History can teach us if we let it! (Captain obvious)

Although I am a Christian, with scripture and the laws of God holding a prominent place in my heart and life, you don’t actually have to be a believer in order to make certain choices given our extensive knowledge of history – unless of course you are intent on repeating it which seems to be the status quo most of the time.

Although some may not view Leviticus as a historical book I am going to “enter into evidence” Leviticus 18 for your thoughtful consideration for the purpose of this blog.  In that chapter God indicates actions which have caused judgment to fall on all the former inhabitants of the lands, which in this particular case refers to the land to be given to the descendants of Abraham.

The actions identified in Leviticus are of two specific categories.  One is sexual activities ranging from adultery and incest to homosexuality and beastiality and the second is killing or burning the innocents (babies) which in that day were an offering to the god Molech.

At that point in Leviticus we have a minimum of 1500 to 2000 years of recorded history to verify that no people group survived who began to practice these types of activities.  And now here we are with an additional 3500 years of history to seemingly confirm that any country which was given over to sexual or social activities which did not align with the more conservative Judeo/Christian ethics (and again although I am referencing religion I am doing so in regards to recorded history) have not survived long historically.

I recognize and understand to some extent the laws of physics such as gravity, Newton’s law of motion and others.  But what if what we have seen in history is another level of laws for the physical earth which were also set in place from the beginning which cannot be ignored any more than you could ignore gravity regardless of whether you believe it or not.  In Leviticus God refers to the land “vomiting out” people groups who participate in the practices listed earlier as if the actual physical land may have some involuntary gag reflex that plays a role in cleansing itself of people who violate these laws.  And He promises the same judgment for the Israelites if they participate likewise.  And our recorded history really does seem to confirm this to be the case.

gravity

So why should any country or people group today expect that they have somehow learned the secret of immunity to the moral laws of the universe which seem to be just as unbreakable even if somewhat less predictable in the timing or means of execution (double entendre).

So whatever you want to call it, free sex, choice, abortion, “love wins”, MYOB, equal rights, gay or women’s rights; history and the laws of the universe will not be changed or persuaded by some progressive school of thought.  I find it especially ironic that many progressives call it “being on the right side of history” to give in and practice such activities.  Have no doubt, history (and God) will not be mocked.

Not my (kind of) president!

Trump is not the kind of (read character/personality) president I would prefer.  But then neither was Kennedy, Nixon, Bill Clinton or Hillary (if she had been elected).  Personally, I think Ford, Carter, Reagan, the 2 Bush’s and to some extent even Obama conducted themselves with a demeanor that honors the office.  I’m not sure I see that happening with Trump.  He, unfortunately, is another in a category of what appears to be self serving, and, with Trump in particular, generally not presidential (my opinion).  But alas all those mentioned before, and now Trump, were and are our (speaking of the citizens of US) president.

Was he (Trump) locker room boasting or has he actually grab women inappropriately?  I don’t know and I suggest neither do you.  To talk that way is wrong and insulting to women and to actually act out that way is criminal.  I will tell you that I am VERY glad that hidden microphones were not around for some of the hurtful things I have said to Barbie and she feels the same way about some of the things she has said to me.  We have truly done more damage to each other by some of our unrecorded words that anything I or Trump may have boasted about in the “locker room”.  In fact as I have asked around, most admit that we are fortunate microphones were not hidden in various places for some of the worst things we have said.  This in NO WAY excuses what I have said to Barbie or the demeaning way Trump spoke about women.  But it is disingenuous for most of us to have some huge moral outrage at Trump while at the same time thanking our lucky stars under our breath that some of our “locker room” outbursts were never recorded.  It is at this point I want to apologize to all women for any of the untoward things I have spoken in the past which were insulting towards women.  I am glad there were not many, but I am guilty.  I am far sorrier for how I have hurt my wife with my reactive or cutting words which actually did damage.

So I get it, Trump is not my kind of president either, but he IS my president.  And I actually held my nose and voted for him as, given the candidates we were afforded, I was driven to a single issue and that was abortion.  This single issue is defining and dividing our country more than race, gender questions or cake baking.  It is an issue that gained significant traction out of the free love generation of the 60’s and the lack of wanting to take responsibility for what all that unaccountable sex produced.  Just to be clear, this is a maturity and a responsibility issue not some benign choice issue.  A majority of Americans oppose abortion on demand.  Science has learned so much since the early 70’s to include the awareness of immense pain the not yet born baby can feel after just a few weeks of growth.

Consider this, we would all be outraged if somebody cut open a beautiful Labrador dog, pulled half a dozen puppies out and cut them into pieces.  In fact that person would be arrested and prosecuted for animal cruelty and would likely spend time behind bars.  But do the same thing in a PP office and a million people marching for women’s rights will cheer as if that act somehow preserved civility and rights.  Or the fact that the majority of women who identified as pro-choice, once shown an actual video of a C&D or partial birth abortion change their position right then and there.  My son Chad and I were discussing this subject this morning and he said that a nice white sanitary veil has been hung up to obscure the reality of what is actually happening behind the closed doors of abortion clinics and that people have bought into an idea of freedom, choice and rights that is actually anything but.

I had a close and long time friend write something on facebook this past week to the effect of “if my friends who voted for Trump don’t get it, then just listen”.  So this past Saturday, my wife and I watched and listened to CNN and other mainstream media outlets as the “march for women’s rights” events were televised.  Maybe it is just us “stupid rural” folks, but to watch Ashley Judd’s rant or Elisabeth Warren describe the things she wants to fight Trump about was to end up very confused.  I will just put Ashley Judd aside as I don’t even know what to say about her, but I did not hear very much of what Elisabeth Warren was fighting for that Trump would disagree with or that Trump has not already joined in the fight for.  In addition to listening, we also watched.  And what we saw confused us even more.  For a crowd that was (in truth) protesting Trump’s disgusting antics as much or more than they were advocating women’s rights, we were frankly disgusted by many of the vile signs, costumes and gestures.  Remind me – what was this march about???  We saw signs covering the gamut of subjects, most of which had little or nothing to do with women’s rights.

Now top all that off with the fact that if you were a Trump supporter or a pro-life woman, your rights were not to be included or protected in this “noble” cause.  In fact, you were not welcomed and if you did show up you were threatened and actually chased from the parade route.

So after actually listening and watching Barbie and I did in fact learn a few things.  We learned that well over 50% of the women in America were simply “not welcomed” to this party supposedly promoting all women’s rights.  We learned that Ashley Judd is just plain crazy.  We learned that many people are, justifiably, upset about Trump’s foul mouth and perhaps actions and are willing to get out and march about it.  We learned that the “everyone is welcomed to join” does not actually mean everyone.  We learned that if Trump voices support for something it is ignored but if Elisabeth Warren is for the same exact thing everyone cheers.  We learned that Madonna wants to “blow up the White House”.  We agree that it’s wrong for Trump to say disgusting things but don’t understand why countless people wearing vagina costumes out in public is somehow ok.  We learned that an anti-Jewish and anti-Israel Palestinian woman was one of the main organizers of the march which doesn’t sound very inclusive.

Most of these fears being expressed appear to be red herrings to me.  I haven’t heard Trump or anybody he has appointed wanting to invalidate gay marriages, destroy the arts (although in my opinion government has no business spending tax dollars there but that is not an attack on the arts), undo LGBTQ rights or in any way destroy education (although this should only be handled at the state level in my opinion).  And even though Trump would be called a climate denier, to a person, everyone he has appointed who has been asked in the vetting hearings, agrees that climate change is real.  I have not seen any suggestion or indication that any US citizen might be marginalized because of race, gender or religion in fact, Trump has a better record of equal pay in his businesses than Hillary did among her own staff.

Bottom line, listening should be a 2-way experience.  But we have learned that it is not always that way.  We also leaned that to be included, welcomed or not ignored means something very different with those who lean left than those of us who lean further to the right.  It is normally portrayed that the left is the inclusive and non judgmental crowd but this past weekend would suggest the opposite is actually true.

Monumental Selfishness

I write my blogs as an outlet, sometime as an outlet for passion, sometimes for a prophetic word and sometimes in disgust and anger.  This is one of those disgust and anger times (with likely prophetic overtones).  I have to be careful as my much more mercy oriented wife exhorted me to be cautious about what I might say, but I am getting closer and closer to “taking numbers and naming names” when it comes to some of the bile I see “Christians” spewing.  This will be short but goes to the core of Jesus, the Gospel, the Love of the Father and asking “just where is YOUR home?”

This blog is simply posing the question “what are the really important things in your ‘Christian’ life”?  And yes, I put Christian in quotes a second time as I suspect there are many out there who are just playing church because it’s the cool thing to do but who have little willingness to actually embrace the heart of the Father. 2 Peter 3:9

Is prayer in school important to you?  What about tax deductions for donations to the church? Are the Ten Commandments carved in stone and place in your town square important to you?  Is the preservation of your earthly home and your earthly country your focus? Are Easter bunnies and Christmas lights on your list of top ten things you must have to enjoy “your” Christianity? Then it’s just that, “your Christianity”, and not the one that I read about in the Bible which places our citizenship in an eternal heaven and not some fading home on this earth to try and fight for and preserve for “just us Christians”.

I am not saying that those things are bad, not at all.  But I am saying that if devotion to things like the ones mentioned above take priority over opportunities to lovingly rub shoulders with those who don’t know Christ then you yourself have not experienced the fullness of the love of Christ in your own life.  And this is why I call it monumental selfishness because you are choosing temporal things over the call to share eternal joy with someone who isn’t “like you”!

christian-hypocrcy

What difference a day can make!

The ever changing “progressive” society we live in is becoming schizophrenic in it’s values.  There are numerous states or municipalities who have recently enacted laws which capitulate to a small fraction of a percentage of our population.  Now, if some guy on any given day feels like he is a woman instead of a man (or that he just wants to get his jollies) he can, with legal protection, go in the girl’s/women’s restroom.  Here is why this is so messed up.  Supposed this guy had gone into the women’s restroom the day before he gained his legal right to do so.  He would have been arrested as a pervert/pedophile and would have a lifelong record as a sex offender.  But just one day after the new law he can go in the women’s restroom, with the legal protection of the law, and the person who tries to prevent him will be the person who is arrested for discrimination and have to take “sensitivity training”.  How can values change 180 degrees in just one day?  This is why I call it schizophrenic as normal thought, reason and the values of the vast majority are outweighed and tossed out the window in favor of irrational, immoral and narrow laws giving into a very small handful of people.

States that have enacted reasonable laws to insure the privacy and security of children (and adults) to feel safe from voyeurism in the restroom are being attacked and boycotted for their horribly discriminatory practices.  In just the past couple of weeks countless major corporations, concert artist and businesses have announced boycotts of a couple of these states.  I have never been one to promote boycotts and I’m not going to start now, but just so you know, you would basically not be able to buy almost anything to sustain life if you were to boycott all the companies who have signed protest letters aimed at these states.  And just for those of you who are saying to yourself, “there he goes again, exaggerating”, here is just one of the recent cases of someone using another states law which protects a person’s right to use the bathroom they feel they identify with.

http://www.kgw.com/news/local/washington/seattle-man-in-womens-locker-room-cites-gender-rule/45248512

The argument is that no one should have to suffer the stress associated with discrimination.  So for the sake of less than 1/10th of 1 percent of the population the other 99.99% of us, to include our young daughters, will instead be forced to suffer the stress of not knowing if the girl/guy in the next stall is a voyeuristic pervert.

pervert

Why is this so important and why are special interest groups able to have such success promoting fringe movements?  Because, frankly, fringe is becoming mainstream.  Anybody who thinks this is not just the next step in the direction of legalizing pedophilia and sex with children is both wonderfully naive and unaware of many groups already advocating this or you have a unique ability to walk and live in denial.  Anybody who is truly interested can dig a little deeper than a cursory Google search and find out that many of these special interest groups advocating these fringe sex, marriage and gender laws can be traced back to the gay, swinger and free sex movements of the 1960s.  It is perverse, deviant, voyeuristic and devoid of any common sense.  But it is unfortunately America’s new “normal”.

So what can Christians do?  The main tool we have is prayer.  Boycotting is unrealistic as we would basically have to go off the grid and become hermits in the mountains (as nice as that might sound) which of course is not fulfilling our calling of being “in the world but not of the world”.  Our testimony is being forced into the realm of personal relationships and character as we go into all the world while occasionally using words when necessary.  And if your Christ centered lifestyle is not sparking interest, or spite, in those you come in contact with, consider that you might not be doing it right.

“Cherry picking” how do we (the Church) decide what is right and wrong in each generation?

This blog is about trends in the church.  It is not a judgment, but rather general observations of how the “rules” of the church have been a moving target over the centuries and especially in recent decades and years.  Not all apply to all churches or denominations, but there are trends that are telling and I believe it is important for us to consider the how and why of trends in Biblical obedience especially as it relates to us today.

Not to put 100 years ago as some “benchmark” of holiness, but rather as a point on a historical time line of trends for which there was relatively little change prior to and significant change since.

Here are some generalities which applied across a wide berth of Christianity 100 years ago.  Divorce was almost unheard of and had a very negative stigma attached to it.  Virginity before marriage had a high value and those who fornicated were considered unclean, spoiled or “easy”.  Preaching on the doctrine of sin was a dominate subject from the preacher often with pulpit pounding “hell fire and brimstone” sermons.  A pastor wasn’t and didn’t marry a divorcee.  There were no questions relating to the acceptability of homosexuality.  Same sex marriage was not even on the horizon.  Acceptance of gay preachers was not a possibility.  Modesty, especially among those on the platform, included longer, looser fitting dresses for women and suits or ones best “Sunday go to meeting” clothes for men.  Make-up, fancy hair styles and lots of jewelry were rare.  Getting a tattoo was not an option.  People didn’t work or shop on “the Lord’s day”.  Even in my lifetime, if there was a store open on Sunday, there were “blue” laws prohibiting the sale of most non-food items.  Elders or deacons and their wives were held to the highest of Biblical standards.  Young people were included in “big church” right alongside their parents.  “The rod” was not spared in both church and home discipline.  Drinking was very much frowned upon ultimately influencing prohibition.

Almost without exception, all of the above practices of 100 years ago had their roots in specific scriptures which prohibited or commanded certain activities.  For example:  Lev. 19:28 ..you must not tattoo your body.., Prov. 23:13 …do not withhold spanking from your child.., 1 Tim. 3:11 ..a deacons wife cannot be a gossip.., Eph. 5:8 ..don’t be drunk with wine (alcohol).., Mal. 2:16 .. I the Lord God hate divorce & Jesus in NT Matt. 19:8-9 ..you divorce because of evil hearts and if you remarry except for adultery you are also guilty of adultery.., Lev. 21:14 ..a priest must not marry a divorcee…, Ex. 28: Those who serve around the alter were to dress extremely modestly – least they die.  I could go on, but you get the point that common practices of 100 years ago (and largely the previous 1900 years for that matter) had their foundations in scripture.

What has influenced such significant change in the last 100 years?  And although I don’t want to write more than necessary, here are examples as to why I ask.  Again, I am not making judgments here but rather objective observations.  Divorce is largely a non-issue in churches today.  Young people do not highly value virginity and most have little resistance or hesitancy to fornicate (and most parents are oblivious to this fact).  Immodest dress, by comparison, is not only common in church in general but even on the platform among ministers (short, tight, leggings, etc).  You can be arrested for spanking your children.  Young people have their own “age appropriate” services.  Everything is open on Sunday and many are required to work on Sunday.  We have same sex marriage and full acceptance of homosexuality not to mention male and female gay pastors and priest.  I recently witnessed the installment of a deacon/elder whose wife does not meet the wifely requirements found in scripture.  Many pastors are divorced, married to divorcees or have been caught in adultery with little if any consequences to “their ministry”.  I think it would have been in the mid 80’s when I last witnessed a pulpit pounding sermon on sin accompanied by shouts of how God hates it interlaced with God’s love for us as the reason we shouldn’t sin (thank your Brother Bill).

Because of the variety of scriptures being from both the Old and New Testaments, we cannot simply say, “well that was the OT”.  I also feel it is too convenient to say “well that was for an older time” since it is primarily “modern” history in which the greatest change has occurred.  Did the industrial or computer age affect God and His standards?   And although I picked a point 100 years back, most of these changes I have personally witnessed in my lifetime.  Can we really, with a straight face, say that we know better today what Godly modesty looks like than they did 50, 100 or 4000 years ago?  Has divorced somehow become sanitized and thus acceptable.  Do we no longer need pastors, elders and deacons to be of the absolute highest moral character?  Have scientist revealed some revolutionary DNA discovery that supersedes God’s laws on gender and sexuality?

I would love to hear your thoughts as to why it is you think we have had such an editorial view of scripture of late.  I suggest that pop culture with the aid of the information age has led to these drastic changes in the church.  And we are not without scripture itself warning against this.   In 1 John 2, the author gives a list of people to whom he is writing.  Old, young, fathers, little children, basically everyone; and he gives the clear exhortation to not follow all the popular cultural things that are happening in the world because they are simply not from God.

Give me your thoughts and where you think the next scriptural editing might take place.

“Wise as serpents and gentle as doves”

MYOB!  I would love for someone to show me the chapter and verse where “mind your own business” is the way forward with the Gospel.  There has been outrage in the past couple of days because the pope identified characteristics that he doesn’t see as being Christ-like (Christian) in Trump.  Frankly there are countless other characteristics in Trump which I feel more strongly suggest a lack of being like Christ (affairs, divorces, denigration of women, etc) than the suggestion of  building walls but that is maybe for another blog.  I am not going to debate Trump’s standing before God, but the outrage has followed something like this “no one has the right to question someone’s faith or religion”.

Really?  Why do we have missionaries?  Why do we have discipleship? Why do we have CR?  Why do we have accountability groups? Why does scripture – IN MANY PLACES IN BOTH THE OLD AND NEW TESTAMENTS – command us to confront bad behavior with the judgment that we will be found guilty of the same sins if we don’t?  Why does scripture say that “by their fruits you shall know them”?

There is a huge difference between discernment and judging – judging is God’s role which is the authority to carry out punishment.  But the current decline of morality in both in the secular community and the church is a direct result of MYOB.  The Biblical fact is that we ARE our brother’s keeper.  And continued failure to act as such will only perpetrate the church’s slide into oblivion and insignificance.  Many wave the “judge not that ye be not judged” verse while ignoring all the other verses about holding people accountable – how’s that been working for us?  I personally have little interest in being part of one more social club to join and party with.  That’s not what I signed up for, that’s not what drew me to the cross and that is most certainly not what Christ died for.

So whereas building walls can be seen as being wise, to also look for ways to build bridges (done wisely) must also be part of the way forward for peace and the spread of the Gospel.

I will never be able to understand why the church has such a great desire to blend into the fabric of the world when every indication in scripture warns us against doing just that.  Never was a scripture more prophetic for today than “How narrow is the gate and strict the way that leads to life, and FEW are those who find it” – Jesus!

“For such a time as this”?

Let’s be perfectly clear, If Trump is ultimately the GOP nominee I will, as I have stated in earlier blogs, hold my nose and vote against any of the current possibilities the DEMs may put forward by voting for Trump.  But to also make it clear, Trump is in no way my preferred representative for president.  A good friend pointed out the first few verses in 2 Timothy 3 the other day as a reason she (and I) would have trouble voting for Trump.

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of moneyboastful, proudabusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholywithout love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceitedlovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.

Unfortunately, we have way to many candidates on both sides this time around who might have several of the above characteristics underlined about them as well and our choice might very well come down to what may best be described as choosing the lesser of 2 evils.  Not a choice I am looking forward to.

But what I would like to visit in this blog is the plethora of “prophets” and Christian “leaders” who have seemingly “anointed” Trump as some kind of Ester figure or King Nebuchadnezzar or Darius savior.  Just today the leader of one of the largest Christian Universities endorsed Trump as God’s man of the hour.

Can someone, anyone – really anyone, please show me the scripture where Christians are supposed to promote, anoint or prophesy into places of prominence and leadership those who exhibit a large percentage of the negative characteristics listed in 2 Tim. 3.  I can understand waiting until the last minute and, as I stated earlier, voting for the lesser of two evils, but this phenomenon of prophetic and spiritual support for Trump has me as baffled as Balaam’s ass and I must bray loudly in protest.

First I will deal with the Babylonian kings who were benevolent to Daniel and his 3 friends.  I recognize that both Nebuchadnezzar and Darius protected Daniel and company and ultimately paid some homage to the God above all gods.  But let’s be perfectly clear, Daniel, his 3 friends and the host of Israel were still very much slaves and captives in Babylon both before and after those kings “saw the light” and eased their incarceration.  Is this what you are hoping for with Trump, some easing of conditions via a person who has almost no understanding of the most foundational tenants of our Christian faith – repentance and communion?

I would welcome someone who can personally assure me that Trump’s faith has some element beyond giving a cursory nod to a supreme being, pandering to a Christian university or pouring out praises to any of the many humanistic “I’m ok, you’re ok” feel good, positive thinking preachers out there who have chosen to abandon the doctrine of sin in favor of pop culture/right side of history capitulation.  Feel free to post that character reference in the comment section of this blog.

At least not all sanity is lost as it was reported today that several prominent Christian women’s organizations came out against Trump in light of his oft vile and offensive words directed at females and his flip flopping record on abortion.  (Right to Life and Concerned Women for America among them)

But some of these Christian (Men) leaders have even gone so far as to give Trump the “for such a time as this” mantle as if to compare him to Ester.  I have read the book of Ester, I have studied the book of Ester, I love the character, bravery and humility of Ester and Donald Trump you are no Queen Ester – and neither am I for that matter.  Please don’t insult the memory of Ester with that kind of comparison!

It is at this point I will make what will be viewed as my most controversial observation.  Why would it be that men (in much higher numbers) are falling all over themselves to jump in lock step with Trump in contrast to far fewer percentages among women?  I believe it is because of basic “machismo” male dominance to which Trump’s boisterous demeanor and rude treatment of women rings some un-civilized bell among men – yes even among Christian men.   Women are much quicker to cut through this bluster and see it for what it is – a return to more archaic times.

I suppose I could begin to understand if all the fawning and praise was over Dr. Ben Carson who I do see as a brave, humble and Godly leader.  But the title of “God’s man of the hour” or someone “for such a time as this” would be a challenging title for almost all the presidential candidates this season (in no particular order of scale).  I do believe there are a couple of exceptions and I challenge you to do the hard work of research, study and comparing your values to the various candidates (and to God’s values).  With much prayer and God’s intervention, we will hopefully be able to GLADLY cast our votes this coming November.

As a tool, I would suggest you take this comprehensive and un-biased questionnaire in order to see which candidate most closely agrees with your standards and areas of importance.  You will get the best result if you answer all the questions in each category.

isidewith.com