“Jesus, Strong and Kind”

Most things have pluses and minuses.

Things like the internet and social media.

One of the big pluses is that I can learn how to pray specifically for friends, though I’ve not seen those friends for many, many years.

The past several weeks have been colored by friends passing away, going through cancer, and other tough, tough situations.

Just after I learned of the homegoing of another friend, I “stumbled” across this song…God used it to minister strength, grace, and encouragement to me; and I’d be remiss not to pass it on.

Slow Faders…

As I prayed this morning many faces popped into my brain.

Faces of teens and adults with whom I used to minister.

On fire for God. Sharing the Gospel regularly. In some cases going on mission trips. Serving on a staff with which I served also. Seemingly happily married.

Too many faces.

Because they are all walking, at best, inconsistently with the Lord.

Some have walked away from everything spiritual.

Some are on the fringes (at best) of orthodox faith.

Many deny what they used to affirm.

And I’m willing to bet that in every case the “fade” began when they wandered, eased, from reading the Word regularly.

Sure, they might have been influenced by professors (to include at some Christian schools). Sin may have enticed and captured.

But “the blood of Jesus makes us safe; the Word of God makes us sure.”

And to “wander” from the Word is to embark on a journey with a bad end…

Redeemable? Yes.

Easy? No.

When I pray for those of deny; when I pray for those who expose non-biblical stuff; I ask the Lord to do “whatever it takes” to bring them back (or for the first time)  to Christ and the gospel.

And this old Casting Crowns song always goes thru my mind…it is extremely rare for one to “jump” from active faith to no or cancered faith…it is usually a slow walk…away.

“Jack, Get Off Your Hobby Horse” NO!

Yesterday, under a “headline” that read:

NOTICE TO ALL FACEBOOK “FRIENDS” WHO ARE OKAY WITH THE PRACTICE OF HOMOSEXUALITY

I wrote:

Whether you profess to be a follower of Christ or not; be aware that I do not hate homosexuals, transgender et al; nor do I hate rapists or those who kick dogs. BUT I will not be silent or restrained regarding posting about the sin of homosexual BEHAVIOR (as opposed to temptation – which is never sin). You are free to unfollow; delete; or comment in a way that is polite, non-patronizing, etc. The issue is not going away…and this is MY wall and I will use it as I see fit. You may disagree, you may shake your head, but you will be polite or you will be deleted. This includes not only comments to me but also comments to others who comment. Thank you for your expected cooperation.

Today, from a respected friend who used to direct a Bible quiz ministry, I received this question:

Jack, why is this so important to you? Of all the sin and injustices in the world, why is this the one thing you keep calling attention to?

I recognize that not all facebook or blog posts appear in everyone’s feed; nor does everyone read everything written by an individual.

But I’ve answered that question many times; so I’m going to do so now in a lengthy post so I can keep it easily accessible and thus I can post it whenever anyone asks.

  • First, for over ten years I’ve been saying the primary questions professing Christians need to ask are: (1) Is the Bible the Word of God? Not “Does the Bible contain the Word of God, but is the Bible the Word of God?  (2) Is there a place called hell where nonChristians spend eternity? (3) Is homosexual behavior sin?
  • It is obvious (to me) that if you say “yes” to the first question; the other two questions are not really necessary.
  • But the reality is that many who say they are Christians proclaim universalism and/or annihilationism; and many say the homosexual behavior is okay. (and, yes, usually…not always…but usually the two go hand-in-hand; in other words if one denies (2) or (3) they usually deny both.
  • So, without making a defense or apologetic here, let me be clear: (1) I believe the last verse in Matthew 25 is true; (2) all the passages that refer to homosexuality as sin are true.
  • As my friend writes, of course there are many other “sin(s) and injustices in the world” that are, by the way, often addressed by me. So why dwell on this issue?
  • Is homosexual behavior “worse” than gluttony, gossip, pride etc. Yes. Because all sexual sin is viewed as sin against the body that the Lord has redeemed (1 Corinthians 6). Which is why if you hear me preach/teach/answer questions on the issue you will hear me say, “Yes, homosexual behavior is sin, just as is premarital sex, extramarital sex, sex with a dog.”
  • But no one, to my knowledge, is being sued for being an adulterer; no one is being sued for sleeping around as a single person.
  • But people…to include ministers…are being sued and otherwise attacked for refusing to cave in to cultural “norms” by holding on to Biblical convictions.
  • A simple current example: In the Missouri prison system (as in all that I know), inmates can marry. Lots of paperwork, lots of hoops, but it can be done. At this point, if Steve wants to marry Tom, the state will allow that, but the state will not force the institutional chaplain to officiate. That chaplain can recruit a chaplain from another prison who feels free to officiate such a wedding. But for how long will this continue? When will Missouri mandate that an institutional chaplain must officiate a “gay” wedding? When will the prison system mandate that chaplains (full time or volunteer) may not refer to homosexual activity as sin? And what will we who hold to such convictions do at that time? That’s for another post.
  • We’ve not had it happen (yet), bu what happens when, at the camp Midland runs, biological male Steve shows up but demands to be called Stevie and be placed into a girls cabin? Obviously (I hope) we will not do that…what happens if he/she/it sues?

So I will keep pointing out that homosexual activity (as opposed to temptation) is sin. I will take the flack as I’m called too focused, homophobic, etc.

And I will be clear…though not all will hear…that I don’t “hate” homosexuals.

By the way, in my bc days I did far too many horrible things; but I never engaged, nor wanted to engage, in homosexual activity, to include the four years I was locked up.

I’m often asked why so many professing Christians are okay with homosexuality?

My opinion? Years ago it was pretty easy to declare that homosexuality was sin because no one knew (or knew that they knew) any homosexuals.

Now virtually everyone has a relative or close friend who is out of the closet.

Thus it is no longer academic.

And thus those whose “conviction” was not, in fact a conviction,” rather than lose a friend, be called judgmental, or have to consider that their gay friend may be enroute to hell (if they still believe in that quaint concept); they are okay…or silent…about the sin.

Another Hager theory, borne out by observation…certainly not in all cases, but in many of which I am aware…professing Christians who are or have engaged in extramarital or premarital sex – or struggle with pornography…are okay with homosexuality…consciously or unconsciously because “hey, if gay is cool; then my sin isn’t really sin!”

And, by the way, this is not academic to me. I have several friends, to include former coworkers in ministry, who are out of the closet. I have a daughter who is currently living a gay lifestyle (Note…I did not type I have a “gay” daughter…there is a difference).

Nothing will change my love for her. But, God enabling, nothing will cause me to waffle on the Word of God for the sake of family peace.

To be clear…I, personally, am grieved by the horrendous amount of money that was expended in the “fight” against gay marriage. Why should I care what the state does? The USofA is not now nor ever has been a “Christian nation.” How many missionaries were underserved, how many went hungry, how many other causes suffered because too many Christians were trying to fight spiritual warfare with mans weapons?

I don’t like it, but I understand homosexuals have rights.

And as long as their rights do not trample mine, all is cool.

But I will never officiate a gay wedding. I will never serve with a ministry or church that is okay with homosexuality.

There are not many mountains upon which I will die. This is one.

So rant, unfollow, shake your head, hate…whatever. It’s cool.

And, just in case I’ve missed offending anyone, I’ll close with this…everytime I hear of another well known speaker, denomination, friend caving into this issue, this is the first thing that pops into my aging brain:

 

War is Declared

The following comment is part of a very long thread discussing a controversial issue.joint-special-forces-team-1800

The issue is not important to this post.

Some professing Christians were “for” the issue; others “against.”

Some were tame, clear, and kind; others were rude, even crude, and harsh.

But (so far) one comment blared off the page as I read.

Here it is, and the writer is referring to Christians (though he may not have a clue what a Christian truly is):

“You are religious fundamentalists no different at the core than any religious extremists that cause death and should, in kind, be quarantined, or removed from society. “

The person who wrote that is male, white, and about 25 years old.

If you stand on the Word and agree that some actions are sinful (regardless of what society/culture says) he wants to lock you up…or be “removed from society.”

If you think he is a lone wolf and there are not others who think exactly like him; it may be a good idea to remove your head from the sand.

It is war.

Are you suited up (Eph 6)?

Power Limit?

On a hike from Victory Valley (Zionsville, Pa – site of my annual “Korean Kamp”) I saw an old church with a cross on its apex…with a lightning rod adjacent.

crossCommon sense. Wise move. No criticism at all.

But it made me think –

Do I want all the “power of the cross?”

Or do I want just enough to get me by…

But not the full amount the Lord has to give?

My goal is, above all, to finish well.

Psalm 69.6 is a regular prayer:

“Let not those who hope in You be put to shame through me, O Lord God of hosts;

let not those who seek You be brought to dishonor through me, O God of Israel.”

Thus I want all God has for me. I want His power to enhance my pursuit of holiness; to make me a better husband, dad, and man. I want His power to saturate every aspect of the ministry to which He has called me.

I don’t want to put out a limiting “lightning rod” by saying, “Yes, God, I’ll do what You want as long as (whatever – for instance “I don’t have to move,” “I don’t have to change careers,” “I don’t have to give up something…or someone…I cherish” etc.)

How about you?

 

Stupid is As Stupid Says

imagesI’m starting a new category for my blog – “Stupid Statements.

I will not post every stupid statement I read. I’ve got a life, a family, a ministry.

But I will post and tag some.

Here are my first two stupid statements. I don’t care your political affiliation. If you don’t recognize that these are stupid statements…well…

#1 Joe Biden (at Iowa State Fair)  “We choose unity over division. We choose science over fiction. We choose truth over facts.”

#2 Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (on “60 Minutes” after some of her statements were proven to be false) “There’s a lot of people more concerned about being precisely, factually, and semantically correct than about being morally right.”

I’m not going to comment (you may feel free to). I’m not going to highlight or bolden the stupid parts.

I’ll just be here shaking my head wondering how anyone with a smidgen of sense can be okay with statements as asinine as these.