Remember the game tag? One kid was the proverbial “it,” and all the other kids ran from him in order not to be tagged and become “it.” A fun and simple game played in simpler times and in big green yards. I’m not even sure if children are allowed to play tag anymore in public schools because of its political incorrectness, but many adults play a tagging game in today’s society and they play with a vengeance.
Politicians, lobbyists, special interest groups, and the media often use tagging as a tactic to advance social agendas and political ideologies. This calculated approach is intellectually dishonest and destructive to our society. The method of tagging has been used successfully for years now primarily against Bible believing Christians and other groups who lean toward traditional values and conservatism. It works by simply attaching a “tag” to a group or issue in order to negatively label someone that doesn’t share the same worldview. The tags most often used today are prefixes and suffixes such as “anti” or “phobia” with the hopes of demonizing a particular group of people for the purpose of squelching debate. Part of the tagging strategy seeks to elicit an emotional response by appealing to the feelings of an individual and not the intellect.
I look back at the late 70s and early 80s with great interest in the use of these tags to turn a moral debate into a political one. The hot button issue was abortion with the passing of Roe v. Wade in 1973, and what took place in the public square was often manipulative in a psychological sense. Rhetorically, the term “antiabortion” while technically correct in describing one’s position in opposition to abortion also lacks clarity based on other societal attachments to the term. Attachments of being “antiabortion” automatically presupposed a definition of someone being anti-woman and anti-choice which is intellectually dishonest – this broad definition still lingers 30 years later. Leftist leaning politicians and groups continue to promote this form of dishonesty with their fallacious arguments on the “war against women” as seen in the last presidential election. In the 80s Christian and conservative leaders quickly attempted to turn the tide by using the term “pro-life” to combat the negative connotations of antiabortion and anti-choice.
As a young man during that time I remember hearing the pro-abortion language and thinking how persuasive it was because of its pro-individual appeal. Once the situational and statistical aberrations are removed from the conversation the argument for being pro-abortion or pro-choice I believe is an ethically challenged and selfish decision.
I use the abortion issue as an example to address something similar happening in our culture presently. Just a few weeks ago you may remember Phil Robertson of A&E’s Duck Dynasty was tagged as being anti-gay and homophobic because his comments given during an interview with GQ magazine. This tagging was led by the LGBT community, many Democrats, Hollywood elites, and the mainstream media. Note what Mr. Robertson actually said:
“Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men,” he says. … “Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers—they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right. … We never, ever judge someone on who’s going to heaven, hell. That’s the Almighty’s job. We just love ’em, give ’em the good news about Jesus—whether they’re homosexuals, drunks, terrorists. We let God sort ’em out later, you see what I’m saying?”
Now note what the Apostle Paul says from 1 Corinthians:
1 Corinthians 6:9-11 (ESV) Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
Robertson’s paraphrase of 1 Corinthians appears to be right on target and in agreement with the Apostle Paul’s statement to the Church. Verses 9 and 10 obviously address all forms of sexual immorality as a sin and in particular homosexuality. In verse 11 the Apostle specifies that at least a significant number in the Church at Corinth were once practicing these particular sins, but now have changed their behaviors and are not to return to their former lifestyle. The Apostle Paul also makes a similar argument against these forms of sin in Romans 1:18 – 32 and identifies them as forms of idolatry, (which is a whole other discussion).
Phil Robertson, and Christians as a whole aren’t anti-gay or homophobic. If we’re anything we are pro-God, pro-Bible, pro-life, and pro-love. Some might debate the pro-love aspect, but from a Christian view not sharing the truth of the Gospel is unloving and a form of disobedience. To experience the truth and love of Christ and not to share it with the rest of humanity is sinful. Robertson had a duty as Follow of Christ to speak out given the platform he was given, and he did so even if some consider his speech to be somewhat crude.
As a side note, my wife I believe made a great point on Phil Robertson’s supposed crudeness. Many of those who were most outraged by his rough and colorful language seemingly never speak out about the foul language used regularly on television. Somehow it’s inappropriate to speak about sexuality in a magazine article but it’s not inappropriate to take God’s name in vain repeatedly as a form of entertainment – a bit hypocritical don’t you think?
The real problem “anti-taggers” have isn’t with people like Phil Robertson but with God and His Word. This is not to say I agree in totality with Phil Robertson on some of his doctrines, but I do agree with his view on the total depravity of man and his need for a Savior – the Savior Christ Jesus.
As a Christian it isn’t my desire to impose my lifestyle or beliefs upon another, nor is it my desire to have nonbelievers impose their lifestyles and beliefs upon me or the Church. It’s also not my desire to shut down debate but to encourage an open and honest dialogue with individuals from all walks of life. If we preach tolerance the let us practice it also. Tolerance is the ability to accept another human being without having to approve of their lifestyle and choices. We may not always agree, but we should always be able to discuss our differing views no matter how loud the conversation becomes.
In the brief video below Paul Washer brings some interesting thoughts to the table. I certainly believe, based upon what I've seen in the Church during the last 25 years, that many children and individuals have been given a false sense of security simply because they "prayed a prayer" at VBS or in Sunday School. Watch the video and then please share your thoughts.
Submitted by Angela Tomlinson
It all started with our official decision and commitment to debunk the Santa myth and omit the Santa Claus ruse from our Christmas celebration. My husband and I had the talk about Santa with our daughter Daisy today: "Santa is not real, he's a made up character, we don't believe in Santa, we believe in Jesus. He is a real person and we celebrate His birth. All things come from God, our presents come from Him because all that we have comes from Him, our presents from Him represent the free gift of eternal life God gave us through His son Jesus. We give gifts to represent the grace Jesus gave us when He paid the debt for our sins, etc."
So I think we have effectively dealt with the secularism that is encroaching on and taking over this sacred holiday, only to find another trend spreading like wildfire and troubling us more and more each day. Recently this "Elf on the shelf" joker began popping up all over the place. Facebook is ablaze with strategies of how to incorporate this doll into the lives of children each day leading up to Christmas. He even has his own book and get this, he watches all the children's behavior and is apparently in cahoots with Santa, employed to rat out the bad children and report the good works of the obedient children – the result of which is to be only coal and no presents to the “sinners” and all the presents they can handle to reward the works of the “little angels.” This behavior management technique goes back and forth in a dramatic song and dance until it reaches the pinnacle of this whole production: when both good and bad children alike end up getting the coveted presents they wanted in the first place.
There are so many parts of this practice (like that of Santa Claus) we take issue with and they’re too numerous to count: suggesting this fictional character possesses omnipresent qualities like that of God, the support of works over faith, putting faith and dependence in an entity other than God, to what and who's standards of behavior the children are being held, rewarding sinful behavior and God-like qualities equally, no consequences for sinful behavior, suggesting that any kind of control is possessed by anyone other than God, and so on and so forth. It’s nothing but idol worship manufactured and dressed-up in a cute festive red and white package.
Now I can't begin to tell you how appalled and distraught we became upon analysis of this jumbled concoction of distorted doctrine and the blatant disregard for the holy nature and sanctity of the miraculous historical events we celebrate during this time of year. It also saddens me to think about how hard these seemingly well-meaning parents are working to create a positive influence in their children's lives only to ultimately prevaricate in order to display a muddled and convoluted portrait of the “goodness” of mankind. What a hoax!
Don't they see that putting these seemingly harmless false idols before their children and playing along with this lie will cause their children to one day question the validity of our Savior Christ Jesus? I can just picture it now. Sooner or later their children will begin to question the reality of Santa, the Easter bunny, tooth fairy, etc. One by one, the parents then have to confess to the lie they have perpetuated for each character.
The biggest problem arises when children begin to question parents about their belief in Jesus. Will the children actually believe their parents are being honest about this Deity that you cannot see when they've already been lied to numerous times about the others? How are children expected to have unwavering faith in God when their parents have already systematically built up and then destroyed their “faith” in all of these other icons. This compromises and discredits the Godly witness of the parent to their child, making them hypocrites whose words do not match their actions. More importantly it, in turn, compromises the witness of Christ to the world portraying Him as a hypocrite, spiritualizing Him, downplaying the significance of His miraculous birth and sacrificial death, and lumps Him in with the others as a “false” idol.
Why do adults feel the need to perpetuate this secular fallacy in order to spread the feeling of “Christmas cheer?” As if the life of Christ and the knowledge of His saving grace through faith isn't enough to evoke these feelings of joy and thanksgiving. They promote these worldly values as opposed to participating in activities that bring glory and honor to a perfect God; the kind of worship that cultivates and encourages a sense of awe and amazement as God's redemptive plan begins to unfold with the birth of the Messiah. But I digress.
Then I began thinking about Romans 8:28, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” I began to wonder if and how we can reverse-engineer this blasphemous distraction and use its basic premise to refocus family worship back on Jesus. Was there a way we could use it to create a new kind of tradition, teaching our children how to glorify Him in a way that supports sound Biblical doctrine, honoring and giving thanks to Him for His redemptive work on the cross and His grace that abounds while also providing a reminder of His omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence?
And then it hit me: Does the all powerful, sovereign God in heaven not know His beloved and see and hear everything we do and say? (Ps 139:13-16, Jer 12:3) Does He not call us to be set apart by living a life that honors Him (Gal 1:15-16, Gal 2:20, Ps 4:3, Rom 12:2). He has even given us the standards by which we should live (Ex 20:1-17) and by which we will be judged in His Word (Mat 12:36, John 5:28-29). He also offers the gifts of mercy, grace, forgiveness and everlasting life through His son Jesus to those who believe in Him (John 3:16; 3:36, Rom 6:23), and redemption by grace through faith (Eph 2:8). It occurred to me that even though this basic concept when wildly astray there just might be a way to refocus and re-purpose it so that all glory, honor, and praise are redirected to God.
So here is my idea: The Messiah in the Manger initiative. Instead of centering all activities on Santa or an elf just focus on Jesus – the Messiah in the manger (Luke 2:4-14)! Get back to the true meaning of Christmas and the reason we have cause to celebrate and rejoice! Put God FIRST during this holiday and all year long.
Let’s develop traditions that show children ways to honor and worship God in order to teach them about the nature and characteristics of Our creator's sovereignty (omniscience, omnipotence, and omnipresence), the gifts of forgiveness, mercy and salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. Look for ways to reinforce the standards God has set forth in His Word, and to live a lives that are set apart by a pure witness for Christ and of the Gospel through guarding the holy and sacred relevance of the impetus of God's redemptive plan.
Parents, make a commitment this Christmas season to keep your eyes fixed on God. Make sure your activities evoke the kind of worship that glorifies and honors God magnifying the purity of this sacred and holy celebration. Protect the wholesomeness and legacy of your witness of Christ for your children and guide/guard the developing witness of your child against the evil influences of the world, against anything that may detract from bringing God glory. Make a conscious choice to reject the worldly idols of secular celebrations and embrace the truth, and doctrines set forth by God in the Bible. If parents spent as much time fostering the acquisition of God's Word and application of Biblical truth as they do thinking up ways to position this “Elf on the shelf,” they would be weaving a truly rich and life-preserving heritage in deed.
The bottom line is: people inevitably will carry the traditions of their childhood memories into adulthood, and these are the customs and conventions they bestow upon their own children. Parents, consider the words of Paul in Romans 12:2 as you take time to consider the traditions you are supporting and the meaning behind them. I suspect as you contemplate the “reason for the season” by seeking out activities that truly glorify and worship God, you'll leave that “elf” ON the shelf and choose to magnify the Messiah in the manger!
Walking by faith,
Romans 12:2 (NASB) And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
Angela and her husband are good friends of mine and she originally shared her thoughts about the “Elf on the self” with me in an email. I too was concerned about the promotion of this new trend especially among Christians and considered writing a similar article – Angela just beat me to the punch. This article is her email to me and is shared with her permission.
Just a few years ago my family and I experienced one of the most traumatic things a family can face – the threat of imminent death. This week’s blog is based on a sermon I delivered shortly after first being told my wife had a glioblastoma brain tumor, and according to her doctors she was going to die within a matter of months.
There are several things I’m reasonably certain of in life.
I’m reasonably certain that …
There are also some things I am certain of beyond a shadow of a doubt.
I’m truly certain that …
These last four “certainties” were many of my thoughts during the first week following Teresa’s surgery and diagnosis. I spent hours thinking about our life together not just from a past perspective but also our present and future life together. My days were consumed with obtaining vast amounts of information concerning brain tumors, cancer, and of course prayer and the Word of God. Every day as I reflected upon the Scriptures and especially those connected to God’s promises, my hope grew that He would somehow intervene in our lives. I kept coming back to certain inescapable facts: “God is real, God is true, God is gracious and merciful, He loves me, He loves my wife, He does nothing without a purpose, and He has the final say in ALL THINGS.” As I reread the story of Lazarus from John 11 three things were driven home for me during those days.
First, God’s love never prevents us from experiencing the difficulties and pain of everyday life (John 11:3-7). We live in a cruel and unforgiving world because of the corruption or curse of sin (Romans 8:18-25). All of creation waits with immense hope of Christ’s return and the establishment of His Kingdom; freedom will truly ring on that day when the curse of bondage we’re now under is lifted.
In regards to Lazarus and his sisters there is no doubt in my mind Christ Jesus loved them all deeply. Note the statements in verses 33-36 of the same chapter and how the Lord was moved emotionally. His weeping reveals in one sense how love and suffering often go hand in hand. Another great example of this fact is evidenced in the very words of Christ found in John 3:16. Who would know better than God the pain and loss associated with love.
For many, even some Christians, the presence of pain, suffering, and death is somehow equated with the idea that God must be absent during these specific times of difficulty. To say that God doesn't care about the pain and suffering within humanity is blatantly untrue. As created being we often limit our focus to the physical world and connect our wellness or sickness with being loved or unloved. The truth is, by ignoring the spiritual the realm we also ignore the greatest element of healing offered by God which also conveys His great love (Romans 5:8). We need to remember also that a deficiency of healing never means one lacks enough faith to be healed (a false teaching of the prosperity movement). Note the words of Martha in John 11:20-22:
John 11:20-22 (ESV) So when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, but Mary remained seated in the house. 21 Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.”
It’s as if Martha is saying this would have never happened had You been here on time, but now it’s too late. Some would say this is not what she’s saying at all and point to verse twenty-two in order to make their case. These folks might have a point if it weren't for verses 23-27 and her actions at the tomb.
John 11:39-40 (NASB) Jesus *said, "Remove the stone." Martha, the sister of the deceased, *said to Him, "Lord, by this time there will be a stench, for he has been dead four days." 40 Jesus *said to her, "Did I not say to you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?"
Martha’s statement in John 11:22 most likely refers to her belief in some sort of general blessing God the Father bestows on and through His Son. She definitely believed in a future resurrection but not for her brother at this time in history. The bottom line is that Christ Jesus could have healed Lazarus from 1000 miles away if He chose to do so just by speaking the Word. Three days or four really isn't an issue for God. Just because healing doesn't take place within some sort of time-frame we've set doesn't mean God can’t heal or that He’s somehow missing in action. During the most trying times of Teresa’s sickness I was constantly reminded that no matter what happened God was still on His throne!
Secondly, God has called some to suffer for His glory (John 11:4)
I realize this statement may sound odd and even morbid to some individuals, but the Scriptures are filled with examples that illustrate this point. Remember a man named Saul in Acts 9 who hated and persecuted the Church? God would use him to bring glory to Himself through many trials and difficulties. Read again the Lord’s statement to Ananias in Acts 9:15-16 and the testimony of Paul’s life in 2 Corinthians 11:23-27.
God is always purposeful in His actions and Lazarus’s case is no different. Again many might question God’s “methods” or the allowance of suffering for His glory, yet we need to remember that God is Sovereign and Holy and owes humanity nothing. Maybe we need to be reminded more often that without the suffering of Christ on the cross there would be no resurrection, no glorification, and no eternal life!
John 17:1 (ESV) When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you,
If I’m certain of anything it’s that God has a reason for everything. Certainly the sickness and death of Lazarus didn’t catch God by surprise and neither did the rapidly growing tumor in my wife. Now I’m not equating Teresa’s illness with that of Lazarus, the Apostle Paul, or Christ Jesus upon the cross, but I do believe God had a greater plan for this event in her life. Without any doubt God’s purpose was to be glorified. I remember vividly clinging to the promise God made to those who brought an offering of thanksgiving on His behalf, the Psalmist wrote:
Psalm 50:15 (ESV) and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.”
The third and last point is simply this; when all is said and done the only words that matter are the ones which proceed from the mouth of God.
John 11:43-44 (ESV) When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” 44 The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”
God’s power is simply amazing. The God Who called Lazarus from the grave is the same God Who healed my wife and bewildered her doctors. Without any treatments after her surgery, and from a diagnosis of glioblastoma, to lymphoma, to an infection, and finally to “We can’t really explain what happened,” I’m certain of this one thing – it was all about God and His glorification!
When it comes to the question of “Why” I’m reminded of a C. S. Lewis’ quote; “The question for a Christian isn’t why me Lord, but why not me.”
P.S. I thank God daily not only for my wife Teresa but also our sons Joshua and Tanner. These two young men were solid when I was weak and needed support. They bring me great pride and joy and I dedicate this blog to them.
Prayer is one of the vital links between the believer and God. I encourage you to call upon Him not only in your times of need but in times of praise and thanksgiving! I pray you have a very happy Thanksgiving this year with family and friends. Enjoy the video below!
As I was following my daily ritual of reading through the current news cycle, I was somewhat shocked by an article citing a new strategy in the promotion of what is generally referred to as “Obamacare.” Cutting-edge advertisements have been produced by the state of Colorado to encourage young adults to sign up for the new health care exchanges. Now before going any further I realize the Affordable Care Act is a hot topic issue for many of us, but this blog isn't about politics or the soundness of the ACA law. My intent is to briefly focus on the cultural message behind these ads. Generally speaking, when we finance state and federal programs with our tax dollars we’re also putting a stamp of approval upon those programs whether we like them or not. In essences these ads reveal a part of our character and moral makeup as a nation.
Think for a moment what the ad pictured here actually suggests. Do we really want to tell young women, and essentially young men, that a promiscuous lifestyle is now more affordable because birth control pills are covered by our new healthcare law? Do we also want to convey a sense of moral acceptability because our government has approved of such behaviors? Obviously, I believe the answer should be an emphatic "NO." Surely, some will think I’m simply being prudish and naïve because “young people are going to do what young people do.” I’m neither prudish nor naïve, and young adults engaging in sexual activity outside of marriage isn't the main point of this blog. My real issue is that our government is promoting what the Scriptures teach to be immoral, and to be footed by “Joe and JoAnn taxpayer” should disturb all Americans.
If the promotion of immorality isn't enough to bother us then note the asterisk at the bottom of the ad which states; “The pill doesn't protect you from STDs, condoms and common sense do that.” The indication is that the only real consequence other than an unintended pregnancy of sex outside of marriage is the possible transmission of an STD. Where's the common sense? Shouldn't we share with teens and young adults the emotional toil and heartache that often comes with multiple sexual relationships? There is a price to pay. Statistically young women who have multiple partners throughout their lifetime tend to have lower self-esteem and greater relationship issues.
Since we’re being frank, I don’t want you to think that I’m intentionally targeting just America’s youth. Yes, these ads may focus on young adults, but recent studies show the fastest-growing group contracting STDs are older adults - Baby Boomers to be exact. The findings of these studies indicate Boomers are “playing the field” once again after a divorce or being widowed. This suggest to us that sexual immorality is common throughout all age groups, and it brings us back to where we stand as a people culturally.
The sad story about our society is that we’re a nation in a state of rapid moral decline. It seems to some, such as myself, that the majority of Americans have adopted the “We–Don’t–Care” mentality. Even during the sexual revolution of the 1960s and 70s there were conservative entities and vocal segments of society who still exercised a great deal of influence over our culture. Civic and community leaders at least projected and advocated a sense of biblical morality even if they didn't always practice what they preached.
Today there appears to be an outright movement against all things holy. Does holiness and righteous living even matter to us anymore as a people? Have we become such a progressive society that we really no longer care what God deems right?
Just for a moment forget about the political aspects of “Obamacare” and come to grips with the fact that God–cares.
He cares about holiness.
He cares about righteousness.
He cares about you and the life you live.
1 Peter 1:14-19 (ESV) 14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” 17 And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, 18 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.
I'm not trying to be or sound "Holier than thou" because I've made many mistakes in my life. I just want you to know that God-cared enough to give His Son as a payment for our sin, and I think He deserves better from us. I know He deserves better from me, and He deserves better from the government that represents us. Our leaders are to demonstrate a higher standard in their governing, and we as a nation should speak out and hold them to that higher standard.
See the story behind this blog here
There’s an elementary school near my home where every morning and afternoon a crossing guard stands at the ready to help children make the trek from one side of the road to the other safely. Without question this is a common event in many communities. I daresay most of us will never know the names of those perform this duty but we’re grateful for their service. Imagine the tragedies that may “have been” if these crossing guards failed in their responsibilities. I remember thinking one afternoon that with every crossing in life there will always be inherent dangers and challenges.
Matthew 8:18 – 27 tells of the events of such a ‘crossing” when Christ Jesus instructs His disciples to cross the Sea of Galilee at the end of a long day. The trip to the other side would be a stormy one where even the closest allies of Christ question His care for them.
Before entering the vessel Christ has a conversation with two gentlemen about following him. The first man was a Scribe (Teacher of the Law) and was only concerned about what he could gain from following Christ. The second man appears to be a true disciple, but his conversation reveals he’s more concerned with what he will have to give up in order to follow the Messiah.
Here are three things to note when it comes to the “crossings” we face in life and our relationship with Christ Jesus.
Today, October 25, 2013 is a day that Teresa and I began a new challenge by crossing into a new ministry and in a new location. I recently accepted the position of Senior Pastor at Friendship Baptist Church in North Charleston, South Carolina. We’re excited, and to be frank, just a little anxious about the challenges that lie ahead. As God leads us through this next crossing we realize trusting Him for every step and need is once again crucial if we’re to fulfill His will.
As we go we leave behind family, friends, brothers and sisters in Christ who we love dearly and believing more than ever God will care for them as well as for us. We leave behind our Home Bible Fellowship Group. The support and time shared with the individuals who make up this group has truly been a blessing to my family and me. God is good! And He’s been good to me.
Remember – Christ Jesus is still in the boat and you never cross alone.
There are no words that do this story justice. Watch and be amazed.
The video below I found to be such a blessing and inspirational. What a great witness of love for a great Savior.