The kids and I worked in the garden today, and they all took turns watering our little vegetable sprouts. My instructions were clear: only water where the plants grow and not in between the rows where the weeds grow.
The kids were concerned that we hadn’t watered the garden good enough.
We came inside for ice cream cones and before long, the sky darkened and it began to rain. I said, “See, God’s watering it now, and he knows what he’s doing. However, we only watered our plants.”
Laila, our oldest and quick to wit, said, “Are you saying that we did a better job than God?”
I knew I was beat. Subconsciously I implied exactly that. But my spirit knew better and I replied, “No honey, I’m saying that God cares about the weeds too.”
Few words have changed the course of American history like “emancipate.” It’s very utterance stirs images of black families being freed from bondage.
I can see entire families who have just received the news colliding in the middle of a field with crazed enthusiasm greater than the celebration pile at the end of a sports championship win. Decades of struggle, toil, and beatings finally come to an end. The fruit of their labor could now be their own.
But for some it was not so. When the Union won and President Lincoln enforced the Emancipation Proclamation, some slave owners were less than honest. Since slaves weren’t taught to read, some owners told their slaves not that they were free, but that it meant that they could no longer be sold to a new master. This was incredible news to them as it meant their families would no longer be split up and sold to other masters. They could all serve the one master together.
Some worked for years for their old masters before they found out that all along they were truly free to walk off the plantation and make their own way in life.
This Sunday at church, we sang the song “Break Every Chain” by Jesus Culture. The main words of the chorus are:
There is power in the name of Jesus
To break every chain
In singing these words, I couldn’t help but think about the freedom that Jesus’ death and resurrection purchased for all mankind. However, a harsh master, the Father of Lies has intentionally misrepresented it to us – and some have believed him.
I cannot imagine what it was like to be a slave in the early years of our great country. The humiliation, degradation, and utter emotional and physical devastation that they underwent is unsurpassed in even my imagination.
But I do know what it means to be hopeless and a slave to sin. I know the weight of those chains well. I know what it means to serve the Master of Deception. The wounds of his whip and the scars of his shackles remain.
But when I put my faith in Christ, I am no longer a slave to sin. He gave me the right to walk away from sin and never serve its master again. But I fear so many times I look down and see my broken chains and loosed shackles and just stand there. Maybe it’s that after so many years of bondage I don’t know what freedom even means and the Father of lies says, “Yes Chris, you are free. You can be holy and still work for me on the side. You can raise your hands in worship to God on Sunday morning and lower His standards for you in worship to me on Sunday evening.”
Instead of running for the hills with my freedom papers in hand, I choose to stay and work for the same hard master. I believe my old, harsh master’s words over God’s.
Maybe it’s that I’ve restricted the definition of freedom as only a release from bondage and not also as the permission to move toward liberty. Is it possible that I’ve watered down the regenerating power of God in my life as only the power to abstain from sin and not as the authority to be righteous and holy.
Corporately, as a church, have we done the same and in so given ourselves, by an abuse of grace, a way to serve our old master? Have we manipulated freedom’s definition to hold tight to unholy habits that satisfy our flesh yet defile our spirits?
I know I’ve asked more questions than answered, but look hard at your life, and I will mine. We must look in the mirror and ask the hard questions and not be afraid of the answers. We must examine ourselves regularly to see if we are still in the faith, or out of it. And do so humbly allowing God to confront us where we are wrong and submit ourselves to His correction.
Remember, Jesus’ death was a contract. We’ve been emancipated. We are free, because whoever the Son sets free, is free indeed!
I’ve heard plenty of preachers over the years and thought, “Wow, I’d like to see what chapter and verse THAT theology was based on.” Granted, no one is perfect and I’m sure that I believe a few things that would make you scratch your head too.
But at what point do we call a brother out — by name?
Really. At what point do say, “Pastor, if you can’t show me where this came from and how it applies as you laid out, what you said here is false teaching.” Where is the line drawn if there is no sound evidence that the doctrine is Biblical that you decide to nationally call a pastor out — by name.
Well Christian musician Shai Linne decided to do just that in his new single, “Fal$e Teacher$” (video below).
The song directly attacks twelve pastors for teaching the Prosperity Gospel. I put the list below the video.
I for one hope that Mr. Linne privately confronted these men and women before posterizing them in what has become a viral music video.
How appropriate is this video, and when do you think it is proper to call out a pastor publicly when you believe they are a false teacher?
Here’s the list (from his lyrics):
Talk to them) Joel Osteen – false teacher!
(Let them know) Creflo Dollar is a false teacher!
(Who else? Who else?) Benny Hinn is a false teacher!
I know they’re popular but don’t let them deceive ya!
(Talk to them) TD Jakes is a false teacher!
(Tell the Truth) Joyce Meyer is a false teacher!
(Let them know) Paula White is a false teacher!
Use your discernment, let the Bible lead ya!
(Keep going) Fred Price is a false teacher!
(Tell the Truth) Kenneth Copland is a false teacher!
(Who else? Who else?) Robert Tilton is a false teacher!
I know they’re popular but don’t let them deceive ya!
(Talk to them) Eddie Long is a false teacher!
(Let them know) Juanita Bynum is a false teacher!
(Who else? Who else?) Paul Crouch is a false teacher!
Use your discernment, let the Bible lead ya!
This morning I woke up with this thought in mind, “God show me what I need to deal with in my life – what keeps me from walking perfect and blameless as You have called me too?” The Holy Spirit then brought Galations 2:20 to mind. “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” I need to be careful not to beat myself up though. Some would say that you have to “Kill the flesh!!” but we have to be careful NOT to. See, I cannot crucify myself, someone else has to do it. God uses other people in our lives to help change us. I believe that as long as my heart is for God, that He will work things out of me that are not giving glory to Him. After all, isn’t He more gentle and merciful than I? The Word says He has ABUNDANT mercy (1 Peter 1:3 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to His abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the ressurection of Jesus Christ from the dead,” .
When will I learn that this life I live is not my own? When will I learn, not in my mind but in my heart, that the life I now live is not my own. When will I follow the example set by Jesus in the garden and let my prayer be “Not my will but YOURS be done” (Luke 22:42 – Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.)
Here are two more quotes form Jesus from John 5:19 and 30, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.“, and “I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.” Jesus said He could do nothing in and of Himself, only what He saw His father do. How can I think that I can do anything on my own? Why do I try to stand on my own two feet?
I can have the type of relationship with God where I lay aside my desires, motives, and pride and say to God, “I will do nothing unless You tell me to.”
I need to die to myself so that my selfish wants, needs, and motivations are not in the picture. Actually, I have already been given the power to do this according to 2 Peter 1:2-4 “Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.”
When will I accept that am NO LONGER a sinner by nature, and do NOT have to live a sinful selfish life.
Lord, crucify me and help me to look to Your will for my life. Let my motives be out of love for You and love for my brother, and not love of self. Teach me to be who you have already given me the power to be. I repent of my pride and my doubt. Thank you for freedom through Christ Jesus!
Promises. As kids, we are taught that promises are to be taken seriously, and so we grow up trying our hardest to keep them. Maybe it’s because we remember a promise being made to us by a parent or friend that ended up being broken, or maybe we try hard to keep them to avoid causing others disappointment. Maybe it just goes back to “Let your ‘Yes’ be yes, and your ‘No’ be no.” (Matt. 5:37)
I think sometimes that we only say “I promise” to the easy stuff. “I promise, I’ll take out the trash before I leave.” “Tomorrow we’ll go the park, I promise!” You know, the incidentals. If the promise isn’t kept, it’s not a big deal. Maybe that is where our problem started, because it seems today that promises don’t mean much at all.
Maybe the best example is that of the politicians. They make all sorts of promises to get elected, and a majority never come to fruition. Part of that may be it is not in their sole power to deliver on them, to which I say, “Don’t make a promise you can’t keep.” To others, I would say, “Don’t make promises you never intend on keeping.” Either way, it really is setting a bad example.
Maybe more disheartening the example that 50+% of married adults (even Christian adults) make: “Til death do us part.”
I know, I know, crap happens, people “fall” in and out of love. People change. People fight. People cheat. The fact remains, a promise was made. It’s one of the most important promises we can make, yet it is taken so lightly by so many. If you think I am being harsh, I am, but please keep reading.
I ask a question. Would you keep a promise, if it meant someone else being uncomfortable?
Like, “I promise not to smoke any more.” The chances are, if you make this promise, you will be grumpy for awhile, I know, I have been around plenty of people trying to quit. But I have patience and tolerate them, because in the end, them keeping their promise is better for their health. If fact, in their hardship, I even encourage them to keep this promise.
Now, would you keep your promise if it meant hurting someone’s feelings?
Scenario. “I will help you move next weekend.” Here, a promise is made to help someone, but on that day, your kids are not feeling well and your spouse asks you to stay home and help out. What do you do? Well, you feel sympathetic toward your spouse and children, and you know it may hurt their feelings, and maybe they feel they are not number one for a few hours, but you go and help your friend move. Why? Because your word is your word, and it sucks sometimes, but you do it.
Moving along, do you keep the promise when it causes harm to yourself?
“I promise to protect my family.” A robber breaks in, and without hesitation, a man or woman will do whatever necessary to protect their loved ones, even if it costs them their life. Makes sense right? One of the most costly to follow through on, but we do the right thing, because it’s the right thing to do.
Now the difficult one: Would you keep a promise if it cost the life of your child? I know someone who did.
A man was promised that a nation would be made from his offspring, but to follow through on it, his own child had to die. The promise was made by God, to Abram, at the cost of Jesus’ life. Not only did God follow through on the promise, He made the promise knowing what it would cost.
Now I challenge myself and you to keep our word. Make your yes, yes, and your no, no; especially when it comes to your marriage. We make mistakes, I know, I have made plenty, but we can’t give up. I doubt very highly that keeping the promise “Til death do us part” will cost us the physical lives of our children, but it is killing generations in many different ways (broken homes, broken relationships, bitterness, even hatred being passed around like Halloween candy all in the name of “What’s best for the kids” translates to “what is best for me.”).
It’s not easy sometimes, but it’s worth it. It’s work a lot of the time, but it’s worth it.
Recently I read Foxe’s Book of Martyrs. Wow. The atrocities and torture that thousands have endured for the cross is humbling. To think that somehow the largest sacrifice I have to make on a daily basis is laying down my pride just seems petty. Anyhow, in reading other articles about martyrs, I ran across a portion of “Prayers of the Martyrs,” which is equally humbling.
The story was of a child that was taken to Ravensbruck (a German concentration camp for women). In this camp, approximately 92,000 of the 132,000 women there died from gas chambers, malnourishment, sickness, and other violent acts. I cannot conceive of what it must have been like there, but despite all of these conditions, this humbling prayer was found written on a paper in the coat of a dead girl:
“O Lord, remember not only the men and women of good will, but also those of ill will. But, do not remember all of the suffering they have inflicted upon us; Instead remember the fruits we have borne because of this suffering — our fellowship, our loyalty to one another, our humility, our courage, our generosity, the greatness of heart that has grown from this trouble. When our persecutors come to be judged by you, let all of these fruits that we have borne be their forgiveness.”
Oh that I could learn to forgive others for the offenses that seem petty in light of this suffering.
My thoughts: Why is it not listed with the other press releases at WhiteHouse.gov? I had to search for it to confirm it wasn’t a scam. Somehow this doesn’t surprise me. Though Obama doesn’t support gay marriage, he will declare them a “Pride Month” to keep them somewhat happy. If I were in this group, I’m not sure how I would take that.
Please leave your thoughts.
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release June 1, 2009
LESBIAN, GAY, BISEXUAL, AND TRANSGENDER PRIDE MONTH, 2009
- – - – - – -
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
Forty years ago, patrons and supporters of the Stonewall Inn in New York City resisted police harassment that had become all too common for members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community. Out of this resistance, the LGBT rights movement in America was born. During LGBT Pride Month, we commemorate the events of June 1969 and commit to achieving equal justice under law for LGBT Americans.
LGBT Americans have made, and continue to make, great and lasting contributions that continue to strengthen the fabric of American society. There are many well-respected LGBT leaders in all professional fields, including the arts and business communities. LGBT Americans also mobilized the Nation to respond to the domestic HIV/AIDS epidemic and have played a vital role in broadening this country’s response to the HIV pandemic.
Due in no small part to the determination and dedication of the LGBT rights movement, more LGBT Americans are living their lives openly today than ever before. I am proud to be the first President to appoint openly LGBT candidates to Senate-confirmed positions in the first 100 days of an Administration. These individuals embody the best qualities we seek in public servants, and across my Administration — in both the White House and the Federal agencies — openly LGBT employees are doing their jobs with distinction and professionalism.
The LGBT rights movement has achieved great progress, but there is more work to be done. LGBT youth should feel safe to learn without the fear of harassment, and LGBT families and seniors should be allowed to live their lives with dignity and respect.
My Administration has partnered with the LGBT community to advance a wide range of initiatives. At the international level, I have joined efforts at the United Nations to decriminalize homosexuality around the world. Here at home, I continue to support measures to bring the full spectrum of equal rights to LGBT Americans. These measures include enhancing hate crimes laws, supporting civil unions and Federal rights for LGBT couples, outlawing discrimination in the workplace, ensuring adoption rights, and ending the existing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy in a way that strengthens our Armed Forces and our national security. We must also commit ourselves to fighting the HIV/AIDS epidemic by both reducing the number of HIV infections and providing care and support services to people living with HIV/AIDS across the United States.
These issues affect not only the LGBT community, but also our entire Nation. As long as the promise of equality for all remains unfulfilled, all Americans are affected. If we can work together to advance the principles upon which our Nation was founded, every American will benefit. During LGBT Pride Month, I call upon the LGBT community, the Congress, and the American people to work together to promote equal rights for all, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim June 2009 as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month. I call upon the people of the United States to turn back discrimination and prejudice everywhere it exists.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this first day of June, in the year of our Lord two thousand nine, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-third.
I feel a shaking though its faint
Something’s coming am I too late
I need to be ready
The earth is groaning as it waits
Longing for the coming day
I need to be ready
Grant to me the grace I need
To live a life found worthy in the end
Violently I will seek
For wisdom is justified in the end
Wake me up, wake me up
I don’t want to be sleeping
When You’re coming
Wake me up, wake me up
I don’t want to be lying down
In this final hour
Wake me up
The nations gather as they say
Let’s break their bonds
And cast their chains I need to be ready
Deep darkness is coming soon
Do I have oil to make it through
I need to be ready
Time is running out, I say to all who hear
Lift your voice and shout
The bridegroom is in the land
Turn while there’s still time
The Lord He may relent
Will the way you live your life
Make it through
When God judges you.
This Sunday, I was listening to the preacher, and he was talking through the first few chapters in Genesis. When he got to the part about Adam and Eve eating the fruit, he told a quick story. I have heard it before. This version was of an older farm hand named Moses who was chopping out a tree stump. The ranch owner walked by while Moses was complaining that all his hard work was Adam’s fault. “If he’d of just stayed away from that tree, we’d all have been better off.”
At this, the ranch owner relieved him of all his duties. “You can do anything you like on the ranch. Every room is open to you and all I have is yours. Only one thing, there is a box on the mantle, don’t open it.”
Moses lived the high life for a while, but eventually the thought of this box started to creep into his mind. After some time, Moses eventually could not restrain himself any longer and he opened it. Inside lay a note that read, “Get back to work Moses. You’re no better than he was.”
It’s a good story with a great point. It got me thinking about something that has been running through my mind for quite some time.
Why do people, myself included, have such a problem taking responsibility for our lives? Old Moses was blaming Adam for his troubles, when deep inside, he was dealing with the same root issues as. It’s almost like a majority of Christianity believes we lost something when Adam took a bite of the forbidden fruit. I just can’t see it. You could go on about position, relationship, fellowship, etcetera, and how it all changed, but I don’t believe we lost anything. We couldn’t have, because to lose something, you first have to possess it.
I believe that it is God who lost out in the deal. We are his creation, and through no fault of His own, we have broken ties with Him. There is another story, a parable of Jesus, that relates what happened very well; the prodigal son. If you are not familiar with it, you can read the details in Luke 15.
Basically, a son asks his father for his inheritance so that he can make his own way with it. He gets a place in the city and parties it up until his money is gone. His friends all turn on him and the only job he can find is cleaning after pigs. He decides that he will go home and be a servant at his dad’s house. While he is on the road to his dad’s house, still a ways off, his dad sees him coming down the road. The father runs to him and embraces him. His son was home.
I have heard many different interpretations of this, and some great sermons bringing out different points. The main point, mentioned twice in the story, is that the son was lost, but now is found: was dead but is now alive. It was not at any part of the story about the son losing something. He never had anything of himself. The money and the freedom to spend it came from his father. The son was irresponsible with the gift he was given, but never was it his loss, it was the fathers. And it was not the father’s fault that the inheritance was lost.
Yes, as a result of Adam taking the great gift he was given and casting it aside for his own satisfaction, we are all now lost sons, but we have not lost anything. My troubles are the product of my own decisions, not Adam’s. The responsibility lies solely with me. One day when I stand before God, I will not be able to say, “Sorry I was a lying, blaspheming, adulterous murder. It was Adam’s fault for eating the fruit.” He would just look at me, and convict me with my own words. I am what I am because I choose to be so. My life is the result of my own decisions: good or bad.
The Father longs for our relationship with Him to be restored; he wants us to come home. The great thing about returning home is that something deep inside already knows the way. So many times I have said the words, “God come to me,” all the while He is saying, “Just come home, I am waiting.” The right of passage has been secured through His son Jesus, and when we do finally come to the end of our own selfish ambitions to make the decision to return to Him, He embraces us with the words, “My son was lost, but now is found: was dead but is now alive.”
A recent comment by Reynvaan has caused me to do some thinking on homosexuality as sin. Here is the comment:
No offense intended, but if Jesus never spoke a word on the subject of homosexuality, why is it an issue for Christians? If it’s because the Old Testament condemns it, then you should (among other unspeakable things) also be killing children who disobey their parents. If it’s because the apostles condemn it, then you should (among other ludicrous things) be actively prohibiting women from speaking in church.
First, thanks for the comment, no offense was taken. I love to get in the Bible and search out why I believe what I say I do.
I guess I will start with the Old Testament. I agree in part with what you said about the law being obsolete. I believe that the original law, as laid out to the Jews in the Old Testament was fulfilled through Jesus Christ. He paid the price for sin so that we could live under grace (Hebrews 9:22, Eph 1:7). Obviously there is no longer animal sacrifice, etc. The things listed in the law are still detestable to God, and He still hates them today, but through Christ, there is forgiveness. But just because there is grace doesn’t mean we get to keep disobeying God (Romans 5-6). To continue in sin would mean that we don’t truly love God, because if we do, we will keep His commandments (John 14:15).
Even before the law however, God laid out the original plan. He created a man and a woman, and commissioned them to multiply (Genesis 1:27-28). He said that man needed a suitable helper, and created woman, not another man, and not two women. His plan is for one man to be with one woman in a monogamous relationship or for them to be in no sexual relationship at all. There is no indication in the Bible that it was ever intended differently.
I couldn’t find any red letters that said, “the homosexual lifestyle is sin.” I guess I thought I would.
Homosexuality isn’t the only sexual sin; fornication, adultery, bestiality, and every other type of sexual relationship outside of marriage are condemned. In the following passage, Jesus clearly states that God made man and woman, and that marriage is between a man and a woman.
Matthew 19:4-5 (quoting Genesis 1:27, 2:24), “And He answered and said to them, “Have you not read that He who made them at 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’?
Though homosexuality is not mentioned, it is not found in what Jesus stated was the correct sexual relationship. Therefore anything outside of what is stated as acceptable is unacceptable.
As for what the apostles said regarding it, I agree with them. Paul writes in I Corinthians 6:9-10 “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.”
The best part is the next verse, “And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.”
And that is the end of it all. None of us are of our own selves acceptable before God except through the blood of Christ. Sin is simply disobedience to God, and we are all guilty, no matter what name we give it.