Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Our Great Physician

photo 1

I think many people struggle with faith because of how they view God.  Some view God as a rule giver issuing edicts from on high.  Others view God as a divine Santa Claus bestowing gifts and answering prayers.  And many will fall in between the two.

Some resist seeing God as an authority figure altogether.  It may conjure harsh images from their past.  Others resist this view of God for the simple reason of maintaining control.

I believe that it is okay to view God as an authority figure.  There are plenty of times when I gladly submit to authority.  If my computer goes haywire, I call tech support and carefully follow the technician’s guidance.  Sometimes it is a slow, step-by-step process where I need assistance due to unfamiliar territory and a lack of knowledge.  Other times I call for a reminder, receive an update, or get a tune up on my machine and I am quickly back on track.

People also submit to authority when they want to master a difficult sport like golf, tennis, or rowing.  They hire a coach, pay for lessons, or join a club so that practice can yield a great swing, an ace shot, or a straight course on the water. Practice and instruction will yield better performance no matter what the sport.

People also visit the doctor when they are sick and in need of care.  Philip Yancey, the Christian author, shares that, “a doctor is probably the most helpful image for me to keep in mind while thinking about God and sin.”  His view of God speaks to our human condition.  The doctor wants to deliver physical health.  The doctor shares wisdom and expertise that I lack.  The doctor also knows what habits, issues, and conditions are likely to cause injury.   I often receive his opinion on things to avoid and a prescription that will improve my life.  We should seek out God’s advice and opinion for living just like we seek care from a doctor.

It is important how we view God.  Often we do not realize our view of God is skewed, but there is a plumb line to show us what is straight and true.  God has given us His Word as the clearest description of who He is.  In the Old Testament, God reveals His character – His love, righteousness, wrath, justice and promises. In the New Testament, God reveals Jesus – His character in flesh.

Take time to visit with our Great Physician who is always on call.  He knows what can heal, cure, restore, and redeem.

 

libertyBell

Proclaim liberty throughout all the Land unto all the inhabitants thereof” Leviticus 25:10

Each Fourth of July we celebrate the birth of America.  We celebrate freedom, independence, and the precious rights that guarantee the blessings of liberty.  But it is important to remember how religious liberty was the original goal for many who left England.

Christianity operated under very different rules from today.  There was no separation of church and state, so whatever the King or Parliament desired regarding religion became law.  It was also strictly enforced.  In 1670, Parliament renewed the Coventicle Act, and began cracking down on religious dissenters, mainly Quakers and Baptists, who were not in compliance with the Church of England.

This law is alien to us today, but it fined people who attended a religious assembly other than the Church of England.  It allowed magistrates and authorities to shutter the churches of these outlying religious groups.  Dissenter clergy could be fined for preaching, expressing their religious views, or sharing the gospel.  Even people who allowed a religious assembly in their own home could receive a huge fine if discovered.

Laws during this time had little to no religious freedom.  British law required citizens to attend worship services. Practicing your faith in a different manner or practicing a different faith, one not permitted by the government, could be grounds for your arrest, conviction, or execution.

As arrests grew, dissenter groups fled England seeking the promise of religious expression without persecution.  While many went to Europe for immediate refuge, they desired an enduring place where religious freedom could be secured for their families.

Lord Baltimore established the colony of Maryland as a haven for persecuted Roman Catholics.  William Penn noted this and went a step further.  He established the colony of Pennsylvania for Quakers, but created a Charter of Privileges where religious tolerance was guaranteed for all inhabitants.

Penn’s belief that “no people can be truly happy if abridged of the freedom of their consciences” attracted not only Quakers who had been persecuted in England, but religious groups from across the globe, all of whom had suffered because of restrictions on their religious beliefs.

Pennsylvania quickly became the American refuge of religious freedom.  English Methodists, French Huguenots, Spanish Jews, Irish Roman Catholics, Scottish Presbyterians, along with German Mennonites and Amish congregations filled the colony seeking peace from persecution, but mostly seeking the right to worship God.

William Penn’s holy experiment in religious liberty had succeeded.  To underscore this point, the Pennsylvania Assembly in 1751 ordered the casting of a 2,080-pound copper bell to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of Penn’s Charter of Privileges.  Placed inside the tower atop Pennsylvania’s State House, now Independence Hall, the object would eventually be known as the Liberty Bell and serves as an enduring reminder of the religious freedom Americans enjoy today.

This Fourth of July, take time to celebrate the freedom and liberty you have to worship God and pray for the dissenters of our age who still seek religious liberty.

Grace Notes

grace notes

Philip Yancey has been writing for three decades.  That experience and understanding is apparent anytime you read his work.  He has a beautiful knack of viewing life and ordering it on paper.  Yancey’s insight, imagination, and gentle faith are refreshing to any reader.

He is transparent on being wounded by the church, sifting through faith issues, harboring doubts, and other struggles in his Christian journey.  Through it all, this earnest pilgrim finds his way back and strengthens his faith and reliance in God.  I appreciate his honest desire to seek the Lord.  The words of his journey and stumbles on the path now provide encouragement to other believers who need a solid footing in Jesus.

Grace Notes, Daily Readings with a Fellow Pilgrim is a compilation of Yancey’s total work.  The pages are drawn from his twenty plus books and numerous articles. They capture inspiring and provoking images for any believer.  This book is ideal for daily devotions or starting a new spiritual discipline.  The readings will correspond to particular days and themes on the calendar.  Some readings will follow the church calendar for Christmas, Easter, the Ascension, and Pentecost, but keep in mind that the days will vary from year to year.

Take time to discover the Grace Notes of Philip Yancey.  You will appreciate the experienced writing, spiritual depth, and brotherly encouragement that he provides.

 

Army seal

Today, in 1775, the Continental Congress voted to raise an Army and truly make ourselves free.

Celebrate that freedom by praying for the men, women, and families who serve our nation so well.

May God protect our Soldiers, strengthen their relationships, and sustain them as they return from war.  Amen.

Deployed service members reflect on  D-Day

On June 6, 1944, more than 160,000 Allied troops landed along a 50-mile stretch of heavily fortified coastline in Normandy, France.  Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower called the operation a crusade in which, “we will accept nothing less than full victory.”  More than 5,000 Ships and 13,000 aircraft supported the D-Day invasion, and by day’s end, the Allies gained a foot-hold in Continental Europe.  The cost in lives on D-Day was high.  More than 9,000 Allied Soldiers were killed or wounded, but their sacrifice allowed more than 100,000 Soldiers to begin the slow, hard slog across Europe, to defeat Adolph Hitler.

Today, the men and women who fought and won World War II are now dying at the rate of 555 a day.  It is vital that we listen to America’s Greatest Generation for several reasons.  Take time to hear these heroes.  Listen to their stories and discover the bravery, courage, and dedication that liberated millions.  Their experiences can continue to shape our nation and our veterans of today.

The veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan can learn from these veterans of yesteryear.  Yes, their stories are inspiring, but they also provide an incredible picture on how WWII veterans dealt with combat, coped with loss, overcame personal obstacles, became resilient, and benefited from post traumatic growth. These veteran stories will confirm their hero status, but they can also provide insights on healing strategies, understanding the importance of battle buddies, and confirm the power of faith in God.

Remember our D-Day veterans and remember to hear their stories of survival. It just may help a veteran from the wars and deployments of today.

POW

Today, US Army SGT Bowe Bergdahl was released from captivity.  SGT Bergdahl was held as a prisoner of war for nearly five years.

SGT Bergdahl was handed over by the Taliban Saturday evening in an area of eastern Afghanistan, near the Pakistani border. Officials said the exchange was not violent and the 28-year-old SGT was in good condition and able to walk.

SGT Bergdahl was the only American Soldier held prisoner in Afghanistan.  His release from captivity was in exchange for the release of five Afghan detainees from the US prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Our nation rejoices with the Bergdahl family at the news of his safe release. Please pray for SGT Bergdahl and his family as they celebrate his freedom and safe return.

 

 

gay2

Gay is the new black.  It appears to be popular, fashionable, trendy, modern, and progressive.  It is also the current direction of our society.  Everyone wants to support these new and modern ideas surrounding sexual behavior.  Hollywood, schools, and multiple media outlets are advancing the idea across America.

A recent news story was pushed to the forefront of many news cycles.  The Topeka City Council voted to create a domestic partner registry for same-sex couples.

While the headlines proclaim equality and advancing rights, the story is very alarming.   The Topeka City Council has now created the legislative authority to define a “couple” or allow citizens to self identify as partners.

Competing definitions of marriage and relationships erode God’s plan for humanity.  Once you abandon the Biblical definition of marriage, any other definition is now fair game for acceptance.  Multiple definitions seem legitimate because relationships are now based on any behavior people may want.  In short, anything goes.

This won’t be comfortable for everyone reading, but try this on for size.  Five council members, a simple majority, can now amend a standing city ordinance to define a “couple” as three people in the city of Topeka.  Let that one soak in for a moment.  Maybe they would call it a “trouple.”  Five council members can now amend an ordinance to allow minors, those under the age of 18, to register their relationship.  This is not an old-fashioned marriage where you have to wait until adulthood.  It is a new, progressive, and cosmopolitan way to record relationships.  Right?

These two scenarios may seem far-fetched.  Your immediate default is to say “this will never happen” or “there is no way someone could do that.”  Why not?  If the traditional standard of marriage is no longer valid any definition can now be used.  The proverbial barn door is already open and continues to swing wide.

How can Christians compete with this contemporary message and share the truth of God’s Word?  The trend continues to grow, so it is time that Christians take a stand in the marketplace of ideas and share our values.  There needs to be a Christian response to the popular arguments out there regarding sexual behavior.  People also need to know God’s message for our lives and the message of salvation through Christ.  Here are some points that deserve discussion.

1.)  People are not born gay.

This is a behavior.  There is no gay gene.  While several studies try to identify chromosomes for this behavior, nothing can prove genetics solely determine homosexual behavior.  The “born-that-way” claim is one from design where people claim that “God made me with these desires, I am only acting on them.”  This overlooks the fact that we are all born with a specific gender.  Why are you following your desires instead of your gender?   Ignoring your desires may be uncomfortable, but ignoring the natural design of your body is unwise and often fatal.  Even if desires are not a choice, sexual behavior always is.  So even if a person honestly believes that he’s been born with homosexual desires, he is certainly capable of controlling his sexual behavior.  If you claim that he is not—that sexual behavior is somehow uncontrollable—then you have made the absurd contention that no one can be morally responsible for any sexual crime, including rape and incest.

2.)  Sexual behavior is not a civil right.

The comparison of homosexuality to race is totally off base and absolutely wrong.  How can you honestly compare slavery to sodomy?  Slavery was human trafficking.  Slavery was dividing a family and selling people on an auction block for profit.  Slavery was counting a human being as three-fifths of a person.  Slavery was forced labor and poor living conditions.  Slavery was banning an education.  Slavery was banning the right to vote.  Slavery was banning the right to own property.  There is no comparison!  Skin color is benign.  Sexual behavior is not benign.  There are serious health consequences for this behavior.  Furthermore, sexual behavior is always a choice; race never is.  You will find former homosexuals, but you will never find a former African, Asian, Caucasian, or Native American.  Slavery, segregation, imprisonment, and Jim Crow laws cannot and should not be compared to a ban on blood donations.  Trying to equate sexual preferences with skin color is demeaning and insulting to every American.

3.)  Agreeing with Scripture does not make you a homophobe.

You have a Constitutional right to religion.  Everyone in America is allowed to follow their faith.  Don’t allow this slanderous term to silence you in the cause for Christ.  This is trumped-up name calling at best.  Following Biblical values does not mean you fear or hate gays.  The Bible shares that:  God is our Creator, we are made in the image of God, we are made male and female, and God wants us to abstain from worldly desires and behaviors.  If one believes that immoral behavior is not God’s plan it does not make one phobic, irrational, or hateful.  This is God’s standard for holy and chaste living.  Strait people can also be immoral.  If I preach on immoral behavior does that now mean that I hate traditional families?  No, it just means that I support God’s standard established in the Bible.  Remember to speak the truth in love and follow the example of Jesus.  Do not succumb to their tactics with shouting and hate speech.  Demonstrate a loving faith and witness that glorifies the Father.  God loves us and wants all of us to turn from our past.

4.)  Our God of love is also a God of justice.

If you love someone and see him ruining his life with poor choices (stealing, lying, adultery, homosexuality, promiscuity) you get concerned, worried, and maybe even angry.  If a family member is an alcoholic wouldn’t you address the issue somehow?  You speak out because of your love for him, not out of hatred.  Anger isn’t the opposite of love, hate is and the final form of hate is indifference.  So the most loving thing Christians can do is warn people that they are living a life contrary to God and that jeopardizes where they will spend eternity.  God does not hate people.  Our worldly behaviors and actions displease God.  We are all sinners and are in need of a Savior.  The challenge is for us to repent and live.  Accepting Jesus as Lord reconciles us with God, for all past wrongs.  That means any sin, conducted for any length of time can be forgiven.  Love and justice can coexist through faith in Christ.  Scripture shares in Romans 10:9, “that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”

These points can help to form a Christian response to sexual behavior in our world.  It may not be popular, trendy, or fashionable, but it is faithful to our Heavenly Father.  While the world wants Christians to look like fools, remember to take a stand for Christ, speak the truth in love, and share how God’s Word can transform everyone into a new person.

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 150 other followers

%d bloggers like this: