Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Bible simplicity

Today's reading in Psalm 40 yielded three things that cannot be quantified:

1) God's interest in, and active love toward His people (v.5)

2) Our sins (v.12)

3) The extent of God's mercy toward those who seek him diligently (v.10)

This, a microcosm of every significant doctrine relative to man's salvation, is akin to the simple, three-fold duty of man in Micah 6:8, or the two-fold summary of the same in Ecclesiastes 12:13.

Yes, there are great complexities in the Bible, enough to keep scholars and skeptics busy, but you can understand the Bible just the same. All that is eternally relevant is very easy.

The difficulty is getting people motivated to read it for themselves. I hope this helps.

Friday, February 13, 2015

50 Shades of Rationalization

I know very little about the 50 Shades book series, and just as little about the movie – that’s by design. What I've heard is plenty enough. Anyway, last week I came across an article ( that I hope is factual. It said that both the main actor and actress who star in the movie have said that their experience in filming the movie was disturbing in various ways. 

The actor stated that he found it extremely difficult to return home to his wife and daughter. 

The actress stated on one occasion that she definitely doesn’t want her family to see it, and even joked that “nobody should see it.” 

The truest things are sometimes said in jest. 

It was even suggested in the article that the two have now come to despise one another. If true, isn’t that telling? 

That says much to me about whether or not a Christian should expose his or her heart to it. 

It sounds like the physical and psychological relationship between the characters is tantamount to rape. As a side note, I think that sincere feminist groups should be all over this. I don't know, maybe they are. 

Our society is truly looking for love in all the wrong places. God has given his precious creation a beautiful physical, emotional, spiritual relationship to share in marriage and all its facets (Hebrews 13:4). This relationship is holy and enduring, it increases in quality and value over time, it draws them closer to one another, and closer to the Divine. Many exchange this truth for a lie; they exchange the enduring for the temporary, the beautiful for the grotesque. This is the quality of 50 Shades

Part of the reason these things succeed is that people aren't convinced that they're worth more than that. So let me set the record straight: men, ladies, you deserve better because you were created in love for something better by a God who loves you so much he died for you. Don't devalue yourselves by buying in.

“But,” back to the point of whether or not a Christian should read or watch such things, someone might say, “if we could only ever watch what is wholesome, there wouldn’t be much to watch!” 

Spot on.

Remember, there is no law that says we have to watch anything, is there? A regular television or movie watcher runs out of wholesome material rather quickly, I’m afraid. And based upon some old radio programs that I’ve listened to on Sirius Radio Classics (oh yes, from the 40s and 50s), the present generation is not the only one that has had this struggle. My wife and I have, on more than one occasion, given each other "the look" when listening to these bits, surprised to hear such things from that generation.

I won't tell you what to watch, but I'll say this: it is easier than we think to be desensitized to the profane things of the world. I believe Jesus wants us to become more sensitive to unholy things, not less. Wouldn't you agree? 

Is it really possible to become more holy while knowingly introducing unholy things into our lives? God says, “Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company corrupts good morals’” (1 Corinthians 15:33). 

In other words, when we rationalize, we are deceiving ourselves.

*This article grew from a smaller version of it in our local church bulletin, Massillon, OH

Monday, January 5, 2015

Getting the dosage right for America

My daily reading plan will take me through (among other goals) the Old Testament in one year, but rather non-traditionally. I am beginning with Isaiah.
 Yesterday and today’s readings (Jan. 4-5) covered chapters 11-17, which includes the beginning of a series of woes and judgments upon the nations and rulers of the region (chs. 13-24).
 When reading these chapters, it is quickly evident why Wayne Jackson called Isaiah, “God’s Prophet of Doom.” Below are some of my thoughts on the last few days' readings:

Nations are still judged by God
Nations are constantly judged by God, and in time, they fall – all of them. Every nation is eventually cast down. 

In some instances of judgment, God is seen as a General, issuing the command for one nation to devour another: “The Lord has given a command concerning Canaan to demolish its [Tyre’s] strongholds” (Isa. 23:11b, NASB). “The Lord of hosts is mustering the army for battle…the Lord and His instruments of indignation, to destroy the whole land” (Isa. 13:4b-5).

In other instances, God is seen as executing judgment himself, “Behold, the Lord is riding on a swift cloud and is about to come to Egypt” (Isa. 19:1).

God is seen as stirring up and turning the Medes loose on Babylon, as if he were holding back a bridled horse, only to release it in due time (Isa. 13:17).

The imagery throughout is graphic and powerful. 

But the principles, are even more so.

The principles never change 
God’s role as judge of nations has not ceased, and the principles by which He does so hasn't changed. He still allows one nation to rise, giving help and protection to her and her rulers. He still restrains nations from rising. He also releases them against one another when their time is fulfilled, when their iniquity is full.

This makes the prophets as relevant today as ever.

Many voices in our nation today are seeking the Word of God in smaller doses, or not at all. But it is obvious to me that America needs a much heavier dose, especially of the Old Testament prophets.