Ben Carson & Islam comments

This will be brief and to the point.  Ben Carson was rightly quoted as having said this weekend that he would not advocate a Muslim in the White House and that the Muslim faith is inconsistent with the principals of the Constitution of the United States.  And there is “outrage” over his “racist” comments.

The 1st amendment gives us freedom of religion or freedom from religion depending on your view.  There are two houses in Islam or abodes.  One is the Abode of Islam (worldwide implementation of Sharia law) and the other is the Abode (house) of War.  The Koran requires all Muslims to maintain the Abode of War until all the people of the book (Jews and Christians) come under the Abode of Islam by means of conversion, taxation or death’.

The above primary tenant of Islam is the antithesis of freedom of any kind, much less relating to religion and therefore in direct contradiction to the founding principals of this country and the constitution of the US.  Mike drop!!!

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Is your temptation your identity?

There have been several articles I have read recently by those who identify as Christian who also say they identify as gay.  Some have tried to explain away the scriptures which address homosexuality.  If you have actually heard the arguments they present then you know the gymnastics they go through.  They ignore some scriptures, twisting others and using the most obscure possible definitions of other words in monumental efforts to arrive at the thinnest semblance of justification.  I am not going to debate those interpretations in this blog.  I am going to use a writing approach I have used in a couple of other blogs by inserting a different sin into some of the comments and narratives I have read.

We are all tempted to sin.  I believe each of us has a propensity to sin in particular ways.  My poison was anger.  I have grown tremendously in my ability to resist the temptation to get angry.  But just because my particular temptation is anger, I do not express my identity as an angry person.  This is my concern over those who may even resist acting out homosexually but still identify themselves in terms like “I am a gay Christian”.

Sin is sin, and as such our approach to all sin should be basically the same.  So consider the following “quotes” by gay Christians albeit with other sins inserted into the narrative.

‘I’ve come to the painful conclusion that I am murderer, but what do I do now? How do I sort this out?’

‘So now I’m out as a child molester and I’m blessed with loving friends and family and I have found a wonderful, affirming church community.’

‘I’m 18 and I’ve known for a while now that I’m a thief. Yep, THIEF!!!!! But I’m also a Christian, and those two don’t usually mix well. I haven’t actually committed a robbery or anything. The problem is I don’t know whether I should accept my thieving nature and try and be both a Christian devoted to others and God who just happens to like to steal, or to fight my nature and not have the extra stuff I want for all my life.’

 ‘What Jesus taught was a radical message of welcome and inclusion and love.  And now that I have come out as a gossip, I feel certain God loves me just the way I am, and I have a huge sense of calling to communicate that to young people.’

‘This is something I have been praying about for years and I finally had a break through.  I was recently praying about my lust and pornography addiction and was suddenly overcome with the deep knowledge by the Holy Spirit that God loves me this way and I should pursue and embrace who I am.’

I think you get the idea!  The arguments for accepting the sin of homosexuality fall apart when you overlay another sin which has not garnered such wholesale acceptance in society.  The excuse rings out that it’s because it involves “love”.  Other sins don’t involve love?  Don’t tell me gluttons don’t love food or the lustful don’t love porn or fornication.  And somehow robbers don’t love money and more stuff.  What if robbery started being practiced and justified by some “Robin hood” twist of scripture?  Would we then have denominations who would accept pastors who are active thieves?

And what about those who identify as gay but do not act on it?  On the one hand I applaud their resistance of sin.  But I am still concerned that being gay has become their identity.  Would someone who is tempted to molest children express their identity as a child molester?   And just for the record, I actually have some issue with recovering alcoholics identifying themselves for the rest of their lives as “hi, I’m Milton and I’m and alcoholic”.   That does not represent the redemptive power of the Holy Spirit as I understand it from scripture.  Is the work of sanctification weak and ineffective?  Jesus’ exhortation to “go and sin no more” speaks to me of a journey away from my natural born sin nature towards an ever increasing victory involving holy living.  I have chosen to be identified as forgiven and growing in my walk of faith and obedience to a loving heavenly Father.

We cannot continue to roll over as Christians when it comes to sin in an effort to somehow remain relevant to an increasingly humanistic society.  Christ and the ways of the world are simply incompatible!

Don’t love the world and what it offers. Those who love the world don’t have the Father’s love in them.  1 John 2:15

“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me”.  Gal. 2:20 – Now that’s and Identity I can identify with.

Where are the answered prayers of the Church?

Have you ever asked yourself the above question?  I sure have.  “Greater works than these will you do because I go to the Father”.  Jesus healed the sick, raised the dead, walked on water, calmed the sea and dismissed demons by simple commands.  For the most part, the church is not seeing very much in the way of similarity with what Jesus did much less the “greater”.  So I, you, we find ourselves often asking why.

I cannot say definitively that I have the answer, but I must submit this for consideration.  It’s not easy, it’s not politically correct, it’s not even religiously correct to suggest what I am putting forth as the likely barrier to our sacrifices and prayers not being answered or acceptable to our Holy God, but I must submit it nonetheless.

I will start by asking what symbol best represents God’s covenant with His people?  There are probably several good answers to that question, but I suggest the answer at the apex of that question would be the marriage covenant.  Marriage was the first institution God introduced.  He uses it in prophetic ways throughout the Old Testament (Hosea, Ruth, Malachi) and culminates the New Testament with the wedding feast of the Lamb to His Church.

God made His covenant to Abraham and His descendants the Jewish people.  Even though they have not always been faithful, perhaps even most of the time, He has remained faithful even to this day.  The story in Hosea was specifically scripted to illustrate the absolute faithfulness by God to an unfaithful “wife” (Israel) and even a wife that was un-pure to start with.  So for me, this places the marriage covenant as the centerpiece symbol representing the faithfulness of our God and potentially the greatest witness to the lost.  I say potentially because it would seem the church has discarded this holy covenantal union in exchange for easy no stigma divorce.  Discarded is a strong a word, but I always try and write with a nod as to how the world views the church and with the divorce rate at similar percentages in the church as in secular society we have on some level lost the moral high ground when it come to marriage – any kind or gender.

What I am suggesting is pretty radical in its implication and as such I will need to present some tedious academic supporting evidence.  But basically I am suggesting that a high divorce rate amongst Christians is one, if not THE reason our prayers often go unanswered.

In Malachi 2, Judah is crying out to God asking why their sacrifices and prayers are not accepted and God’s answer, not my answer-not Malachi’s answer and not the world’s answer, but GOD’s answer is because of the high divorce rate (paraphrased) with God stating emphatically that He hates divorce.  I’ll place bets you never heard that sermon before.  And here is where I must get a bit academic.

In the 1984 NIV version of Malachi 2:16 it reads in part “I hate divorce says the Lord God ..” and yet in the NIV 2011 version the same section reads “the man who hates and divorces his wife..”  Because I happen to be able to read and speak Hebrew and my wife teaches Biblical Hebrew I can tell you with absolute accuracy the more recent translation is categorically wrong to change the subject to the man hating and divorcing his wife instead of God being the one who hates the act of divorce.

This is not the only example of decades and centuries old translations being changed/softened on the subject of divorce.  Take the comparison of Matt. 19:9 in the American Standard Bible between the 1901 version And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery and he that marrieth her when she is put away committeth adultery.  And now here is the 1995 AS version of the same verse – And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality (almost all new versions now say adultery), and marries another woman commits adultery – part B of this verse is omitted entirely even thou it show up in 6 of the 7 main manuscripts most commonly used for translation purposes.  The King James Version finally caved to this “trend” with the American King James published in 1999.

What must be understood is that there are two very specific and different words used in both Greek and English to describe fornication (sex amongst non married people) and adultery (sexually breaking the marriage vow).  The Greek word for fornication (porneia – from which we also get pornography) is the word used in this text.  Because of this, in centuries past, this verse was clearly understood to mean that if, after getting married, it was found out that the girl (I embrace this applying equally to both genders) had fornicated but had presented herself as a virgin, then the husband had the right to divorce her or have the marriage annulled because it was under false pretenses.  Such was the case with Joseph’s initial inclination to divorce Mary privately.  This is also why the Catholic Church allowed for annulment, although that is totally abused in modern times to be for almost any reason.  But the more recent translations suggest that sexual immorality or adultery after marriage can be cause for divorce.  These are two totally different scenarios.  One is from promiscuity before marriage and the other after the vows are taken.

There is a story from the life of Jesus which would seem to support the 1900 year old understanding of Matthew 19:9 instead of the more modern trending interpretation.  If adultery was what the author (Jesus) intended, there would have been no need to address it as the clear and practiced punishment for adultery at the time of Jesus was death.  Remember the woman caught in adultery who was brought before Jesus.  Jesus totally agreed with the crowd that death was the proper punishment and encouraged those standing there who had no sin to carry out the execution.  You see, as harsh as it sounds today, there would have been no need to address adultery in the context of divorce at the time of Christ since the death sentence would have been assumed.  This would have freed the non-offending party to re-marry with no divorce proceedings necessary.  However death was not the practiced punishment for fornication.  In fact the practice of temple prostitution was not uncommon.

The reason this is such a vitally important distinction is because of what covenant is supposed to look like.  God has never wavered in His faithfulness to fulfill His covenantal vow to often unfaithful Israel.  That is the depth of commitment and love He displays in His promise, and He established marriage to be a blessing, a testimony and a witness of that faithfulness to His people and to outsiders.

I believe covenant marriage is right under salvation as the most valuable gift God has given mankind.  But why would God withhold just because of high divorce rates?  I can only offer a humble illustration.  Say God decided to build you a mansion (which He actually is) and He personally carved a magnificently beautiful front door as the first thing everyone saw when they came to visit.  But you take that amazing front door and put it on the back door or on the shed out back effectively removing it from its place of honor.  God doesn’t kick you out of the house, but He would likely be very hesitant to make further upgrades and improvements on the house until you return that special door to its rightful place.

I know the implications of what I am suggesting are radical and far reaching but there is no denying the fact that high divorce rates among His people was the reason He wasn’t responding to the appeals of Judah in Malachi 2.  You may not like that fact, but it is a fact nonetheless.  It is important to keep in mind that various punishments including invasion or exile were doled out by God for Israel’s “adultery”.  But even with all of Israel’s unfaithfulness, God never broke covenant.

I will give another example of modern translations bending to what’s “tending” in regards to divorce.  In Timothy 3:12 NIV 1984 version – A deacon must be the husband of but one wife and must manage his children and his household well: and the same verse from the 2011 version – A deacon must be faithful to his wife and must manage his children and his household well.  This same “accommodation” occurs in an increasing number of other translations which, simply put, allows the significant change from a deacon only ever having one wife (to which he is faithful) to allowing a deacon to be a man who is faithful to one wife at a time. This is a complete misrepresentation of that verse and the intended testimony of covenant marriage to the local Christian congregation as well as to the un-churched.

This is not an easy thing to consider and I know what I’m talking about.  Barbie’s and my marriage has not always been easy.  We had a very tumultuous first 5 years.  Fighting, yelling, verbal abuse and a lot of unhappiness abounded.  We looked at each other and actually verbalized something to the effect of “I don’t love you and I don’t want to be with you!”  Fortunately for us, and our kids, we were both raised that divorce was not an option and we got counseling, lots of counseling, got serious about loving and serving each other and fought through to victory and boy is victory SWEET!  I was talking to Barbie last night and she agrees that we would put our marriage up against any marriage for friendship, love, serving each other’s goals and joy.

I am not suggesting someone stay in an abusive marriage.  Neither am I suggesting that adultery should in anyway be ignored or glossed over.  What I am saying is that I completely embrace the sacred position to which the holy covenant of marriage must be returned to.  I fully endorse scriptures’ admonition that we only marry people who are born again Christians and who are submitted to Christ and His church.  But we can’t stop there.  I am also in agreement with the exhortations in scripture for people to not only be in committed fellowship in a local church but to also walk in absolute accountability for the character of their lives.  If we make the above commitments we will be placing tremendous safeguards to protect marriages and give support, rebuke and exhortation when one or both spouses gets off track.

And for those wondering about those who were married before they became Christians, we see clearly that you should stay married unless the unbelieving spouse is unwilling to remain married. 1 Cor. 7:13-15

In no way is this some judgment on those who have experienced the devastation of divorce.  This is an exhortation, going forward, for the church to make a recommitment before God to honor the covenant of marriage.

So I suggest the Church has a monumental decision to make if we want to change the status-quo.  Do we want the Father to come in power, hear our prayers and accept our sacrifices or do we want easy, no-fault and no-stigma divorce.  I believe it really does come down to that simple of a question albeit with a very weighty answer.  I’ve been watching the church for over half a century try almost everything else to coax the heavens open and for God to come in power, healings, miracles and those “greater works than these” with little to no avail.  Maybe we should try covenant level commitment, holiness and an honoring of God in our marriages – yes even when the going gets tough and when unfaithfulness raises its ugly head because that is the kind of commitment the Father has towards us.  And maybe, just maybe, the heavens will again be opened and the lost of this world would actually see something to desire, pursue and be jealous of.  It’s a huge decision, but decide we must.

And because I believe so strongly that this is key to the future power and testimony of the Gospel, I would ask you to consider sharing this blog with others to include your pastor.

I have attached a link below to one of the more annotated and referenced studies on the subject of tracking changes in translations over the years.

http://www.danielrjennings.org/arebibletranslationsprogressivelysoftening.pdf

Pot calling the kettle black?

I will try and keep this one as short as possible but I am outraged.  I don’t know how many noticed the story this week where an Office Depot refused to print some flyers for a lady because the flyers were in opposition to Planned Parenthood.  This is wrong, it’s unacceptable and the height of hypocrisy.  But perhaps not in the way you might think I am writing about.  You see, the woman has decided to sue Office Depot for discrimination and that is what I am furious about.

The subject matter on the flyer was as Godly as could be including a prayer for the unborn, statistics about abortion and was part of a weeklong prayer and fasting campaign in Chicago to help change opinions about abortion.  I fully endorse and applaud the motive, the flyer, the fasting and the prayer.

But I believe the woman should have simply thanked Office Depot and gone down the street to Kinko’s or some other copy place and gotten her printing done.  To handle it the way she did served up the biggest disservice possible to Christian businesses around the country.  Why you ask.

pro life

How can Christian businesses hope to have the freedom to refuse to make a cake for a gay wedding or refuse to host a gay wedding at their church or chapel if we then turn around and make a big scene when a secular business declines our business because they have equally strong objections to the services we request of them.  This is hypocrisy in is raw and purist form.  And don’t even start splitting frog’s hairs with me about private as opposed to corporate or religious convictions as opposed to personal secular convictions.  If we want to have a snowballs chance in hell of being treated with some modicum of respect and freedom in the open practice of our Christian faith, then we must “do unto others as we would have them do unto us”.  So if we want the freedom to refuse service, then we MUST show the same respect and allow them to refuse service.

Fellow Christians, we have to stop shooting ourselves in the foot.  We are now the foreigners living in a strange and foreign land and we have to start showing the grace and humility that must accompany our lowly visitor status.  Sure it’s going to get a lot worse, but why hand opportunity for mockery and ridicule to our secular society on a golden platter – it only plays right into their already degrading opinion of us.

If it was God’s kindness that led us to repent should we not see that He set that example in order for us to do likewise in our attitude towards the rest of the lost and un-churched – Rom. 2:4

Do pigs fly?

I am no saint, but my West Texas “ole fashion” upbringing forces me to take a short excursion into the political realm for a short blog.  I have been watching with some interest, if not good dose of curiosity and confusion, at the meteoric rise in the poles of one Donald Trump.  The reason I say confusion is because I have never witness someone garner so much attention and popularity for being openly rude and offensive except for maybe in the boys locker room.  Sure, the quarterback or top pop guy in school can get a few laughs and attention when he tells gross or rude stories behind the closed doors of the “men only” protection of a room shared by showers and toilets.

One of the values I learn while growing up was both biblical and cultural and that was to treat women with respect.  And whereas the Donald has done a great job of stirring the pot and charging the discussion around several subjects which can sure use some good debate, he has in my humble and old fashion opinion”, sullied the waters of debate and threatens the reputation of the Republican party.  His attacks on women put him in a category I can only describe as pig territory.  Historically he has called Rosie O’Donnell names like slob and big fat pig, Arianna Huffington a dog adding he understands why her husband left her for a man.  He has suggested, incestuously, that he would date his daughter if she wasn’t … well… his daughter. Just since the current campaign started he has irreverently attacked Megan Kelly of Fox News and just yesterday saying about Carly Fiorina “Look at that face.  Would anyone vote for that?”  And just for the record, I have not listed here the worst comments he has said as I want to keep it PG.

So can pigs fly?  You be the judge!

Love Wins – Really?

Just a short blog having to do with some facebook discussion surrounding my blog from yesterday about the Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis and her being jailed “until she changes her conscience”.

A family friend posted something referring to the verse in the bible indicating we are supposed to obey the governing authorities (Rom 13:1) making the point that Kim was not obeying scripture by keeping to her convictions if it involved breaking governmental laws.  I brought up the verse where Rom. 13:1 is trumped (no presidential reference here) by Acts 5:29 where we are supposed to obey God rather than man if it comes down to a laws involving sin.

For the most part there was lively debate (although some found it hard to stick to the actual subject) until someone (claiming to be a lover of Jesus) said she hoped that lesbians perform gay sex in front of Kim the whole time she is in jail.

I called this person out suggesting that the “love wins” mantra seems to eventually fall apart when they don’t get their way and that I couldn’t see Jesus wishing that punishment (watching gay sex) on anybody and questioning how that could be loving.  This person’s response was to send me pictures of homosexuals kissing.  This was combined with comments from this person’s (I presume also “Jesus loving”) spouse quoting scripture to me from 1Cor. 13 about the characteristics of love.  When I asked if they were in agreement with me that it would not be loving to force someone with a conviction against homosexuality to watch gay sex and their reply was that the gay sex was representative of that 1 Cor. 13 kind of love.

This was open debate and comments offered by those claiming to be “lovers of Jesus”.  As sad as it is to say, I can actually imagine a day when some porn star, rapist, child molester or murderer will be seen thumping their chest and pointing to the sky in some act of “devotion” to Jesus.  We have already seen, gay pastors and VS models who claim to be Christians.  Not making a comparison, just being honest about how far we have degraded in just a few short years.  Immorality is like a landslide once it gets going there is little chance of stopping it until you reach the very bottom.

Maranatha – Lord come quickly!!!

Update:  I didn’t realize there are already numerous “Christian” porn stars who pray before filming.

MARANATHA!

I never realized how horrible a person I really am?

There are going to be people on both sides of this blog.  Some will love it (or “Like” it), some will hate it and some will “share” it.  But I am getting ahead of myself.

You see, I have many confessions to make today because I don’t like my kids, I don’t love my wife, I don’t support our troops and I don’t have an amazing grandmother.  Furthermore I don’t want a cure for cancer to be found, I want kittens and the homeless to die and I don’t love Jesus, God or Satan for that matter.  And if you think that is bad, I don’t want that kid with the cleft lip to get his million likes so he gets his surgery or the homeless vet to get a job.  I want world hunger to continue, Iran to get nukes and for abortion and PP to continue.  I could go on and on but you get the picture – I’m just a terrible hate filled uncompassionate person.

At least that is the case if all those “Like & Share” memes which I DIDN’T like or share are really true.

Don’t get me wrong, if someone shares a legitimate prayer need (not so they can get their unicorn) a great article or an exciting event in their life, I will share it from time to time.  But I do not like and share meaningless memes.

Just this week a niece of mine (who is not a church goer) shared the meme below making fun of it and Christians and just the next day a person at our church shared it in sincerity.

share rapture

Really?  Type amen or share and my place in heaven is assured.  Yes I am picking some of the more absurd memes I’ve seen in order to hopefully point out the …. well, the absurd!

jesus bless share

I simply don’t respond to the “gotcha” kind of post or questions like “So when did you actually stop beating your wife”.  Surly people don’t really believe they will be blessed or the opposite if they either share or don’t share some post.  But sometimes I wonder because of all the like and share post that come across our facebook thread.

love jesus

Anyway, I just thought you should know what kind of a person I truly am so you can be sure to like and share – because if I get 1.3 million likes and shares I won’t die and go to hell!

sharing photo