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Sunday, August 31, 2014

Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting- Asking a question we don’t want the answer to…

Posted by Gary on December 18, 2012

The news from the Newtown, Connecticut school shooting has horrified and saddened an entire nation and has left virtually everyone asking “why” or “how” such a terrible thing could happen.

It would be good for us to know that there is a moral obligation that comes when asking certain questions. I don’t mean a question like “What is the price of tea in China?” but when we individually or as a nation ask how someone can enter a school and kill 26 people including many young children we have obligated ourselves morally in the asking. To what are we morally bound? To honestly want the answer. To ask this question and really not want the truthful answer is not only cruel, but is an evil itself for the matter is too important and serious to inquire into and then refuse the truthful answer. Lives are in the balance as we seek the answer. How tragic, how evil it would be to have the real answer to this question available and to pretend to want it but to then refuse the answer when it comes.

If it isn’t clear where this is all heading, let me state it plainly… I am convinced that though America is repeatedly asking why Adam Lanza would murder as he did, I do not believe we want the answer. I’ll wait for the shock and horror to die down as I imagine some will think this a terrible assertion and untimely. But I sincerely, emphatically, believe that we do not really want to know why Adam Lanza killed 26 people at Sandy Hook Elementary School because the answer is spiritual in nature, involves God and ultimately, you and me.

WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

God, save us

Posted by Gary on March 2, 2012

These thoughts from Doug Wilson on pornography are so true it hurts. Porn has always enslaved but with the advent of the internet and laptop computers men are being mowed down by the millions. Porn appeals to the flesh and mind no question, but it is a lie; a tragic, enslaving lie. During the life of David the people of Israel sang, “Saul has slain his thousands and David his ten thousands”. We may rightly sing in the form of a dirge, “Drunkenness has damned it thousands and pornography its ten thousands”. To my mind, pornography has very quietly, secretly climbed to the top of sins that ruin men and of course the women who participate in it.

Here is Wilson’s quote and the link to his full post:

“I have long said that the principle problem with pornography is the didactic and catechetical aspect of it. Immodesty and licentiousness are of course sinful, but it is not remarked enough that porn is a sex ed curriculum put together by liars and incompetents. The central wrong lesson (one easily believed by guys, because it flatters them) is that women have men’s brains encased in women’s bodies. Everybody in the whole world is hot to go. Then, when he gets married to a normal woman, and discovers that all the free sex he thought was going to be on tap . . . isn’t on tap, at least not like what he expected, and he thinks he got a dud, or a frigid one, or something. But no, he got a woman instead of the lie he was used to.”

Love Lincoln?

Posted by Gary on December 10, 2011

“No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things.  They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy…

…I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. (Presidential Thanksgiving Proclamation 1863)

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As we celebrated Thanksgiving recently, I found myself thinking about President Lincoln’s Thanksgiving proclamation. This led me to ponder Lincoln in a broader sense and led to asking myself if we would like to have Lincoln as our President today.

“Are you kidding?” I can hear the gasps. “Would we like to have Lincoln as our President? He was one of the greatest Presidents we have ever had!” Yes, I know our estimation of Lincoln is quite high. We call him one of the greatest probably second only to George Washington.

Sentimentally we look back and would quickly say that we would love to have Lincoln as our President today. I doubt it. Would the America of today be glad for a President who spoke of God as often and pointedly as Lincoln did? We flipped out over George W. Bush! Bush? Lincoln was Bush times ten, Bush on steroids as it came to God.

WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

Determined to perish-America’s determination to provoke the anger of God

Posted by Gary on July 23, 2011

Deuteronomy 32:16 “They made Him jealous with strange gods; with abominations they provoked Him to anger.”

Leviticus 18:22 You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination.”

We learn today that President Obama has certified the end of America’s ban on homosexuals serving in the military. Beyond the issue of political parties it must be stated plainly that President Obama is a son of disobedience (Ephesians 5:6). In virtually every way, his beliefs and policies are in opposition to the God of Heaven.

I am afraid that Americans do not understand the nature of God or His dealings. There are degrees of sin and while it is said in Scripture that God is slow to become angry (Exodus 34:6), the Bible also warns us that it is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Hebrews 10:31). The verses at the head of this post reveal two things…First, God is provoked by abominations and second, men having sex with men is an abomination. Make the connection, as our nation increasingly gives its blessing to sodomy, it is increasingly provoking God to anger.

WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

How we use God’s name reveals our standing with Him

Posted by Gary on June 29, 2011

Exodus 20:7 “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain.”

The generation of “OMG” needs to ask itself if people who truly know God are willing to misuse His name. The simple answer to this question is that upon receiving the new birth a person’s heart toward God is so changed that they do not want to ever speak His name in a way that is dishonoring or blasphemous. God’s name is too holy and great to be used to express your anger or the fact that you are excited about your new phone.

This generation does not love, revere or fear God. We are bold with our “OMG’s”. We think nothing of using God’s name as if we were saying “Tom” or “Mary”. What ever happened to “Wow”? Do we have to blaspheme to make it known we like something?

This goes beyond the issue of breaking a rule, it is a matter of love. A real Christian cannot use God’s name as a cuss word or trivially. Yes, there is the fear of punishment for doing so as the verse above states but even more, the Christian loves God too much to ever use His name except in reverence, love and worship.

“Swearers, like mad dogs, fly in the face of heaven; and when they are angered, spew out their blasphemous venom on God’s sacred, majestic, name. Some in gaming, when things go cross and the dice runs against them, run against God in oaths and curses. Tell them of their sin, seek to bring home these from going astray, and it is but pouring oil on the flame; they will swear the more. Augustine says, ‘They do no less sin who blaspheme Christ now in heaven, than the Jews did who crucified him on earth.’ Swearers profane Christ’s blood, and tear his name.

A woman told her husband, that of her three sons, one of them only was his: the father dying, desired the executors to find out which was the true natural son, and bequeath all his estate to him. The father being dead, the executors set up his corpse against a tree and delivered to every one of these three sons a bow and arrows, telling them, that he who could shoot nearest the father’s heart should have the whole of the estate. Two sons shot as near as they could to his heart, but the third felt nature so to work in him, that he refused to shoot; whereupon the executors judged him to be the true son, and gave him all the estate. So it is with the true children of God, they fear to shoot at him; but such as are bastards, and not sons, care not though they shoot at him in heaven with their oaths, curses and blasphemies. ” Thomas Watson from “The Ten Commandments”

Those who can curse with God’s name or use it trivially must not think themselves children of God but need to repent of their great sin and seek His forgiveness. Thank God that He is merciful and forgives.

What, me envy?

Posted by Gary on January 12, 2011

Matthew 27:17-18 “So when the people gathered together, Pilate said to them, “Whom do you want me to release for you? Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?” For he knew that because of envy they had handed Him over.”

“though many an arraigned mortal has in hopes of mitigated penalty pleaded guilty to horrible actions, did ever anybody seriously confess to envy? Something there is in it universally felt to be more shameful than even felonious crime. And not only does everybody disown it, but the better sort are inclined to incredulity when it is in earnest imputed to an intelligent man. But since its lodgment is in the heart not the brain, no degree of intellect supplies a guarantee against it.” (Herman Melville from “Billy Budd”)

My reply

Posted by Gary on March 2, 2009

I cannot count how many emails I have received over the past few years from someone claiming to be a Christian who has millions of dollars that they want to give to me or my church. I believe these emails originate from Africa. Wow, in the past two years my church has been chosen to receive probably 50 million dollars or more.

The story is usually a woman writing whose husband has died leaving her a ton of money and now she is terminally ill and wants to donate the money to a Christian or a church. The letters are filled with Christian terms and phrases and expressions of desire to do what would further God’s kingdom. All I need to do is make contact and share a bank account number so that funds can be transferred into it (and of course funds will be transferred out).

While all sins represent a refusal to fear God, sins that use God and His kingdom as the method to accomplish the sin are especially evil and those behind such plans can have no fear of God before their eyes:

Psalm 36:1  “Transgression speaks to the ungodly within his heart; there is no fear of God before his eyes.”

After receiving a number of these emails and pondering the wickedness of them I have begun the practice of writing a response. I figure they already have my email so that breach of information has already taken place.

My response does not include my own words, I simply paste a passage of Scripture for my reply, I use the same one every time:

Revelation 21:8 "But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death."

It is my hope that God will use His Word to pierce the hearts of these liars who use God Himself to accomplish their wicked purposes. God’s Word is sharp (Hebrews 4:12) I hope my reply will lead to the salvation of some.

Our depravity

Posted by Gary on November 28, 2008

Today is Black Friday, it is only 11:05 a.m. and already we have the report of a death and miscarriage at a Wal-Mart in Long Island. Shoppers intent on making sure that they would get what they wanted trampled a Wal-Mart worker to death and knocked down an expectant mother whose baby died as a result of the trampling. This from the news report:

"He was bum-rushed by 200 people," said Jimmy Overby, 43, a co-worker. "They took the doors off the hinges. He was trampled and killed in front of me. They took me down too…I literally had to fight people off my back."

Jessica Keyes was among the shoppers. She told the Daily News she saw a woman knocked down just a few feet from the dying worker.

"When the paramedics came, she said ‘I’m pregnant,’" Keyes said.

Paramedics treated the woman inside the store and then, according to Keys, told the woman:

"There’s nothing we can do. The baby is gone."

This of course is what has happened to us as a result of our rejection of God at the fall and since, we will worship someone or something and since the true God no longer resides in fallen man’s heart, fallen man replaces God with possessions which are our idols.

Do we expect that the people who made up this mob would loath themselves for being the cause of someone’s death to fulfill their lust for objects? What will run through their minds when they hand the highly coveted object to the gift recipient? What will they think when the coveted item is on a table in angarage sale for $3.00 dollars this summer? Will they remember that two people died for something they hope someone will take off their hands in about nine months because they can’t stand the clutter of such things?

Do you need any further proof that we are fallen and depraved? We love our objects so much, we will trample other people to death to have them. In Biblical, theological terms what you have just read about (in addition to murder) is covetousness:

Ephesians 5:5-6  “For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.”

Does it exist?

Posted by Gary on November 10, 2008

1 Corinthians 6:9-10 “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”

The Bible speaks of sexual immorality and in terms that make it clear that it is displeasing to God. So displeasing that as the verse above declares, the sexually immoral will not inherit the kingdom of God. I am wondering today if such a thing as sexual immorality even exists to our minds? Are we willing to call anything immoral in regard to sexuality? There was a time when being unfaithful to one’s spouse was grounds for divorce in court and called immoral, not anymore. Do we believe that having sex before marriage or outside the commitment of marriage (fornication) is immoral? Isn’t it obvious that we do not?

Do we believe that men having sex with men or women with women is immoral? Far from it. Even though the Word of God condemns homosexuality and even our bodies testify to the immorality of these acts (disease, death and extinction) we still insist that the only immorality attached to homosexuality is calling it immoral.

I guess we are only left with bestiality and sex with children and in case you are not aware, having sex with children is a movement that is not without its advocates. What should be obvious is that once we depart from God’s Word which offers sex with blessing only to a man and a woman who have entered into the covenant of marriage, everything becomes allowable and we lose the very existence of immorality. After rejecting God’s Word on what basis do we call anything immoral? It is a marvel to me that we see the effects of smoking and are willing to call it wrong and seek to see it ended yet when we see disease and death result from sexual immorality we seek to find ways to continue in the behavior “safely”, yes, we urge people to have “safe sex”. Why isn’t it safe naturally?

Sexual immorality is one of the chief indicators that a person and a nation do not know God or have departed from Him. National immorality is also a precursor to God’s judgment on a nation. There is no holding steady when it comes to sexual immorality. Sex outside of God’s blessing is always the fulfillment of lust and lust is never satisfied. What once fulfilled lust loses its ability to satisfy and greater and deeper levels of immorality are needed to satisfy lust’s demands. Further and further down a person and nations go, destroying families, bodies and eventually souls for the sexually immoral will not inherit the Kingdom of God.

Romans 1:21-28 “For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error. And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper…”

This is what I mean

Posted by Gary on October 31, 2008

John 18:4-6;12-13 “So Jesus, knowing all the things that were coming upon Him, went forth and said to them, "Whom do you seek?" They answered Him, "Jesus the Nazarene." He said to them, "I am He." And Judas also, who was betraying Him, was standing with them. So when He said to them, "I am He," they drew back and fell to the ground…So the Roman cohort and the commander and the officers of the Jews, arrested Jesus and bound Him, and led Him to Annas…”

In recent weeks at our church we have been studying the doctrine of total depravity. By total depravity we mean that at the Fall of Adam, man became depraved in every facet of his being: mind, heart and soul. It is only when this doctrine is understood that Bible verses like these make sense:

Romans 3:10-12 “as it is written: "None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one."

1 Corinthians 2:14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.”

I try to be understanding with people who grapple with the Reformed faith for I struggled with it for quite awhile myself. If we understand total depravity then we must believe that man left to himself would never turn to God, he would only react toward God according to his sinful nature and would always and only reject God. The only reason that anyone seeks God or desires Him is because God frees us from the bondage of sin and draws us to Him:

John 8:34-36 “Jesus answered them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”

John 6:44 “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.”

Still I find that people grapple with what we mean when we speak of total depravity and so perhaps it is just best to point to it at work. In the first verses listed above from John 18 we see the scene of the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus is with His disciples on the night He will be betrayed. We are told that a large crowd led by Judas comes to arrest Jesus. But before the arrest Jesus asks the crowd whom they are seeking. When they respond, “Jesus of Nazareth” Jesus replies, “I am” (the “he” included in English translations is not found in the original Greek).

Upon hearing Jesus say “I am” the crowd falls backward to the ground. No what is this? Well first when we consider the extreme importance of “I am” (Exodus 3:14) we know that Jesus is declaring that He is God. As God, Jesus is making it clear to the mob that they are not going to take Him but that He is deciding He will go with them. This event is a tremendous show of power in which Jesus makes it clear that He is in control and that His life will not be taken from Him but that He will lay it down of His own initiative (John 10:17-18).

Now here is an amazing thing, Jesus levels a Roman cohort (estimated between 500-1000 soldiers) and an untold number of religious leaders and others. At His word they fall down to the ground. What would one think would be the response to such a show of power? Wouldn’t it seem that perhaps they would rethink what they were doing? Wouldn’t one imagine fear in response to this power? But what do we find? When Jesus allows them to get up they arrest him, lead him to judgment and we must assume that many found their way to the cross to watch and support the crucifixion of Jesus.

Do you have trouble understanding total depravity? You shouldn’t, just look at it in action. What the Fall brought about for us is a spiritual condition that will reject God even when He is standing in front of you, indentifies Himself as God and knocks you to the ground by His power. The response of fallen man is still to get up and rebel against our holy Creator and God. The Bible tells us that mankind will still refuse to repent even as God sends His judgment on the earth at the end of all things:

Revelation 16:9-11 “Men were scorched with fierce heat; and they blasphemed the name of God who has the power over these plagues, and they did not repent so as to give Him glory. Then the fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and his kingdom became darkened; and they gnawed their tongues because of pain, and they blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores; and they did not repent of their deeds.”

Apart from God’s grace, left to yourself, you would have done the same thing the mob did in the garden of Gethsemane and I would have also. Immediately the ranks begin to thin, not many will embrace the doctrine of total depravity for very few want to acknowledge that this is how evil they are. You and I are not able to come to God unless He enables us to do so because we are totally depraved.

John 6:65 “He went on to say, "This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him."