Posted by Gary on January 18, 2013
Ephesians 5:11 “Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them…”
On Wednesday, we witnessed President Obama surround himself with children as he addressed the nation on the issue of gun violence. There are many words that might be used to describe the President’s use of these children including: opportunistic, political and exploitive. But, these words will not suffice. More accurate words would be: sinful, deceitful and wicked.
Let’s begin here…do the children that the President hid behind to shield himself from the scrutiny his actions deserve, understand with adult comprehension the matters that they wrote to the President about and that the President used to advance his Constitution trampling agenda? Certainly these children think it is terrible that other children were shot and killed as do we all. These children want shootings like this to stop and of course, children and adults alike concur.
But, do these children understand that there are matters involved here that pertain to the Constitution that must considered along with and even above our need to solve a problem? Do they understand that the President may have another, greater, motive in regard to gun laws beyond his displayed concern for children? In short, do these children understand that this matter and the motives of those involved are not as simple as, “We don’t want children to be shot”?
Quite simply, these children, who are children in their understanding and comprehension were used as pawns in a matter that is above them and beyond their current capacity to understand. This however did not deter the President for he sees these children as emotional leverage to accomplish his goals for who is going to say anything harsh to the President while he is surrounded by children? This quite simply was cowardice on the part of the President but to his advantage and he has no qualms about violating truth and decency in his aim to systematically dismantle the America that our forefathers established and that you and I have been blessed to lived in.
Well ok, let’s take the President on his terms…he obviously believes that these children are mature enough to come into adult realms and issues and that they should play a role in making adult decisions. I would ask the President since he feels these children are capable of such adult understanding and decisions if he has treated them like adults by being honest with them about his views concerning all children’s lives?
WAIT! There is more to read… read on »
Posted by Gary on November 20, 2012
“Behind a frowning providence, God hides a smiling face.” (William Cowper)
How do I as a Christian and pastor view the results of our recent national election in which our nation chose a President that supports infant murder and sodomy over a moral Mormon? Well, I would be lying if I did not say that I am grieved that America chose Barack Obama as its President again. Our nation is determined to perish and is consciously choosing our ruin, even voting for it. May God have mercy on us.
Would I have been comforted if Mitt Romney had won? Only minimally. I am afraid that American Christians have traded gospel righteousness for mere human morality. The simple truth is that Mitt Romney’s morality does not flow from Christ’s righteousness for Romney’s gospel is another gospel which is not from God and is to be condemned:
Galatians 1:6-8 “I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed!” WAIT! There is more to read… read on »
Posted by Gary on November 17, 2012
Psalm 33:12 “Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD…”
Psalm 9:17 “The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.”
In 2009 I wrote comparing President Obama’s Thanksgiving Day Proclamation from that year with President Lincoln’s from 1863. Then and now, God’s people can only lament the heights we have fallen from as a nation in terms of our national reverence for God and it seems in 2012, that we have chosen only more Godlessness in our political leaders.
Today at our church Thanksgiving dinner we read President Washington’s Thanksgiving Proclamation from 1789. It struck me as you will read in a moment, that President Washington reveals that both Houses of Congress requested him to recommend to the people of America a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed to, “Almighty God”.
WAIT! There is more to read… read on »
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 »
Posted by Gary on September 9, 2009
Galatians 2:11 “But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned.”
Truth is nasty business. By nasty I mean confronting dishonesty can be a very hard thing to do and doing it will offend those who are dishonest especially if the occasion calls for confrontation if front of others.
It is reported tonight that South Carolina Representative Joe Wilson called out during President Obama’s healthcare speech, “You lie!” The comment came at the point at which the President claimed that his proposed healthcare plan would not cover illegal aliens.
Apparently many were aghast that Wilson would do such a thing. After the speech the representative apologized for his statement saying, “This evening I let my emotions get the best of me…While I disagree with the president’s statement, my comments were inappropriate and regrettable. I extend sincere apologies to the president for this lack of civility.”
Notice that Wilson is not apologizing that his accusation is wrong, he does not say, “I am sorry because the president was right and I was wrong”, he apologizes for a lack of civility.
What a tragedy. If the president is telling the truth then apologize for your mistake but if he is lying why do you apologize? Look at this, the sin in the eyes of our leaders is not lying (if the president lied), it is telling someone that they lied.
Truth does not matter to us does it? We get mad for having to wait five minutes for a cup of coffee at a restaurant and we get mad if the IPod we just brought home from the store doesn’t work and we’ll sure say something then but when someone lies, we don’t care. We only seem to care that it seems mean to point out someone’s lie.
Notice in the Scripture passage at the top of this post the distinction between the ways of the this world (which does not know God) and God’s people. The Apostle Paul when he sees the Apostle Peter being dishonest via hypocrisy confronts him to his face in front of those present at the time.
Is Paul concerned that Peter is a fellow apostle? Is he concerned that Peter was an apostle before he was? Is he concerned about civility? No, he is concerned about the truth and he confronts and does not apologize for it.
Representative Wilson, your chief duty is not to be civil, it is to stand with and speak the truth.
God’s people, how important is the truth to you? Are you willing to stand for God’s truth to the point of seeming uncivil? Are you willing to have others confront you if you fall into dishonesty?
These events tonight are another reason that I see more clearly that we are not to put our trust in civil princes to whom truth must be apologized for (Psalm 146:3).
P.S. If you want to see civility in action and real political interaction, look to Britain. This is the best!
Posted by Gary on January 21, 2009
The model for every pastor’s preaching, teaching and praying is the Prophets, Apostles and the Lord Jesus Christ. We are only truthful and faithful to the degree that our preaching, teaching and praying resembles theirs.
Concerning Rick Warren’s prayer today I want us to use imagination rooted in Scripture and ask the following: "Would Moses have prayed a prayer similar to Warren’s?" "What would Jeremiah have prayed if he were offering the invocation?" "Leave the words but remove Rick Warren and insert John the Baptist instead. Would, could, John the Baptist have approached God as Rick Warren did?
When the ecstasy wears off we have some serious thinking to do about the events of this day and what they portend for the future. But for now I would take hold of us and hand us the spectacles of Scripture. I ask you, I gently shake you as I ask you. Stop and think. Would the Prophets, Apostles or the Lord Jesus Christ have prayed in the way that Rick Warren did today?
For weeks I have tempered myself and called myself to be as gracious as possible, fearing what Warren might do today. I must say it was worse than I feared.
Can you imagine the Apostle Paul asking God to help us remember that what unites us is "not religion" but "our commitment to freedom, and justice for all"?
The God who commands all His creatures to love and serve Him only is to overlook our false gods and idolatry and remind us that our greatest commitment is to give freedom and justice to other men? Our greatest duty is not to other men, not even in bringing them freedom and justice. Our first and greatest duty is to worship, revere and serve God and Him alone:
Exodus 20:2-6 "I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; and shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments."
How can a servant of the jealous God bring our idolatry right into His presence and far from confessing it ask Him to remind us of some duty that in our idolatrous hearts we think is higher than honoring the one, true, God alone?
I defy you to tell me that any of the Prophets or Apostles would have prayed something like this.
Christians, we must be discerning.
Posted by Gary on January 19, 2009
When God’s servants are called upon to pray they are first and foremost to consider God, His holiness, greatness and glory over and above the thoughts and opinions of the people who will hear and hopefully join him in His prayer. The great snare in public prayer is to consider human beings above God. This can happen in two ways. First, the sin of trying to impress the other prayer participants by our phrasing and wording so that our intention albeit ever so subtle is to lead people to marvel at how Godly we are.
The second sin in public prayer is born of the fear of man. The sin here is being afraid to bring before God in prayer what would be most honoring to Him and most necessary for us from fear that it will anger and upset the people participating. Tomorrow is the Inauguration and the real pitfall before Pastor Rick Warren will be coming very near and dancing all around what needs to be prayed and yet never saying the words. Pastors can display an amazing ability in this realm, we can avoid what needs to be said while making it sound very much like we have.
Let me come to the point. Any prayer offered on behalf of our nation that would make request for God’s blessing upon our president and the country itself must include amongst many other things:
The specific confession of our sin of having turned away from the One, True God. Here is where the vaguery floods in. A pastor may pray asking “god” to forgive us for turning away from Him but what God are we speaking to? What God have we turned away from? Here of course is where the whole thing falls apart and I am afraid true Christians and pastors must either play the man or refrain from participation. This prayer needs to include a request for forgiveness for turning away from the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God ultimately revealed as the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
“But Gary, our country is founded upon the freedom to believe in whatever god we want to”. Yes, and here our country finds itself at odds with the Law of God which permits us no such freedom:
Exodus 20:2-3 "I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before Me.”
Our government of course would respond that it is not looking for such a specific, unquestionable reference to God to which any servant of God must respond, “Then you are not looking for me to offer the prayer either for I cannot.” God’s people, let us never forget: we are not messengers of religion in general nor nation promoters, we are the redeemed people of the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. We are Christ’s ambassadors, we speak only of Him and in His interests. How can a prayer that can be attributed to any god be considered faithful to the only God?
A prayer offered on behalf of the nation must also include a confession of our intentioned murder of the unborn children who bear the image of God. Isn’t it a marvel that prayers can be offered to God seeking His favor and blessing while all the while refusing to acknowledge that we have murdered millions of the children who bear His image? Can we attack God by attacking His image in children and then ask for His blessing? Pray all you want, make it sound as religious and flowery as you like but a prayer without confession of the sin of infant murder will be an offense to God:
Isaiah 1:15-18 "So when you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide My eyes from you; yes, even though you multiply prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are covered with blood. Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from My sight. Cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, reprove the ruthless, defend the orphan, plead for the widow. Come now, and let us reason together, says the Lord, Though your sins are as scarlet, They will be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, They will be like wool.”
“But, our government has said infant murder is lawful.” Yes, and again our nation finds itself at odds with and in opposition to the Law of God. Do we not see that this is the issue? We are at odds with and in rebellion against God and at the same time we think we are going to receive His blessing. It is not going to happen.
Our sins against God in regard to the life that bears His image are many and great. Our sin is rising up to heaven until a day comes when God will relent no longer. Our nation has been unraveling for decades, in judgment block after block has been pulled from our foundation until one day that one block to many will be removed and our house will collapse totally:
Matthew 7:26-27 "Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell– and great was its fall."
The responsibility of God’s servant is to confront leaders and nations of their sin so that they will repent and can then rightfully call upon God for mercy and blessing. Are we not all aware of the gigantic elephant in the room? Shall we call upon God while refusing to acknowledge our sins against Him? An attempt to avoid what needs to be said is unfaithfulness on the part of God’s servants.
Perhaps one would ask me, “Gary, you are saying so much, would you like to offer the prayer at the Inauguration?” Here is my answer…In my vanity I would like to think that I would be faithful and bold and would pray just as I have advocated that Rick Warren must pray. As truth takes hold of me I know that without great grace, I would play the coward and seek to please men. A man would be a fool to seek for himself the shoes that Rick Warren will stand in tomorrow. He had only better be there by the calling of God. Pray for Rick Warren, for me and for all of God’s servants, how we need God’s grace to be faithful.
Posted by Gary on January 14, 2009
Isaiah 1:15-18 "So when you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide My eyes from you; yes, even though you multiply prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are covered with blood. Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from My sight. Cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, reprove the ruthless, defend the orphan, plead for the widow. Come now, and let us reason together, says the LORD, though your sins are as scarlet, they will be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they will be like wool.”
There is an eternity’s difference between coming into the presence of God and mere religious formality. Few things have more potential of being formality than political events with a clergyman’s presence. To come into the presence of God means to recognize His holiness, our sinfulness and to lay the heart bare before Him. Religious formality requires none of these things, it only requires religious language.
How do we know the difference between the two? Religious formality takes place without any humbling, soul searching effect on the participants. A prayer is offered and no one is challenged, humbled or offended. To rightly come into the presence of God one must be willing to come to terms with their sins against God and they must also by His grace be willing to part from them.
Religious formality may make reference to sin (more likely the words “faults” or “weaknesses” will be used) but the sins that are most offensive to God and that we most need to acknowledge are never mentioned and participants come away from such a prayer thinking about the sins of others, not their own, hence the avoidance of offense.
Most often at political events prayers with any confession list things we as men do against each other (violence, prejudice, neglect of the needy) but almost never include a list of sins that we commit against God (which all sins are against God by the way). A confession of man’s wrongs against man will be tolerated gladly for in the end most of us convince ourselves that we are not guilty even of these.
All this prayer takes is a man who knows Biblical phraseology and he can slither away just fine. He can mention “reaping what we sow” while never getting specific about what we are sowing or what we will reap. He can confess that we “have turned away from God” but will not be specific about which God we are guilty of turning away from.
Amazingly, all it seems to take to quiet the concerns of today’s evangelicals is a few Biblical phrases and then a conclusion that is in Jesus’ name or some equivalent that those of us who know the Biblical phraseology know means Jesus, “Prince of Peace”, “Wonderful Counselor” or “Good Shepherd”. “He used the phrases” evangelicals trumpet gladly and never ponder that we all escaped the shining light of God’s truth and have offended and angered God by our prayer not honored Him.
O come on Gary, do you really think more than this could be said in an inaugural prayer? Well the question is, what are we after? If we are after formality, avoiding offense and the satisfaction of having offered a prayer then we couldn’t push for more than this. But if we are actually intending to come into the presence of the one, true, living God then something much more penetrating and confrontational is necessary.
Pray that God gives Rick Warren the faith and courage to be His true messenger on January 20.
Posted by Gary on December 30, 2008
Pastor Rick Warren has been asked to offer the invocation at the upcoming Inauguration of Barack Obama and my mind has been processing ever since. Perhaps at the outset I should make mention of the fact that this issue has led to a gut check on my part. I am skeptical and very concerned about Warren’s presence and how he will handle this opportunity to represent the living God. At the same time I must ask myself if I only want to share my concerns and assume the worst or if I am going to pray for Rick Warren. By God’s grace I will.
Here are some of the things that have been on my mind:
I do not believe that Christians and ministers in particular are to add anything more to the offense that is already built into the gospel. Some pastors are offensive in a way that Christ never was and convince themselves it is faithful zeal. At the same time faithfulness does mean holding forth all the offense of the gospel and embracing whatever it will mean for ourselves personally and for our ministries and churches for those of us who are pastors
Warren seems willing to offend to a certain level but then almost always ends up recovering his image as a nice man who wants to dialogue with everyone.I am all for being nice and for talking with whoever is interested in finding the truth but these good things can often be unfaithfulness and underneath, a man’s intention to avert the ultimate cost of belonging to Christ. I will not pass the ultimate judgment on Warren but my knowledge of myself and my own heart gives me cause to have real concerns about Warren.
What is the ultimate test of a pastor’s faithfulness when it comes to his teaching and speaking on behalf of God? One must only be counted faithful to the degree that his preaching and teaching resembles the preaching and teaching of the prophets, apostles and the Lord Jesus. Here is where I have real concerns about Warren and at another level Joel Osteen, I do not hear them saying the same things, the same way the prophets, apostles and Jesus did. There has never been a nicer man, more willing to speak with unbelievers and true seekers than Jesus. There has also never been anyone more ferocious, convicting and unbending in their preaching than Jesus either.
If you get nothing else out of what will be written on this topic I will rejoice if this lodges in your mind… The test of any man who claims to represent the living God is the degree to which his preaching and teaching reflects the teaching of the prophets, apostles and the Lord Jesus. The size of a pastor’s church, budget and book sales mean nothing of themselves, they may even be the markers of something wrong. Listen carefully to a man when he is preaching and teaching, can you hear the echo of Moses, Jeremiah, Isaiah, Peter, Paul and the Lord Jesus in his words?
Along with comfort is their piercing? Do you feel you are being taken hold of? Not in a way that is warm and fuzzy but in a way that leaves you in awe of the greatness and holiness of God? When he has finished are you more convinced of what sin has done to you? Are you more convinced of your need to repent? Does Christ’s death and resurrection on your behalf mean more to you then before he preached to you?
I think I’ll be content to establish this much for now. I will post some thoughts on the Inauguration next.