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Posts Tagged ‘morality’

It is not that Christians can make this a Christian nation.  Or a Christian culture.  We may not be able to prevent laws, such as nationalized health care which appears to mandate many practices a Christian doesn’t and can’t Biblically support.  But, Christians can choose to not do wrong things and, thus, affect their family,  neighbors, and community — one person at a time.  History records that it is possible for small groups of people to make wrong things unthinkable and even, eventually, illegal.

In Rome, it was culturally acceptable to take an unwanted, newborn baby outside the city gates and abandon the child to the elements.  It was, basically, legal.  But, Christians helped to make that behavior unthinkable by rescuing the newborns.  They took them home, adopted them, and founded orphanages.

William Wilberforce and a small group of Biblical men and women in England determined to obey God and help their country stop the practice of slavery.  It took 30 years of Wilberforce’s life.  Slavery did become illegal but, first,  it had to become unthinkable.  Christians who knew slavery was wrong helped others see the practice as economically and morally unthinkable.

What can we learn from this as we Christians in America face legalized abortion?  Legalized euthanasia?  Legalized embryonic stem cell research?  Legalized national health care?  We can choose not to engage in the procreative act of sex outside the faithfulness of marriage.  We can choose to see every human life as God sees it: so valuable that Jesus Christ would die for him or her.  We can choose to live in ways that honor the Creator of life so that even non-believers are encouraged to make choices that build a moral society.

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Megan is an all American girl.  Like other freshmen in college, she considers herself “modern.”  She communicates by iPhone and Facebook, is comfortable with her “sexuality,” strolls through Victoria’s Secret with her boyfriend, and, ready for a serious relationship, scheduled an appointment to discuss birth control with a Planned Parenthood counselor.

Megan also considers herself to be a Christian.  She attended church regularly with her parents.  She was educated in parochial schools.  Her friends are Christian.  She knows the Bible stories and sings praises to God. 

Megan believes Jesus is her Savior.  If you were to ask her if she is a creation of God, she would answer “Yes!”  She has been taught that she can talk to God as if talking to her daddy.  He is “Abba Father” and, Megan has been assured, there is nothing she can do to change this fact.  Even when Megan forgets to pray or skips worship for another activity or sins in any way, God remains her Heavenly Father.  This gives Megan comfort, especially when she’s lonely or troubled.  She adores her “awesome God” on Sundays.  But, on Mondays, she returns to the “real” world.

In the “real” world, Megan was sharing a bed with her boyfriend.  They were in love and being responsibly adult.  Planned Parenthood helped her to separate the act of sex from procreation.  One weekend while visiting her parents, Megan did the usual thing by attending church with them.  But, what happened took Megan by surprise.  This day, the pastor seemed to look right at her.  The Word he spoke did not comfort but, instead, convicted.  Megan heard him say that those who follow the flesh by being sexually immoral, impure, and sensual are in danger of missing heaven (Galatians 5:19-21).  Megan also heard him say that a new person in Christ is equipped to guard against passions and desires (vv. 23-24).

Megan was conflicted.  She did not leave church that morning in a good mood.  What did it mean to be a “new person?”  How did that fit with being a “sexual being” as she had been taught to see herself?  Couldn’t she love Jesus and know He died for her, yet be “modern” in her thinking and behavior?  In an honest moment with her parents, Megan expressed fear.  “I’ve always known God loves me, no matter what.  No matter what, right Dad?  Right, Mom?”  In a way, Megan was asking what so many Christians might be asking themselves: If disobedience or sin cannot make me less God’s child, what does it matter what I do?  Why is it so important to obey God?  Why can’t I just follow my instincts?  Do whatever feels right for me depending on the situation?  Won’t it all work out in the end?  After all, Jesus died so that my sins are forgiven!

This is most certainly true.  Jesus died for a world of sinners.  You.  Me.  Every person ever conceived.  But, dear Megan, our behavior matters.  Why?  Because our behavior changes our attitude toward God.  Evidence of this abounds.  It is seen in a culture that determines for itself what is “right” and “wrong.”  It is the Christian parent who asks the pastor not to speak about the sin of living together lest his daughter co-habitating with her fiancé stops coming to church.  It is the pro-life Christian who has four children but isn’t married to any of their daddies.  It is the Christian woman whose choice of clothing reflects her glory rather than God’s and, intentionally or not, becomes a temptress.  It is the Christian father who, fearing for his daughter’s future, insists she have an abortion.  It is the Christian mother who defends her son’s homosexual lifestyle, saying, “God made him that way.”  It is whole bodies of Christians who want Jesus to wrap Himself around the desires of their hearts. 

The heart, says the world, is good and can be trusted.  The heart, says God’s Word, is deceptive and not to be trusted.   Ah, the fickle human heart!  It is influenced by the world and our own sinful flesh to oppose the Lord God even while it thinks it is still clinging to Him.   

Is Megan doing what we Christians too often do?  She knows she is saved and has the promise of heaven.  But, does she want God to fit her world?  She acknowledges God as her Creator but, depending on her circumstance, does she re-define what He has made?   She says Jesus is her Savior, but does He have anything to say about her relationships and choices?  She finds hope in being a “new person in Christ,” but is she talking and walking like a sinner bound to sin?    

Megan’s identity matters.  She is a child of God because of what Jesus did for her.  She has divine possibilities.  A rich inheritance.   Megan’s behavior also matters.  How does a daughter honor her Father?  How does she reflect His kind of love?  Patience?  Kindness?  Purity?   Megan’s identity as a child of God will never change.  But, her choices and behavior can change her attitude toward God.  Even place her inheritance at risk.

Our identity and behavior matter.  When we separate our God-given identity from the “real” world identity we give ourselves (at any given time, in any given circumstance), we are in danger.  We are in danger when we re-define things of God such as the value of human life, being male or female, purity, and marriage.  We are in danger when we follow instincts of the flesh and stubbornly defend every personal choice.  We are in danger when we exchange His Truth for our opinion.  These are dangerous behaviors that change our attitude toward God.  It is the most dangerous thing of all to make God what we want Him to be.

But, when children of God trust His Word to be living, active, and mighty in “real” life, our perspective of the world changes.  It does not hold us captive.  It is temporary.  It is a place we journey through on our way home to our Father’s Kingdom.  It is opportunity to think, speak, dress, work, play, love, care, and choose in ways that encourage others to ask: “Who is your Father?”  “Why do you do the things you do?” “What is your hope?”

Megan is the King’s daughter with a divine inheritance in store.  This is compelling reason to live a more noble and holy life.  A life with divine possibilities.   A life that reflects God rather than self.  A life that makes a difference in a “real” world.

T2-4Life  is a mentoring ministry that exists to help young ones make choices that 
reflect the holiness of God, but also remind older ones that mistakes of the past do 
not have dominion over changed people in Christ.  You are welcome to visit T2-4Life.

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Sometimes, Christians are called people of the New Testament.  What does this say about the Old Testament?  What do we really know of Jesus without both Old and New Testaments?  In John 1, we are told that Jesus is The Word.  But, is that Word of Jesus only the red print of our New Testaments?

Think of all the New Testaments that have been published for a variety of reasons.  But, is the New Testament complete without the Old?  The New Testament is the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.  But, for what reason do we need the Gospel?

Is the Old Testament just, well, old?  Didn’t Jesus come to do away with the old and bring in the new?

John 1 tells us: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things were made through Him, and without Him was not any thing made that was made.  In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it . . . And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (vv. 1-4, 14).

Hmmm.  This New Testament Word seems to identify Jesus as the Creator of all things.  But, where do we learn the details?  Upon what is “The Word was with God, and the Word was God” founded?  We are comforted by the salvation story of the New Testament, but upon what does it stand?  Is our hope in a feeling?

Every younger generation thinks itself more progressive and enlightened than the previous generation.  Technologically advanced, it’s easy to proclaim, “Out with the old!  In with the new!”  But, relegating the Old Testament of God’s Word to dusty shelves of folklore leaves Christianity without a foundation.  Ignoring historical relevance and archeological evidence leaves Sunday school children ill-equipped to defend their faith in the marketplace of ideas.

Genesis is the foundation of Christianity.  But, describe Genesis as a fairy tale for “neanderthals” and one can begin to undermine the authority of God’s Word: Jesus Christ.

The message of sin and the Cross was foolishness to the Greeks of St. Paul’s day.  That’s because the Greeks (Acts 17) had no knowledge or understanding of the first book of the Old Testament.  Without belief in Genesis, they were, shall we say, pre-Darwin people.  Evolutionists of a sort.  Captive to their own imaginings.  For this reason, the Apostle Paul had to define his terms and lay the foundation for the Gospel of Jesus Christ by starting at the beginning with the Genesis creation.  It was only then that some people could understand and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.

In contrast, the Jews (Acts 2) were familiar with the Old Testament.  They understood and believed the history of Genesis.  They acknowledged the origin of sin.  Therefore, some of them could better understand the Gospel when the Apostle Paul presented it to them.

Before we can be new people — transformed people, we need to see the old for what it is.  God presents His-Story by starting at the beginning.  We should do the same.

Jesus becomes more than an “experiential moment” for people of the Old and New Testaments.  The One who calls Himself “The Way, the Truth, and the Life” is authority.   Jesus is The Word of creation.  He is the God who created male and female.  Defined marriage and family.  Ordered society.  Determined everything right.  Moral.  Good.  The first man and woman rebelled against The Word and fell from perfect creation.  We’ve been rebelling ever since.   But, for our sake, The Word did something unthinkable.  “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.”   The Word — Jesus — became our Savior.

The glory of Christ — from Old Testament through New — is “full of grace and truth.”

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The sun has gone to bed.  So should I.  My mind wanders.  I tap the keyboard, then delete.  Somehow, I want to put into words what my eyes and ears see and hear.   So that maybe, just maybe, one person out there will be encouraged to take the high ground and stay the course.

Ever since my eyes were opened to the holocaust of abortion, I’ve been on the go.  It’s as if God’s own Spirit has nudged me: Get involved!  Lend a hand!  Offer a shoulder!  Make a difference while there is light of day!  In the midst of it, I heard the whispers: “She’s a bit too intense.”  “Why doesn’t she lighten up?”

I remember the older woman who, most kindly, said, “Thank you for your message about abortion, but my children are all grown now and this issue really doesn’t affect me.”  My emotion wanted to scream, but my better judgment took control.  I sighed, smiled… then tried to explain.  Abortion is the slippery slope to euthanasia… and so much more.

Well, it’s so “much more” later.  Here we are, mired in a culture that defends government-funded abortion and wonders why acts of violence increase,  calls homosexual behavior a civil-rights issue, sexualizes children but bemoans an epidemic of STDS and troubled teens, arrogantly re-defines marriage and family, seriously considers the transfer of American parental rights over to the United Nations, positions itself to deny freedom of religion, and sets up government health care that may judge some of us as “too burdensome.”

Narcissism rules and chaos reigns.  Or, does it?

“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth,” God asked Job.  “Tell me if you have understanding.  Who determined its measurements . . . or who stretched the line upon it?  On what were its bases sunk or who laid its cornerstone, when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?  Or who shut in the sea with doors . . . and said, ‘Thus far shall you come, and no farther, and here shall your proud waves be stayed?'” (Job 38:4-11).

God, the creator of the universe, has never and will never relinquish control.  It would be contrary to His very nature.  The God who “binds the chains of the Pleiades” and loosens “the cords of Orion” (v. 31); the God who sends “forth lightenings, that they may go and say to you ‘Here we are’ (v. 35), and the God who put “wisdom in the inward parts” and gave “understanding to the mind” (v. 36) is the God who “provides for the raven its prey, when its young ones cry to God for help, and wander about for lack of food . . .” (v. 41).

Does chaos reign?  No, there is evidence of order and Truth at work.

I was reminded of this fact while captive on board a gated-plane.   Maintenance crews took three hours to service an engine, but captivity turned into opportunity for me to read the observations of John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge, authors of the book God Is Back.  Both agree that Christianity is poised to do well — and better than Islam — in the 21st century.  For example, “The Quran can’t be translated into any other language.  So most people that Muslims are converting do not understand a word of what they are taught to recite . . .”  Contrast that with the fact that the Bible is published in 95% of the languages of the world.

Here’s another example.  Have you noticed the growing number of bestsellers by atheists during the past several years?  Micklethwait says, “You do not suddenly wake up in a panic about God being bad or terrible if you think you’ve already won the argument.  If you went back 10 or 20 years, the idea that Richard Dawkins or Christopher Hitchens could write a bestseller on the subject would have seemed odd, because — certainly in Europe — most of the educated elites would have assumed God was disappearing anyway, so what’s the worry?”  (WORLD, June 20, 2009, “Q & A” by Marvin Olasky)

Does chaos reign?

“Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain?  The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying, ‘Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.’  He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision'” (Psalm 2:1-4).

“God reigns over the nations; God sits on His holy throne” (Psalm 47:8).

“Look among the nations, and see; wonder and be astounded.  For I am doing a work in your days that you would not believe if told . . .” (Habakkuk 1:5).

We may fear that an immoral culture will absorb us.  We may feel powerless to resist.  Paralyzed.  But, while God is doing His work, there is something for us to do, too.  We can live.  We can live as men and women eager to glorify God while He transforms the culture.  God gives us a model for affecting the lives of others.  It follows the order of creation and can be found in Titus 2:1-8.  A young pastor named Titus used this model to help believing men and women push back against the culture while raising a new generation of hope.

Narcissism may seem to rule.  It may appear that our world is spinning out of control.  But, did you notice that my fingers aren’t paralyzed anymore?  The darkness overpowered me for awhile last night… but the Lord’s compassions are new every morning!  Because of His great love, we are not consumed.  (Lamentations 3:22-23)  Rather, we are re-energized and equipped to re-engage.

Hope rises up in unexpected places.  How can it not?  Hope is Jesus Christ.  He is the Word.  And, the Word is at work. Therefore…

Narcissism does not rule.  Chaos does not reign.  God does.

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My husband and I believe in exercising our minds while enjoying a meal.  If at home, Paul grills.  I steam veggies, broil some garlic bread, and mix a salad.  Plates in hand, we settle by a window overlooking a forest of hickory and oak.  Or, on a less humid day, we move out onto the deck.  We discuss matters of family, theology, and culture.  At some point, we slip on our worldview glasses.  There are only two pair: God’s — and any other.

Family, theology and culture take on a different perspective depending upon one’s worldview.  The same is true with life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

This Saturday is the Iowa Straw Poll.  I plan to go, not so much to cast a vote, but to meander through the crowd.  To listen.  Watch.  Learn which pair of glasses the people have chosen to wear.   Most eyes are focused on the economy.  But, my worldview tells me that our economic problems have deep moral roots.  America may be collapsing on itself because its worldview of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is hopeless.

Life.  Abortion fails to see the value of life created by God and redeemed at high price.  Abortion is about “me.”  “My” fears.  “My” needs.  It sees no future.  It acts in desperation.  Legalized abortion is a root cause of our social security and health care woes.  I have long been concerned that the babyboomers who ushered in abortion will be ushered out by euthanasia.

Liberty.  To worship at the altar of sexual freedom is to eventually loose religious freedom.  “Righteous” folk who “tell me” that I have no “right to liberated” behavior, but must instead practice self-control, are “bigoted” and “must be silenced”.

Pursuit of happiness.  Some Americans think we are entitled to happiness or the right to instant gratification.  But, wearing his worldview glasses, former Senator Rick Santorum disagrees.  We are, he says, “gifted with the pursuit of happiness.”

Santorum, speaking in my town earlier this week, asked, “What is the pursuit of happiness?  Is it doing what we want, or doing . . . .”  He paused, waiting for someone to finish the sentence.  From my place in the back of the room, I did so:  It’s doing “what we should (ought).”  Correct answer.  I think many in the audience agreed.  But, as citizens, have we correctly pursued happiness?

America has given its citizens the freedom to pursue happiness.  But, believing happiness to be “my right to do whatever I want,” leads us to pursue wrongly.  Selfishly.  Dangerously.  Right down a slippery slope into despair.

So, my husband and I remind each other to polish our worldview glasses.  Clarify hope and change.  Look for leaders who pursue not what they can, but what they should.  And, correct our own pursuit of happiness.

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Rep. James Lankford (OK) and Rep. Tim Scott (SC) are Christians who unashamedly discuss their faith — in the home, on the job and against political odds.  Both are in their 40s.  Both were raised in less than perfect homes but with God’s Word.  The book of Nehemiah convinced Rep. Lankford to take the path to Capitol Hill.  Biblical mentors encouraged Rep. Scott to work his way toward Congress.

Both Reps. Lankford and Scott are fully aware of the ideological and spiritual battles in Washington, D.C.  Rep. Scott is pro-life, a faithful pray-er, and a defender of Biblical values.  He has sponsored legislation that prevents unions from demanding mandatory dues; thus halting the devastating effects that unions have imposed on the federal budget and socially conservative values.  Unions spend hundreds of millions to undermine marriage, the sanctity of human life, parent’s rights, and other values that are cherished by the very members who pay the dues, but have no say on how the money is spent.

Rep. Lankford says he is grounded by the wisdom of Proverbs.  “How do we handle debt as a nation?” he asks.  “A wise man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children.  We [are spending] the inheritance of our children’s children.  So, how do we correct that?  How are we able to honor the poor . . . promote justice . . . [practice] what is right and just?”

He continues, “I don’t know of another generation of leaders that has said, ‘Times are tough.  I’m going to make it tougher on my kids to make it easier for me.’  As weird as it may sound . . . debt is the moral issue of the day.”

“At the heart of many of the problems facing our country stands an institution under siege,” Lankford proclaims.  “That institution is the American family.  The best way to ensure a strong nation is to have strong families.”  The U.S. Department of Justice announced on February 24 that it would no longer defend the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act.  Lankford took to the House floor to call out the hypocrisy.  “Many in this chamber are aware of my . . . Biblical worldview.  I am unashamed of my personal faith in Jesus Christ . . . I believe words have meaning . . . the meaning of marriage is the union between a man and a woman.  The Defense of Marriage Act codified that definition into law . . . this issue is well beyond faith . . . or social or political issue.  Marriage is now not only the center of a national social debate, but also a constitutional debate.”

Scriptural warnings, said Lankford, are clear for politicians and for the church.  “We have a first responsibility to take care of those in poverty.  To take care of our own families.  To take care of the needs around us.  The more that the church backs up from that, the more the government engages in it . . . [T]he more the nation and the family break down, the more social services are needed.  But, the more strong families you have, the less government you have . . . so we have this endless cycle that we have got to pull out of.  The only way to pull out is [to have] churches engaging in [preserving the] family.”

Are we raising sons and daughters with a Biblical worldview so that they can be morally upright citizens?  Marry and start a family?  Use their skills through honest labor?  Become involved parents?  Not be burdened by our failure to invest in the future?

Lankford says it’s not about what you do, but whom you follow, that should define you: “My calling is first and foremost not to an occupation.  It is to follow a person.  My calling is to follow Christ.”

Rep. Scott agrees.  He tries to surround himself with believers that “keep me accountable.”  There is “peace and direction for me in my leadership role,” he says, quoting Psalm 23 and Luke 6:38.

The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not be in want . . . He restores my soul . . . I will fear no evil . . .

Give, and it will be given to you.  A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap.  For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

Excerpts from CITIZEN, August/September 2011

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“All the people care about is the economy.”

“The people aren’t interested in ‘social issues’ like abortion, homosexuality or gay marriage.”

“There they go again,” reports MSNBC and others.  “The ‘radical right’ is working abortion and marriage into the conversation.”

Rightly so.  Social issues, as they are called, are moral issues.  The legalized killing of preborn human children is a moral issue.  Re-defining marriage is a moral issue.  Teaching our children that homosexuality is just a choice on the “sexual menu” is a moral issue.

Everything has a moral component.  The government has a moral obligation to protect “life and liberty,” to maintain a strong military, and to live within its means.  It should encourage responsible, orderly behavior and a good work ethic.  It should protect families from drug cartels, terrorists, and enemies from within and without.

Anyone running for office should have moral integrity.  Moral character.  Moral and ethical fiber.  It’s not just my opinion, but God’s mandate that people who rule a nation should respect the life that He creates.  Anyone who compromises on issues such as abortion, infanticide, embryonic stem cell research, assisted suicide, and euthanasia has lost (or never had) a moral compass.

Those who seek to experiment with marriage and family float rumors.  They say that Americans don’t really care about same-sex “marriage.”  They add: If someone is against gay “marriage,” then they must be against homosexuals.  Not true.  People who believe they are homosexual are persons, too.  They are  people loved by God.  But, God is the Creator of marriage and, therefore, He alone defines it.  God created marriage for one man and one woman because it’s the best environment for children, it connects children to their biological origins, and it brings two opposites — male and female — together to mentor boys and girls in the way God intends for them to go.

Moral integrity is practiced — or not practiced — on Wall Street and in every business.  In education.  In health care.  In courts of law.  In the military.  In homes.  And during election cycles.

My eyes have seen that men and women who defend the sanctity of human life generally have a moral compass not only in place but in operation.  Leaders — in the home, community, church, and government — who value the life that God creates and redeems in Jesus Christ are imperfect leaders to be sure, but they are accountable to someone other than themselves.  Their God determines right and wrong.  Their neighbors matter.  Their choices reflect hope for a new generation.

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