Archive for the ‘ Sin ’ 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.

 

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.

DoA – Not Dead on Arrival, but Day of Atonement 2017!

Hello and Shalom!

At the time of recording, it was the day before Yom Kippur, the Hebrew term translated as the Day of Atonement! By the time you read/watch this, it is either the actual day or after that day. (See Leviticus 16 and 23:26-32)

Either way, by our Gregorian calendar, Yom Kippur happens to be from sunset Friday, September 29, to sunset Saturday, September 30, 2017. This means it actually falls on a Sabbath, this year!

Here are the basics:

Yom Kippur – the Day of Atonement – was the only day of the year that the High Priest of Israel could enter the Holy of Holies – the inner-sanctum of the Temple, or Tent of Meeting during the Exodus – and offer the sacrifice for the forgiveness of the sins of the whole nation of Israel.

It was possible to have personal sins forgiven throughout the rest of the year by going and offering sacrifices, but they were continuously needed.

When the high priest entered the Holy of Holies, he would sprinkle the blood of the sacrifice on the Ark of the Covenant. (See Exodus 25:10-22; 37:1-9; and Deuteronomy 10)

The Ark was first built with wood and then overlaid with gold. It is interesting to think about something that can waste away being covered with something more permanent and made to look beautiful.

Moving on, in Hebrews 9:3-4 we learn what is inside of the Ark of the Covenant (AotC).

  1. In Exodus 16:32-34, we read that an omer of manna (roughly 2.2 Liters), of the bread that was formed by the morning dew resting on the ground, was to be put into a jar and placed into the AotC. This demonstrates God’s provision for his people.
  2. In Numbers 17, we read of Aaron’s staff that budded. The story recounts that each of the leaders of the 12 tribes of Israel were to give their staffs to Moses to put into the Tent of Meeting, and the one that budded – had flowers grow from it – would be God’s chosen spiritual leader – the High Priest – of the nation.
    Not only did it bud, but this piece of a dead tree had new life grow from it: flowers that attract our eyes and nose, AS WELL AS almonds. This was also placed into the AotC, and it demonstrates God’s spiritual (and emotional and other sensations!) provision for his people.
  3. Deuteronomy 10 recounts the story of the 2 stone tablets with the 10 Commandments. Originally, God gave Moses two tablets, but when Moses came down from the mountain he found the Israelites worshiping the golden calf (already breaking the first 3 Commandments!) In his anger, Moses smashed the tablets.
    When he climbed up the mountain again, God had him chisel out new tablets, and then God used his own finger to write the Commandments on the new stones. These are what were placed into the AotC. These symbolize God’s expectations for His people, how they are supposed to live.

Now, what does all of this have to do with Christians?

WELL! Hebrews 9-10 explain the relevance to us!

Firstly, we have one final High Priest, Jesus. Through His sacrifice on the cross, we have complete and total atonement! No other high priest nor sacrifice is ever needed for the washing of sins. He finished it!

Just as the High Priests of old would sprinkle the blood of the sacrifice onto the AotC, Jesus’ blood is sprinkled over our hearts, cleansing us of our sins.

Now for the fascinating bit, when things get quite allusionary and allegorical!

The Temple symbolizes our bodies. Therefore the Holy of Holies is the chest cavity, and the Ark is the heart. The lid of the AotC is called the Mercy Seat.

Do you see the connection so far? His blood sprinkled over the heart to purify us?

Cool.

Thinking of the AotC being made of wood covered in gold, it is like our hearts – also something perishable – are covered and even replaced with the beautiful and imperishable! Our Atonement is attained … if we believe! … because God has chosen us through His Chosen One!

Now for the deep stuff:

  1. What about the Manna? Jesus explained in the Gospel according to John (see John 6:35, 49-51) that He is the Bread of Life. When we believe in Him, the Holy Spirit places Him within our hearts. He explained that when we eat of his flesh (Communion/the Eucharist), we join in His sacrifice and are spiritually sustained.
  2. Likewise, what about the staff? Jesus explained a chapter earlier (see John 5:24) that whoever hears His word and believes Him who sent Him (God the Father sent God the Son) has eternal life.
    In other words, when we believe in God and Christ’s sacrifice for our sins, we are given new life! Just as the staff budded, we are awakened to and promised eternal life!
  3. And the Law written on the stone tablets? This time, we look back at an Old Testament prophecy from Jeremiah (see Jeremiah 31:31-34). God tells us there that through the Atonement and the Holy Spirit we have God’s law written on our hearts. We now know what it looks like and how to live out the Law, i.e. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself. We cannot fully and properly live out the Law, but through Christ, it is fulfilled and we are helped by the Holy Spirit!

How amazing is that?!

That is how the Day of Atonement is still applicable. However, instead of looking forward to a day when our sins can be atoned for, we live daily in atonement thanks to Jesus the Christ!

May your Day of Atonement be blessed as you reflect on what God has done for you.

Daniel

 

Anthropogenic Global Climate Change …

Find the wisdom that never changes with the thoughts on Proverbs found at Proverbial Thought!

So, almost three and a half years ago I wrote about Global Warming, and the aspect of God’s wrath being poured out on sinful humanity toward the end of the world.

This post is looking at things from a slightly different perspective.

Recently, the International Panel on Climate Change released their updated report on the state of the climate. The US and France were quick to lead the charge on the importance of acting on this information and fighting global warming quickly.

The main argument is that humans are the main culprit for catastrophic global climate change.

And, at least to a point, I agree:

They are right. Humanity caused the climate to change.

As I alluded to about three and a half years ago, it all started with a simple act by humans:

When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.
Genesis 3:6, NIV

Adam takes the fruit

AnswersInGenesis.org, 2003, As shown in A is for Adam (one of the best children’s books on Genesis)

The only thing Adam (and through him, Eve) was told not to do was eat the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (2:17).

The Bible goes on to tell us that the perfect climate and fertile ground would become more hostile and unwieldy.

Here is where the good news comes in.

We messed it all up, and each of us is responsible for our sin. This is why we will see God’s wrath poured out (as mentioned in my previous post).

However, we also read these words from Paul:

Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned . . . For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!
Romans 5:12, 17

And this points to the end:

Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children. But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”
Revelation 21:1-8

Out for a Walk … And a Run

Hurry over to Proverbial Thought for some wisdom from Proverbs!

Once again, I bring a story of our wonderful puppy! (You may remember the entries found here, here, and here.)

When we go out for a walk, we frequently find things of interest.

At least, he finds things of interest, things I usually find less interesting.

These things range from fast food wrappers, bones, other pieces of trash, spills on the walkway/blacktop, larger dogs, and cats.

He may not always be aware of the danger posed by such things, such as germs/bacteria, parasites, or fights with other animals. I am aware of these dangers, and I am quick to say “Not good for us. Come on!”

Here is what usually happens: he tugs on the leash toward the desired item until I give a quick tug right back, then he runs full speed away!

Perhaps you see where I might be going with this:

Now Joseph was well-built and handsome,and after a while his master’s wife took notice of Joseph and said, “Come to bed with me!”

But he refused. “With me in charge,” he told her, “my master does not concern himself with anything in the house; everything he owns he has entrusted to my care. No one is greater in this house than I am. My master has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?” 10 And though she spoke to Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her or even be with her.

11 One day he went into the house to attend to his duties, and none of the household servants was inside. 12 She caught him by his cloak and said, “Come to bed with me!” But he left his cloak in her hand and ran out of the house.
Genesis 39:6-12, NIV

Sin is rather glamorous to us. We should face the facts: it can be fun and enjoyable to sin. If it was not enjoyable, there would be little or no problem with sin in our world!

It may look attractive, fun, or sweet, but, like with my puppy, it is garbage and dangerous.

We may strive to get close to it, to push our boundaries of what might be safe. It is just like Joseph with Potiphar’s wife. Odds are Potiphar knew his wife was “easy,” and Joseph could have alerted him to the situation. Instead, he only tried to ignore it instead of deal with it. (To be fair, he was only a servant, but work with me here!)

Eventually, he knew the cost of disobeying God was too great, and he literally ran. Because he toed the line too long, even though his master probably knew the truth, it cost him.

Notice my puppy still finds things and has to run away.

How many times do we fail to run away?

What thing or person do you refuse to run away from to protect yourself and honor God?

Online pornography? An attractive co-worker? Too much time on Facebook/P!nterest/news sites? Weekly lottery tickets? Gossip? Taking the excess [anything] from work? Driving too fast? Cutting corners to save time/money?

Stop pulling at the leash. Stop ignoring situations and God’s commands.

RUN!

Sometimes it means putting away the computer, or even giving it up completely (I would miss you, but I understand). Sometimes it means avoiding the store or certain people. Sometimes it means asking for a transfer or even quitting your job. Sometimes it means giving up the keys.

RUN!

Sin is never worth the cost.

Besides, I like cuddling with and getting kissed by my puppy.

God likes being close and indwelling us.

If my puppy gets into the garbage or a fight, I am wary of even touching him or letting him touch me.

Our sin is pushing God out.

RUN FROM THE TEMPTATION AND THE SIN!

RUN TO THE OPEN ARMS OF GOD!

Walking the Boundary

Play it safe and get some wisdom from Proverbial Thought!

In early May I talked about my wonderful puppy and the lessons he helps us learn about our walk with God (here and here).

Now for another puppy inspired lesson!

He has a really funny habit.

Whether it is something we are eating/using/moving or something we left sitting out and he wants it, he makes an attempt to get whatever it is.

We sternly warn him to stay away (“Not for puppies! Stay away!”).

What does he do?

He gets as close as he can, laying down with his nose a few inches away. Then he scoots closer, without standing or even sitting up, to the point that his nose is less than an inch away. He might even try to lick at whatever he is not supposed to have when we look away.

We calmly say, “No. Not for you.”

He growls, bares his teeth, yips, and scoots back an inch or two … only to scoot closer, again.

Draw near to …

How many times do we do this very thing?

God’s Word warns us “Do not commit adultery.” Jesus goes as far as to say, “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28).

Yet, we ask our pastors “How far is too far when dating?”

God’s Word warns us “Abstain from every form of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:22, ESV)

Yet, we watch all manner of TV programs and movies full of things promoted as good that the Bible warns are dangerous or evil.

God’s Word warns us “Do not gossip.”

Yet, we ask for prayer requests for our neighbors, and share way more information than is necessary.

God’s Word asks us to “Draw near to God . . . resist the devil” (James 4:7-8).

Yet, we say we are satisfied attending church once a week and never sharing or faith or helping others … or we never open or Bible … or never pray … and we say “I am so close to God!”

We spend more time walking as close as we can to sin while maintaining the appearance of righteousness.

10 Listen, my son, accept what I say,
    and the years of your life will be many.
11 I instruct you in the way of wisdom
    and lead you along straight paths.
12 When you walk, your steps will not be hampered;
    when you run, you will not stumble.
13 Hold on to instruction, do not let it go;
    guard it well, for it is your life.
14 Do not set foot on the path of the wicked
    or walk in the way of evildoers.
15 Avoid it, do not travel on it;
    turn from it and go on your way.
16 For they cannot rest until they do evil;
    they are robbed of sleep till they make someone stumble.
17 They eat the bread of wickedness
    and drink the wine of violence.
Proverbs 4:10-17

“Woe to you, . . . you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.”
Matthew 23:27-28

Rather, what we should be doing is this:

You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us? But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says:

“God opposes the proud
but shows favor to the humble.”

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.
James 4:4-10

The Hard Knocks Life: Choosing Trouble

Choose to find some wisdom through the commentary over at Proverbial Thought.

We have been looking at why we may experience difficulty in this life. Last week I discussed how God puts us through things in life and even allows our horrors to persist for a time so that we may show His mercy, compassion, and love to others going through similar circumstances. Two weeks ago I started off with describing how a life following God can bring troubles, through persecution or, like last week’s post said, circumstances to grow our faith and understanding.

This little post is about when we bring about our own troubles. It really is quite simple.

Each moment of each day we have a choice. It is basically the same choice offered to the Israelites after taking the promised land.

But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.
Joshua 24:15, NIV

More Simple Than We Think

Here is how simple it is:

Every morning we are faced with a decision. Every time we have to make a choice, we have two options (though those two options may have multiple choices, as well).

Do I serve God or my own selfish desires?

Do I act in love or for personal comfort and gain?

It is our own selfish choices that lead to fights and arguments.

It is our own selfish choices that lead to loss and confusion.

It is our own selfish choices that lead to pain and difficulty.

It is our own selfish choices that lead to sin and death.

Yet even these God can use for His glory and redeem for good, when we choose Him daily.

Ask any (ex-)con, any thief, any adulterer, any violent or gossiping or lying person who has been washed by the blood of Jesus Christ, and they will tell you the same.

This is not that all our troubles simply go away. Many times, we must still live with the consequences of our decisions.

We may not get our money returned to us.

We may not get our health returned to us.

We may not see justice served (at least, not they way we expect).

Though we can find peace.

We can learn to love.

We can become wise and compassionate.

We may even see our lives restored to greater than they were.

It will certainly be greater in the next life, which is what we earn through the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

After all, it was all of the selfish choices of each and every person who ever lived who put Jesus on the cross.

It was also shows that God chose to go to the cross for us.

Then Holy Spirit empowers us with strength, faith, wisdom, and grace to change, to choose God.

Choose for yourself this day whom you will serve: God or your own selfish desires.