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.”

 

 

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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

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.

The Babylon Affect

Genesis 11:6 – The LORD said, “They are one people with one language. This is only the beginning of what they will do! Now nothing they plan to do will be too difficult for them.

God saw all the amazing things the “globalized” people of the earth were accomplishing and He saw it as a negative.  Why would great advancements, huge building programs and international cooperation be seen as a negative?  Because God knew that along with “nothing they plan to do will be too difficult” would also come an arrogant practice of anything goes.

So it has taken several thousands of years for the world to be “globalized” again to the point where language differences are of little consequence when all you have to do is hit “translate page” on Google or upload a comparable app on your smart phone for instant, real time translation.  Just yesterday I saw and advertisement for an ear insert that instantly translates a language.  There is again no language barrier in the world.  As a result, truly amazing things are taking place in the advancement of the world in technology, medicine, farming, science, construction, manufacturing as well as equally negative, anything goes, factors of relativism, pride and debauchery.

An amazing amount of these “advancements” have taken place in my lifetime.  I was visiting with my father a few months back and we were discussing the decline of the church’s influence in America in particular.  He made the point that WWII was a significant factor in the beginning of the globalization of the world.  Prior to WWII, the vast majority of people were born, grew up and died all within a few miles while all the time going to the same church, generally knowing the same people as well as being subject to the same peer influence and pressure for most social and character life issues.  The effect of WWII on that localized influence was monumental.  With the advancement and reduced cost of both local and international travel, it was no longer assumed that you would live and die in your “home town”.  Troops from across the globe, in addition to fighting a war, were exposed to vastly different and exciting new states, countries and cultures.  Combine this shrinking of the world via travel with the ease of international communication and collaboration and what was once the local village ultimately became the World Wide Web breaking down all remaining barriers.

Don’t get me wrong, I see it as a good thing when somebody in South Africa comes up with a piece of some medical puzzle and he is able to instantly collaborate with someone or even several someones in other countries to affect a breakthrough in medicine.  That is not the problem God saw with common tongue and communication.  It’s when some guy with a foot fetish, (or substitute some other fringe activity) who because of social media and the ability to search the whole world in an instant for others with the same interest, no longer feels alone and the need to hide or curtail his vice.  He now feels validated and accepted practicing what would have otherwise been viewed as weird and perhaps even deviant to his local community.  Don’t believe me.  Oh you doubters, there are now foot worship fetish parties all over the world.

http://www.footnight.com/la.html

When it comes to appreciating nice looking feet, perhaps there is little concern for the decline of worldwide morality.  There are, however, other incredibly destructive things which have come “out of the closet” in my lifetime.  And I’m not just talking about homosexuality.  In the big scheme of things, homosexuality may be one of the lesser evils which have found validation in today’s society as a result of the shrinking world.  By far the most destructive things to emerge “triumphant” in modern society are areas in which the church has capitulated to “right side of history” and culturally correct or expedient practices.  The reason falling standards in the church bears so much consideration is because, lest we forget, “judgment begins in the house of God” 1Peter 4:17.

I am going to be as blunt and honest as I can here because the future ability of the church to regain its effectiveness, influence and reputation in the world is at stake.  Just a short biblical lesson shouldn’t be too tedious for those who already know and it will be helpful for those who don’t (of which there are apparently multitudes).  From the very beginning of the establishment of the Jewish nation, leadership was admonished to not collect a big salary (multiply gold for themselves), to follow God’s eternal laws and to serve the people.  Most of them unfortunately failed to do this causing countless reoccurring problems.  Jesus however, as our most perfect shepherd/leader, did in fact model these eternal values by living a life of servant hood and sacrifice paired with an extremely modest lifestyle.  How is it then that today there are so many “pastors” who insult God’s commands and the very essence of who Jesus is by embracing living standards more closely resembling the “lifestyles of the rich and famous”?  It’s because they can go on line and find other pastors “succeeding” who have equally inflated opinions of themselves who live in million dollar homes and who collect 6 or 7 figure salaries.

It is primarily a modern day phenomenon in which a person can feel “called” into the ministry and service of Christ and have the prospect or expectation of being greatly enriched by doing so.  And if we are going to be completely honest, even the un-churched are often all too aware of the commands in scripture for a modest lifestyle among Christians and these affluent and greedy mega-church practices, which more closely resemble those in the corporate world, have them dismissing and tuning out entirely because of the blatant hypocrisy.

I’m going to sound a bit liberal here for a moment (please forgive me) but how do so many churches justify cushy couches, fancy coffee bars and worship leader spot lights combined with a multitude of projector screens, mood lighting and the latest internet technology while we still have the destitute, lost and desperate right outside our church doors.  I suggest it is our priorities which need remodeling – not our “out dated” facilities.  And here is the kicker, those “bigger, better, more” accoutrements are the very reason we are not drawing in or retaining our young people as they see these things as a shallow mimic of their entertainment world.  They are longing and searching for something very different than their most recent secular concert experience when it comes to engaging and worshiping a holy God – or was it for naught that God said “My ways are not your ways”?  And in Romans 12 when God exhorts us “Don’t become like the people of this world.  Instead change the way you think.”  What follows is a list of activities of servant hood, giving, teaching, showing mercy etc.  Conspicuously lacking is any mention of fancy buildings or big salaries.  This is not to say that functionally appropriate facilities are not necessary, but they cannot take precedence over the work of the ministry.

There are many more factors which have led to the church growing in its irrelevance.  In order to maintain those high salaries, fancy coffee bar lobbies and environmental sanctuaries, which by the way are resulting in ever increasing budgets, many churches have rolled over on many eternal biblical standards.  They simply can’t risk losing those tithe dollars so in order not to offend the offenders, long standing Biblical laws are massaged and equivocated on to include a hate for divorce that mirrors God’s (Malachi 2:16), an intolerance for adultery, teen sex, gossip, greed, homosexuality and more.  Pro-active mentoring and accountability for Godly character has become a fading and lost art.  I offer one glaring example from Malachi 2:13 & 14 where God plainly informs His people that the reason He no longer pays attention to their prayers and sacrifices is because of the high divorce rate.  Could it be stated any more plainly?  And here we are today with divorce rates in the church approaching the same level as in secular society.

I hope you are able to track with me on this as to the negatives of the church being “plugged in” to the progressive globalized world.  To possibly help illustrate this I will offer an example.  Most of us Christians, as well as non-Christians, view the Amish and similar communities as old fashion, behind the times and maybe even a bit weird.  But let’s give the benefit of the doubt for a minute and consider this quote from an article on the Amish Studies website.

“Why would God frown on a telephone? What sense does it make to keep a tractor at the barn but not take it to the field? Is it not inconsistent, if not outright hypocritical, to hire non-Amish drivers but refuse to own cars? And what could be the difference between 12-volt electricity from batteries and 110-volt current from public utility lines? These distinctions may look silly to outsiders, but within the context of Amish history they are important cultural adaptations that have helped to slow the pace of social change and keep worldliness at bay”.

Obviously the rejection of many types of technology hasn’t been a catch-all for the Amish, but in their close knit and tight communities the influence or validation of Biblically fringe practices have had little opportunity to foment and grow.  Not too unlike it might have been 100 years ago in a smaller community where if some guy in your church is abusing his wife and the other men in the church find out, they would have taken that guy out and given him a good talking to or more depending on the level of abuse.  Or if the guy with some other fetish or deviant inclination was unable to find others like himself in their town he might truly have understood that this was a lifestyle or way of thinking which he shouldn’t entertain.  But today, it almost doesn’t matter what fringe or deviant interest you might have, you are sure to find a few hundred if not several thousands of people “just like you” amongst the billions of people in the world for the simple reason you were able to search it on Google or some other social media and even go the their annual conference.

And on a more broad note, how is it that so many young people today feel the freedom to be dismissive and rude to their parents, teachers and other community “elders”?  Because they see it modeled every day on the latest TV sitcom, late night comedy “news” or selfie video on social media.  And if all those other young people are doing it then it must be ok and all those grey headed people are just stupid and out of touch by trying to hold onto those outdated practices of honor, character, respect, morality and hard work.  Even among many Christian youth it hardly even enters into their minds that the first commandment with a promise was to honor those “older” people in your life (parents).  They have been brainwashed into believing they know better after finding validation for their attitudes with the latest trending YouTube video and they do not even hesitate to inform you of their new found enlightenment and your “old and busted” views.

How unfortunate that the globalization and shrinking of our world through the ease of communication, and the internet in particular, has spawned 2 very different results.  One being the almost limitless capacity of our world to accomplish things formerly thought impossible as well as the ability for anti-God practices to gain an increasing foothold in the church because “everybody is doing it” and I can prove it because I read it somewhere on the internet today.

As much as it pains me (and the Lord) to say this, I don’t see things changing for the better in the church in general.  So many have fallen hook line and sinker for the Joel Osteen, Rob Bell and Carl Lentz types who embrace feel good wealth fantasies, no worries about eternal punishment and an unwillingness to call blatant sexual sin – sin.  I am feeling more and more that Jesus was not speaking metaphorically when He said that the path to eternal life is narrow and few will find it.  I am challenged everyday to watch my attitudes, anger, impatience, un-forgiveness as well as my devotion to the principals of scripture and how it compares to the life of Jesus and the fruits of the Spirit.  I have a long way to go, but I cannot turn aside  from that narrow path to run across the median to that wide and inviting road shouting to the rest of humanity, and so many who call themselves Christians, “wait for me, I’ll catch up”.  This is not about being on the right side of history.  This is about being hidden in Christ and Him alone.  And the promise is that if we do so we will be despised on this earth.

PS  As I was writing this over the past few weeks, I felt strongly that it was a prophetic word for the church.  I was praying the past few days for the Lord to confirm this word in my heart before I sent it out and this morning a good friend posted an excerpt from a short letter written by Derek Prince probably 25 years ago.  That letter parallels this blog in several ways and I felt it was a confirming encouragement to go forward.  Thanks Richard!  Link below

http://www.derekprince.org/publisher/file.aspx?id=1000021473

I have never asked this, but if this blog speaks to your spirit, pray about sharing it.

I don’t understand all the shock and OMG outrage!!!

I am seeing more and more post expressing shock and “oh my gosh” outrage over all the things being revealed about corruption in politics, the media, Trump, Hillary, Bill and almost anyone connected to them.

All I have to say is REALLY!!!  Seriously, please quit with all the hyped/fake shock and outrage!

Where has everybody been for the last quarter century?  Nothing that has happened here has any shock value to it for me.  I wrote a book which covers some of these types of trends that I started almost 20 years ago and I blog about this stuff all the time.  Anyone who is shocked is either being disingenuous or has spent the last 25 years at Disney World where every bit of dirt or trash is swept up before you have a chance to see it.

Don’t get me wrong, I am disappointed, disgusted, nauseated and saddened by all the lack of integrity and character.  But shock? No, not shocked, as I am well aware of the depravity of our society that little would shock me at this point.

There are also choruses of people advocating a no vote or a vote for a third party and you are absolutely free to make that decision.  But it might be important history for younger people to be aware of (because it was before your time or while you were still in grade school) that in 1992 we had a viable 3rd party candidate, Ross Perot, who garnered almost 20% of the popular vote in that national election in an effort to make inroads into challenging the corrupt 2 party system – and yes, I agree that it is corrupt.  He made a notable showing, but that 20% of the vote is the very thing that ushered the Clinton’s into power.  They may not be the most corrupt dynasty we have had (although I suspect they might be), but they are the current one.  For 25 years we have been living with the severe consequences which occurred as a result of all those who either by a no vote or a vote for Ross Perot enabling the current levels of corruption we have.

I cannot and will not excuse or defend the corrupt or lewd actions of either candidate or party but neither am I shocked by them.  But there is still something that I will be shocked by until the day I die and that is the fact that as a “civilized” society we still allow the mutilation and murder of babies who have either not yet been born or who are in the process of being born.

Perhaps the only thing I have to hope for in this current election season, (and I say hope because in life there are no guarantees) is that several of the honorable pro-life people on the list of 20 candidates for the Supreme Court which Trump has released as being his choices will have a chance to be appointed.  The Democrats are afraid of this list and even Hillary acknowledged in this last debate that Trump will put people into the Supreme Court who can overturn Roe V Wade.  All you have to do is take note that this issue (Supreme Court Nominees) is of one of the most frequently mentioned platform positions the Democratic party mentions about Trump when arguing against him being elected.

There may be no way to properly express the incredible importance of this power which will be placed into the hands of the next president which will have massive affect on certain aspects of the direction our nation takes over the next generation.

I also understand that some may want to distance themselves from this election and be able to say “I sure didn’t vote for him/her”.  The reality is that we live in a secular and frankly evil and corrupt nation and unless you are going to remove yourself entirely from ever participating in the election process, you will most likely be voting for someone who represents very little of your values in the majority of future elections.  As Christians there is little we can do beyond prayer, but I believe we must do what we can when there is a window of opportunity to help defend the most defenseless in our midst.

And who knows, Trump could drop dead the day after the election and Mike Pence could become president – hey, it could happen.

Being like Christ is the issue, not blue blazers or Khakis!

The following link was posted on our facebook thread today.  It is an article which basically encourages giving a pass on certain activities to certain new converts or congregations who practice differently than you practice.  The author mentions activities such as a person smoking a cigarette, using foul language or the less than stellar former lives of some of the 12 disciples.

http://www.faithit.com/f-bombs-and-bikinis-what-it-really-means-to-be-a-christian/smoking man

I understand that many Christians do not drink or smoke and they refrain from activities like these for various reasons.  The Bible is clear that Christian are not to get drunk, but there is actually no prohibition on either smoking or drinking and in fact it is clear that Jesus and the disciples drank alcoholic beverages.  Were they ever accused of being drunk?  No!  Were they ever accused of being foul mouthed?  No.  Were some of them foul mouthed prior to accepting the call to follow Jesus?  Likely so.  Did a couple of them get off base when they wanted to call down fire from heaven?  Absolutely, and Jesus didn’t hesitate to call them out for their horrible behavior and rebuke them.  What they did before choosing to follow Jesus is germane only to the extent it displays for all to see that grace and salvation is available to all.  And the Holy and sacrificial lives they lived after Jesus called them out is a testimony to the character of Christ which they took on thereby causing others to call them “Christian” or like Christ.

Christ expects perfection from us (Matt. 5:48) but He also understands that salvation is a process of sanctification.  I find it odd that the author chose to focus on foul language and the F bomb for leniency since changing the words one uses in conversation is probably one of the easier areas in which we can be more like Christ.  I have a much harder time with patience, envy, anger and materialism.  A conversion experience should speak for itself in a life converted to be more like Christ through repentance and turning away from our former life.

Tim Enloe tells of a people group in Tanzania who although they have never previously heard the name of Christ or met any Christians, once they hear the Gospel and accept Christ as their Lord and Savior they immediately stop the status quo of horrible sexual practices and beating their wives.  They don’t even have to be told the whole gospel to immediately understand in their renewed conscience that some things are simply not to be a part of their lives any more.  But then Tim doesn’t present some “join the club” form of Christianity.  They present a gospel more in keeping with the “Christ bids us come and die” concept as presented in “The Cost of Discipleship” book by Dietrich Bonhoeffer.  Perhaps a huge disservice is being done by those who call people to come and “join” without explaining the true cost of following Christ.

A hill to die on!

Someone said recently that the only drawback in this year’s election is that one of the candidates is going to win.

There is a lot of truth in that sentiment and I kind of agree – but only to a point – one point and only one point and for me it is the most important point and perhaps that only point that comes from a Biblical perspective.

I’m a capitalist because that is what works.  But one could possibly argue socialism from scripture more easily than capitalism.  But neither of these is an important Biblical foundation to base a vote on.  I am also a concealed carry permit holder and I carry at least one of my guns on my person 24/7 and I strongly support the right to do so.  But even though Jesus encouraged his disciples, on at least one occasion, to buy side arms (swords were the sidearm of the day and the origin of the term) I can also understand the perspective of the pacifist and how that philosophy can be argued from some parts of scripture.  But again, neither of these positions are a hill to die on spiritually.  Being a native born Texan with Texas ancestors dating back to the Republic of Texas, I am a big advocate for “the wall” (I don’t really care who pays for it).  A wall doesn’t seem very inviting or welcoming as could be argued Christians are supposed to be.  But obeying the laws of the governing authority is also a command in scripture – so allowing law breakers into our country or allowing them to stay promotes sin in our midst which is also not compassionate.  But again, a new theology cannot be soundly built about the wall either for or against.  I could go on and on listing many of the platform positions of each party giving the various pros and cons of each.  Many might affect my pocket book such as economic measures.  Some might affect my personal security such as foreign policy decisions.  Others might dictate the power source of the next generation of car I might drive, whether my meat is GMO, whether my gas is ethanol, whether my gun is legal to own or my business gets taxed out the wazoo (why does my spell check indicate wazoo is misspelled?). Will our country’s motto remains “In God we trust”, will bathrooms become entirely neutral and will the true church have to go underground?  All of the above are either possible or likely.

But I submit that all of the above possibilities will only affect, for the most part, my preferences.  But there remains one issue that, as Christians, I do not believe we can waffle on or consider optional.  The fact is that Christians, in mass, stayed at home during an election almost a century ago which resulted in Hitler’s election and the open door to genocide.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t particularly like Trump.  In fact I have written a couple of pretty negative blogs directed at him and will have to hold my nose as I vote.  But we all know (unless you simply don’t care) exactly where Clinton and her new VP pick (as well as the pro choice 3rd party option of Gary Johnson) stand on society’s right to kill the unwanted or despised in our midst which in our case it is the most vulnerable and defenseless in our society – the not yet born.

Will Trump’s election end abortion?  No.  But in light of the likelihood the next presidential candidate will appoint as many as 3 new supreme court justices which will affect as much as a generation. This means our country’s best option to have a chance, as small as it may be, to stem the tide of mass murder that eclipses anything Germany did is to take a chance on the only 2 candidates on the ballet who have a stated view (Trump) or strong record (Pence) of pro-life and a commitment to appoint conservative constitutional justices.

As stated previously, all the other issues boil down to personal preferences or my comfort level – but the issues of sacrificing our children on the altar of convenience is a clear abomination in scripture.  The only thing needed for the continued “worship” of Moloch to be assured is for conservatives and true Christians to simply stay at home or vote 3rd party and by default elect those who, for whatever reason, support the killing of babies.  For the most part, the church, has already lost the moral battle in America (both in society and to an increasing amount in our midst), but the majority of Americans still want restrictions on if not an end to abortion and this is likely our last possible hope to effect a rescue for countless millions who cannot fight for themselves.

To be clear, a no vote or a vote for either HRC or the current 3rd party is a conscience decision to insure the ungodly murder of babies in the womb for at least the next 20 – 30 years.  For me, the choice is clear.  And since all the candidates stink to high heaven (and I mean that both literally and figuratively), I believe the slight chance of eventually saving millions of defenseless children is worth taking a risk with the particular stench put off by Trump.

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing – Edmund Burke