The Old Preacher

Viewing the World through God's Word

Category: The World (page 2 of 10)

“Whatever God you believe in, we all come from the same one.”

I happened upon that quote in The End of White Christian America (a fascinating and disturbing  book I’ll blog about soon).  The quote came from Queen Latifah (American rapper, songwriter, model), introducing Macklemore and Lewis at the 56th Grammy Awards, January 26, 2014.

“When we say music has the power to bring people together at the Grammys, we mean it . . . This song is a love song not just from some of us,” she explained, “but for all of us.  And tonight we celebrate the commitment to love by some very beautiful couples . . . with an uplifting song that says whatever God you believe in, we all come from the same one.  Strip away the fear, underneath it’s all the same love.”

“The Queen” is no theologian.  I  comment because she reflects (or helps further) a misinformed pop theology with her “whatever God” statement.  First, the setting for it  . . .

As Macklemore and Lewis performed, “lights rose on a swaying multicultural chorus dressed in the satiny black robes and white stoles of a gospel choir accompanied by a full band . . . At the top of the stage . . . Queen Latifah strode through a pair of tall double doors while thirty-three diverse couples—straight and gay, multiracial and interracial—filed into the theater’s aisles and faced each other.  Queen Latifah, who had earlier registered with the state of California as a wedding officiant, asked the couples to exchange rings . . . she pronounced them legally married . . .

“The performance ended on an emotional high note with a musical call and response.  The choir sang the opening words of 1 Corinthians 13:4-8  (“Love is patient, love is kind . . . “) . . . while Madonna and Lambert (?) echoed their own line, ‘I’m not crying on Sundays'” (The End of White Christian America).

The book’s author, Robert P. Jones, opines:  “The performance . . . was . . . a direct challenge to religious opposition to gay rights . . . not so much an antireligion invective as it was an indictment of religion using its own principles and symbols.”  Repeatedly it proclaimed, “God loves all his children” and declared that those who “preach hate . . .  cannot be holy or anointed, because they contradict the basic spirit of the gospel.”  This performance was broadcast by CBS in prime time across the country.

* * * * *

Admittedly, some anti-homosexual Christian rhetoric is vitriolic.  For that, we should ask forgiveness.  Paul admonishes us to “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15).  So, in love and humility we confess sin dominates us all.  For us to self -righteously condemn those who practice homosexuality does nothing to point sinners to the Savior.

However, it’s not hate speech to preach that God’s kingdom is closed to those engaged in homosexual acts (1 Corinthians 6:9).  It’s rather to speak God’s words.

At the same time, Queen Latifah can’t select Scriptures she favors (“God is love”) and ignore those she doesn’t (“those who practice homosexuality will not inherit God’s kingdom”).  Nor can we pick and choose.

This Grammy performance seems to have been an in-your-face attack.  Not the first time.  Performers  entertained the audience with an unintentional fulfillment of the apostle Paul’s words: “Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them” (Romans 1:32).  By the way, that’s in the same Bible as 1 Corinthians 13.

With that setting shown and my comments about it made, what about that quote?  “Whatever God you believe in, we all come from the same one.”   To be fair to “the Queen”, she’s not the only one spouting such “theology”.  It’s in the air!  Listen.  You’ll hear it.

Critiquing, start with what appears obvious:  her statement contradicts itself.  “Whatever God you believe in” implies as many varieties of God exist as Heinz has soups (57).  ” . . . we all come from the same one” implies there’s only one God.  Self-contradictory.

But, let’s not demand too much theology from Queen Latifah.  Maybe she means just that our “faith-language” differs.  Like, Muslims call the one God “Allah” while Christians call him “God” or “Father”.  But, read the Koran.  Allah who commands “death to the infidel” isn’t the God of Jesus.

I infer that at best “the Queen” proclaims one God, but our conception of him differs.  And that really doesn’t matter, because who knows what God is truly like, except that he is love and father of us all?  Does she (and those in her camp) see that she makes God, then, merely the product of our imagination?

Confession:  after 54 years of marriage, I still fantasize about my wife.  But she’s not the product of my imagination.  She exists apart from my imagination.  So does God.  We may imagine what he’s like.  We may identify him according to favorite Scriptures (“God is love”).  But he isn’t the product of our mental conception.  He exists in his own image outside our mind and apart from us.  Rather than seeking to know him as he is, we create him in our own image.

The biblical writer to the Hebrews says, ” . . . he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6, NKJV).  God “is” implies that he exists as a living being independent of us.  Nothing we do or think make him who or what he is.

Furthermore, instead of shaping God in our own image, we are to “diligently seek him” (keeping in mind that in Christ Jesus he came to seek us!).  We’re not to use our sin-darkened, culturally-conformed minds to imagine God; we’re to diligently seek to discover what he is really like as revealed in his Son and Word.  (It’s the most challenging, exhilarating study in the world!)

Education, I’ve read, was once a search for truth, for reality.  Sadly, our sinful society decided no overarching truth (reality) exists.  Thus even God (if he exists at all) is nothing more than what we believe him to be.  Thus humans in general don’t seek God, spurred on by a promised reward from him.  Instead, our reward is the satisfaction of our own corrupt lusts and maybe, in the process, a name for ourselves.

* * * * *

A prophecy:  increasingly the reasonableness of same-sex love and marriage, the emphasis of “God is love” to the exclusion of “God his holy”, and the reasonableness of “we’re all God’s children” will be hammered (or whispered or preached) at us.  More and more we will be marginalized and, in some cases castigated, for insisting marriage is for one man and one woman, for declaring God is holy as well as love, and for proclaiming that only those who come through faith in Jesus Christ are God’s children.  We will be mocked and marked as prejudiced because we believe God is not whatever anyone believes him to be.

A question:  will we remain faithful under such pressure and still love those who persecute us?

A final question . . .

losing the approval of the majority,
will we be satisfied with the reward God gives
to those who diligently seek him?

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The Courts’ Death-Culture Vs. Religious Faith

Say you own a Chevy dealership and a federal court rules:  “From now on you have to tell your customers about the good deal they can get from the Ford dealer down the street.”  Crazy, right?   Well, that’s what the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit just decided about pregnancy centers.  Pregnancy center staff must tell any woman who comes for help with her unborn baby that publicly funded abortion is available—even if the staff’s religious belief, or that of the pregnant woman, opposes abortion.

Here’s how “The Federalist” announced it:  “The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled today that California law AB 775, which compels Christian, pro-life pregnancy centers to advocate for abortion, doesn’t impede their First Amendment right to exercise their religious beliefs.”

The First Amendment guarantees freedoms concerning religion, expression, assembly, and the right to petition.  It forbids Congress from both promoting one religion over others and also restricting an individual’s religious practices.  Question:  How could this federal appeals court possibly decree such a ruling “doesn’t impede their First Amendment right to exercise their religious beliefs?”  Answer:  the court apparently decided not on the basis of the First Amendment, but on the basis of a liberal worldview which elevates “women’s health” (euphemism for “the right to put your unborn baby to death”) over freedom of  the expression of one’s religion.

Such a decision by the appeals court is only possible because in Roe v. Wade,  the U.S. Supreme Court somehow found a woman’s right to choose abortion in the Fourteenth Amendment.  That Amendment addresses many aspects of citizenship and the rights of citizens.  The most commonly used — and frequently litigated — phrase in the amendment is  “equal protection of the laws“, which figures prominently in a wide variety of landmark cases, including Brown v. Board of Education (racial discrimination), Roe v. Wade (reproductive rights),  Bush v. Gore (election recounts), Reed v. Reed (gender discrimination),  and University of California v. Bakke (racial quotas in education).

“The Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution prohibits states from denying any person within its territory the equal protection of the laws.  This means that a state must treat an individual in the same manner as others in similar conditions and circumstances.  The Federal Government must do the same, but this is required by the Fifth Amendment Due Process.

“The point of the equal protection clause is to force a state to govern impartially—not draw distinctions between individuals solely on differences that are irrelevant to a legitimate governmental objective.  Thus, the equal protection clause is crucial to the protection of civil rights (https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/equal_protection).

By declaring “a woman’s right to choose [abortion] as civil right,” Roe v. Wade, in my view, goes down as one of the worst travesties of “justice” the Court has foisted on the nation.  Since the 1973 decision, 59,465,821 unborn babies have been put to death.  And now, a lower federal appeals court has forced pro-life pregnancy centers to advertise for more unborn babies’ deaths.

The Ninth Circuit Court, headquartered in San Francisco, is by far the largest of the thirteen courts of appeals, with 29 active judgeships.  According to the most current count, the Ninth Circuit has the highest percentage (68%) of sitting judges appointed by Democratic presidents. Republicans argue the court is biased because of its relatively high proportion of Democratic appointees.

“It’s bad enough if the government tells you what you can’t say, but a law that tells you what you must say—under threat of severe punishment—is even more unjust and dangerous. In this case, political allies of abortionists are seeking to punish pro-life pregnancy centers, which offer real hope and help to women,” Nate Bowman. senior counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, said.  “Forcing these centers to promote abortion and recite the government’s preferred views is a clear violation of their constitutionally protected First Amendment freedoms.”

Now Hillary who, according to polls, may very well be our next president (“The Wall Street Journal, Opinion, Review and Outlook”) suggests she believes a woman has an “absolute [right] to an abortion, at any time during pregnancy right up until birth. She claimed merely to oppose the repeal of Roe v. Wade, which allows some regulation of late-term abortions. But she somehow overlooked Gonzales v. Carhart , the 2007 decision that upheld a legislative ban on so-called partial-birth abortion.

“Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the Carhart opinion that ruled such restrictions are consistent with Roe and the Constitution.  Mrs. Clinton kept invoking ‘the life and the health of the mother’ to justify her opposition to any limit on abortion, but Carhart found the life of the mother can be sufficient.

“To put all this another way, Mrs. Clinton believes there is no restriction on abortion she would ever support, and there is no restriction on gun rights she would ever oppose. Carhart, Citizens United and Heller were 5-4 decisions, and Mrs. Clinton wants each of them to be litmus tests for her Supreme Court appointments. She mocks Mr. Trump for saying he won’t abide by the election result, but she wants to rewrite the Constitution to fit her own political views.”

Every presidential election has consequences.  This one, by one to  three Supreme Court nominations, will have consequences for decades and for the lives of unborn babies by the millions.  But let’s not forget federal appeals courts appointments.  According to “The Wall Street Journal” . . .

“There are 73 vacancies on the federal appeals and trial courts, according to the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. Dozens more spots could open in the next few years, given the number of active judges nearing or at retirement age, judicial data show.

“Two terms of judicial appointments by Mr. Obama have shifted the political balance of the 12 regional U.S. courts of appeals, which review more than 50,000 cases each year, compared with the roughly 80 cases heard by the U.S. Supreme Court.”

I find myself in an uncomfortable corner, advocating for Donald Trump in order to deny Hillary Clinton’s ideology (worse than Obama’s?) to further this anti-God “legalized culture of death” in America.   How can any serious Bible-believing Christian not share my uncomfortable corner?

 

 

 

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Vote?

I’m obsessing over voting.  I don’t know what to do.  Both the Republican and Democrat candidates are shameful.  What has happened to America that Clinton and Trump are our only choices?  If there is ever a sign that this country is in decline, these two are disgraceful proof.

So:  how to vote, or not?

Long ago I swore, “Never Trump!”  But now that there are no other Republican candidates on the crowded stage, and Hillary is the only alternative, I’ve switched my “never” to her and reconsidering.  My alternatives, as I see them now are:  (1)  vote against Hillary by voting for Trump or (2) don’t vote.

My single vote (or absence of it) will make no difference.  Mine won’t decide who will sit in the Oval Office, I know that.  I could quite easily reject both candidates and just stay home.  Neither one deserves my vote; neither is qualified for the highest office in the land.  Yet I want my voice to be heard, although in the votes of millions, it really won’t be.  Yet if Paul told us to pray for those who rule (1 Timothy 2), certainly he’d want us to vote for those who rule.

I’ll not waste time by citing all the vices of both candidates.   Here are just a few that have grabbed my attention as I’ve followed this bizarre election cycle.

Trump is vulgar and crude.  Probably a misogynist and racist.  Disinterested in studying what he doesn’t know and doesn’t know what he doesn’t know and doesn’t care.  He thinks it’s all about him.  He’s untrustworthy.  He claims to be a Christian, but his life shows the fruit of an ignorant, arrogant unbeliever.  He seems the epitome of everything I as a Christian don’t value.

Hillary is a congenital liar, untrustworthy in every word and deed.  Her thirty years in public life have contributed very little if anything to the country’s good.  She’s a progressive who will move America further to the Left (away from biblical values), increase the size and role of government, raise taxes, fight for taxpayer-funded abortions anytime anywhere and become Obama on steroids.  All her scandals, especially Benghazi, disqualify her for office.

If neither are fit to serve, my dilemma should be easily solved:  don’t vote.  But here’s what drives me to the voting booth—our next president will nominate one, or as many as three, Supreme Court justices who will serve for decades and whose decisions will affect America for generations.  Hillary’s nominee(s) would almost certainly turn the Court a sharp Left and give us more justices who see the Constitution as a  “living document” and find in it laws that simply aren’t there.  (Even this Court found same-sex “marriage” lurking somewhere in the spaces!)  Decisions will be made, then, not on the basis of what the framers intended, but what politics demand.  We will have moved further from a nation based on constitution law and closer to a nation based on political and societal trends.  I can’t think of anything more dangerous for this country.

With Hillary, we know what the Court will become.  With Trump, at least there’s a chance he’ll appoint conservative constitutionalists as he’s said.  No guarantees; I know that.  But maybe . . .

Let me be very clear, as our current president is fond of saying (usually when he’ll end up being anything but):  I’m not supporting Trump.  I’m not one of those Christian leaders who jumped early on “the Trump Train” and schmoozed up to him like he was the Second Coming of Jesus.  My first thought about some of them:  they just want to stand close to the Man in the limelight.  How could a Christ-centered leader stand with a man whose life and values contradict everything we stand for as Jesus’ followers?  I’m not supporting Donald Trump.

Thinking of Christian leaders makes me wonder if there’s a Christian position to take?  The only one I can see is this:  look at the candidates’ values, history and policies and pick the one closest to the faith.  Or, in this case, the one least distant from it.

So right now with a month to go, I’m leaning toward voting against Clinton by voting for Trump.  If I do vote against Clinton by voting for Trump, I’ll do it believing God is sovereign and will cause his will for America to prevail.  I’ll do it eternally grateful that, because of his grace in Christ, I belong to the kingdom not of this fallen world.  My future well-being doesn’t depend on the occupant of the Oval Office.  But while I’m here I want to promote righteousness, or at least at this point stave off the rising tide of unrighteousness in this country.  And I’ll vote praying God will show his great mercy to America.

Also, vote Republican for the down-ballot candidates so Hillary can be controlled.

(Please read Wayne Grudem’s fine blog on the matter—http://townhall.com/columnists/waynegrudem/2016/10/09/trumps-moral-character-and-the-election-n2229846).

 

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The America We Once Knew

I’m old enough to remember at least vestiges of those Rockwell America days.  (TV’s “Leave It to Beaver”, “Ozzie and Harriet”, “I Love Lucy”.  Charles J. Johnson’s Chicago Tribune article below saddens me; it’s a reminder that those more “innocent” days are forever gone.

          I hope you at the not-yet-fifty mark find this article informative.  Indeed, I hope we all will.  We can’t recover “the good old days” (probably they weren’t as good as we recall); but as Jesus’ followers we should be aware of the far-reaching changes that have snuck up on us like an overnight fog.  They now define this country where we live.  I hope to soon read The End of White Christian America, a book whose title captures one aspect of the sea-change America is undergoing.
          These changes, of course, don’t change the Gospel.  But they should change how we contextualize it and understand the people who need it.  And they should better inform us of the kind of society in which we’re called to follow Jesus in the obedience of faith.

What millennials know: We can’t return to Rockwell’s America

Charles J. Johnson Chicago Tribune

One wants America to be a Norman Rockwell painting again. The other also wants a Rockwell painting, but with maybe a woman, or even two women, carving the turkey at the head of the table.

But Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton want to steer us away from where we find ourselves, to another time, a different America. On the stump, they both describe a rosier period when the middle class was stronger, the military more incisive and America’s elected leaders more in tune with the metaphorical farmers’ fields they left when taking up office.

Neither is describing an America that is familiar to me or to other millennials who share the same national signposts.

I’ve been an American citizen from birth, but my life as a political citizen began when I stepped off the school bus in seventh grade into the arms of my crying mother. At first, I was confused because she should have been at work that Tuesday in September. American flags were out on all the neighbor houses.

The day we first bombed Afghanistan, my mom had to drive me to the mall. When we invaded Iraq, I put down my French homework and watched television while the boy I was baby-sitting slept. When Lehman Brothers failed, I was starting to look for jobs, which was also when I noticed a lot of my classmates’ parents losing theirs.

I have lived my entire political life with my country in a state of war, my entire career in an economy that feels hollow and debt-burdened, in which anxiety and not future fortune is the overriding sentiment.

Over my lifetime, government dysfunction has become so commonplace it’s laughable. But Brooklyn and Baton Rouge, instead of laughing at Congress, now seem hard-wired just to laugh at each other without realizing the anchor of Washington’s incompetence is tied to all of our ankles.

Whatever Rockwellian time campaign speechwriters are selling, I’m not familiar enough to buy.

I’ve never known an America that didn’t speak Spanish — parents of friends who asked their children to translate sleepover pickup times; the kitchen crew that taught me Mexican curse words and brought me conchas on Fridays; immigrant classmates, including Ivy League-accepted ones, disappearing to live with other relatives.

These are not abstracts to me. This was high school.

I am told there was some other America before this, when ranchero music didn’t blast from construction sites and factory jobs could send kids to state colleges, but I don’t know it. The idea that yanking people off Glen Ellyn landscaping crews or from behind taqueria counters and plugging native-born Americans into their $11-an-hour jobs will restore some decades-past social contract strikes me as somewhere between naive and racist.

A taco truck on every corner doesn’t sound like a dystopia. It sounds like lunch in my America.

I’ve never known an America that wasn’t at war in the Middle East, often in more than one country.

I am told there was some other America before this, where U.S. military power could stop the slaughter of innocents and return yoked peoples their national sovereignty. The America I’ve known is the one that doesn’t win wars so much as sledge them into smaller pieces. Then it stands astride, picking through the sharp pieces to see what can be glued back together for something like a finished product.

Wars don’t really end in my America. They just become something else.

I’ve never known an America that wasn’t fighting a drug war. I sat through D.A.R.E. classes, part of the first generation of Nancy Reagan’s disciples to trudge off from middle school imbued with the notion that street drugs were a cancer, that trying them put you on track for addiction, and that those who bought them were criminals. All this despite the fact that I could go to any pharmacy in America with a busted leg and walk out with orally administered heroin.

This was considered good medicine, as long as it could be afforded. As long as the employer-provided health insurance lasted.

I am told there was some other America when lawmakers stepped in to prevent dangerous products from making their way to public markets. That Congress was a check on corporate America’s at-times inhuman profit motive, the kind of thing that could upend a world economy or turn a nation of football players and aging steelworkers into junkies.

I am told these same people will now devote themselves to reining in the cash that floats their political careers — muscled, if need be, by a president whose political and personal fortunes also have been quietly nurtured by bankers and pharmaceutical executives.

I’ve heard of other things about this different America: how 26-year-olds could routinely afford to buy houses, and how a mass murder at a movie theater or school wasn’t an every-other-month part of life. I am told there was a time when the fundamental failure of our bedrock institutions was the exception, rather than a rule.

I have little confidence in those who say they can return us to a time they and their generation undid.

Neither major party candidate seems to grasp that the country and the world have changed. America is different for us who don’t know what it was like before this reality.

Our institutions’ abilities aren’t what they were. Neither candidate seems like a good option to lead the America we have now — the one I grew up in — the one whose reality is very different from the nation I hear described at campaign events in high school gymnasiums in Florida, Ohio and Iowa.

The America they hope to lead? I’ve only seen it in paintings.

@Charliemagne

charjohnson@chicagotribune.com

Copyright © 2016, Chicago Tribune
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WE Pay for Abortions!

Our tax dollars help pay for one abortion every 97 seconds, despite the Hyde Amendment Congress passed in 1976 and the Supreme Court upheld in 1980.   The Hyde Amendment prohibits federal funds from being used for abortions except in the cases of rape, incest or danger to the mother’s life. Nevertheless, Planned Parenthood slaughters pre-born babies with money from our tax payments.

Read this informative, distressing post from “The Daily Signal” . . .

The Numbers That Show Planned Parenthood About Abortion, Not Women’s Health

Lila Rose / September 14, 2016

As Planned Parenthood looks to spend a record $30 million this fall to influence the November elections and keep its taxpayer funding flowing, Live Action has released a new online tool pro-lifers can use to help counter the kind of propaganda $30 million can buy.

Live Action’s new “3 Percent Abortion Myth” video dispels one of Planned Parenthood’s greatest myths—that abortion only makes up 3 percent of its services.

In order to justify its half-billion dollars in annual taxpayer funding, Planned Parenthood downplays its abortion numbers by falsely claiming that abortion only makes up three percent of its business—and instead plays up its cancer screenings and so-called “women’s health care.” 

However, Planned Parenthood’s own numbers prove that it’s an abortion corporation, focused on abortion, not on women’s health care. The fact is, Planned Parenthood doesn’t perform a single mammogram and performs less than 2 percent of all women’s cancer screenings in the United States. Yet, as America’s largest abortion provider, Planned Parenthood commits over 30 percent of America’s abortions—887 abortions a day, one abortion every 97 seconds, and over 320,000 abortions last year alone.

>>> Read More: “Disentangling the Data on Planned Parenthood Affiliates’ Abortion Services and Receipt of Taxpayer Funding

In fact, Planned Parenthood is so focused on abortion that it aborts 160 children for every one child it refers out for adoption (it doesn’t do adoptions itself). If a woman with an unwanted pregnancy goes to Planned Parenthood, that child is 160 times more likely to be poisoned or dismembered than to be put up for adoption to a waiting family.

Live Action’s new motion graphics video not only shows that Planned Parenthood’s market share of abortions dwarfs its share of cancer screenings, it also illustrates how Planned Parenthood calculates its ridiculous 3 percent statistic to deliberately mislead the public and downplay its abortion business.  The figure is derived by dividing the number of abortions it does by the total number of services it provides, counting a $10 pregnancy test or a pack of condoms the same as a $500 abortion. 

 

 

Even The Washington Post and Slate have called out the abortion corporation for its deception.

Three percent is a hugely important figure to understand, because Planned Parenthood and its allies in Washington, Hollywood, and the media often use it to dismiss its critics as well as taxpayers who object to being forced to support the abortion chain with hundreds of millions of dollars each year. Three percent is not a real number, but over 320,000 abortions a year and a 30 percent market share of all U.S. abortions are.

Planned Parenthood is spending more than it ever has — and double what it spent in 2012 – to influence this November’s election. Citizens have a right to know the truth about the media often use it to dismiss its critics as well as taxpayers who object to being forced to support the abortion chain with hundreds of millions of dollars each year. Three percent is not a real number, but over 320,000 abortions a year and a 30 percent market share of all U.S. abortions are.

Planned Parenthood by the numbers:

  • Planned Parenthood’s U.S. market share for Pap tests is 0.97 percent. It performed 271,539 tests in fiscal year 2014-15, out of 28.1 million tests nationwide. (Source)
  • Planned Parenthood’s U.S. market share for clinical breast exams is 1.8 percent. It performed 363,803 exams in fiscal year 2014-15, out of 20 million exams nationwide. (Source and note:  These are physical exams, not mammograms.  Planned Parenthood does not perform mammograms.)
  • Planned Parenthood’s U.S. market share for abortions is 30.6 percent. It committed 323,999 abortions in fiscal year 2014-15, out of approximately 1.06 million abortions nationwide. (Source )
  • Planned Parenthood aborts 160 children for every one child it refers out for adoption. (Source)

Planned Parenthood is spending more than it ever has — and double what it spent in 2012 – to influence this November’s election. Citizens have a right to know the truth about an organization that has a hold on the media, our elected leaders, and our wallets.

You can share this video to help counter one of Planned Parenthood’s biggest lies and help educate other voters. Planned Parenthood’s millions of dollars are no match for the millions of voices speaking up for the most vulnerable among us — our precious pre-born children.

 

 

 

 

 

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Sexual Revolution

Rip Van Winkle slept for 20 years.  England’s King George III ruled the American colonies when he dozed off.  When he woke, George Washington was the U.S. President.  Rip had slept through the revolution.

Question:  Are we Rip-Van-Winkle-ing through the sexual revolution?

For months I’ve considered writing about it, but couldn’t organize my thoughts well.  Now today along comes a essay (“Ask Not for Whom the Volcano Erupts; It Erupts for Thee”)from Dr. Albert Mohler   http://www.albertmohler.com/2016/08/30/response-david-gushee/).  You can read its entirety at the foregoing link.  Below in bold-face are some of Mohler’s quotes interspersed with my thoughts . . .

Christians in America now face a moment of judgment at the hands of a secular culture that grows more intensely adversarial with each passing day. Churches, institutions, and individuals committed to the Christian church’s historic sexual ethic, held consistently over two millennia, now find themselves faced with a stark choice — join the sexual revolution or face the consequences.

Those consequences include social marginalization, overt discrimination,the censure from the cultural elites, and worse. Christian colleges and schools are now openly threatened with the loss of tax-exempt status and participation in federal and state student aid. Christian employees in businesses large and small are told to get with the program or get lost. Getting with the program does not mean simply working amiably with all, regardless of sexual orientation. It means openly and enthusiastically celebrating every demand and aim of the LGBT community. Entire professions will soon be closed to many Christians who, for example, cannot, without violating their Christian conscience, perform sex-reassignment surgeries.

For many, Mohler sounds alarmist.  Is America’s secular culture really growing more adversarial every day?  Are we Christians truly faced with a stark choice to “join the sexual revolution or face the consequences?  If we follow the news (we should), we know Mohler’s assessment doesn’t miss the mark by much.  My research agrees:  “Getting with the program (of the sexual revolution) . . . means openly and enthusiastically celebrating every demand and aim of the L (Lesbian) G (Gay) B (Bi-Sexual) T (Transgender) community.”  We are not permitted to tolerate or even agree with, we must celebrate!

This is the reality we now face, and the onslaught is coming fast. Major LGBT organizations are now pressing their demands and gaining traction. A host of politicians are ready to support any legislation that will make them appear, by their calculation, on “the right side of history,” not to mention on the winning side of the ballot box. An entire universe of regulative bodies ranging from the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and the American Bar Association to accrediting agencies and local school boards is poised to drop the hammer on any individual or institution that stands in the path of the sexual revolution.

Once the U.S. Supreme Court ruled same-sex marriage to be the law of the land (June 2015), flood gates opened.  The 14th amendment was applied to LGBT practices (“no state shall deny to any person within its jurisdiction ‘the equal protection of the laws'”).  Thus they became civil rights.  And, thus, they became a voting bloc politicians craved.  This, then, made Christians, who want to uphold biblical morality, potential law-breakers—and left to live as a distinct minority.

Now, along comes a voice to warn us that the deluge is coming and to argue that we had better prepare ourselves for disaster or save ourselves at last by joining the revolution.

How will we respond?  Standing for biblical morality will bring down the wrath of the culture.  Joining the sexual revolution will bring down the wrath of God.  Neutrality is impossible.  One can’t dismiss a revolution with a wave of the hand.

That voice is Professor David Gushee of Mercer University. In a recent column at Religion News Service, Gushee announced: “Middle ground is disappearing on the question of whether LGBT persons should be treated as full equals, without any discrimination in society — and on the related question of whether religious institutions should be allowed to continue discriminating due to their doctrinal beliefs. It turns out that you are either for full and unequivocal social and legal equality for LGBT people, or you are against it, and your answer will at some point be revealed. This is true both for individuals and for institutions.”

“Discrimination” is a hot-button word.  It has two distinct meanings.   One, “the unjust or prejudicial treatment of different categories of people or things, especially on the grounds of race, age, or sex.”  Two, recognition and understanding of the difference between one thing and another.”  In popular parlance, definition one is most common, and is morally wrong.  Number two is morally neutral.  It simply is the recognition that my head is bald and yours has hair.  I don’t know how Gushee uses it here (I suspect “one”.)

We should read his words again with both meanings in mind:  ” . . . the related question of whether religious institutions should be allowed to continue discriminating due to their doctrinal beliefs.”  See where this is headed?  Holding to the Christian doctrinal belief that marriage is set apart for one man/one woman, for example, is discriminatory and violates the equal protection law of the 14th Amendment.

Mohler (as do I) agrees with Gushee that there is no middle ground on these sexual revolution issues. “It turns out that you are either for full and unequivocal social and legal equality for LGBT people, or you are against it, and your answer will at some point be revealed.  This is true both for individuals and for institutions.”

My argument . . . is that the normalization of LGBT behaviors and relationships and revisions of human identity is incompatible with a commitment to biblical authority and the historic faith of the Christian church defined by Holy Scripture.

Christians can be confused over this issue.  Shouldn’t LGBT people be given the same rights as others?  If they want to practice same-sex, marry same-sex, change their sex, why should we care?  Space is too limited to discuss all the reasons.  But the first is:  God opposes it.  We must not thoughtlessly, in the name of 21st century cultural “fairness”, condone what God condemns.  At the same time, Jesus commands us to love everybody—one another, neighbor, enemy.  And it’s not loving to approve a practice that separates the practitioner from him!  This is no time for Christian conservatives (as Gushee calls for) ““to reconsider their position voluntarily.”

David Gushee . . .  really means to warn Christians who believe as I do that we are about to be the victims of a volcanic eruption. Hot lava is headed our way . . .I think he would also prefer that we join the revolution rather than be consumed in the lava flow.

Some professed Christians have joined the revolution.  These, I presume, are Christians who preach salvation without repentance, Christians for whom the Bible requires revision for the 21st century, Christians who’ve abandoned the church’s 2000-year-old stand on sexual morality.

My aim in writing here is not to suggest steps we can take to counter the revolution and stand true to God’s Word.  Indeed, “steps” may be different according to our circumstances. My aim is simply to awaken us to the revolution’s reality—with the prayer that God will give us wisdom and courage to speak and hold to the truth in the humble love of Jesus Christ our Lord.

In other words, I’m writing to shout to us all:

WAKE UP TO THE REVOLUTION, RIP!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A Nation of Laws?

O PreacherMaybe FBI Director James Comey got it right.  Hard to think so after reading David French’s piece below.  I post it to warn of America’s “slippery slope.”  The more we skirt or outright ignore laws or treat different people differently before the law, the greater the danger of losing our freedoms.  That includes religious freedoms.
Hillary’s Banana Republic

 

By David French — July 5, 2016
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Americans Not Seeking Church’s Answers

O PreacherAn odd situation.  After 44 years of church pastoring, I find myself church-less.  Mostly it’s disability that keeps me home.  Gives me an  outsider’s perspective.  I understand, for example, a person who thinks the church offers nothing special for him will likely not take the trouble of getting up and going.

Don’t misunderstand. I still believe everything the Bible teaches about the church.  I still care about the church’s mission in the world.  At the same time, I think I recognize  better the unchurched person’s view.

That gave the following article (from “Religion News Service”) greater impact.  While I’m generally suspicious of polls, there’s no explaining away the bleakness of this report . . .

God? Meaning of life?
Many Americans don’t seek them in church

By Cathy Lynn Grossman

Shavon Gardner, 17, prays as she sings with the Redeemed Christian Church of God youth choir at Redemption Camp in Floyd, Texas, on June 17, 2009. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi *Editors: This photo may only be republished with RNS-UNCHURCHED-SURVEY, originally transmitted on June 28, 2016.

Shavon Gardner, 17, prays as she sings with the Redeemed Christian Church of God youth choir at Redemption Camp in Floyd, Texas, on June 17, 2009. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi

(RNS) The “seekers” have left the church — if they ever came.
LifeWay Research has taken a close look at what might draw them in, zeroing in on people who say they have not attended a religious service in the past six months except for special events or holidays.
Worship? Not particularly interested, 2 in 3 people told the evangelical research firm in a survey released Tuesday (June 28).
Talk about God? Not so much, said 3 in 4 of the 2,000 “unchurched” people in the survey –including 57 percent who identified as Christians.
“Are a lot of Americans on a conscious journey to learn who Jesus Christ is? I don’t think so,” said Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay, which is based in Nashville, Tenn.
The survey was conducted May 23-June 1. The margin of error is plus or minus 2.7 percentage points.
The findings suggest most folks could be lured to church through events where faith is not explicit: community causes, entertainment and sports.
Even that old “seeker” standby — the search for meaning — doesn’t cut it for many who a decade ago might have read Rick Warren’s mega-selling handbook, “The Purpose Driven Life.”
Although 57 percent of those surveyed said finding “their deeper purpose” is “a major priority,” 31 percent disagreed at least somewhat and 12 percent were unsure.
That finding can be read two ways. Either folks are feeling secure in their salvation, even without church, or “most unchurched people don’t particularly care,” said McConnell in an interview.
Fully 70 percent of people who do not attend religious services agreed that “there is an ultimate purpose and plan for every person’s life.”
But whose plan is the unanswered question.
LifeWay deliberately didn’t mention God in asking about “plan” and “purpose,” McConnell explained, because it wanted to assess whether people had “a framework of wanting to make better, or the best, choices for life.”
If they already view life in terms of plans and goals, it’s easier to talk about the Christian faith. Evangelizing is like marketing a product — you need a value that matters to the customer, McConnell said.
The survey suggested that while evangelical churchgoers say heaven is the main benefit of their Christian faith, “that value proposition is not a product the unchurched are looking to buy,” McConnell said.
The survey found that 43 percent said they never wonder if they’ll go to heaven when they die and 20 percent can’t recall the last time they thought about it.
According to a new online survey of 2,000 unchurched Americans, LifeWay Research found few wonder, at least on a regular basis, if they’ll go to heaven when they die. Photo courtesy of LifeWay Research
The results were not entirely bleak, however: Nearly 62 percent would come for a meeting at church on neighborhood safety.
Offering a venue to “express compassion” can be a top draw for churches, Rick Richardson, professor of evangelism and leadership at Wheaton College, said in a press release. He is a research fellow for the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism, which sponsored the survey.
Other ways people could be inspired to visit were for events such as concerts (51 percent), sports or exercise programs (46 percent) or a neighborhood get-together (45 percent.)
Most (51 percent) said a personal invitation from a friend or family member could draw them to church. And many are willing to at least listen to the benefits of being a Christian. Only 11 percent said they’d change the subject if religion came up in conversation.
But only about 1 in 5 would accept if that invitation came from a church member knocking at their door, a TV commercial, postcard or Facebook ad.
McConnell said bringing people into church is “a different kind of conversation. It’s like cajoling them to take a blind date with someone you want to spend your life and your eternity with. We need to say take it one day at a time: ‘Let’s introduce you to Jesus and see what you think.’”

Cathy Lynn Grossman specializes in stories drawn from research and statistics on religion, spirituality and ethics. She also writes frequently on biomedical ethics and end-of-life-issues.

* * *

Two thoughts from this dreary report come to mind.

One, this is a spiritual battle, not a creative-techniques one.  Of course, we need tactics.  And we probably have to think “outside the box.”  But giving out free Cokes at red lights won’t bring anyone to repentance and faith in Christ.  Nor will a coffee bar in the church lobby.

Two, we have to pray.  When the apostle Paul reached the end of his spiritual warfare instructions, he urged the church,Do all this in prayer, asking for God’s help. Pray on every occasion, as the Spirit leads. For this reason keep alert and never give up; pray always for all God’s people.  And pray also for me, that God will give me a message when I am ready to speak, so that I may speak boldly and make known the gospel’s secret.  For the sake of this gospel I am an ambassador, though now I am in prison. Pray that I may be bold in speaking about the gospel as I should” (Ephesians 6:18-20, TEV).

 What might God the Holy Spirit do in Jesus’ name,
if we faithfully, persistently set aside time in Sunday Worship
for the church to pray for the community’s unchurched?
Will we find out?

 

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Christian Assault in Sexuality’s Name

O PreacherYears ago I received emails from a couple who had been members of the church I pastored.  They had moved to the mountains of North Carolina for a Last-Days’ defense against anti-Christ forces.

I’m not sympathetic to their cause and don’t wish to be numbered among them.  But I have written occasionally about the growing anti-Christian bias in America.  I have done it, because, if unaware, we’ll be like the frog in the pot, the heat gradually increasing until we’re boiled.  Furthermore, how shall we know how to pray, if we’re unaware of the “enemy territory” we occupy?  And how shall we know how serious we must take following Jesus, if we don’t know we’re “swimming upstream”?

I contend that these are days we must be seriously committed to our Lord, not just in the four-wall-sanctuary of our churches and homes, but in the marketplace of ideas and in conversation and in all of everyday life.

The following article, from “National Review Digital”,  speaks for itself,

 

The Assault on Christians

By Donald Critchlow — July 11, 2016, Issue

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Leftist Religion: No Peace

P.AllanI’m astounded that the current administration in Washington seems to believe that getting America’s enemies to the diplomatic table will bring peace.  Just to be clear, I’m not making a political statement.  I’m not pro-war.  And I have no workable solution to bring world peace through human channels.

But this naiveté  of inherent human goodness totally ignores the reality of sin . . .

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God'”
( Romans 3:23).

Sin not only separates us from our Creator and his glory, it depraves human nature, including our mind.  Writing of Gentile sinners, Paul urges the church . . .

” . . . you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do in the futility of their minds.
They are darkened in their understanding,
alienated from the life of God,
because of
the ignorance that is in them
due to the hardness of their heart.”
(Ephesians 4:17,18).

That’s God’s word.  It means we cannot simply trust “the goodwill of man” when we sit at the bargaining table.  I don’t deny the need for diplomacy.  Sure, try to reason with people driven by hostile ideologies.  But we can’t assume that a signature on the bottom line certifies the agreement.

And that brings me to the importance of worldview.  In the latest edition of “National Review” online, Ben Shapiro writes . . .

Obama believes, as doctrinaire leftists do, that human beings do not derive meaning from ancient religious superstitions and deep-seated ideas about how the universe ought to operate. Given relief from material want and prevention of emotional distress, Obama believes, all human beings would get along just fine — and would then be free to cultivate themselves as they see fit.
Karl Marx wrote that “life involves before everything else eating and drinking, a habitation, clothing, and many other things.” In this view, unhappiness derives from scarcity in these resources or from social relationships created to guarantee these primary needs for some at the expense of others. Religion, meanwhile, exists only to misdirect such unhappiness toward the cosmic rather than toward one’s fellow man. Hence Marx’s belief that abolition of religion is “the demand for their real happiness.”

(Read more at: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/436632/obama-trump-radical-islam?utm_source=NR&utm_medium=satemail&utm_campaign=June17shapiro)

This is “leftist religion.”  The replacement of “ancient religious superstitions” with a religious-like ideology that what we all really need is our “primary needs” supplied.  If we would only help our fellow man attain those provisions we would have world happiness and peace.  (ISIS reveals that worldview’s paucity when they aim to take over the world by slaughter!)

Our “leftist religionists” stop short of Marx who claimed “Religion . . . exists only to misdirect such unhappiness toward the cosmic rather than toward one’s fellow man.”  In other words, energy devoted to getting right with God should be directed to getting right with one another.  Today’s “leftists” allow for God, just not as Savior and Lord through his Son.  Leave him, please, to just “bless” us.

“Leftist religion” will never deliver, nor will diplomacy based on it.  God won’t be content to be merely a “blesser.”  He will be honored as God!  Belief in the inherent goodness of man, if only his primary needs are met, is blind and ignorant faith stemming from hard-hearted-ness toward God the Father of Jesus.  The world cannot be saved by mutual goodwill and understanding, because the foundation (man) is fallen.

This is why our only hope lies not in a new U.S. president or deal-making Congress or more talented diplomats or even the military’s overpowering force.  These are necessities for today—until the Peacemaker returns to Planet Earth . . .

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away
have been brought near through the blood of Christ.
For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one
and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility,
by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations.
His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two,
thus making peace,
and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God
through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.

He came and preached peace to you who were far away
and peace to those who were near.
For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.
(Ephesians 2:13-18)

Now, until that day when Jesus comes to bring world peace,
drink in his Spirit of peace for your own soul
as you prayerfully listen to the video above. 

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