Archive for the ‘ Lifestyle ’ Category

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.

 

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!

 

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.

Shooting at God?

Another shooting happened this week.

This time, it was in Sutherland Springs, TX, at the First Baptist Church.

Let us remember all of those affected and pray for peace, forgiveness, and strength to move forward.

It looks like it may have been a “domestic dispute” between the shooter and his in-laws.

It also appears he was a preacher of Atheism and the downfall of Christianity.

Regardless, and before I knew these tidbits, I could not help but think:

Is this the post-Christian America we have been promised for years?

Here are some of the reasons I ask:

  • The usual call for stricter controls on guns and people began immediately.
  • Groups like Antifa (Anti-Fascists) are calling for stricter laws across the board.
  • There have been calls for how this is Christians’ fault, anyway, and to see how obviously their prayers were not being answered so how could there be any god.

First, Atheist and other non-religious groups have been calling for all forms of religion to be abolished and for “true human freedom” to reign, but without solid examples of how one must live. Now people wonder why our society seems to be going down the toilet. We removed moral absolutes, and they wonder why we act more like animals. It seems that without the Christian God to help teach us how to be self-controlled (Galatians 5:22-23), we rely on outward control. (i.e. More and stricter laws.)

This leads to the second point. We see groups claiming to be anti-fascist that promote known fascist governments. We see the call for the breakdown of walls between cultures with new walls to be up (such as wanting to celebrate what is great about other cultures but not letting those outside of those cultures dress up as them for Halloween). Because we cannot trust people to self-regulate (control their emotions), society must help by saying what others are allowed to think and do.

Finally, Christians and our God get mocked and blamed when this kind of violence erupts. Am I complaining about this as other prominent Christian leaders have been doing, perhaps calling for more protection for our religious beliefs\?

Actually, no.

This is what I expect to happen. Especially if we truly are a “post-Christian nation” … and if I believe the Bible.

“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Matthew 5:11

“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. Whoever hates me hates my Father also. If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.’”
John 15:18-25

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.

As we see society move farther away from God, I expect to see more people shooting at God — through shooting and otherwise attacking His people, the Church.

These things are crazy, stupid, and sad, but in a fallen world that lashes out at the very idea of God I expect it.

This should push us to pray all the more for peace, repentance, and the swift return of our Lord.

Counting On (Daylight Savings) Time

Alrighty, everyone!

If you are not in Hawaii or Arizona (where I am!) – or a few small pockets – then you are waking up to Daylight Savings Time adjusting your clocks back an hour!

Now, if you are grumbling about being an hour early for church, here is some advice:

Do all things without grumbling or disputing …
Philippians 2:14 (ESV)

If there is any silver lining to DST beginning and ending every 6 months-ish, it is that it serves as a reminder to live out another biblical teaching:

So teach us to number our days
    that we may get a heart of wisdom.
Psalm 90:12 (ESV)

Happy Sunday!

Go worship God in word, deed, and thought!

Weekend Words & Sunday Stanzas – Going Back with David Dunn

I promise I am not simply choosing songs that John Piper and others have said they disagree with!

Why do I say that?

Well, in my last Weekend Words & Sunday Stanzas I discussed Hillsong’s “What a Beautiful Name”, which included a response to John Piper’s response.

Similarly, today’s song has had a few negative responses, including one I listened to from John Piper about a month and a half ago.

The gist of the negative reactions is this: it sounds too much like David Dunn wants to go back to living like a child, without having to deal with the problems and pressures of adult life. It seems too much like he wants to go back to a simplistic life in which there is not much responsibility and we can fall back on a blind faith.

Here is why I disagree and, more importantly, like the song.

(Other than living a simple life as a simple man of God, of course!)

In the first verse, I am hearing less “I want to go back to an easy life when I believed just because” and more “I long for a faith as strong as I remember having.”

But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first.
Revelation 2:4-5a, ESV

When I listen to this, I am hearing a reminder to have faith like a child (Luke 18:17), not to return to living and thinking like a child (1 Corinthians 13:11).

In the second verse, I hear a reminder to not worry about what others have and do, but to simply love them … which sounds a lot like living out one of the greatest commandments!

However, I think the deepest message is found in the chorus, as it helps us remember how the rest of this is possible.

I am reminded of the Karl Barth quote that he could summarize his work and understanding of theology in the simple lyric “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”

What exactly does this mean?

We can rely on Word of God, the Bible and Jesus, to guide us in all truth and inform our faith. Therefore, David Dunn is reminding himself and us that we need to make sure we are digging deeply into the Bible and seeking Christ through devotional prayer (“Devotional” both in the sense of spending time in study and thought as well as out of a deep love).

And the chorus continues with letting this little light shine.

Obviously, this is the call to live out the faith given by God for His glory!

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”
Matthew 5:14-16, ESV

In other words …

… This song can be simply understood as a call to fall back on the greatest commandments:

  1. Love God with everything you are (Deuteronomy 6:4-5),
  2. Love others (Leviticus 19:18),
  3. Love the Church (John 13:34-35).

David Dunn – I Wanna Go Back Lyrics

When I was a kid
I was sure
I could run across the ocean
And I was gonna be an astronaut

When it was You and it was me
I had everything I needed
Faith could even move a mountain top

And then I grew up
And then I got older
Then my life got tough
And we grew apart

I wanna go back
To Jesus loves me this I know
For the Bible tells me
For the Bible tells me so
I wanna go back
To this little light
Gonna let it shine
Gonna let it shine
I wanna go back

When I was a kid
I didn’t care to keep up with the Jones’s
I was just happy that they lived next door

When it was You and it was me
I had everything I needed
Your hands were big enough to hold the world

And then I grew up
And then I got older
Then my life got tough
And we grew apart

I wanna go back
To Jesus loves me this I know
For the Bible tells me
For the Bible tells me so
I wanna go back
To this little light
Gonna let it shine
Gonna let it shine
I wanna go back

I wanna go back, back to
Yes, Jesus loves me

Thankful Offering

In today’s video, I think it is pretty clear I had not had my coffee, yet! But if you look in the background, you can see evidence I was about to remedy that.*

The last entry touched on the Las Vegas shooting and how “But for the grace of God, there go I” in terms of how each and every one of us could be capable of committing such an atrocity.  Today, I look at the exact opposite end of the spectrum.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German pastor, theologian, and professor who was killed by the Nazis just days before the end of World War II.¹ Both he and James, the brother of Jesus, focused heavily on Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7).

The Sermon on the Mount is basically Jesus’ teachings on how the Christian should live. Specifically for today, in 5:16 (ESV), Jesus says:

In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

If all we do are good things, but we do not really mention God, how could others give God glory? We may merely be “good people” in the eyes of the world.

Therefore, God gives us the direction we need in this matter:

The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me;
Psalm 50:23a, ESV

When we give thanks to God, this directs people to Him! Thankfulness, a lifestyle of gratitude, is the thing that helps to center our life around Christ and leads others to Him.

A heart of gratitude not only gives the glory to God, but it can also help us to feel great and can help others to feel better.

However, the main point is that God is glorified. Gratitude, likewise, can keep us focused on Him so that we are more likely to seek His glory than to turn to anything else – including lashing out at this world and those in it.

Therefore, give thanks to God. As Paul said, give thanks in everything in your life² – yes, everything, even the bad things.

And thank you for joining me today!

daniel

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