Archive for February, 2013

2.24.13

Do you ever feel like God is trying to drive a point home in your life? Sometimes it feels like He is hitting you over the head, saying, “You can’t run from this, no matter where you turn, you’ll find the same things over and over.”

 

That’s what I realized tonight. It started earlier this week with a video on youtube by Jeff Bethke and his wife. They were answering the question, “How can you know when your decision is the right one?” (Or something along those lines).

 

Then today in Sunday school we were in the first chapter of Acts where we discussed the apostles choosing the 12th apostle to replace Judas. Was it by chance? Was this just a gamble the apostles took? No, it was not. Peter and the others set the criteria: he must be someone who was with Jesus the whole time, “beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us—one of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection.” (Acts 1:22) There were two men that fit this, Barsabbas and Mathias. The very next thing they did was pray: “And they prayed and said, ‘You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.'” (Acts 1:24-25). They trusted God to work through their casting of the lots, because they knew there is no such thing as “chance.”

 

This evening I was talking to my mom on the phone, and while she was telling me something, I realized that what we were discussing was what God had been leading up to all throughout the week. He knew this moment was coming where I had to make a decision, and because of that, he had been sending me little notes, as it were, to prepare me. This was huge for me, y’all. He was saying, “Look, I will be leading you, here’s how you can make this decision, and here’s how you can have peace in that choice.”

 

So, after years of hearing it but still not getting it, I think I’ve learned that there are three steps to making a choice:

 

First, we need to examine the two, or three or however many different options there are. What we need to look for is, does it line up with God’s word? Is this something I can do in good conscience? Will God be honored by this? That is what the apostles did. They set a criteria that they knew, to the best of their ability, would line up with God.

 

Second, we need to pray, just as the 11 did. If we narrow down the options and know that they are all godly, then we pray about it. Today one of our elders had to fill in at the pulpit, and he taught on the Lord’s Prayer. As he closed, he reminded us of James 4:2: “You do not have, because you do not ask.” Christians, if you are not willing to bring your petitions before your Father, then how do you expect to get anything? It’s like when my siblings and I used to want to ask our dad for something, but we were sure he would say no. Most of the time we asked anyway because it never hurts to ask, even if the answer is a no. So when you are having to make a decision and you’re just not quite sure, ask God to lead you.

 

Third, after you have examined and prayed, just choose. It’s seems so simple, yet for many like me, we agonize over it and worry that we still could be making the wrong decision. But no. If you have prayed, and you know it could bring God glory, do not hesitate. Worrying can be sinful, and part of growing and maturing is being able to make choices.

 

Another thing I’ve learned over the years is that if you keep hearing something over and over, God probably really wants you to sit up and listen. So yes, you will have to make decisions. Some will be little, every day things, some will be life changing. Some will be easy, some will hurt. But if you are following where God is leading, and you are in constant prayer with Him, be confident that even though your choice may be hard or painful, it is right, and nothing brings God glory like obeying Him.

 

 

 

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Sin has consequences. Yet Chesterton always maintains that we must condemn the sin and not the sinner. 

That is another reason we must treat our homosexual brothers and sisters with compassion. We know our own sins and weaknesses well enough. Philo of Alexandria said, “Be kind. Everyone you meet is fighting a terrible battle.” But compassion must never compromise with evil. Chesterton points out that balance that our truth must not be pitiless, but neither can our pity be untruthful. Homosexuality is a disorder. It is contrary to order. Homosexual acts are sinful, that is, they are contrary to God’s order. They can never be normal. And worse yet, they can never even be even. As Chesterton’s great detective Father Brown says:  “Men may keep a sort of level of good, but no man has ever been able to keep on one level of evil. That road goes down and down.”

But it was heterosexual men and women who paved the way to this decay. Divorce, which is an abnormal thing, is now treated as normal. Contraception, another abnormal thing, is now treated as normal. Abortion is still not normal, but it is legal. Making homosexual “marriage” legal will not make it normal, but it will add to the confusion of the times. And it will add to the downward spiral of our civilization. But Chesterton’s prophecy remains: We will not be able to destroy the family. We will merely destroy ourselves by disregarding the family.

G. K. Chesterton: It’s Not Gay, and It’s Not Marriage:

http://www.crisismagazine.com/2013/g-k-chesterton-its-not-gay-and-its-not-marriage

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Mr. President! I know how you can help lower the unemployment rate! If you wouldn’t force businesses like Hobby Lobby to purchase contraceptives for their employees, then they wouldn’t have to shut down due to you punishing them for not complying.

Why does America listen to this guy? He Says he can create jobs but all he does is turn around and destroy jobs. When the people close their ears and turn from God, evil takes over.

You know, if Hobby Lobby ends up closing its doors it will only stand as proof that there are still people in America who would rather listen to God than to man.

And to that I say Amen!

Micah 6:8…”to act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

Letter from Hobby Lobby Stores CEO

By David Green, the founder and CEO of Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc.

When my family and I started our company 40 years ago, we were working out of a garage on a $600 bank loan, assembling miniature picture frames. Our first retail store wasn’t much bigger than most people’s living rooms, but we had faith that we would succeed if we lived and worked according to God’s word. From there, Hobby Lobby has become one of the nation’s largest arts and crafts retailers, with more than 500 locations in 41 states. Our children grew up into fine
business leaders, and today we run Hobby Lobby together, as a family.

We’re Christians, and we run our business on Christian principles. I’ve always said that the first two goals of our business are (1) to run our business in harmony with God’s laws, and (2) to focus on people more than money. And that’s what we’ve tried to do. We close early so our employees can see their families at night. We keep our stores closed on
Sundays, one of the week’s biggest shopping days, so that our workers and their families can enjoy a day of rest. We believe that it is by God’s grace that Hobby Lobby has endured, and he has blessed us and our employees. We’ve not only added jobs in a weak economy, we’ve raised wages for the past four years in a row. Our full-time employees start
at 80% above minimum wage.

But now, our government threatens to change all of that. A new government healthcare mandate says that our family business MUST provide what I believe are abortion-causing drugs as part of our health insurance. Being Christians, we don’t pay for drugs that might cause abortions, which means that we don’t cover emergency contraception, the morning-after pill or the week-after pill. We believe doing so might end a life after the moment of conception, something that is contrary to our most important beliefs. It goes against the Biblical principles on which we have run this company
since day one. If we refuse to comply, we could face $1.3 million PER DAY in fines.

Our government threatens to fine job creators in a bad economy. Our government threatens to fine a company that’s raised wages four years running. Our government threatens to fine a family for running its business according to its beliefs. It’s not right. I know people will say we ought to follow the rules; that it’s the same for everybody. But that’s not true. The government has exempted thousands of companies from this mandate, for reasons of convenience or cost. But it won’t exempt them for reasons of religious belief.

So, Hobby Lobby and my family are forced to make a choice. With great reluctance, we filed a lawsuit today, represented by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, asking a federal court to stop this mandate before it hurts our business. We don’t like to go running into court, but we no longer have a choice. We believe people are more important than the bottom line and that honoring God is more important than turning a profit.

My family has lived the American dream. We want to continue growing our company and providing great jobs for thousands of employees, but the government is going to make that much more difficult. The government is forcing us to choose between following our faith and following the law. I say that’s a choice no American and no American business should have to make. The government cannot force you to follow laws that go against your fundamental religious belief. They have exempted thousands of companies but will not except Christian organizations including the Catholic church.

Since you will not see this covered in any of the liberal media, pass this on to all your contacts.

Sincerely,
David Green, CEO and Founder of Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc.

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“My Train Wreck Conversion” is the second article I’ve read this month written by a gay or lesbian. The first was Shane Windmeyer, leader of  LGBT, opening up about his friendship with Dan Cathy, president of Chick-fil-a. This article by Rosaria Butterfield is about how a pastor and his wife befriended her. What is something both these friendships had in common? The Christians, while never wavering in their convictions that homosexuality is a sin, did not start by mocking and condemning them. In fact, Rosaria tells us how Ken acted:

He did not mock. He engaged. So when his letter invited me to get together for dinner, I accepted. My motives at the time were straightforward: Surely this will be good for my research.

Something else happened. Ken and his wife, Floy, and I became friends. They entered my world. They met my friends. We did book exchanges. We talked openly about sexuality and politics. They did not act as if such conversations were polluting them. They did not treat me like a blank slate. When we ate together, Ken prayed in a way I had never heard before. His prayers were intimate. Vulnerable. He repented of his sin in front of me. He thanked God for all things. Ken’s God was holy and firm, yet full of mercy. And because Ken and Floy did not invite me to church, I knew it was safe to be friends.

Many Christians avoid homosexuals like the plague. There is very little kindness or generosity shown to them, only a direct confrontation of their sin. Perhaps, as these two individuals demonstrate, a much better witness to Christianity is to befriend them, set the foundation of a relationship, and through your actions and conversations show Christ-like love and forgiveness to them. Before calling them names and automatically sending them to Hell in your book, recall that it was not to the prostitutes that Jesus called names but to the Pharisees, those who considered themselves holy. (Matt 23:15-34 for anyone who wants to read up on that).

Read the rest of Rasaria Butterfield’s testimony here:

http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2013/january-february/my-train-wreck-conversion.html?start=1

 

And Shane Windmeyer’s here:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/shane-l-windmeyer/dan-cathy-chick-fil-a_b_2564379.html

 

 

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2.7.13

This is who we are as Christians: we are transformers of culture. If we suddenly discover that policies are beginning to be adopted and passed which battle against our deepest convictions, then we need to recognize that for what it is: a sign that we are losing our influence as transformers of culture. Should we not, then, rekindle our desire to be the church, to live as countercultural people of love? Should we not take a good, hard look at our Christian witness, and see what actually reflects the God we love? Should we not first look at ourselves and be convicted that we have become complacent and lazy, content to rest in a “Christian nation”, and failing to take seriously the call of Christ? Culture is not transformed by imposing political agendas; politics are transformed by an imposing culture.

40 Years Later: 3 Lessons Roe v Wade Teaches Us.

 

 

 

 

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2.6.13

But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”  (Luke 18:16; NIV)

 

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Salvation For All

It is often a very difficult thing for people far removed from a certain century to accurately understand the feelings and culture of that time. So it is, to those in the 21st century, a difficult task to place themselves in the atmosphere of the 18th century. However, ancestors often provide their posterity with windows into their lives through writings, letters, and official documents. Phillis Wheatley is just one of many individuals who found ways to pass on their beliefs and societal times through the composing of poems. One poem that particularly deals with the mindset of the middle 1700’s is “On Being Brought From Africa To America.”

Phillis Wheatley was brought to America on July 11, 1761 when she was only seven or eight years old. She was bought by Susanna Wheatley, the wife of a Boston merchant. Being frail, Phillis was more of a companion to Susanna than a household servant. She learned English, Latin and the Bible from the Wheatley daughter. She became a Christian and was baptized. Although Africans were not considered able to write poetry, she finally published her first compilation of poems in 1773, Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral. This was published in London, and upon her return to America she was set free. Phillis married John Peters in 1778 but was eventually deserted by him and died in 1784 in a Boston boarding house (Milne 222).

Among Phillis’ first published poems was “On Being Brought From Africa to America.” The poem can be divide into two distinct sections, 4 lines each. The first section talks about her journey from Africa to America and her personal salvation. The second half of the poem speaks about the salvation of her race as a whole.

In the very first line of the poem, “’Twas mercy brought me from my pagan land” (Wheatley 1), Wheatley wants to make it clear that it was mercy, not just a slave ship that brought her to America and exposed her to Christianity. Her “benighted” soul was brought into understanding, in contrast to the intellectual ignorance, or darkness, that had dominated the first years of her life. Although it was under lamentable circumstances that she came to America, as a result of her life with the Wheatleys Phillis became a Christian. In a letter to Arbour Tanner, a fellow slave, she express these sentiments: “’…let us rejoice in and adore the wonders of God’s infinite Love in bringing us from a land semblant of darkness itself, and where the divine light of revelation (being obscur’d) is as darkness. Here the knowledge of the true God and eternal life are made manifest; but there, profound ignorance overshadows the land’” (O’Neale 146). While Phillis was by no means rejoicing in her position as a slave, she was fully aware of the fact that it was slavery that saved her soul. The first half of the poem is her testimony and she is thankful that the Savior has redeemed her from her sins.

After remarking on her own personal salvation, Phillis uses the last 4 lines of the poem to address a rather controversial issue at that time. Were Africans worthy of salvation? To many Christians today, that is an absolutely absurd question. However, it was the general belief in those times – albeit a deplorable one – that people of black color were associated with Satan. This is what Phillis alludes to when she says “Some view our sable race with scornful eye. ‘Their color is a diabolic dye’” (Wheatley 5-6). It is believed that this view was drawn from the Old Testament where Cain’s descendants were ostracized and marked by God with a stain. This was coupled with the curse that was placed on Ham, that his children would be under perpetual servitude, and thus was born the misconception that Africans where the offspring of Cain and Ham and therefore exempt from God’s grace and subject to enslavement. This explains why so many people supported slavery. They judged salvation by the state of one’s skin, not by the state of their soul. In taking the Old Testament to its most literal sense, however, they missed the whole message of the New Testament: that salvation was for the Gentiles as well as the Jews. A passage in the Bible that proves the fallacy of the New World Christians’ belief is in Acts 8. This is the story of the Ethiopian eunuch who was the first Gentile convert and who took the gospel to Africa. The eunuch is the first example of the fact that whatever may have been the fate of Cain and Ham’s offspring, under the new law salvation is for all people. Phillis no doubt knew of this story and in the last two lines of the poem she reminds her readers that no matter what their physical appearance may be, all “May be refin’d and join th’ angelic train” (Wheatley 8).

Under the doctrine of original sin all people fall short of the glory of God, and it is not the pigmentation of skin that ranks individuals among the elect, but God’s supreme goodness. This was the liberating truth that Phillis Wheatley learned when she was brought to America, and it was this truth that she intended to share with her readers. But not only did she share it with 18th century contemporaries, she also succeeded in passing down her testimony to many future generations.

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