Super Powers

Proverbs 18:21 “Death and life are in the power of the tongue,
and those who love it will eat its fruits”

What super power would you choose to have?  How about the power of life and death?  Turns out we all already have this power.  Our words are more powerful than we can ever imagine.

The prophet Isaiah listened to God every morning.  He let God teach him how to use his words to heal and strengthen others.

Isaiah 50:4 “The Sovereign Lord has given me a well-instructed tongue,
to know the word that sustains the weary.
He wakens me morning by morning,
wakens my ear to listen like one being instructed.”

God enables us to “sustain the weary” with life-giving words.  We have the power of life and death.  I know we all too frequently use our words to tear down others instead of build them up.  We’re bringing death instead of life when we do.

Finally, Jesus warned us to weigh seriously every word we speak.

Matthew 12:36 “But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken.”

People with super powers need to be very careful how they use them.  Let’s:

  1.  Let God teach us – meet with Him every morning – listen to His Word to us – obey it, be trained by it, then . . .
  2. Think (pray) before we speak – if what we’re about to say will bring death, don’t say it – if we have an opportunity to be a source of strength and life, jump on that opportunity – “The Sovereign Lord has given me a well-instructed tongue,
    to know the word that sustains the weary”

Enjoy using your super power!

Empty Bubbles

Everything this dying world can offer you is an empty bubble.  If we live to gain wealth, possessions, sensual pleasures, fame, acclaim, experiences – anything this world can offer, ultimately it’s empty.  It all rots, rusts, gets replaced and forgotten etc…

That thought can be depressing – or it can be liberating.

At a minimum, it ought to be motivating – motivating us to live for more than this world offers.

Our souls tell us we were made for more.  Champion athletes feel it the morning after the championship win – “Is that it?”  When the new car that gave your stomach butterflies becomes the take it or leave it old car;  when the “must have” purse or shoes get listed on eBay – our souls are telling us something we need to listen to.

We are made for eternity.  We are made for God – to reflect His glory to His creation and to get our sustenance and satisfaction from a personal, intimate, eternal relationship with Him.  We must fight getting sidetracked, distracted and ultimately let down.

I want to pass on a powerful prayer for us all to utter sincerely today.   This  is from “The Valley of Vision” (a Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions).

“O may I never fall into the tempers and vanities, the sensuality and folly of the present world!  It is a place of inexpressible sorrow, a vast empty nothingness;  Time is a moment, a vapor, and all its enjoyments are empty bubbles, fleeting blasts of wind, from which nothing satisfactory can be derived;  Give me grace always to keep in covenant with Thee, and to reject as delusion a great name here or hereafter, together with all sinful pleasures or profits.  Help me to know continually that there can be no true happiness, no fulfilling of Thy purpose for me, apart from a life lived in and for the Son of Thy love.”

Response to Gay Marriage Ruling

I want to help the members of MHCC (and beyond) understand the implications of the gay marriage ruling and offer some encouragement concerning our response as people of the Book. To that end, instead of reinventing the wheel (writing what in essence others have already written), I am copying and sending a well-written, informed and dead-on piece. Below you’ll find what Joel Rosenberg wrote.

“What are the implications of the Supreme Court’s marriage decision? Four key things to consider.

Is the Court’s decision to change the definition of marriage really such a big deal, or are Christians hyperventilating over the issue for nothing?

Unfortunately, yes, this is a very big deal, and it puts America on a perilous path. Unless we change course soon, this could accelerate the nation’s judgment and implosion.

Let me walk through four key things Christians ought consider at this critical time.

First, the Supreme Court is overreaching its Constitutional authority, and is thus undermining its own legitimacy and pouring gasoline on a highly-politicized issue that will deeply divide Americans for years to come.

If the Constitution even mentioned the word “marriage,” the Court might theoretically have the right to address the subject. But the word is never mentioned in the text. Thus, the Framers of the Constitution never intended the federal government to define or regulate marriage. The 10th Amendment plainly states that “the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” So the issue must be left to the people and the States.

The 14th Amendment does not provide the Court the authority to redefine marriage and cannot be used to create a Constitutional right to a same-sex marriage. “In 1972, in a moment of lucidity, the Supreme Court rejected a 14th Amendment-based appeal on gay marriage,” notes a legal scholar at George Mason University. “The case sprang to life when a gay man attempted to obtain a marriage license in Minnesota. The Supreme Court of Minnesota rejected all of the Constitutional arguments made by the Plaintiff. The U.S. Supreme Court found a ‘want of federal jurisdiction’ in rejecting the appeal.”

Tragically, by overreaching its Constitutional authority, the current Court is undermining its own legitimacy. It is also taking an already-incendiary cultural issue and throwing gasoline on a growing political fire.

Second, the Court’s ruling forces 320 million Americans to embrace overnight a radical reengineering of the entire social compact of marriage that even some of the nation’s most liberal political leaders strongly opposed just a few years ago.

For more than 5,000 years, Judeo-Christian civilization has been built on the definition of marriage as one man and one woman in a sacred compact before God, creating a family that can bear children and raise them with the loving care of a father and a mother. Now, five unelected Justices of the Court are undermining the fundamental building block of healthy, stable Western civilization with no idea what the down-stream implications and ramifications will be.

Until recently, even some of America’s most liberal political leaders were opposed to this radical social experiment. “I believe marriage is between a man and a woman. I am not in favor of gay marriage,” then-Senator Barack Obama said on MTV during the 2008 presidential campaign. “Marriage has historic, religious and moral content that goes back to the beginning of time, and I think a marriage is as a marriage has always been, between a man and a woman,” said Hillary Clinton in 1999, explaining why she supported the Federal Defense of Marriage Act (with a one-man-one-woman definition of marriage) that was signed into law by her husband, President Bill Clinton. Obviously, both President Obama and Mrs. Clinton have since changed their positions. In doing so, they and the five Supreme Court Justices who back their position are now putting people who still hold the position they once professed to hold in the position of being attacked as “bigots” and “haters” and “civil rights violators.”

Third, the Court’s ruling opens the door for a frontal and massive assault on religious liberty. Christians all over the country who hold to the Biblical definition of marriage are beginning to be taken to court and fined — some are even in danger of losing their businesses and their homes — if they do not agree to bake cakes for same-sex weddings, or cater such weddings, or take photographs at such weddings, and so forth. Other Americans are being subjected to government-mandated “sensitivity training” for not helping homosexuals celebrate their lifestyle. Still other Americans are being fired from their jobs for holding and teaching the Biblical principles of marriage.

For example, “the owners of an Oregon bakery learned [in April] that there is a severe price to pay for following their Christian faith,” reported the New York Post. “A judge for the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) recommended a lesbian couple should receive $135,000 in damages for their emotional suffering after Sweet Cakes by Melissa refused to make them a wedding cake. As a result – Aaron and Melissa Klein could lose everything they own — including their home.” (For some other examples, see here, here, here, here and here.)

The assaults on religious freedoms that are happening with growing frequency at the local and state level could now explode at the national level. The First Amendment to the Constitution plainly states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” But the Court’s ruling seems to put the un-enumerated “civil right” of a same-sex marriage above the enumerated right of religious freedom. Thus, the ruling now appears to give the federal government the power to force Christians, Jews and other religious people to embrace, sanction, support and serve same-sex marriage ceremonies — and embrace and support, or at least not oppose, homosexual marriage and lifestyles — or risk being sued or prosecuted for federal civil rights violations.

The Obama administration’s top lawyer, Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr., was asked directly by Justice Samuel Alito during oral arguments in the latest same-sex marriage case whether Christian colleges and universities and other religious institutions who oppose gay marriage could lose their federal tax exempt status by continuing to teach Biblical marriage. Verrilli’s answer was as troubling as it was revealing. “You know, I don’t think I can answer that question without knowing more specifics, but it’s certainly going to be an issue,” said Verrilli. “I don’t deny that. I don’t deny that, Justice Alito. It is – it is going to be an issue.” This suggests the federal government could soon try to force religious schools, churches and other institutions to actively support homosexual marriage or risk severe civil and possibly criminal sanctions.

Those Christians who say, “Let’s live and let live — just let homosexuals marry whomever they want and don’t make such a big deal of this issue,” are, unfortunately, being naïve. Many in the homosexual community — certainly the gay political activists — are not content with the mere legalization of same-sex marriage. They want to force the rest of the country to embrace and support them. Thus, they and their supporters in Washington will likely move aggressively to criminalize the Biblical definition of marriage and to severely penalize those who teach and follow it.

Fourth and most troubling, the Court has acted in direct and brazen defiance of the Word of God — and as painful as it is for me to say it, this will likely accelerate us towards judgment if America does not soon change course.

God, not government, created marriage. Indeed, God defined marriage in the very first book of the Bible (Genesis 2:23-24) as a sacred union between one man and one woman. In the New Testament, the Lord Jesus Christ reaffirmed this Biblical definition of marriage. Jesus said, “‘Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh”? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.’” (Matthew 19:4-6)

Nevertheless, five unelected Justices have willfully moved to redefine what the Lord God Almighty Himself ordained. At the same time, nearly 60% of Americans tell pollsters that they support the legalization of same-sex marriage, up from about 12% in 1988 (and up sharply just in the past few years). Thus, while these five Justices bear much responsibility, they are acting in the will of nearly six-out-of-ten Americans.

Tragically, this is not the first time the Court has gotten a major policy issue wrong, or the first time it has acted in defiance of the Word of God. In 1973, the Court ruled in the Roe v. Wade abortion case that Americans had a Constitutionally-protected right to murder their unborn children. This was a morally unconscionably decision which has led directly to the death of more than 57 million children as well as terrible emotional and spiritual pain and suffering for millions of women. The Court’s decision to undermine Biblical marriage and attack religious liberty will also lead to great sadness and suffering, not freedom and joy as its supporters contend.

The members of the Supreme Court have forgotten they are not truly the highest or “supreme” court in the land. There is a higher authority, and there is a grave cost to defying the Supreme Judge of the universe.

In Romans 1:18-32, the Apostle Paul warns societies that turn away from God and His Word. Three times in this passage, the Apostle warns that God will allow societies that rebellious against Him to slide deep into heterosexual and homosexual sin, along with many other sinful practices. Indeed, God vows to turn such societies over to debauchery if they will not repent, and He warns that such societies will, in time, face judgment and the “wrath of God.”

These are some of the reasons I wrote the non-fiction book, Implosion, in 2012, because I’m deeply concerned that we are on a fast-track towards judgment unless we repent and radically change course. And as I wrote in the book, it is the responsibility of those who love God and follow the Bible to lovingly and clearly explain to individuals, societies and entire nations what God says in the Bible, what He offers mankind, and what He requires of us, and the grave consequences of refusing to listen to or obey the Lord and His Word. It is not our job to force people to obey Christ, or to be unkind or angry towards those who deny Him. Rather, it is our job to “hold fast the faithful Word,” even to a society that won’t listen.

How then should Christians respond to the latest developments?

The Court’s latest decision must not lead Christians to anger or hatred or violence.

Rather:

Let us be moved to brokenness before God, to deep repentance and to ceaseless prayer — many Americans don’t take God and His Word seriously because they don’t see Christians taking God and His Word seriously; for this and much else we need to repent and ask God to show mercy us and forgive us.
Let us plead with our Father in heaven to pour out His Holy Spirit and grant us a massive spiritual revival within the Church that will draw us back to a close walk with Christ and faithful obedience to the Word of God.
Let us keep become far more faithful to teach and preach the Word of God, the “whole counsel of God,” and clearly and lovingly explain to all people the Gospel — the Good News of God’s love and forgiveness for all who will turn to Christ — and not be intimidated into silence.
Let us plead with the Lord to grant a Great Awakening to America at large — as we preach (and live) the Gospel, let us pray that God chooses to move so powerfully that millions of lost, unsaved people repent and turn to faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord and Redeemer of their lives, marriages and families.
Let us always be gracious and kind to those who disagree with us (on the marriage issue and/or other Biblical issues), constantly seeking to obey Christ’s command to “love your neighbor” and to “pray for those who persecute you.”
Here are some other excellent resources and suggestions as we enter this dark period in our nation’s history:

Russell Moore, a Southern Baptist leader, has published an excellent op-ed in the Washington Post discussing how Christians should respond. I hope you will read it and share it with others. “Why the church should neither cave nor panic about the decision on gay marriage,” by Russell Moore.
Pastor John MacArthur has also written an excellent article with suggestions for fellow pastors on how to address the latest developments. I hope you will read this, also, and share it with others. “An Open Letter” to pastors, by John MacArthur.
Dozens of evangelical Christian pastors and leaders have published “An Evangelical Declaration On Marriage” that I would further commend to your attention.”

We Need to Stop Lying to Our Children

When you tell someone that something is true when it is not, are you helping them or hurting them?

If you built your life on lies, would that bode well for you in the long run?

Obviously, believing a lie to be true, or believing something wrong is right are recipes for disaster.

Without many of us fully recognizing it, well-meaning, loving, Christian parents are lying to their children and inadvertently chipping cracks in the foundation of their lives.

Our commitment to sports has become nothing short of idolatry.  Its worship has gained a crazy level of control over many Christian family’s lives.

We might verbally tell our children that Jesus should be number 1 in our lives, but our actions are the vehicle through which we actually transfer what we believe.

True, Jesus and the church are not the same thing, but they are closely related enough (in fact they’re married) that we falsely think our treatment of one is unrelated of our love of the Other.  The scriptures say husbands and wives are “one flesh”.  Jesus says the church is His bride, and His body – very integrated/united.

Each local church is a powerful embodiment of Christ’s bride and body here on earth.

Let’s call it what it is:  when we, through our actions, tell our children that volleyball, soccer, tennis, swimming, lacrosse, baseball, horse-back riding, golf, cheerleading etc… games/tournaments trump going to church on Sundays, we are lying to our children.  We are communicating loudly and clearly that church is optional, secondary, less important than sports or other activities.

Let’s identify some lies we’re communicating:

Sports are more important than Jesus.

Winning a game is more important than worshipping Jesus with fellow believers.

Learning teamwork on the athletic field is more important than learning to find your place of service and connection within God’s team (the church) to help accomplish His eternal mission on earth.

(We do the same things with academics, not just athletics) A good education is more important than a deep intimate walk with Jesus.

These are the things we’re teaching our children, and they’re all lies.  They’re all undermining the long-term well-being of our children.

I say all of this as someone who struggles with the same issues.  We occasionally let our son compete on Sundays, but we also withhold him many, many times he could be competing.

When the scriptures say, “do not forsake the assembling of yourselves together” (Hebrews 10:25), it’s a command we need to take a lot more seriously these days.  It ought to be our reasonable expectation to be in church 48 out of 52 Sundays a year with our families (just ball parking for you from my perspective), in addition to the other discipleship and missional activities of the local body to which we’re attached.  That would be living and communicating truth.

Let’s repent and make the changes needed!  Let’s stop lying to (ourselves and) our children!

Remember Well!

“A hundred times every day I remind myself that my inner and outer life depend on the labors of other men, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give in the same measure as I have received.”  ALBERT EINSTEIN

We are two weeks away from “Memorial Day”, but it’s on my heart early!

There are a million reasons to give your absolute best for the glory of God and the good of others today, but one close to the top of the list is to honor the sacrifices others have made for you.

Many people have given, suffered and worked to provide us the opportunities and privileges we enjoy.  Let us work and live today in such a way, that if each of them could walk through the day with us, they would be glad they paid the price.

At the top of the list is the One who actually will walk through the day with us, the One Who died so we could live eternally.

May we remember well and live well today!

Let Me Help You With That

“Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, Who daily bears are burdens. Our God is a God who saves” Psalm 68:19,20

If you are feeling under a heavy burden today, ask God to carry it with you and for you. It is a powerful truth the Scriptures teach us above, that God works to help us every single day.

Don’t forget to take your burdens to him today. Take your worry, fear, depression, hopelessness, debt, sickness, heart ache, confusion, and any mountain that seems insurmountable to you to Jesus right now.

Every day, get on your knees in his presence and hand over everything on your heart. Then, get up knowing he is carrying it for you and with you. Go forward and watch what he does. Then, thank him and worship him!

What do we do when our country and culture is crumbling before our eyes?

King David asked the question I hear more and more Americans asking, “When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?” (Psalm 11:3)

Let’s be honest: the Judeo-Christian foundation the United States was built on is being destroyed. The biblically based principles written into the structural fabric of our way of life are being systematically challenged, undone and re-written. Our collective moral conscience seems to be dulling rapidly.

This isn’t the first time in human history a people or nation built on a relationship with God has broken loose from its moorings. In David’s day, he saw Israel straying. I want to encourage you today with some of his words.

  1. Remember, God is still (and always) on His throne! “The LORD is in His holy temple; the LORD’s throne is in heaven; …” v.4 We can live at peace as God’s children, no matter what storms or events rage around us!
  2. Run to God! He is not only our Protector in turbulent days, He is the Hope for our world. Let us more and more pursue a deepening and vibrant daily relationship with Him, while actively interceding for our lost world. “In the LORD I take refuge; . . . For the LORD is righteous; He loves righteous deeds; the upright shall behold His face.” v.1 & v.7

One of the illusions we must contend with when we feel like the world is falling apart, is the sense of overwhelming confusion. This feeling can debilitate us. My friends, it’s just an illusion. We know what to do. In overwhelming, confusing times, make it/keep it simple. Remember He is on His throne and Run to Him. That’s it. That’s always it! Keep it up!