Tuesday, September 24, 2013

As For Me and My House....

In an article printed in the Guardian on September 11th titled, “Pope Francis tells atheists to abide by their own consciences” the head of the Roman Catholic Church was quoted, "Given – and this is the fundamental thing – that God's mercy has no limits, if He is approached with a sincere and repentant heart," the pope wrote, "the question for those who do not believe in God is to abide by their own conscience. There is sin, also for those who have no faith, in going against one's conscience. Listening to it and abiding by it means making up one's mind about what is good and evil." It would appear that the dialogue that the ELCA has been having with the Roman Catholic Church has been making quite an impression. The inference that somehow, one’s conscience can trump faith is charting a course down the slippery slope of apostasy. When leaders of God’s church chart a new course, seemingly apart from God’s will, how many will nod their heads in agreement? Of course, a spokesperson for the Pope backpedaled and tried to spin Pope Francis’ comments as no change from the long standing Roman Catholic doctrine. “The pope had had "no intention of provoking a theological debate on the nature of salvation", it said, adding: "They cannot be saved who, knowing the church as founded by Christ and necessary for salvation, would refuse to enter her or remain in her." Looks like this guy can jump right in and replace President Obama’s creative spokesperson, Jay Carney, without missing a heartbeat.

Pope Francis’ other statements regarding homosexuality and abortion were largely misinterpreted by the media. His emphasis, albeit stated somewhat disjointedly, was that we, as Christians, should refrain from judging others outside of the community of believers. And even those within the church should not be judged by fellow sinners, even if they have fallen prey to homosexual desires or had undergone an abortion procedure. While his message was unclear and apparently widely misunderstood, we Christians do have a habit of falling back into overemphasizing the law while minimizing the redeeming forgiveness of the Gospel. Perhaps, it would be more beneficial for our church leaders to refrain from comments that muddy the waters of the redeeming grace of the cross. That Jesus came to save all sinners and to open a door to salvation to all who simply believe that He died for each one of them should be the persistent message from the church. Leave the social justice agenda for those in politics. Save the lost and bring them to Christ and discover just how much better this world becomes.

Mainline Christian churches are hemorrhaging members at an unprecedented level. There is a clear reason why. Contradictory doctrine that minimizes our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ’s role in salvation leaves those searching for the Truth confused, wondering how they could possibly find answers at those institutions. Many believers become disillusioned when their church leaders question long standing doctrine and are forced to look for a new church, one that preaches the pure Gospel. It is clear that these misguided leaders of God’s church are dividing the faithful, forcing them to choose between their friends and familiar surroundings or remaining faithful to the Lord. Why is it so difficult for those who have allegedly dedicated their lives to serving the Lord, to preach the Truth? Why is it so easy for them to fall in love with the world? When the leaders of the ELCA promote their tolerance and welcoming to the world, who are they looking to please, the world or God? Romans 12:2, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Certainly, proclaiming these errant doctrines do not please the Lord. Certainly, they do nothing to save the lost. And most certainly they fail to give all the glory to the Lord our God. No, these elites long to accept accolades from the world when they demonstrate how modern and enlightened their new religion has become.

Progressives argue that organized religion, in particular Christianity, is dying in part due to the perceived exclusivity. After all, not all will be welcome in heaven and far too many Christians remain trapped within the Law calling out sinners as rule breakers. But, God is very much alive and believers are growing in numbers, just not in the traditional mainline churches, so only part of their conclusion is legitimate. The Gospel saves, the law condemns. We are forgiven, even of our gravest sins because our Savior redeemed us with His precious blood. Why do we find it so hard to forgive as we are forgiven? Jesus called us to love our neighbor. Helping a brother or sister come to Him is the greatest gift that we can offer to our Lord. If we continue to remain trapped in the law, we do nothing but become an impediment to those searching for Him. When one truly accepts Christ, the law that is written upon their hearts is obeyed joyfully in order to properly please Him.

So, as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord by loving Him with all our heart, all our soul, all our strength and with all our mind. And we will show our love to our neighbor by sharing the joy that having one’s heart filled with the love of Christ brings. If this means stepping on the toes of those in positions of authority in God’s church when they stray from sound doctrine and fall in love with the world, it will be shouted from the mountaintops. Isaiah 40:8-9, “The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever. You who bring good news to Zion, go up on a high mountain. You who bring good news to Jerusalem, lift up your voice with a shout, lift it up, do not be afraid.”

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Kinder and Gentler

Since the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the Trayvon Martin trial, there has been much gnashing of teeth and wringing of hands. The race baiters continue to prattle on, all in the name of justice for Trayvon. Little has been discussed about the culture of violence that permeates our society, particularly in the inner city. The “unfairness” doctrine is cited whenever violence rears its ugly head, with blame cast at a society that leaves minorities without an equal chance to succeed. Few have the courage to discuss the inherent reasons why these terrible outcomes occur over and over. What those who espouse a more progressive agenda often fail to understand is that actions do produce consequences. While some of these consequences are unintentional, some are calculated and very intentional. In an effort to create a kinder and gentler society, progressive activists use tactics that sound so very inviting. How could one challenge government programs to take care of the poor? How could one not support giving minorities a leg up when applying for jobs and college since so many have suffered discrimination for far too long? How could one possibly dispute protecting our environment? A women’s right to choose what to do with her body? Striving for social Justice? Combating bullying? Fighting obesity? The list goes on and on, each objective more appealing to the sensibilities of society than the last.

Disproportionate numbers of minority offenders housed in prisons cause activists to rave on about the inequities of our criminal justice system. While it is true that the prison population does not mirror our society’s racial composition, little emphasis is given to the reasons that cause this disparity. Those advocating to “fix” our broken justice system look to lessen the penalties for law breakers, especially for those who commit “non-violent” crimes, to cut the prison population rather than determining why it is that criminals choose to commit crimes. Bill O’Reilly produced an op-ed piece entitled The Color of Hope that addressed one of the root causes of criminal behavior in the inner city and called on minorities to take responsibility for their lives. This brought out the race baiters in force, calling O’Reilly a racist and worse. It’s easy to point fingers and place the blame on everyone but those who should be held accountable. It’s also easy to find real solutions, if we simply open our eyes, hearts and minds.

73% of all births to African Americans are out of wedlock, setting the stage for a life of poverty. Many of those children are raised without the influence of a father. Lacking the direction a father could give, many black children, especially males, are drawn into gangs in an effort to replace the vacuum in their lives. There is a reason that the Lord intended a family to consist of a mother and father, and that they, together raise their children. Deuteronomy 11:18-21,  “Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates, so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth.”Ephesians 6:4, “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”

Progressives look to the government to supplant the role of the father by granting entitlements that provide little more than a living wage to families in need. These subsidies bestowed upon them by a “caring” government are not enough to provide a way out of poverty, subjugating those who have become dependent upon government to remain in poverty with little or no hope of ever breaking those chains of bondage. Progressives not only desire to remove fathers from the family, God is also prohibited. So, where does God’s church stand and how are they responding to the violence that so permeates society, especially in the inner city. The largest Lutheran church in America, the ELCA, has this to offer. No statements from the bully pulpit of the new presiding Bishop rallying the troops to encourage men to take responsibility for the children they father. No affirmation of marriage to combat broken families dependent upon government for their livelihood. The 2013 ELCA churchwide assembly simply issues another social statement, passed overwhelmingly by the way, decrying the large number of those incarcerated and especially the disparity in the racial proportion of the prison population. Does the leadership of the ELCA truly believe that those incarcerated did not truly commit the crimes for which they are being punished and that society is not safer with criminals off the street?

In order to solve a problem one must determine exactly what is causing that problem. Why would one choose to commit a crime knowing that their actions will likely have negative consequences? Does lessening the criteria for punishment do anything to rectify the underlying issue? Not at all. The prison system is overcrowded because too many decide to break the law and commit crimes. Simply releasing non-violent offenders is not an answer. Reducing penalties does nothing to diminish the resolve of a person that chooses to commit a crime. Instilling the values and morals of a loving and just God is the answer. All these supposed men and women of God that spew nonsense about inequalities and social justice need to start doing what they committed to do when they chose to serve the Lord. It is only through the love of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ that the solution to society’s ill resides. Preaching the true Gospel of Jesus Christ is not as popular with the "In Crowd"as promoting homosexuality or protecting creation, but He is the way and truth and the life forever.

Who will have the courage to stand up to the progressive elites that now seem to populate so many churches hierarchies? John 8:42-27, Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I have come here from God. I have not come on my own; God sent me. Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me! Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe me? Whoever belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.” It has become obvious that the leadership of the ELCA is no longer listening to God and have refused to do so for far too long. The “new” things that they are promoting lift up human desires and are simply the evil one’s bidding.

Pray unceasingly for the eyes, hearts and minds of those trapped within the apostasy of the ELCA to be opened to the Truth before it is too late.