Falling down

I feel for Pastor Tullian Tchividjian and his recent problems. I cannot fathom the depth of his emotional turmoil because I did not catch my ex-wife cheating on me. She told me after we had already decided to end the marriage. I can sympathize with the divorce. I have been through one, as I have just mentioned. He will now have the difficult battle with the custody of their children and division of assets. And the worst part is his relationship with his kids will become a little awkward at times. And I will pray for him as his life is coming apart at the seams. But there are a few things I find a little puzzling about some of the facts about the story and the reporting that I have read. In almost every article and/or headline he always referred to as Billy Graham’s grandson. How is that fact relevant beyond the first reporting of the incident? It seems that that fact has to be noted several times in the article, several times. Not once but at least three times the author has to mention that Tullian is Billy Graham’s grandson. Does the sin of the grandson impact the grandfather in any way? Are we smearing Billy Graham’s name for the sake of gaining headlines? What is the point of always referring to Tullian in that way? Now the other item of note the articles mention is that he is a pastor of a megachurch. Now this commentary goes to other pastors of megachurches. Why does it matter? I don’t get the prestige of a megachurch. I do understand, however, the need of all media types to disparage the topic of their article. This is the problem with the information overload we experience in our culture. It honestly bothers me that we feed this secret desire to read the latest gossip, and I am guilty of it. I don’t like reading about anyone failing and falling victim to the flesh but it happens, and we all should just drop the stones we carry in the pouch on our belt just waiting to hurl them at the next Christian celebrity to fall. Now the last comment may seem like I am hurling a stone but it is more that I am questioning Pastor Tullian’s judgment on the person he chose to be his confidante. It is always wrong for a man to confide in a woman (and a woman should not have a male confidante) about problems of the heart he has with another woman. The female confidante is going to be on the side of her friend, and it is just not a good setting for talking because she going to tell her male friend what a great guy he is and then emotions get all muddled and confused, and we have now what is going on in Pastor Tullian’s failed marriage. I don’t know how Pastor Tullian will do but searching for God is always the right path. Looking vertical is always a better choice that looking horizontal.

Holy Spirit, move

A well-known pastor was verbally attacked in his church on August 16. This pastor, John MacArthur, is known for his opposition to the gifts of the Spirit in evidence today. He has done a number of sermon series on his scriptural interpretation of the cessation of tongues, healings, prophesy, and other gifts associated with the gifts listed in Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians. His contention is that the gifts, which were an affirmation of the gospel as presented by the apostles during their ministry, died out after the apostolic age. He has many arguments from his interpretation of scripture, such as Paul saying that when something becomes perfect then gifts of the Spirit will cease. And what Pastor MacArthur believes what Paul is referring to is the New Testament.

The New Testament canon was not finalized until about 300 years after the Apostle John wrote his letters, which was around 90AD, according to most sources who know better than I do in these matters. There are some miracles that happen after, even fairly recent after that with one of John’s disciples, Polycarp, as part of a miracle. And there are many other instances where the Supernatural has intervened in our time/space continuum for purposes only known to Him. I am sure that many of us have known someone who has been cured of cancer when they had no reason to be cured based on the diagnosis.

Now for the individualized showings of the Spirit through tongues, healings and other ways, I contend that they occur. I do believe that the Spirit uses whatever means necessary to support the gospel where it is being preached. In areas where the devil has a foothold through witchcraft and other occult practices the Spirit may move extraordinarily through His vessels so that people can see that the power of the Lord of the gospel is more than that of those who practice in the occult. It is necessary to combat demonic activity with the power of the Almighty. Those people live in fear and they need to understand they do not need to live in fear of the witchdoctor anymore.

But in Western Civilization it may be a little different. Are we much different than that of the culture of the Pharisees? I contend that we are far worse because we far more skeptical than the Pharisees were. The Pharisees did not ever doubt or contend that the miracles performed by Jesus were not real they only questioned their point of origination. We don’t even believe they happened or are possibly happening. We believe what read in the bible to be true but would we believe it to be true if we witnessed a miracle healing when one person placed their hands on another infirmed person, prayed a simple prayer and the person walked?

My point is that we cannot simply rule out that the Spirit has not manifested Himself with outward signs as He once did as meaning that the gifts of the Spirit ceased. And we cannot simply believe that every babbler in the church is really full of the Holy Spirit and is speaking in an unknown tongue. Shrewd as serpents and meek as lambs we need to be. I believe the Spirit is moving with outward signs of His power but I do not believe that He is moving on a stage set for TV or Madison Square Garden. He is moving in the places where His movement needs to be witnessed in the most deliberately covert manner.

Single and pregnant

I recently read an article that somebody reposted to their Facebook page. The repost was an article from a Christian pregnancy center. They talked about how young women who become pregnant while not married and how people gossip about them, judge them and condemn the young woman for what happened. Now the woman feels ashamed because she is pregnant and everyone can see. She wants to hide and does not want to go back to the church they probable have been going to their whole life.

Now it is wrong what the people said and I commend this pregnancy crisis center for taking them in. They treat the women with dignity and are excited about the pregnancy. They make the person feel good about the pregnancy and help them forget the condemnation they felt from the people they know. It is something good the work they are doing.

What I have a problem with is what appears to be a complete dismissal of the evident sin. This young woman, along with a man, had sex and they were not married. How is that not sin? Does the baby in the womb erase the sinful act that caused the pregnancy? I can’t read anywhere in the bible where fornication is acceptable if it results in a pregnancy. The pregnancy center compared the pregnancy of Mary, the mother of the Jesus, to that of a pregnant single woman who visits their center. They are not the same.

The article used the pregnancy of Mary as an example. The article said that Mary was accepted, not condemned, by her relative Elizabeth when she went to visit her. Elizabeth rejoiced over Mary’s pregnancy. Why? Because Elizabeth knew that Mary had a pregnancy that would only happen once in the entire history of man. She was pregnant with the Savior of all mankind. She had to be single, and a virgin. Joseph was going to put her away quietly until Gabriel appeared to reassure him of the nature of Mary’s pregnancy. The pregnancy of Mary was not a result of Mary sleeping with another man. Jesus was conceived via the Holy Spirit. To compare the two is simply misleading and wrong.

It is unfortunate that a young woman becomes pregnant and we call it a mistake. But make no mistake that the act that led to the pregnancy was no mistake, it was a sin and that is how God would see it, and repentance. Does that mean I condemn the baby? Not at all. All pregnancies are precious but we cannot excuse the sin. A baby out of wedlock does not justify and make right the act of fornication, which Jesus does condemn.

Practicing righteousness

1 John 3: 4-10: Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s[b] seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. 10 By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.

I think that John is pretty clear in part of his letter. One cannot be in sin and still claim to be in the light. One cannot be active in a sinful lifestyle and still say that they are practicing righteousness. One cannot claim that they are on a journey to find their place in the church while still harboring unrepentant sin. We cannot be living and acting out in an unrepentant sinful manner and be in the light of Jesus Christ. It is not possible. As John says in his gospel, Jesus is light, and in Him there is no darkness. If we are making a practice of sinning then we are of the devil, and the devil has deceived us into believing that we are not sinning, that because we are devoted to each other in love that God does not care that we are not married or that we are of the same sex.

Wrong! Wrong! Wrong! We cannot be any more wrong. There is no relationship that is acceptable to Christ and the Father except two: a celibate or life of abstinence before marriage or a man and a woman (singular) who are married. In no other context is sex allowed by God. It was in the context of marriage that He blessed Adam and Eve and told them to be fruitful and multiply. Trust me, my flesh wishes it were true otherwise. My flesh wants to have sex with multiple partners. My flesh wants me to have an affair or sexual fling or something. Why? Because it is an act contrary to the will of God. My flesh wants to sin with abandon but the Spirit of Christ living within keeps me true to the will of God.

Were there times when I ignored the Spirit and indulged the flesh? Of course there was. Ask anyone who has been around and I guarantee that there would be a unanimous vote to the affirmative that they have ignored the voice of the Spirit at some point in their Christian life. In the story of the adulterous woman, the older men dropped their stones first because they knew they were not without sin. Paul warns against those who practice indulgences of the flesh because they will not inherit the Kingdom.

I need to practice righteousness. Why? Because if I am practicing righteousness then I am not practicing sinning. But why is loving my neighbor relevant to practicing righteousness? For one, we commanded to love our neighbor more than we love our selves, and second, if we are loving our neighbor as Jesus loved us then we find it impossible to lust after someone who is a brother or sister in Christ.

The battle for our children

This is the danger we are in, as a culture, when we embrace sin and push God away. We are setting up young people and children for a life of pain and confusion. We will have teachers and school counselors who will mistake behavior as signs for attraction towards members of the same sex. They will sit them down in an office, look really concerned and try to guide them the path that the counselor has determined to be the right one. We will have children who will be talked into a gay and lesbian lifestyle by someone in a position of authority, someone whom they are taught to trust and have their best interest in mind, and it will be the wrong path.

This is what is going to happen as we continue to embrace sinful behavior as normal. It does not matter what that behavior may be. The main push by these sexual progressives seems to be to legitimize any aberrant sexual behavior. It does not matter what sexual tendencies the children may momentarily be exuding but it will cause serious long-term damage. The children will continue to act out in a certain way because a counselor in elementary school told them that this was the way they were born to behave. We will have a generation of mentally unstable adults because they are confused about their sexual identity.

What are we doing as parents? Have we given away our parental rights so we can chase the American Dream? Have we let the secular government and school system usurp our job as parents? Has the church lost its way in regards to our children?

I don’t know how we have lost our way but we have lost our way in being active in the development of our children. Taking them to their sports practices and games is not really quality time. Standing in their doorway as they play video games or are texting away on their phones is no quality time. We have lost our focus and have neglected the directive from our God to guide our children, to teach them His statutes and law, and about the redemptive power of the death and resurrection of His Son Jesus. I have been too caught up in trying to ensure that they had a chance at a better life rather than securing their surety in Christ in heaven by living for Him no matter what the culture says about me.

I have been lax in my duties as a father, and I cannot use being a divorced father as an excuse. I must change and the first place that must begin is in my prayer life. My strength and our collective strength are found in prayer before the throne of heaven. This is the best offense in an increasingly hostile battle for the future of our children. Attacking the basic structure, the foundation of family identity, by attacking our children’s sexual identity is the surest way Satan can weaken the church and curb the effectiveness of the outreach of the church body.

Commentary on comments

I like to read articles about controversial topic. I especially love reading the comments that are posted in response to the article. I recently read one about a Colorado Christian baker who lost a court case because he did not want to violate his biblical beliefs. A gay couple asked him to bake a cake for their wedding and he refused, stating that he believes that marriage is between a man and a woman. He did not want to appear to be endorsing something he did not agree with. As usual with LGBT people, they took him to court. This was third decision that did not go in his favor. He was told, by the state, that he had to violate his personal beliefs for business reasons. His religious freedom has been disregarded for alleged discrimination.

The comments at the end of the article are sometimes more enlightening than the article itself. I don’t mean to say that the comments shed more light on the topic, they usually do the opposite. What is really eye-opening is the lack of understanding of what the bible states, from people on both sides of the issue. One person commented that God hates homosexuals and that they are all going to hell, because God hates homosexuals. Another replied that if we are all God’s children, and if God loves all His children, then why would He hate any of them or send them to hell? And then it answered with that it is in the bible, that the bible says that God hates homosexuals. Then the typical response was used that the bible was written by men, not by God, so how can anyone say that it is God’s words that are in the bible because He didn’t physically write the words. No wonder why people think Christians are ignorant.

We, as Christians, need to be able to be articulate and capable of defending the bible and what it teaches. It does not say anywhere that God specifically hates homosexuals, or any other kind of sinner. It does say that God hates sin, and we all sin. He is a God of love but, more importantly, He is a holy God and His Holiness demands a reckoning in regards to His law. Love is only one of His many attributes but love is not His defining attribute. His holiness is because all of His attributes flow from His holiness. He hates sin and loves His children, but He cannot accept unrepentant sinners into His heavenly kingdom. That would be a violation of holiness.

Now, one other comment that I wanted to comment on was the same person suggesting that God come down from Heaven and clarify His position on homosexuality. He already has presented His position on homosexuality, quite clearly in several places. If the person is unwilling to accept the written word of God then what makes that person believe that he would believe God if He came from heaven? He already did when Jesus came into this world. God doesn’t need to beg and plead so that we understand. His word will always stand and we either believe it or we don’t. If you want to read about a self-righteous person who believed he deserved an answer from God about some injustice done to him that he thought unfair then read the book of Job, especially the end, and one might get some sense of what God thinks about His need to explain Himself to His creation.

The Father has laid it all out already. If you don’t believe the bible then believe what you see around you in the earth. It points to a Person who much greater that any of us.

Confessional

Today is a day for a confessional from the founder and author of this website. I write a lot about people who are embracing sin and a lifestyle of sin, and how it doesn’t matter that they are sinning (or refuse to see what they are doing as sin), God should see how earnest and genuine and how doing what they do makes them feel warm and fuzzy inside. Today, I am going to write a brief autobiography and expose to anyone who visits my webpage that I have escaped from a deep pit of sin that I did not believe that I would ever escape from it. There are times when I feel like I am on the edge of the escarpment with only a nudge from Satan needed to push me back in. But, with all praise and thanksgiving to my Lord and the Holy Spirit, I have been kept from falling into the pit of sin again.

I was exposed to pornography at an early age. My friends and I stumbled upon a secret stash of dirty magazines when I was around 8 years old. Of course, I didn’t understand the full impact of what I was really looking at but we all fanned through the pages. Little did I realize a dirty little seed had been planted and would soon germinate and grow into an entangling weed that had roots and tentacles growing into all parts of my body. I was hooked. It wasn’t until later on in a few years I again found another stash, only this one I had easier access to. The other one had been moved somewhere else. It was the beginning of a terribly damaging relationship that took years to break off.

I was haunted by pornography for twenty plus years, possibly even thirty. The worst part of that time was from my twenties until I was divorced in my mid-thirties. The reason is I discovered internet porn in the 90’s. As part of the college I went to I received a laptop and I had unrestricted access. It was an ongoing war. There were lots of battles that were waged, and I lost most of them. The devil knew how to knock me down and it wasn’t too difficult to do so. He knew right where to hit me and I would be down for a while. There were times of victory but the sweet taste didn’t last because I would take the credit and not give God the credit. Those were dark days of spending money on phone sex, DVD rentals, magazines, and videos on line. Just when I had thought I had it licked Satan would sucker-punch me again and down I would go.

The problem was, I was making excuses for my addiction to porn. I would always explain it away or make up some reason as to why I needed to indulge my desire to look at porn. But that is all they were in the end, empty justification for my wanton desire to sin. It wasn’t until I ended up divorced that I decided to give the fighting the war on my own and turn it over to the Commander of the armies of heaven that I was able to win the war. I had to admit that I was sinning and not really doing much to remove any temptation to sin. I liked it and wanted to keep doing it. But it was wrong. I had prayed many times for victory over my sin addiction but I don’t think I really wanted to stop. It was when I found myself in the deepest darkness of the hole I had dug that I gave up the fight and gave it to Jesus.

I was in vicious revolving cycle of sin. I was on the merry-go-round, sitting on the horse, sometimes I would rise up and sometimes I would sink down. It wasn’t until I jumped off the ride that I was able to stop the cycle, well, not me but with the power that only comes through Jesus and His victory over sin.

Jeremiah says that above all things, the heart is deceitful. The kinds of sin where feelings are involved are the hardest sins to break from. When feelings are involved we more likely to make excuses to continue on and tell others that it was their problem in their inability to accept my desire to stay in my sin. They had the problem, not me. I had to understand that Jesus needed my heart and my mind and my soul and my strength, all of it, not just the tiny amount I wanted to give. I had to understand that God would never alter His view of sin because or how I liked doing it. The most difficult part of any disagreement is for the side that is completely in the wrong to admit that they are completely in the wrong, and to be willing to see it from right side of issue. This is what we need to do when we are intentionally indulging sin, desire God to overlook our disobedience, and realize that He never will because we are the problem, not Him.

Our Lord will never change and we will never change until we surrender and allow Him to change us. I had to recognize that I was in the wrong and then allow Him to begin the process of change in me. We can continue in our sin and tell everyone else that they don’t understand and make up any justification we want but it will always be sin because that is how the Father will see it. Our feelings or thoughts do not matter where sin is concerned, only God’s opinion does.

Two constants

I wanted to elaborate on something I wrote in a recent post. I wanted to comment further of the concept of the two constants that exist in all the history of mankind. This is an inescapable truth regarding the relationship between God and man throughout human history. It cannot be ignored. No matter what the human culture dictates these two constants remain true. The context may change within human history but the struggle to find a way to an end around the Almighty’s holiness has not, and our Creator never changes. We are always trying to make God compromise on His statutes, or at least those who represent Him here on earth.

The two constants are that God does not change, His holiness still requires an accounting for our sin, and we always try to find ways to legitimize or justify our sin. Do we think that homosexuality was not prevalent in the times of the apostles, or during the Old Testament? How many times did godly kings of Judah abolish male prostitutes in the temples of foreign gods? How often did Israel need to call out to God to rescue them from under the thumb of other nations because they did as they wished and disobeyed God? David lost his child because it was born from an adulterous and murderous affair. God may be patient and forgiving but the clock is ticking.

I am writing this and my brain is going in at three different directions. I know that we are always trying to outwit God. We are always trying to pray to Him that He see that the sin we are involved in is not as bad as it seems. I love my girlfriend or boyfriend so sex outside of marriage is fine, everyone is doing it. I love my same sex partner so, because God is love, then He must understand our love is real and true and that what the bible teaches is irrelevant in these modern times.

God is timeless, and so are His statutes. Like chaff, these empty arguments will blow away when we are judged, which is why the psalmist says that God laughs when men make their grand plans, in this case grand arguments and justifications. So, we really only have to make a choice between two options: continue to rebel against God or submit to Him. If you are not submitting to Him then you are in rebellion, and in your sin you remain.

Pig in a wedding gown

Hillsong NYC, and all of Hillsong church, is the center of controversy about a gay couple who were active members and leaders in their church. One was a choir director and member of the worship team and the other sang in the choir, and he held small group meetings in his apartment. Another pastor brought to light that Hillsong NYC was allowing these two to have an active role as leaders while being open about their same-sex relationship. The two men claim that church leaders were aware of the relationship and apparently did not make any change to their status to their leadership roles, allowing them to continue. The lead pastor, Brian Houston, and other staff have released a statement that they were just made aware of it and have addressed the gay men’s leader status.

This was brought to light by a blog of another pastor. The two men responded to his blog in the usual LGBT manner: the man was ignorant and out of touch and doesn’t understand the journey we are on and how we trying to discover where we fit into the Christian community, and so on and so forth. What they are saying, and those who are likeminded, that the bible should be defined and interpreted based on contemporary culture trends, not on something written in the context of 2,000 years ago.

The author of the blog, Geoffrey Grider, was absolutely right to call out Hillsong NYC. No church can have anyone actively engaged in any sinful lifestyle hold a leadership role. I don’t mean to say that someone who used to be a fornicator or an adulterer or murderer or thief or whatever sin they did and has since repented with a contrite heart cannot be a leader. If that were the case then we would have leaderless churches. There are plenty of pastors who have been caught in an adulterous relationship and have stepped down from behind the pulpit as a result. The two men in question are in a homosexual relationship are unrepentant and do not see their sin as sin. They are identifying with the culture not the teachings of scripture.

I would rather be on the wrong side of any issue that agrees with what secular culture preaches. It would not matter to me what they called me. In the whole history of mankind there are two constants: the holiness of the Father and man’s rebellion into sin. When we don’t repent before the Father we try to redefine His holiness so it fits our ideals. God will not fit into any box for the universe is His domain.

These two men and the people in the church community can say the right things to say to the secular world so as not to offend but the truth will always offend. You can dress a pig in wedding gown but it still is a pig. We can explain away our sin but saying everyone is doing it or is ok with it or however we want to justify it, it is still a sin in the eyes of God.

Empty worship

There has been a lot of discussion recently about homosexuality and Christianity. There has been a lot of discussion, on both sides of the issue and some who would pretend they could stand on neutral ground, of can a person be gay and still be considered a faithful and true Christian. I have a lot of issues with the whole premise, as the reader may have noted in my previous posts, that one could be steeped in sin, whether it be homosexuality, adultery, thievery, gossip, uncontrolled anger, maliciousness, and/or fornication, that said person could still be a contributing participant in any kind of worship. Is it possible to be unrepentant in your sin and offer credible worship?

The answer is: NO!

Any person, regardless of the stature in the church or Christian community, cannot be an unrepentant sinner and still offer worship to the Father that is accepted by Him. No one. It does not matter what the world says, what type of culture shift, what topics are in the public debate, or any social acceptance of what the bible considers aberrant behavior. One cannot worship in spirit and in truth if they are active in a lifestyle that falls under the biblical definition of unrepentant sin.

Sin is the barrier that denies us access to the throne room of heaven. There really isn’t much discussion to be had. The biblical definition of sin does not change because our culture and media says it should. If a person is in the worship service, lifting up their hands, gazing towards heaven, even squeeze out some tears with an expression of joy, their participation in the worship does not go any further than their outstretched hands. It will not be accepted because sin is still prevalent in that person’s life. Man may not be able to see the heart and mind but God always does.

It is empty worship.

Matthew 7: 21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’