For it is by grace you have been saved...

Friday, June 26, 2015

Supreme Court Trumps God? Again....

Below is an article I posted two years ago to the day.  Not surprising that what began here has found it's fruition in the decision by the US Supreme Court to "legalize" homosexual "marriage."  Yes, I use quotes, because the terms have all been redefined.  I am sickened and saddened that our nation has come to this point.  But I have no organized thoughts to respond.  So I simply repeat that post from two years ago.  Unlike the SC, I don't think the truths have changed in that time....

In the beginning God...

God, the Creator and Sustainer of all life.  God, the Supreme Ruler of the Universe.  You'd think His opinion counted for something.

In the begining God created the heavens and the earth.  And He created Man.  And then seeing that it was not good for man to be alone, He created Woman.  He commanded them to become one, to go forth and multiply, and to subdue the earth. Man and Woman, together.  That's the essence of marriage, according to God, from the beginning.  But not according to the Supreme Court.

Today, the US Supreme Court struck down a "core" portion of the Defense of Marriage Act, calling it "unconstitutional."  It's wrong, they said, to treat gay "marriages" as "second tier" relationships.  But why should it be considered a "tier" at all?  Marriage is defined as a covenant relationship between a man and a woman for the purpose of mutual edification and the procreation of mankind.  At least, according to God.  you know, that One who was there at the beginning and invented the thing.

All of this comes on the heels of hearing that in France, one local mayor is currently facing jail time for refusing to perform a gay wedding.  With the SCOTUS decision, that same scenario is looming here in the good ol' US of A. (note: and now it's here!)

We just don't get it, do we?  You can't "redefine" something that was defined by God.  It's like saying, "OK, from now on, mountains are not mountains.  From now on, we'll call them trees and demand that they grow and reproduce like other trees."  No, it's a mountain.  It doesn't work like trees.

Marriage is not "redefineable."  It is what it is.  You can call aberrant relationships between men and men, or women and women (which are unable to produce a main biological function of marriage) whatever you want, but it is still not a marriage.  Shouldn't be treated as one.  Shouldn't be given the respect of one.  Etc.

I know that the world at large, enslaved to sin and self, will never recognize the reality of God's existence, let alone His law, apart from the grace of God opening their eyes.  I understand that we live in a fallen world, and fallen people will continue to seek out whatever their fallen flesh desires.  But in the end, the truth remains.  Regardless of what the SCOTUS or anyone else says, marriage is still marriage.  It is still theologically, morally, biologically, historically, and naturally the union of one man and one woman.  Nothing will ever change that.

And if one day I find myself in a jail cell along side that French mayor for refusing to perform a gay "wedding", then so be it.  You can't force me to say an immoral relationship is a marriage any more than you can force me to call a mountain a tree, or in the case of the original "Big Brother" that 2 plus 2 equals 5.  Words are just words.  It doesn't change the reality.  What God set forth in the beginning still stands. 

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

My Beautiful Bride

My Beautiful Bride
for Cheryl on our 26th Anniversary

My beautiful bride, sometimes I can
Hardly believe this wonderful plan
Our Father has shown
Making us His own
And giving you me, so I'll never be alone

We started as friends, and we still are
Though our bond has certainly come far
You stood by my side
My beautiful bride
Our journey begun, so that we as one abide

We've been one for twenty six year now
And sometimes I really wonder how
Your love keeps its pace
It must be His grace
That makes your love sing, through all of the things we face

I know that Christ is our greatest prize
But sometimes when I look in your eyes
My beautiful bride
Your heart open wide
I think I would die, if you were not by my side

I'm thankful for Christ, our great treasure
Still I'm so grateful for the pleasure
Of my precious wife
In joy and in strife
My beautiful bride, I'll stay by your side for life

With all my love,

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Things That Make You Go...AHHHHH!!!

Confession time.  I watch late night TV.  Not nearly as much as I used to.  I used to watch the old Letterman late, late night stuff.  Can't handle those late nights anymore.  But occasionally I hang on after the local news to catch an opening monologue and maybe a bit more.  I don't know why. Half the jokes make me cringe, the other half probably should make me cringe.  And thrown in there now and then is one that just makes me want to scream. 

To show off more of my sinful late night past...does anyone else remember Arsenio Hall?  Back in the day (notice my hip lingo) he had a show that was pretty popular.  During his monologue he would often joke about his "commute" from Cleveland to LA for the show (which of course wasn't real..the commute, not the show...nevermind), and things he thought about during the long drive.  The joke was "things that make you go hmmmm..."  Oddities of life, interesting and funny thoughts, etc.  

Anyway, last night that escalated for me into "things that make you go AHHHHH!!"  The absolute ridiculous "logic" of the left is mind blowing.  Jimmy Fallon was doing jokes about Rachel Dolezal, the now famous NAACP leader who is Caucasian by birth, but has been pretending to be African American for years.  Her family has come out to reveal the truth, and, well, you know all this. 

Anyway, Fallon was talking about the fact that Rachel had asked her brother to keep her secret, to not "blow her cover." And Fallon's joke was this: “Her cover had already been blown by God when He made her a blonde haired, blue eyed, white lady.”  The crowd laughed. I went "AHHHHH!!"  Actually, I just gasped and gaped and pointed at the TV, then looked at my wife, and pointed at the TV.  Her reply was, "Don't do that to me!"

I'm certainly not the only one to notice this ridiculous double standard in the liberal logic, but I just had to write this because...well, because AHHHHH!!  If you don't understand, let me 'splain it to you. 

Ms. Dolezal's defense is that she "identifies" as black.  She wants to be black, she acts black, took steps to make herself look black, even though her DNA is obviously white.  Nothing can change that.  To "identify" as black is ridiculous.  Hence the Fallon joke, and the crowds laughter.

And yet!  These same liberal folks make a hero out of Bruce Jenner because he says he "identifies" as female.  He wants to be female, he acts female, took steps to make himself look female, even though his DNA is obviously male.  Nothing can change that.  To "identify" as female is ridiculous.  But no jokes here, just claims of what a "hero" he/she/it is. 

I need to just leave this alone.  My last few posts, as few and far between as they've become, have been about this issue.  But this latest twist... well... it just... makes me want to scream.  How can a person make the obvious observation about God's creating hand in the one instance, and completely reject it in the other? 

Of course, I did read one explanation from the so-called LGBT community (I guess when we put a nice sounding label on something it sounds less sinful?)  The argument goes that Ms. Dolezal isn't anything like Mr. Jenner because she wants to make a "choice" to be black, whereas Mr. Jenner doesn't have a choice in who he is.  

What?  Seriously?  One person can go against their DNA programming and try to be something they are not, but it's not their choice; whereas for someone else it is a choice?  If Jenner can claim to be a female even though he's obviously male, by birth, by DNA, by science, by reason; why can't this woman say she is black even though she's obviously white, by birth, by DNA, by science, by reason?

Amazingly, Jimmy Fallon had it right.  Ms. Dolezal is white because God made her that way, by birth, in her DNA, and any "feeling" she has to the contrary is just that, a "feeling."  And the exact same thing is true of Mr. Jenner.  He is male because God made him that way, by birth, in his DNA, and any "feeling" he has to the contrary is just that, a "feeling."  Oh, the frustrations of the liberal logic.  

Sadly, many of the sheeple in this country will blindly follow the liberal logic, laughing at Ms. Dolezal, embracing Mr. Jenner.  They will ignore the simple truth that both of these people are hurting individuals, looking for love and acceptance, looking for an "identity" that they will never find anywhere outside of Christ.  Only He can change us into who we really need to be.  Only He can take a heart mired in sin and make it new and whole.  

I need to remember that as well.  The only reason any of us see the reality of this whole thing is because God opened our eyes to the truth of our own sinful hearts, gave us new ones, gave us a desire for His truth above our own sinful desires.  Only by the grace of God. 

But still, sometimes, I just want to....... AHHHHH!!

Thursday, June 4, 2015

The Rise of Opiniphobia

I might have coined a word.  I know I didn't invent the idea.  Many have addressed the issue.  But a friend was recently commenting about the fact that these days, if you disagree with someone, especially concerning immoral lifestyles, they label you as "phobic."  Homophobic is the term used to blast anyone who dares to point out sodomy as a sin.  The latest, thanks to the subject of my last post, is "transphobic."  Anyone who dares to say that Bruce Jenner is not "courageous" for mutilating himself to pretend to be something he biologically is not, is "transphobic."

My response to that friend's comment is simply this.  Those folks are opiniphobic.  And while mine not be a real word, at least I'm using the concept in the right way.  Others are not. 

A "phobia" is a persistent fear of something.  Someone who suffers from arachnophobia is someone who displays a genuine fear of spiders.  I know.  I suffer from this!  Spiders aren't nearly as dangerous as I perceive them to be, hence my fear is a genuine phobia.  I cringe at the sight of the things.  And don't get me started on snakes!

But here's the thing.  People use the label "homophobia" to simply describe someone who disagrees with them about the acceptance of sodomite behavior.  I don't fear those who claim to be homosexual.  I have no fear of homosexuality in general.  I simply disagree with those who claim it's acceptable behavior.  God's Word clearly says it is not.

It would be akin to two people discussing the issue of whether or not eating meat is acceptable.  One calls his friend "meataphobic" while the friend returns with a "vegaphobic" label.  It's not that either one has a dread fear of eating or not eating meat (for the most part), it's just that they disagree about whether or not it's appropriate. 

Since when did we decide that disagreeing is a phobia.  Because I don't support Jenner's "transgender" claim, it means that I'm automatically afraid of it?  Of course not.  Mr. Jenner doesn't scare me.  Well...  No, anyway.  I would gladly sit down and have lunch with him, share the gospel with him, pray with and for him.  I don't fear him, I simply share a differnt opinion about the ethical, moral, and spiriutal nature of his chosen lifestyle. 

On the other hand, those who use these kinds of labels are genuinely phobic.  They are terrified of others' opinions, if they don't line up with their own.  They can't stand disagreement with them.  And so they lash out with claims of "hate speech" and "phobia", which ironically in itself is usually accompanied by hateful speech and phobic actions.  Thus the idea of "opiniphobia."  The persistent fear of others' opinions. 

As I said, the idea is nothing new.  It's been on the rise for quite some time.  The liberal side of things has for a long time labeled anyone who disagrees as "phobic."  Primarily because it shifts the abnormality to the other person.  It makes it seem like those who disagree are the ones with the problem.  Again, even though it's an inaccurate description.  But since when are those who desire to redefine everything under the sun concerned with accuracy?

There are two streams of thought here.  One, as an American, people are entitled to their opinions.  I don't have to agree with them.  Mr. Jenner has the right to voice his opinion.  I have the right to disagree.  That's our society.  

Two, as a Christian, I'm compelled to go beyond my own opinion to see what God's Word has to say.  Once God has spoken, my opinion is worth nothing.  He is the Sovereign Creator of the Universe (I guess that makes me "evolutionaphobic").  He makes the rules.  He created male and female in the beginning.  He determined marriage is between one man and one woman.  He ordained that salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, according to Scripture alone.  You are free to disagree with that.  I'm not opiniphobic myself.  But it's not me you will answer to.  And when you stand before the great Judge, I'm not really sure your opinion and your "phobic" labels are going to carry much weight.  

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Can We "Judge" Bruce Jenner?

I'm sure most folks have heard the big "reveal" of Bruce Jenner's "new identity."  After some surgery and other...stuff...the former Olympian has revealed that he is now "Caitlyn" Jenner. 

This morning, Pastor John Piper put a little post on Facebook asking if this "Caitlyn" was the father of Bruce Jenner's sons.  While in part it seems to be a jab, I think Pastor John was also simply trying to point out that no matter the surgery, Jenner is still biologically a male who has fathered several children.  Regardless of what he wants to "identify" as, he is a man, he provided the male "part" needed for child birth, and nothing changes that. 

Of course, as you can imagine, comments were quick and sometimes harsh.  Here is a snapshot as I saw it on my feed:

Aside from the simple head-shaking I experience when I wonder why some of these folks even read Pastor Piper's posts (that was fun to say), I also face the head-shaking question of "have these folks ever read a Bible?"

We hear all the time this mantra of "we can't judge others" and "we should just love everyone."  But those comments show a complete lack of biblical understanding, both of judging and love. 

When it comes to judging, it is true that God is the ultimate judge.  Only He determines the ultimate fate of any man, woman or child, and His Word clearly states that the only criteria to be used is that of Jesus Christ.  In that sense, we don't judge. 

Yet Scripture also clearly tells us to be "fruit inspectors", judging the fruit in one another's life compared to the truth of God's Word.  Within in the church, that judgment can at times even lead to removing a person from the fellowship of God's people if they live in consistent, unrepentant sin.  Matthew 18, 1 Corinthians 5, Galatians 6 and other places spell this out for us. 

So, to call sin, sin is not "judging" as so many put it.  We are simply holding one another to the standards of God's Word.  Which by the way, is what that text about "not judging" that so many point to is all about.  Matthew 7 is all about holding others to different standards than we apply to ourselves, ignoring our own sin while highlighting others, etc.  We should avoid that, but Jesus does tell us to deal with our own sin, and then we are more ready to help others deal with theirs as well.  It's not meant to tell us to ignore those in sin completely, but to hold all to the same standard, which is God's Word. 

As to love, this attitude shows equal ignorance.  Genuine love, biblical love, is not simply letting others do whatever they want regardless of the sinfulness of the actions.  True love seeks the highest good of others.  To seek the highest good of a man like Bruce Jenner, is to tell him that his current confusion is not remedied through surgeries and makeup, but through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ.  Because we love others, we tell them they are lost in sin and that Jesus is the only answer for that sin problem.  

If I see a friend bound for disaster, it is unloving to keep my mouth shut and say, "Well, to each his own." If I see a child about to stick his hand in a hot oven, it's unloving to say, "Well, whatever makes him happy."  Love seeks the highest good, seeks to protect, seeks to heal.  To those in sin, love says "Your contentment can only be found in Christ, continuing in your sin will drag you to hell, Christ can heal and save and forgive."  

People often point to the story in John chapter 8 of the woman caught in adultery.  Jesus rebukes those who are preparing to "judge" her, and lovingly offers her forgiveness.  Yes, he does that.  Because those who were about to stone her were doing it out of rage, in an attempt to "trap" Jesus, in denial of their own need for forgiveness as well.  

But then notice what Jesus says to the woman.  Not, "hey, it's ok, live life the way you want, do what feels right."  He says, "go and sin no more."  He love and forgives, but then calls her to leave her sin behind.

So, the loving thing to say is "Mr. Jenner, whatever pain and loneliness has caused the confusion in your life, know that true and lasting peace can only come from repentance and faith in Jesus Christ.  Turn from your sin, from your selfish desires, and seek Him. Find love, find peace, find reconciliation with God in Christ.  He will make you whole.  He will give you true identity in Him."  That's not judging, that's lovingly stating the truth.  Just as it was presented to me.  Just as we present it to any and all others who are lost and dying in sin.  Jesus is the answer. 

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The World is Broken...and So Are You

How can ______________________? (fill in the blank)

How can those ISIS monsters do what they do?

How can rioters cause so much destruction and think it's helpful?

How can Bruce Jenner think mutilating himself is going to help anything?

How can people blame the police for everything, including biker fights?

How can people continue to slaughter babies in the name of convenience?

How can my good friend buy into every conspiracy theory, including his latest "flat earth" kick?

How can we keep electing the politicians we do?  Can't people see who they really are?

How can...

The answer to all these questions is really simple.  The World is Broken.  Have you read the first few chapters of Genesis?  God created and it was good.  Man sinned, and it was broken.  We are in a state of brokenness that will continue until Christ returns and the New Heavens and the New Earth become a present reality.  

And that means that until then, people will continue to do broken things.  Horrible things.  Things that confuse some of us, and defy logic, and make you shake your head.  It's a broken world, with broken people.

But here's the thing.  You're one of 'em, and so am I.  We're all broken.  Have your read the first few chapters of Romans?  All of us, every one of us, is broken.  We all seek our own selfish desires.  Some of us are bound by cultural restraints, legal restraints, our idea of moral restraints.  But in the end, we all like sheep have gone astray, none seeks God, none seeks right.  We are all broken. 

I hear the arguments:  But I would never do that!  But I could never possibly...!  But!  As I once heard it put, the world is sliding to hell on their "buts."  We may not all act in the most sinful way possible, but we are all equally depraved.  The heart that murders is born in the heart that feels anger, Jesus said.  The heart that commits adultery is born in the heart that looks with lust, He said.  The heart is a deceitful thing, full of all kinds of wickedness, Jeremiah told us. 

Here's another "how can..." question.  How can a holy and perfect God, one who is perfect is righteousness and judgment, how can He know what you did/thought/said this week and still let you draw breath and escape His wrath?  How can God not just shake his head at our stupidity and wipe us all out right now?

Because while the world is broken, God is in the business of fixing things.  Jesus came to take the wrath we deserve, so that we might have forgiveness.  It's an act of pure grace.  And it's only His grace that separates me from that ISIS soldier, that rioter, that murderer, that...whatever.  It's grace. I don't pretend to understand it.  His thoughts are not like mine, His ways infinitely higher, Isaiah says.

All will one day stand before Him.  The whole broken world. All will be judged.  Only those in Christ will escape the flames.  Pray you receive His mercy now and don't find yourself surprised to be in "that" crowd on that final day.

And for those who do know Christ, know His mercy and forgiveness: the next time you're tempted to look down your nose and shake your head at the sin of others, take a good look at your own heart, and thank God for the mercy He's shown you.  You were born just as broken.  God's grace has fixed you.  How can He be so gracious as to save a sinner like me?  His thoughts are not like mine, His ways infinitely higher, and I'm so glad they are!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Can We "Overdo" Grace?

As you can tell by the title of this little blog, I kind of like the idea of grace.  I mean, apart from grace we have nothing.  Apart from grace we are nothing but a bunch of rebellious, hell-bound, wrath-deserving... well, you get the idea.  Grace is amazing.  I think someone even wrote a song about that. 

So, I'm reading through our daily reading plan at church, looking for Sunday night's message.  I preach through books on Sunday mornings (we're in John at the moment) and then for Sunday evenings, I take a text from that week's readings.  Anyway, I'm reading through this week, and I come to Isaiah 55. 

Now, let me say something. One of the reasons I think preaching through a book on Sunday morning is a good idea is because it forces me to address the topics as God's Word brings them up.  I don't get to pick and choose. I don't get to skip over things, or just dwell on my favorite texts and topics, etc.  I think that's a wise approach to get to the "whole counsel" of God's Word. 

And as I'm reading here in Isaiah 55 I'm reminded why this is a good practice.  Because I LOVE this chapter.  I'd probably come here way too often.  53 is obviously an amazing text, one I could meditate on forever.  But I love 55 as well.  What a great chapter.  And it's all about grace. 

Granted, the word isn't used there at all.  But the concept...  "He who has no money, come, buy and eat!"  Come and find God's salvation, you who have nothing to offer, no means of getting it!  That's grace.  "Let him return to the LORD, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon."  Grace, grace, grace!

Anyway, I'm reading this chapter, and looking for all the things grace is to fill in the outline, and before I know it, I have it "narrowed down" to EIGHT points.  That's right, an 8 point sermon. And that really was narrowing it down, I think.  Because grace is so...well, amazing!

And then I think, "Am I overdoing this?"  I'm I overemphasizing this thing called grace?  Can we "overdo" grace? I mean, if I talk about grace too much, does that lessen the reality of sin?  Does it make it seem like our sin isn't that big a deal?   

C. H. Surgeon once said:  "We think that we are honoring God when we think great thoughts of our sin. Let us recollect, that while we ought to think very greatly of our own sin, we dishonor God if we think our sin greater than his grace. God’s grace is infinitely greater than the greatest of our crimes."

Infinitely greater than the greatest of our crimes.  So, can we really overdo grace?  Well....  I think sometimes grace can be misunderstood and misapplied.  Paul even addresses some of those potential problems in Romans 6.  But in the end, true grace, truly understood, can never be "overdone" or "over emphasized."  

Truly, apart from grace, we have nothing.  No hope.  No life.  No...anything.  I'm no John Newton, but I even penned a little hymn/ditty about this glorious grace not too long ago.  I can't help it.  I think about grace all the time.  I love to preach it, because I know I so desperately need it.  And you do, too.  

I hope I don't scare any of our folks away who might read this and think, "An EIGHT point sermon on Sunday night!"  I'll try to keep 'em relatively brief.  But oh my!  Grace!  It's the theme of the song we'll sing for all eternity.  We're just getting warmed up....

"The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you."

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

No One Takes Our Joy!

I hate watching the news.  Most of the time.  I like the weather and the sports sections.  But otherwise, it's just, well, so depressing.  Local news seems to focus on local disasters: fires, murders, controversy.  National news, the same on a bigger scale:  regional disasters, global economic scares, this and that threat to world peace.  On and on. 

It's not just the frustration of the mainstream media always putting their spin on things.  Every story has an "angle" and the media wants to take whatever angle they can to promote their agenda.  They don't even hide that fact any more.  But I digress.  This isn't about the media's liberal bias. 

No, it's just the news in general always seems so negative.  And it has a tendency to pull you down if you spend too much time with it.  There are only so many times you can groan and moan and growl.  

But here's the deal.  No matter what the news says, no matter how bleak things get, no matter how many dangers are coming our way, no matter how much ISIS grows, and the homosexual agenda proceeds, and the America-haters use their American freedom to bash America, no matter what the complaint may be: No One Takes Our Joy!
As followers of Christ, our joy doesn't come from this world, so the world can't take it from us.  In John 16, Jesus speaks of His leaving "for a little while" and then the disciples seeing Him again "in a little while."  Obviously, the immediate context speaks of His arrest and crucifixion, followed by His resurrection.  And the ultimate context speaks of His ascension, followed by His Second Coming.  But there is an "in between" understanding as well. 

In this world, we can still "see" Jesus.  As the Holy Spirit comes and convicts of sin, and regenerates our hearts, and leads us to repentance, we come to "see" Jesus.  He is with us, present with us by grace through faith.  And the promise He makes, in verse 22 of that passage, is "I will see you again and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you."  No one will take our joy. 

Think of the lives of those disciples as they went on from there.  Arrests and persecution and famine and martyrdom.  Did Jesus not see those things coming?  Was this promise of joy made in ignorance, thinking things would work out a little better for those guys?  Of course not.  

In fact, in the preceding verses, Jesus promised them that the world would hate them!  The world would persecute them for His name's sake.  He knew full well what was ahead.  And yet, He still promises that "no one will take your joy from you."  The joy of seeing Jesus, the joy of knowing Him by faith, the joy of being filled with His Spirit; nothing can ever take that from us!

This isn't in any way making light of the difficulties we face.  And the way things are going in this world, those difficulties may grow at an alarming rate.  I'm not personally looking forward to any of that.  I'm not making light of the real, grief producing things of this life: disasters and terrorism and persecution.  Many still weep and wail and mourn, and we all experience that to varying degrees.  But even then, our true joy can never be taken from us. 

In my previous post I reminded us that this world is not our home.  It just naturally follows that if our identity is not wrapped up in this world, then our joy isn't either.  So bring it on!  I may not always do a good job of living up to my theology.  I may crumble outwardly when the grief comes.  But even then, I know that my true joy is in Christ, and nothing, no one, no how can take that away!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Not of This World

I mentioned earlier the recent conference at Rockport Baptist Church, the theme of which focused on the reality that Christians are aliens and strangers in this alien and strange world.  As the U. S. Supreme Court hears arguments on same sex marriage, as ISIS continues its rampage against all things of Christ, as more and more people are finding it hard to stand for truth (emotionally, physically, and even now legally), I am reminded more and more of this truth.  This World Is Not Our Home. 

Ever since the conference, there is one song in particular that I just can't get out of my head.  An old song from the classic Christian rock band Petra (don't worry, it's a "slow" one!).  In 1983, the release an album titled "Not of This World."  A great record by the way, but I digress.  The title song reminds us of these truths:

We are pilgrims in a strange land
We are so far from our homeland
With each passing day it seems so clear
This world will never want us here
We're not welcome in this world of wrong
We are foreigners who don't belong

We are strangers, we are aliens
We are not of this world

We are envoys, we must tarry
With this message we must carry
There's so much to do before we leave
With so many more who may believe
Our mission here can never fail
And the gates of hell will not prevail

 We are strangers, we are aliens
We are not of this world  

Jesus told us men would hate us
But we must be of good cheer
He has overcome this world of darkness
And soon we will depart from here

We are strangers, we are aliens
We are not of this world

This world doesn't want us here.  We are not welcome.  Jesus told us men would hate us.  What great reminders.  For too long we've lived as if we belong here, and we're offended when folks don't like us, when our "rights" are violated, etc.  But this is not our home!  We don't belong.  We are not of this world.  

Don't get me wrong, as an American citizen I get as upset as anyone when our rights and freedoms, so hard fought for, are stripped away. I've ranted here many times about that.  But that's my American citizenship flaring up.  My Kingdom citizenship reminds me that the other is only temporary, and that regardless of what the Supreme Court decides, regardless of what ISIS does, regardless of what this ever increasing pagan world throws at us; we are not of this world. One day, our King is coming.  One day, the Supreme Court will answer to the Supreme Judge.  One day, ISIS will stand before a holy God and answer for their hatred of Him.  One day, the King will return and establish His Kingdom, and then, and only then, will all things be made right. 

Until then, we are envoys and we must tarry, with this message we must carry.  The message:  Christ is King.  Men are lost and dead in Sin.  Jesus died to pay for sin and rose to show us the way home.  Repent and believe.  Jesus is the way, the truth and the life, and no one comes to the Father except through Him.  And He is coming!  Amen, come quickly, Lord Jesus!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

I'm A Lousy Redneck

(warning, semi-pointless rant to follow)

Please don't misunderstand this title.  I'm not using "redneck" as an insult, as in "you lousy redneck!"  I'm saying I'm lousy at being a redneck.  I know the definition of this term is subject to interpretation.  Some see it as a derogatory term for poor white southerners, especially the brutish kind.  For many, it's simply an identification of rural folk in general, and all the stuff that goes with it.  I'm thinking more along the lines of the latter.

Case in point.  My oldest son and I love hunting and fishing.  Love them.  But we stink at them both!  In the last several days, I've had a little time off and we've done both.  Traveled a ways to a "better" lake so we'd have better luck.  My son caught one large mouth bass.  That was our total haul.  For the last two days, we've been out turkey hunting.  Some of you may remember me lamenting this particular endeavor in years past. And again this year, so far, no luck. I mean none!  Barely heard anything, and only saw one hen both days.  I want to be a hunting and fishing kind of redneck.  But we really stink at this.  I'm a lousy redneck.

Rednecks, in the stereotype, have trucks, right?  Pickup trucks.  Well, I have one.  Kind of.  It's a little Chevy S-10.  Actually, it's a "super crew" which sounds really cool, but just means it has a back seat, which makes the bed of the truck really small, which means you can't use it for what pickups are supposed to be used for.  I'm a lousy redneck.

I do love NASCAR, as I've often discussed here as well.  But we did away with our satellite awhile back, so I haven't actually seen a race in quite awhile.  I must be a lousy redneck.

Even with the "negative" side of the stereotype, I fall short.  I mean, I actually use complete sentences and proper grammar and all. (It's a joke people!) I do have a "beer belly", but it comes from too much pizza, not too much drinking. Oh, and I really hate country music.  I'm a lousy redneck.

Actually, I did just recently finally get a John Deere tractor!  Well, it's a John Deere riding lawn mower, but hey.  On my budget, that's pretty good.  But still, I'm a lousy redneck.

So what's the point?  Well, for one thing, it's just a reminder that in life we often fall short of our goals (even if our goals are a little odd).  It's a reminder that we need to be thankful for who we are and what we are and what we have, not always wanting more, etc.  (I'll keep telling myself this on those failed hunting and fishing trips!)

When it comes to our life of faith, it reminds me that I will always fall short of who and what I want to be, but that's why grace is so important.  It's not about my efforts, but Christ's effort on my behalf.  It's not about my skills, or lack thereof, it's about His finished work on the cross.  Not that we don't strive for more, seek greater sanctification, etc.  But in the end, we rest in grace.  We trust God's plan, whether it always lines up with ours or not.  I may be lousy at a lot of things, but God's love and mercy and grace are never in question, never lacking, never less than exactly what God wants them to be in my life.  For that, I'm very grateful.

And as long as I'm just rambling anyway, here's a little interesting fact.  The term "redneck" actually has a theological significance.  One I would be proud to embrace.  During the 17th Century in Scotland, those who rebelled against the state church, those who stood for the Doctrines of Grace and the freedom to proclaim God's Word, were called The Covenanters.  Mostly Presbyterian, they were called that because they signed a Covenant stating that they rejected British rule in the Church, and the Church of England rule as well.  

Many of the Covenanters signed in blood, and proudly identified themselves with that Covenant by wearing a red scarf to show that blood oath.  "Red neck" came to be a Scottish term for "dissenter."  Later it came to refer to Presbyterians in general, especially among those who later settled in the southern part of America.  So the association of "redneck" with folks in the South isn't just about rural, huntin' and fishin', truck drivin', and so on.  It's a proud heritage of doctrinal commitment and a "free church".  On that note, I'd be proud to be a redneck, and actually, maybe wouldn't be so lousy at it.