Friday, June 24, 2011

The Carrot and the Horse

A brief excerpt from a recent message on Abel and the importance of motives...

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Q & A from "By Faith" Series in Hebrews 11

Q: In your recent message on Abel you said that "God came to us." But didn’t we go to him and accept him on his terms?  He is always with us from the time that we are born to the time that we die, right? It is just that we have to accept him, right?
When I speak of God coming to us, I speak, first, of the crucial act of Jesus coming to live among us. God “pitching his tent” in our neighborhood (John 1). Had God not sent Jesus to live among us and die in our place as the atoning substitution for sin, we would forever be lost. We did not (and could not) go to God in heaven and try to reconcile the war between him and us, nor were we (or are we) able to bridge the gap that exists between us and God. It is an eternal predicament that only God can solve. He solved that when he took the step of sending Jesus to us as the sacrifice for our sins and not leaving us in our sin. This was the work of God in coming to us when we could not get to him.
Second, when I speak of God coming to us, I speak of the work of the Holy Spirit upon our lost souls when he opened our eyes to the Gospel (i.e., the truth about Jesus’ finished work on the cross). Ephesians 2 says we are dead; 2 Cor. 4 says our eyes were blinded. But God has shone the light of the Gospel into our hearts (2 Cor. 4:6) so that we could see. He has awakened our hearts from the dead and  given us the faith to believe (Eph. 2:8-9) So it was God who came to us in our lost state and raised us up/regenerated us. Yes, we responded to that and experienced conversion – that moment when we “accepted” the Gospel and took our stand on it. But it was God who came to us and opened our eyes, giving us the spiritual capacity to even see/comprehend the Gospel.
When we speak of God always being with us, we need to be careful to distinguish between God being always with us and God being in us. God is “with” everyone in the sense that he is always aware of where they are and in control of them – lost and saved people alike. He is sovereign! Omniscient and omnipresent! But he chooses to reside in those who believe. This is the role of the Holy Spirit – to indwell believers. This is the presence of God that unbelievers do not have. It is God coming to us in a way that lost people cannot access until they believe.

Q: You also stated that, when it comes to the show of church, "nobody is flasher then us."  What did you mean and why is that so? Is it because we want people to think we’re a “goodie two shoes” bunch?
By “us” I meant, generally, the western American church, and I don’t know why we have this tendency to impress. I don’t think it is wrong to want to put our best foot forward, but there is a fine line between our best foot forward and a false foot forward. Perhaps we do crave the approval of others too much, so we want them to think we’re something we’re not. I’m not sure if I know the WHY question. But I am fully aware of my own failings and tendencies to cover up any sign of weakness or fault, and God warns against that seriously. Perhaps riches and prosperity have trapped us into thinking that we have to at least appear to have it all, all the time. I just don’t know. But I do know this is the battle we all wage: pretense vs. authenticity.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

What Faith Is and What Faith Gives

Some have asked for a "reprint" of some of my thoughts/notes from my message in Hebrews 11:1-3 regarding faith -- "What Faith Is and What Faith Gives" (mainly because these comments weren't on the slides behind me and I didn't repeat them much). So here's a brief recapitulation of the highlights.

Faith is confidence in God in light of what I do see and in spite of what I don't see (v 1).

Faith gives a vertical commendation, a horizontal understanding, and an external endurance (v 2-3).

Essentially, through we faith we can relate to God properly, reason about life correctly, and react to trials faithfully. No wonder faith is said to be indispensable ingredient to pleasing God!

Monday, June 6, 2011

SundayStats for June 5

Here's a quick, statistical look at how FFC's YouVersion "live" participants responded to the polls from Sunday's interactive message format on June 5, 2011.

When asked how they think the culture around them generally defines the word faith,
  • 48% said they think the culture defines faith as belief in a higher being.
  • 26% said they think the culture defines faith as positive thinking.
  • 17% said they think the culture defines faiths as a blind leap.
  • 9% said they think the culture defines faith as optimism.

When asked when their faith was awakened (i.e., when did God save them), 
  • 24% said they were saved between the ages of 21-30
  • 24% said they were saved between the ages of 31-40
  • 19% said they were saved between the ages of 7-10
  • 14% said they were saved between the ages of 11-15
  • 10% said they were saved between the ages of 3-6
  • 10% said they were saved between the ages of 16-20

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Rights or Choices?

I am more convinced than ever that the fundamental strategy of the homosexual community is to equate sexual rights with civil rights. This is how they intend to infiltrate the legal and cultural systems of our country and change things to accommodate their destructive choices. They’ve been at it for decades, and they show no signs of letting up. And with good reason – it’s working.
The latest evidence that this subversive, slow chipping away of the true definition of “rights” is their greatest weapon of attack is found in the most recent edition of ESPN the Magazine. In the column Voices, Steve Buckley, who himself “came out” last January, predicts that the first big-time athlete to announce his homosexuality while actively playing the sport the in which he excels will face the same discrimination and questioning that – here it is! -- Jackie Robinson faced. Wow! Could he be more blatant? I doubt it! In Steve’s world, the barriers of color and sexual orientation are the same.
What’s more astounding is that he offers this up without any type of evidence or support, probably because he knows it is, unfortunately, a generally accepted thought. But the hard reality is that this type of assumption – i.e., sexual orientation is a “rights” issue because we are born with it -- has no scientific foundation, and an even less biological one. (For those who are Christian, a third strike occurs when you realize it has no biblical basis either.) Yet, Steve not only assumes it’s a genetic issue, he asserts this unfounded theory to his readers. Frankly, a discerning and intellectually honest reader, whether Christian or not, would ask, “Where’s the proof that homosexuality is inborn? Where’s the evidence of this 'gay gene?'” But so many people simply read indiscriminately and believe anything without ever thinking, “Is this really true?” (For a good discussion of how they gay gene theory got its start, as well as other insightful, founded information relating to this topic, listen to this talk I gave a few months back, or check out this entry of my blog.)
Notwithstanding, Steve may be correct in his prediction that the effects of “coming out,” whoever the first active athlete is, may be difficult and trying, just as life was for Jackie Robinson. However, Jackie didn’t face it because of his own sinful choices; he faced it because of the sinful choices of others. The first currently-playing gay athlete, though, will possibly have to face this kind of treatment for exactly the opposite reason – his or her own sinful and immoral decisions. You see, the reasons for such treatment are starkly different, not only in the visibility, but in the causality. But such is the goal of the homosexual activists: to make others appear to be the ones thinking and living wrongly when, in reality, they are.
I know I’m probably in the cultural minority, but I’ll stand on this scientifically, biblically, and biologically: It is a large leap with no substantive platform from which to land or take off to parallel one’s color with one’s sexuality. And each time we let this assumption go unchallenged, we do all true minorities a disservice because we’re letting the homosexuals sabotage the real civil rights movement.