What If Jesus Were A Baker?

I just read the post of another Christian blogger today entitled “Bake for Them Two”. She approached the current controversy raging across America (highlighted by the Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act passed by their state legislature back on March 26, 2015 and signed into law by Governor Mike Pence) over the issue of freedom of conscience versus the right to non-discrimination based on sexual preference. Most everyone has already heard of this loud, ongoing debate that is raging in our culture, so I won’t restate it here. What I would like to do is offer a different Christian perspective than that which was promulgated by the author of the above referenced blog spot, Jessica Kantrowitz. (See the post at: TENTHOUSANDPLACES.ORG )

The headline caption on this blog post is a pointedly biased paraphrase by the author of Matthew 5:41 where Jesus said, “Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two.” Her mis-appropriation and mis-interpretation of this Scripture by paraphrase as it applies to supporting the premise of the argument made in her blog post is: “If someone forces you to bake a cake for a gay wedding, bake for them two.” So let’s see if we can’t break down her premises one at a time in light of what the Bible really says.

But, before we delve into that, let me first take a moment to sort cursorily through the judicial arguments at play here and establish a simple legal hierarchy which to follow. I do this primarily because the blog’s author begins by setting up her position of persuasion from the standpoint of Jesus being under Roman rule and Roman law at the time of His earthly ministry. Since, according to her blog, a Roman soldier could compel you to carry his equipment a mile, that the Christian response Jesus advocated in His Sermon on the Mount found in Matthew Chapters 5-7, was to “go the extra mile” and carry it two. This is a straw man argument!

A key point to make is we are not under Roman law as the Jews were at that time in history. They were conquered people forced to live under the laws of their conquerors, the Romans. Hence Jesus says, “If anyone forces you to go one mile”. Thankfully, because of the founding of this great country of ours by wise and godly men based upon the principles of free religious expression, a Biblical worldview, and upon the heritage of English Common Law, we do not (at present at least) have to be compelled to do something (whether carry a soldiers gun or bake a gay couples cake) that goes against our wishes. You may say, “yes, but if you are open for business to the public then you must give equal protection under the law and not discriminate against those who seek your services.” I agree, as far as that goes. But let’s look a little deeper into the issues.

Herein is the crux of the dispute: Do anti discrimination statutes trump a person’s First Amendment right to “the free exercise thereof” of their religious views guaranteed by the First Amendment? This is part of the legal hierarchy I mentioned where I believe that a law found in the Bill of Rights to the Constitution trumps a state or federal statute against discrimination. And, I would take this a step further up the mentioned hierarchical chain; God’s Moral Law trumps all of our laws, even the U.S. Constitution when it comes to issues of conscience. For example, though abortion has been upheld by the highest court in our land as a protected act, if I believe (rightly) that this practice violates God’s Moral Law then I have a duty to my conscience to oppose this barbaric practice at every turn, and most certainly when it comes down to being forced to be complicit in this practice, even if only passively. I will obey a Higher Law as it trumps the lower laws. So the hierarchy is this: God’s Moral Law (as revealed in His Holy Word), The Bill of Rights (Constitutional rights), then local, state and Federal laws. We are blessed to live in a country under such a system where not only are most of our laws fair and just, but we also have a right to free exercise of our religion, and a God-given right to dissent when these laws violate our understanding of His Moral Law. What a great country we live in!

So, it is reasonable for one to conclude (as I understand the baker in question at the Indiana pizzeria did) that though they would serve any customer who came into their place of business, they could not provide food (cake, pizza, hors d’ oeuvres, photographs) for a ceremony that had significant religious meaning for them without violating their conscience. This I also agree with. I will not here get into why “gay marriage” is a misnomer applied to a Biblical covenant between a man and a woman and is not marriage at all, but rather save that subject for another post on another day. The beauty of our free enterprise economy is that there are other places to take your business if a merchant does not want yours. There are plenty of other butchers, bakers, and candlestick makers who would have no “conscientious objection” to catering a gay event.

This raises another free enterprise question that perhaps the writer of the blog post did not consider. She says that if the law (anti-discrimination law I suppose) says you should bake the cake, then bake two. How would a customer, any customer, react to ordering a cake and then getting two and being charged twice for them? OK, you say. Give them the second at no charge. So now, the baker is not only expected to violate their conscience, but at the same time lose money in the deal? Astounding!

She further goes on to equate a Christian’s living by their dictates of conscience as “digging our heels in and insisting on our right to discriminate”, and as such this attitude and action “sends hundreds and thousands of people fleeing churches and Christianity entirely”. If it is done hatefully, I cannot disagree. But we are called to be winsome in our message of love, though not compromising, as I will discuss now.

So, what does Scripture say to us that might help us know the right way to respond in this situation? Let me first start by agreeing with Jessica about the real point of this portion of the Sermon on the Mount, which is “The Law of Love”. That because God loves all people, the righteous and unrighteous (sinners; and such we were), so we too are to love all men, even those who do not love us and may even be our enemies. That is transformational love. That is God’s supernatural love in action!

However, her conclusion that the right thing for Christians to do is to violate their consciences and their understanding of God’s Moral Law in the hopes of being loving and conciliatory and not hurting and driving people away is wrong-headed and a misunderstanding of the Scriptural principal. Lost people do not need to see capitulation, appeasement and compromise from Christians! It is sadly too often made by those who    (she made a point of saying that she does not believe gay marriage is immoral) often use it to try to promote a tolerance that leads to a loss of the distinctiveness of God’s Holiness as expressed in His Moral Law. This is a true disservice that we do to our brothers and sisters, whether gay or straight, I believe.

So, what is the correct Christ-like response? I believe that it can be found in Paul’s admonition to the Ephesian church to grow in Christ-likeness by “speaking the truth in love”. Ephesians 4:14-16 It can also be found in Jesus’ example with the woman at the well in John 4:17-19, as well as in his response to the woman caught in adultery in John 8:10-12  (both of which, by the way, were violations of the religious moral laws and the civil laws of the land).

To the woman at the well he spoke truth (“sir, I perceive you to be a prophet”), and did not dance around her immoral history, but rather met her where she was at through  honest and truthful dialogue and in a non-judgmental manner, with the ultimate goal of helping her find her true need met (of which the multiple sexual dalliances had only been her way of seeking to satisfy this true need), which was and is the “Living Water” borne out of a relationship with Christ!

To the woman caught in adultery who was about to be stoned (as the law required), He simply said to her (after the accusers had all left) “neither do I condemn you. Go, and sin no more.” He spoke the truth in love and yet held to God’s Moral Law without capitulating to the circumstances of the situation of that person and compromising on moral truth.

This is living by the Law of Love; God’s highest Moral Law. This is what we as believers are called to do; to love God first and to love our neighbors as ourselves. It is what Jesus said in Matthew 22:35-40: “One of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”

As to the rhetorical question in the title of this post, I would say this: We all know Jesus was not a baker, he was actually the bread itself. He is the Bread of Life to all who will come and eat!

Posted in Christianity, culture, gay marriage, homosexual marrriage, homosexuality, Indiana Law, inspirational, Jesus, RFRA | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Rise Up O Men Of God-A Father’s Day Call for Revival

William Merrill, in 1911, penned these lyrics to the well-known hymn, challenging men to live godly lives and influence their world:

Rise up, O men of God!
Have done with lesser things.
Give heart and mind and soul and strength
To serve the King of kings.

Never has the need been greater than in our time for men with the courage and conviction to live lives of personal holiness and strong Christian conviction in order to be influencers for Jesus in our rapidly-degnerating society. Without strong fathers families fail. Without strong Christian fathers, families, our culture and the world fail!

Peter said in 1 Peter 2:9-12 (NIV):

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.11 Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. 12 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. 

As I pray for revival to come to America, I must first pray that it will come to my life, that I will choose to break free from a luke-warm brand of Christianity and live a life of supreme obedience to my Lord. As a father on this Father’s Day, this is my challenge to all fathers who make the claim of being a Christian. Are you living your faith out to such an extent that you are an influencer for the kingdom amongst your children, your wife, your work associates, your community? Are you presenting a true picture of Jesus to those around you? If not, then revival cannot and will not come to our churches, and the world will continue to see Christianity as only an anemic, poverty-stricken faith.

Consider these convicting words of George MacDonald as expressed through the namesake character in his novel “Thomas Wingfold, Curate” first published back in the late 1870’s:

“The waves of infidelity are coming in with a strong wind and a flowing tide. Who is to blame? God it cannot be, and for unbelievers, they are as they were. It is the Christians who are to blame. I do not mean those who are called Christians, but those who call and count themselves Christians. I tell you, and I speak to each one of whom it is true, that you hold and present such a withered, starved, miserable, death’s-head idea of Christianity; that you are yourself such poverty-stricken believers, if believers you are at all; that the notion that you present to the world as your ideal, is so common-place, so false to the grand, gracious, might-hearted Jesus-that you are the cause why the truth hangs it head in patience, and rides not forth on the white horse, conquering and to conquer. Until you repent and believe afresh, believe in a nobler Christ, namely the Christ revealed by Himself, and not the muffled form of something vaguely human and certainly not divine, which the false interpretations of men have substituted for Him, you will be as, I repeat you are, the main reason why faith is so scanty in the earth, and the enemy comes in like a flood.”

Rise up then, O fathers. Have done with lesser things! We have a soberingly serious duty to present a true Jesus to a dying world if ever a revival in the Church and a spiritual awakening of our culture is to come.

Happy Father’s Day!

Posted in blessedness, Christian fathers, Christian Living, Christianity, culture, God's Love, inspirational, Jesus, revival, theology, truth | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Does God Care Who Wins The Super Bowl?

I watched (for over two hours, with mild interest and more than occasional bouts of disinterest) the NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball National Championship game last night. To be billed as the pinnacle of the sport and the culmination of all that has gone before with hundreds of Division I teams and the lead up to March Madness (the NCAA Tournament) in the sport of college basketball, saying that the game was a bust would be an understatement. Even the commentators called it “ugly”, interjecting that the first half was “as exciting as watching paint dry” and generally had little positive to say about how the game was played on either side, most especially by Butler who made NCAA history by shooting an ignominious historical championship low shot percentage of 18%!

All this is but a contextual prelude to ask the question that is the topic of today’s blog: Does God really care who wins the NCAA Men’s Basketball National Championship? And further, by extension, does He care who wins the Super Bowl, the gold medals given out at the Olympic Games, the BCS Bowl games, Johnie’s Little League game or any other sport venue of your choice for that matter? And what about the Women’s Basketball Championship, where Texas A&M just minutes ago knocked off “God’s Team” (or so say some of my devout and well-meaning Catholic friends)? The answer (my answer, of course, as this is my blog)? Unequivocally, yes!

So what team does God root for? And don’t you think that if he had a favorite team He would certainly have the “pull” to make sure they won every time? Would it be Notre Dame or someone else?  Would it be the team with the most Christians on it or with a Christian coach or the one with the most noble motives (good guys don’t always finish last)? There are certainly plenty of folks on both benches and in the home and visitor stands desperately and fervently praying to the same God at the same time asking for the same outcome; a victory. Whose prayers will He hear? If we all knew the answer then the odds makers in Las Vegas would have to close up shop and go home!

Pay attention here. I said that I believe that God “cares” who wins, not because of individual or team favoritism (Scripture says there is no partiality with God), but because of a higher purpose-to shape the character of those playing the game (and watching it too sometimes-over-zealous team parents!). He wants to create more Christ-like character in those players that are His children, and use these players and the circumstances of the game and its outcome to testify that His ways are higher than our ways, even to those who do not have a relationship with Him yet. The trophies of this world all tarnish and are forgotten. Many end up in garage sales or landfills. No one can recall (except sports trivia junkies perhaps) who was Champion 5 years ago, 10 years ago, was MVP in 1998, etc., etc. Not surprisingly, a majority of people when asked can’t even tell you who played in the Super Bowl last year, much less who won!

So God cares who wins not for the reasons most of us care who wins. Not because it is our alma mater playing. And most assuredly not because we have a substantial bet on the outcome, or think the coach is a good man, or the underdog (David versus Goliath) deserves a little favoritism. No, rather it is for His higher purposes; that those who are His or will become His begin to take on the character of His only begotten Son, Jesus. That’s it? Really? That’s it!

Sometimes that process is very public and readily apparent and comes through magnificent victories and at other times it comes through defeat and is realized and internalized only by the individual competitors in the privacy of their own soul searching moments. I remember Kurt Warner, while playing for the St. Louis Rams, giving glory to God on national television after winning the Super Bowl trophy and Super Bowl MVP trophy in what was arguably the greatest Super Bowl of all time against the Tennessee Titans (where the game was decided on the last play of the game by literally the length of the football!). I also vividly remember backup quarterback Frank Reich’s wonderful testimony following his leading of the Houston Oilers to the greatest come from behind victory in NFL history against the New York Giants. (He also holds the record for the greatest come from behind victory in college football as well). But, I am impressed with a different recollection of a post-game interview of an injured and humbled Colt McCoy, having been knocked out of his last game as a Texas Longhorn early in the first quarter of the BCS National Championship game in 2010, giving God the glory and seemingly understanding the higher purposes at work in his life, even though his team had just lost and he was unable to contribute and play which would have undoubtedly made a difference in the ultimate outcome of the game.

So, we need as Christians to look beyond the outward success, see into the inward process, and measure the results by our upward progress. It’s all about the upward call of God in Christ Jesus, the living Word of God!

“Because all flesh [mankind] is like grass and all its glory [honor] like the flower of grass. The grass withers and the flower drops off. But the Word of the Lord [divine instruction, the Gospel] endures forever.” I Peter 1:24,25 (Amplified Version)

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We All Stumble In Many Ways!

“For we all often stumble and fall and offend in many things.”  James 3:2 Amplified Bible (AMP)

Truer words regarding the day-to-day condition of the believer have not been spoken! We all stumble. We all fall. We all offend. And we do so often! Furthermore, our frequent stumbles are not limited to one area of our lives or one singular type of offense, but rather occur “in many things”.

I don’t know about you, but this verse encourages my heart. Why? Because it informs me and reassures me that I am not alone in my failings. We are all familiar with the verse in Romans Chapter 3, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (v.23) We usually read this verse in the context of the unregenerate sinner as it pertains to salvation. And so it does aptly apply. But, it also contains the same principle found in our key verse in James 3:2, that we all fall short. None of us is perfect. Nor even close to achieving perfection. And our imperfections come out often and in many varied and sundry ways.

Similarly, a well-known and oft quoted passage, I Corinthians 10:13, says,”No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man…” (NASB), or in the Amplified Version, “For no temptation-no trial regarded as enticing to sin (no matter how it comes or where it leads)-has overtaken you and laid hold on you that is not common to man…” Do you see the parallel? We are all tempted to sin in various forms and unto various outcomes. The rest of the verse promises God’s faithfulness in not allowing us to be tempted beyond that which He is able to render aid and make us able to bear up under it, escape it, or endure it. In other words, He is the giver of the power to stand under trial and prevail! Just as Hebrews 4:15 tells us,”For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses (liability to the assaults of temptation), but one who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.” So, we know that positionally we have the same power to resist temptation that Jesus had and with the same success of outcomes, yet experientially we know that success is not always the case. We do fail the test, we do fall short, we do often stumble and fall! Which is why I Cor. 10:12 is antecedent to verse 13. It warns us,”Let any one who thinks he stands-who feels sure that he has a steadfast mind and is standing firm-take heed lest he fall into sin.” (Amp.)

The Apostle Peter also speaks about “knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world.” (I Peter 5:9 NASB) The Greek word used here for accomplished is “epiteleo” and means to finish, complete that which has been appointed (yes our trials are designed by God for our good!), and be perfected, so that strong encouragement is to be found in the successful passing of these tests to sin that others have endured and come through, passing with flying colors or sometimes just by the skin of their teeth! This same verse gives us an important clue into the nature of this testing as well; that there is an adversary (the devil, prowling about as a roaring lion) who longs to trip us up and see us fail.

So what is to be our posture in times of temptation? I Peter 5:6-12 tells us:

  • Be humble (vs.6)
  • Cast onto God our anxieties about our suffering (vs.7)
  • Be sober-minded, self-controlled and alert (vs.8)
  • Resist the devil (vs.9)
  • Stand firm in the faith (vs.9)

And what are the promises He gives in this same passage?

  • He will exalt and lift us up at the proper time (vs.6)
  • He cares for us (vs.7)
  • The testing is but for a little while (vs.10)
  • He Himself will perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish us, grounding us and settling us and completing us to make us what we ought to be (vs.10)

But the most important promise? His grace! He is called the God of all grace in verse 10. Peter himself then testifies in verse 12,”that this is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it!” It is by grace we have been saved unto salvation. It is also by grace that we are brought through our various trials and testings, both when we have endured and passed these testings and also when we fail them and stumble and fall and offend in many things! Grace would not be grace if it were earned by our behavior would it? We, having begun our relationship by faith through His grace (Ephesian 2:8,9) are “being perfected” in our faith in the context of that same grace. A grace that is greater than all of my sin!

Now, aren’t you encouraged? I know I sure am!

 

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A Simple Discussion on the Sovereignty of God

 A brother in Christ recently sent me this quote in an email to which I include my reply:
Men choose their course by what seems to them a free will and they glory in the fact that they are wise enough to adjust themselves to circumstances, but God is the Author of circumstances.
He may give latitude to men, but their sphere of freedom is never outside the larger sphere of His eternal purpose.
The failure at this point with high Calvinists [hard determinism] arises from the fact that, in their zeal to defend the doctrine of divine sovereignty, they do not recognize how the very sovereignty of God in its out working utilizes the human will as its instrument, not, however, by any form of coercion, but by that form of persuasion which enlightens and engenders holy desires to which the will may respond and by which it may be motivated.
Only tragic misconceptions have been the fruit of an extreme Calvinism which conceives of the human will as overpowered by God, and of a fallacious Arminianism which makes no place in its reckoning for the inherent, constitutional necessity of immediate divine action upon the human will before the right choice can be made at all.
Lewis Sperry Chafer, American Theologian (1871-1952)
Thanks for sending this along! Can you give me the source for Chafer’s quote? I would have to say that I agree closely with this position. I have long-held to the dangers of categorizing oneself as being in the Arminian camp or the Calvinist camp. We should never define a Christianity and a faith, which supersedes by 1500 years these two well-respected men and their writings, with these anemic labels. I refuse to do it if for no other reason than the fact that a single label can conjure up all kinds of pre-conceived ideas and opinions about that moniker, whether real or imagined. 
 
When I see Scripture as presenting two obvious truths in multiple places in the Bible, and good, God-fearing men of the Word in disagreement as to the conclusion that must be drawn from these truths, I then am apt to conclude that perhaps both are true. Such is the case with Jesus‘ humanity and divinity. He is fully human and fully God. How can that be? It is difficult to understand this paradox, but it is nonetheless true and something we all agree upon as a basic tenet of Orthodox Christianity. Jesus could not have pulled this off if he were not fully God first (from eternity past) but were only a man (at the incarnation) trying to be God. 
 
Another example is the Trinity. Is God one God or is He three? The truth is that He is both, another paradox that challenges our ability to grasp fully intellectually. And so it is with the whole Sovereignty /Free Will debate about our salvation. Does God choose who will be His or do we have a part in the process with our own God-given free will? It is a difficult paradox to reconcile, but both are true I believe. And just as Jesus could never have become fully man, at the same time as being fully God, without first being fully God from eternity past, so too our salvation flows from God first as an act of His sovereign will. He, in His sovereignty granted us a will to choose to respond in faith to the conviction and “persuasion which enlightens and engenders holy desires to which the will may respond and by which it may be motivated”. It is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone! Make no mistake, only God saves us, not we ourselves. He gives us an opportunity as creatures created in His image to respond to His free gift of grace. 
 
Just as a husband chooses to woo and court his bride-to be and then proffer a proposal, she must accept his proposal or they cannot be legally wed. So too, no matter how much this woman may want to become the wife of a man she may love and admire, until he proposes and carries through with his intent by choosing and then consummating union with her as his bride, there is nothing she can do to become his, though she may desperately seek it even at great lengths and with many tortured tears. Unless, of course, one believes in coerced or arranged marriage. But I think that we all see the Biblical picture painted of marriage as being one of mutual love and submission, where both husband and wife choose to spend the rest of their lives together, not out of coercion or duty, but out of love and desire and commitment. God (Our Husband-Jesus) initiates this relationship (and without this initiation it could not exist) and we (His Bride-The Church) respond willingly and joyfully and fully. 
 
This to me is a much higher, more beatific view of God’s sovereignty than that of the “hard determinism” of high Calvinists and elevates His sovereignty to something more than just a “big stick”. His sovereignty rather becomes a marvelous and yet mysterious expression and out-working of His good and loving heart, the kind intention of His will! It also explains the paradox of scripture, which to any honest inquirer, reveals multiple verses which speak both of the primacy of God’s initiation and gracious gift being first necessary to bring about our salvation (and extended to the world at large-which it is said He “loved”) as well as of the exercise of our power to respond and choose, to see and believe the unseen (faith), and to enter into an eternally lasting relationship with our Creator. 
 
This is a wondrous relationship based in spirit and truth. And such the Father seeks to be His worshippers; to be His children forever!

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A Lesson Learned From Tom White

Today, I was deeply saddened to learn that a man I admired for his passionate involvement in a Christian organization I whole-heartedly support passed away last week. That such a man would pass from this life at the relatively young age of 64 and leave a void in the leadership at the top of this important ministry is reason enough for grief. That he died at his own hand, after having allegedly been involved in the sexual molestation of a 10-year-old girl, is beyond the pale! It is one of those heart-numbing bits of news that come at you from out of the blue that is so shocking in its telling that you are literally floored after hearing the report. I must admit that I wept bitterly several times today, when first hearing the news very early this morning (after a fitful night’s sleep), and later in the day as I thought further of the tragedy of what had transpired. Disbelief, heavy sadness, anger, questioning, and a heart breaking not only for Tom White’s family but also for his staff at Voice of the Martyrs, and, of course, for the little girl who was allegedly molested and her family.

I greatly admired Tom for his adept leadership of this important ministry started by Richard Wurmbrand several decades ago. I have a special place in my heart for Wurmbrand as he was a Romanian Christian who suffered persecution for his faith, having been a prisoner for 17 years in Ceaucescu’s brutal Romanian penal system. I have served in Romania with several Christian organizations over the years and my wonderful son, Christopher, was adopted by my wife and I almost 22 years ago from a city in northwest Romania. Tom himself was held captive in a Cuban jail for nearly a year and a half back in 1979 for distributing the Gospel. He knew first hand the rigors of persecution. His insightful and passionate commentary on behalf of the millions of persecuted Christians around the world given in his column each month on the inside cover of the VOM magazine was inspirational and will be sorely missed. The value and impact of his frequent and oftentimes clandestine trips inside of dangerous countries to minister to the persecuted church cannot be overestimated. The World-wide Church owes him a great debt, and it is his dedicated service to these down-trodden and oft-times forgotten believers that I choose to remember about Tom. I hope that this will be his legacy remembered by others as well.

I do not minimize in the least the depravity of his sin, whatever the details of it are. Whether this had been an ongoing problem or a one-time evil choice I do not know. I will not judge him by a single act of evil, but rather by his years of faithful service. But, I am devastated that he would think that, in spite of the seriousness of the allegations, that he had nowhere to turn and no recourse but to take his own life. In reading once again in recent days C.S. Lewis’ classic “The Problem of Pain“, I am reminded of his comments about good and evil. That there is “simple good” in this world, acts of charity and kindness and such as well as “simple evil”, words and actions (such as he is accused of for example) that are evil in their intent and outcome. Yet God, in His sovereignty, is able to “exploit” these acts of simple evil and turn them into a “complex good”. We may not see it initially, especially when in the pits of despondency, how that God can work all things for good. Romans 8:28 But He can, and furthermore promises, that He will. I think that Tom knew this, but could not see his way to believe and trust it in the midst of the spiritual darkness he found himself in. That is the real tragedy, that he would turn his back on God when he needed Him and His light most in his life. Lord forgive him!

I found myself asking, “God, what in the world is going on here?” This type of behavior (and worse) is becoming more and more the norm, a common occurrence in the world we live in today. It is shocking! The effects are devastating to all involved and impacted by it. The severity of the repercussions are inestimable. So why is it happening more frequently (we read of such stories on an almost daily basis)? Besides being a result of a moral and spiritual decline that has been gaining momentum over the past 20 years in our country (Has America Become A Pornographic Society?: A future blog post on this site), I believe that Satan himself is orchestrating these kinds of “take downs” of high-profile spiritual leaders. There are too many examples to elaborate on here. It is no coincidence, in my opinion, that this would occur now, given the dramatically increased levels of persecution of Christians around the world, especially in Muslim countries. Fine organizations such as VOM, Open Doors, and others are serving a huge need in the body of Christ ministering to these persecuted saints and their families, bringing attention to their plight, something that the mainstream media rarely does. To shame and discredit the Executive Director of this vital ministry for the past 20 years (and by association the organization itself) is a masterful tactic by one whose stated goal in Scripture is to “steal, kill, and destroy” John 10:10  Or, as Martin Luther wrote in his famous hymn A Mighty Fortress Is Our God, “For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe; his craft and power are great, and armed with cruel hate, on earth is not his equal.”

We must all remember that we too have an ancient foe and that he can find the “chink in our armor” just as he did with our brother Tom White. So shore up your armor Saints! Difficult times are here. But, take courage and remember to hold fast to the rest of the words from Luther’s hymn as well:

        A mighty fortress is our God, 
	a bulwark never failing; 
	our helper he amid the flood 
	of mortal ills prevaling.  
	For still our ancient foe 
	doth seek to work us woe; 
	his craft and power are great, 
	and armed with cruel hate, 
	on earth is not his equal.

	Did we in our own strength confide, 
	our striving would be losing, 
	were not the right man on our side, 
	the man of God's own choosing.
	Dost ask who that may be?  
	Christ Jesus, it is he; 
	Lord Sabaoth, his name, 
	from age to age the same, 
	and he must win the battle.

        And though this world, with devils filled, 
	should threaten to undo us, 
	we will not fear, for God hath willed 
	his truth to triumph through us.  
	The Prince of Darkness grim, 
	we tremble not for him; 
	his rage we can endure, 
	for lo, his doom is sure; 
	one little word shall fell him.

Please be in prayer for the families affected, the White family, the VOM family, the victim’s family, and the Family of God around the world. Jesus will be victorious. Count on it. And Satan? One little Word shall fell him. From the mouth of He who is Faithful and True! Revelation 19:11


							
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Does It Matter When We Celebrate Easter? ( a re-post from April 2011)

It seems as if every Easter someone comes out of the woodwork to challenge the Christian tradition of Easter. In years past it has been Time magazine or some other liberal, anti-Christian rag who tries to stir up the faithful by challenging scripture (remember Satan’s taunt to Eve: “Did God really say?”). Leave it to liberal MSNBC to  instigate things this year. http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/42643674?GT1=43001
The date of Jesus’ birth is generally thought to be between 4-6 BC and his crucifixion between 29 and 33 AD. As to the exact date, there are many opinions on which we are unlikely to ever come to universal agreement. As to whether He had the last supper on a Wednesday or Thursday is really irrelevant. In reading the gospels, it appears to me that he took passover supper with His disciples on Thursday, was crucified on Good Friday, laid in the tomb Friday afternoon, remained entombed all day Saturday (the Sabbath) and rose early on Sunday morning (the Third Day) before sunrise. That is in line with the traditional view, but is not universal in its acceptance.

What matters is that a historical Jesus really was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, died an ignominious death on a cross to save us from our sins and give us peace and reconciliation with God, and rose triumphantly from the grave to conquer death and sin. He then proved He was alive to many eyewitnesses, commissioned His disciples to take this Good News to the uttermost parts of the earth, and ascended to Heaven to join the Father, sending His Holy Spirit to indwell all who believe and put their faith in Him-as our Helper and as a down payment for what is to come. That is what we celebrate at Easter; our victorious risen Savior and King! Someone always seems to want to complicate the issues of simple faith…

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