Friday, April 25, 2014

10 Truths We MUST Teach Our Sons

A few months ago I read a great blog article entitled "Seven Things We Must Tell Our Daughters."  It was so helpful to me as a Father of 2 daughters.  As I've thought through that article since then it occurred to me that the reason every generation of young women has increasing struggles with a healthy body image, self-respect, and purity is partially, if not near fully, due to males refusing to be men.

Sadly we are living in a culture that is embracing males who refuse to be men.  A generation where males are believing it acceptable to act like teenagers well into their 40's and the women they chase romantically are supposed to lower their standards and accept it as well.

So as a Father with a son of my own I am thinking through how I can raise him to be a real man.  One who is ready to lead his generation towards Christ and not conformity to this world.
Please know I do not consider myself perfect nor do I have any lofty ideas that I will do this without mistakes.  But prayerfully with God's guidance when I do fail I will demonstrate repentance to my son so that he learns even from my sinful shortcomings.

Here are 10 suggestions for truths that we must teach our sons to raise a generation of men, not boys.  These are not intended as a comprehensive list.  Feel free to comment with any you may have that are not on the list and I may include them in future updates to this article.

10 Truths We Must Teach Our Sons

1.) You are valuable

You have value simply because you have been created by God.  No matter what standard the world holds up as criteria for the worth of a man, don’t buy into it.  Even still you have a God-given value and as your father I will help you to see that value so that in turn you glorify God for it and grow to understand what it means to be a real man one day.

2.) Your ‘manliness’ is not determined by the bench press

Physical strength has value in both your physical health and ability to protect others.  However, you are not the sum total of your muscles.  You are not less of a man if you can’t track and kill an animal bare handed, build a car from scratch, and bench press a small train.  You may or may not be able to do any of those things.  You may be able to do many other things.  Real men commit to love God and love/protect their family above themselves.  My prayer is that you always see this modeled in me.

3.) You don’t NEED a girl

Not right away at least.  Take advantage of the time of your childhood and youth to learn what it means to be a Godly man as it relates to your relationship with a woman.  Use your pre-adult life to learn what you need to be to one day be a great husband and father.  God’s Word defines both of these things.  Seek out His truths as your treasure.  You do not learn how to be a husband by dating around and making emotional attachments with girl after girl.  Furthermore your singleness is not a bad thing.  If you are not ready to pursue marriage, you are not ready to have a girlfriend.  Your job as a man is to protect the heart of any woman you know.  From the friendships you develop through that, God will send you a wife who will be the delight of your heart.  I have that delight with your mother and I pray that you see that in the way I treat her. Beginning with your mother and sisters, the girls who you form friendships with in life, on to the woman that you will one day marry and the daughters you may have of your own in the future; strive to protect their hearts.  As your buddies go through relationship after relationship and heartache after heartache, just remember, if you are not prepared to love, care for, and sacrifice your life for her you aren’t ready to marry her.  You must be able to choose to love her the way that Christ chose to love you.

4.) You are ‘cool’ just as you are

This is not intended to inflate your ego or anything and it isn’t to make you believe you aren’t sinful and in need of Christ.  Rather I want you to know that ‘cool’ is not defined by popularity, athletics, or even academics.  You being satisfied and pursuing a life that pleases God is all you need to concern yourself with.  At many times that very thing will be the most ‘uncool’ thing you can do according to your peers.  I am not going to be more proud of you for being the star quarterback or straight A student than I am with you simply being who God made you to be; a young man who loves Christ and seeks to put away the sinful flesh in order to pursue Him more.

5.) ‘Boys will be boys’ is a terrible lie!
Of course boys will be boys in the genetic sense.  Boys are born boys and will remain males for their whole lives.  You must know that excusing ‘youthful indiscretion’ with the cliché that it’s ok because boys just do those sorts of things is unacceptable.  Hear me clearly that the lust of the flesh and crass crude behavior is a natural but not okay.  It is a temptation from Satan that men are prone to give in to all too easily.  You must resolve early on to wage war against those desires now.  Go to God in prayer and ask Him to help you apply His Word and to strengthen you.  Ask Him to protect your mind, eyes, and heart and keep them pure and undefiled.  ‘Boys will be boys’ cannot and will not be used as an escape in my house nor will it be tolerated as acceptable and you will cripple your development into manhood if you buy into this destructive lie.

6.) Your eyes are to desire your wife, not every woman you see

Related to the previous truth, the world will tell you that it is ok to look and lust after any woman you see and find desirable.  This is a lie.  Jesus has said that to look with lust is equal to having committed adultery with her.  You’ve sinned in your heart against God and her in doing so.  While the temptation is common and normal, it is not who God made you to be.  Though portrayed otherwise in most media, women are NOT lesser creatures to men.  They do not exist to fulfill your lustful desires.  You must train your mind to view women as God’s beautiful creation, not a source of lust, no matter how much skin she may be showing off.  It is ok to find a woman attractive and admire the beauty God has given her, but you must be very careful to guard your heart that it goes no further for any woman who is not your wife.  You need to understand that there is great beauty in a woman of modesty, not immodesty.

7.) Love your Mother

I will not always be around.  I will age and one day die just as everyone in this world does.  God has given me a son because you are to protect the family in my absence.  I hope that you see in me that I love your mother deeply.  When I am loving your mother as God has called me to, you will see modeled there how you are to love your wife one day.  I hope that I am training you to do that well and when you fail to do it, as I often do, I hope that you see me repenting and learn repentance yourself.  If you cannot love your mother and sisters, you cannot love a wife.  I will commit to teach you how to love showing you what that looks like.

8.) You have talents and abilities that God has given you

You have talents and abilities and gifts that God has given specifically to you.  He intends for you to use those to glorify Him with them.  If you aren’t using them to His glory you are in danger of sinning.  Pursue those talents with an eye on the cross.  Seek God for wisdom to distinguish between Godly desires and uses for those talents verses worldly ones.

9.) Follow Christ, not the world

Be courageous in the face of opposition of those who would have you go the way of the condemned.  The Bible says that it is the wise that walk in the way of the Lord.  It is he who walks in the way of the Lord who is blessed.  Do not waste your life walking with the fool in their folly.  As you decide what to do and what not to do, filter all of your decisions through Scripture and bathe them in prayer.  Seek counsel from me and other Godly men in your life.  Put not value on the wisdom of fools who do not love Christ.  They will lead you astray.  There is one passion and one alone worth living your life for and it is Christ.

10.) I love you

I love you.  I make it my goal to tell you, your mother, and sisters that on a daily basis.  You are not less of a man for being able to say ‘I love you’ to someone that you love.  I hope I model that for you.  I want you to hear that I love you because as you grow and feel turned away by this friend or that or experience disappointment I want echoing in your mind that no matter what, I will always love you.  More than that, you must remember that God loves you.  No matter how hard life gets remember God loves you and desires you to trust Him, not the world.  I want you to know that I will always be there for you whether we are celebrating your successes or crying together over failures or talking through your mistakes to learn valuable lessons.  I will always love you.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Do you want to build a worldview?

With the success of Disney’s most recent princess tale “Frozen” much discussion has been swirling about since its release concerning the overtones and themes hidden in the message of the movie.  One camp says that, though admittedly unintentional, the movie teaches several Biblically supportable principles. 

For example: The older sister, Elsa, contains her powers and ignores that she even has them until one day through a series of events she unleashes them on the kingdom and quickly ushers the entire land into a winter that is only reversible by her.  She then runs away and sings the now world famous song “Let It Go”, the ballad of her breaking free from the years of oppression and now she is just letting go and doing with her power what she wants.  What does she come to realize?  Spoiler alert: She comes to realize that though in her ballad she sang “no right, no wrong, no rules for me” that sort of behavior only brought about trials and misery for all those who looked to her for care. 

Additionally it isolated her from the rest of society.  Interestingly enough, the Bible teaches that there actually is a law, God’s Law, and it is written on the hearts of all mankind (Romans 1). If we violate that Law we are indeed sinning against God as well as our sin has effects on those around us who trust us or, in some cases, who look to us for provision and protection.  We would love to be able to say that there is no right, no wrong, and no rules that we follow but that is moral relativism that ultimately makes truth a subjective matter that leaves a true adherent to that worldview in total chaos.

The Bible also makes plain that there is absolute truth, God (Genesis 1:1).  When Jesus declares that He is the Truth, the Way and the Life He effectively closes the door on the validity to any other worldview that opposes that which is revealed in the Christian Bible.

Secondly, absent from “Frozen” but present in nearly every other Disney film is the theme of following one’s heart.  Disney has made billions of dollars selling the lie to our children that to find happiness and fulfillment all one must do is follow their heart.  While Frozen falls woefully short of labeling it dead in sin, it does imply that our hearts can be difficult to change and what is needed is love.  While I am certain that Disney’s definition of the love needed is quite different than the Bible’s, I find it interesting that they are sending this message.

Thirdly, Disney’s Frozen ultimately sends the message that what was needed was not the true love of a love at first sight romance that is usually so obvious in all of Disney’s princess films, (spoiler alert) rather it was the unconditional love of a sibling.  If we are to draw a parallel there to Biblical truth we might say that Anna, the younger sister, is the archetypal Jesus who we see loves her sister though her sister consistently rejects her and pushes her away.  Just as Jesus pursues us though in our sin we reject Him; His love never fails.  Ultimately it is the Anna who is willing to sacrifice her own life so that Elsa’s is spared.  Seems I’ve seen that act on a eternally grander scale somewhere before... Ephesians 2:1-0; Romans 5:1-10

None of those themes were in there for the benefit of the Christian community I assure you. It is not Disney’s hopes that people will repent and turn to Christ as a result of their film, so please do not begin to write your “Frozen” Bible studies because Lifeway, Family Christian, and Mardel are sure to snap them up and get them on the shelves quickly if you do... the next Christian publishing goldmine?

But if you, like my family, saw the movie and enjoyed it these might be some great themes to discuss with your children after the fact.

On the other side of the issue we have the not so hidden agenda of the homosexual community.  They would have us believe that the ballad “Let It Go” is ultimately a song about ending homosexual discrimination.  According to that view it is said that the message of the movie is that people need to learn to love their homosexual family/friends regardless of the consequences that their life choice may have on others.  Let me be clear when I say that Christians are called to love others period.  We do not have to agree with a person's behavior and choices and we may label some of those things (such as homosexuality) as sin.  However, the most loving thing you can do for a person is be truthful with them.  Not accepting homosexuality as natural and normal is not automatically equal to being intolerant or unloving.  If that is the theme of the movie there is a problem.  As pointed out above Elsa comes to realize that letting go and living with no rules is actually not helpful at all but very harmful indeed.

All of this coming to the forefront of the media due to a recent interview given by some of the song-writers who were hired by Disney to write for the film.  (Source story : )

The claim is that Disney does not allow God to be mentioned in any of their films and prefers for His Name not to even be mentioned at all in any form.  Some Christians are upset over this but I, for one, am thankful for it.

I do not need, nor do I desire, Disney to teach me or my family theology.  In fact, I am very glad that they keep their hands off of it.  Much harm has already been done to the doctrines held by many through films and other media that teach horrible theology as it is.  If Disney teaches me a principle through their media and uniquely labels it as God's truth and it happens to be false, then they are guilty of blasphemy and leading others to idolatry.  It is better Disney stick with their secular moralism than try and teach something that they are woefully unqualified and incapable of teaching, namely Biblical truth.  All the while Christians ought to remain prayerfully hopeful that not only those associated with Disney but that all who are lost and dead in sin would be reconciled to God through faith in Jesus Christ.

Even in the examples cited above of the Biblical truth parallels contained in Frozen, upon further dissection many of them break apart because as I mentioned it was not Disney’s intent to teach Biblical morals or truth through the film but rather to provide entertainment to the masses of moms and dads who would flock to the theaters with their daughters for one more princess film.

In the end, whether you go to watch Disney’s film or any secular media for that matter is more or less a matter of conscience.  Something that you must work out by examining what the Scriptures say about how Christians are to conduct themselves.  If you do go to see these sorts of films, please... please... I beg of you... do not go home thinking that now you’ve found the golden key for teaching your family Biblical truth.  You haven’t, because it is not contained in a Disney (or any other) film. The theology built on Disney film teaching or any other secular medium will fair no better than Olaf in summer.

If you have the Bible, you have the key to teaching your family truth and explaining to them the Gospel and their need for Jesus Christ.  Open the Scriptures with your family and explore them together.  It is God’s prescribed means for spreading the truth about Himself in this world.

[16] All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, [17] that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
(2 Timothy 3:16-17 ESV)

[5] Every word of God proves true; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him.
(Proverbs 30:5 ESV) 

(In case you didn't see the movie, the title of this article is a play on the song "Do You Want to Build a Snowman" featured in Disney's Frozen.)

Sunday, March 2, 2014

The Local Church & Your Sanctification

The Local Church & Your Sanctification

We should all be well aware that the Christian life is to be one of continual sanctification (Matthew 3:8).  Christ has, by His sovereign grace, purchased us to be a people for His own possession.  The beauty of grace is seen, in part, in the fact that Christ pulls us out of the mire and death of our sin and makes us a new creation in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21; Galatians 3:13).  Being that “new creation” implies change in our life.  To be clear, the Gospel is not about life-change as so many like to portray it these days.  The Gospel is about our desperate need for forgiveness of our numerous transgressions against a Holy God and the incredible sacrifice that has been made on our behalf by Jesus Christ so that that sin debt can be settled once and for all(Romans 3:21-26).  Even so, the pardoning of our sin sets us free from more than just God’s wrath for those sins, it also frees us to serve the Lord Jesus Christ (John 15:1-8).  The product of our salvation is change.  When Christ saves us we receive a new heart and new desires (Ezekiel 36:26).  The Holy Spirit works in us to change the old man into the one that God has created us to be (Ephesians 4:22-24).

While it is true that we are all individually responsible for our own sanctification, meaning that if I fail to pursue holiness as I’ve been called to do it is on me for that failure and no one else, but God has not left us alone in this quest.  Let me elaborate,  Just as we are saved by grace, we are sanctified by grace as well.  But God has not called us to merely sit stagnant in our sanctification.  As He works in us, grows us and conforms us more to Christ we are called to respond.  Even our desire to respond and obey and all our striving is given by the Spirit working in us.  To unfold this part of His plan God has placed the local church in our life as a means of our sanctification.  I would like us to consider 3 ways that the local church plays a vital role in our sanctification.
God sanctifies us by His power working in us through His Holy Spirit that we receive solely because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

1.) The church is God's method for the formative and corrective discipline of the body.
The failure of the individual affects the whole body.  1 Corinthians 12:1-30 teaches us that the church functions best when it functions as a single unit.  Each person exercising their spiritual gifts for the benefit for the other person and through that God is glorified in the unity of the Body.  Just as no part of the human body is without purpose, so it is with each part of the Body of Christ.  Each person in the local church plays a significant role in the sanctification of the other members.  One person’s sanctification is helped as other members exercise their gifts in service towards that person to help them grow in vast areas of their walk with Christ.  Conversely, that person’s gifts being exercised help them to sharpen themselves and they grow through their useful service to their brethren. As we serve others in the Body of Christ and are served by them as well, we grow spiritually to look more like Christ.

2.) The church is God's method for the watch care for the soul – Hebrews 13:17

God has ordained Elders and Deacons to watch over their flocks not for the purpose of commanding them or ruling with an iron fist as though a regime.  Rather, they are there for your benefit.  They are there to unfold God’s Word for you and lead you towards conformity to Christ.  Paul said in Romans 12 that we are to be transformed by the renewing of our minds; our minds are renewed by the Holy Spirit through engaging them with God’s Word, and faithful Pastors are one of the means God uses of applying the Word to your mind. So we are to be plugged in to a local church and we are to be submissive to our leaders, as they submit to the Lord, for they are caring for us and watching over us.  Rightly engaged this relationship will bring joy to both parties.  As the Pastor leads a believer away from sin’s dangerous snares that person is more sanctified and as the person submits to their Pastor’s leadership that Pastor’s joy is refreshed.  A Pastor with joy for his ministry will be a Pastor who lovingly guides his flock towards Christ.

3.) The church is God's method for the practical sanctification of His children. -  Hebrews 10:24-25

The church is God's method for the practical sanctification of His children.  The way believers grow in the practical ins and outs of Christianity is through the local church.  One purpose of our gathering for corporate worship and Biblical fellowship is so that we can “consider how to stir one another up to love and good works”.  Are not those two things directly connected to Christ conformity?  We learn to fulfill the greatest commandments by knowing how to both love and serve the Lord our God and our neighbor in a Biblical and Christ-like manner (Psalm 27:8,11) As we grow as a body and an individual and are thereby further sanctified, we display Christ to the world.  They see us reacting to success with humility, worship with reverence, temptations with resolves for righteousness over fleshly indulgence, persecution with an increased zeal for Gospel proclamation, and trials with unshakable trust in the Lord Jesus Christ.  This is the heart of what is meant by shining our light in such a way that men see our good works and glorify our Lord (Matthew 5:16).

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A Prayer for Year’s End

A Prayer for Year’s End - (Taken from The Valley of Vision)

O Love beyond Compare,
Thou art good when thou givest,
when thou takest away,
when the sun shines upon me,
when night gathers over me.
Thou hast loved me before the foundation of the world,
and in love didst redeem my soul;
Thou dost love me still,
in spite of my hard heart, ingratitude, distrust.
Thy goodness has been with me another year,
leading me through a twisting wilderness,
in retreat helping me to advance,
when beaten back making sure headway.
Thy goodness will be with me in the year ahead;
I hoist sail and draw up anchor,
With thee as the blessed pilot of my future as of my past.
I bless thee that thou hast veiled my eyes to the waters ahead.
If thou hast appointed storms of tribulation,
thou wilt be with me in them;
If I have to pass through tempests of persecution and temptation,
I shall not drown;
If I am to die,
I shall see thy face the sooner;
If a painful end is to be my lot,
grant me grace that my faith fail not;
If I am to be cast aside from the service I love,
I can make no stipulation;
Only glorify thyself in me whether in comfort or trial,
as a chosen vessel meet always for thy use.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

A Different Approach to a Difficult Story (My take on the Phil Robertson GQ interview)

It's all over the news today, Phil Robertson speaks out against homosexuality and as a result has been suspended from the "Duck Dynasty" show that features him among other family members of the Robertson clan.

Those who disagree with Phil's words are applauding A&E over this decision.  They are calling for boycotts and more of the whole Duck Commander brand.  I would not be the least bit surprised if in the fallout from this we see companies such as
Wal-Mart and others that carry Duck Commander products begin to pull these items from their shelves.  Although I find that to be a ridiculous thing for them to do.

On the other side we have two groups in Phil's corner.  Those who may or may not agree with him but recognize his right to hold his own views and voice them when asked and those who both agree with his views and recognize his right to have them.

After reading the GQ Article for myself I am lead to the following conclusions:

It seems fairly clear from the article that the reporter had an anti-God agenda.  Were it me who was in Phil's spot being interviewed by GQ and things went this way, I would like to think I would handle my responses a little better but that's easy to say when it isn't me who was in that situation.

Controversial quote #1:
“It seems like, to me, a v---na—as a man—would be more desirable than a man’s a--s. That’s just me. I’m just thinking: There’s more there! She’s got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I’m saying? But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical.” (source) (redacted letters mine)

I have said from my pulpit that homosexuality is clearly defined as a sin from Scripture.  It is clear that it is a sinful practice.  However, the above reasons given by Phil as to why it is illogical are not ones that I would every employ.  Whether he is right or not in his assessment of what is more desirable is irrelevant.

The issue of body parts is not the most compelling argument against homosexuality.  Phil's response forgets the Gospel.  Homosexuality is a sin because it is not how God created things to be.  He designed man for woman and woman for man and He did so for the purpose of illustrating the Gospel (see Gensis2:24; Matthew 19:5; Ephesians 5).

I don't believe his remarks to be in keeping with wisdom and speaking the truth in love.   Is it true that the physical benefits of the male female relationship are more enjoyable than male male or female female?  Sure it is.  How do I know?  Because God created it that way and His ways are always best. (Genesis 1:27).  Secondly, He created us in that way for the purpose of filling the earth. (Genesis 1:28).

But as I said, his response or at least the part of it that was published, leaves out the Gospel.  The sin of homosexuality is NOT the only sin a homosexual person has in their life.  So in making an appeal to a homosexual about the truth about homosexuality I would include all sin.  (see Exodus 20:1-17).  If am homosexual were to become heterosexual without repenting of that sin and all other sins in their lives then they would still be just as much headed for God's judgment and wrath as they were when they were a practicing homosexual.

Now the last remark about sin being illogical, I agree with completely.  That's where he should have started!  Sin is illogical.  In fact the Bible says that it is when man begins to think himself wise that he becomes a fool.  (Romans 1:22-25).  Begin their and then unfold what Scripture says about homosexuality and all forms of unrighteousness and I do realize that Phil quoted Scripture to support his view.  He did it in context too.  I'm just contending that for at least what we are told in the article he missed the mark of the Gospel and maybe spoke some words that lacked the wisdom of having thought them through before saying them.

As I have already stated, I fully support Phil Robertson's right to say what he said and think it is an ugly thing to see the liberal intolerance in this country get its way so easily with a little tantrum.  While the liberals scream that they want diversity, they are really terrified of real diversity that allows differing views to exist in the same world.

Controversial quote #2:

“I never, with my eyes, saw the mistreatment of any black person. Not once. Where we lived was all farmers. The blacks worked for the farmers. I hoed cotton with them. I’m with the blacks, because we’re white trash. We’re going across the field.... They’re singing and happy. I never heard one of them, one black person, say, ‘I tell you what: These doggone white people’—not a word!... Pre-entitlement, pre-welfare, you say: Were they happy? They were godly; they were happy; no one was singing the blues.” (source)

I do not agree with his view that "blacks" didn't want the civil rights that were held by "whites".  This quote seems to have been pulled from a broader context so more comment is not wise on my part but suffice to say while we do have entitlement and welfare abuse problems these days, it is not only the "blacks" or any one ethnicity that abuses those things.  We have a whole generation of young adults and children of all skin colors who feel themselves entitled to many things.  Thus the reason our country is in the trouble that it is in.

What would I like to see happen from this?

1.) Christians, voice your support for Phil, that's fine, but a whole load of Christians supporting Phil may get A&E to overturn their decision but it will NOT save one soul from their sin.  Let this incident be an every present reminder that a.) were it not for God's grace you and I would be just as lost as any lost person ever has been b.) we need to preach the Gospel!  We need to take to the streets and proclaim repentance and faith in Jesus Christ alone!

2.) This was sort of said in number 1, but I do NOT want to see boycotts... For crying out loud... if you are going to boycott A&E for this, then go through your pantry and throw out all the foods from companies that support gay rights organizations, abortion clinics, or any other social ill you do not align with.  Unless you grew your vegetables from a seed yourself and you got that seed from the plants your family has grown for hundreds of years and never purchased that seed from a non-believing farmer, most of your food will be thrown out.  Turn off your electric service and stop using your cities water/sewage/trash services since most cities these days have taken some anti-Jesus stance of some sort... for our town it is "Happy Holidays" displayed almost everywhere this time of year instead of "Merry Christmas".  Oh and good luck with your clothing, you'd better learn to make your own because most clothing companies are very tied to the homosexual movement.  Your now a hungry, stinky, and naked.  Have fun with that.

3.) I would like to see the family vocally support Phil because right or wrong, wise or unwise they are family and family sticks together.  They talk about how the show is only good for them insomuch as it aligns with their faith and values. Now, the rubber meets the road, a stance from the family on this would do much more good to Phil's case than any amount of public support.

4.) I do not want to see Christians too bogged down in 1st Amendment arguments with unbelievers.  Have them to a limited degree brethren, but only inasmuch as it is a springboard for you to share the Gospel with someone!  If you only win the argument and convince them why Phil had the guaranteed right to say what he said, you have not done anything to lead that person to Christ!  Don't miss the forest for the trees.  Today alone, 150,000 people will step out of this world and into eternity.  Many of them doing so without having repented and trusted in Jesus Christ.  How much urgency do we sense for that need?  Many are posting "Standing w/Phil Robertson" photos/statuses and that's good.  We should speak up over 1st Amendment Rights violations.  But how many people have you shared the Gospel with today?   Do you care? Where is the passion for proclaiming the Gospel of repentance and faith?  Where is the passion for spreading the Name of Christ?  It seems it pales in comparison when we have the opportunity to jump on a hot and pressing social issue. 

Comments on this are welcome, keep them free from profanity or they will not be published. 

**If you are helped by this article or even just found it irritating, please feel free to re-post it to your facebook, twitter, google+ or other social media outlet. Thanks!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Tales of Heaven

I know this may stir the pot a bit and that certainly isn't my intention, but I do hope that it will urge Christians to simply think through this issue with a sober mind and with Bibles opened.  Yesterday as I walked around Target for a bit I strolled through the books department.  In the section that passes for "Christian" books in Target there were more books than I could count with tales of people who have gone to Heaven and come back.

Did these people really go to Heaven?  I lean towards no but not knowing them personally it makes it hard to fully say.  Further, I am not going impugn them all and say that their motive is book deals, speaking tours, and money making.  That definitely applies to some, but I do not believe all.  I suppose I could be wrong, but do not intend to judge motives, just teaching.

However, there are a few whose credibility has been shot to pieces.  In 2 Corinthians 12 the Apostle Paul recounts having been taken to Heaven and he says that what he saw was simply too great to even talk about.  Then he goes on to say basically that in his flesh he is tempted to boast of the revelation God has given him but to keep him from being conceited the Lord sent him a thorn in the flesh.

The oft quoted 2 Corinthians 12:9 comes in that the Lord has sent this thorn in the flesh to Paul solely for the purpose of keeping him humble (and one could argue to keep him quiet) about what the Lord has permitted him to see.

My question is this:  If the Lord saw fit to keep the Apostle Paul, who wrote the majority of the New Testament, silent about what awaits us in Heaven, why do we quickly believe any and everyone who publishes a book saying that they have been there?  Why do we easily give in to the desire to believe that we need more than Scripture alone to believe?  Why do we quickly believe them when not one of the so called accounts of trips to Heaven match one another in near any detail and some contain blatantly un-biblical statements? Not trying to anger anyone or get a debate started, but would love to hear from anyone who can (from Scripture in context) make a case for why these accounts are ok. 

P.S - Comments based on feelings or opinions and not backed with Scripture will likely not be published as they are not helpful to the discussion.

P.P.S - Comments charging me with being narrow-minded will be seen as a compliment so thanks in advance! ((Matthew 7:13-14))

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Whatever happened to Hannah Montana?

After Miley Cyrus' appauling "performance" on the MTV VMAs a few days ago the social media world has been overloaded with posts and comments.  Believe it or not there are a few who support her act, but for the most part her on stage behavior has parents and reasonable adults everywhere condemning her for such lewdness.

But I believe my friend Adam brought some much needed clarity to the whole subject when he simply commented, "Why are we surprised by this?".  A simple question.  Why are we surprised to see Miley doing a performance like this?

 I don't mean to imply that we shouldn't be shocked by the increasing social acceptance of public acts of immorality, but specifically Miley or any other darling "pure" child star gone south.

People are saying, "She's no longer family friendly!", "She's not the innocent little Miley we once knew!"  Well, I did not have children at the time of Hannah Montana's so I thankfully escaped that whole mess but I know enough about the show's content to say that we could have a discussion about just how family friendly it ever truly was.

While it did not promote overt immorality it did up play kissing, dating, popularity, wealth, deception... I mean the theme song alone let us know that she was getting the best of both worlds (average and superstar) simply by playing a little deception trick on even her closest friends.

That, however, is not the point of this post.  Let's address the "She's not the innocent Miley" any longer crowd.

It is my contention that the Miley we saw on the 2013 VMA Show is not who she has become, but who she has always been.

Yes, you read that correctly.  Little "innocent" Hannah Montana portrayed by wide eyed Miley was NOT the real Miley personality.

People have developed this idea in their head that she was once a little angel on earth simply because her television character was this so-called type of child.

The interviews for magazines, TV, behind the scenes sort of footage, all staged.  If you believe that there wasn't a publicist, manager, "parent" behind all of those things telling her what to do and what to say you are blindly mistaken.

What we saw portrayed was Miley the product.  Miley the apparition.  She was a smoke and mirrors figment of the imagination that was needed to sell Disney merchandise.  So they created the persona they needed and once she was no longer cute as Hannah she was set loose on her own.

Am I saying that even at a child's age she was engaged in gross and overt immorality similar to what was displayed on television?  No.  That's absurd and illegal.  What I am saying is that the warning signs of her being a lost sinner were rampant in her life then and have merely escalated as she has grown older.

She is the product of sinful flesh (which we are all born with) turned loose to feast on its own desires.  It isn't that Miley is "turning bad" or "becoming immoral", it is more likely that she always has been and it is now that it is reaching a level to even make some secular-moralists drop their jaws.  The Miley we all watched grow up on stage was a sanitized and controlled version of what many witnessed with disgust a few nights ago.

Miley, me, you... we are all born sinful.  It is only the grace of God through Jesus Christ that works in us to put our sinful desires to death.  Yes, Miley supposedly professed Christ as a child, but clearly she is showing now that she was never truly following Jesus Christ.  That's not judgment, that's an honest appraisal of a lack of fruit being born in her life (Matthew 7:16).

Additionally, this should be a wise lesson to Christian parents, and all parents really, of why we should never place any person as an idol in our child's lives.  It is a myth to say that a child needs a real world celebrity role model.

They don't.  They need moms and dads who commit to teach them God's Word and demonstrate the effects of that Word on their own lives.  They need moms and dads who take them to a church who is passionate about the proclamation of the full Gospel of Jesus Christ and come along side the family to disciple that child.

What Miley needs, what I need, what every child and adult needs is to have the Gospel applied to their life that we might see our need for Jesus Christ to forgive us of our sin and give us a regenerated heart with new desires.  What people need is Christ.  Applying the Gospel daily to yourself and your family will remind the believer of the Savior who died to save them.  That is the best and only sufficient reason to fight the desires of the flesh.  It is only because of receiving His Spirit in us that we even care to fight the desires of the flesh.

Applying the Gospel to a lost person is intended, by God's grace, to show them their need of Christ that they would forsake their sin and flee to Him for life!

Let me make 2 final disclaimers on this issue:

1.) Do not for one moment think that you or I are any better than she.  If it were not for the grace of God we would be capable of far worse an act than she has done.  (1 Corinthians 6:9-20)

2.) I did not watch the performance in its entirety, but have read an account of most of the acts performed.  I watched the opening moments and when she went to remove a portion of her costume I quickly exited the YouTube page having seen enough to make me sick already.

3.) While I am on board with condemning what Miley did on stage, let's be careful not to cross the line to condemn her soul.  Let's instead let this motivate us to weep and pray for her salvation that God in His mercy would save her soon!

Recommended Links:

Sorry, Miley
True and False Conversion by Ray Comfort

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