Monday, June 29, 2015

Did "LOVE" Really #Win?

Last week, when the Supreme Court made its ruling, allowing for gay marriage throughout our country, I posted a comment voicing my disapproval. Almost immediately, I was met with a reply—from a friend I met through church—simply saying, “I’m sorry you’re so afraid of love.”


In the moments that followed, the social media spheres lit up with that word. The hashtag #lovewins was attached to photos of same-sex couples kissing, rainbow flags, etc. 

But did “love” really win? Is that what happened in Friday’s ruling? I don’t think so. I think this is yet another example of the gay agenda perverting something that was meant to be beautiful. Scripture tells us what love really is. And it is beautiful. So lets hold up the gay agenda’s message and see if it meets the biblical definition of love.

1 Corinthians tells us: 

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. -1 Corinthinans 13:4-7 (NIV)

Patient. The gay agenda might tell you they have been patient…waiting years for their “equal rights” in the eyes ofthe law. I would argue that the gay agenda has been anything but patient…forcing itself at an ever-growing pace into our businesses, our churches, our politics.  In one generation, the gay agenda has managed to bring this nation to cross a line that not even Sodom crossed. Not even the Roman Empire at the height of its depravity did not cross the same-sex marriage line. Yet in one generation, our nation has done so. Patient? I think not.

Kind. How does forcing a business-owner out of business for not bending to your will even come close to “kind?” The amount of hatred against those who believe homosexuality to be sin is anything but kind. The words "homophobe" and "bigot" are thrown around like candy at a main street parade. Kind? 

Does not envy. I’m very interested in this word in the definition of love. Love does not envy. There's a reason God included this. You see Satan loves to mimic God in many ways. He envies what God has. He wants it. The gay agenda has tried to steal one of God’s most beautiful symbols as their own. Scripture tells us that the rainbow is God’s way of reminding us of His promise to never again flood the earth. God owned the rainbow long before the gay agenda. God also owned “love” long before the gay agenda. Even the phrase “love wins” was used by the Church for decades before Friday’s Supreme Court ruling. Yet here comes the gay agenda, envious of what we have, taking it for their own, bastardizing it. Twisting it to mean something else. Out of envy.

Does not boast. Is not proud. Do I even need to explain how this is antithetical to the gay agenda? They’ve even attached the word “pride” to their movement. Pride parades. Gay pride. Loud and Proud. 

Does not dishonor. Who does the gay agenda honor outside of the gay agenda? The very nature of their sexual sin is dishonoring to God. Never mind the way the gay agenda has dishonored the Church. 

Is not self-seeking. Is not easily angered. I think you see where I’m going with this, right? 

Keeps no record of wrongs. If I had a nickel for every social media post where the gay agenda tells us how they’ve been wronged, I’d be rich enough to buy enough members of the Supreme Court to change this decision.

Does not delight in evil but rejoices in the truth. Despite what your "feel-good" church has told you, despite what the media has told you, what your friends, family, loved-ones have said, homosexuality is sin. And ALL SIN is evil. The gay agenda is not about truth. It’s about sin. There is no reference in Scripture…nowhere…where homosexuality is NOT called sin. The only times homosexuality is referenced in the Bible, it is called sin. Do not believe otherwise. The gay agenda has not rejoiced in this truth. They have rejoiced in their sin.

Always protects, hopes, trusts, perseveres.Time will tell us what the homosexual movement will do to our nation. What protections will crumble under the weight of the Supreme Court’s ruling? Religious freedom? Will the hope of the church persevere? What has already happened to trust in our nation in the midst of this sexual sin? And lastly, the gay agenda will not persevere. God has told us who wins in the end. And it is not sin. 

You see, when I look at the definition of love, I do not find the gay agenda. I do not find gay marriage. Don’t let them steal this powerful word, “love” and twist it into something it is not. This is not love. It is sin. But as most sinners often do (myself included) we try to dress up our sin to look like something it’s not. We put a bow on it. We "pretty it up" with all kinds of packaging and even use the right words to make it sound good. Why? Because who wants to be against love? Who wants to take a stand against love? No one. But don’t believe the lie. This isn’t love. 

And if it’s not love, it’s a clanging cymbal. Tell me, which do you believe the gay agenda to exemplify? Love? Or a clanging cymbal?

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

What Kind of "Phobe" Are You?

Merriam Webster defines a phobia as “an exaggerated, usually inexplicable and illogical fear of a particular object, class of objects, or situation.” Hence, someone who has a pathological fear of spiders is said to be suffering from arachnophobia. Those who suffer from an overwhelming anxiety of being in public places are considered agoraphobic.

Let’s take apart that definition for a moment, because the word “phobia” is being attached to anything and everything these days. And there’s a devious reason behind it.

By definition, for something to be a phobia, the fear must be exaggerated, inexplicable, even illogical. Now, those terms are pretty subjective. But in general we can agree that people aren’t living in hysteria over some of the issues to which we attach the suffix “phobe.”

This past week, actor/comedian Jamie Foxx made a joke about a celebrity (as comedians often do) and he paid a dear price for it. In his joke about Bruce Jenner’s choice to undergo a gender identity change, Foxx was called a “transphobe.” Yes, that’s a word now, apparently. Did Foxx, in making a joke, demonstrate an irrational fear? Are we to believe that he has an illogical and inexplicable fear of transgenders?

No doubt, you’ve heard of a few other “phobes” over the past few months…islamophobes, homophobes, etc. When the truth is, most of the people given these labels have no bizarre fear of the subject at hand, but rather simply disagree with it. Believing homosexuality is wrong or a sin, for example, does not make one a homophobe. Being ridiculously terrified of homosexuals or homosexuality, on the other hand, might.

So, if that’s the case, why are so many groups using this suffix to describe those who disagree with them? Simple. Because calling you a phobe paints you as weak, irrational, impotent. If someone can make you look smaller, emasculate you over your beliefs, then they’ve won half the battle. When choosing a side on an issue, people almost always want to go with the side that seems strong, powerful, confident. 

While watching a basketball game on TV recently, I asked my 8-year old which team he was cheering for. He replied, “Well, which team is winning? That’s them team I'm cheering for.” And that’s symbolic of our culture today. We want to cheer on the winner. We want to support the strong. So if one team can make the other appear weak and feeble, if they can give the impression that siding with "them" makes you a loser, then they have already started winning the important battle of public opinion. 

Knowing this, proponents of certain causes will attach the phobe suffix to anyone who disagrees with them, and therefore try to indoctrinate the phobe word into your vocabulary. If they can get you to use their vernacular, then you have become an advocate for their cause. And it's not by mistake that these agenda-pushing folks are aiming for our impressionable youth--teens and tweens whose identities are often centered on being with the "in-crowd"...and who are prolific users of social media.

So, if you are using (or rather misusing) these “phobe” words, you have already bought into this false notion that anyone who disagrees with you is weak—and you are being used. You are marketing a belief, created by a group with an agenda, to further perpetuate their beliefs, lifestyle or choices. You are, by allowing these words to be abused and misused out of context, emasculating anyone who may simply disagree with you.

Quite honestly, it’s a cheap ploy. It seems people these days don't know how to accept someone disagreeing with them. And this inability to accept another opinion is the very epitome of intolerance.  

Words are powerful. They have built nations and they have destroyed them. They can move the heart and they can crush it. Words can leave indelible marks. If a group with an agenda can get a word to “stick”, they know they have created something powerful. So be careful how you use these words. Be careful where you toss these suffixes around. Not everything is a phobia. Not everyone who disagrees with you has an irrational, inexplicable, or illogical fear of your belief.

Sometimes, they just disagree.

Monday, March 23, 2015

"Come and Sin Some More"

They dragged her, kicking and screaming, into the courtyard of the temple and tossed her into the dirt. Surely this would be the perfect test for a man who claimed to be the Messiah. If he were truly the God of Moses, Jesus would direct them to hurl their rocks at the vile temptress--just as Moses had once commanded. Eagerly they waited, some already carrying their grapefruit-sized stones, each hoping to be the first to draw blood. Who would be the one lucky enough to cast the fatal blow?

There was no question as to her guilt. She was caught in the act. The verdict had already been passed by the mob. All that was left was to carry out the sentence. But Jesus calmly kneels down and begins to draw a picture with his finger in the earth. I have always wondered what he drew. Was it meaningful? Was it just a mindless doodle while he formulated his response? Here we see the Son of God, He who created us from the earth, running his fingers through the very same dirt as though he’s contemplating the very origin of every person in the crowd.

Jesus doesn’t say, “No.” He doesn’t say, “Yes.” He makes an offer. Paraphrasing here, he challenges the would-be attackers, “If any of you has no sin in your life, you may cast your stone.” And with that one sentence, the crowd dispersed. I wonder how long it took them to consider it. Did they immediately drop their stones and turn or did they ponder for a moment? Was there one person who thought, “I’m a pretty good guy, I think I have earned the right to throw a stone or two?” Nonetheless, they all find fault in their own lives and leave the woman behind.

This is a powerful moment in Jesus’ ministry. He changed the way the crowd considers sin. Think about it, no one said, “Yeah, I have sin, but nothing as bad as adultery.” This was a moment where Jesus made it clear. Sin is sin. They are all abominations in the eyes of God.

The scene changes dramatically now. It’s much more intimate. Just Jesus and the woman. The Savior and the sinner. Her accusers now gone, Jesus looks the woman in the eye and says, “Come…and sin some more.”

Wait…what? No, that’s not what he said at all. But for some reason, that’s the takeaway so many of us have from this story. We’ve convinced ourselves that Jesus somehow approved of her sinful lifestyle since he did not condemn the woman to death. And we use his grace as an excuse to continue the sin in our own lives. After all, Jesus just wants us to “love one another”, right? That’s all that really matters. Not this silly “sin” thing. But if Jesus doesn’t command the woman to stop sinning, the entire story changes. His ministry purpose changes. Jesus' existence on earth wasn’t to protect sin. It was to put an end to it. To erase it. He certainly didn’t die so that we can celebrate our sin.

This past month, I encountered a person who represents an LGBTQ church. Yes, a church that actually celebrates homosexuality and other forms of sexual sin. A church that says to its people, “Come and sin some more.” This Church teaches from the very same Scripture that you and I read. No doubt, there has been or will be a sermon on the very story I just shared. But I wonder if they leave out the last words of Jesus in the story? How does a church that celebrates sin justify the command to “Go and sin no more?”

When we distort the Gospel to meet our own lifestyle choices, we have committed one of the gravest sins of all, I believe. We have taken the very words of God and stolen their meaning.

And you know what? I think we are all to blame. We hide our own sins out of shame. We refuse to even acknowledge them as sins. How many pastors won’t even use that three-letter word anymore? How many even preach about “hell” and the consequences of sin? Instead, pastors stand in front of their congregations or ink their mega book deals to tell us that if we simply love one another, we are doing just fine in God’s eyes.

Tell me, in this story from John chapter 8, who acts more like the church? Those with the stones in their hands? Or the one who forgave, challenged, encouraged and commanded the woman to leave her sinful ways behind? In this story, Jesus paints a powerful picture of what the Church should be. Should homosexuals go to church? Yes. Just as the liars, the thieves, the coveters and the murderers should. Should we be waiting at the door with stones of accusation and contempt in our hearts? No. We should invite them in, protect them, encourage them, teach them God’s heart for their lives and by all means, we should challenge them to leave their sinful ways behind. That’s hard to do when we all have sin in our own lives. Trust me, I know.

The men in the scene drop their stones and leave. Wouldn’t it have been awesome if just one of them stayed? Not to cast a rock but to ask questions? “Jesus, I have sin in my life. What am I to do about it?” “Are you saying there is grace for every sinner? Even the adulterers?”

“Yes,” he would have answered. “There is grace enough for everyone.” But he would have finished his answer the same way he ended the conversation with the woman in this powerful story from Scripture: 

“Now go and sin no more.”

Sunday, February 22, 2015

The Liars of Acirema

Not too long ago, there was a powerful country that most of the world respected. It was the country where those from all over the globe aspired to one day live. This country was called Acirema. Acirema was founded on the basic principles of honesty, respect and compassion for its fellow man. It was a land of opportunity and dreams.

Now that’s not to say Acirema was a perfect country. Far from it. People still made mistakes, some did bad things from time to time. But overall, it was a good place because those founding principles were strong and the vast majority of the population held firm to them.

But one day, a man decided that he didn’t like one of the founding principles of Acirema. Being honest, he slowly began to realize, wasn’t nearly as alluring as telling a lie. He started slowly, quietly, telling small lies that most wouldn’t notice. But eventually, the thrill of lying became so strong that he found himself unable to ever tell the truth. Thus, he concluded, that he was born to be a liar. It was unnatural for him to tell the truth. Lying wasn’t his fault, he determined. In fact, it was actually his way of being true to himself. To tell the truth would be telling a lie about who he truly was.

This man began to preach his lying lifestyle as the new, modern way of living. At first, he was shunned. The general population called his lying aberrant and they would not stand for it. But eventually, his lies started to gain momentum. Others began to experience lying as energizing. They began to preach the message that Truth Tellers were "old-fashioned", out of touch with the real world. They began to portray lying in a positive light whenever they could. Movies and television shows were created to glamorize lying. Books were written, conventions and parades were held to celebrate lying.

Before long, different brands of lying were being applauded. There were the “gossipers”, the “exaggerators” and the “truth stretchers”—those who enjoyed both telling partial truths while wrapping them in a bigger lie. They formed groups and associations, known as the LGETS (Liars, Gossipers, Exaggerators and Truth Stretchers.) The movement gained momentum and its members became so caught up in their lies that they began to lie to themselves.“This is how God made me!” they would proclaim. “I have no choice but to lie!”

But opposition still existed. Truth-Tellers fought hard against the movement. They preached sermons in churches that called lying in all its facets a sin. This outraged the LGETS. They wanted revenge. But knowing they would never change the mind of the older Truth-Tellers, they decided instead to take aim at their children. They infiltrated children’s programs, movies and TV shows. They wrote children’s books that glorified lying. They called Truth-Tellers "liarphobes"; because they knew that if they painted Truth-Tellers as fearful of them, it gave them power…and made Truth-Tellers seem weak and impotent. They told children that their Truth-Teller parents and grandparents were living in “yesterday’s world.” The way of the future, they preached, was lying. Soon, impressionable young people all over Acirema were convinced that they too were born liars.

But the churches fought back. Realizing that fighting a religious battle would be too difficult, the LGETS decided to focus on Acirema’s government. If they could lobby for laws to protect their lifestyle, they could force churches to bow to their lying whims. But government was filled with Truth-Tellers. And the Truth-Tellers did not want to grant special privileges for those who chose to lie. So the LGETS stopped using the word “privileges” and started using the word, “rights.” After all, everyone should have the right to choose to be a liar, if they so wish. Who was government to say people don’t have the right to lie? The government was fearful of being branded a regime that withheld rights of its citizens so it slowly began to consider these “rights” for liars.

Still, government wasn’t moving fast enough for the LGETS. So, to help move matters along, its members began to infiltrate the government of Acirema. They made their way into powerful positions—some by lying about whether they were liars or not. Telling voters they were “Truth-Tellers” to get their votes was okay, because it was staying true to their lying lifestyle, after all. They pushed for policies that called lying “normal” and “acceptable.” They even began to believe their own lies so much that they convinced themselves that lying was never a choice to begin with. It was simply “how they were made.” And if that’s how they were made, it was unfair for anyone to oppose them.

Once enough LGETS supporters were in power, they began to write new laws for Acirema that granted special privileges to liars. Liars, gossipers, exaggerators and truth-stretchers had the right to demand businesses, employers and schools bow to their lying desires. Anyone who dared to oppose or speak up against any form of lying would be fined, punished or even forced out of business.

After they got the government control they wanted, the LGETS turned its attention back on the Church. They began to file lawsuits against churches that preached any message against lying. Still, the Church stood strong. Then the LGETS remembered: “to change government, we had to infiltrate government. So we’ll do the same with the Church!” So that’s exactly what they did. They would tell lies to get hired as pastors, Sunday School teachers and evangelists. And once they were in positions of power, they began to preach that lying wasn’t so bad after all. In fact, they taught, that their thousands-years old religious tenets were actually misinterpreted or outdated. Did anyone really understand what the Scriptures were trying to say? By causing confusion in the church with their lies, slowly some of the churches began to accept lying. Eventually entire churches were built on lying. They incorporated some of the original Scriptural doctrines into their lying messages and formed an entire new facet of religion.

All the while, the other founding principles of Acirema began to erode too. LGETS members called on everyone within earshot to disrespect Truth Tellers. Compassion fell apart too, as liars reveled in the unraveling of truth. Little did they realize that their efforts to promote their lifestyle were slowly crumbling Acirema. But as long as their lifestyle became the new norm, little did they care. Eventually the LGETS got exactly what it wanted: the destruction of religion and the overhaul of government to meet their desires. What few Truth Tellers remained were forced underground. And Acirema was now the exact opposite of how it started. And it remained that way for decades.

But generations later, a young liar befriended a Truth Teller. Over the course of their friendship, she began to respect the Truth Teller. So much so, that she began to question the way of life taught to her by her lying father and gossiping mother. Even the exaggerations of her aunt and the truth stretching of her cousins seemed odd to her. Her Truth Teller friend invited her to his underground truth-based church. It was an amazing experience for her. She heard messages she had never heard before. Perhaps, she thought, lying isn’t the best way to live life. Perhaps telling the truth wasn’t so bad after all. Her friend and the church had a profound impact on her. She started telling small truths at first. So small that most wouldn’t notice. But inside, she realized that telling the truth felt better. It felt natural, right. And consequently, lying made her feel dirty, wrong. It now seemed unnatural.

So she began to teach her friends about Truth-telling. And her peers began to see Truth-telling in a whole new light. It didn’t seem nearly as bad as their parents had taught them. They questioned the laws they had been taught. They pushed back against their parents' lies and demanded to know more about truth. Perhaps lying really was a choice after all. Perhaps, it wasn’t the right choice to begin with.

And so, a movement began…