These actions of these pastors who (I will not name but their initials are Tony Spell and Rodney Howard-Browne) defied orders to not “congregate” are not obeying the authorities placed over them, are endangering lives, do NOT represent Christ, Christianity or me as a Christian. You only have to remember the 60 choir members who, legally, went to a choir practice on March 10th in Washington State if you have any question as to what will likely happen to the congregants of Tony and Rodney’s churches. Of those 60 who attended, 45 contracted Covid and so far 2 are DEAD. We are supposed to be spreading the spirit of Christ and the Good News, NOT a deadly virus. Shame on these pastors who actions represent arrogance and selfishness and they are NOT placing the health and welfare of their people as a priority. Bad, VERY bad form.
There is a 5th column within the church itself which is growing ever stronger advocating the church “get on the right side of history” or become irrelevant and die.
From what were we saved and redeemed? This may sound like a rhetorical question. Light was shown on the sin of man by the giving of the laws of God. This was done in order for him to realize his need for God and the need to be cleansed from the curse of sin. It’s not as though sin is just some bad habit we should eventually be rid of, but more like some agent of death we must be rescued from lest we be destroyed in hell.
Wow, that last line makes it sound like there is some Holy God out there who will cast us into outer darkness unless we convert to His way of thinking. Yea, pretty much. But unless you come to the realization and appreciation that He loved us so much that He sacrificed His only Son in order to make it possible for that to NOT happen, it can be made to sound really intolerant and judgmental.
In 2011, Rob Bell was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time magazine. Just a few of years earlier he was named one of the 10 most influential Christian leaders by The Church Report. For some time Rob has been leaning heavily towards the Christian Universalism tenant that there is no eternal physical punishment (i.e. hell) and more recently he has fully embraced same sex marriage.
I am only somewhat familiar with Rob Bell, but there are millions who hang on his words. So when he says ‘the Church will “continue to be even more irrelevant” if it continues to cite the Bible’s prohibitions on homosexual behavior’ referring to the Bible as some “letters from 2000 years ago”. I guess there are a goodly number of people who stand up and take notice, especially when he says it shoulder to shoulder with the Big O herself (Oprah).
And here is where it really gets twisted. In referring to the church’s battle against same sex marriage his wife states that “there are churches who are moving forward and there are churches who are almost regressing and making it more of a battle”. Rob followed with “I think we are witnessing the death of a particular subculture that doesn’t work. … You sort of die or you adapt … we have supported policies and ways of viewing the world that are actually destructive. And we’ve done it in the name of God and we need to repent.”
Rob attempts to denude God’s anointing on the writers of the New Testament to “some people wrote something” 2000 years ago. “Those letters” were written to encourage us to repent of our destructive sinful ways, follow Christ and be saved from eternal punishment. But that has now been flipped on it’s head and it’s now we the church who, Rob Bell claims, must repent of our commitment to that holy living and revert back to a time before “those letters” when living sinful lives was vogue – or die. In other words, what was considered destructive and sinful living for 2000 years has all of a sudden become NOT sin, or at least not consequential as it relates to hell, and any commitment advocating the avoidance of sinful living has been turned on its head and has now become the destructive thing?
So with all the martyring of Christians around the world in Libya, Nigeria and many other countries highly populated by Muslims on almost a daily basis you may have thought your commitment to Christ might at the worst put the choice before you to convert to Islam or die with the name of Jesus on your lips. No, brothers and sisters, it’s much, much worse than that. In order to “get along” in this generation, you will have to deny over 2 thousand years of church history, deny those faded silly letters, deny the testimony of the saints, deny your own experience with God and even deny the purposeful sacrifice of Christ – or, as those heretics claim, it is you will become irrelevant and die.
Mark 9:42 & Matt. 18:16 (a couple of verses from “those letters”) – With all the people stumbling and being led astray by Rob Bell and so many others like him, I suggest there are not enough millstones in the history of mankind or deep enough oceans on the planet to satisfy the wrath of a Holy God on those who are arrogantly saying that His detailed plan of salvation, to include the painful sacrifice of His beloved Son on the cross, was a stupid waste of time since everybody gets to heaven either way.
As we are on the brink of another denominational split over same sex marriage (The Methodist Church), I decided to read what I understood to be the most comprehensive book trying to explain, from a Biblical perspective, support for same sex marriage. The book is by Matthew Vines and is entitled “God and the Gay Christian”.
Matthew takes several approaches to the subject and, for those who have not devoted their life to the love, study and reading of scripture, he comes across as knowledgeable in his arguments. But when looked at more academically, Matthew takes the most obscure possible interpretations of some words, reads volumes between the lines in other cases and conducts Olympic quality gymnastics to pretzel his arguments into statements that appear to challenge 3000 years of traditionally held prohibitions in scriptures as it relates to homosexuality and same sex activity. Not to mention that he quotes a plethora of secular philosophers. But I will only focus on one of his more impassioned arguments – Forced Celibacy.
The 3rd chapter of his book entitled “The Gift of Celibacy” is a central theme for the whole book in which Matthew puts forward the emotionally touching argument that for the same sex attracted person, the traditionally held “non affirming” position on homosexuality and same sex marriage relegates the same sex attracted person to a life of forced celibacy, denying him/her the freedom to express his/her desires for the rest of their life.
Here is the problem with that argument. As compassionate and inclusive at it sounds on the surface, that is actually the same struggle every one of us must address when faced with our own attractions which do not line up with scripture. Just fill in the blank with the various attractions we all have that are prohibited in scripture whether greed, anger, gluttony, steeling, drunkenness, murder, gossip, lying etc. I’m sure I just touched on probably everyone reading this blog and you can attest to the life long struggle you have had to engage in to deny yourself the freedom to participate in these various abominations/attractions. We are all “born that way” or with a sin nature that manifest itself in a myriad of tendencies. Why should we give a special status to those with same sex attraction? Do they somehow put their pants or skirts on differently than the rest of us who may struggle with say anger (my attraction). Why is it somehow different for me to deny my anger “attraction” for my whole life, essentially “forcing” me to try and be kinder and gentler for the rest of my life and yet there is some special status assigned for those with same sex attraction.
Some will argue that we should affirm same sex activity because it involves love or because it involves consenting adults. But the same can be said of that TV that I love and am tempted to steal or adultery and sex before marriage which also involves two consenting adults and “love”. Or how about that beautiful buffet that I love and am gluttonous towards or having that third, fourth or fifth drink while out with friends. We ALL face wrong desires and yes, we face them for our WHOLE lives – Gen. 4:7 You will be accepted if you do what is right. But if you refuse to do what is right, then watch out! Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master.
And just to be clear, as I don’t want to hyper focus on just one sin, we must all engage the battle for holiness regardless of the sin you are attracted to. Don’t give up, don’t give in, keep fighting, keep your eyes on Jesus, keep resisting and keep winning those daily battles in our desire to please the Father.
The bottom line is that we are called to holy living as defined clearly in scripture and if you want to unrepentantly live otherwise you are free to do so. Just don’t call yourself a Christian or practice your attraction within the Body of Christ as that is both blasphemous to our Holy Father and false advertising to the world at large.
On season 20 of Survivor – Heroes vs. Villains – Russell Hantz came in 3rd place. He will go down as one of the most colorful players in Survivor history for his physical and mental gamesmanship. But his social game was severely lacking as he failed to get the votes necessary from his fellow contestants in the final “tribal council”. In response to this loss, Russell claimed that there was a “flaw in the game” and that the those outside the game (viewers) should get a say in the final vote which he believed would have garnered him the win. In response Jeff Probst, the host of the show, replied “that would be a different game” (not the game of Survivor).
This same attitude of there being a “flaw” in the “game” is quickly gaining popularity in modern or progressive Christianity. Although I hate to reduce God’s word to some list of do’s and don’ts, as it is far more than that, the Bible IS our “rules book” which clearly and definitively spells out the requirements to be found in Christ (being a Christian). Those “rules” include ALL of the following minimum requirements – repentance for (turning away from) sin, commitment to obeying God’s laws and embracing the atoning work of Christ. I fully admit that this is a significant over simplification while still headlining the core essence of what it means to be a Christian.
There are countless individuals and denominations today who claim the name of Christ and yet are editing the rules of Christianity in a progressive effort to point out there is a “flaw in the game”. It matters not how compassionate, popular or progressive these edits are, the simple fact is that to change the “rules” means they are engaging in a different “game” (religion) and therefore CANNOT be called Christians. Whereas this may sound harsh, the simple fact remains that if you are trying to introduce chess pieces into the game of Scrabble you are no longer playing either chess or Scrabble – it becomes a different game. In the same way, if you embrace the killing of babies in the womb, homosexuality, ignoring the poor in favor of your own financial security or “wink” at gossip, greed or gluttony; well then that would be a different religion and you should feel free to practice it. Just don’t call it Christianity.
Being a Christian is no game! Neither is it some club whose members periodically vote on new rules or eliminate old ones. It is a commitment, to the best of our ability with the help of the Holy Spirit, to honor the Creator and his plan of salvation for those few (see Matthew 7:14) who find that narrow pathway that leads to eternal life. If that sounds too harsh and exclusive for you, there are plenty of “other games” out there that might interest you. But don’t, in some show of arrogance, come into the doors of the Church and try and change God. God NEVER changes with the shifting shadows of time or popular sentiment (see James 1:17). Why would you do that? Why not just go somewhere else and call it something else. No one is forcing you to follow Christ or embrace God’s laws. Find another club or group, make your own rules and call it whatever you want. But don’t attempt (because that’s all it could be – an attempt) to change the Character and Nature of our Holy Creator – because that would be a different religion.
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.”
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.
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,
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.
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