Christianity and Scuba diving, how clear is your water?

My wife and I have our advanced open water certification for Scuba diving.  We are only able to go every 3 or 4 years but when we go we plan on going somewhere the visibility is 50’ minimum.  The reason for this is because we got our initial open water training in Oklahoma lakes where 5’ – 10’ visibility is considered good and where some of our training dives had even less than that.  So I’m sure you can appreciate why we prefer clear ocean water.  When you go over the side of the boat and stick your head under the water and can see a good chunk of a 500’ ship 70’ below you which was sunk as an artificial reef, that is something to behold.

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So we don’t like diving in muddy or murky water; you simply can’t see what’s really going on.  I think this illistrates how many Christians view certain trending or popular causes today as if through self induced murky water.  Nobody wants to offend, we all want to be seen as compassionate or understanding and the authority of scripture becomes the casualty as it is just gets glazed over and ignored in the process.

An example of how we have witnessed this scenario played out in real life has even been with some of the people who have had significant influence in our Christian lives.  While teaching or exhorting devotion to God and adherence to scripture, they at the same time seem to be offering an overabundance of, what would appear to be, compassion to friends or family who are walking in significant moral sin (read homosexuality or fornication).  These are not situations where someone slipped up and “fell” into sin, but rather blatant moral violations of scripture for which they remain unrepentant.

In one situation like this we asked about the open acceptance of “brothers in the Lord” who are violating God’s law.  The reason given was a reasonable one along the line of “we are supposed to visit those in prison”.  I can fully appreciate that answer.  But later when Christian ministry by the sinning brother was encouraged or even facilitated, that goes well beyond the visiting in prison motive and is a lot more than I feel comfortable with.  I feel the same about so many who freely accept as normal those family members who profess Christ but are living together or are involved in some other sexual sin. Some go so far as to refer to the most recent live in partner as the husband or wife.  There is no other way to describe this other than validating and putting a stamp of approval on the sin.  This muddies the water of scripture which causes even more things to become unclear.

These types of circumstances are extremely challenging.  Over the years, Barbie and I have had to make the very heartbreaking decisions to break off fellowship with some who, while professing Christ, were at the same time engaging in clear and specific violations of scripture (1 Cor. 5:11). We seem to be in the great minority in embracing this weighty yet effective biblical practice of shunning.   Many a tear has been shed as we made appeals to some for repentance and change.  But frankly, without it being a church wide effort, our little boycott had little impact, but we could not allow that to change our conviction to not violate scripture.

Don’t get me wrong, this is heartbreaking stuff, and if you think it was easy to call the police on one of our own kids and kick him out of the house because of drugs, you are so very mistaken and all this was during a time when he was still attending church and posing as a Christian. Thank God for answered prayers for our sons’ return, but he had to hit a pretty low bottom before he looked up.  But then that is a vital part of the conviction of sin process.  Those walking in sin actually suffer the consequences of rejecting God’s law which brings with it sadness, aloneness, depression and a sense of loss and desperation.  And it is in that state of mind where God’s heart of love and grace is waiting to rescue.

I want to be as clear as I possibly can be; to look the other way with tacit approval of unrepentant sin is to encourage it and to short circuit the cost and conviction of sin process leading to salvation.  Those who continue unrepentantly in sin are in danger of the most severe judgments from God.  So how can one defend a position of “compassion” while perhaps enabling the unrepentant sinner to go blithely on down the road to destruction?  Add to that the fact scripture requires you to warn them or you become guilty of the same judgment and your misplaced compassion may well be ushering more than just one into hell.  (Ezekiel 3 & 33)

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This brings me to the bottom line of this blog.  I must give warning to those who would muddy the water of the doctrine of sin to the point where you cannot even tell right from wrong.  I’ll return to my scuba diving experience to bring an illustration.  Those coral formations and fish seen at the Japanese Zero or the sunken ship are actually very bland and grey to look at.  Why, because at that depth, most of the light spectrum is filtered out and you have to add artificial light from a flashlight or camera flash to bring out the colors.  And even though those formations are beautiful once artificial light is brought, one must never forget that the Japanese plane on which they formed went down in flames as a result of enemy fire from us (US) and the 510’ Spiegel Grove went down at the hands of friends who intentionally sunk her by cutting holes throughout her hull.  Especially the Spiegel Grove offers wonderful and majestic views which is the very thing that makes it all the more difficult to keep in mind it’s a scuttled ship dead and buried in the ocean.  And neither that plane nor that ship will ever again be or do what they were intended except by some great miracle.

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Sunken ships & planes are one thing, people on the other hand are of far greater interest to our miraculous God who stands at the ready to pierce the fog, murky water or whatever might stand in the way of redemption.  If we truly love that errant brother or sister, we must choose to partner with God instead of being a barrier to His work of grace.

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So many Christians have joined the trending mantra of “being on the right side of history” when it comes to acceptance, equality or the latest pop culture hobby.  It’s as if there are 2 roads, one wide and the other narrow.  Christians, in droves, can be seen cutting across the median from that narrow road to the wide road, shouting ahead to the un-churched masses “wait for us, we’ll catch up”.  Short sighted and blinded by the muddy water, they are doing this to feel accepted on that right side of history road.  And whereas that road will be very broad and well populated, it will nonetheless come to an abrupt and horrible end.  By the way, that other rougher, unpaved and narrow road is labeled eternity.  (Matt. 7:13, 14)

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What color is your profile picture?

It has become popular nowadays to color or change ones profile picture to join in expressing trending issues whether it be honoring murdered Marines or celebrating “equality”.  As someone who has several in the military we certainly support our military and soberly memorialize those killed while on duty abroad or on our home soil.

But I would like to focus this blog on the rainbow colored profile pictures of Christians.  I would just like to ask a couple of questions.  Can you explain to me which scripture you came across which enlightened you that homosexuality is no longer an abomination to God?  Did God change His Mind? Will He change His mind about other sins like stealing?  There are about the same number of scriptures dealing with sexual immorality as there are prohibiting stealing.  So if a special interest group of thieves started promoting the acceptance of their robber identity would you color you profile picture silver and gold in solidarity with their desire to have an “equal” amount of money to spend?

The reason God prohibits activity is not because He simply doesn’t like it, but because He knows it hurts and destroys us and/or others.  So as a Christian, for me to encourage and support activity which God has indicated is a destructive activity is to oppose God.

Paul, in Galatians 1:7, talks about those who have decided to follow a “different kind of good news” (God’s Word Translation).  Sure it sounds like good news to the homosexual, thief or gossip, but it will in the end bring destruction in the same way embracing sexual immorality has brought total destruction to every single society in history which has liked, shared and embraced trending sexual “freedom”.

So as we can fully enjoy the Technicolor world God has created, we must recognize that when it comes to the importance of His commandments and the authority of Scripture, God is probably trending a bit more black & white.

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Which comes first, the chicken or the egg?

A clandestinely recorded video was released this week suggesting Planned Parenthood (PP), at a minimum, is providing aborted baby parts presumably for research.  PP has denied selling these specimens claiming to only charge for the delivery thereof.

Just for the record, I happen to be very familiar with shipping as I ship out an average of a dozen items each week.  These items range in size from 5”X5”X5” up to 5”X8”X11” and the shipping weights vary from 5 pounds up to almost 40 pounds.  Each of these various sized and weighted items can fit in a flat rate medium size Priority box and it cost me a flat $12.65 to any of the 50 states.

I am not suggesting that the baby hearts, lungs and livers are shipped by the USPS.  But when $30 is charged for one less important item and other smaller items of greater interest to researchers are priced higher and higher up to $100 or more one has to face the reality that these are sales prices and not delivery prices.

PP has not apologized for the practice but has apologized for the unfortunate manner in which this knowledge came to light.  And boy are the liberals outraged.  But their outrage is how the tape was edited and that it was obtained in a “sting” type manner.  The rather long video was of course heavily edited for time, but if you listen to the entire thing, there was nothing noteworthy omitted.

And as for it being done in a sting, do you hear the same liberals outraged about the dozens of sting operations conducted over the past few years which have flushed out Islamic extremist who were planning terror attacks. No, the greatest outrage of late from the left has come in the form of encouraging a boycott of Costco for their lack of selling eggs from free range chickens.  Most notably is Brad Pitt encouraging this action (as if Brad Pitt actually goes and buys eggs from Costco).  And in a month which has already seen the price of eggs almost double, the only people who will be hurt will be those people least able to afford the ever increasing price of eggs because some millionaire Hollywood snob decided it’s best to let the chicken cross the road to get some exercise.

Here’s the catch, the FDA defines “free range” as “having continuous free access to the outdoors for a significant portion of their lives”.  Commercial free range chicken coops (there’s an ironic word to associate with free range – coop) are often just as crowded as caged chickens but with areas where they have access to the “outdoors” like the one below.

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And truth be told, all those people clicking “like” and claiming to also join the boycott will most likely still shop at Costco in order to get their $4.99 rotisserie chickens for dinner tonight.  Just out of curiosity, were those free range rotisserie chickens?

So instead of being horrified at the graphic strategy of where the forceps are placed as they crush the life out of these late term babies, the outrage is arrogantly and sadly misdirected at the social life of chickens.  One has to ask where could we possibly go from here?

Killing the goose that lays the golden egg!

There have been rumblings in this direction for decades and the recent SCOTUS ruling will serve to highlight the increasing chasm between the declining standards of secular society and, at least the appearance of, more conservative (read narrow and hateful in the opinion of liberals) standards of the church.  The number of articles which have come out in recent days in support of eliminating the tax exempt status of churches and Christian NGOs (like Habitat for Humanity), has surged.  This includes one which showed up on our facebook thread this morning because someone “liked” it.  Seriously, you must “like” economic chaos!

Here are the facts.  If tax exempt status is removed, many (perhaps most) Christians will continue to give to the church as our motive is not the tax deduction, but rather another of those outdated and ridiculous practices promoted in the Bible (read sarcasm).  Where the real hurt will come is with the church’s and Christian NGO’s discretionary money to give, build or serve benevolently.  For example, our church gives away boxes of groceries to many in need every week and even has a Sunday each month where congregants can take a bag of groceries home to give to a neighbor in need.  This is just a portion of what our church does of a charitable nature and it adds up to 10s of thousands of dollars each year.  Remove tax exempt status and this is no longer an expense for the church and taxes will have to be paid on that money.  The same is true for the support of all missionaries both foreign and domestic along with the regular giving of money for utility bills, medications or other miscellaneous support for those in need.  It would likely cut the church’s ability to give by 30 – 50% even if giving remained at a constant level.

Since churches and Christian NGOs account for almost 75% of the support, training, housing and feeding of the poor & needy, the government would never be able to fill the gap.  When you consider the top heavy “overhead” and waste, which is the US government, the additional tax dollars gained would be minimal and would be managed far less efficiently.  The Brooking Institute recently did a study in which looked at just one type of social program.  When the government’s efficiency was compared to the Archdiocese of NY in performing this service, the Catholic Church was able to serve a proportionate number of people with 1 church worker for every 50 government workers for the same equivalent service.  It has been regularly proven that government programs spend over 70% on administration cost compared to an average of less than 30% for private charities.

Am I saying that all churches and Christian NGOs operate with honor?  Absolutely not!  There are gross abuses by those who claim to serve Jesus (who had no place to lay His head) while arrogantly lavishing upon themselves six and seven figure incomes, mansions, luxury cars and more (was that a rant? – I digress!).  But even with those embarrassments to Jesus and the church, the vast majority of these organizations serve honorably and efficiently both in the US and around the world.

Here is just one example: Habitat for Humanity, founded in 1976 by a Christian couple Millard and Linda Fuller, and whose mission statement is “Seeking to put God’s love into action” and is self described as a “Christian housing ministry”.  They have recently passed the 1 million home mark representing housing for almost 2 percent of the entire population of the US.  The value of those homes is estimated to be over 125 billion.  The manner in which the housing is provided requires “sweat equity” work on the house (minimum of 500 hours) and the ability to make the reduced mortgage payments by the prospective residents.    Those payments normally represent about 50% of the norm for the area and when a certain portion of the mortgage is successfully repaid; there is a portion which is then forgiven.  Mortgage payments from existing Habitat houses pay for the raw materials for future houses which in turn increases their ability to build more houses.  I double dog dare you to find any government program which can make claims anywhere near the nature of this single example of Christian service to our nation.

Arthur C. Brooks point out in his book “Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth About Compassionate Conservatism”, that the conservative Christian right is far more giving than the supposed “compassionate” liberal left.  And even amongst the liberal left, the ones who do give are predominantly those with religious motivations in spite of their left leaning views.

When all of these factors are taken into account, the simple fact is that America could never fill the gap or survive the devastating financial impact of removing tax exempt status from Church and para-church organizations.

So I ask, just how important is it to secular liberal society to discredit and destroy the church along with Christian based charitable organizations?  Trust me, they really do hate us that much and will likely not even consider what the fallout will be.  So get ready, it’s going to be a rough ride!

If you thought all this was about the right to marry, think again.

The recent “hard fought victory” for same sex marriage was more of a 5th column diversion.  In fact it may be more appropriate to call it a sacrificial lamb for special interest. Although the right to marry will be exercised by some, it will only be a small percentage who actually takes advantage of their new found “freedom”.  Unless you were born yesterday you should already know the LGBTQ community has little interest in monogamy.  And those who do marry do so primarily for the sake of appearances or the financial benefits while still practicing sexually open relationships. The whole intent at the outset of the sexual revolution which began in the 60’s was the freedom to have sex when, where and with whoever I want.  The concept of long term monogamous commitment is simply of little interest to those who espouse the tenants of the free sex movement.

The truth is that most states that had refused to come to the table of same sex marriage would have most likely been willing to grant similar marriage type benefits to same sex civil unions given time.  Civil unions were planned to be more like a contract which was fairly easy to both initiate and/or cancel.  But now that same sex marriage is the “law of the land”, the only option for those seeking “equality” is to take the marriage path as civil unions are out.  So this “victory” has eliminated the easy in and easy out civil union set up for full blown marriage and the often costly and lengthy divorce process.

So to understand what this is really all about is to watch over the next few weeks and months and see the new found constitutional rights of the LGBTQ community requesting all manner of “equal rights” from churches and Christian owned businesses with predictably punitive lawsuits to follow.  There will be no such tactic used on other religious institutions as the beating down of evangelical Christianity is the intended target.  The main institution which has historically carried the morality standard in the world is the Christian faith.  And now with the wholesale degrading of moral society, there sits the church still espousing holiness and the need for the forgiveness of sin.  In other words, the ever present reminder to the collective guilty conscience of society that God is not pleased.  To discredit the moral standard bearer is to artificially assuage ones guilt and in the process attempt to add legitimacy to their a-moral practices.

So all of this is little more than a vain attempt by the LGBTQ community to feel good about the lifestyle choices they have made by discrediting those who appear to have chosen what is traditionally considered “clean living”.  Here’s the twist, they feel justified in their attacks since the church has already lost the moral high ground and are perceived to be hypocrites.  This is because of all the financial corruption, divorce, sex scandals and unwise “hell, fire and brimstone” preachers out there.  Don’t get me wrong, I think there is not enough of that type of preaching, but where it is lacking is within the walls of the church, not on late night TV.  Too many have taken it out into the face of an indifferent society.  And why are they indifferent?  Lots of reasons, but they legitimately view one of the biggest reasons as being the unwillingness of the church to maintain the high moral standard itself while still pointing what is perceived as a condemning finger at a secular society.  It should come as no shock at all to us that they have become dismissive and cynical at Christians and Christianity.  So why would they feel anything but justified in further harming or throwing Christians under the bus.

I believe the church bears some responsibility here as we have become increasingly arrogant in telling others to do and be while not practicing our own preaching.  In 1 Peter 4:17 it is made clear that judgment begins with the house of the Lord.  So if we are to be persecuted for our faith, let make sure it’s because we have earned it by our holy and Godly lives and not because of hypocritical ones.

Dear friends, you are outsiders and strangers in this world. So I’m asking you not to give in to your sinful longings. They fight against your soul. People who don’t believe might say you are doing wrong. But lead good lives among them. Then they will see your good works. And they will give glory to God on the day he comes to judge.  1 Peter 2:11, 12

The next shoe to drop, about a kid’s size 3!

This one has been coming for a couple of decades now and although Christian religious liberties will probably be the next big target of Satan and his minions (otherwise known as mainstream pop culture in America), the normalization of pedophilia will give it a run for its money.

Whoa, back the child abuse train up, you say.  Too late, the train has already left the station.  A conference was held in July 2014 at the University of Cambridge and sponsored in part by the American Psychiatric Association.  The purpose was primarily to discuss the categorizing and classification of sex and sexual attraction with/to children at certain ages for official legal court purposes in Britain and the USA.  Pedophilia has been defined as a sexual preference for pre-pubescent children.  However in recent decades with puberty starting at younger ages, there was a proposal to categorize sexual interest in 11-14 year old children (post puberty) as hebephilia and label it a disorder.  The categorization proposal was defeated.  That defeat in the words of Ray Blanchard, professor of psychiatry at the University of Toronto and the person who led the APA’s working group on the subject, was a legal ruling “tantamount to stating that the APA’s position is that sexual preference for early pubertal children is normal”.

One of the conference’s participants, Tom O’Carroll who is the former head of the Pedophile Information Exchange and a multiple child sex offender himself, was quoted as saying “it was a rare few days when I could feel relatively popular”.   Professor Philip Tromovitch of the Doshisha University in Japan stated plainly in his keynote presentation that “paedophilic (adult general attraction to children) interest is normal and natural in human males”.  Tom O’Carroll and Professor Tromovitch enjoyed drinks together after the conference.

Combine this with recent rulings protecting sexual orientation rights and you have the broad open door for the next big social agenda.  The way this is coming down will be to claim that my sexual orientation is to be attracted to young boys or to young girls.  And because protective rights for sexual orientation is on the books, this tactic already has a foot through the door.  This is especially true when it involves 11-14 year olds because of the failure of the AMA conference to label attraction to this age group as a disorder.  It will be tougher and take a longer time for it to trickle down to pre-teens, but like the saying goes “it’s hard to stop a train”.

No way you say!  100 years ago you would have said “no way the divorce rate in the church will be over 50%”, 50 years ago you would have said “no way homosexuality will make it to the main stream”, 25 years ago you would have said “no way Bruce Jenner would “become” a woman” and just 10 years ago you would have said “no way same sex marriage will be the law of the land”.  WAY!!!

False advertising!

This week the supreme court of Oklahoma voted 7-2 in favor of a resolution stating the 10 commandments monument on the state capitol grounds must be removed as it is unconstitutional.  Since constitutional law is not my area of expertise I cannot properly debate this point.  On a practical note if monuments like this are in fact against the intent of the constitution, then why didn’t our founding fathers deal with it at the time of its writing?  There were countless examples of Christian inscriptions, carvings and monuments on government grounds and buildings in the 1700’s.  Their silence on destroying or removing them at the time would seem to be a clear message that it was not their intent for the separation of church and state to include references to the Christian religious principals upon which they patterned that very document.

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But on an even more practical note, I whole heartedly agree that every single vestige of Christian symbols or writings should now be removed from any and all government institutions nationwide.  Why, you ask?  Very simple.  It’s false advertising, not that I want to reduce Jesus to an advertising campaign, but the current occupants, rulings and practices of those inhabiting governmental institutions are a misnomer to Christianity.  It would be like a yard sign in the front yard of a murderer which says “a really good man lives here”.  Simply stated, it is misdirection for the reputation of Christ for His name to be associated with the current state of affairs related to our government and I would just as soon that not be the case.  So if or until our country as a whole actually returns to the tenants of Christianity, I for one don’t want to be sending a mixed message to the world as to what a Christian nation might look like.