Just Because It’s In The Bible Doesn’t Make It Right

osamaToday, of course, is the 16th “anniversary” of that horrible September morning.

In watching the news earlier, I saw an interview with the Seal warrior who actually blew away Osama years later…

Prior to the interview the network showed a clip of Americans celebrating in the streets as they learned of Bin Laden’s death.

I recall that night also…and remember thinking of Ezekiel 33.11:

“Tell them, ‘As I live – this is the declaration of the Lord GOD – I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked person should turn from his way and live. Repent, repent of your evil ways!'”

I remember shaking my head and thinking, “I get it, but…”

Then later this morning read this:

Proverbs 11.10b, “…when the wicked die, there is joyful shouting.”

Is this a contradiction?

Of course not.

God desires that no man perish.

The Proverbs line is simply an observation of fact, not an “okay” to rejoice at death.

“But Osama was…”

A sinner.

Like you. Like me.

The worst sinner I know is Jack Hager.


Butterfield on the “Nashville Statement”

If you are unfamiliar with “The Nashville Statement” you may READ IT HERE.

You are probably familiar with Rosario Butterfield? If not, she tells a bit of her story in the article below explaining why she signed the Statement. It has what would seem to be obvious truth (but, sadly, is not in todays “evangelical” climate) and I believe makes some incredibly vital points. Read it:

“Great battles in theology faced by the church over the centuries have been caused by the introduction of unbiblical categories about the nature of people and the nature of God, and the imprecise language that emerges from this.  Are we justified by faith or are we justified by faith alone?  Does the Bible contain the word of God or is the Bible the word of God?  Should we refuse to bake cakes for gay weddings because marriage is a creation-mandated institution and not a social privilege that can be re-packaged as the world whims?  Or should we bake two cakes because sexual orientation as a category of personhood erases sexual sin without the blood of Christ?

The issue is not primarily homosexuality; it’s Scripture.

The issue is not primarily gay marriage; it’s whether “the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).

The issue is not whether people are good-intentioned and sincere in desiring things that God forbids.

The issue is whether we all bear the sin of Adam, inheriting an unchosen moral deformity, an energy of opposition to God, a rebellion that bequeaths to us a sin nature that we cannot erase on our own terms and by our own hands.

The issue is whether Jesus rose from the grave, is alive today, and whether His blood and love and resurrection makes any wit of difference in how you fight the original sin that distorts you, the actual sin that distracts you, and the indwelling sin that manipulates you.

The issue is whether you can trust the Bible to tell you who you are, who God is, and which way is up.

Twenty years ago, I lived as a lesbian.  I delighted in my lover, our home on one of the Finger Lakes, our Golden Retrievers, and our careers.  When Christ claimed me for His own, I did not stop feeling like a lesbian.  I did not fall out of love with women.  I was not converted out of homosexuality.  I was converted out of unbelief.

Conversion to Christ did not initially change my sexual attraction for women.  What conversion did change immediately was my heart and mind.  My mind was on fire for the Bible and I could not read enough of it or enough about it.  The gospel gave me a light that was ruinous.  It ruined me for the life I had loved.  The Lord’s light illumined my sin through the law and illumined my hope through Jesus and the gospel.  The gospel destroyed me before the Lord built me back up.  In saying “yes” to Jesus and “no” to the desires of my flesh, I learned that the only way to peace with my God was through the Cross—the one that Jesus died on and the one that I was called, with the help of Jesus, to carry.

In this crucible I wondered how this could be so.  How could that which I loved be sin?  How could I hate my sin without hating myself?  How could I both hate my sin and feel drawn into it simultaneously?

I learned that sin does not lose its character as sin because I loved it.  I learned that my homosexuality was a logical consequence of the fall of man, the thumbprint of original sin on some of us.  It is true that some of us are born this way.  It is also true that we are all  born in sin, in one way or another.  We can hate our sin without hating ourselves because we who have committed our lives to Christ stand in his righteousness and not our own.  Our real identity is not in the sin we battle but in the savior we embrace.

Christ’s salvation is definitive and decisive.  Christ rescues his people, growing us in union with Christ, establishing us in God’s family, the church, and setting us apart to bear the image of God in knowledge (of God’s word), holiness (in God’s justification of his people), and righteousness (through sanctification, also called growth in Christ).

We gain more than we lose when we pick up our cross and follow Jesus.  But pick up our cross we must.  And for many of us, our cross demands forsaking the sexual sin that calls us by name.

We live now in a world that has no use for the God of the Bible, for Jesus, the savior of His people and of the world.  The terms are shifting quickly.  Calling people like me to forsake sexual sin is no longer considered a first step toward walking with Jesus in liberty and in new life.  Today, some influential people who claim to know Christ no longer believe that God hates sin.  Sin is in the eyes of the beholder, they say.

Just a few years ago, these people blamed sin on the devil, saying “the devil made me do it.”    Now these same people—some of them leaders in the church—blame sin on the Holy Spirit, declaring that He is blessing what the Bible condemns.  In a few short years, blame shifting has morphed into  blasphemy.  And this blasphemy is coming from people who claim to have Christ’s salvation and from the pulpits and blogs that they wield.

When blasphemy comes from the church, the Bible gives us ways to understand how prophets become lions and wolves.   First Peter 5:8 issues the warning for today’s church climate:  “Be sober-minded.  Be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”  Matthew 7:15 shows us what to do:  “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.  You will recognize them by their fruits.”  Christian fruit grows you in holiness, like Christ.  Christian fruit grows you in grace—which is bought by the blood of Christ, the ransom price for my sin and yours.  Grace leads you to love and desire the moral law of God, and not to despise it.  Christian fruit has no measure but the word of God.

I signed the Nashville Statement because I stand with Biblical orthodoxy, which is inseparable from God’s creation mandate and definition of gendered personhood found in Genesis 1:27:  “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him, male and female, he created them”.  The soul is God’s fingerprint on humanity, but the gendered body—essentially and ontologically male or female—will also, for the believer in Jesus Christ,  be glorified and resurrected in the New Jerusalem.

I signed the Nashville Statement because my conscience compels me so, because the promises of liberty on the world’s terms are false and deceptive, and because many who currently claim to have Christ’s forgiveness and salvation must be called to account for leading good people astray with false promises and filthy lies.

I signed the Nashville Statement because the wolves are prowling, and the lions are roaring, and because they are bold and proud of their heresy, and because you must be warned.

By God through the merit and power of Jesus Christ, here I stand.”


Teach/Preach/Lead Worship? Read This:

Just started rereading Knowing God by J. I. Packer; one of the very few books I read again.

And again struck by a quote from C. S. Lewis that Packer included in his original preface (1972).

It is a sober and sobering reminder:

“Those like myself, whose imagination far exceeds their obedience are subject to a just penalty; we easily imagine conditions far higher than any we have really reached. If we describe what we have imagined we may make others, and make ourselves, believe that we have really been there.” (The Four Loves

One Day At A Time

The most important line in this song is, “It started with a couple of beers…”

No one decides to become an alcoholic.

It happens.

Why can some drink, even heavily, and not become addicted?

Beats me.

All I know is my first drink (that was my choice) was at age 11 or 12. A few years later I was hooked.

I hate alcohol as only an alcoholic (or someone who has lost a loved one to a drunk driver) can.

I don’t know if Joe Walsh’s Higher Power is Jesus. I hope and pray so.

But the song shares truth, and truth is truth regardless of who says (or sings) it.

I urge you to listen to all the words, even if the style isn’t your cup of tea.

Truth is NOT Relative

Two years ago I read the August 31 issue of “Time” and came across an interview with Beverly Johnson.

I had no idea who she is; after skimming the article I guess she was/is a famous model.
Not much of interest, but her answer to the last question reminded me of the importance of “little” words.
She was asked, “When do you feel the most beautiful?
Her response?
“I feel the most beautiful when I’m really speaking my truth in my soul…”
Catch it?
my truth”
It reminded me of the former governor of New Jersey who in August of 2004 resigned after the married man realized one of his male lovers was going public.
In his resignation speech he said, “At a point in every person’s life, one has to look deeply into the mirror or one’s soul and decide one’s unique truth in the world, not as we may want to see it or hope to see it, but as it is. And so my truth is that I am a gay American…”
“Thy Word is truth.” “I am the truth.”
We who follow Christ and His Word need not be ashamed of truth.
Therein is the danger in saying things like, “What this verse says to me…”
It is not relative. It is truth. It says one primary thing (yes, there may be application etc, but it is not flexible like jello).
Stand on it.
Rest in it.
Share it.

CHURCH? Who Needs It? (You do, and there is a local Body of believers that need you!

Janice-without-WordsMy great friend Janice Lundquist (Jane and I served with her at what was then Golden Plains Teens For Christ – now “TFC Connection in Phillipsburg, KS – for a couple years and still work together every other year or so at camp) wrote a great, sort-of-gentle-kick-in-the-rear article for her ministry alumni letter a couple years ago that many 20/30 somethings (and other ages too, I suppose) need to hear and heed…Here it is:

From my first week in college and every week there-after until my dad passed away, he would ask me every Sunday afternoon…”Did you go to church today?” Honest … for almost 30 years, I never outgrew that question of accountability. I often laughed when he asked, and sometimes, I’d listen to him sputter as I’d teasingly say “no” just for the fun of it! But the truth was, I knew I was going to have to answer that question – and I knew what I needed to do each week so I could give the answer he longed to hear! You see my dad loved the Church. He loved the church because Christ loves the church, and he wanted me doing the things that Jesus loved! I thankfully grew up knowing (and believing) it was “the Lord’s day” and not my day – and that community worship with the body of Christ, really left no other option!

So what does this bit of my personal life trivia have to do with you? Well, I want to ask you…”Did you go to church this week?” Oh – I know the church is broken, hypocrites go there, and maybe you get nothing out of it! But hmmm… we are talking about the bride of Christ here, maybe we should rethink that! Maybe the church is broken – because we aren’t there doing anything to help it. Maybe it’s missing a hypocrite or two (eeek!) Maybe – just maybe we go thinking, I’m going to “get ” something from worship – not “give” my worship! If you’re missing church – and not involved in Bible-believing, preaching & worship, I can almost hear Ken say, with the same kind of sadness I feel, “We didn’t train them this way … where are our disciple makers in the church?”

So BOOM .. there you go! That’s what I’m thinking! And it’s because we love Jesus and we love the church. And we love you and want you loving the things that Jesus loves! So here’s the challenge… BE IN CHURCH NEXT SUNDAY! You need the church – and the church needs you. And by the way – if you have children – and you aren’t taking them to church…well shame on you – that’s all I have to say about that! Those kiddos need to be around more than just your spiritual impact! Fall is a great time to “start again” – so if you are flaky going to church – or you just need a restart – do it! If you’re a college student – make this a part of your life now. And we know many of you never had a “home church” in your past… now is a great time to find one! Your life and your faith will be different if you are there!

So please don’t think I’m bugging into your business and please don’t unsubscribe from this email list (because I will know who you are!) 🙂. It’s really just a heart thing, only spoken in love to you who might need a kick in the pants! 🙂 We’ll love you no matter what – you know that! So go ahead, ask Jesus to give you that heart that longs to love the things He loves … starting with His Bride – the church! (And if you’re a parent of a college student — go ahead ask those kiddos if they went to church EVERY Sunday…they will never forget it!)