Friday, June 26, 2015

A Sad Day for Marriage...But God Is Still on the Throne

By a 5-4 vote, the United States Supreme Court overturned a definition of marriage that has endured since, well since God gave the definition back in the Garden of Eden to Adam and Eve.  It is best stated in Genesis 2:24, "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and will be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh."
Here is God's definition of marriage expressed very simply: one man plus one woman. 


As I have stated in previous blogs, God's definition of marriage has crossed cultural and racial and religious and even non-religious lines down through the millenniums since the creation of man.  Throughout our nation the majority of people, through public referendums, indicated that they believed in the traditional, biblical definition of marriage. 


Now, with a vote from a panel of nine judges who have no accountability to the American people at all - remember, the Supreme Court Justices are appointed for life - that definition has been changed.  Marriage will now be defined as the union of any parties who have bonded because of love.  In the immediate sense, the changed definition relates to same-sex marriage: a man with another man, a woman with another woman.  (By the way, in spite of what five Supreme Court Justices might say, God's opinion of same-sex marriage has not changed.  It is still an abomination to Him).  But, let us look down the road a little further.  Because of this ruling today, who can deny a pedophile who wants to marry a under-aged boy because he is in love?  Or, who can deny a brother from marrying his sister?  Or, who can say it would be wrong for a man to marry two or three wives at the same time?  Now, you will say, "Pastor Max, that won't happen!  We have statutes against incest.  We have laws against polygamy."  Yes, you are right...we do have such statutes and laws right now.  But up until a few hours ago, we also had a statute in many states that said that marriage was between a man and a woman.  Now that statute has been nullified, so who is to say that incest and polygamy laws would not be nullified in the future? 


We had already begun sliding down the slippery slope of immorality.  Now that sliding has just accelerated.  And I am fearful for how God will respond!  For, indeed He will respond!  He responded to the immorality of Sodom and Gomorrah.  He responded to the immorality of Israel and Judah.  He responded to the immorality of the Roman Empire.  Oh, yes, God will respond.  It will eventually result in His judgment - perhaps as destructive as was His judgment upon Sodom and Gomorrah.  Perhaps with the devastation of the exile both Israel and Judah experienced.  Perhaps with the crushing defeat at the hands of others as the Roman Empire experienced. 


I am reminded of those words from the Apostle Paul in Romans 1:18-32.  That little phrase, "and God gave them over" appears three times.  Before judgment comes, God may allow our nation to wallow in the slime we have created because we have turned our backs upon God.  It will a tragic time.


What can we do?  First of all, we must continue to pray.  Let us never forget that prayer is a powerful weapon against evil.  Second, we must continue to show love to those with whom we disagree.  Those people need a Savior just as we did.  So, let us point them to Jesus.  Third, we must ask ourselves this question: "What does the Bible have to say?"  Church Boards, Pastoral groups will have to set aside time to study intensely that question.  What is your church's position?  How will your church continue to define marriage?  What will be your church's position with regard to the relationship between the state's definition of marriage and your church's definition?  Who will be able to use your church's facilities for a marriage ceremony?  Will your church still be available for use for a marriage ceremony?  Not easy questions to answer, but they have taken on a whole new meaning in the light of the decision reached today.


The Court's decision today was little more narrow than I had anticipated.  I had looked for a 7-2 vote, so, in essence, the Court was divided.  However, a divided Court did not remove a Sovereign God from His throne.  So we just need to keep looking to Him and trusting in Him and living for Him even if it will cost us some personal freedoms.  Friends, it will be worth it all when we see Jesus.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Is the Time for God to Act Near?

In my devotions the other morning I was reading in the Book of Ezekiel.  I came across a passage that frightened me with its strong declaration from God.  It is found in the 24th chapter of that book.  When one reads this particular chapter, the focus is God's strong judgment that is coming against Jerusalem.  The judgment comes in the form of a parable that God instructs Ezekiel to proclaim to the people of Jerusalem: a parable about a cooking pot that is filled with choice pieces of meat and then placed on a cook stove and brought to a boil.  Then the pot is emptied and the empty pot is placed  back on the fire until it becomes a hot, glowing entity.  This parable is a picture of God's judgment coming upon the people of Jerusalem. 


For what does Jerusalem need judging?  As one reads the preceding chapters in Ezekiel, the primary cause of judgment is the people's spiritual adultery (read chapter 23).  In their abandonment of God, the people had resorted to every type of sexual deviation imaginable and worshiped at the altar of a god or goddess of adultery and violence.  Life had little value, for Ezekiel declares that the people even offered their own children to these gods and goddesses.  Sadly, in the very temple itself, spiritual prostitution was taking place with little regard. 


God had attempted to warn the people about their adulterous activities through prophet after prophet, but the people had failed to hear and to heed those warnings.  So, God says, through the prophet Ezekiel, "Now your impurity is lewdness.  Because I tried to cleanse you but you would not be cleansed from your impurity, you will not be clean again until my wrath against you has subsided."  (Ezekiel 24:13).  In other words, God is saying that because the people failed to allow God to cleanse them voluntarily, they would become clean through an act of God. 


Next come those words that grabbed my heart.  "I the LORD have spoken.  The time has come for me to act.  I will not hold back: I will not have pity, nor will I relent.  You will be judged according to your conduct and your actions, declares the Sovereign LORD." (Ezekiel 24:14). 


I have to admit that as I read those words, my blood ran cold.  You understand that God had finally "had it" with Jerusalem.  There would be no more warnings.  There would only be judgment.  There would only be God's wrath.  God would not hold back. Jerusalem would experience the full measure of God's wrath.  Furthermore, God said that He would not change His mind.  And this wrath would be justified because of the people's conduct and actions.  I paused as I read those words as if the prophet himself was standing beside my chair looking over my should shaking his head and pointing his finger first at the text and then at the world around.  "The time has come for me to act."  I have often been heard to say, "If Jesus does not come soon, there might not be anything to come back for."  Have you ever felt that way?  Is God about ready to act against our nation?  We keep shaking our fist in His face with our increased immorality which has  become lewdness before God.  Will the impending Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage be that final act that will bring forth God's judgment?  I don't know.  And what form will this judgment take?  Again, I don't know.  But I do know that when God's judgment fell upon Jerusalem, a city and nation was totally destroyed to only rise from the ashes seventy years later, never resembling the nation that it had been. 


May I share with you one other passage from the pen of this same prophet.  It is found in Ezekiel 22:30-31 where Ezekiel proclaims the words from God: "I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found none.  So I will pour out my wrath on them and consume them with my fiery anger, bringing down on their own heads all they have done, declares the Sovereign LORD."  How sad!  God looked for one individual who would be willing to stand up and be counted, who would dare to go against the flow of the culture, who could dare to be like a Daniel.  And God found no one!  I don't know about you, but I want to be one of those who dare to stand in the gap.  I pray for God's boldness to dare to live a separated life for Jesus Christ.  I want others to see and to know that I am serving a powerful God.  I am going to dare to trust the Bible to be exactly what God said it is...His inspired Word.  I am going to dare to believe that the only salvation for this evil world is through the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.  I am going to dare to believe that a person truly discovers who he or she is when they have an encounter with the living God through His Son. 


Friends, will you join me in standing in the gap?  God's judgment is soon to come and it will be devastating.  Let's continue sounding the warning so people will hear one last time that the only answer is found in Jesus.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

"I Am a Hobbit"

I am presently doing a lot of reading for a new class I will be teaching to some of the tenth grade students who attend our church this fall.  The class is on developing a Biblical Worldview.  So, I have been reading and taking notes, comparing the prevailing cultural worldview of humanism and secularism and the Biblical worldview.  I am amazed at the total lack of any foundation for humanism.  It is built upon a straw-man which has no strength.  You see, when you decide to intentionally take God and the presence of the supernatural away from culture, you are left with mere theories and speculations.  And I have found that it is never a good thing to base anything upon a mere theory or speculation.  And, one of the evidences of this lack of foundation is that there is so much room for inconsistencies.


Such an inconsistency has arisen to the surface these past few days.  The case involves a lady by the name of Rachel Dolezal, the former head of the Spokane, Washington, chapter of the NAACP.  She was born of Caucasian parents but identifies herself as being black.  She was asked by Matt Lauer, the host of NBC's "Today" Show, "Are you an African-American.?"  Her answer was, "I identify as black."  Ms. Dolezal claims that she began to identify as a black woman when she was five years of age.  She said that she chose a brown-colored crayon to draw herself rather than the standard peach-colored crayon that most white children use. 


Now, here is where I find the inconsistency in our cultural worldview today.  The media has a love affair with Bruce Jenner as he spends hundreds of thousands of dollars to become the "woman" he has always wanted to be.  He identified with being a woman.  So, his - or is it her? - picture is on the cover of leading magazines.  He  - or is it she? - is interviewed on national television.  Even ESPN wants to aware him - or is it her? - with an award for courage.  Bruce - or is it Caitlyn? - is elevated to the status of being a hero.  But, Ms. Dolezal is forced to defend herself before a tumultuous media simply because she wants to be black, but lives in a white body.  She said, in an interview on NBC's "Nightly News" last evening, that she had decided not to take any drugs or chemicals that might have discolored her skin.  So, she is a white woman even thought she wants be seen as being black.  So, it is okay for Bruce - or is it Caitlyn?, but not okay for Rachel.  Are you confused yet? 


Rush Limbaugh had some fun with this whole thing the other day on his radio program.  Now I am not a great fan of Rush Limbaugh, but I do believe he has his finger on the pulse of where our nation is going.  As many of you know, Rush is a big man.  So, he tells his radio audience that he now wants to be called "skinny" because he believes inside that that is what he is.  Suppose I wanted to let you know that I identify with being a Hobbit.  Would that make me a Hobbit?  No!  I might convince myself that I really was a Hobbit - of course I might need to grow my feet and find someway to increase hair-growth on those feet.  But, in reality, I am still who I am.  That is who God created me to be. 


Friends, if there is to be a consistency in this self-centered, sin-riddled culture in which we live, then we need to accept anyone as who they think they are.  Which, when you really think about it, becomes a scary thing.  Ms. Dolezal was born as a white-woman.  She may have very strong sympathies and passion for the black people she worked for and with, but she is white because that is the way God created her.  Bruce Jenner was born as a white-man.  He may have very strong sympathies and passion for the female sex, but he is a male because that is the way God created him. 


Why all this dissatisfaction with who we are?  The answer is found in the foundation of humanism - the prevailing worldview of today: Man is the center of his world; there is no God, therefore everything revolves around me and my happiness.  Friends, if God is missing the only anchor one has is to himself.  If I am out in a boat in a storm and I throw the anchor overboard, I certainly hope that it will catch something more significant and stronger than my boat.  I want a pretty solid rock.  But, take away the Rock, who is God Himself, and we are left to the whims of our own desires. 


Oh how it is time to return to the Scriptures and there discover that our significance as a human race is only found in the relationship we have with the living God. 


I have begun preaching a series through the Book of Ecclesiastes in my church.  This past Sunday we examined Ecclesiastes 1:1-11 where Solomon describes life as being meaningless, empty and boring; that true significance is only found in God.  I had a Dad approach me following one of the services and said that his young son, probably aged 7 or 8, had a question.  The young boy's question was: So, Pastor Max, what is the purpose for man?  Now, isn't that a great question for any of us to ask, but a marvelous question for a young boy to ask.  How would you have responded?  Well I shared with him and his Dad these words, "The chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever."  That statement from the Westminster Confession is truly amazing.  Man's significance - a young boy's significance - is found in a relationship with God.  Bruce Jenner never discovered that relationship.  Rachel Dolezal never discovered that relationship.  Have you?

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Lessons for Today from a Minor Prophet of Yesterday

Yesterday morning, as part of our Staff meeting here at Buffalo Covenant Church, I shared with the staff some thoughts from one of my favorite Minor Prophets.  His name - Habakkuk.  I sort of fell in love with this 6th century BC prophet when I first prepared notes for a class I was teaching at Village Schools of the Bible years ago.  This prophet takes a remarkable journey in a mere three chapters.  Yet his message is so vitally important for us today, living some 26 centuries later. 


As we open the pages of Habakkuk's book, we observe a very frustrated man of God.  Now, what I like about Habakkuk is that his frustration came because of two factors.  First, he was a student of his culture and world of his day.  He read the newspapers everyday.  He listened to the CNN's and Fox News Channels of his day.  He was totally conscious of how terrible the times were.  In fact he cries out, in verse 2, "Violence!"  (Did you know that the Hebrew word for "violence" is "hamas?")  He observes what is happening in the courts of law: justice is not prevailing.  It seems that right is wrong and wrong is right; black is white and white is black.  Everything is out of whack!  Can you identify with the frustrations of this prophet?  I know I can.  I read the newspaper every morning.  I subscribe to several news magazines that I read weekly.  I follow certain websites for further news information.  I don't have to tell you that the world seems upside-down and spinning out of control. 


The second cause for Habakkuk's frustration is that he believes God is doing nothing at all about it.  He does not see the hand of God intervening to correct the wrongs, to alleviate the sufferings, to cause things to be right.  As the book opens, God seems to be "out there, some where" and it frustrates Habakkuk because he knows that only God's intervention can possibly correct what he sees happening. 


Beginning in verse 5, God answers this frustrated prophet with remarkable words: "Look at the nations and watch - and be utterly amazed.  For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told."  Then God proceeds to tell an already frustrated prophet that God's solution is to send the Babylonians to destroy the city of Jerusalem and take the people into captivity.  Not the answer Habakkuk was anticipating...not at all!  And, by the end of chapter 1 his frustration has reached fever-pitch.  God's logic has become illogical...at least to one very confused and frustrated prophet.


But, as chapter 2 opens, we see Habakkuk doing something that is remarkable.  Instead of going into his room and pouting because he did not get what he wanted, we find him climbing the city wall and watching to see God's answer.  What is he watching for?  An army of Babylonians.  I want to share three incredible truths from these early verses in Habakkuk 2: 1) faith can put us in a position to watch for God's response - how we need to be looking for the hand of God to be at work in our world; 2) faith puts us in a position to wait for God's response - how we need to remember that God works in God's ways in God's time, not our time; and 3) faith puts us in a position to trust God - even when that trusting is not exactly what we desire.  As Habakkuk's faith is being cultivated, so is his understanding of how God is already at work.  Because his confidence is now restored in God, the remainder of chapter 2 is a strong declaration of God's judgment upon the sins of the culture and society of his day.  And he closes the chapter with a strong statement about our response to a holy, Almighty God: "But the LORD is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him." 


Finally, in chapter 3 we see the prophet at prayer - and what a remarkable prayer it really is.  Our frustrated prophet has become a most contented prophet.  The one who had complained about God's inaction, now is a prophet who rests in the hands of God no matter what happens.  Listen to these amazing words: "Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD.  I will be joyful in God my Savior."  Wow!  Did you hear what the prophet was saying?  If God should take everything away, there would still be a reason to rejoice in what God had done! 


Friends, our world today is not unlike that of Habakkuk's.  We see the vileness of sin on every hand.  Yet, we need to be driven by our faith in God to know that God is in control of everything.  The way we want God to answer may not be the way God will answer.  Certainly God did not respond in the way that Habakkuk thought God should.  Yet, God grew his faith.  As we get closer to the return of Christ and we see the world getting increasingly more difficult, let us ask God to grow our faith so that we can respond as did Habakkuk: Lord, even if everything is taken away from me, I will still trust in You!  Amen!  Let me encourage you to read this little book.  I think you, too, will fall in love with this amazing prophet.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

More Signs of the Times

An article appeared in the May 21 edition of the Israelnationalnews.com website edition that has garnered little attention, yet speaks volumes as to why the continued search for a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians will be futile.  The article was written by Shimon Cohen and can be found at www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/195697.  "While Israeli politicians continue to debate the merits of the 'two-state solution,' their Palestinian interlocutors have long moved beyond that model for the solution of the Middle East conflict.  For Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, the idea of a 'greater Palestine' - that would stretch from 'the river to the sea' - is now an official policy.  If this policy had until now been elucidated verbally in Arabic, by 'minor' government officials - allowing the PA to say that they had been speaking out of turn or voicing personal opinions - it has now taken on a much more official persona.  In a series of videos and images discovered and released by Palestinian Media Watch (PMW), the PA's official propaganda ministry has made clear that when the PA says, "Palestinian state,' it means not just Ramallah and Jenin, but also Tel Aviv, Haifa, and Beersheva.  The change, said PMW, apparently took effect on May 7; since then, all broadcasts on official PA TV discussing the Arab-Israeli conflict have stressed the need for PA Arabs to 'return to their homes.'"


So, how does the PA think it could possibly gain control over all of Israel?  It is through a policy known as "the right of return."  This goes back to the War of Independence of 1948 where thousands of Arabs left Palestine when the five Arab armies attacked Israel.  These Arabs were told to simply leave everything behind - as it would only be a short time before they could return - the Arabs were that confident of their victory over the fledgling Israeli state.  But, as we know from history, the young Israeli State survived and won their battle for independence.  Their victory created a problem for the Arab world: what were they to do with all these thousands of refugees who had fled their homes with the promise that they could return?  Israel offered to repatriate many of them, but the Arab response was a resounding "no!"  The Arab solution was to place the Palestinian refugees into refugee camps - many of them in Jordan and Lebanon.  These people have become pawns in a great political game.  Every time there is talk of a "two-state solution" the question arises as to what to do with the descendants of these refugees?  The Arab world is adamant that the descendants of those refugees need to be allowed to return to those ancestral homes prior to the 1948 War.  Of course, now we are not speaking of tens of thousands of Arabs returning, but hundreds of thousands, if not millions of Arabs.  Given the "right to return" you can easily see that it would not be long before the Jewish community would become the minority community, and Israel would become just another Arab-state now known as Palestine. 


It is this thought that drives the Palestinian leadership.  This is the vision they aspire toward.  This is what they will be pressuring both the United Nations and the International Court to do on their behalf.  So the struggles in the Middle East continue and certainly bear our watching.


I also want to share with you a rather disturbing article posted on the World News Daily website.  It is titled: 'Father' to marry 'son,' with court's blessing!'  You can find it at: www.wnd.com/2015/05/father-to-marry-son-with-courts-blessing.  "The Pandora's box of same-sex marriage has just released a new pairing unimaginable a few short years ago.  Norman MacArthur and Bill Novak, father and son, though not biologically, will soon be husband and... whatever, reports the Patch of Bucks County, Pennsylvania.  The pair, both in their 70's, have been together for 50 years and registered in New York City as domestic partners in 1994.  But when they moved to Pennsylvania, they discovered their domestic partnership wasn't recognized, and legalized same-sex marriage was nowhere on the horizon.  Needing to take care of estate-planning issues, the pair pursued a novel legal approach.  Novak adopted MacArthur in 2000.  The fact their parents were deceased removed any legal objection.  When the United States District Court declared unconstitutional Pennsylvania's marriage laws prohibiting same-sex marriage in 2014, Novak and MacArthur wanted to tie the knot in marriage, but their earlier legal gambit now became an obstacle.  Pennsylvania law doesn't permit marriage between parents and children.  So, a week ago, the father and son's Petition to Vacate Adoption Decree was approved, and the pair simply became two single men now allowed to marry.  The pair has been given a marriage license and is planning a summer wedding." 


I remember sharing with a group of people several years ago that if the definition of marriage was ever changed from the traditional one of "one man and one woman" - you know, the way God intended marriage to be - then no one could really prohibit any type of marriage.  If marriage is no longer "between one man and one woman," then could not a man have more than one woman as a wife?  Could not a woman have more than one man as a husband?  Could not a mother marry her son or her daughter?  Could not a father marry his daughter or his son?  Could not a man marry his dog?  You are probably saying, "Max, don't be so ludicrous."  Let's be logical for a moment: What has been the recognized definition of marriage since, well since the time of Adam and Eve?  Has it not been based upon Genesis 2:24 - "A man shall leave his father and mother and cling to his wife and they shall become one flesh?"  Friends, that definition has guided civilizations and cultures down through the centuries and millenniums.  Yes, there have been deviations from that definition - you even have an example of it in Genesis 4 where a man named Lamech boasts to his two wives.  But those exceptions never changed the basic definition.  Now states and nations are redefining marriage.  Oh, marriage between one man and one woman will still be an option; but that is just it, it will only be an option among many diverse forms of marriage. 


So what can we do?  First, as believers in Jesus Christ, we need to affirm the sanctity of biblical marriage: one man-one woman.  We need to instruct our children and young teens that this is God's prescribed way.  Second, as believers in Jesus Christ, we need to affirm that any deviation from God's definition of marriage is sin.  Yes, God says there is a right and a wrong.  The problem today is that our society has confused what God says is right and wrong.  But, as with all sins, forgiveness can be obtained through Jesus Christ, and lives can be changed through the power of the Holy Spirit.   How we need to return to the Scriptures and affirm that it is the very foundation upon which we can build our lives and how we need to encourage our young teens to build upon that same foundation.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Gender Absurdity!

As we get closer to the decision of the United States Supreme Court on the issue of the constitutionality of same-sex marriage, the whole matter of the "gender debate" becomes increasingly more bizarre.  Allow me to share just a couple of recent cases.


On May 14, I received an e-mail from the American Family Association (AFA) with the following headlines: "Girl Scouts of America policy change: Boys dressing as girls can join."   The policy says, in part, "If the child is recognized by the family and school/community as a girl and lives culturally as a girl, then Girl Scouts is an organization that can serve her in a setting that is both emotionally and physically safe."  The AFA article then continues, "This means girls in the organization will be forced to recognize and accept transgenderism as a normal lifestyle.  Boys in skirts, boys in make-up and boys in tents will become a part of the program.  This change will put young innocent girls at risk.  ... Adults are willing to experiment on our kids - both the boys who are confused and the girls who will wonder why a boy in a dress is in the bathroom with them."  To be perfectly honest, if I had a granddaughter who was thinking about joining the Girl Scouts of America, I would certainly encourage her to look elsewhere for social interaction of that type.  As I read the article, I wondered what those churches will do who sponsor either a Girl Scout or Boy Scout program.  Those churches had better know what they believe about those first two chapters in Genesis.


A day later, I read an article, written by Todd Starnes, on the FoxNews.com website.  You can read the article at: www.foxnews.com/opinion/2015/05/15/parents-furious-over-school-s-plan-to-teach-gender-spectrum.  Allow me to share portions of the article with you:


"One of the nation's largest public school systems is preparing to include gender identity to its classroom curriculum, including lessons on sexual fluidity and spectrum - the idea that there's no such thing as 100 percent boys or 100 percent girls."  After reading that initial statement, the writer had my attention.  "Wait a minute!" I wanted to cry out.  "You can't be serious!  Are you telling me that a boy is not really a full boy and a girl is not really a full girl?  Not what my Bible says.  My Bible says that "God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them" (Genesis 1:27).  Adam was a male - 100% male; Eve was a female - 100% female."


The article continues, "Fairfax County Public Schools (this is in Virginia) released a report recommending changes to their family life curriculum for grades 7 through 12.  The changes, which critics call radical gender ideology, will be formally introduced next week.  ... The plan calls for teaching seventh graders about transgenderism and tenth graders about the concept that sexuality is a broader spectrum."  In part the new policy reads, "Students will be provided definitions for sexual orientation terms heterosexuality, homosexuality and bisexuality; and the gender identity term transgender.  Emphasis will be placed on recognizing that everyone is experiencing changes and the role of respectful, inclusive language in promoting an environment free of bias and discrimination."  Todd Starnes explains, "Eighth graders will be taught that individual identity 'occurs over a lifetime and includes the component of sexual orientation and gender identity.   Individual identity will also be described as having four parts - biological gender, gender identity (includes transgender), gender role, and sexual orientation (includes heterosexual, bisexual, and homosexual).  Emphasis will be placed on an understanding that there is a broader, boundless, and fluid spectrum of sexuality that is developed throughout a lifetime." 


Andrea Lafferty, president of Traditional Values Coalition, said, "Parents need to protect their kids form this assault.  Who could imagine that we are in this place today - but we are."  She went on to say, "At the end of this is the deconstruction of gender.  The majority of people pushing (this) are not saying that - but that clearly is the motivation." 


Friends, have you ever heard of anything so absurd?  And to compound this even more, have you noticed how the media is having a "love-affair" with Bruce Jenner, the former Olympian, who is now in the process of becoming a woman.  He has been the subject of countless interviews, and almost daily there is an update on his progress.  He is being promoted as some sort of hero.  The Bible warns us that when we flaunt sin, we are in danger of the wrath of God.  If you read through the book of Leviticus, sexual sins were among those most abhorrent to God - and the penalty was always death.  Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed - why? because of their sexual perversity, including homosexuality.  The tribe of Benjamin was nearly destroyed - why? because of their sexual perversity, including homosexuality.  Perhaps it is time that we begin to teach our young boys what it means to be a man and to teach our young girls what it means to be a woman.  We have become a culture that has emasculated men causing men to be confused as to what it means to be a man.  It is time we stop and rediscover what the Bible says about the roles of men and women.  God created them to complement each other, not to conquer one another, or to become confused with each other.  It is time to wake up before it is too late.


I need to share one more article with you.  It can be found at: www.foxnews.com/us/2015/05/17/air-force-general-who-spoke-god-in-speech-should-be-court-martialed.  "An Air Force general who recently spoke about how God has guided his career should be court-martialed, a civil liberties group is saying.  In a speech at a National Day of Prayer Task Force event on May 7, Maj. Gen. Craig Olson credits God for his accomplishments in the military, and refers to himself as a 'redeemed believer in Christ.'  The Air Force Times reports that the Military Religious Freedom Foundation has taken issue with Olson's remarks, is calling for the two-star general to be court-martialed and 'aggressively and very visibly brought to justice for his unforgivable crimes and transgressions.'"  Wow!  A little over the top, don't you think.  This general is to be court-martialed for the unforgivable crime of sharing about his relationship with Jesus Christ.  If this is an unforgivable crime, would that we all would be guilty of committing it. 


Wonder why we have gender confusion?  When a culture and civilization abandons God and the absolute truths that are foundational with God, then all that exists is confusion...about everything.  Friends, read Romans 1:18-32 and ask yourself this question: Was Paul writing about first century Rome or twenty-first century America?  Have we reached that point where God has "given us over to our depraved minds?"  If He hasn't already, then we are certainly hastening toward that day when He will. 

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Of Auschwitz, the TSA, and Surrendering Freedoms to the Government

In recent weeks the world has celebrated the 70th anniversary of the ending of the Second World War in Europe.  As part of that celebration remembrances were held at several of the notorious Nazi Concentration and Death Camps: Dachau and Auschwitz in particular.  I remember walking those graveled streets of Auschwitz years ago - on a cold, snowy March morning.  I remember the sense I had as I walked with my friend through those iron gates with the word "Arbeit Mach Frei" greeting those who entered - "Work Makes Free!"  I was there just as a visitor; Auschwitz was deserted except for an occasional school group that walked in silence down those same streets.  Yet I could not help but sense the ghosts that still lingered there some fifty years after the War.


As we walked through one building after another, my senses cried out - "Did this really happen?  Could one human being treat another like this?"  There were rooms filled with eyeglasses - nothing but eyeglasses from floor to ceiling.  Another room had nothing but human hair - tons of human hair.  Still another room had teeth; another filled with shoes; another with suitcases that had once held the only possessions these people had brought with them to this place.  Even as I am writing these words those scenes freshly appear before my mind and I experience those emotions once again. 


It seemed that as we walked the cries of death greeted us wherever we turned.  Images of people dying flooded our minds - dying, not in a normal way upon hospital beds with family surrounding them, but often just succumbing to disease and malnutrition with no one there who seemingly cared.  And, then we walked into the gas chamber where the emotions were extended almost beyond capacity.  I closed my eyes and tried to imagine what those people thought as they entered into this place, many of them realizing that they would not leave alive. 


Could this happen again?  Could something like this happen in America?  We might be tempted to shake our heads and say, "No, don't be so absurd!"  But let us look more seriously at what caused an Auschwitz to happen in the first place.  That place was the product of a people - a strong-willed, determined people - who yielded their liberties into the hands of their government.  When one reads a book like William Shirer's "The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich" one realizes that such yielding of personal freedoms came gradually; but the more the people yielded, the more the government took. 


Friends, we are living in a time when our government has accelerated its taking of our personal liberties and freedoms.  We have highlighted some of those cases in recent blogs.  I was recently reading in Ecclesiastes, preparing my heart for a preaching series through this book, and came across the words of Agur in Proverbs 30:15-16 where he describes four things that are never satisfied.  I believe if Agur were alive today, he might have added a fifth: government. 


Now I realize that there are certain areas where we need governmental involvement and oversight.  But let me share an experience Marlys and I had this past weekend.  We had flown down to Dallas to see our grandson in his Fourth Grade Play and then to see both our grandsons play some baseball.  Well we saw the play, but the ballgames were rained out.  We arrived at the airport on Sunday afternoon anxious about our flight home because of stormy weather conditions there.  Of course we were greeted with the security line.  Now, I have gone through many security lines and have generally been greeted with people who somewhat seem normal, perhaps even somewhat sympathetic toward those going through the security experience.  But no such person greeted us on this Sunday.  This TSA officer barked orders as if she was a drill sergeant.  "Get into two lines."  "Take your belts off."  "Take your shoes off."  "Everything out of your pockets."  These were not said in a pleasant tone of voice, but with harshness.  I was part of a line where I felt like a herd of cattle being forced up a ramp into a trailer that was taking them who knows where.  Perhaps this experience hit me harder because of the time I had focused in recent weeks on the German Concentration Camp experience; but as I stood in that long line, I suddenly began to be aware of how those people must have felt: rising anxiety levels, uncertainty about tomorrow, fears of dying, simply looking for someone who cared. 

I know we need at TSA in the light of what happened on September 11, 2001.  And I realize that theirs is a difficult task.  But I know that for at least two travelers this past Sunday, it would have been more reassuring if one particular TSA official had a compassionate heart toward those she was responsible toward. 


As those of you know who have been following this blog for the past several years, I love history, and I love learning from history.  And, I must admit, that as a student of history I am concerned about the pathway that America is taking that mirrors that of Germany in the late 1920's and 1930's.  I wonder what the Church will do when the government begins to make demands upon its membership and upon its preachers.  Will they crumble as did many of the German pastors and congregations under the intimidation of the Nazi government, or will they resolve to continue proclaiming the Gospel as did those of the Confessing Church under the leadership of Martin Niemoeller and Detrich Bonhoeffer?  We need to be prepared.