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

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Sovereignty and Suffering

God wanted my roof to leak.  

Sounds a bit strange to put it that way, but let's look at the situation.  

Scripture clearly says God is sovereign over life and death.  Scripture clearly says God is sovereign over the rains, snow, etc.  So...

We had scheduled a guy over a month ago to come clean the chimney, do some touch up repairs, etc. However, my uncle passed away, and the service was the same day this guy was scheduled to come. Since we had to make an out of town trip for the service, we had to cancel the chimney guy.  His next available time to come won't be until January 4.  So, no cleaning and fixing. 

Now, we just had record rains and flooding here in the Ozarks, and as a result, our roof started pouring in water, I'm pretty sure around the chimney, and then running through the ceilings, etc.  Which most likely would not have happened if the guy had come a couple weeks ago and resealed the thing and so on.  

God knew exactly when my uncle would die, prompting our out of town trip and chimney guy cancelling.  God also knew those flooding rains were on the way.  So, conclusion: God wanted my roof to leak. 

Now, I have to be so very careful here for a number of reasons.  First, our leaky roof is so minor compared to the hundreds of people who lost homes in storms and floods, about a dozen who lost their lives in this last round of flooding, and hundreds more who suffered so much worse.  To call this leaky roof "suffering" might be considered a stretch for some. 

Second, I know we have to be careful in discussing God's active will alongside the nature of the sinful world we live in which results in death and storms and so on.  There are other reasons to tread lightly here as well, but still the truth remains: God is sovereign, none of this surprised Him, He was certainly in charge of timing, etc.   So what do I take from this?

Well, I struggle a bit with anxiety.  I know it's sin.  I know, for me, it's often a lack of faith.  And I know that this whole episode caused me some anxiousness and sleeplessness, since I was already worried about other flooding issues (our creek, our septic system, run-off, all meeting in our basement, etc.).  So I know that God is dealing with me about this.  It made for some quality prayer time (if repeating "Jesus help me!" over and over can be considered quality prayers).   This alone may have been the purpose.

I also know that I may never know the exact purpose.  May have to do with someone God will bring into our lives as a result.  May have to do with simply encouraging my wife and kids to pray for their pathetic husband/father.  May have to do with any number of things.  May have, as my wife suggested, to do with a simple reminder to be thankful in all circumstances.  We may never know. 

But in the end, it's a simple reminder that God is sovereign.  And I need to trust in that sovereignty, knowing that His will is always best, His purposes always right and good, and I need to constantly turn to Him in faith, trusting in His grace.  One of my wife's favorite songs says something about God sometimes calming the storm, while other times calming His child.  This may just be a reminder that in either case, He is as work, and I need to look for His hand. 

God is good, all the time, even when He wants my roof to leak.  Trust Him.  Lean on Him.  Look for His hand at work.  And ultimately, know that whatever we might be facing, great or small, "we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison,  as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18, ESV)

Thursday, December 10, 2015

The Need to Read

In one of the most quoted quotes about quotes and quoting, Charles Spurgeon once said, and I quote:  “Give yourself unto reading. The man who never reads will never be read; he who never quotes will never be quoted. He who will not use the thoughts of other men’s brains, proves that he has no brains of his own. You need to read.”

A later part of that same quote, less often quoted says this:  “We are quite persuaded that the very best way for you to be spending your leisure time, is to be either reading or praying. You may get much instruction from books which afterwards you may use as a true weapon in your Lord and Master’s service. Paul cries, 'Bring the books' — join in the cry.”

Spurgeon was certainly one who practiced what he was preaching.  Here is a great little article with a few more quotes about reading from the Prince of Preachers.  It's not that long and worth time to check out, so click on over.

The reason I've been thinking about this is simply due to the fact that I've obviously not been posting here as often as I used to.  In fact, most of my posts have had something to say about how I haven't been posting.  Sense a trend?

And while there many reasons as to the lack of output here, I think the one major reason has to do with a lack of input.  Quite honestly, I'm just not reading as much as I used to.  I've had poor eyesight since I was just a little tot.  I started wearing contacts in high school out of self defense: I kept getting injured by the NASA-space-shuttle-thickness lenses in my glasses (this was of course in the days before these nice compressed lenses, but anyway).  My prescription is like -.750 in one eye and -.1050 in the other.  So reading has always been a bit of a chore, too much has always been a headache inducing strain.

A couple years back I was diagnosed with a degenerative condition in the already worse of the two eyes and some other issues with the other eye and....well, reading has become more and more difficult.  By the time I do the basic reading and studying for two sermons and a couple Bible studies each week, I'm pretty worn out.  Extra reading, for-fun reading has become less and less.  Large print texts and those I can get on my Kindle (so I can enlarge the font) are helpful, but still.

Anyway, this isn't just to whine about my eye problems.  They are minor compared to a lot of other folks, and nothing compared to the things some endure.  But the point is that this has curbed my reading.  And I think, as a direct result, my writing has been curbed as well.  Less intake means less output.

Reading is indeed so very important.  It stimulates the brain, gets those thought processes flowing; not only giving you information, but helping you to think in general.  There is indeed a reason the apostle Paul was asking for his books.  And while I would certainly promote reading “good” books, books on theology and history and the like, reading just for fun is important as well.  (Here is a good article from one of my daughters' favorite writers about the importance of reading fiction, libraries, etc.

So, I'm going to make a concerted effort to crack a few more books and stop whining about how “hard” it is.  I know I need to stimulate those brain cells with more than just coffee (though coffee is....well, if you've read here before, you know how I feel about coffee!).  Hopefully, that will increase the almost-useful output in this space, but more importantly, will give me a few more weapons to use in my Master's service.  I strongly encourage you to do the same.  

If you're looking for some help in knowing what to read, this is a great time of year because so many folks are doing their "best of the year" book lists and so on.  Here are just a couple of examples: 
So get out there and pick up a book.  You need to read!

ADDENDUM:  As usually happens, I find something else as soon as I post something.  Here is Tim Challies' reading challenge for the new year.  With several options, this is a great plan.   

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Bring On The Kingdom

Ok, so there will be a serious point here, but first I'm going to rant a bit about the band Kutless whose song is the basis for the serious point.  If you want to skip the rant, scroll down to "End Of Rant."

So, those who are still here.  I've always loved Kutless.  One of my all time favorite songs (music, lyrics and even video) is "Shut Me Out".  I love that era of the band.  More recently they have released a few "worship" projects, which are good, but lacking the band's old driving edge.  So when we were told there was a new project, returning to the band's old sound, I was stoked.  

Sadly, only a very few songs meet the expectation.  Don't get me wrong.  The rest of the album is really good.  It's just that I was expecting a little more....umph.  The opening track, "Tear it Up", delivers in spades.  But from there on, well, not as much. 

However, as I said, this is still a good record.  And while this post isn't just intended as an album review, I had to say all that to work my way up to the song "Bring it On".  While not a classic rocker in the old Kutless style, this is one of my favorite songs on the project.  I love this message, which leads me to the point.....

End of Rant

The new Kutless song, "Bring it On", shares an amazing and encouraging lesson.  And it couldn't be more timely.  With all the recent "gunk" happening in the world, we need more than ever to have the encouragement that comes from knowing that our Lord is returning, and bringing with Him His glorious Kingdom.  Bring it On! 

The song goes like this: 
All the pain in the headlines
All the heartache of our crimes
The innocent, the helpless, here and gone
So we call out to Your name, save us, from our shame.
We’re crying out to heaven, how long…

There’s a new world on the way
When this one is gone, gone, gone
We’re ready Jesus, bring it on, bring it on
We’ve had enough of darkness
We’re waiting for the dawn
There’s a kingdom coming
Bring it on, bring it on, bring it on

We are holding, to the promise
Even now you are with us
Our every hope is in what You will do
Every wrong will be made right
Every tear will run dry
We’re praying that day is coming soon

We’re waiting… We’re waiting for You Jesus
We’re waiting, for You

Wow. What a hopeful message.  We are indeed tired of the darkness, longing for the light, looking for our Savior's return....Bring it on!

Again, what a timely message.  There is, indeed, so much pain and suffering; so much evil on the loose; so much...darkness.  We need the hope of Christ and His coming Kingdom.  I know that there are those who criticize Christians for thinking about that coming Kingdom.  They say that our heads are "in the clouds" and that thinking of the Kingdom/heaven is just an escape from the reality of this world.  I love C. S. Lewis' classic response to that in his book The Problem of Pain.

   We are very shy nowadays of even mentioning heaven. We are afraid of the jeer about ‘pie in the sky’, and of being told that we are trying to ‘escape’ from the duty of making a happy world here and now into dreams of a happy world elsewhere. But either there is ‘pie in the sky’ or there is not. If there is not, then Christianity is false, for this doctrine is woven into its whole fabric. If there is, then this truth, like any other, must be faced, whether it is useful at political meetings or no. 
   Again, we are afraid that heaven is a bribe, and that if we make it our goal we shall no longer be disinterested. It is not so. Heaven offers nothing that a mercenary soul can desire. It is safe to tell the pure in heart that they shall see God, for only the pure in heart want to. There are rewards that do not sully motives. A man’s love for a woman is not mercenary because he wants to marry her, nor his love for poetry mercenary because he wants to read it, nor his love of exercise less disinterested because he wants to run and leap and walk. Love, by definition, seeks to enjoy its object.

Amen.  Bring it on!  In fact, our Lord Himself chose to give us encouragement to face the struggles of this life with the promise that "Behold, I am coming soon."  This is what every true believer longs for. This is what we are working towards.  It's not "escaping" this world, it's putting this world in its proper perspective.  This world is fleeting.  This world is temporary.  This world is coming to an end, and each and every one of us is looking at eternity square in the face.  

Either we will look to that eternity with great hope and expectation, because of the shed blood of Christ which provides atonement for the sin that would separate us from God; or we look to it with dread, or not at all.  Regardless, our belief in it or not, hope in it or not, eagerness for it or not, doesn't change the reality of the Kingdom's coming.  So either we will run to the cross of Christ and seek His salvation and live every day in this world for the Kingdom and in light of the Kingdom; or we will ignore it all, and when it comes, find ourselves in a worse situation than any darkness in this world could ever prepare us for.  

In the  meantime, even while in this world, Christians still live for the Kingdom.  We live with Kingdom goals in mind. We live with Kingdom principles and values.  And yes, we look forward with great hope and longing for the coming of that Kingdom in all it's fullness.  Bring it on!

Now, for your viewing pleasure, you'll find the video for this song below.  

And as an added bonus, I added the video for Shut Me Out.  Just because.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Thanking God for Our Veterans

In his book The Truth War, John MacArthur writes about Civil War General William Tecumseh Sherman. He quotes the General’s well known axiom that “war is hell.” Sherman later in life said simply, “I am sick and tired of fighting.” MacArthur then says this:

Whatever we might think of General Sherman as a man, there is something commendable and courageous about his soldiers’ perspective of battle. We ought to despise warfare with every fiber of our souls. War is one of the most calamitous consequences of evil. It is catastrophic. It is always ugly. It should never be glamorized, and no sane person should ever desire the conflict or savor the strife of war. There are times, however, when evil makes warfare absolutely necessary. And when we have a moral obligation to fight, we should never shirk that duty, compromise with the enemy, or enter the battle halfheartedly. As detestable as warfare of any kind might be, there are causes for which not fighting is a far greater evil.”

MacArthur is of course introducing a study on spiritual warfare, and is very clear that as the Church, our cause is on that plane, not on the plane of the physical battle field. However, his point about warfare in general is a very good one. Sometimes there are causes for which not fighting is a far greater evil. And when we come face to face with one of those causes, I for one am grateful for the United States Military.

I can remember going to the airport to pick my brother up after his basic training in the Marine Corps. There had been such a change in him, the way he carried himself, the look in his eye, etc. that he nearly walked right past us without recognizing him. Say what you want about our military, but my thought after this introduction to the Marines, was simply “if we ever go to war, I’m glad these are the guys out there fighting on our side.”

I’m not just going to brag on Marines. My dad served in the Army, and my brother later “switched” to be a recruiter for the Naval Reserves, a position he just recently retired from. The US Military as a whole is the best in the world, bar none, and we ought to be thankful every day for the work they do protecting our freedoms and the freedoms of others around the world.

I’m not a “war-monger;” I don’t relish war. As MacArthur says, it’s ugly and detestable. However, it’s often necessary in this sin-spoiled world to protect us from the spread of evil. And again, I am grateful for those who have given of themselves to serve this nation throughout our history. While we have many faults, and I’m often quick to point them out; as they say: “It’s the best ship floatin’!”

Today we officially recognize and honor our US Veterans. Hopefully, we can do that more often than once a year. Hopefully, we will take the time to give a brief thank you to any active serviceman we might cross paths with, and regularly think to show some appreciation for those who have served in years gone by. Above all, let’s thank God for their service and pray faithfully for those serving now. And more than just a token song during the 7th inning stretch at a ball game, let’s pray for God to truly bless America.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Happy National Saxophone Day

National Saxophone Day!  Wow!  These holidays keep getting better and better (and the only thing I seem to be posting about these days...but I digress). 

For those who don't know, the saxophone was created in 1840 by Adolphe Sax, a Belgian musical instrument maker.  He actually invented 8 different sizes/types of sax: Sopranino, Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Baritone, Bass, Contrabass, and Subcontrabass.  Just a bit of history, there. 

I think I've mentioned here before that I used to be a bit of a sax player. Mostly the tenor variety.  Marching band, concert band, etc.  But I loved Jazz Band.  I even won the Louis Armstrong Jazz Award in high school and was voted Most Talented.  (Yeah, I'm still livin' off the past! Here I am with fellow MT recipient Laura Purcell)  
Here's a recording of our jazz band in 1982.  In addition to Frank's amazing trombone solo, and Kevin and Greg's lights out drum battle, this song features a freshman tenor sax player on the main melody trio (I think, with trumpet and flute).  You'll have to clink this link to open the page and play the song. Sorry, not computer savvy enough to figure it out.

My oldest son carried on the tradition, playing my tenor in the Play His Praises Homeschool Band.  He's even played for church a few times, as have I.  Neither of us are ever going to sell out concert halls, but here's a little lesson from this rambling post.

God gives all of us various gifts and abilities.  Music, writing, preaching, art, whatever.  Not all of us have the same level of ability, but all of us are called to use what God has given us for His glory.  He has given us so many wonderful gifts in this life, like Adolphe's sax (sorry for the bad play on words there).  I'm sure Mr. Sax had no idea what would be done with his little invention over the years; how many times that instrument would be used for the honor and glory of Christ.  Sometimes by professionals.  Sometimes by a father and son in the Ozarks who just love music and love Jesus and love it when the two come together.  Find what God has given you a love for and a talent for, no matter how small, and use it for His glory. 

Now, in a real celebration of the day, here are some amazing uses of this wonderful instrument.  This first one I've shared before.  It's a great rendition of "It Is Well", with a brilliant sax solo battle beginning about 1:50.

And here's one of my favorite sax players, Dave Thrush (once played with Steve Taylor & Some Band), doing a bit of seasonal music for us.

And one last bit from the guy who ranks way up on my top favorites, this from my favorite album of his.  Tom Scott from the Apple Juice record.

Enjoy Saxophone Day everyone.  Feel free to leave comments and links to videos of your own favorite sax player.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Reformation Day / Halloween - Revisted Thoughts

Last year, as we came to this wonderful time of the year when we celebrate Reformation Day, I resorted to sharing some links to other articles.  This year, it's even worse.  I'm resorting to repeating last year's post about sharing links about Reformation Day.  For years, our family has chosen not to participate in the Halloween festivities, and instead we've chosen to focus on Reformation Day. These reflect my thoughts on the "why" behind that.  

I would love to be able to come up with my own profound thoughts, but we all know that rarely happens.  So instead, I'll simply share links to two wonderfully written, well thought out articles about how Christians should view Halloween, and then share a wonderful graphic from  Then I'll say, "Yeah, what they said."

And here is the graphic: (click on it to follow to's page)

For those who read this far, here's a little bonus, just for fun.  Happy Reformation Day!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Commercial for the Creative Kids

Another shameless self-promotion post.  Well....not actually "self" promotion.  But maybe "selfish" since I just want to introduce you to some wonderful creative ventures, which just happen to feature my kids.   But don't let that dissuade you from checking these things out.  Just because they are related to me doesn't me these things aren't worthwhile! 

In the last post here, I posted some of the writings the kids have produced.  But on a more "formal" front, check out these sites. 

Just getting off the ground, MIM is a publishing effort from the three writers who brought you The Lost Scribes collaborations:  Falls the Shadow and Burns the Fire.  Look forward to wonderful things from this outlet: novels, short stories, anthologies, etc. oldest, who just happens to be one of the Lost Scribes mentioned above, also does some graphic design work.  This site shows several samples of her work, the highlight of which is the cover design for fellow Scribe's novel Forged Steel.   (Available at Amazon by following the link)

 If you or someone you know is looking for a great looking book cover, Magpie Designs is a great place to check out.

And speaking of that amazing book cover for Forged Steel, the photograph for that cover was provided by none other than...

Though not officially "in business", our son has been doing more and more with his camera. And in addition to providing the photo for the above book cover, he also is the subject in that photo.  Wow, photographer and cover model! (He'll kill me for saying that).  Anyway, he's strongly considering turning that into more than just a hobby, so if you're looking for pictures for graphic design project, or someone to take some family photos....(admittedly he prefers photographing "nature" to people, but he's done a good job with both).  

Well, I guess that's enough for now.  The other two have their own creative projects as well, but I thought I'd do a little bit of promotion for these sites.  Check 'em out.  Take advantage of their services if you can.  Thanks for your time.  Now back to regularly scheduled programming (like that's even happening right now!)

Thursday, October 8, 2015

National Poetry Day

Seems like all I've been able to get posted lately are these silly little holidays.  Well, Constitution Day isn't silly.  And, well, Coffee Day isn't silly either.  Those are serious things.  But anyway...

In honor of National Poetry Day, I thought I'd share a few things from the Weldon Family.  The girls each have a collection of their writings at Apricot Pie, among other places, so I'll borrow a couple favorites from that.  They may not like me sharing, but hey, they posted it online so...

From LoriAnn, several years ago.
Rainbow Mud
The storm cleared.
Glancing out my window
I spotted something new—
A double-decker

I gasped.
Two perfect arches
Mirrored one above the other
Blushingly fresh
Washed clean by rain
Blown dry by thunder

I ran outside.
Didn’t bother to close the door
Didn’t bother to put on shoes
Didn’t bother to walk

In a ladylike fashion
I ran
Hurtling down six half-flights of stairs
Tripping over a banister
Jamming my thumb on the door
To see the rainbow

Outside, I paused.
My breath coming in
Little huffs and puffs
I stared in wonder
Just stood
Other people stared at me
But I just grinned
Staring at the

I spun in a circle
In the wet, rainbow-dribbled grass
My toes wet
Coated with itchy grass clippings
Splash in the puddle
The rainbow drippings

Kick at the water
Laugh at the sky
Smirk at those who carefully look away
Rainbow madness

And as it fades—
Such a sad moment—
I turn and walk back inside
Sighing in satisfaction

I step onto the tile of the front hall
And my foot slips
I look down
And giggle,
Wiggling my feet
Rainbow mud between my toes

From Katrina, also several years ago
The ink curls around itself
Twisting in curlicues and
Straightening in lines
It weaves a delicate spider web
As the pen ticks across the parchment
The individual fibers of the web
Glisten in the sun
They join
Twist and form
The web shines brightly
The ink stitches a story as it spills onto the page
Looping and riding
On the tossing ocean of the mind
As imagination becomes solid
The vapors settle
They relax
The pen scratches dry
Is filled
And begins again
The strokes transform into letters
The letters form words
And together
Words become tales
Stories and songs
Then they fall before the reader’s eye
Open to them
Like an ear to a whispered secret
The reader breathes in the words
Remembers the story
Drinks in the poetry
The pen
At rest
Is nearly forgotten
As the words are repeated again and again
But it all started with
A single line
A single drop of ink

And a recent "song" from Kenaniah.  (His obvious obsession right now comes through.)
Quintuple Steps, Warped Wall
Yeah, Yeah, I've tried them all
Salmon Ladder, close to the top
Into the water that's where I drop

American Ninja Warrior
American Ninja Warrior
This is the fight for Mount Midoriyama
American Ninja Warrior
American Ninja Warrior
This course will make you want to cry for mamma

Cliff Hanger, Jumping Spider
These will make you want your pacifier
Devil Steps, Wind Chimes
So let me hear you all cry

Repeat Chorus

Nathanael's poetry is visual, photographs.  Visit his photography page here.  But here is one of my favorites.

Well, there you have it. Happy National Poetry Day.  

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Happy National Coffee Day!

(Another lazy repost from last year, but hey, it's still Coffee Day, so celebrate)

Such a spree of holidays in September.  Constitution Day.  Talk Like A Pirate Day.  Now, the high point of the September holiday calendar:  National Coffee Day.  How did I not know this thing existed for so long?

Ironically, a friend just posted an article for me on the issue of whether or not coffee comes as the result of natural selection or by divine creation.  Duh?  That’s a no brainer.  Only an intelligent benevolent Creator could come up with something so blessed!

Also recently, I had a friend compose a song parody for me singing the praises of the elixir of life.  I’m sure he wouldn’t mind me sharing it with you. 


by Gregg Metcalf

(To the tune of “Cocaine” by Eric Clapton)

If you wanna wake up you’ve gotta grab a cup.
If you wanna get through the day don’t act like a pup

She is so sweet, she is so sweet, she is so sweet


When you get those Monday blues she is always good news
When you need a clear mind and don’t have much time


If your head is in a spin pour another cup again
Don’t forget this fact or you’ll fall off the track

[Chorus 2x]

She is so sweet, she is so sweet, she is so sweet

Thanks, Gregg. 

I considered celebrating by taking a tour of the best shops in the area, but alas, an empty wallet and a broken down truck have prevented that.  However, for the rest of you, I’ve also heard that some big name chain restaurants are offering free brew to celebrate the day.  Not bad.

So read the articles, enjoy the song, and celebrate the blessed bean.  And though I’ve shared it before, here’s another little favorite ode to coffee.  

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Why the Pope is Dangerous

That headline ought to get me on some watch list somewhere! But all I'm trying to point out is the danger of a “popular” pope to an American church that is already so wishy washy that it doesn't know what it stands for, if anything.

Obviously, I'm writing this because Pope Francis is visiting these United States.  It's a big deal for a lot of folks.  It has huge political ramifications.  But I'm not smart enough to address all that.  So I'll simply stick with the theological ramifications.

Folks, the pope is not a biblically orthodox Christian.  He denies salvation by grace, opting for the centuries old works salvation the Roman Catholic Church teaches.  He's an idolater:  While he hasn't been as brazen about Mary worship as his predecessor, he still holds to the same doctrines which elevate a godly servant, Mary, to the level of deity/co-redeemer with Christ.  He doesn't believe in the sufficiency of God's Holy Word, resting instead on centuries of tradition, and so on. 

You know the arguments.  They are the same ones Protestants and Catholics have divided over for a hundreds of years.  And that's the very reason why all this hoopla over the pope and his visit to the US is so dangerous.

By all accounts, Francis is a genuinely nice guy.  He helps the poor.  He seems concerned with injustice.  All admirable things.  Things that tempt some tepid Christians to forget all those theologically significant differences I just mentioned, along with a host of others.  And that's dangerous.

Dangerous, because when we stop relying on salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, according to Scripture alone, then we have just left the realm of biblical truth and started following the whims of men once again.  And when we do that, we are on dangerous ground indeed. Eternally dangerous. 

But, alas, this is the same American church that follows after false teachers like Joel Osteen and Joyce Meyer.  This is the same American church where survey after survey shows a serious lack of biblical knowledge.  So why shouldn't they flock to listen to one more false teacher?  Because, truth is still truth.  Scripture is still Scripture.  And God is the One who sets the standard, not men.

Of course, we're not the first to let down our guard and accept watered down papal teachings.  Charles Spurgeon cried out in his day:  "I am astonished, and yet more astonished when I come to turn it over, at the want of earnestness that there is in the Protestantism of the present age... The Protestants; and the Protestantism of England is the pay-master of the Pope. I am ashamed that sons of the Reformers...should bow themselves before the beast, and give so much as a single farthing to the shrine of the devil’s firstborn son. Take heed to yourselves, ye Protestants, lest ye be partakers of her plagues; touch her not, lest ye be defiled. Give a drachm to her, or a grain of incense to her censors, ye shall be partakers of her adulteries and partakers of her plagues."

And you thought I was being a little rough!  Take heed indeed, brothers.  Please, appreciate a guy who helps the poor and cries against injustice.  But, also, please don't be taken in by the false gospel he proclaims.  Remember the blood of martyrs shed to stand against that false gospel. The pope's Christ is not the Christ of Scripture.  And there is “no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved,” but the true Christ. 

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Happy Constitution Day!

(This has become an annual repost, but why reinvent the wheel, right?)

September 17, 1787.  A pretty good day in US history.  It was on this date that the U. S. Constitution was completed and signed.  55 men were involved altogether, including the writing and signing. (It's worth noting that nearly all were active members of Christian denominations, for those who say Christians have had nothing to offer...)   That makes today the 228th anniversary of that wonderful day.  So Happy Constitution Day.

You can celebrate in any number of ways.  You can find some of the online resources that give some basic information, fun facts, etc. about our Constitution.  (here or here for example)

You can read the Constitution.  It's one of the suggested ideas in the links above, and would be a good idea for every American.  It would be especially good for those serving in any branch of government, since so many seem to have never seen it before. 

Speaking of which, one way we could celebrate is to look back over the last few years and enumerate the various ways the Federal Government has violated the Constitution.  That would be a fun and educational experience, I'm sure. 

You could also celebrate Constitution Day by going right now and joining the Constitution Party. That way, you're already set for this next election cycle to try and restore our nation to its founding documents (a pipe dream, I know).  

Or you can simply do what the framers and signers of this grand, historical document did on a regular basis.  Get down on your knees and thank God for His generous blessings to this nation and seek His guidance for its future.  While it may be a radical concept to many today, it was common practice (and common sense) to our founding fathers. 

But however you celebrate, you should celebrate.  This document, if you are an American, is why you have the freedoms you have, including the reading of this post right now.  So remind yourself of this important part of our heritage.  Happy Constitution Day!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Homeschooler Moment: Graduate Edition

So, for those who don't know, years ago I started posting fun little things that happened in our little homeschool family, and called them Homeschooler Moments.  (you can search in the "bar" to the right if you'd like to find some of them).  I numbered these for awhile, then fell away, then forgot the numbering, etc.  

Now, the oldest three have all graduated and we only have the 11-year-old left.  Not that he isn't the inspiration for many, many fun little moments.  Case in point.  This weekend we took a little family getaway, and the youngest was a bit cranky on Saturday morning.  His sister asked if he slept well. He said, "I slept well. I just didn't wake up good." And then when I said I would post this on facebook, he says, "please refer to me with cryptic initials." Ahh, what a kid.  But I digress.  

With the others having graduated, I thought my chance for these posts would be over.  But I had a conversation with my eldest that made me consider creating a "Graduate Edition."  So here it is. 

I was discussing with my daughter some of the struggles I have in dealing with benevolent requests at church.  I want to help those in need.  I just get frustrated with those who act like we "owe" them help. 

Like the lady who called in wanting me to pay her electric bill right away because they shut it off and she needed electric for her kids.  I shared with her our benevolent ministry process and told her it would be a day or two before we could arrange everything.  And she wasn't very happy, and acted like coming down to the church and filling out our application was such an inconvenience. I wanted to remind her that with our electric company policies, she had to have known at least two weeks ago, minimum, that this would happen.  Why didn't she call me then?  Anyway...

I was venting frustration to my daughter, ranting about how people have no time for God or the church, but when they need a bill paid, they come running and demanding we pay it for them.  And I said that I think folks really misunderstand this whole "cup of water" thing that Jesus called us to.

To which she said:  "You know, Jesus never said it had to be in the cup when you gave it to them.  You could just throw it in their face."  This is why my daughter should be president of this group. 

(She also went into a little schtick making fun of some of the extreme charismatic wackos saying something about "spraying them with a Holy Ghost water gun" or something)
Well, I guess you have to blame the girl's parents, don't you?  But I have to admit, I did laugh rather robustly when she said it, so....

Friday, September 4, 2015

I Woke Up In Bizarro World Today

As I've watched the news over the last few weeks and months, I've become more and more confused.  Things seem so out of whack. 

White cops kill black criminals, and the cops are the bad guys.  But black criminals kill white cops, and...the cops are still the bad guys. 

We make nuclear deals with terrorist nations that gain us...absolutely nothing.  We don't even recover hostages from said nation.  And the government calls it a good deal.

A report shows that over a quarter million US veterans have died while waiting for our government to sort out their health care...while that same government readily gives health care to people who are in the country illegal. 

Athletes who are gay and trans gendered are applauded for being “brave”....while athletes who claim to be Christian are told to keep their “private lives” to themselves. 

And then this little bomb from right near where I grew up.  In Hillsboro, MO, the school board has allowed a young man who “identifies” as female to use the girls locker room, where teen girls are showering, because they don't want to offend him or violate his rights....while offending and violating the rights of hundreds of other students and even putting them in a potentially dangerous situation. 

I started thinking of an old Steve Taylor/Chagall Guevera song called Escher's World, based on the ideas of that offbeat artist.  The lyrics say things like: 

I woke up in Escher's World today
My mother said it was okay

Up's down, down is out, out is in
Stairways circle back to where you've been
Time falls, water crawls, are you listening?
We're walking in Escher's World again
Rise up you nimble-minded men

Birds roar, lions soar, sheep are cruel
Snails pace, papers chase, midgets rule
Stuffed shirts, status hurts, we ain't fooling

We're living in Escher's world it seems
We're wide awake within our dreams

Ah, living in Escher's world

Yep, up is down, in is out.  That about explains it.  But I think the song has more to do with the  “chasing your own tail” kind of thing, so I don't think we're actually in Escher's World.  And then it hit me.  I woke up in Bizarro World today!

For those who don't know about it, Bizarro World is the creation of DC Comics, a Superman associated reality which is the opposite of Earth. In fact, it's a cube shaped world which is actually called "htraE" (that's "Earth" spelled backwards in case you couldn't figure it out.).  In this world, everyone operates by the Bizarro Code which says "Us do opposite of all Earthly things! Us hate beauty! Us love ugliness! Is big crime to make anything perfect on Bizarro World!"
That's it!  That's what's happened. Some universal shift has happened and we've all been transported to Bizarro World.  Now I understand why a land which used to be based on “majority rules,” now operates by “minority rules.”  Why we've gone from freedom “of” religion, to freedom “from” religion.  Why we are ruled by laws made by men who don't have to live under those laws.  Why a land founded on “of the people, by the people and for the people” has now become “ignore the people, unless you happen to be part of the liberal cause d'jour.”  Why a government runs itself trillions of dollars in debt, but wants to give out freebies to those who refuse to work and support said government's financial base.

It all makes sense now.  Escher's World, Bizarro World.  Up is down; in is out; smart is stupid and stupid is smart; evil is good and good is evil; “War Is Peace, Freedom Is Slavery, Ignorance Is Strength.”  Oh wait, that last bit is from something else, isn't it?  Hmmm, maybe Mr. Orwell foresaw this cosmic displacement coming. 

Well, I guess there's nothing to do but try to fit in here in Bizarro World, so... “Hello, time for me to leave work.”

Thursday, September 3, 2015

The Strange Life of a Pastor

I recently saw a couple fun things about pastors that are both based on old jokes, but both were pretty good.  One was passed along by my wife's cousin, a cartoon from Family Circus:

The other was a meme about how ministry can "age" you:

I love these.  I love laughing at myself, and it's a good thing, since there is so much to laugh about.  But seriously, folks... Pastoral ministry is a unique calling in many ways. Lots of positives and negatives together.  But as an old college professor used to say: "If God has called you into ministry, don't lower yourself to be president of the United States."

I wish I could summarize all the ups and downs, the ins and outs of this calling.  But someone else already has, and much better than I ever could.  This is a post from a pastor named Julian Freeman from several years back. I've had it in my files for a long time now, and seeing those funnies, and thinking about the whole thing, made me think of this. 

I hope he doesn't mind me reposting it here.  If you'd like, you can read his original post here.  This is a wonderful summary of this strange thing called Pastoral Ministry:

Being a pastor is a strange thing.

We proclaim a message with the power of God to change people, but we can’t even change ourselves. We call others to perfection, as Jesus did, but our lives are full of imperfection. We must shepherd like the Shepherd though we’re just one of the sheep.

We seek to make Christ increase (though he’s invisible to human eyes) as we seek to decrease (though we stand in plain view week-by-week). We say numbers don’t matter, but long for many to be saved. We labour to grow the church, even though we realize each soul increases our accountability before God.

We try to express the Infinite and Eternal in 45 minutes or less; obviously we fail, so we try again next week.

We spend our lives studying a book that we’ll never fully grasp and we labour to explain it to a people who can’t understand apart from the work of a third party. The more we study, the more certain we become of the wisdom of God and our own foolishness; and yet we must preach on.

We are told that not many should be teachers and that there will be stricter judgement for those who are, and yet, we cannot fight off the compulsion to preach. We call people to something they can’t do, with an authority that is not our own, and then at the end of our lives we give an account to God for the souls we pastored.

We are called to toil in the word of God and in prayer; yet there is nothing our enemy opposes more actively. We work to build a community where people are connected, while occupying an office filled with temptations to isolation.

We preach a gospel of joy, but preachers are hard pressed with temptations to depression.

We must preach with passion but pastor with patience. We must be gentle with the sheep and fierce with the wolves. And we must somehow discern the difference.

We must plead with people to repent and believe all the while knowing that it is God who must save. We plead with God in prayer until our wills align with his. We must earnestly seek the presence of the Spirit, knowing full well that he moves where he pleases.

We must labour with all of our strength but never, ever trust it. We are paid to satisfactorily do a job that never ends: When have I studied enough? When have I prayed enough? When have I mentored enough? When have I counselled enough? We who are never finished are called to lead others to rest in the finished work of Jesus.

Ultimately we labour and long for results that we can never achieve. Being a pastor is a lifelong journey to a place of utter dependence.

This is strange work, being a pastor. But I wouldn’t trade it for the world. 

Monday, August 31, 2015

Shocked by Sin - Saved by Jesus

I have told our children over and over to not be surprised by the world.  I tell them that you can't expect an unregenerate person to act in any other way except as an unregenerate person; so don't be shocked.  And I convince myself that I can't be shocked by sin.

For the most part, I'm not.  Horrified and saddened, yes.  Surprised, no.  When we see the ongoing atrocities committed by jihadists, I'm angered and grieved, but not really shocked.  Regular stories of violence, whether it's a white man killing black people in their church; or a gay, black man killing his white former co-workers; these are deeply troubling, but not shocking given the depraved hearts of men.  And when liberals want to scream about white racism with that first story, but blame guns for the second, well, that's a whole other post.  But I'm not shocked by that sin. 

But then a story comes along that hits me in the head and it can't stop shaking.  It's not that it's all that heinous, when compared to terrorists or abortionists (though I'm not sure those are separate terms).  Some folks may not even be shocked by it.  But I'm dumbfounded. 

I recently came across an article from a ministry operating in my own backyard that I was not even aware of.  GO 61 is a ministry based on Isaiah 61 bringing good news to the poor and setting captives free.  Namely, they are focused on rescuing folks from the sex trade.  Not that the sex trade is shocking, since it is after all the "world's oldest profession."  And it's not that I somehow thought it didn't exist here, because it exists everywhere. 

But this article, published almost a year ago, was describing the story of one former prostitute and her experiences.  And as heartbreaking as the whole thing is, the part that shocked me had to do with the response of others to what she did.  She says that most folks were unaware of how she made a "living", with her online solicitation.  But after a fight with a best friend in which the best friend's daughter found out her profession, things got....disturbing. 

She was close to this friend and her daughter, the daughter called her "aunt."  She was devestated to think that this teen now knew what her "aunt" did for a living.  But the shock came when the girl told her friends at school, and the former prostitute started receiving messages from other teenage girls.  They were asking her how to go about setting up an online account so they could make a little extra money as prostitutes!  One girl's parents took her iPhone away, and she wanted to make some quick cash to get a new one.  And she was willing to prostitute herself to get it!

Some may not be shocked by that at all.  And as I said, it may be nothing compared with the real atrocities being committed out there.  But we hear all the time about girls in the sex trade being forced there by homelessness, or drugs, or domestic abuse.  To think that young girls would willingly enter that trade just to get some cash for a new iPhone?  I admit it, my head is still shaking as I type this. 

That our world is so mired in it's sin; that we've raised a generation of young people with such a lose understanding of intimacy; that we are so materialistic that a girl would value her iPhone more than her own body and soul.  Oh, God, save us!

And He can, by the way.  I don't know much about GO 61 but I plan to learn more.  If it's all on the up and up, it's a wonderful ministry, seeking to rescue folks from this kind of thing and share with them the Gospel of Christ.  He can, and does, give men and women new hearts all the time.  I know He's not shocked by these things.  He knows the depths of our depravity more than we ever will.

I think John Newton had a grasp on it though.  That former slave ship captain, converted miraculously into a hymn writing pastor and proclaimer of the Gospel.  He wrote this hymn which shows an understanding of man's willing decent into depravity, and reminds us of the only hope for rescuing us out of it.  I offer this hymn to remind us of our own hearts as well, and to those who may even now be caught in the web of sin.  There is hope in Jesus.  Oh, God, save us. 

No words can declare, No fancy can paint,
What rage and despair, What hopeless complaint,
Fill Satan’s dark dwelling, The prison beneath;
What weeping and yelling, And gnashing of teeth!

Yet sinners will choose This dreadful abode,
Each madly persues The dangerous road;
Though God give them warning They onward will go,
They answer with scorning, And onward do go.

How sad to behold The rich and the poor,
The young and the old, All blindly secure!
All posting to ruin, Refusing to stop;
Ah! think what you’re doing, While yet there is hope!

How weak is your hand To fight with the LORD!
How can you withstand The edge of his sword?
What hope of escaping For those who oppose,
When hell is wide gaping To swallow his foes?

How oft have you dared The Lord to his face!
Yet still you are spared To hear of his grace;
O pray for repentance And life–giving faith,
Before the just sentence Consign you to death.

It is not too late To JESUS to flee,
His mercy is great, His pardon is free;
His blood has such virtue For all that believe,
That nothing can hurt you, If him you receive.

"No Words Can Declare" by John Newton, Olney Hymns, 1779

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

"Just Like Me Church" -A New Church Plant Idea (revisited)

I just read an article about a "Rock and Roll Church" here in Missouri, and it reminded me of this little tirade I posted about 3 years ago.  When will we learn to just "be the church" instead of having to coddle the culture?  I haven't changed my mind, because I don't think the Scriptural principles have changed, so let me just repeat that old post here:

So here’s the idea. I’m going to start a church for NASCAR fan turkey hunters who like loud Christian rock music and collect antique hymnals. I’m sure it’s a subculture in America that isn’t being reached yet, so I’m going to “become all things to all men that I might win some.”

Now, before you pooh-pooh the idea, let me tell you what I was recently told. You need to be more open minded. You need to learn to think bigger and realize that there are “cultures” out there that won’t be reached by the traditional church. So what’s wrong with my idea?

Well, here’s what’s wrong with it. It seeks to find people who are just like me. I want to hang with people who look like, talk like, think like, dress like, and view life just like me. And those are the people I want to reach out to. That’s what’s wrong with it.

Of course, I guess I’m the only one who sees it as wrong. The discussion started when I told someone that I thought things like Cowboy Churches and Biker Churches and so on were unhealthy for the Body of Christ. Scripture tells us “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28, ESV) The early church sought to “tear down the dividing wall” between Jew and Greek, various cultures, etc. The modern church is trying to build them back up.

Look, I don’t care if you like acting like a cowboy. I don’t care if you like putting on leathers and riding a motorcycle. That’s great. More power to ya. But being a part of the Body of Christ means bringing your “likes” and your personal preferences into the Church, into the Body of Christ, adding to our diversity, and then yielding those likes and preferences to Christ. You don’t have to do away with them, you just have to begin to view them as less important than Christ; less important than the Body.

Our problem is that we’ve elevated our “culture” (in reality our personal preferences) above the Body. My “culture” is more important. Instead of seeking unity in the midst of diversity, we’ve focused on homogenous groups that are just like me. I can’t help but think of the old, old Emo Phillips joke that was at one time considered among the best religious jokes ever. It goes like this:

Once I saw this guy on a bridge about to jump. I said, "Don't do it!" He said, "Nobody loves me." I said, "God loves you. Do you believe in God?"

He said, "Yes." I said, "Are you a Christian or a Jew?" He said, "A Christian." I said, "Me, too! Protestant or Catholic?" He said, "Protestant." I said, "Me, too! What franchise?" He said, "Baptist." I said, "Me, too! Northern Baptist or Southern Baptist?" He said, "Northern Baptist." I said, "Me, too! Northern Conservative Baptist or Northern Liberal Baptist?"

He said, "Northern Conservative Baptist." I said, "Me, too! Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region, or Northern Conservative Baptist Eastern Region?" He said, "Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region." I said, "Me, too!"

“Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1879, or Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912?" He said, "Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912." I said, "Die, heretic!" And I pushed him over.

Just like me. That’s the way I like my church. Now don’t misunderstand. I’m not talking about “universalism” of belief. I’m not talking about watering down doctrinal standards. The Truth is the truth, and Scripture is our standard.

But as this person told me: “The message is the same, but the methodology can be changed.” And while there is some truth to that, the methodology that seeks only to make people comfortable with others just like them isn’t really healthy for the Body of Christ.

Think about all the “one anothers” in Scripture. Bearing with one another and forgiving one another, etc. Much of that is harder to do when we’re with a bunch of folks who are different from us. It’s a greater challenge to put others first when those others are different than me. Likewise, the challenge is lessened when everyone already acts, thinks, looks like me anyway. And I think that’s the point. We like to take the easy way out. We don’t like to have to work at being the Body of Christ. Our maturity in Christ needs the challenges.

But, since I’m the only one that sees it this way; since I’m the nut case who needs to be more open-minded, I’ll play along. So any of you NASCAR fan turkey hunters who like loud Christian rock music and collect antique hymnals, drop me a note and we’ll arrange for time to start our club…I mean church. And everyone else can go find their own.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Geek Moment #?

It's been so long since I've done a "Homeschooler Moment" or the rarer "Geek Moment," that I'm not even sure what number to title it.  But anyway...

My oldest daughter comes to the church with me to do some online stuff before I take her to work at the library.  I have a small 5 cup coffee maker in my office, which I use to brew my coffee one mug at a time after freshly grinding the beans.  But I digress. 

I started a cup of coffee and went to the other end of the building.  When I come back, my daughter is a bit freaked out.  She tells me, "I knew you were in the building, but you didn't answer your phone when it rang, and I didn't know if someone else was in the building, and all I heard was Darth Vader's breathing coming from your office!"  

Because, yeah, evil Sith lords stop by for a visit on a regular basis....

Actually, I just think it's great that this is the first thought in her head.  We must have done something right in raising her!

Side Note:  After spending a year in Germany, she tells me that no one there was surprised by the epic Vader reveal of "I am your father, Luke."  Because in German the word for "father" is "vater" and so they all just assumed Darth Vader was the "dark father."  Hmmm...

Side Note 2:  If you're looking for a nice Christmas gift to go along with this whole discussion...

Friday, August 7, 2015

National Lighthouse Day and A Call to the Church

I know you've heard the story before, in one form or another.  Here is the version posted on a sermon illustration site:

In U.S. Navel Institute Proceedings, the magazine of the Naval Institute, Frank Koch illustrates the importance of obeying the Laws of the Lighthouse. Two battleships assigned to the training squadron had been at sea on maneuvers in heavy weather for several days. I was serving on the lead battleship and was on watch on the bridge as night fell. The visibility was poor with patchy fog, so the captain remained on the bridge keeping an eye on all activities.
Shortly after dark, the lookout on the wing reported, "Light, bearing on the starboard bow."
"Is it steady or moving astern?" the captain called out.
The lookout replied, "Steady, Captain," which meant we were on a dangerous collision course with that ship.
The captain then called to the signalman, "Signal that ship: 'We are on a collision course, advise you change course twenty degrees.'"
Back came the signal, "Advisable for you to change course twenty degrees."
The captain said, "Send: "I'm a captain, change course twenty degrees.'"
"I'm a seaman second-class," came the reply. "You had better change course twenty degrees."
By that time the captain was furious. He spat out, "Send: 'I'm a battleship. Change course twenty degrees.'"
Back came the flashing light, "I'm a lighthouse."
We changed course.

I love that story because it speaks of authority, and our need to bend to it.  I also like it because it's about a lighthouse.  I love lighthouses.  My office is filled with them.  Paintings, figurines, various lamps and models, even a giant puzzle I put together and framed.  I love lighthouses.

Today is National Lighthouse day.  According to one site: "On this date in 1789, through an Act of Congress, the Federal Government took over responsibility for building and operating our nation's lighthouses. They recognized the importance to ships at sea to find safe harbor during fog and storms. Over the years, these lighthouses have saved many ships, and an untold number of lives."

I love lighthouses because of the symbolism as well.  A beacon of light bringing direction, comfort and even warning to travelers in dangerous waters.  It's a perfect symbol for the role of the church, and for those of us in ministry.  Songs have even been written.

I think we need lighthouses more now than ever.  Our nation is in such dangerous waters.  The moral decline has morphed into a moral landslide.  Terror threats increase regularly.  We need a solid authority to give us warning, to give us direction, and to bring hope and comfort to those lost at sea.

God is that authority, and we, the church, are His lighthouses.  We need to shine the light of the gospel into the darkness of the world around us, giving warning, showing direction, offering hope.  And we need to stand firm on His truth. 

The world will try to throw its weight around, try to cause us to back down, change course.  But we know the truth.  The world is the one who needs to change course because they are headed for the rocks of destruction.  God's truth is the solid ground, the only true way to safety. 

So stand firm on the truth of God's Word.  Our world is headed for disaster, and they are desperately need of the truth whether they realize it or not.  And we are here to show the way to safe harbor, in hopes of saving lives, and maybe a nation in the process.  Be the lighthouse.  

Monday, August 3, 2015

Uh-Oh The Real Truth is Comin' Out

That's right, I just titled this with hip hop lyrics from an old Flame cd.  But I feel like it's pretty appropriate.  Part of that song goes on to say:

The media's lying the T.V. is lying, and guarantee the streets ain't telling the truth
So what you want me to do?
But point to the Bible for more than survival
But God's word that be speakin' to you, they God breathe its true

OK, get past the loose grammar of the hip hop and consider the “truth” part.  If nothing else has been learned in the last few weeks, with all the revelations coming out about Planned Parenthood, it's that none of them have been telling the truth.  In fact, we're now told that 8-10 more videos might be coming out soon.  Sadly, our President's administration has responded by opening an investigation, not into PP, but into the group exposing them.  Uh-oh, the real truth is comin' out.

But before we get too excited about this (though we should be excited, no, outraged as this fine article says); let's turn those eyes of truth back toward ourselves and ask if we are ready for the truth to come out.  What does that mean, you ask?  Simply this.

When it's the enemy's dark side coming out, we all scream for the “truth.”  We want all the dirty details to come out.  We want the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.  But do we hold ourselves to the same standard?

I can hear the protests:  But we're not selling baby parts!  No, we're not.  But the truth of Scripture is that your heart is just as black in its natural state as those who are.  Uh-oh, the real truth is comin' out!  We don't like that kind of truth, do we?  But all of God's Word is breathed true, including the truth of the sinfulness of our hearts. 

We say we want the truth, but we often don't hold ourselves up to the standard of truth set forth in God's Word.  We like the convenient truths that make us feel better about ourselves.  We like the truths that make those we dislike look worse.  But truth is a double edged sword, cutting both ways.  If we want to stand for “truth”, then we need to look to God's Word and stand for ALL of it. 

Too many in the church are falling for false teachings, half truths, worldly ideas.  That issue needs to be addressed as much, if not more so, than the horrors of PP.  As Flame also says in that song:

See it's a war and I done stepped into it
And I'm on the team of the rescue unit
For the following people..
1. Ones who caught up in false doctrine
2. Non-believers ignoring the sin problem
3. And new saints, so while my mic is on
All I've got is the truth and a warning

Indeed, all we have is the truth.  The truth of God's Word.  We need to let it's light shine into our own hearts and lives as much as we want it to shine on the sin of the world.  And there are so many applications of that.

For one thing, it means truly being dedicated to the truth.  That means not passing things around the internet simply because we like it, never testing to see if it's actually true.  How many times have Christians been guilty of passing along some quote that was never actually said by the person it was attributed to, or sending along some story about this or that latest conspiracy that a simple search would reveal isn't true, or any number of other simple ways we ignore truth?

On the other hand, or on the more serious side, there are so many caught up in the cheap gospel tricks of the Osteens and Meyers of the world, whose messages aren't any different than Oprah's or even a fortune cookie for that matter. (here's a great little piece on that).  No sound biblical truth to be found, but Christians everywhere buy into it; again, pass it around the internet; join the crowd because it feels good.

We need truth.  We need to be devoted to truth, in all it's forms.  The truth we speak to others, the truth of what we pass along on social media, the truth we accept from anyone claiming to be a teacher of God's Word. 

We need The Truth.  No matter how uncomfortable it might make us at the time, God's light needs to shine on our hearts and lives just as much as the light of truth needs to reveal the despicable acts of baby killers. Sin is sin, in my life just as in others'.  We all need Christ.  Apart from Him we are all lost.  Apart from His grace, my sin is just as vile and damning as those in the PP videos, and I am just as much deserving of His wrath.

And so, if that's true, the real truth that needs to come out is not just that these people are disgusting and horrid in every way imaginable; but that they need Jesus.  So don't just yell and scream (though again, in our outrage, a little yelling and screaming needs to be done on this particular issue).  But pray for these folks.  Be willing to share the love of Christ with them and those who support them. Only God can change their hearts.  Fight for the lives of the innocent children being butchered, but also fight for the eternal souls of their executioners.  I know it's hard, but it's what the Truth demands. 

So, if you can handle the truth, enjoy a little hip-hop truth from our man Flame from “back in the day.”  (full lyrics can be read here)