Archive for the ‘Sin’ category

A Pride Offering

August 2, 2017

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I recently had a conversation with someone who is not a believer in Jesus Christ as I am. He charged Christians with being smug, implying that all Christians are the same. They have this confidence which he described as smugness. At that stage in our conversation, I became offended and repulsed.

I was offended because he seemed to be lumping me in with “those smug Christians”. He was making the conversation personal instead of sticking with the merits of the arguments. I was repulsed because pride is the root of all sin, and I was horrified that I might be characterized as prideful.

Of course, I am prideful. That is the condition of the human heart. We naturally trust ourselves above all others, and even above God. We don’t seem to have a lot of it when we are infants and young children, but it creeps in, and it grows as we get older. We learn to keep it under wraps if we value friendship and relationships, because the pride in me conflicts with the pride in you. Sometimes we learn a false humility, but pride lurks there beneath the surface in all of us.

When I first read the Bible in college in a world religion class it was this theme of pride in people, among other things, that jumped off the pages at me. It was like looking in a mirror and acknowledging, as difficult as it was, the pridefulness of people and the pridefulness in me. If God was God, and I believed that there was a God, that we did not create ourselves, then pride in people is an ugly thing.

These things resonated in me because I saw the pride in people, and I saw the pride in myself, and it repulsed me, just as I was repulsed in my recent conversation to think that I might be considered prideful. I have been thinking about those things for several days, and these are the thoughts I have today as I reflect on these things.

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If/When God Sends Us Difficulties

July 10, 2017

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“If I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or if I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among my people….”[1]

We like to view God as a Great Benevolent Giver in the sky. We want Him to pour out good gifts to us and make our lives easy for us, and we are disappointed, disillusioned and discouraged when we don’t experience the generosity we imagine and want from God.

God is benevolent for sure, but He is much more than that. He doesn’t just want to give us good things; He wants to give us Himself. In fact, he doesn’t just want to give us Himself, He wants to pour Himself out into and through us to bless others as He desires to bless us.

But, this ultimate desire and purpose of God to bless us takes on a different form than we would like at times. God’s activity in our lives doesn’t always feel like a blessing.

In this verse from 2 Chronicles 7, we learn that God, Himself, may cause difficult things to happen, or simply allow them to happen, in our lives. But why? And what can we do about it?

We need to read the second half of the verse and consider the context in which it was written for a more complete picture.

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Is the Bible Sexist and Racist? Part 1

July 7, 2017

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Many people charge the Bible with being sexist and racist. Whether the Bible is sexist and racist goes to the heart of who the Bible says God is. What does the Bible say about these things? How does the Bible describe men, women, ethnicity, diversity and human life?

Is the Bible accurately portrayed in the media on these issues? Is it accurately understood by the common person? Is the Bible accurately followed by the people who claim the Bible as their guiding light?

These questions are relevant today as Black Lives Matters and women’s marches and gatherings make the news and immigration policy is being debated in the national media in the united States.

How do we value human life? What is the basis for the value of human life?

And what does the Bible really say about these things?

This begins a five part series that looks at the evidence of how God views sexism from a biblical overview and evidence of how God views racism from a biblical overview, followed by the evidence in the Bible of the way Jesus viewed sexism and the evidence in the Bible of the way Jesus viewed racism from the new Testament.

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When Sin Crouches At the Door

May 20, 2017

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“If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.” Genesis 4:7

We know the story of Cain & Abel. They were the sons of Adam & Eve. They both offered sacrifices to God. Cain gave an offering from “the fruit of the ground”, and Abel of the “fat portions”[1] from the “firstlings”[2] of his flock. (Genesis 4:3-4) All was good, right?

Well, no. God “regarded” Abel’s offering, but didn’t “regard” Cain’s offering, and that is when the problem started. Cain became angry[3], and his “countenance fell”. (Genesis 4:4-5) We know the rest of the story: Cain ends up killing Abel.

Lest we be tempted to think that we don’t need to pay attention to the details of this story because we aren’t like Cain – we would never kill anyone – consider these words of Jesus:

“You have heard that the ancients were told, ‘You shall not commit murder’ and ‘Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court….” (Matthew 5:21-22)

Anyone who has ever been angry with another person, might do well to consider the details of the story of Cain and Abel.

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Appearances and Realities

April 21, 2017

Depositphoto Image ID: 141475556 Copyright: SIphotography

My son posted an article written by a young woman who was chastised by an older woman for wearing holy jeans in church. She was accused of being disrespectful to God. I am reminded of the charge Jesus made against the Pharisees about being whitewashed tombs.[1] They looked good and clean on the outside, but they were empty on the inside.

We are good at making ourselves look good on the outside, but that isn’t what counts.

Jesus was pretty clear when he told us that we should stop judging by appearances.[2] How did this elderly woman know that the young church attendee was disrespecting God? God judges the heart,[3] and God alone.[4] He weighs our motives.[5] The people who look good to us, may be anything but good[6], and the opposite is certainly true as well.

It’s no wonder that millennials are leaving the church in big numbers. If this older woman represents what is important to the average churchgoer today, the Pharisees are still leading the way in religious circles.

The thing is that human nature in the 1st Century is the same as human nature in the 21st Century.

We live with an illusion that we are somehow more enlightened, less barbaric and more advanced than our ancient counterparts. We want to believe that we have made progress over time and are getting better. We don’t stone people to death for moral crimes anymore (at least in many countries). Activists parade in the public square today to support human rights rather than gathering in the public square to watch executions (in many countries anyway). But we shouldn’t ignore the signs that suggest a different narrative.

More people were killed by genocidal rulers in the 20th Century than in all the previous centuries combined. Look at the awful number of people killed in Chicago alone by handguns every week, month and year. We don’t burn babies on the outstretched arms of Molech anymore; we tear them limb from limb in the womb. In many countries around the world, we still stone people to death, cut off their limbs, burn their faces and even through homosexuals off of roofs with the sanction of social and governmental blessing.

Appearances are deceiving.

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What is Hidden Will Be Made Known

February 16, 2017
A strange suspicious confident hacker standing with a hoodie and leather jacket in front of sepia brown urban concrete wall concept

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For nothing is hidden that will not be made manifest, nor is anything secret that will not be known and come to light. (Luke 8:17)

Shakespeare was right. We strut and fret our hour upon the stage.[1] But who are we performing for? Our friends and family? Neighbors? The public? Do we perform for ourselves alone?

We have but an hour. Rather, it is more like a minute, a second… a millisecond in the scope of time on this stage of the universe in the very small act we call human history.  According to Shakespeare, our lives are an idiot’s tale, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

That may be so if there is no God and no life beyond this brief, strutting hour. It would all be meaningless, an idiot’s tale indeed, if this universe was not the work of a Creator and we, His image bearers.

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Conflating God with People

February 7, 2017

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I have an old friend who is “disgusted” that many Christians supported Donald Trump and were a significant factor in Trump winning the election. She, like many women (and men), cannot get past the infamous words that Trump spoke how about a woman reporter. I won’t repeat them here. They are too vulgar for polite company.

My friend has been so turned off of Christians and “the” Church by the fact that many Christians voted for Trump and were a factor in electing him, that she no longer goes to church at all after decades of being a church-goer.

I don’t want to get into politics here. That isn’t the issue I’m focused on.

I have family and friends who say that they can’t believe in God, or can’t believe in the Christian God, because Christians are hypocrites. This is what leads me to write this piece.

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