Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Mission Possible

The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom's voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete. He must increase, but I must decrease. (John 3:29-30, ESV)

John understood. Do we? John pointed to Jesus. Do we?

The goal of holy living is that others "may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven" (Matt 5:16, ESV). Not that they might glorify us, but that they might glorify our Father.

We fail in our task if we do not live holy lives. If our lives look like the lives of worldly people around us, if we live to worldly standards instead of to God's standards, we cannot glorify him.

But even if we live holy lives, we may still fail to honor the Lord if our motivation is wrong. Living to his standards for our own selfish gain does not honor him.

The Christian life is not rocket science or brain surgery. It is, in certain respects, far more difficult than either of these. Oswald Chambers called this effort to live so as to glorify the Lord "the most delicate mission on earth." It can go wrong in so many ways, and it is being opposed by so many forces of evil. It would be an impossible task if it were not that we have divine assistance.

Thankfully, we have that assistance. We have the assurance that he who began his work in us will bring it to completion (Phil 1:6). By the power of the Spirit working in us, we can know that which "surpasses knowledge" and do more than we think (Eph 3:20-21).

I would not want to be a brain surgeon or a rocket scientist. But I am engaged in a more delicate task, that of living so as to honor God. It would be an impossible mission were it mine to do alone. Engaged in by the power of the Spirit it is very possible. Let us make no excuses, let us live to his glory.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Will We "Roll Right Over Him?"

The question has been raised, "Should we teach the children to sing the gospel chariot song? Is the violent sounding statement, 'If the devil's in the way, we will roll right over him,' a correct attitude to teach?"

I too have a concern with regard to that song, but it is not the concern hinted at by this question.

We are to resist the devil. Peter tells us, "Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8-9, ESV).

We are to resist him boldly, even with spiritual violence. That is why a sword is included in our equipment (Eph 6:11-18). This is not play fighting, we are in a life or death struggle with the evil one. That is why Jesus told his disciples, "Let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one," (Luke 22:36, ESV).

My fear regarding this song is not that the children will be too ready to "roll right over" the devil. No, not at all. My fear is that they will think it too easy of a task. My fear is that they will think it something they can accomplish on their own. My fear is that we all, in one way or another, seem to underestimate the devil.

Satan is the personification of evil. C.S. Lewis in Perelandra, calls him "the unman," the very opposite of man, the very opposite of the image of God. Satan's desire is to remake us into an image of evil. With some people he has taken the process pretty far.

As we roll through life in the "gospel chariot," we should stop and attempt to pick up an erring brother or sister, or a sinner, for that matter. But Satan is to be offered no such assistance. According to the Bible his choice has been permanently made and his destiny is sealed.

But let us not think, or teach, that we can lightheartedly "roll right over him." He is a formidable spiritual foe. Without the help of God's Spirit, without the full armor of the Spirit, we will fall before the devil, rather than he to us.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana

I never heard of Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana until they spoke out against homosexuals being allowed to adopt children. They also spoke out against the commercial production of children in laboratories.

The list of people condemning them for their stand is interesting. Elton John and Madonna are two of the names I have noticed. Odd, I thought they claimed to believe in freedom of speech. O, I guess that was just for themselves, not for anyone who disagrees with them.

The lack of logic in the criticism is so serious that I wonder if anyone has checked the whiners for brain activity. I rather fear that they may be brain dead.

The criticism most likely to be effective is the "artificially conceived children have souls and rights just like any other child" argument. I guess that seems impressive to the brain dead. But let's see, do our brains still work?

Do children conceived because of rape or incest have souls and rights? Of course they do. Does that make rape and incest right?

I cannot say that I agree with Dolce and Gabbana. I cannot say because I do not seem to be able to find their actual statements. No one seems willing to let us read what they actually said -- only the criticisms thereof.

But judging from the stupidity of the critics, maybe these guys have made a point.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Billboards and Bart

For many years Sam Simon was the money behind militant atheism. He spent millions on billboards promoting atheism. But, of course, none of those billboards was half as successful in causing unbelief as was his other creation, the one that earned him those millions. Sam Simon was the creator of the Simpsons.

It is almost comical to recall that the man who paid for signs calling on people to use reason, actually did more to keep them from reasoning than almost anyone in his generation. While intentionally and illogically prejudicing young minds against fathers, and especially against the idea of a heavenly Father, Simon claimed to be advancing reason.

Like agnostic Alan Alda (the star, writer and director of M.A.S.H.), Simon did his best (or worst) work for unbelief indirectly. It is unlikely that the billboards Simon financed turned many away from the faith. It is extremely likely that his television program did.

Many young adults today believe that all dads are dumb. Did someone do research that proved this? No, but if you watch enough episodes of the Simpsons, you just naturally feel that it is true.

Many people believe that all Christians are hypocrites. They may never have known a Christian, but they just believe that. Is that reasonable? No, but most Christians on TV, like Frank Burns in M.A.S.H., are hypocrites, so the conclusion is unconsciously adopted rather than reasonably examined.

We cannot use reasonable arguments to move people out of a belief that is not based in reason. Their beliefs about Christianity were formed not by logical reasoning but by the experience of watching thousands of hours of negative stereotypes. Their beliefs will be changed primarily by watching real Christians in real life. It will not be easy. It will take a lot of time. Yes, we should reason with them if given the chance, but to create that chance we will first have to set an example, and possibly endure considerable abuse.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The Decriminalization of Cheating

While scanning the headlines, this one caught my eye, "South Korea Decriminalizes Cheating." My first thought was that South Korean students will no longer be punished for cheating on tests. But that was not the story. South Korea has instead decided to join the corrupt Western world in saying that adultery is okay.

The claim is that it is not a legitimate function of government to punish a moral offense like adultery. But the way the headline was written brings the real issue into sharp focus.

If cheating on the most solemn of life's promises should not be punished, then what should be? The answer is rather obvious - nothing. If our society is going to laugh when a president mocks his marriage vow, that society should not be surprised when students cheat, when athletes use dope, or when bankers embezzle. If people are not to be punished for breaking faith with their spouse, how can we punish those who break faith with investors?

If the government has no right to enforce morality, then it has no basis for punishing murder, rape, theft, or perjury. A nation that has made it illegal for a judge to issue a divorce on the grounds of adultery is a nation that no longer has any logical basis for expecting honesty in any aspect of life.

We should argue about what morality the government ought to enforce, but there can be no argument that government has a responsibility to enforce morality. In fact, that is the fundamental duty of government, almost its only legitimate task. A government that denies this has forfeited its only basis for governing.

"For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, 4 for he is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God's wrath on the wrongdoer." (Romans 13:1-4, ESV)