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Monday, April 30, 2012

Dan Savage, The Bible, And A Call To Action

The most unsettling thing about evil is its ability to take many forms, some we recognize and some we don't.

In fact, the Scriptures even exhort us to abstain from every form of evil (1 Thessalonians 5:22, ESV ).

However, I have found that one thing is characteristic about all forms evil: its inherent duty of detracting from the living God.

I want to show you a very short video of evil doing what it does best: turning people against God. 

This is a keynote speaker at a high school journalist conference. Be warned this video contains inappropriate language:




 When I heard about this incident on the news, I was not surprised that the perpetrator was strident atheist, liberal pundit, and "gay rights" activist Dan Savage.

I had long suspected that Savage (who pioneered the anti-bullying "It Gets Better" initiative) was a fake "anti bullying" hack, who only cared about those people who accepted his world-view paradigm, but I was taken aback at the gall and hubris of his evisceration of the Bible, given the fact that only a fool would assume that there would be no Bible-believing Christians in the audience.

Remember this was at the National High School Journalist Conference, not an American Atheist's Convention or a bar, where such sentiments would be expected.

Dan Savage knew that there would be Christians in attendance, he simply didn't care.

Listen to how Dan justifies his invective by saying "as a someone who's on the receiving end of beatings that are justified by the Bible...".

In my opinion, what Dan lacks in charity and decency, he certainly makes up for in consistency, for I have seldom heard an outspoken liberal who didn't consider himself a victim in some way.

I do want to quickly note a certain part of the video that made me sit up a little straighter.

If you weren't aware, the people in the video walking out of the conference were Christians who felt that Savage's comments were inappropriate.

First, a lone girl in the view of the camera walked out.

Then a brother and sister left .

After that, a large of group of teens (and what looked like an adult) followed lastly by a young black woman, also left the room.

They were respectful and humble, quietly exiting the auditorium.

In other words, they were a model of Christ and the antithesis of fundamentalist atheism.

Some people, including Dan, decried the students for getting up and leaving, rather than sitting trough his diatribe, so let's get a couple things straight:

 This was not a debate, and there would be no chance for a rebuttal by any Christian in attendance.

The dissenters would have had to sit through and listen to Dan's commentary on the Bible for however long he felt like going on, all the while having their faith assaulted with cuss words and slander without any chance to rebut his claims, or offer an alternative viewpoint.

Those who walked out were not expressing cowardice, but were making a bold statement that they believe in the Bible and Dan's words were neither true or appropriate.

To be honest, I like to think that there were non-Christians who left along with their believing friends, understanding that just because the recipients of bullying are Christians doesn't make the bullying okay.

Heaven knows that not all atheists, liberals, or homosexuals are like Dan Savage.

But the question for all Christians in the U.S, is what does Dan Savage represent and what should be our response to him and other like him.

It seems to me that for at least the past 5 or 6 year since the advent of the "New Atheists", we are seeing more atheists like Dan who, rather than constructing well-thought out arguments against theism (like many of their past atheists counterparts did), have decided that it is much easier to bias a person against religion and God by appealing to emotions, purporting themselves at the intelligentsia among us, and caricaturing their opponents arguments.

As you can see from the whoops and cheers of the other teens in attendance, this strategy can be very effective.

So if Dan Savage represents a more militant and ruthless type of atheism, what does that mean to the average Christian sitting at home?

What should be our response?

We Must Love-

I had to rewrite this blog post several times because I felt like I was meeting Dan Savage at his level with unwarranted attacks and a hostile spirit.

That is not how Christians wage war. (2 Corinthians 2:3-5)

When we are insulted, we love; when we are persecuted, we love; when people falsely say all kinds of evil against us because of the Name we bear, we love.  (see Matthew 5:11)

For Scripture says:


"By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” - John 13:45

and

You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,  that you may be children of your Father in heaven". - Matthew 5:43-45

Whenever we respond to attacks, our words should be spoken in love, so that when we speak it will not be our words, but the words of God speaking through us.


 We Must Pray-

Direct personal access to the God of our salvation, is an untapped resource in the life of many Christians.

If you have questions or doubts, pray to God.

If you are frustrated or discouraged, pray to God.

If you are burdened for those who are living without Jesus, pray to God.

The Bible tells us:

"do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." - Philippians 4:6-7


God, in His goodness, has given us a gift that is prayer, by which we can appeal to him without an intermediary.

We neglect this gift at our own peril


 We Must Study-

Why do you believe in Bible?
 How do you know God exists?

Who was Jesus of Nazareth?

These are the very basics of what a Christian should know, and there are many more questions that we should be able to answer, given a sufficient amount of study in the various areas related to our faith.

To be willfully ignorant of these questions and answers is to give the enemy a great advantage, especially in a society like ours where everyone fancies himself an intellectual.

We have a reasonable faith and it is our job to show the world just that.

If you don't know where to start, check out these resources:
 http://www.reasonablefaith.org/  http://www.apologetics315.com/
  
We Must Reach Out-

Gone are the days when we can quietly and timidly wait for someone to approach us with questions about our faith. 

We must gird ourselves with prayer, love, and study, so that we can go with confidence and share our faith and hope with others and defend that faith from those who would seek to destroy it.

Read the words of Scripture:
   
But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. 1 Peter 3:15

In summation, we must understand that people like Dan Savage have come and people like him will go, but the Word of God stands forever.

And it is our job as Christians to give a vigorous defense of God and His word, so that we can remove the veil of surface level objections to God and faith and address the real issues of sin and salvation.

The only question left is will you, like those brave guys and girls in the video, refuse to simply listen to the enemy's attacks, but choose to act?

Will you stand up and be counted?


*(look for a forthcoming blog post critiquing the content of Dan Savage's claims about the Bible.)



Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Why I Am Not An Atheist: A Dialogue

   The scene is wherever. The characters are whomever. And the conversation has turned to religion.


 Nonbeliever: I guess I'm an atheist.

Believer: An atheist really? As a Christian theist, I find that atheism fails to account for a great many areas of life that, conversely, belief in God does account for. 

NON: Is that so? Like what? 

BE: Well, for one the beginning of the universe. 

NON: Ugh. You mean Creation versus evolution. 

BE: Nope I mean the beginning. I'm talking about the origin of the universe. 

NON: I'm listening. 

 BE: Let me put it in the form of an argument.
  1. Everything that begins to exist has a cause.
  2. The universe began to exist.
  3. Therefore, the universe has a cause.

NON: Hold on there! Let's look at those..umm....

 BE: You mean premises (the numbered points in the argument). 

NON: Yeah. What do you mean everything that begins to exist has a cause? 

BE: Basically, it means that things don't just pop into existence uncaused out of nothing. There was something that caused them to come into existence. 

NON: OK, that makes sense, but I heard my physics teacher talk about how virtual particles come out of the word nothing

BE: That's a very common misconception based on different definitions of nothing. When physicists talk about these virtual particles coming out of nothing they don't really mean non-being, but instead are talking about the invisible quantum vacuum. 

NON: Quantum vacuum? 

BE: The QV is a rich sea of energy that has a physical structure and is subject to physical laws. In other words, it's not nothing. 

NON: OK, what about the second premise. Did the universe began to exist? 

BE: Well, the majority of astrophysicists and cosmologists would say that it did.

 NON: In the Big Bang right? 

BE: Right the universe is expanding and the idea is that all of space and time, aka physical reality, came into existence suddenly at the Big Bang. 

NON: I believe in the Big Bang, but science is subject to change. I mean can't the earth be eternal anyway? 

BE: Good question. The idea of a universe that is infinite in the past has some serious philosophical problems.  

NON: How so?

BE: Let me give you an example. If I have an actually infinite number of coins and I take away all the odd numbered coins, how many do I have? 

NON: Well...I guess...you still have an infinite number of coins. Right? 

BE: Yep. So infinity minus infinity equals infinity. Let's try another: suppose I subtract all but three of the coins, how many do I have then?

NON: Obviously you have three coins. 

BE: Exactly. So infinity minus infinity equals 3. 

NON: But isn't that in contradiction with the first answer? 

BE: That's the point! When you export the concept of infinity out of pure math into the real world you get contractions. You can do the same math to show the absurdity of an infinite number of past events, just as you can with coins. Therefore, there can be no actual infinite number of things in the world and the universe cannot be actually infinite in the past. 

NON: Okay, but isn't "god" infinite. 

BE: Yes, but the infinity of God is qualitative, not quantitative, so the argument doesn't apply. 

NON: I thought you could take a segment and cut it in half and in half again an infinite amount of times. 

BE: That's true. But that is an example of a potential infinite, which could potentially go on forever as opposed to an actual infinite which actually exists at one time. Heaven is an example of a potential infinite. 

NON: OK, so if everything that begins to exist has a cause and the universe began to exist, I guess it follows the universe has a cause. 

BE: You got it.

NON: But how is that an argument against atheism? 

BE:  We know the cause of the universe has to be outside of space and time initially, becuase it created space and time. 

NON: OK.

BE: The cause also created a incomprehensibly vast and intricate universe that is viable which means the cause must be maximally intelligent and powerful. 

NON: I'm with you so far.

BE: Not only that, but the cause of the universe also has to be personal, for if it was simply a non-personal necessary and sufficient cause, it, the cause, could not exist without the effect and the universe would be eternal, because the cause would always have possessed the necessary properties to bring the universe into existence

However, we've show that the universe is not and cannot be eternal, but that it came into existence a finite time ago. That is only possible if the cause exercised a will to create, and is therefore a personal being. 

So let's recap: we have a spaceless, timeless, necessary, maximally intelligent, maximally powerful, personal being who is the the Ultimate Cause. This, of course, describes the classical monotheistic concept of God.

So the absolute beginning of the universe lends itself as evidence of Godand against atheism. 

NON: Hmm. OK what else.

BE: Let's take objective moral values and duties.

NON: You mean right and wrong?


BE: Precisely. 

Here's another argument:
  1. If God does not exist, objective moral values and duties do not exist.
  2. Objective moral values and duties do exist.
  3. Therefore, God exists.
If the premises are true then the conclusion follows whether we like it or not.

NON: But is the first premise true? It's a little intolerant to say that we can't be good without believing in God.

BE: Whoa! Wait a second! I'm not saying that we need to believe in God in order to do good acts or to know what is right and wrong. In fact, The Bible tells us in Romans that God has written His moral code on our hearts, so that we have a kind of innate grasp on right and wrong. 

However, that is a matter of moral epistemology. I'm talking about moral ontology. Or what is the basis for moral values.

NON: OK, but why can't moral values have their basis in nature?

BE: If nature is all their is, morality is only spin-off of social and biological evolution. It may be disadvantageous to kill and murder, but it isn't immoral. When the cat kills the mouse, it kills it, but it doesn't murder it.

NON: But animals don't have the ability to understand right and wrong. That's the difference.

BE: I absolutely agree, but simply perceiving that something is moral, doesn't compel one to act on it. The moral relativist can always fall back on says who.

Divine Command Theory provides us with a compelling reason to act on moral intuition and the theistic concept of God provides us with a ground for those objective values and duties.

NON: OK, but what about the moral landscape? Can't morality be tied to what's best for human flourishing.

BE: I think not. If a is equal to b, then a is equal to b in every possible world.  If there is a possible world in which human flourishing is not equal to moral goodness then it follows that human flourishing is not equal to moral goodness. Imagine the psychopath or sadist who thrives on inflicting pain on others, if it is possible that they would be just as happy, in any possible world, as a good person that is follows that the moral landscape is not a moral landscape.
 
 NON: I guess I can see that.

 BE: I think the Moral argument stands as valid. Are you up for one more?

NON: Of course. What else you got?

BE: This time we have an argument from history, namely, the resurrection of Jesus.

NON: Oh brother, this I gotta hear.

BE: Hear me out. There are four facts about the resurrection that are agreed upon by the vast majority of New Testament scholars, religious and non-religious.

 1. Jesus’ burial by Joseph of Arimathea in a tomb
 2.The discovery of his empty tomb
  3.His post-mortem appearances
 4. The origin of the disciples’ belief in his resurrection


NON: Slow down there! Aren't we assuming that Jesus' even existed. 

BE: Oh, come on. 
You will be hard pressed to find any expert with a Phd in any relevant field of study that thinks Jesus didn't exist as a historical figure. There is just too much internal and external evidence for the life of Jesus of Nazareth to deny he existed. The New Testament, the gnostic gospels, and other secular sources all verify Jesus existence.

NON: Okay. Okay. Can you explain those four facts further?

BE: Sure. Let's take them one by one.

Jesus burial is independently and multiply attested by Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and some of Paul's letters. Matthew, Luke, John, and the non-canonical gospel of Peter also attest that Jesus was buried by Joseph of Arimithea, a Jewish Sanhedrinist. 

It makes no sense that the disciples would make up a story about a member of the Jewish Sanhedrin expressing care toward Jesus, when the early Church was understandably hostile toward the Jewish leaders who orchestrated Jesus' execution. If the account was a legend, the disciples would never have painted Joseph in such a light.

NON: Okay, Jesus died and was buried. What's next?

BE: the empty tomb story is also independently attested and, even stranger, the narrative is one that has women finding the empty tomb.

NON: Why is that significant?

BE: A women's word wasn't worth much in the male-dominated Jewish world in which Jesus had lived. In fact, women couldn't even testify in a court! 

That it was women who discovered Jesus' empty tomb, shows that this is not a doctored text, for if it had been subject to myth-making, the male dsciples would have discovered the tomb.

NON: Interesting. What about the other two facts.

BE: The Gospels present numerous individually attested experiences of Jesus, following his death, and Paul lists, along with himself, many more who had similar appearances.

NON: Couldn't they have been hallucinating?

BE: Have you ever heard of more than 500 people hallucinating the same thing over a period of more than a hundred days?

NON: Haha. I guess not. What about the last fact?

BE: The disciples had no conception of a dying Messiah. 

The Christ was supposed to come and liberate his people from the captive of the Romans and here they are with a dead leader one day and soon after, a large group of men and women are following a risen Lord and even dying for him.

NON: Wow. That's pretty heavy stuff., but aren't you assuming biblical inerracy for all this?

BE: Not at all. I'm simply looking at the texts as historical literature. Even if there were contradictions in the accounts, as long as they were in the secondary details, it does nothing to this argument.

 NON: So even if the New Testament still isn't inspired it doesn't affect the evidence presented in the biblical texts?

BE: Exactly! 

In summation,  Jesus died, was buried, had his tomb found empty, and was experienced after his death by hundreds of people. In addition, the disciples were now spouting a theology that had no precursor in Jewish or pagan thought, and were now worshiping a "risen Lord". 

NON: Hmm. I guess my main question is aren't there other kinds of explanations for all the phenomena and facts you've presented?

BE: There absolutely is. My contention, however, is that the explanations I've given you are the best explanations based on the evidence we have. It's up to you to search out the truth. Of course, you don't have to do it alone.

NON: I guess your going to tell me you believe that Jesus can help me?

BE: With all my heart I do.

NON: You've presented me with a lot of stuff, I'd love to talk about this more, but for now I need to do some thinking.

BE: That's all I ask. I believe if you seek God with an open heart and mind, you will find Him.
               -----------------------------------------------------------------------------


This is a fabricated conversation I've authored based on conversations I've had, objections I've heard, debates I've listened to, and things I've learned from listening to godly men defend the faith. I'd like to thank Dr. William Lane Craig, without whose work I would be ignorant of 99% of the things in this blog post. 

While my blog is meant for the edification of believers, if you are a non-Christian I hope you will think about the arguments (these are just 3 of MANY) I've presented and search for God with an open heart.

Some sources I used:  http://www.reasonablefaith.org/is-there-historical-evidence-for-the-resurrection-of-jesus-the-craig-ehrman
www.reasonablefaith.org/
http://www.apologetics315.com/
 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xL_vAH2NIPc
 http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bart-d-ehrman/did-jesus-exist_b_1349544.html

Friday, April 20, 2012

Personal Reflections On God's Love and Justice

I was sitting at my computer late in the evening when I received the news that a friend of mine had died.

(I've struggled and been unable to find a word that accurately describes our colorful relationship, so I'll settle for friend.)

He was younger than I, not yet 18, struck down in a car accident.

This friend had mostly grown up in church with me, but later strayed away and, in my opinion, fell in with the wrong crowd.

When I received news of his death, my sadness quickly turned to righteous indignation and I railed against all those people I felt had failed to encourage this friend of mine to walk the straight and narrow way.

In my mind, I could see many indirect connections between his death and his movement toward many ungodly people.

I was sick and tired of people flaunting their wickedness and flouting God's authority, only to act surprised when their evil deeds came home to roost and people got hurt or worse.

My heart was pained knowing that my friend was dead and others, who seemed to have no care for his spiritual health, would mourn his death and continue to live their lives of sin, never acknowledging the root cause of his demise.

My mind immediately turned to the prophet Jonah:

    But it greatly displeased Jonah and he became angry.  


     He prayed to the LORD and said, “Please LORD, was not this what I said while I was still in my own country?


    Therefore in order to forestall this I fled to Tarshish, for I knew that You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, and one who relents concerning calamity. (Jonah 4:1-2)
 
I didn't want to hear of the love and compassion of God, I wanted to see the God who is a "consuming fire" (Hebrews 12:29)  .

I didn't care who was sorry or not, I wanted God to deal harshly with those who continued to revel in wrongdoing, even in the face of unspeakable tragedy.

I approached God like the Psalmist who asked:

Why do you hold back your hand, your right hand? Take it from the folds of your garment and destroy them! (Psalms 74:11).

Why did God continue to let the sons of men blaspheme His name, ridicule His people, slaughter the innocent, and live in debauchery.

I echoed the martyrs in the book of Revelation:

  They called out in a loud voice, "How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?" (Revelation 6:10)

Where was God's vengance against the ungodly?

For quite some time, I was distraught, bitter, and saddened.

That was, until I was reminded of who I am and what God did for me.

 I too was an object of God's wrath, a reprobate, destined for hell because of my own wickedness.

Yet, while I was still in my sins, Christ, the Son of God, died for me, because he loved me.

The words of Scripture ring ever true:

  The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)

He was patient with me, could he not be patient with others?

 I remembered what God said to Jonah:

"Should I not have compassion on Nineveh, the great city in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know the difference between their right and left hand, as well as many animals?” ( Jonah 4:11)

 
 The Scriptures testify to the righteousness and kindness of God:

The LORD is righteous in all His ways And kind in all His deeds. (Psalms 145:17)

  The Word speaks of God's kindness toward the sinner:

Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon. (Isaiah 55:7)

 Say to them, 'As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, O house of Israel?' (Ezekiel 33:11)

Now don't get me wrong, I am a strong believer in the judgment, holiness, and righteousness of God, but I realized I should have been asking myself, will not the judge of all the world do right and does He really need my help doing it?

 I now truly understand what before I only registered, the reason God waits and doesn't smite people on the spot is because he desires for as many people to come to Him as will come to Him.

And while it may seem like the "bad guys" get away with stuff in this world, we know that each person will be judged by God accordingly and it is not our place to presume upon God that he do one thing rather than another

Or should I say, it's not my place.

And when I think about it, I praise God that he is longsuffering with man, otherwise I would be lost without hope.

While I still hope in God's justice, today my prayer is more like this:

Hear my cry, O God,
    listen to my prayer; 
 from the end of the earth I call to you
    when my heart is faint.
Lead me to the rock
    that is higher than I,  (Psalms 61:1-2.)

When trials beat me down in life I'm not calling down fire, but asking God to lead me higher.


Monday, April 16, 2012

Why Christians Should Speak Up On The Day of Silence

 Just 4 days from now, On April 20th, thousands of schools across the U.S will participate in the annual "Day of Silence" event, in order to bring attention to and address anti-homosexual behavior and speech in the schools.

The official website of the DOS depicts the event as an "effort to encourage schools and classmates to address the problem of anti-LGBT behavior by illustrating the silencing effect of bullying and harassment on LGBT students and those perceived to be LGBT."

It seems there has been some debate among Christians, teens and adults, whether or not a Christian, given the opportunity, should support or participate in the event.

My answer is a strong no to both.

I believe that Christians cannot be so naive as to separate the DOS from the radical and furious movement in the West to normalize homosexual behavior.

Behind the sweet smiles and the loving veneer of groups like the "Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network" (the main sponsor of the DOS) is a disgust for anything that mirrors a biblical view of sexuality. 

What do you think they consider "harassment" of homosexual teens?

The Christian organization "Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays" (PFOX), alleges that GLSEN "spent thousands of dollars distributing a school booklet accusing ex-gays of 'harassment'" for seeking equal access to the schools that gay-affirming groups like GLSEN have.

The Church must recognize that in the mind of groups that promote tolerance and acceptance of homosexual behavior, there is no place for any view that is anything less than a ringing support of the gay lifestyle and all of its trappings.

Christian who feel like they are being sensitive or open-minded by flirting with these projects are, quite bluntly, useful idiots for those who wish to advance their own agendas.

The founder of GLSEN, Kevin Jennings, has stated that "ex-gay messages have no place in our nation's public schools." and "there is no 'other side' when you're talking about lesbian, gay and bisexual students."

 This grand display of tolerance by Jennings towards the scores of people who have left the gay lifestyle as a result of coming to Christ is simply breathtaking.

The Christian led "Focus on the Family" scheduled its "Day of Dialogue" on April 19th to promote "student-initiated conversations about the fact that God cares about our lives, our relationships and our sexuality"; stating furthermore that "[Jesus'] example calls us to stand up for those being harmed or bullied while offering the light of what God's word says." 

Reacting to this, one gay-affirming author, writing for LGBQTnation.com stated: 

"Allowing Focus on the Family to export their historical and counter-productive sacred discrimination of the LGBT community to Christian youth is a mistake."

This is the world's reaction to biblical sexual ethics. 

And don't think an isolated reaction; the Day of Dialogue is largely being condemned as being based on discrimination as well as hate, for apparently no other reason than espousing a biblical view of human sexuality.

The Far Left group "People for the American Way" construe the DOD as part of an agenda to "make schools safe for bullies and dangerous for gay kids".

How can Christians condone this type of vitriol directed at other believers for speaking the truth?

 I want to emphasize once again that the Day of Silence must be viewed in the larger context of the pro-gay movement, otherwise a Christians may unwittingly lend support to this campaign that actively undermine the Word of God.

 If the Day of Silence was really about anti-bullying then there would be no reason to oppose groups like PFOX and Focus on the Family for disseminating  messages which do not promote bullying of any kind, but instead condemn bullying and encourage support of youths who have chosen not to live the gay lifestyle despite their same-sex attractions
.

Besides, anti-bullying campaigns that do not recognize the root cause of bullying do very little to actually change the minds of bullies, since bullying is a sin problem that requires a salvific solution.

Namely, if you want kids to stop bullying then help them to know, love and obey Jesus. 

 That is where you and I come in: it is our jobs as Christians to stand up for the oppressed in our schools and in our lives and tell them about the Advocate who cares about them, loves them, and desires to save them.

When we glorify and exalt the name of Christ in our lives and, by the grace and power of God, oppose those who hurt and tear others down, we will be doing a far better service to our unbelieving friends, than by sending them harmful mixed messages.

In other words:
  
He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8)

Because the Day of Silence seems to be part of a larger goal of promoting the gay lifestyle and silencing any dissenting opinion, I would encourage Christians not to participate in the event, but instead take the opportunity to reach out to their classmates with the truth about homosexuality and most importantly the truth of the Gospel.



Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Fools Rush In: Discretion in the Trayvon Martin Controversy

  If you watch TV or have tuned in recently, it is safe to assume that you have heard about the controversy surrounding a particular Florida teen who was killed several weeks ago.

   His name was Trayvon Martin.

  As the "facts" of the case were initially reported, we were told that Trayvon was walking home from the store and summarily profiled, trailed, and fatally shot by a neighborhood watchman, who was suspicious of him, even though Martin was apparently doing nothing illegal. 

  The story first gained attention because as the facts emerged, it seemed that the man who shot Trayvon, George Zimmerman, was released by the local police before even an evening's worth of investigation, without any plans to prosecute Zimmerman.

  Taking the "facts" of the case at face value, I, like many, was outraged that the police had decided to let Zimmerman go when he was "clearly" in the wrong.

  As a young black man myself, I couldn't help but bristle at what seemed to me a clear example of the ugly consequences of prejudice, perpetrated against a teen for being BAD (black after dark).

  In a less extreme way, I could even sympathize.

  Nevertheless, all of the facts of the case were not out and there were more reports and eye witness testimony that suggested Trayvon Martin was the aggressor and that George Zimmerman had killed the teen in self defense.

  For this reason, I felt it best to hold my tongue.

  But everyone did not wait cast judgment.

  The story quickly took an ugly turn when accusations of racism started flying against Zimmerman who was accused of racial profiling and against the justice system that refused to prosecute him.

  Race-baiting "civil rights activists" Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, swooped in like vultures on a rotting carcass, wasting no time to exploit the issue and stoke the infernal and eternal fires of racial division.
 
  If I may be so bold, these men have been embarrassing themselves and the Name they claim to bear with this kind of behavior for years, so I while I was disgusted by their shameless self-promotion, I can't say I was surprised.

  What did surprise me, however, was the reaction of the popular and well respected preacher John Piper, who pronounced this to be case of racial injustice despite emerging contradictory evidence and a still pending investigation.

  Even more upsetting, was a "pact" that Franklin Graham (son of Billy Graham and president of Samaritan's Purse) made with a group black "church leaders"  to stand with them on this issue in return for the "leaders" supporting his work with the church in Sudan.

WHAT!?

  Has the church fallen so low that we have resorted to carnal "you scratch my back, I'll scratch your back" trading games?  

  What happened to discretion, being "quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry"?


We are not the world and we must not act like the world.

We are the Church of Christ, the Pillar and Foundation of the Truth, the Bride of Christ,  bought by Jesus' atoning sacrifice.

  We must learn to not jump in the middle of the world's squabbles, dragging the name of God through the dirt as we go.

  Regardless of who did what or who is innocent, the Church is called to love ALL people.

  That includes George Zimmerman, whether he is innocent or guilty.

  The divisive poison being spewed concerning this issue is not only toxic, but contagious and we must all be careful to avoid it.

  It is my hope that the reader would stand with me in exchanging rash judgment for prudence and choose to withhold judgment on either Trayvon Martin or George Zimmerman, until at least a verdict is rendered.

  Instead let's show the world a Church where there is neither Jew or Greek, male or female, slave or free, but only brother and sister, bound together by love.

  For it is by our love that men will know we are disciples of Christ (John 13:35)

  In all things, may the name of God be lifted high and glorified!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Eleven Things I Want To Tell (Christian) Teenage Guys

1.  Humility is not weakness. As a guy, there is so much pressure to be the biggest and the baddest among other guys and especially around girls.

You may put on a big show now, but in the end you will be exposed as a poser when you can't live up to the persona that your arrogance and pride has crafted for you.

Mature godly women aren't looking for some punk who thinks he can take on the world, but a man whose confidence and assurance in found in Jesus Christ. Why not be that man?  

2. Stop dating. If you are changing your Facebook status from "single" to "in a relationship" every other month (or less), it's probably a fair bet that you are not yet emotionally ready for a relationship.

Immature people tend to find other immature people, so unless you give yourself time to mature, you may condemn yourself to a lot of "dead end" and unedifying relationships.

3. You don't need a sixpack. Chiseled abdominals and rock hard pectorals without a godly heart are bound to attract the very kind of people that will leave you as soon as you stop going to the gym and your body gets flabby (it will happen!).

There is nothing wrong with being fit, but your outward appearance shouldn't define who you are.

What woman would rather have a worthless husband with a perfect physique than a plain man who loves his family and God?

4.Hold the dang door! If you see an older person or woman, maybe even a grown man, struggling to get a door open, HELP THEM!

In the same way, it takes only a couple of seconds to hold the door for a person coming inside after you and doing so is an easy way to express Christian servant hood in your day-to-day life. 

5. Nobody likes a thirty year old "playa'. It may seem cool to have one, two, or even three "girlfriends" on the side, but I assure that "coolness" will wear off sooner than you know it.

We have have names for "playas" over the age of 18, we call them creeps and lowlifes.

This kind of behavior is shameful and should be nipped in the bud at an early age or, better yet, avoided altogether.

6. It's OK to be serious. Far to often teenage guys can't sit and listen or reflect on big issues and topics because they're constantly goofing around.

I know you have questions about life and God, important questions, and maybe you have input as well.

However, no one can take you seriously if you won't be serious yourself.

 Joking and kidding when you should be learning not only hurts you,  but it also inhibits those people who really do want to learn from learning.  

7. The female figure is to be appreciated not ogled. Men were intended to be attracted to women, and women to men.

This is proper and honoring to God.

However, there is a fine line between simply appreciating a woman for her beauty and turning her into your mind's personal Barbie doll, to be dressed and undressed at will.

Just ask yourself if that's how you would want your daughter to be treated?

8. Your pride is deadly.

Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. - Proverbs 16:18

9. We are not invincible.

Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. - Isaiah 40:30

10. Be a good example. The young men coming after us need to know what it looks like to be a man after God's own heart and, as young men of God, we need to show them.

You never seem to know how much impact you have on a person until it's too late, so make sure when people see you, they see Christ.

11. If you want to be a man, follow Christ. Anything that is worth being, is found in God and manhood is no exception.

Some people will tell you that manhood is found in alcohol, sex, sports, or any assortment of tired clich├ęs.

 It is the Bible that should be our guide for what it truly means to be a man and it is  Christ, the perfect man, who should be our ultimate example.