they would have a freewill choice in how they wanted to live their lives. God placed a tree amid all the other trees. He told them about it so there was no surprise, no secret plot to mess them up. They had a choice.

Eat of any plant in the garden, but that one and you’ll live forever in this beautiful garden and have face-to-face relationship with God, Who is absolute goodness. But don’t eat of that tree because you will lose your life when you do. Enjoy the garden I have you. The price of staying here is obedience to my ONE rule. Genesis 3

We don’t know how long it took for Adam and Eve to screw up the great deal. I tend to think it wasn’t really long. Satan … or maybe it was just Eve’s self-will … began questioning God’s purpose in keeping the fruit from them. God wasn’t telling the truth about the consequences. God was keeping them from hidden knowledge. The fruit was good to eat. What could it hurt?

A lot!Adam and Eve didn’t physically die when they ate the fruit, but they died in all the really important ways. They were cut off from their relationship with God and thrust into a world of decay. Their own bodies began to decay. They blamed each other. They raised a murderer. Their damaged genes were passed onto their offspring to the whole of mankind.

Adam and Eve didn’t physically die when they ate the fruit, but they died in all the really important ways. They were cut off from their relationship with God and thrust into a world of decay. Their own bodies began to decay. They blamed each other. They raised a murderer. Their damaged genes were passed onto their offspring to the whole of mankind.

We lost perfection, but we didn’t lose the memory of perfection. We want the world to be perfect. We rail against the rot in the world, we are puzzled by human beings who act in fallen ways. We know things should be different, but the vast majority of us have no knowledge of why things are not what we dream them to be.

We want a bent and damaged world to pick itself up and act like the perfect world our ancestors sacrificed to their self-will. When that doesn’t happen, we blame the one Being who didn’t cause this mess – God.

Mankind screwed this up all on our own. God has provided a way for the world to be returned to perfection == If we will believe Him and lay aside our self-will to accept it.

More on that in future posts.

Disintegrating World (this post)

 

Posted March 5, 2016 by aurorawatcherak in Christianity, Uncategorized

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