Journal Entry: October 9th 2016

October 9th, 2016

In some ways, I have allowed politics to become an idol. Maybe THE idol in my life right now. I follow it incessantly, yet hardly pray for my country, or open my Bible. I KNOW the truth, and the truth is that my country is not what I want it to be. Our values are not what I want them to be.

But doesn’t that miss the point? Is God not sovereign?
The answer of course is yes, but my idolatry and obsession over this election means that I am living more like it is a “no”.
Humbling indeed.

Both of our primary candidates are so deeply and fundamentally flawed. I recognize we are all deeply and fundamentally flawed, but can you recall a time where both candidates are such a far cry from anything resembling submission to the authority of God? This troubles me, but probably not for the right reasons as I think about it.

It troubles me because it means that the America that I have in my mind, that I believed would be present in my future, is fading rapidly. This America had strong Judeo-Christian values, was proud of what it meant to be an American and all that came with that.

This identity is dying and it breaks my heart. But it also means that (selfishly) my life will be harder. Prosperity will be threatened, my values will be of the minority and maybe even censored before too long.

So what are the right reasons for being troubled by this? Obviously the moral decline of our leadership is indicative of the moral decline of our nation. Wayward morality always has consequences. History has proved this time and time again. Heck, you don’t even need the Bible to see it but I believe Scripture provides the most coherent explanation.

Say what you want about the Founding Fathers, because many say they weren’t Christians. I don’t argue that here, I will say that they did view the world with a moral framework. There was a starting point, a foundation of morality that they looked to for inspiration and guidance.

We are losing this framework. We have no foundation or starting point to look to. And like a house without a strong frame or a body without bones, we fall in on ourselves.

There will be suffering and more suffering. Physical, psychological, social, economic. This is probably the saddest part of this, but also the greatest opportunity because suffering forces us to ask some pretty big questions.

What is the purpose of this?
Why do I suffer?
Is there any hope?

It is here that I return, because the answers to these questions, and the example of our lives is where the Church is indeed Salt and Light.

Salt prevents decay. Light shines brightest in the darkness.

13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

Matthew 5:13-16

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“Private” Sin, Public Disgrace

It seems like every day we are bombarded with stories of icons that have fallen prey to the consequences of some sort of deviant behavior. Adultery, fraud, cheating, murder, etc. Take a look at this list from-

Tiger Woods
John Edwards
Elliot Spitzer
Bernie Madoff
Aaron Hernandez

There are many more, but you get the idea. Why does this shock us though? You see this played out in Scripture numerous times. Consider the story of David and Bathsheba. In case you have forgotten, here are the highlights –

David notices Bathsheba
David lusts after Bathsheba
David sleeps with Bathsheba
Bathsheba conceives a child
David attempts to cover up the indiscretion by bringing Uriah (Husband of Bathsheba) home from the war hoping he will sleep with his wife.
David tries the previous tactic again, this time using alcohol
David plans Uriah’s death
Uriah is killed

David is then confronted by his friend Nathan and reaches the following conclusion –
“I have sinned against the Lord.”

No kidding.

But I want to highlight what the Lord says through all of this-

“This is what the Lord says: ‘Out of your own household I am going to bring calamity on you. Before your very eyes I will take your wives and give them to one who is close to you, and he will sleep with your wives in broad daylight. You did it in secret, but I will do this thing in broad daylight before all Israel.’”

Did you catch that? “Private” sin leading to public disgrace.

How humiliating must this have been for David? How humbling must this have been for David. By the way, of course all of what the Lord promised came to fruition (For example, see 2 Samuel 16:22).

Now take a look at what Nathan says to David about the consequences of his actions.

“The Lord has taken away your sin. You are not going to die. But because by doing this you have shown utter contempt for the Lord, the son born to you will die.”

Two principles in play here –

1) Sin is never private

“You did it in secret, but I will do this thing in broad daylight before all Israel”

We may think we are fooling the world. We may think our sin is just a private and personal matter. If you are like me, then these excuses are familiar to you:

“It doesn’t impact anyone else.”
“What I do privately is my business.”
“Nobody will know.”

The fact is, this is false. Here is the truth-

Sin, although often times conducted privately, is very much a public issue impacting everyone.

Maybe you don’t believe me, but just think

– That lie you just told, it hindered trust between you and another person.
– The anger you harbor towards your boss? Certainly leads to resentment in the relationship
– The woman you lusted after at the gym today, no big deal right? Ask your wife how she feels about that

You see, our so-called private sin manifests itself publicly, and then we must face the consequences of our actions.

2) Our sin carries consequences, always-

“The Lord has taken away your sin, …. BUT….”

Whether you are a follower of Christ or not, you cannot escape this truth. Our sin carries consequences. Christ never promises to shield us from the earthly consequences of our sin. We still have to face the reality of a fallen world that we readily contribute to each day. The consequence may be large, or it could be small. It could be as grand as worldwide public disgrace, or as small as a painful talk with your wife or friend.
Either way, we will face the consequences.

What do we do then? What is the correct response when faced with our “private” sin?
Psalm 51 has the answer

Humble Ourselves

My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit;

a broken and contrite heart

you, God, will not despise.

Confess

Have mercy on me, O God,
 according to your unfailing love;

according to your great compassion
 blot out my transgressions.
Wash away all my iniquity
 and cleanse me from my sin.

Praise God

Open my lips, Lord,

and my mouth will declare your praise.

Tell Others

Then I will teach transgressors your ways,

so that sinners will turn back to you.

– B

Do Not Be Deceived:Truth

In my previous entries in this blog series I took a look at what the world says men and women are respectively. What defines a man, what characteristics a woman should strive for etc…
Now, I hope to take a look at the truth. As always, we will begin with Scripture. This particular blog has weighed on me because of the nature of the content. What I am about to share has largely been rejected by our culture. It is not popular to “define” gender roles. Christianity is often mischaracterized as a religion that is based on male chauvinism. I pray that I would paint an accurate picture of what the Bible says about this issue.
As I said, the main source I will use is the Bible. For the individuals that do not believe the Bible is sufficient, I plan on adding support from science and my own observations.
The Truth
We are made in God’s image, and that means that we are made with characteristics that reflect attributes of God. Both Man and Woman are made in God’s image (Genesis 1:27). So I am going to conclude that Men have attributes that reflect God and women have attributes that reflect God.
Lets begin by looking at the men.  If you recall in my previous section about men (found here) I listed Power, Sex, Health/Sports, Money, Cars, Celebrities, and Fashion as masculine attributes that are praised by our culture.
The best place to begin is with Adam. Adam was the first man and he existed prior to sin entering the world.
The story of man prior to sin can be found in Genesis 1:26- 2:25. Using this text, we can discover a large portion of the truth about men.
When viewing this text there are three main attributes that jump out-
·      Dominion:
a.     God grants man (along with woman) dominion over all of the creatures of the earth.
                                               i.     Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
b.     God instructs man (along with woman) to fill the earth and subdue it.
                                               i.     God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
·      Work/Labor:
a.     Prior to popular belief, work existed before the Fall of Man.
                                               i.     Now no shrub had yet appeared on the earthand no plant had yet sprung up, for the LORD God had not sent rain on the earth and there was no one to work the ground, (2:5)
                                            ii.     The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. (2:15)
 Follower of the Law:
a.     The First instance of God’s law is in Genesis 2:16
                                              i.     And the LORD God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”
Now, the remainder of the truth about men will be found in the rest of Scripture. (And as I said before, for those of you that don’t feel Scripture is sufficient, I will include scientific support along with my observations.)
·      Warrior:
a.     Men, created in God’s image, are made to be warriors.
                                               i.     Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle. Psalm 24:8
                                             ii.     Biblical examples include- Joshua, Samson, David.
                                            iii.     Scientific Support- Anatomically speaking men are better suited for war. They have greater muscle mass, larger lungs and hearts, thicker skin, thicker skulls, stronger bones/ligaments/tendons and they are better adapted to walk and run.
Provider:
a.     The role of men as provider for their household is established in Genesis and reiterated throughout the Bible.
                                               i.     Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.  1 Timothy 5:8
                                             ii.     He who gathers crops in summer is a prudent son,  but he who sleeps during harvest is a disgraceful son. Proverbs 10:5
                                            iii.     Whoever works his land will have plenty of bread, but he who follows worthless pursuits will have plenty of poverty. Proverbs 28:19
·      Resident Theologian:
a.     Men are to be knowledgeable regarding Scripture and the spiritual leaders of their homes
                                               i.     Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. Ephesians 6:4
                                             ii.     Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her  to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word- Ephesians 5: 25
                                            iii.     Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.  Deuteronomy 6:5-9
·      Headship:
a.     The final attribute, and perhaps the most widely rejected by our culture, is the attribute of headship. Essentially, men are supposed to lead. The opposite of male headship is male domination.
b.     Headship is established in Genesis, and reiterated with the example of Christ.
                                               i.     The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” Genesis 2:18
1.     Note- Men and Women are equal, but the role of man is to lead and the role of woman is to help. Additionally, the word “Helper” in this text is actually a very powerful word. The same word is used in Psalm 33:20- We wait in hope for the LORD;  he is our help and our shield.
                                             ii.     And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. Colossians 1:18
                                            iii.     For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Ephesians 5:23
Closing Remarks on Men:
It is said that the most dangerous lies are the ones that most closely resemble the truth, and I believe that is the case when it comes to men and the attribute of power specifically. Our culture associates power with male domination, which is then mischaracterized as “headship”. This is a lie that closely resembles truth.
Now on to women.
If you recall in my previous blog about women (found here) I listed Beauty, Fashion, Independence, Sexual Prowess and Fitness/Health as feminine attributes that are praised by our culture.
Lets return to Genesis, because that is where we will find Eve. The first woman. She also existed prior to the Fall. Again we look to Genesis 1:26- 2:25.
There are just three main attributes that jump out:
·      Dominion:
a.     Women share in the dominion granted to men in Genesis 1:26-30. Notice the words “They” and “Them”. Men and Women were created to have dominion together and subdue the earth together. Which leads me to my next point—
·      Child Bearer:
a.     One attribute that is under assault by our culture is the attribute of child bearing.  (In the US alone approximately 4,000 abortions occur each day. Don’t tell me that our culture values child bearing.)
                                               i.     God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.
·      Helper:
a.     The role of Helper is established in Genesis 2:18.
                                               i.     The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”
Some Biblical examples include Eve, Sarah, Ruth, Esther and Mary.
Side Note- Consider the genealogy of Christ and the mere fact that women are included. (Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba.) The claim that the Bible denigrates women is simply false.
Now, before you get upset about how short this section is on women, I want to change up the structure a little bit and just speak from the heart. One of the greatest attributes of God that women reflect is this- Beauty. It is important to note that physical beauty is given very little value in the Bible. The famous Proverbs 31 lists beauty as “fleeting”.  In fact, the Bible says “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight”.  1 Peter 3:3-4
I would argue that this attribute is under direct assault from our culture and Satan himself. Beauty is defined as being a certain height, weight, hair color and skin complexion. (Among other things.)
This is what I gather from Genesis:
Women are the crown of creation. If we look at the creation account in Genesis we see that each event gets progressively more complex. And each time, God saw that it was good. And on the final day, God saw all that He made and said it was very good.
The first time that God concludes that something is not good, is when man is alone. He then creates woman. Did you catch that?  In the creation process, the final thing that God creates, is woman. Crown of creation.
Women reflect the beauty, grace, and elegance of God in a way that men are incapable of doing. Conversely, men reflect the power, strength and warrior nature of God in a way that women are incapable of doing. And that is just fine, because men and women are different!
Closing Remarks on Women:
The Biblical picture of the male-female relationship is terribly mischaracterized by our culture. Men are painted as the dominant and aggressive leader while women are painted as the quiet and subservient housewife. Again, this is false. This is particularly relevant to the marriage relationship.
When viewing this relationship properly, one word comes to mind: Sacrifice. People take Ephesians 5: 22-23 and say “Hey, this is proof that women must submit to their husbands” or they will say “See how the Bible paints women, I don’t believe in that.”
But nobody bothers to read just a few verses down where Paul addresses men and delivers one of the most profound statements on this issue when he says- Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.
Now, ponder that for a moment. “Just as Christ loved the church”. This begs the question: How exactly did Christ love the church? The answer to this question completely changes the dynamic of the relationship. When we look at how Christ loved the church, we see the purest form of sacrificial love. We see humility. We see grace. We see redemption. We see blood shed on a Cross.
This perspective changes everything.
Final Thoughts:
Our culture has rejected this truth and replaced it with an absolute lie. I covered what our culture says about men and women in my previous posts, but I want to make one final point.
Are we really better off since adopting the cultural “truth” about men and women?  Because the culture tells us that Biblical principles are outdated and unnecessary. But is that claim true?
The simple answer is No.
Consider this:
1.     Half of all marriages end in divorce
2.     Only 51% of Americans are married. For some perspective, the number was 72% in 1960.
3.     Cohabitation, Single person households, and single parents have all increased since 1960.
As we can see, the deception that we have bought into has not yielded positive results. Moving forward, as Christians, it is absolutely essential for us to stand for truth. And the only way we can do that is by seeking to be True Men and Women of God.

Do Not Be Deceived: Women

Much like my previous post on Men, I am seeking to answer the question- “What does the world say a woman is?”

What are the attributes that define a woman? What are some things that all women should strive to be? What is their role in society? Etc etc.

I do not claim to be an expert on women, but this post is more about analyzing what the world says, not what I say.

So here we go- What does the world say a woman is?

The primary sources for this particular post will be http://www.cosmopolitan.com/ and http://www.womenshealthmag.com/.

I feel that these are both adequate sources for what I am trying to do.  The following list is by no means exhaustive, but it does capture the observations that I made by viewing the aforementioned sources-

  1. Beauty– Beauty is an important topic for women. Beauty is a feminine trait. Beautiful women are admirable and most desirable. Beauty is predominantly based on outward appearance.
  2. Fashion– Fashion is also important. It is tied to Beauty. They are topics that are dependent on each other. Fashion is a key component in popularity and value. It is an expression of status.
  3. Independence– An independent woman is attractive. Women should be self sufficient but also exude an attitude of independence. Anything that would inhibit independence is looked down on.
  4. Sexual Prowess– Sexual prowess is something every woman should strive for. Sex is a common activity in relationships.
  5. Fitness/Health– Women should be fit. Losing weight is a common theme and staying thin is important. Fitness and health are tied to Beauty of course.

That is all for now. Moving on to Truth.

Remember

Background-

My mom passed away recently after a long fight with cancer. Needless to say, it has been a challenging time. I deal with the pain daily and God has blessed me immensely through this experience. 

I am writing this to explain some of the best advice I can give in general. And I have only learned this recently, but it is a piece of advice that I have given to a few of my friends in the last few weeks. 

Remember. 

We live such fast paced lives, things become routine and we take them for granted. I encourage you to pause, take a moment, and remember the little things.

For me it was remembering how it felt to hug my mom. How it felt to touch her hair. How her voice sounded. What it was like when she said I love you. Her laugh…

The little things.

For you it may be something different. It may be the sound of your dads voice, or the feeling of your son or daughter. It may be hearing your spouse say I love you. Or hearing their laugh or seeing their smile.

I promise you this, we do not appreciate these things enough. Appreciate them before they are gone. God forbid that they be taken tragically, but it happens everyday.

I want to take this one step further. Remember God. Remember the times when He carried you and when He redeemed you. Remember how it felt when He was near, and Remember the times when He felt distant.

Let it not be said of us, as it was said of the church at Ephesus-

“You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love.” Revelation 2:3-4

So, the next time you see a loved one. Pause for an extra moment, and Remember. Imprint the feeling in your mind and save it for a rainy day.

Thank you and God Bless.

– B