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September 22, 2015, 12:00 AM

Media and Morality


I was listening to a recent media report concerning some policy changes made by the Pope towards marriage annulment. What struck me was not the issue of marriage annulment but how some in the media were characterizing it as a move by the church to be more “welcoming”. This buzzword word “welcoming” is often used to label a church or Christian that rejects biblical standards and capitulates to the latest cultural fad or societal definitions of morality. This same tactic is used with words such as “tolerance” or “discrimination”. Interestingly, these media personalities seem to miss the fact that they themselves are not very “welcoming” to any biblical or moral position other than the one to which they subscribe.

The power of the media is in the ability to not only reflect the cultural mindset and values but to shape and influence it. A subtle, pervasive, biased perspective influences many who are exposed to this kind of reporting. Reporters who readily criticize Christians of indoctrination or attempting to win others to Christ, including those of other religious persuasions, often regularly engage in their own brand of indoctrination. (Even though, supposedly, they are to simply just present the facts and not engage in advocacy activities).

Christians, therefore, must be spiritually discerning when exposed to all media—television, radio, movies, music, blogs, Websites, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Realizing that there is a subtle undermining of the authority of the Bible, the centrality of Christ, and a presentation of a non-Christian worldview, values, or perspectives, the Christians’ morality must be informed and shaped by the Word of God—the Bible!

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April 7, 2015, 12:00 AM

Same-Sex Marriage and Discrimination Against Religious Liberty


In our rapidly changing socio-cultural environment in the United States, there is increasing support for “same-sex marriage” and other declarations of sexuality. Along with these changes have come an increasing discrimination against those who hold to the historically orthodox Christian view of marriage as being between a man and a woman.   Interestingly, many proponents of “same-sex marriage” accuse Christians of discrimination, even though, at the same time, these supporters of "same-sex marriage" are engaging in legal, cultural, and economic coercion against those who hold sincere religious positions.  

A part of this strategy is to attach emotionally charged labels to those who do not support their declared sexual viewpoints.   Many of these labels such as “discrimination” and "intolerance“, were rightfully used in the fight against racism in United States.   A dangerous precedent, however, was set when the proponents of “same-sex marriage” highjacked legitimate categories and attach them to any group who did not affirm their newly declared positions! 

Several issues are of primary concern in this irreconcilable tension between what Dr. Albert Mohler calls “erotic liberty” and religious (Christian) liberty. First, it is the issue of redefining marriage.  The Bible reveals that human government was establish after the creation and institution of marriage (a union between a man and a woman).  Therefore, the government’s role was to affirm marriage and not to define marriage!  God never gave government the right to redefine anything that He had already defined!  Hence, we see a problem—the confusion between the ability to do a thing with the right to do it! 

Second, there is the presence of a venomous political and socio-cultural agenda, which seeks to use the mechanism of government to force a person of religious conviction or a Christian institution to follow another person’s theological, religious, and social perspective.  Furthermore, the majority (proponents of "same-sex marriage"), based on newly held assertions, is trumping the religious liberty rights of the minority. Even when the minorities’ actions are based on “sincerely-held beliefs”, a Christian baker, florist, or photographer, for example, would be forced to provide services for a “same-sex wedding ceremony”.  This could occur even though the Christian’s convictions are supported by the Bible and centuries of Christian teachings and affirmations! 

Third, when politicians with concerns for political expediency couple with activist judges who make law from the bench rather than interpret in accordance with legislative intent support this vitriolic cultural movement, it becomes an ever-increasing assault on the biblical and Christian position concerning sexuality and marriage.  Many seminaries and denominations espouse an neo-orthodox view concerning biblical interpretation that offers a poisonous mixture of “heretical hermeneutics” and liberal theology to further undermine the historically orthodox view of marriage and sexuality.   Pastors (and other Christians) who have lost their prophetic voices and capitulated to the “spirit of the age” (zeitgeist) are equally culpable in this assault on Christianity and Christians, even if unintended.

What are Christians to do in light of this new movement against religious liberties?  (1) Love God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength and love your neighbor (including all people regardless of their sexuality) as yourself; (2) Obey the government, except when what it commands us to contradict or violate what God ordains or commands; (3) let the Bible take its preeminent position over all other books or documents; (4) Stand for the Gospel of Jesus Christ, no matter what the cost!

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February 24, 2015, 8:00 AM

Church Discipline


Often in conversations with Christians across denominational lines, I have noticed a disturbing level of passivity or disengagement concerning the area of church discipline.  Sometimes, an elaborate but shaky support for the failure to act is offered. Interestingly, when other Christians carry out this biblical mandate, they are often branded as “angry” or “unloving”.  Although it is entirely possible to carry out biblical mandates in an unbiblical manner, obedience to biblical directives should not be automatically construed as “unloving” or “angry”.  Notwithstanding, church discipline is an essential and should be a non-negotiable Christian practice. 

In Matthew 18:15, Jesus Christ gives a clear command.  He said, “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother”.  Interestingly, Jesus Christ gives the responsibility to the one who has been offended.  Even if one has not been offended, a Christian should attempt to encourage a brother or sister to repentance.  The apostle Paul teaches in Galatians 6:1: “If a brother [or sister] be overtaken in a fault, you who are spiritual restore such a one in the spirit of meekness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted”.

One reason often cited for the failure to obey this command is the belief that the effort would not be successful.  Yet, Christ gives instructions for the potential failure.  He says, in verse 16, “If he does not [listen with the intent of repentance], take with you one or two more; so in the presence of two or three witnesses every word may be established.  These should be mature Christians who have redemptive motivations for engaging in the efforts. 

Church discipline is not only a mandate for the individual Christian; it is mandated for the congregation.  Sometimes, it is necessary to bring a matter before the entire congregation, as Jesus taught.  If a person is unrepentant after being admonished by a Christian Brother or sister and by a group of well intended, loving, humble, and mature Christians, then the matter is to be brought before the entire congregation.  

Obedience to the Lord, Jesus Christ, demands that a Christian and a congregation be a proponent and practitioner of Church discipline! 


 

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December 2, 2014, 1:00 PM

Christian Courage in an Non-Christian Culture


 


What has happened?  Are we all now wimps?  As the late Dr. D. James Kennedy once said.  “[Everybody] is coming out of the closet, but Christians are going in the closet!”  In an age of increasing secularism, increasing religious intolerance, and abandonment of biblical morality, it appears that many Christians—preachers and parishioners alike---have lost moral courage.   
There seems to be an unwillingness to take a stand for biblical truth and a Christian worldview, particularly in the face of a virulent, strident, and sometimes, vicious anti-Christian fervor.  

Is it possible that even many preachers who trumpet strongly against some moral issues may be hiding the fact that they are, in reality, merely “prophetic wimps”?  When the majority of the audience to which you speak is already predisposed to agree with your positions, it does not take much courage to take a strong biblical position.  For example, to emphatically declare that racism is unjust to a predominately African-American congregation is not particularly courageous, when most parishioners have similar convictions.  The result is that often a Christian—preachers and parishioners—will often speak loudly on certain issues but are yet strangely silent when the gospel demands a response.  This movement from “loud to laryngitis” is disturbing and telling!  

To take a biblically moral and ethical stance against the prevailing winds of the secular culture usually requires much more courage!  This is often true in congregations, families, workplace settings, and other community venues in which we find ourselves in the minority as Christians.  Even many places that include a supposed majority of professing Christians may be difficult, because some members of these communities take their perspectives and social cues more from the secularized culture than from God.   Consequently, when a preacher (or Christian) takes a principled stance informed by the Word of God (Bible), he or she may experience an immediate backlash or resistance even from Christians.  

To be true to biblical truths, Christian doctrine, and personal convictions, Christians need courage to go against the socio-cultural tide.   Courageous Christian actions require preparation for loses!  There may be loss of affirming looks or verbal responses to preaching.  There may even be prosecution and persecution from both Christian and non-Christian sources.  Often, a Christian may not encounter a direct, overt and vitriolic response.  It may be a danger much more subtle, silent, and yet ominous.  Notwithstanding, all Christian—pastors and parishioners alike--are called to speak courageously and prophetically to the current issues in our world!  We are called to make God’s position clear concerning every issue.  It must be spoken but most importantly it must be acted upon!  The Gospel of Jesus Christ demands it! 

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November 13, 2014, 1:00 PM

Politics and the Prophets of God


Political Elections and the Prophet of God

“I think that voting for any of them [political candidates} is problematic for the Christian who takes God's Word (the Bible) seriously!”  This is what I said some years ago, in response to an impending election.    During that time, here is what I wrote!  It was more concerning the “prophets of God” than the politicians! 

I cannot remember a time when I have been so disturbed by an election and what is stake as I have this one.  My greatest angst, however, is with the vast number of Christians on both sides of the political spectrum who seemed to have jettisoned biblical principles for political expediency.  The biblical, theological, and logical manipulation and sleight of hand have been very disturbing to me.    It seems that so many professing Christians begin with a particular racial preference and/or political party allegiance and then adjusted their theological arguments to support their already settled conclusions.  This is greatly disturbing.  When many church and denominational leaders engage in this kind of skullduggery, it came bring about disillusionment, because they appear to be prophets only when is convenient and fit a prescribed perspective.  Moreover, it appear to be emerging from personal preferences and not the Word of God.

The lesson: Remember that these [denominations] are not my home (I am not subscribing to an anti-denominational fervor). We should remain true to the publicized and biblical convictions to which we are aligned, although we should oppose any failure to uphold those convictions.  It reminds us of the fallibility of even respected denominations or denominational leaders.  It also reminded me that often a prophet of conviction must be prepared to go it alone and simply be "a voice crying in the wilderness"!   Again, we should from Christians, leaders, denominations all that is good, that is, all that lines up with the Word of God.  Everything else we should leave on the trash heap of history!  

We may be disturbed concerning the Church but we can always remain confident in Jesus Christ the Lord and Savior!

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