Archive for November, 2017

Allegations Amok: A Response to the Wave of Sexual Allegations

Hey, y’all! Welcome back to a simple man of God!

Yesterday — Wednesday, November 29 — the US was shocked to learn that Matt Lauer, co-anchor of NBC’s Today news show for the past 20 years, was fired after an allegation of sexual misconduct – specifically during the Sochi Olympics a couple of years ago.

This is after a string of accusations that began with Harvey Weinstein several weeks earlier. If you ask some of my friends, I sort of called this tsunami of accusations at that time, saying Weinstein was the catalyst that opened the floodgates.

Sadly, I was right.

In terms of Lauer’s accusation, this one made me stop and actually cry at the news. The big reason is that his accuser did it right. She went privately with her lawyers to the NBC execs, did not demand money or attention, and only requested the right thing be done.

This is not to say that others are liars or only out for some attention. Nor is this to say that every accusation is true. I am merely saying that the manner in which this woman (and others with their allegations) is handling it gives more credence. And this is what helped to break my heart a little more than other accusations of late.

NBC even came out and said they had enough evidence that this was not an isolated incident, which immediately brought into question so many past moments.

  • A few years ago, former co-host Katie Couric responded (half-jokingly) in an interview that the worst thing about her former colleague was that he would pinch her “rear-end” (she used a different term).
  • There were times his questions (to both genders) seemed awkward, weird, or “creepery” even then.
  • Why did some people – most notably Ann Curry – not get along with him?

With this and so many other allegations, one can easily ask:

Why do so many people do such inappropriate/vile things?

I was not surprised by this wave of allegations. Why? Why did I seem to expect it?

Simply, because the Bible told us it would be so.

I do not mean specifically in 21st Century United States of America. This was a general thing.

For starters, several other people have pointed out – as well as the Bible – that whenever people live however they want, especially when the abandon God, they focus on sex.

Think about what the Bible says, especially in Judges: “The people did what was right in their own eyes.”

Does that not sound much like our society?

“Do what feels good. Do what feels right. Do not tell others that what they are doing is wrong.”

And what happened the most frequently? Sexual sins … of all sorts.

In fact, Paul specifically mentioned this and other sins in his letter to the Romans:

For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. . . .

Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. . . .

And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.
Romans 1:20-21, 24-26, 28-32, ESV

Now, this may sound like I am saying the victims deserved it. Am I?

Consider the number of artists (actresses, singers, etc.) who expressed their excitement at being able to take their clothes off, be in sex scenes, and the like.

This is almost begging for unwanted and inappropriate sexual advances.

But no one deserves it!

And it is not a one way street, only men against women. It is also women against men, men against men, women against women, adults against children …

Some may immediately jump to the Catholic Church’s issues in this area, but it is at least as prevalent outside of the Church, as well.

What Scriptures tells us is that this is all because God basically says, “Fine. Turn away from me. I will let your nature take its course.” He gives us over to our sinful nature, and it plays out … just like we see it today with all of these allegations.

Some may say, “But even Christians do these things (not just sexual)! How can you say they turn away from God?”

This is all about denying the image of God in each other. Whenever we do anything against another human being, we are turning away from God by spurning his image in them.

But God is a God of love, grace, and mercy. He even extends it to those who have abused and been abused.

The answer either way is the same: REPENT! Turn from you evil ways and change your thinking!

We must turn away from our own desires and actions to have our minds renewed by Christ through the Holy Spirit.

Only this will keep us from even wanting to commit such acts, let alone doing them, and only this will bring about full healing.

 

Preparing Your Heart – First Week of Advent

This originally posted three years ago, but sometimes it is good remembering some things!

_________

It is the first week of Advent!

Advent is a time to remember our Lord’s first coming as we look forward to His imminent return.

So, let us prepare hearts for encountering the Lord!

“If you prepare your heart, you will stretch out your hands toward him. If iniquity is in your hand, put it far away, and let not injustice dwell in your tents. Surely then you will lift up your face without blemish; you will be secure and will not fear. You will forget your misery; you will remember it as waters that have passed away. And your life will be brighter than the noonday; its darkness will be like the morning. And you will feel secure, because there is hope; you will look around and take your rest in security. You will lie down, and none will make you afraid; many will court your favor. But the eyes of the wicked will fail; all way of escape will be lost to them, and their hope is to breathe their last.”
Job 11:13-20, ESV

In the passage today, Job’s friend Zophar is offering his friendly advice. May we remember that the only way these words are true is if we turn to the Lord and let Him make us clean and righteous!

Who Am I? Knowing My Identity

“Hello, again!

In the last few weeks, I have been hearing and reading a lot about identity.

Who am I?

In terms of identity, the major theme has been how we identify ourselves. This includes:

  • Identity politics — Being known by political party or with whom you most closely agree.
  • Job-based/Skill-set identity — Being known by what you do or know.
  • Relationship identity — To whom you are connected: husband/wife, boyfriend/girlfriend, father/son, mother/daughter, friend …

It is this last one that has the most applicability to today’s topic, especially for the Christian.

Losing myself

What happens when the ideology, job, or relationship status changes?

You see, if your identity is dependent on something external, it can lead to major confusion and even crisis-mode inside. You could be screaming, “I don’t know who I am anymore!”

This is where someone may say, “This is why we need strong self-esteem.”

completely disagree.

Yes, I said completely disagree.

Why?

Because self-esteem focuses on the self. This is the antithesis of Christianity and relationship with God, as it says you can find peace within yourself.

Instead, you need something stronger.

So, how then should we live?

Where is your identity? How about starting with the Bible.

“Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me”
Matthew 18:5

“For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”
Matthew 18:20

Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.
John 14:13-14

“And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues;”
Mark 16:17

Now, what does Jesus mean by “in my Name”? Does he mean “Lord, please do this for me, in Jesus Name. Amen”?

No.

I think this hearkens back to the 10 Commandments, specifically number 3:

“You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain …”
Exodus 20:7

Is using the Lord’s Name in vain using it as a curse word?

Partially, yes. Mostly, no. It is more like saying you are a Christian (My identity!), doing something wrong, and claiming God either approves or even commanded it. THAT is using the Lord’s Name in vain more than anything else.

But what does Jesus mean?

Literally taking on the identity of Jesus Christ.

Not just living by “What Would Jesus Do?”

It means to think, talk, and act like Christ.

It means you put yourself out of the way, and you let Jesus Christ live through you.

Then it does not matter your skill-set, job title, political affiliation, who you know … well … a little bit who you know … 😉

Whatever happens around you and in your life does not matter that much when you know you have the Lord of the Universe living in and through you!

So, how do you identify? What is your first thought when asked who you are?

  • I’m a Republican/Democrat/Libertarian.
  • I’m this or that.
  • I am a husband/father/wife/mother/sibling.
  • I know so-in-so.

Or is your first thought “I am a Christian. I am a child of the living God. I am a son (or daughter) of the Most High! My heavenly Father adopted me through my Brother, my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!”

This is why it is important to study and memorize Scripture (I admit to being weak in memorization!), because it helps us better understand the meaning of life.

What is the meaning of life?

To glorify God.

This is why theology is important. (Scary, I know, but that is the big reason I make these blogs/vlogs, to give you a hand in it.)

Theology is simply the study of God: who He is, what He wants from and for us, and how we can live for Him.

We find our identity by living for him. We glorify God the Father by allowing God the Son to live in and through us by the power of God the Holy Spirit in us.

Then we can know that no matter what is going on around us and in our lives, we are good to go. Because we are in Christ.

It is who we are.

He is our identity.

And it is not by our own power. It is through our weakness that He is stronger! (2 Corinthians 11-13, especially in 12:9!)

Be excellent, my friends!

 

Only Pro-birth? Ad hominem Attacks on Pro-life

Round 3!

A regular attack on those who are pro-life is that we are really only “pro-birth,” that we do not really care about the mother or child after birth.

Is this true?

We do have the biblical commands to take care of orphans, widows, and the poor and needy …

… for example:

You shall not mistreat any widow or fatherless child.
Exodus 22:22

He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing.
Deuteronomy 10:18
(So, yes, we should also take up the cause of many immigrants. Sorry, Conservatives.)

16 “Fathers shall not be put to death because of their children, nor shall children be put to death because of their fathers. Each one shall be put to death for his own sin.
17 “You shall not pervert the justice due to the sojourner or to the fatherless, or take a widow’s garment in pledge, 18 but you shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt and the Lord your God redeemed you from there; therefore I command you to do this.
19 “When you reap your harvest in your field and forget a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it. It shall be for the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow, that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands. 20 When you beat your olive trees, you shall not go over them again. It shall be for the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow. 21 When you gather the grapes of your vineyard, you shall not strip it afterward. It shall be for the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow.

Deuteronomy 24:16-21

 do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, or the poor, and let none of you devise evil against another in your heart
Zechariah 7:10

And from the New Testament:

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.
James 1:27

There are more, but you get the point.

I Also Know People

People I know personally disprove the idea that pro-lifers are “only pro-birth.”

Two friends of mine – a little older, but I still call them kids from time to time – are dating. They regularly volunteer their time with ministries that serve widows, orphans, single parents (not just mothers), and foster children.
Further, she is in the process of taking care of her grandson, because this boy needs someone in his life who has not abandoned him in one way or another.

No one can claim these two are only pro-birth.

I have friends who run “alternative centers” (usually called something like Crisis Pregnancy Centers, though one of these friends changed hers to “Pregnancy Resource Center” to remove the stigma of a crisis) that do not offer abortion to mothers.
They have counselors to help young mothers before, during, and after birth. There are regular drives to get supplies needed for young parents and babies (through teenage years).

Further, they and their spouses tend to be involved in end-of-life care and counseling (especially seeing as those spouses are pastors).

No one can claim they are only pro-birth.

Other friends are adoptive and foster care parents, some of them even going out of their way to get special needs children.

No one can claim they are only pro-birth.

It is rude at best, disingenuous and flat out wrong at worst to offer a blanket statement that pro-lifers are “only pro-birth.”

I know people who are pro-abortion but anti-assisted suicide or death penalty. (That is a different argument for another time!) This tells me it is unfair to say “Everyone who is pro-choice is really pro-death!”

It is inconsistent, though, especially for the Christian.

(And to take a moment to call out situations of those like Pastor Carl Lentz of Hillsong NYC, who at first responded otherwise (and thankfully changed his answer later), abortion is sin. It is not a gray area that is dependent on each person’s conscience. That is why we need a Savior. But each sin is equally bad in God’s sight, so thanks be to God He offers salvation for those sins through Jesus Christ.)

Consider the Ant – Proverbs 6:6-11

Proverbs 6:6-11 – English Standard Version (ESV)

Go to the ant, O sluggard;
    consider her ways, and be wise.
Without having any chief,
    officer, or ruler,
she prepares her bread in summer
    and gathers her food in harvest.
How long will you lie there, O sluggard?
    When will you arise from your sleep?
10 A little sleep, a little slumber,
    a little folding of the hands to rest,
11 and poverty will come upon you like a robber,
    and want like an armed man.

 

Genesis: Paradise Lost in 3-D … My Review

If you have followed my blog long, searched through my all of my posts, and/or know me personally, you know I do not subscribe to the modern teaching of evolution.

I have many reasons.

Therefore, it probably should not surprise anyone that last night my wife and I went to see the movie Genesis: Part 1 – Paradise Lost in 3-D.

Do I need to mention spoilers? I mean, if you have read Genesis chapter 1, you know how it goes. If you have ever looked into Answers in Genesis, you probably know what they think about Creation. And AiG supplied many of their scientists and speakers for this film.

The Film

Genesis: Paradise Lost in 3-D was created largely on a computer to show an idea of what the creation of everything looked like based on the Bible – specifically Genesis 1. The stylized rendition was punctuated with “live commentary” of scientists and speakers about what the Bible and science have to say about the origins of everything and, especially, us – humans. Much of this cast consisted of people who work for AiG, but it included other scientists, professors, evangelists, and pastors. While focused on Genesis chapter one, other passages were included, and a lot of science was included throughout.

And, yes, dinosaurs make appearances!

My thoughts

Overall, I really enjoyed the film. The imagery was awe inspiring, and the science was clearly explained mixed in with good theology.

I do not completely agree with everything that AiG teaches (I differ slightly on the age of the Earth and therefore the historical timeline of humanity, but only slightly), but by and large the science and logic seems reasonable from them and those associated with this film.

They make fairly solid arguments against evolutionary theory, with some humor and compassion thrown in, and it is presented in a compelling way.

My biggest complaint against the film is with the 3-D. There are times that effect is not as accurately applied, causing some blurriness and/or ghosting (double-imaging). On a smaller screen, it might not be as noticeable, but when 30 feet tall it is jarring.

However, when you consider that this was not a James Cameron or major Disney production (the filmmaker, Ralph Strean, did work for Disney at one time, though) with a relatively small, crowdsourced budget, and only a few dozen people working on it, it is amazing what they did accomplish.

There are many elements of this film that the 3-D makes amazingly beautiful and engaging. At one point, I even felt the impulse to attempt to wipe water off of my glasses! And when you consider that

Therefore, if you easily suffer from motion sickness or get headaches from 3-D movies, avoid the 3-D showing.

That being said, I would suggest checking this movie out, if you get the chance.

Even if you completely disagree with their premise, the imagery alone makes it worth it.

Weekend Words & Sunday Stanzas – 11/12/2017 – Psalm 139

I realized late that I forgot to click “Schedule” on this, so it is appearing a day late!

As we are in the midst of my pro-life themed-videos, I thought it fitting to share THE pro-life psalm in its entirety, with only minimal commentary.

Psalm 139  English Standard Version (ESV)

Search Me, O God, and Know My Heart

To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David.

139 O Lord, you have searched me and known me!
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
    you discern my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down
    and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
    behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
You hem me in, behind and before,
    and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
    it is high; I cannot attain it.

Where shall I go from your Spirit?
    Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
    If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
If I take the wings of the morning
    and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
10 even there your hand shall lead me,
    and your right hand shall hold me.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
    and the light about me be night,”
12 even the darkness is not dark to you;
    the night is bright as the day,
    for darkness is as light with you.

13 For you formed my inward parts;
    you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
    Wonderful are your works;
    my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
    intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
    in your book were written, every one of them,
    the days that were formed for me,
    when as yet there was none of them.

17 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
    How vast is the sum of them!
18 If I would count them, they are more than the sand.
    I awake, and I am still with you.

19 Oh that you would slay the wicked, O God!
    O men of blood, depart from me!
20 They speak against you with malicious intent;
    your enemies take your name in vain.
21 Do I not hate those who hate you, O Lord?
    And do I not loathe those who rise up against you?
22 I hate them with complete hatred;
    I count them my enemies.

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart!
    Try me and know my thoughts!
24 And see if there be any grievous way in me,
    and lead me in the way everlasting!

My only commentary today is for verses 23-24:

For any who is involved with a sin in which they struggle – and, for the main purpose of this week’s topic, especially those who have been involved with [an] abortion[s] – the best place to start is by asking God to search you.

“Please, God, look into my heart and my mind. You understand everything I am thinking and feeling! Help me! I know I messed up – that I am messed up! I know have done something horrible and wrong, and it is tearing me up! I can’t handle it!”

And He is faithful and true. He will judge your heart, yes, but if you trust that He is truly Lord and the source of salvation, He will “lead [you] in the way everlasting!”

God will forgive you and help you to move forward, if you trust in Him and His sacrifice and the mercy and grace that it afforded.

Trust in the risen Savior, Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ. The lover and forgiver of your soul.