Friday, June 26, 2015

Same Sex Marriage - A Christian Response

I am torn over the Supreme Court's decision today. I am disappointed in the Supreme Court's decision mainly because churches and pastors will now come under intense scrutiny. I truly believe freedom of religion is gone.

I am also pretty sure Jesus never involved himself in politics while he walked the streets that were under Roman rule. He just kept preaching the Gospel. He did not argue with Caesar or Pilot he just kept loving the unloveable. My guess is that Jesus would love the gays as much as he loves the straights. He would still rebuke the religious who have forgotten about their own need for forgiveness and he would be called a homosexual sympathizer because he would probably be seen hanging out in their midst.

In the end I believe God is sovereign and in control. How all of this fits into His plan I have no idea. What I do know is that no one is drawn to the Gospel by hearing angry Christians who are ready to fight over this. The lost will be drawn to the Gospel by seeing radical displays of love. You know, the kind Jesus used to show to the hookers, tax collectors and drunks. Maybe we should just give that a try. Maybe we should try to live out Matthew 5:44 - But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.


Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Sloth and the Gospel

When I saw this video of a sloth trying to cross a busy street I immediately thought of the Gospel.  Before you know how it ends you assumption may be "this is not going to end well", if you are like me you may be thinking this sloth is going to get creamed by a speeding car. However, spoiler alert...a man intervenes and take the sloth safely across the road. The man bridges the gap and delivers the sloth safely across the road.

Spiritually speaking we are just like the sloth. We are trying to cross from from this life into the next on our own, we are trying to bridge the gap based on our works, on what we do, hoping it will be enough. The end result is that we will be crushed by the weight of our sins before a Holy God.
Isaiah 64: 6 - We have all become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.
    We all fade like a leaf,
and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.  
Ezekiel 33: 13 - Though I say to the righteous that he shall surely live, yet if he trusts in his righteousness and does injustice, none of his righteous deeds shall be remembered, but in his injustice that he has done he shall die.
Knowing this is what man would face, God had a plan in place in eternity past. He would send someone who would help us safely cross from this life to the next based on what he did, not on what we did. He lifted us out of our sins and carried us across the divide that was far too wide for us to cross on our own.
Ephesians 2: 8, 9 - 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; cit is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
Romans 5: 8 -  but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Sometimes we can begin to think a little to highly of ourselves but the reality is we are not much more that this lowly sloth trying to cross the road. Thank God He sees us as worth redeeming based on what He did for us, not what we do for Him. This is the Gospel, this is Good News.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Hope for Mr. Grinch

This time of year almost every radio station is playing Christmas music, some traditional and some new. As I was taking my daughter to school this morning I heard an old classic Christmas tune...Mr Grinch. I have heard this song numerous times but for some reason the lyrics just jumped out at me. Take a look at just a portion of the lyrics.
You're a rotter, Mr. Grinch,
You're the king of sinful sots,
Your heart's a dead tomato splotched with moldy purple spots, Mr. Grinch,
You're a three decker sauerkraut and toadstool sandwich with arsenic sauce!

You nauseate me, Mr. Grinch,
With a nauseous super "naus"!,
You're a crooked dirty jockey and you drive a crooked hoss, Mr. Grinch,
Your soul is an appalling dump heap overflowing with the most disgraceful
Assortment of rubbish imaginable mangled up in tangled up knots!

You're a foul one, Mr. Grinch,
You're a nasty wasty skunk,
Your heart is full of unwashed socks, your soul is full of gunk, Mr. Grinch,
The three words that best describe you are as follows, and I quote,
"Stink, stank, stunk"!
As I listened to this song I began to think about our souls. If we were honest with ourselves we would probably admit this is a really good description of who we are deep inside. Deep inside where few, if anyone, other than ourselves ever get to see. Look at how the Bible describes the human heart.
Jeremiah 17:9 - The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?
Matthew 15:19 - For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.
Romans 3: 10-12 None is righteous, no, not one; 11 no one understands; no one seeks for God. 12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.
For many the song ends there. Many are foul, nasty and they stink, stank, stunk. But for others, the song has a much better ending. Look at how the apostle Paul describes those who are trusting in Christ. It starts out very much like the Grinch song but it has a much better ending.
I Corinthians 6: 9-10 - 9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
II Corinthians 5: 17 - Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
Paul says there is hope of having a new heart, there is hope that our sins can be forgiven, that our heart can be made new. That hope is not in trying harder to be a good person, that hope is not in ignoring the problem and hoping it will fix itself, the hope Paul speaks about is the finished work of Christ. Understanding that what took place on the cross is where we must begin, understanding that Christ took our place on the cross, he took upon himself our dead tomato splotched with moldy purple spots hart, our appalling dump heap overflowing with the most disgraceful assortment of rubbish imaginable mangled up in tangled up knots souls and he died for them.

When he said "it is finished" he meant it. All that God required for the forgiveness of sin was accomplished by Christ. Forgiveness of sins comes through faith in Christ's finished work, not our feeble attempts at fixing ourselves.
Maybe this Christmas we can focus on the ultimate gift and the One who gave it.
Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Those Ungrateful Trick or Treaters!

As I was riding in to work this morning there was a story on the radio about a woman who was not happy with kids from other neighborhoods coming into her affluent neighborhood looking for free candy. As the radio audience called in and lambasted her I began to think about how I felt that same way too. I live in a neighborhood that gets a lot of "those people" coming in looking for free candy. "Those people" might look different from me, they might speak a different language or they might even live in a home that has wheels attached to it. How dare they come into my neighborhood looking for a free handout and to top it off when they leave they don't even say Thank You. 

As I thought about this the Holy Spirit reminded me that spiritually speaking I am the kid who is in a neighborhood I don't belong in, I am the kid who gets the greatest free gift anyone could ever get and I am the kid who time after time forgets to say Thank You. There is a vivid picture of this in the Bible.

Luke 17: 11-19 - 11 Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. 12 As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance 13 and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!” 
14 When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed. 
15 One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. 16 He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan.
17 Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? 18 Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”

None of these guys deserved to be healed, none of them should have gotten anything from Christ. Yet because of his mercy and grace he healed them. He did for them what they could not do for themselves. And how did they respond when they received this incredible gift, they simply walked away. All except for the one. Were they all thankful? Were the nine just so excited in their being healed that they simply forgot to turn around and say thanks? I certainly hope so. Before you jump in and say I would be the one who came back, I would be the one who threw himself at Christ's feet, ask yourself how often do you do that now. How often do you thank God daily for the Gospel, how many times are you quick to pass judgment as opposed to showing mercy. How often do you curse the driver who cut you off in traffic, how often do you criticize the coach who won't let your kid play in the game. How often do you drive by the homeless guy and think "get a job". How many times have you been behind the person who is paying for their groceries with a food stamp card and your blood begins to boil.

The Gospel is so amazing because in spite of our being the crusty old neighbor who does not want "those kids" coming around God still loves us, He still pursues us, He still sent Christ to the cross, He still lavished His love on us knowing full well that we would not truly get it, that most likely we would not turn around and say thanks. That is what makes the Gospel so amazing.

Maybe this Halloween as "those kids" show up at your door you will remember the amazing love that God has shown you (and me) and thank God for what He has done for you every time the door bell rings. Trick or Treat!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The walking dead

We seem to be obsessed with zombies these days. Although I do not believe in literal zombies all of are spiritual zombies. We are the walking dead.

Psalm 51: 5 - Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. 

Some people embrace this and sin out loud, others try to hide this fact and put on a front and hope no one finds out. Some people simply give in to the thought that there is no hope for them and they dive head first into a sinful lifestyle. A zombie who is not trying to cover his grotesqueness but rather embraces it. Others don't want the world to know, they want to try to hide the fact and walk around like a zombie with makeup. A zombie with lipstick and perfume. Both groups of people need the gospel, they need the cross. You need the cross and I need the cross.

Ephesians 2: 4, 5 - 4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.

The bible describes us as dead people. This is worse than a zombie, a dead person cannot do anything. A dead person cannot make himself better. A dead person cannot clean himself up. It takes someone from outside to move a dead person, it takes an outsider to dress a dead person and get him ready for the funeral. However, God is not prepping people for a funeral, he is resurrecting dead people. He is moving in the lives of sinners and extending love, mercy and grace.

Romans 5: 8 - But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Stop trying to do something you cannot do and simply believe God. Look at the words of Christ as he hung on the cross - ...It is finished... John 19: 30. He has done the work God required for us.  You and I cannot do enough to please God, only Christ could and did. Step out from among the walking dead and begin to walk in newness of life in Christ.