The blind leading the blind!

There are way too many people living today with their eyes closed.  They may be closed out of fear, they may be closed out of guilt, they may be closed out of ignorance, they may be closed because they don’t want to see truth and they may be closed out of anger, but the fact remains that there is an increase in self imposed blindness.  And just so I’m clear here, many who claim to be Christians are among those with their eyes closed for a mix of the reasons listed above.

75 years ago “Christian” eyesight, although not perfect, was much clearer on a vast array of moral issues which have today become negotiable if not actually promoted.  My problem with this, aside from the total disregard and affront it is to our Holy God, is the Biblical dishonesty that accompanies it.  For those with their eyes still open or at least not entirely closed I will try and explain.  This self serving departure from the word of God did not come about by some Council of Nicaea type gathering in which there was some revelatory awakening that we had the goal post in the wrong place.  No, its roots are far more self serving and demonic than that.

Increasing Humanism and a growing secular society was pushing back against traditional Biblical standards as the guide for societal conduct with the church being seen as some collective conscience or barrier to this self indulgent movement.  Churches became the target of accusations of intolerance and judgment.  In response, many in the church chose to turn a blind eye to God’s word and began to embrace a pseudo and false compassion for the purpose of peace at all cost.  That cost was fear of losing warm bodies in the pews and cold hard cash in the offering plates from those who held the purse strings of the church.  This pseudo compassion would have sounded truly noble but for the short sighted fact it had lost it focus on eternity and instead delivered a false sense of security for the here and now. This is a “house of cards” quick fix ceding of precious territory, God’s territory, for a false peace while at the same time condemning both the builder and the occupant to an eternity in hell.  The preacher promoters of this broad road approach to eternity are not only – not Christians, they have become the very tools of Satan to lull the hearers into a deadly stupor of fake compassion.  It is Satan-like arrogance on our part to think that pretzel like contortions or spin of God’s Word will somehow persuade God to suddenly change holiness standards established from the very dawn of eternity.

Conformity to the winds of societal change is nothing new in the world.  In similar fashion, as wrong as it was to start with, the Mormon Church bowed at the altar of public opinion in sacrificing their only means of attaining godhood (equivalent of Christian salvation) by complying with our nations outlawing of polygamy – “The only men who become Gods, even the sons of God, are those who enter into polygamy” – Journal of Discourses, Vol. 11 p. 269, Aug. 19, 1866.  And whereas it is clear that Joseph Smith introduced the doctrine of polygamy in an attempt to legitimize his own pedophilia and adultery, here we are barely 150 years later and parts of the Christian Church, in increasing numbers, is digressing from positions of God’s holy standards into the depths of debauchery.  We may not yet be embracing the exploitation of the under aged, but I fear it will not be long before the church joins the rank and file in America in turning a blind eye to the normalization of exploiting our children for sexual pleasure.  What did I just say?  If you can’t see the recent exaltation of drag queen story time for children in public libraries and the “oh isn’t that cute” headlines following pre-pubescent boys doing sexual dances in gay bars dressed in drag as the normalization of adult/child sexual interaction then you are among those with self imposed blindness.  Combine this with the constant onslaught of attacks on our teens from magazines like Teen Vogue where they give guidelines to our youth on how to get an abortion without your parents knowledge and give graphic instructions on anal sex and you have a recipe for a modern day leading to the slaughter of coming generations.

So what does the Lord require of us?  Yell and scream at secular society for their departure from God?  Of course not!  What role do we have towards the blind but to love and serve in kindness?  Let’s reserve the yelling and screaming, if necessary, to those yet claiming Christ but denying His authority by their lifestyle and advocacies.  If you see the blind and are indifferent or indignant you yourself do not see as God sees.  The Gospel is the light to the world and we are to be the torch bearers by lives lived in gracious sacrifice.  We till the soil and plant the seed and pray God brings the harvest.  And amongst ourselves we must do the same with the added charge of being faithful to speak the truth in love, not only for the misguided, but for our own benefit as well.

 

Ezekiel 3:17-21 – 17 “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the people of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. 18 When I say to a wicked person, ‘You will surely die,’ and you do not warn them or speak out to dissuade them from their evil ways in order to save their life, that wicked person will die for their sin, and I will hold you accountable for their blood. 19 But if you do warn the wicked person and they do not turn from their wickedness or from their evil ways, they will die for their sin; but you will have saved yourself. 20 “Again, when a righteous person turns from their righteousness and does evil, and I put a stumbling block before them, they will die. Since you did not warn them, they will die for their sin. The righteous things that person did will not be remembered, and I will hold you accountable for their blood. 21 But if you do warn the righteous person not to sin and they do not sin, they will surely live because they took warning, and you will have saved yourself.”

1 Samuel 3:11-14 – 11 Then the Lord said to Samuel, “I am going to do something in Israel that will make the ears of everyone who hears it ring. 12 On that day I am going to do to Eli and his family everything I said from beginning to end. 13 I told him that I would hand down a permanent judgment against his household because he knew about his sons’ sin—that they were cursing God—but he didn’t try to stop them. 14 That is why I have taken an oath concerning Eli’s family line: No offering or sacrifice will ever be able to make peace for the sins that Eli’s family committed.”

 

 

All or nothing!

Alabama has it right! We have already lost the abortion battle, which we may lose anyway, if we say murder is OK in some rare cases. It would be the equivalent of saying “well I guess you can murder that person because they had a poor or rough childhood and their quality of life going forward is, in my opinion, not worthy”. And there is where the problem comes in, “in my opinion” makes the killing about me and what I want or think and not about the decision to life being sacred to every single human baby, teen, adult or senior. We open ourselves up to the accusation that we are being inconsistent and hypocrites if we allow for exceptions of rape or incest and those accusations would be completely accurate. As Christians, sin is sin and the minute we start exceptions for sin is the very minute we lose the battle against evil. And just for the record, the church has and is already conceding “land for peace” with the secular society we find ourselves surrounded by in hopes of being seen as more compassionate or acceptable. This is so much a wrong, warped and short sighted focus as our holy Father in heaven is the only one we need to please. So I encourage all Christians to choose sides and choose a path and at the same time to be careful which one we choose. One of those paths leads nowhere good and we already know from scripture that most will take that much easier and broad path with lots of company. And although it is a much harder journey, I implore you to choose the very narrow pathway of real compassion which includes support for crisis pregnancies, housing pregnant teens, adoption and prayer. If you are truly “pro life” this is the only option that leads to true life, both on this earth for the not yet born and eternal life in heaven for those who choose that less traveled pathway.

It’s a package deal, just the tip of the iceberg!

Yielding is a good thing – most of the time.  When you yield at a stop sign, when you yield while merging on the highway and when you yield to the Lord.  The problem comes in when we start yielding to the pressures of the secular society surrounding us, and just so we are clear, our country has become a secular society regardless of what percentage “identify” as Christians.  I think it will also help to distinguish between political pressures and moral ones.  A lot of the political agendas out there are largely issues of preference, culture and changing tradition.  For example the gun debate; there are many sides, persuasive points, social aspects, legal approaches and constitutional rights at play.  But there is no clear biblical position on this issue other than the instruction to obey the laws once in place as long as they do not violate God’s laws.  On the other side are moral issues, many of which have been inserted into the political arena, such as chastity, divorce, homosexuality, gender questions, abortion, gay marriage, pedophilia, pornography and the list goes on.

The church is being challenged to find that balance between yielding to God and trying to find that place of compromise with the rapidly changing society around us.  Probably one of the first things to find some room for “compassion” was in the area of divorce.  Yes, of course, there are scripturally legitimate reasons for divorce and I am not speaking about those.  But somewhat like the rape/incest/life of the mother reasons for abortion (not biblical reasons by the way), the biblical allowances for divorce represent only a small percentage of divorces today. But in general, whereas divorce, any divorce, once garnered a societal negative stigma, we now have special Sunday school classes for those who have experienced divorce.  Of course that, in and of itself, is not a bad thing.  The sad thing is that these classes are often full to the brim of the hurting and wounded.  And lest we forget, the reason God stopped listening to the petitions of the people in Malachi 2 was because of the high divorce rate. And this is where I, unfortunately, will likely lose many of you, whether divorce, chastity, homosexuality, abortion, pedophilia and all other biblically listed moral/sin issues, they are a package deal, bound together at their core and that core is yielding to the desires of the flesh.  And it doesn’t matter which one raises its ugly head above the surface in a given situation, be assured ALL the rest of these abominations are hovering just below the surface exactly like the bulk of the iceberg hidden out of sight but one can be assured that it is there none the less.  This is why scripture says “Whoever breaks one commandment is guilty of breaking them all” James 2:10

The journey down the sexually immoral “rabbit hole” is one single ever widening road with many on ramps and inter woven loops eventually encompassing any and all possible deviant concoctions. Fortunately there are also many off ramps as well for those who recognize their sin, repent and yield their hearts back to the narrow and hard to find pathway that leads to God.  I, for one, still have to resist the temptation to get back on the pornography on ramp having exited it some years back.  You see, I know where it can lead and there is nothing good or eternal down that road as it grows ever wider and wider to include more and more options.  And so it is with the package deal.  No, it is not clear how everything is connected at first and you may think you are just biding your time on your little corner of the ice.  But hiding just beneath the surface of your particular “poison” are ever increasing and lethal traps from our enemy reaching up to grab you.

And just to be clear, the super highway of immorality is already flowing at breakneck speeds with some aspects already out in the public eye and others still very well hidden from view.  Hollywood, proponents of progressive “right side of history” thought and “compassion/inclusion” advocates are systematically baby spoon feeding the church small morsels of compromise in areas in which we are expected to yield to social pressures so as not to be seen as narrow, rigid, uncompassionate and “old fashion”.  Recently Lauren Daigle refused to identify homosexuality as a sin when asked point blank, saying “You know, I can’t honestly answer on that” adding that she has “too many people that I love” that “are homosexuals”. But the truth is the same today as it was in Hosea’s day (8:7) “When they sow the wind, they will reap a storm!” It is inescapable that when you grab any part of the tiger, you get the whole tiger.  For example, we were once told that abortions would only be necessary, safe and rare.  And now, with a newly proposed bill in Virginia, you can decide, POST LIVE BIRTH, if you want to allow your baby to live according to an interview with the VA governor,

https://www.lifenews.com/2019/01/30/virginia-gov-ralph-northam-defends-infanticide-infant-would-be-resuscitated-if-thats-what-the-mother-desired/

Here is one of the authors talking about the bill.  Be sure to notice it is even hard for her to bring herself to actually admit that abortion would be allowed till the very end.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t0kC1B__CJ4

Fortunately, due to huge backlash from the governor’s interview the bill was defeated yesterday in subcommittee in a 5-3 vote.  Woe to those 3.

So you want sex outside of marriage or homosexuality?  You WILL get pedophiles and the decriminalization of sex with children in the deal.  You want feel good marriages with the option of no fault divorce?  You WILL get affairs, pornography and all “shades” of deviance.  You want to embrace same sex marriages?  Every kind of gender confusion and corruption to include pre-pubescent boys being allowed to perform in gay sex clubs comes in the package (that has happened already FYI).  You think “a little” pornography is OK?  Porn is never static; it always spirals down into the ever increasing dark reaches of a hell which can never be satisfied.  When you choose to compromise even the slightest of God’s moral decrees you cannot escape the harm, descent and consequences from breaking those laws anymore than you can defy the law of gravity.  God commanded these laws, not to rob our fun, but to ensure the greatest joy within the boundaries of His moral laws.

We are certainly not supposed to sound off with arrogance, pride or an “in your face” manner our uncompromising standards, but our standards must nevertheless be just that, uncompromising, unmovable and scripturally based, God ordered standards from which we must not be moved.  Will we be hated and ostracized for that?  Yes, of course we will!  But then that should come as no shock to those who read scripture as it clearly indicates that if we are not being loathed by the world then we must be doing something wrong.

The moral fiber of our country has been completely compromised and has crumbled to the ground.  We live as God’s ambassadors and servants in a foreign and heathen land.  Our job as God’s people is to dig through the rubble in search of those who would repent, be saved and join you on that narrow road that leads to life keeping in mind the sad truth of scripture that only a few will find that lightly traveled road. Matt. 7:14

“Gradually, though no one remembers how it happened, the unthinkable becomes tolerable, and then acceptable, and then legal and then applaudable!” – Joni Eareckson Tada

“If you believe what you like in the Gospel, and reject what you don’t like, it’s not the Gospel you believe, but yourself” – Saint Augustine

Surely not U2 – Double entendre intended!

U2, a professed Catholic/Christian singing group from Ireland, launched their 2018 tour yesterday in Tulsa OK.  Ironically, on the same day they announced their support for the repeal of Ireland’s 8th amendment which guarantees pre-born humans the right to life and prohibiting abortion on demand.

I will make this as short and un-sweet as possible.  This is Satan at his sinister best to convince some supposed Christian band to launch their latest tour in the heart of the reddest of the red states (where, if put it to a vote of the people, abortion would lose soundly).  Like so many others, they have surrendered to the god of this world by supporting the murder of the innocents.

And here is what appears to be the most ironically evil part of this whole thing is that they are calling their 2018 tour “Innocence Tour” and they announce that they support the the killing of the innocent on the same day they launch their tour of the same name.

Is there is a special place in hell for those who hurt or promote the hurting of the innocents?  Scripture would suggest so and none of the guilty will escape and neither will U2.  Will their influence tip the scales in Satan’s favor in Ireland’s vote?  If so I am so afraid for them (U2) and the tremendous judgement it may bring.

11 things many in the church, yes even YOUR church, are in denial about.

  1. America is a Christian nation. There are still plenty of “die hards” out there still holding on to fantasy land.  Contrary to wishful thinking, the moral high ground, once held by a more singularly focused majority of Christian/Catholic believers in America, has been ceded over to secular society and a cultural “Christian club” atmosphere significantly lacking in immovable and unchangeable standards.  The unthinkable 50 years ago in terms of marital, moral and societal character has become tolerated if not boldly promoted in more and more denominations and churches across the breadth of this country.  The mantra of being “on the right side of history” is being heard with increasing volume as the church attempts to “fit in” and be found relevant in the eyes of a society which has embraced a philosophy of “all of the above” when it comes to work and play.  A humble attitude of servant hood, holiness and intercession is more imperative than ever in our role as “occupied” Christians.
  2. Divorce is not that big of a deal. This is a topic which, in most cases, requires one to change the entire focus and origin of marriage from being one of sacrifice, commitment and servant hood to a focus of selfishness and a “what makes me happy” attitude.  Marriage was intended to be a picture of the unfailing commitment of God (the groom) to his people (the bride).  So for the church to let this institution fall from its rightful position of highest importance and honor is deplorable.  In fact, if any were wondering why answered prayer seems to be harder to come by these days one need only read Malachi 2:13-16 where God plainly states that our petitions and sacrifices are no longer acceptable because of the high divorce rate among His people.  These verses should be an aha moment for the church but instead is perhaps our biggest area of denial.  High divorce rates, which God clearly hates, are literally denuding the church of its effectiveness by surrendering this most important standard to the enemy.
  3. Pornography is primarily a problem among the un-churched. Patently FALSE!  YOUR men sitting in YOUR pews in YOUR church are viewing pornography at alarming rates.  All surveys indicate that pornography viewing among Christian men is on par and in some instances higher than that of their secular counterparts.  Here are some statistics spanning 20 years.  In 1996 an informal poll was conducted at a Promise Keepers conference which indicated that 1 in 3 of the attendees admitted to struggling with pornography.  By 2009 a poll conducted by the Barna Group found 21% of Christian men saying they were fully addicted to porn and a staggering 64% saying that they viewed porn at least once a month.  By 2014, just a short 5 years later, a new Barna poll saw that number had ballooned to as high as 79% among adult Christian males. This epidemic is also probably one of the single biggest contributing factors to denial #2.

http://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/penny-starr/pornography-use-among-self-identified-christians-largely-mirrors-national

Footnote:  At a recent men’s meeting at our church only about 10% of the over 200 men present raised their hands when asked “who here feels comfortable praying with their wives”.  Likely there is a direct and devastating relationship between that percentage and the percentage of those viewing porn since what guy is going to feel comfortable praying with someone they are being unfaithful too?

  1. Our Christian youth are remaining chaste. Again, patently FALSE!  And again I’m talking about your youth in your church.  Partly as a direct result of denials #2 & #3 with the added enticement of denial #5, our youth see little reason or import in purity and chastity and are in fact seduced in the opposite direction by media, movies and moral relevance.  They have watched increasing numbers of grown adults, pastors or lay church workers getting caught up in divorce, adultery, affairs, pre-marital sex and pornography with little accompanying stigma, shunning or earthly consequences.  As a result, they have grown to view participation in these areas as inevitable and the status-quo.  What was once normal and healthy curiosity held back by well articulated and time honored standards of character and chivalry has morphed into rampant sexual experimentation run amuck as any consequences of sexual sin has been clouded as they witnessed the preceding generation’s promiscuity given a progressive wink and a nod.  What has become accepted as normal in the church has little resemblance to biblical or traditional virtuous behavior.  A study conducted by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy  conducted in December 2009 indicated that 80% of evangelical youth had had sex compared to the only slightly higher 88% of secular youth of the same age.  Young Christians simply do not understand or care “what’s the big deal” as the church has failed miserably in articulating to them the abundant blessings and benefits of sexual holiness nor the dangers, statistics of sadness, divorce rates and diseases related to rejecting God’s plan.
  2. With the things people wear now days, modesty is not that big of a deal. Historically, everyone would have agreed that men are stimulated visually.  With what “passes” these days as modest one would think this well established fact had gone by the way side.  I’m here to let you know that nothing has changed in the water as myself and all the guys I know are still very affected visually by form fitting, almost revealing and “cute is the new sexy” attire popular in today’s society.  And, truth be told, this is a contributing factor in denials #3 and #4.  In no way am I suggesting Burkas as the norm for Christians.  But surely we can find some reasonable middle ground between the biblically described “bloomers” under full length robes, as instructed for those who minister before the Lord, and the almost nothing is too tight or revealing practice we see common today.  One need only do a Google image search of “sexy jeans” to understand that the very popular leggings and skinny jeans are understood by society to be “sexy”.  Is this what we want to be seeing, teaching (by practice or acceptance) and displaying as normal among Christians.  I am suggesting that it should not be so.  When almost nothing is left to the imagination, as if men needed help with their imaginations (again see denial #3), where else can you go.  I do not believe I should have to put a guard over my eyes at church.  I have to do this all day long out in “the world” and I think church, at a minimum, should be a safe place for me, my sons and the men around me (to a person, this is the opinion of almost every guy I have discussed this topic with).  Men are drawn away because of their own lust and they can’t blame anybody else. My understanding of the “preferring my brother” concept in scripture has me, for example, forgoing alcohol around a brother for whom this has been a struggle in the past and see this principal as applicable in being considerate towards all with modest dress, especially the weaker brother.  And with the porn viewing stats in denial #3 it’s clear the overwhelming majority of us are that weaker brother.
  3. Why all the fuss about homosexuality? Simply put because it is sin and it destroys lives.  It is included in a long list of sins in Romans 1 including gossip, murder, envy etc. for which there is a punishment of death.  Churches left and right are falling all over themselves to capitulate on this subject.  The Pastor of Hillsong New York, Carl Lentz, recently said “we have a lot of men and women who are gay in our church and I pray we always do”.  This was his way of avoiding taking a firm position on the acceptance of homosexuality after a couple of men in their choir (one on staff) announced they were getting married.  Can you imagine substituting a different sin in that narrative such as “we have a lot of pedophiles in our church and I pray we always do”?  That would be absurd (at least as of this writing).  Homosexuality is an abomination in the eyes of God (no more or less than other sins) and even many in the gay community are skeptical about the goings on.  The following article is a fascinating read. http://thefederalist.com/2016/05/16/loveless-narcissistic-sex-addicts-a-gay-man-critiques-his-community/
  4. The voice of the prophet is pretty much gone/ignored. That would depend on where you look and what kind of prophecy you are looking for.  The last 3-4 decades has seen a different kind of prophet come on the scene.  They tend to be more philosophical, political or personal in their target subject.  I have no doubt that the Lord can use almost anyone to deliver His Word to His people.  I fancy myself as having prophetic leanings but I am constantly reminded that a jackass did it once which hopefully keeps my errant ego in check.  My personal take on the most common role of prophets (at least biblically) is one where the prophet indentifies areas of concern, gives a warning of impending consequences and offers steps of correction or repentance in order to prevent some or all of the fallout.  Having witnessed numerous “personal prophecies” which have been delivered to others, and even myself, over the past half century, I have not always seen these types of prophecies producing enduring fruit or valuable direction.  It certainly has happened, but it seems to be more the exception. Very recently some “prophets” identified a certain political candidate (now president) as “God’s man of the hour” – maybe, but also maybe not.  The main thing I believe is lacking when it comes to prophecy and the prophet today is accountability.  There were pretty severe consequences for false prophets in times past and I think many would think twice before opening their mouth if punishments were re-instated.  I do believe there are countless prophets today calling for holiness, integrity and commitment – unfortunately fewer and fewer are listening.
  5. God’s message is one focusing only on mercy. This one is a “two sides of the same coin” issue or one of both/and. One of my main mentors when I was a young adult was Dr. Charles Farah of the theology dept. at ORU.  He defined heresy as emphasizing one truth at the exclusion of another.  This is exactly what is occurring with the plethora of “feel good” preachers pouring in over the horizon emphasizing all the blessings and none of the curses.  The oft extravagant lifestyles and mansions combined with 6 & 7 figure incomes fly insultingly in the face of the lifestyle and message of the humble servant Jesus whom they claim to emulate.  It is these same preachers who have been the quickest to capitulate on whatever is trending in society in order to maintain their popularity as their income and lifestyles depend on it.  When a spiritual leader omits consequences or judgment from the narrative they likely do an eternal disservice to the hearer.  This is unconscionable on the part of these self serving demagogues.  The cost of discipleship is terminal as it brings us to the foot of the cross.  It is at this beloved monument where true acceptance and riches are found as we follow Jesus, embrace holiness and find true joy in the knowledge that Jesus took our judgment on Himself.
  6. Love wins! This is actually not an area of denial as much as it is an area where wishful thinking is taking a front row seat. I’m referring to the very popular book of the same name (Love Wins) by Rob Bell.  This is different than the preachers in denial #8 as Rob takes a more Universalist view of religion (I can’t bring myself to call it Christianity) in which any eternal consequences are non-existent, hell is not real and everyone will ultimately be “saved”.  I can understand the immense popularity of this message especially for those with friends or relatives who have not accepted Jesus.  The thought of some eternal physical punishment is not a happy one and to cast some spin on scripture which insures an eventual address in paradise is universally appealing.  The knowledge that we serve a patient God who is not willing that any should perish but that all would come to repentance affords me the peace to leave ultimate judgment to His discretion.  But lacking a Judeo/Christian basis for a Universalist/no hell scenario, I cannot be party to a message which, according to the scriptures we have, defrauds the hearer by giving some transitory peace of mind.
  7. The road to heaven is wide and easy to find. No we would never actually say this, but the growth of the “Club Christian” atmosphere in the world defies the fact that scripture actually says the opposite is true. And although somewhat related to denials #8 & 9, this is perhaps the most sobering point to ponder here.  I have a love/hate relationship with the parable in Matt. 20 where the kingdom of heaven is described as being like a land owner who hires various groups throughout the day and then pays them all the same as if they had all work the entire day.  I especially like to think of God that way as I might be one of the last hires and I want all He has for me.  But then the prideful part of me sometimes feels like the one hired first with an inability to appreciate the last person getting the same as me.  I am so very glad to leave in God’s hands justice, reward and judgment.  At the same time, He did leave in our hands an abundance of scripture indicating there is both judgment and mercy.  In fact, it gives me great pause to consider the full context of Matt. 7:13, 14 which plainly states that the road to destruction is broad and MOST will find it and the way is narrow and hard that leads to life and FEW will find it.  God, be merciful to me a sinner and please help me find that most narrow of pathways that leads to life eternal!
  8. I’m sure these are issues in some churches, but not in mine. That is why I call this the top things many in the church are in denial about.  Having been youth pastors for the better part of 15 years in churches that would be considered very conservative and evangelical I can tell you my biggest concern is for our youth.  I say it that way because most all of the denials above which directly impact adults have devastating consequences on our youth.  Parents and pastors easily notice or identify problems with other churches or other people’s kids but are often blind to that which is closest to them.  I personally know several circumstances where cultural Christian young people are having sex while their parents, youth pastors or churches are clueless.  And I use the term “cultural Christian” very intentionally as this is the best way to describe the children of God fearing parents for whom Christianity is seen as a social identity instead of a relationship with Christ with eternal ramifications.  If you are in denial that these are issues in YOUR church, then this blog is ESPECIALLY for you!

I am not suggesting this is a complete list.

PS Abortion:  Thankfully this is not a denial in most churches.  But I am not sure all Christians understand the absolutely demonic nature of what has become such a norm in our society.  It is only in modern day in which the murder of babies either in or outside the womb has become acceptable.  It was only backward and barbaric nations which practiced the sacrifice of babies.  It was only amongst the most heinous of civilizations in which to slice a baby out of its mother and cut into pieces in their dying presence was considered the ultimate insult.  Here are some facts to have at your disposal if you encounter someone considering abortion and they have no “moral” reason not to.

  1. 31% of women having abortions report suffering physical health complications (1)
  2. 10% of women having abortions suffer immediate, potentially life-threatening complications (2, 3, 4)
  3. Women have a 65% higher risk of clinical depression following abortion vs. childbirth (5)
  4. 65% of women suffer symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) after abortion (1)
  5. Women’s death rates from various causes after abortion are 3.5 times higher than after giving birth  (6, 7)
  6. Many women describe their experience as ‘a nightmare’, which can hardly be equated with ‘choice’. 60% of women surveyed after abortion responded that:’Part of me died’ (1)
  7. Suicide rates among women who have abortions are six times higher than those who give birth (7, 8)
  8. Abortion increases a woman’s risk of future miscarriages by 60% (9)

References

  1. Source: Rue et. al., “Induced abortion and traumatic stress: A preliminary comparison of American and Russian women,” Medical Science Monitor 10(10): SR5-16, 2004.
  2. Frank, et.al., “Induced Abortion Operations and Their Early Sequelae,” Journal of the Royal College of General Practitioners 35(73):175-180, April 1985.
  3. Grimes and Cates, “Abortion: Methods and Complications”, in Human Reproduction, 2nd ed., 796-813.
  4. M.A. Freedman, “Comparison of complication rates in first trimester abortions performed by physician assistants and physicians,” Am. J. Public Health76(5):550-554, 1986).
  5. JR Cougle et. al., “Depression Associated With Abortion and Childbirth: A Long-Term Analysis of the NLSY Cohort,” Medical Science Monitor 9(4):CR105-112, 2003.
  6. M Gissler et. al., “Pregnancy Associated Deaths in Finland 1987-1994 — definition problems and benefits of record linkage,” Acta Obsetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica 76:651-657, 1997.
  7. M. Gissler, “Injury deaths, suicides and homicides associated with pregnancy, Finland 1987-2000,” European J. Public Health 15(5):459-63, 2005.
  8. Gissler, Hemminki & Lonnqvist, “Suicides after pregnancy in Finland, 1987-94: register linkage study,” British Journal of Medicine 313:1431-4, 1996.
  9. N. Maconochie, P. Doyle, S. Prior, R. Simmons, “Risk factors for first trimester miscarriage—results from a UK-population-based case–control study,” BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, Dec 2006.

Note: Studies 6, 7 and 8 looked at death rates for an average for up to one year after the end of the pregnancy. Another study found that looked at suicide rates for up to eight years found that, compared to women who gave birth, women who had abortions had a 62% higher risk of death from all causes and a 2.5 times higher suicide rate. Source: DC Reardon et. al., “Deaths Associated With Pregnancy Outcome: A Record Linkage Study of Low Income Women,” Southern Medical Journal 95(8):834-41, Aug. 2002.

Push me pull ewe!

The ‘ewe’ spelling in the title is very intentional and it will become abundantly clear as to why.  Over just the past few months a couple of fairly high profile Christian personalities have taken nontraditional public positions on the subjects of same sex marriage and abortion.  The first to stray was Eugene Peterson (The Message) back in July when he replied yes when asked the question as to whether he would perform a same sex marriage.  Then a little over a week ago Pastor Carl Lentz (Hillsong NY) was a guest on The View and declined to decry abortion as wrong.

In both these cases the outcry from evangelical Christians was immediate and voluminous.  So much so that both of these men walked back their comments eventually landing back on what most would view as solid ground from a Christian perspective.

It has become all too common for popular Christians, or perhaps it’s more accurate to call them pop culture Christians, to feed from both sides of the fence at the same time in the vain, and misguided effort, to somehow make peace with the secular society.  Much like the fictional push me pull you of Dr. Dolittle fame trying to go in opposing directions at the same time.  Problem is when attempts are made to find nourishment and direction from opposing sides, much like the good Dr’s lama, you have two faces (innuendo intended) two mouths and no (how can I say this politely?) outlet, which basically means you become full of ….. stuff, really messed up and bad stuff.

pushme

I can only come to one conclusion which makes any sense to me as to why there is this great effort to appease and pay so much homage to the world and its ways and that is a lack of the fear of God.  Maybe there are other nuanced reasons, but I believe if we drill down there is simply a diminishing belief in the wrath of a holy God who will judge the living and the dead.

Will God change His mind, His scriptural declarations and His judgment eventually welcoming all into His holy presence as many other well known Christians would suggest.  It could happen; He is after all God and can do pretty much whatever He wants with His creation.  I chose to hold with the traditionally held beliefs in scripture of salvation, grace, judgment and hell.  If you want to characterize that as being rather safe than sorry or careful then so be it.  Personally I would characterize it as finding tremendous gratefulness to, and love for, Jesus who made a way for me to fellowship with the Holy Father.  I could be wrong (if I am there is no down side for me), but if not then it could literally be hell to pay for those choosing not to fear and serve a Holy God.

I could be wrong!

In fact there is a good part of me that hopes I am wrong.  Let me back up a little, in fact to really be thorough, honest and academic we will need to back up at least 100 years (if not a couple thousand).  What I am talking about is a subtle agenda being pushed to the fore by many very talented and gifted communicators in various forms to include TV, media, books and movies.  I’m speaking about universal salvation as well as several other beliefs which seem to be commonly tacked on to the coat tails of universal salvation.

In short, universal salvation, or Christian universalism, is “a school of Christian theology focused around the doctrine of universal reconciliation – the view that all human beings will ultimately be restored to a right relationship with God” (Wikipedia).  Naturally and closely associated with Christian universalism is the belief that there is no eternal physical punishment (a burning hell).  There are numerous other practices or beliefs which follow closely behind these 2 schools of thought such as acceptance of gay lifestyles in the church, a de-emphasis on chastity as well as embracing a philosophy of never judge and always include.  But for the most part I will only offer some thoughts on Christian universalism and hell.

Let me first say, as I hinted at earlier, I completely understand the appeal of Universal Salvation and the absence of a physical and eternal hell.  I have many family members and friends who do not profess Christ and who would benefit from an eternity lacking a permanent physical punishment and the opportunity to be reconciled to the Father beyond the grave.  That would be wonderful on so many levels even if mildly disconcerting to me and my, before the grave, efforts to embrace the cross and commands of Christ.  However, the above views are not what I see in scripture, but if I’m wrong it’s still a win win for everybody.  Yes I, and many like me, may have endeavored to live more circumspectly in this life to no real avail, but in the end, that end being eternity, there would be no real down side to having been wrong and having lived a life of discipleship and devotion to Jesus.

Here is my concern and caution with the increasing evolution of some mainstream Christian beliefs and the direction in which they are moving.  These beliefs, theologies and practices did not follow 50 – 100 years of respected Christian theologians from the most respected Christian seminaries beginning to question and debate the possibility that we may have been wrong about salvation and hell.  In fact the opposite has happened.  Secular philosophies of “if it feels good – do it” and other related beliefs which were introduced in the 60’s ultimately carried influence into the walls of an insecure church desperate to “stay relevant”.  This was closely followed by accusations of intolerance and hate towards anyone or any church/denomination which dared to hold onto traditional beliefs instead of getting on the “right side of history”.  Barbie and I have even had very dear friends with whom we have discussed some of these issues pull back from relationship, cut off relationship or “unfriend” us because we are the ones perceived as narrow and intolerant – I trust you see the sad irony there.

So, in what I believe to be a misguided effort, many churches in recent decades have embraced the all inclusive universal salvation position complete with setting aside significant moral prohibitions in what can best be described as a “land for peace” deal with secular society.  I will be the first to admit that it appears compassionate and inclusive to promote universal acceptance of varying cultural practices.  This is especially effective when combined with the elimination of hell as a place of punishment.  And perhaps if I had sat under different teachers in my life I might easily go there as well.

As I said earlier, if I am wrong there is no real downside to me or anybody else to having held fast to traditional beliefs of what it means to be like Christ and to hold traditional views of salvation and hell.  However, and this could be the costliest however in the history of the church, if these highly influential teachers, church leaders, movie makers and book writers are the ones who are wrong then 100’s of millions of lives could be forever separated from the Father.  That is a down side none of us should consider as an acceptable risk.

http://babylonbee.com/news/progressive-criticizes-jesus-not-christlike/