Archive | February, 2015

Clash of the worldviews

20 Feb

Dr. Del Tackett who helped produce Focus on the Family’s excellent series “The Truth Project” defines a person’s worldview in this way…

A person’s worldview consists of the values, ideas or the fundamental belief system that determines his attitudes, beliefs and ultimately, actions.

It’s important to understand that there are many worldviews in operation today. Very often these worldviews are shaped by religion.  For instance, the worldview of a Bible believing evangelical Christian in Alabama is very different from the worldview of a Muslim in Egypt.  However, if a person is an atheist or if they make decisions as if there is no god, then that is a worldview as well.

A quick glance at the world headlines reveals that we are watching a clash of worldviews play out in international affairs. The rise of ISIS and Iran’s continuing march toward a nuclear weapon all reflect worldviews in operation. The ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict reflects a clash of worldviews. China is operating out of its worldview – very different from the Middle Eastern worldview but still a very definite worldview.

Here at home in the United States we are seeing a clash of worldviews that is no less real.  Over the last few decades, the United States has gradually replaced the Christian worldview with a secular worldview.  The moral revolution that our nation has experienced is the direct result of this change.  The clash of worldviews is playing out in every segment of American culture right now.  The cultural elites look at Bible believing evangelical Christians and wonder why we do not just “go along” and “get on the right side of history.”  They do not understand that we are operating under a worldview that values the approval of the Lord above the approval of men.

Therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.” (Romans 12:1–2, HCSB)

The silent judgment of God

13 Feb

“In a world where anything goes…eventually everything will.” –  Dr. James Merritt

I had forgotten about that quote until I saw it today in a friend’s Facebook post. To be honest, it is a fitting quote to describe this week.  Of course, here in Alabama the week began with court battles over the definition of marriage. I have addressed that issue in earlier posts. The work week is ending with the debut of the movie Fifty Shades of Grey which appears set to become a hit with millions flocking to see it this weekend. The book series that inspired the movies has already sold millions of copies. I was blissfully unaware of either the books or the movie until recent days. Thanks to several Christian bloggers that I follow, suffice it to say that I very quickly learned far more than I cared to know about the background and subject matter of that series of books and movie. It is the big movie on multiple screens in the area where I live and all over the country today.

Yes, I can already hear the voices of those who say, “OK, if you don’t like it, then don’t go to that movie.”  I assure you that I will not. In fact, I will go so far as to say that anyone who claims to be a follower of Christ has no business going to see that movie (and many others for that matter). The issue of Christian standards isn’t what is on my mind today.  The issue on my mind today is a culture that is almost daily casting aside moral boundary after moral boundary. This issue isn’t just seen in the battle over the definition of marriage. When a film like Fifty Shades of Grey can be celebrated as a mainstream film fit for consumption at the local theater alongside kids going to see Paddington Bear, then what is next?  Can someone please tell me where the moral boundaries are for almost anything?  In America now anything goes….and everything is.

As a preacher/pastor for many years now, I have frequently preached that America needed to wake up or we would face the judgment of God. When we think of the judgment of God, we tend to think in terms of the fire and brimstone that reigned down on the Old Testament cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.  There are certainly biblical examples of the judgment of God coming loudly, quickly, and with devastating effect. However, there is another way God’s judgment is expressed which is often overlooked. I call it the “silent judgment of God.”  No fire. No brimstone. No voice from heaven proclaiming judgment. No particular day when it begins. Yet, the silent judgment of God also brings devastating effects. The silent judgment of God comes when He allows a group people to totally go their own way and reap the consequences. The silent judgment of God comes when God does nothing and lets a people go in their sin.  The book of Romans begins with a description of this silent judgment of God. Several times in Romans 1, the Bible says that God delivered the people over to their own desires. That’s the silent judgment of God.

For God’s wrath is revealed from heaven against all godlessness and unrighteousness of people who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth, since what can be known about God is evident among them, because God has shown it to them. For His invisible attributes, that is, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen since the creation of the world, being understood through what He has made. As a result, people are without excuse. For though they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God or show gratitude. Instead, their thinking became nonsense, and their senseless minds were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man, birds, four-footed animals, and reptiles. Therefore God delivered them over in the cravings of their hearts to sexual impurity, so that their bodies were degraded among themselves. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served something created instead of the Creator, who is praised forever. Amen. This is why God delivered them over to degrading passions. For even their females exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. The males in the same way also left natural relations with females and were inflamed in their lust for one another. Males committed shameless acts with males and received in their own persons the appropriate penalty of their error. And because they did not think it worthwhile to acknowledge God, God delivered them over to a worthless mind to do what is morally wrong. They are filled with all unrighteousness, evil, greed, and wickedness. They are full of envy, murder, quarrels, deceit, and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, arrogant, proud, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, and unmerciful. Although they know full well God’s just sentence—that those who practice such things deserve to die —they not only do them, but even applaud others who practice them.” (Romans 1:18–32, HCSB)

Some will say the popularity of Fifty Shades of Grey is an indication that America had better repent before the judgment of God comes. Personally, I wonder if it is an indication that the silent judgment of God is already here.

Yes, we are running against the wind

10 Feb

In light of the recent events in our state, I had intended to write a blog post of my own for today. However, I read a great article by my friend, Dr. Mark Foley, President of the University of Mobile.  I was so moved by his words, I wanted to share them with you today. Here is Dr. Mark Foley’s article in its entirety…

The culture is sharpening it’s turn to run with the wind of same sex marriage. Alabama has officially joined the turn by action of one federal judge in Mobile.

So, where does that leave those who understand the Word of God to reserve marriage to one man/one woman exclusively for life? Answer…running against the wind.

Several thoughts…
1. As part of the Church that has failed to effectively influence the nation, I share responsibility for her condition and culture…culture soaked in sin and extensions of sin for so long that it is morphing into new iterations of behavior each farther from the standard of God than the last. People are products of those extensions and view their experience as reality. They do so naturally and with honest belief that they are created as they represent themselves to be. Those conditions present the greatest opportunity in American history for the Church to offer an alternative in an effective manner.

2. Moral rightness or wrongness is a matter of the measure one applies to an issue. If Scripture is that measure, same sex marriage is clearly wrong, but America stopped using Scripture as a measure of sexual behavior long ago. This issue is now viewed by the courts as a civil rights matter, and the measure being used is the Constitution. Like it or not, sexual identity and gender choice are now considered as one’s discovery of his or her created nature.

3. Christianity is no longer the de facto state religion in America, thus the days of Christian methodology through bully pulpits, rallies, rants, lines-in-the-dirt, and political or legal cover for the position of the Church are all but over.

4. My personal responsibility is to read, understand, comply with, live-out, and influence through the whole of Scripture, not just preferred pieces of it. That includes learning to genuinely love and care for people where they are…even if I disagree with their behavior and decisions…as the primary methodology. Admittedly, no easy task.

5. America is morally on par with ancient Corinth and Rome. The Church was planted and thrived in both. God is not surprised nor does He lack a plan for these conditions. That plan is the Church present and engaged in culture…not the social/institutional church as it has evolved to be in America, but the people Church. The story of the Church in the book of Acts is the opportunity for America.

6. Change as massive as that for which I long is not done in a near term. It must begin freshly in homes of Christ-followers teaching our children and children’s children of Jesus and his expectations and the empowerment of those expectations by the Holy Spirit.

7. Prayer has long been neglected, yet it remains the most powerful tool God has given His Church.

8. A great many established organizations calling themselves “church” will cease to exist or will become empty shells because they cannot or will not adjust to meet the expectations and opportunities of Jesus in a culture that bewilders and offends them. Those that do adjust will thrive in the favor of God and will witness transformation in their communities.

9. The formula given by God to Solomon still stands…2 Chronicles 7:14: Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.

10. Running against the wind is where God leads his Church to its best work. Psalms 32:8 – The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you.

Speaking the truth in love

6 Feb

There is absolute truth.  I believe the Lord Jesus Christ is the only hope of salvation and the only way to Heaven. I believe the Bible is the inerrant Word of God. I believe the Lord Jesus Christ literally died on the cross for the sins of the world and literally rose again on the third day.  I believe the Lord Jesus Christ is literally coming again to this world where He will finally defeat Satan & those he leads.  I believe there is a literal Heaven where those who have placed their hope in Christ will spend eternity.  I believe there is a literal Hell where all who reject Christ will spend eternity.  I believe God created the heavens and the earth. I believe the God who created the heavens and the earth also created the institution of marriage as the union of a man and a woman as the universal building block of human society.  I believe we all stand as sinners before a Holy God and the only solution for our sin was the Cross where Jesus died. I believe there is hope for any person on the face of the earth who will repent of their sin and place their faith in Christ alone for forgiveness and salvation.  Here I stand. I will hold these (and other) convictions until my last breath. Anyone who knows me or who has listened to many of my messages will not be surprised. These convictions guide how I live out my life every single day.

My convictions have not changed, but the culture & environment I minister in is transforming rapidly.  There is a growing cultural hostility toward people who hold these and similar views. Recent events in our nation and even my own state have made it clear that the government and the courts increasingly do not affirm such convictions.  In fact, it seems that some in the government and the courts are actually adversarial to those of us who hold Biblical convictions.  The news media and popular culture have long despised Biblical convictions.  Many people are understandably angry and respond in ways that aren’t helpful. Others attempt to give a reasoned, winsome defense of the “faith once delivered to the saints” in the public arena to varying degrees of effectiveness.  Virtually all of those reasoned, winsome voices for truth get disparaged, shouted down, marginalized, and labeled as hateful, bigoted, or worse.

Today as I sit at my desk reflecting on how the landscape of culture has changed even in my beloved state of Alabama, I am also overwhelmed to think of the people. Outside my office window I can hear the vehicles roaring down I-459.  The majority of those in those vehicles do not know Christ. In any direction we look there is ample evidence that the moral, cultural revolution that has taken place over the last few decades in our country has brought incalculable harm.  There are more broken homes and more no homes. There is more poverty, more anger, more abuse, more addiction, more depression, more confusion, and more pain than ever before.  Everywhere we look there is more and more brokenness of every kind.  Go to the wealthiest zip codes and the poorest zip codes. The story is the same: more brokenness of every kind. Yet, America seems intent on continuing down the same path at a rapidly accelerating pace.  I do not know how all of this will play out, but I am absolutely certain of one prediction.  Continuing down the path that has brought us great brokenness will result in even greater brokenness. My heart aches for people.  They need hope.  True hope is only found in the Lord Jesus Christ.

But speaking the truth in love, let us grow in every way…” (Ephesians 4:15, HCSB)

That verse challenges me more today than ever before.  If I am a faithful Christian and pastor, then I am to speak Biblical truth and be a man of staunch conviction.  If I am a faithful Christian and pastor, I am to love even my enemies and love my neighbor as myself.  If I am a faithful Christian and pastor, then I will have a spine of steel conviction and a heart overflowing with love for people no matter their convictions, religion, race, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, attitudes, or actions. If I am a faithful Christian and pastor, I will speak the truth, but speak in a way that communicates love – both God’s love and my own.

That great balance of truth and love requires more prayer and thought today than ever before. It’s a daunting task. Thankfully, we have a great example to emulate from a well known preacher. This preacher has the perfect blend of truth and love. This preacher deals with “hot button” issues like relationships, sex, temptation, marriage & family, money, sin, Heaven, and Hell. He pulls no punches.  Yet, this preacher’s love for people has prompted many to call him “a friend of sinners.” He has brought  hope and new life to people everyone else gave up on. Perhaps you’ve heard of him:  the Lord Jesus Christ.

Lord, in today’s challenging cultural environment, help me live, preach, and love more like Him.