Category Archives: Current Events

Allistair Begg & Transgender Weddings

There are times when you may be unsure what to do in a certain situation. A grandmother was unsure what to do when her grandson decided to marry a transgender person. She had already voiced her displeasure to her grandson. But now that she had decided to go through with the wedding anyway, what was the grandmother to do? Should she go to the wedding or show her opposition by staying home? She eventually asked Pastor Allistair Begg of Parkside Church if she should go to the wedding or not. The following is his response:

“I asked the grandmother, does your grandson understand your belief in Jesus? Yes. Does your grandson understand that your belief in Jesus makes it such that you can’t countenance in any affirming way the choices that he has made in life? Yes. I said then, okay, as long as he knows that then I suggest that you do go to the ceremony and I suggest that you buy them a gift. Oh, she said, what? She was caught off guard. I said, Well here’s the thing. Your love for them may catch them off guard, but your absence will simply reinforce the fact that they said these people are what I always thought—judgmental, critical, unprepared to countenance anything. … But I think we’re going to take that risk a lot more if we want to build bridges into the hearts and lives of those who don’t understand Jesus.”1

From what I have read, his advice was given to this grandmother during the summer of 2023 and it has recently been found out and responded to by many Christian leaders. While Allistair Begg does not condone sexual perversion, his advice seems to lead this grandmother to condone the wedding by her presence. Others have this same opinion of his comments. The American Family Radio network has dropped his Truth for Life broadcast on their stations.2 Pastor John MacArthur has disinvited Pastor Begg from his church’s Shepherd’s Conference.3 There are probably more responses that I have not had time to research. But all of this leads us to an important question: What should a Christian do when faced with such a situation? As always, we must look to the Bible for the answers.

  1. What does the Bible say about sexual perversion?

    While there are many other passages that speak about God’s opposition to sexual perversion of any kind, the following are two very clear statements of His opinion.

    It is rebellion against God (Rom. 1:24-32).

    In Romans 1, Paul contrasts the wonderful gospel of Jesus with the rebellion of mankind. Although the gospel is the power of God to salvation, many have rejected it and rebelled against God’s ways. In verses 24-32, Paul shows how rejecting God’s truth led men and women to become involved with vile passions including homosexuality. God judged these people with a debased mind that kept getting worse. And the people involved in these sins know God’s righteous judgment against them but also approve of such sinful lifestyles.

    It brings God’s wrath on those who do it (Eph. 5:3-7).

    In Ephesians 5, Paul lists fornication (sexual activity outside of a heterosexual marriage) as something that should never be characteristic of Christians. Those who practice such activity will not inherit God’s kingdom and are under God’s wrath. It is clear that such activity is something that God hates. And since God’s wrath will fall on those who practice it, we cannot condone it. Being involved with them would cause us to be partakers with them of God’s wrath.

    In both cases, the Bible tells us that sexual perversion of any kind is something God will judge. Although He lovingly calls people to repent of their sin and be saved through faith in Jesus, He also warns that such sin will result in God’s judgment. There is not way to explain away sexual perversion as something that God approves. These passages are clear evidence that God hates this kind of sin.

  2. What does the Bible say about a Christian’s relationship to sinners?

    We need to remember where we came from (1 Cor. 6:9-11).

    In this passage, Paul reminds us of where we came from. While all of the sins listed here may not apply to you, some of them might. Notice that some of the Corinthians were perverted people before they were saved. But they were washed from their sin, sanctified to God, and justified by Jesus. This is a good reminder to us when we interact with those who are still practicing these sins. We were that way before God saved us from that sinful lifestyle. Remembering our own sinfulness may not be a pleasant memory, but it will keep us from acting as if we are better than others by our own doing. Always remember that Jesus changed you and it wasn’t a result of your own doing.

    We should not have fellowship with the works of darkness (Eph. 5:8-12).

    In this passage, Paul once again reminds us of our dark past but then follows up with our bright new life. Instead of continuing in our past sinfulness, we are to live our lives differently. This should lead us to seek what is acceptable to the Lord. We should also not have fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness. This is another way of saying that sin never accomplishes anything good. It is unfruitful in producing anything that is acceptable to God. But once we know what is right, how should we respond? We should expose the sin for what it is – shameful rebellion against God.

    While we remember where we came from and what God has done in our lives, we mustn’t forget that we are now God’s children. Being part of God’s family involves speaking up for what God says and wants us to do. If we are to be faithful to the Lord, we mustn’t celebrate what God hates. We must speak out against it. Yes, we need to temper this speech with love and humility, but there is no way to sugar coat God’s opinion about sexual perversion.

  3. What results could come from celebrating an unholy marriage?

    Coming back to the current controversy, how do these biblical facts help us to make a decision about whether to attend the wedding ceremony of someone who is clearly rebelling against God’s commands? In particular, should a Christian attend the wedding ceremony of someone marrying a transgender person?

    Some think that attending would show love for the sinful couple.

    Those who want to create a bridge into the lives of the sinful couple, think that attending the ceremony would keep the relationship open. By attending the ceremony, they would be showing love for them and would keep from unnecessarily alienating them. Some would say that this is what Jesus did. If Jesus ate with sinners, shouldn’t we do the same? Remember how Jesus ate at the homes of Levi and Zacchaeus? In both cases, his time at their homes resulted in their lives. Zacchaeus, in particular, repented of his sin and was a changed man. Jesus’ love for these sinners overcame any hesitance to visit them because of his goal to see their lives changed. In both cases, there were good results.

    But was Jesus’ time at these men’s homes just a show of love. Was he there to just show them love or was he seeking to lead them to repentance? I think it was both. His love led him to confront them about their sin (which they left). He was not ignoring their sin but lovingly confronting them about it. Jesus went to his house with the idea of bringing each to repentance but not to affirm him in his sin. It is possible to show love to someone without affirming their sinful lifestyle. And this leads us to the next point.

    Some think that attending would celebrate the sinful couple’s choices.

    Several online comments make this position clear:

    “When we are at a wedding, we are there to give a blessing. The guests are witnesses and give approval. Make no mistake about it. This is why we have the phrase – ‘Does anyone object to this union?’ … As you said, the question is asked whether anyone opposes the marriage. Do you keep your mouth shut? Doesn’t staying quiet indicate approval? If you speak up, isn’t that more ‘offensive’ than simply not attending? Likewise with smiling, clapping, even standing when the ‘bride’ enters.”1

    While it would be difficult to turn down such an invitation, there would also be negative repercussions from affirming a sinful marriage. By attending the wedding, you would be giving tacit approval of the marriage to all that attended. It wouldn’t matter if the couple already knew your position on the matter. The others at the wedding would see your attendance as affirmation of what was taking place. At this point, it would not be loving them toward repentance. Instead, it would be leading them to continue in their sin with your presence showing them it was okay.

Conclusion

Decisions often affect our relationships with other people. And some of these decisions may make it more difficult for us to interact with when they see our opposition to their sin. But there is another relationship that we need to think about at the same time. That is our relationship to the Lord. When Jehoshaphat returned from helping evil King Ahab in a battle, the prophet Jehu, confronted him with a question: Should you help the wicked and love those who hate the Lord?” (2 Chron. 19:2). He noted that helping this wicked king was offensive to the Lord and was equal to hating God.

We should have a desire to love and befriend sinners. Jesus did this. And we should note that without love, our gospel message will not be well received. But at the same time, we must remember that God has called us to be His children first. We must love Him and follow His commands even when doing so seems to diminish our opportunities to reach the lost. God’s way is best. And doing things God’s way means that we must be careful to accurately represent both the love of God and His holiness. If we value the one over the other, we will have problems. Instead, we should strive to do both.

Footnotes

1“Should Christians attend…”
2 “Radio ministry drops…”
3 “John MacArthur’s Shepherd’s Conference removes…”

Bibliography

“Alistair Begg clarifies his answer on gay weddings” as viewed at https://www.reddit.com/r/Reformed/comments/1aee0nv/alistair_begg_clarifies_his_answer_on_gay_weddings/?rdt=43811 on 2/11/2024.

“Compassion vs Condemnation” as viewed at https://www.parksidechurch.com/learn/resources/media-center/sermon/compassion-or-condemnation on 2/11/2024.

“John MacArthur’s Shepherd’s Conference removes Alistair Begg from speakers’ lineup” as viewed at https://www.christianpost.com/news/john-macarthurs-shepherds-conference-removes-alistair-begg.html on 2/12/2024.

“Radio ministry drops pastor over same-sex wedding comments” as viewed at https://afn.net/culture/2024/01/24/radio-ministry-drops-pastor-over-same-sex-wedding-comments on 2/09/2024.

“Should Christians attend LGBTQ weddings? | Alistair Begg vs. Voddie Baucham” as viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iiCHcxTQelY&ab_channel=WrathandGrace on 2/11/2024.

Why does God allow suffering?

During a recent conversation, someone brought up the problem of suffering in this world. The question goes something like this: If God is good and in control of everything why does He allow people to suffer—especially innocent people. My first response was that suffering is a result of sin. I said this even after presenting “Is all suffering the result of personal sin?” from Job 22-24 last week. This idea seems to be ingrained even in my mind. While it is often true, that is not the only reason that suffering happens. Tonight, I would like to expand on and correct my answer. During our study, we will look at biblical examples, causes, and responses to suffering.

  1. Examples of suffering

    Before we discuss the causes of suffering, I think it would be good to examine the experiences of several people in the Bible who experienced suffering. Their experiences will help us to see God’s reasons for allowing suffering to take place.

    Adam and Eve (Gen. 3)

    The first man and woman were the first to suffer. They had been given everything they needed with only one stipulation. They were not to eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge and evil. God had promised that death would be the result of disobedience. Satan, in the form of a serpent, convinced them that God was wrong and that disobedience would make them like God. Sadly, when they chose to disobey, there were bad results. God confronted them and set a curse on men, women, and the earth. The woman was cursed with pain in childbirth. The man was cursed with hard work. The earth was cursed with thorns and thistles. And all were cursed with eventual death.

    Job (Job 1-2)

    Job was a righteous man who served God faithfully but experienced great suffering. When God brought this up to Satan, the wicked one proclaimed that Job only served God for what God gave him. In response, God allowed Satan to take away his wealth and family. Satan immediately motivated wicked people to steal all of Job’s wealth and also caused a wind to collapse the building in which his children were feasting. All ten children died. Later, Satan struck Job with painful boils all over his body. The suffering was so great that any other person might have cursed God and died.

    Joseph (Gen. 37; 39-41)

    Joseph was a godly young man who suffered greatly at the hands of others. Due to his father’s favoritism and his God-given dreams, Joseph’s brothers hated him enough to kidnap him and sell him as a slave. He was later sold to Potiphar in Egypt, was falsely accused of sexual harassment, and was put in prison for several years. He experienced all of these things despite doing nothing wrong.

    Man born blind (John 9)

    During Jesus’ earthly ministry, there were many people who were suffering from physical ailments. One of these was a blind man. Being without sight caused this man to have to rely on others for food, direction, and housing. His suffering was the topic of discussion amongst Jesus’ disciples.

    In each of these situations, people suffered. But why did they suffer? Each one suffered for a different reason. This is the topic of our next point.

  2. Causes of suffering

    Before we look at how to respond to suffering, we should consider why suffering happens. While we may be tempted to pass judgment on people who are going through suffering, we should be careful not to follow in the footsteps of Job’s friends who blamed him for all that had happened.

    Personal choices can lead to suffering (Adam and Eve).

    We are all aware that suffering can be caused by our own choices. In the case of Adam and Eve, their suffering (and our own) was a direct result of their sinful choice. God had told them there would be repercussions for disobedience and they still chose to disobey. As a result, their death and suffering were a direct result of the choices that they made. Each of them tried to blame it on someone else, but deep down they knew that their suffering was a result of their own choices.

    The choices of others can lead to suffering (Jospeh).

    In the case of Joseph, he was not the cause of his suffering. He did not go through suffering because of his own choices but those of others. His brothers were envious of their father’s favoritism toward Joseph. His brothers were perturbed by his telling them his dream. His brothers gave into their anger and sold him as a slave.

    “Sometimes, innocent children suffer because of the sin of others: neglect, abuse, drunk driving, etc. In those cases, we can definitely say that the suffering is the result of personal sin (just not theirs), and we learn the lesson that our sin always affects others around us.”1

    Satan’s cruelty can lead to suffering (Job).

    In the case of Job, it was not his own sin or the sin of others that caused his suffering. It was the cruelty of Satan that caused him to suffer. The wicked one was so hateful that he caused the death of Job’s children and the loss of his wealth and health. Nobody knew this while Job was going through his suffering, but it was still true. Behind the scenes, Satan was involved in causing great harm to Job.

    God’s plan can lead to suffering (man born blind).

    In the case of the man born blind, it was not his own sin, the sin of others, or Satan’s cruelty. Instead, it was God’s plan to allow him to suffer blindness from birth. While this may seem cruel, we should consider what Jesus said about the situation. His disciples were under the impression that his blindness was the result of his own sin or that of his parents. But Jesus had to correct them. This man’s blindness, his suffering, was part of God’s plan “that the works of God should be revealed in him.” His suffering (and subsequent healing) was allowed by God to point people to Jesus.

  3. Responses to suffering

    Now that we know that suffering is not always a result of one’s personal sin, we should consider how we should respond to suffering we are currently facing or might face in the future. Consider the following questions about our responses to suffering.

    Do you believe that God can use suffering for a good purpose? (Gen. 50:19-21)

    After Joseph’s suffering was over and his father had died, his brothers were worried that Joseph was extract his revenge from them. He was no longer in prison but had been promoted to a leadership position in Egypt. He could have them all thrown into prison and see how they liked to suffer. But instead, Joseph had already come to grips with God’s purpose for his suffering. He recognized his brothers’ evil deeds. But he also recognized God’s plan. God had allowed these situations to put Joseph in the right place and the right time. As a result, Joseph was used by God to save many people from starvation during a terrible famine.

    Do you believe that God can make good come from suffering? (Rom. 8:28)

    When we are going through suffering, it is not a pleasant thing. But God often uses the suffering we endure as part of His greater plan. In Romans 8:28, we are told that “all things work together for good.” Every Christian can be assured that God has a plan that includes both the suffering, the choices made, and the people involved to accomplish something in His omniscient plan. Those who know the Lord have come to not only believe Him but to trust Him with their lives. When confronted with suffering, they can look at the situation and trust that the Lord has a greater plan that incorporates all things working together for good. It may not seem good at the time, but it will eventually accomplish God’s perfect plan.

    Do you believe that God can use suffering to make you better? (1 Pet. 5:10)

    In this passage, Peter points out something that we may not particularly enjoy. When he was writing this epistle, Christians were experiencing persecution for their faith in Christ. Suffering for being a Christian was not always an easy thing. It was more than being called names or being yelled at. It often included physical harm, prison time, and even death. During such times, God led Peter to inform them that God was going to allow them to suffer so that they would become stronger Christians.

    Think back to the disciples when a great storm almost swamped their boat. They cried out to Jesus and questioned his care for them. But then Jesus spoke and the storm ceased. Do you think they learned a lesson that day? “In Christ we have an anchor that holds fast in all the storms of life, but, if we never sail into those storms, how would we know that?”1 Instead of complaining about suffering, we should instead presume that God is using it as training. He wants us to go through suffering, not because He hates us but because He loves us and wants to make us stronger.

Conclusion

The age-old question as to why God allows people to suffer is still a difficult one to answer. Suffering is bad. It is not easy to handle—even for Christians. But as we look through what the Bible says, we can see that God’s plan often includes suffering. Sometimes it is the result of sin. Sometimes it is the result of Satanic oppression. Sometimes it is the result of God’s perfect plan. Many times, we have no control over when and where it happens. But we do have the opportunity to know and trust the One who is in control. When we come to the point where we can trust God’s purpose, ability to bring about good, and to make us stronger amidst suffering, we will be in a much better condition—trusting in Him.

Footnotes

1 “Why does God allow the innocent to suffer?”

Bibliography

Johnson, Don, “How Suffering Glorifies God” as viewed at https://www.proclaimanddefend.org/2021/09/02/how-suffering-glorifies-god/ on 7/2/2023.

“What does the Bible say about suffering?” as viewed at https://printer.gotquestions.net/GeneratePF?articleId=1901 on 7/2/2023.

“Why does God allow the innocent to suffer?” as viewed at https://printer.gotquestions.net/GeneratePF?articleId=1434 on 7/2/2023.

Williquette, Scott, and Steve Thomas, “How to Handle Suffering” as viewed at https://www.proclaimanddefend.org/2012/10/22/how-to-handle-suffering/ on 7/2/2023.

What does God say about gender and sex-change?

During my lifetime, our society has quickly turned away from God’s view of many issues. When I was young, a gay person would be embarrassed to come out of the closet. In recent times, our society has been convinced that homosexuality is a good thing and should be celebrated. In 2015, same-sex marriages were legalized. Today, television programs, commercials, and the media celebrate homosexuality.

When I was young, pretending you were a girl was a joke. If you could get a long-haired wig, you could make most anyone laugh. A few years ago, I was in the Washington DC area and saw a bearded man waiting at the bus stop … wearing a white wedding dress. I didn’t laugh. Instead, I wondered what the man was doing. Today, society tells us that sex (male and female) are not the same as gender. You can choose to be transgender, nonbinary, genderfluid, genderqueer, agender, or any number of other descriptions. In other words, we are being told that you can be whatever you feel like regardless of your biological sex.

When it comes to conversations like these, it is good to stop and think. You might ask yourself several important questions:

1. What does God say about this?
2. Why are people doing this?
3. How should I respond to unbiblical ideas?

In this message, I will attempt to answer each of these questions.

  1. What does God say about this?

    a. God created only two genders (Gen. 1-2; Matt. 19:4).

    Despite the call for multiple genders, the Bible tells us what God created. During the six days of creation, God created man and woman. He created them distinct but similar. He first made Adam and then noted that he needed a helper, so He created Eve, the first woman. By design, there are only male and female. After creating them, God said that this was good just as He had planned.

    This is verified in the New Testament by Jesus himself. While dealing with the Pharisees about the subject of divorce, Jesus asked them a question: “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning made them male and female”? With this question, Jesus made a point. God created only two genders, male and female. This is God’s design.

    What about intersex people?

    According to a Wikipedia source, about 0.02% of people are born with both male and female parts or characteristics. While these are rare, they do exist in different varieties and severity. They range from extra parts to slight mutations. Where did these medical disorders come from? Although God did create everything good, there are some mutations that have happened probably due to the fall. Or it may be that some other unknown reason. In these cases, the individual is still God’s creation and should live according to the sex most closely aligned with their biological makeup.

    b. God created sexual intimacy for a married man and woman (Gen. 2:24-25; Heb. 13:4; see also Eph. 5:22-33).

    Although the world has different ideas and often celebrates sexual activity in any form, the Bible clearly does not. After creating Adam and Eve, God made it clear that a monogamous, heterosexual relationship was his plan for sexual intimacy (Gen. 2:24-25). This is repeated in the New Testament in Hebrews 13:4. Marriage is honored by God but sexual activity outside of marriage will be judged by God.

    c. God is against sexual activity outside of marriage (Lev. 18:6-30; 1 Cor. 6:9).

    While this should be clear from the passages mentioned earlier, the Lord included definite prohibitions about sexual activity in both the Old and New Testaments. In Leviticus 18, he lists incest, adultery, bigamy, homosexuality, bestiality as a perversion of God’s gift of sex. This idea is repeated in the New Testament where fornication, adultery, being effeminate, or sodomy are listed (along with others) as sins that will keep someone from inheriting the kingdom of God.

    d. God is against sex change (Gen. 1:27, 31; Jer. 1:5) or cross-dressing (Deut. 22:5; 1 Cor. 6:9).

    While sex-change is not mentioned in the Bible, there are definite principles listed that show God’s displeasure with it. “Genesis 1:31 tells us that His creation was excellent in every way. To say that gender does not matter is to disagree with God’s design for creation and His proclamation that it was very good” (“What does the Bible say…”). Also, when God first spoke to Jeremiah, He told him that He had formed Jeremiah in the womb. This reveals that God is in control of who He wanted us to be, whether male or female.

    Someone who dresses as the opposite sex shows a dissatisfaction with God’s choice of his or her gender. God is not pleased with this as seen in Old Testament law. Men were not to wear women’s clothing and vice-versa. In the New Testament, God expressed His displeasure with men who acted effeminate (1 Cor. 6:9).

    “In the New Testament, the Greek word translated ‘effeminate’ means ‘soft and delicate.’ In First Corinthians 6:9, this word is listed separately from homosexuality, indicating that they are not synonymous. An ‘effeminate’ man in this verse is one who has rejected his masculinity and identifies as a female. He may or may not be sexually active, but he has chosen to live intentionally as a ‘soft and delicate’ person, rather than embrace His God-given identity as a man. He takes on the characteristics of a female and relates to other males much like women do” (“Is it wrong…”).

    This leads us to our next question.

  2. Why are people doing this?

    a. Some sinful choices may be a response to abuse.

    Did you know that sex trafficking is a reality in the US? Did you know that sexual abuse is a reality in the US? Those who are victims to these crimes are affected both physically and emotionally. The pain caused by these crimes often scar the individual for life. It may be that someone hurt by these actions may react by making choices that they otherwise would not have.

    b. Some sinful choices may be a response to peer-pressure.

    In some public schools, teachers are pushing gender change. Elementary children have been told that changing their gender and personal pronouns is a positive thing. “Nigel and Sally Rowe … raised concerns with their son’s Isle of Wight primary school after he came home ‘confused’ by the school’s transgender-affirming policies toward his male classmates who identified as girls” (“Christian parents…”).

    This has also happened in the US. “NBA legend Dwyane Wade has filed a petition with a California court to legally change the name and gender of his 15-year-old daughter Zaya” (“Name and Gender…”). I mention this because people look up to athletes and often mimic their choices. If Wade’s biological son can transition from being a boy to a girl and be accepted by society, others may be convinced that this is something they could do as well and still be accepted.

    c. Some choices may be made due to bullying or depression.

    We have all probably met people who were different—especially when we were in school. There was the boy who seemed effeminate instead of manly. And what happened to him? He was ridiculed and called names. This might lead that individual to mask his inclinations. But it often causes him to become bitter or depressed. If he is not careful, he may meet someone who will take advantage of the situation and lead him down the wrong path.

    d. Sinful choices are ultimately a response to God’s authority (Rom. 1:18-32).

    Ultimately, sexual sins are a result of bucking against what God has decreed as right and good. Whether it be fornication, adultery, homosexuality, or any other sexual sin, the Bible speaks to where these sinful choices come from. In Romans 1:18-32, we are told that when people suppress God’s truth, God’s wrath is revealed against them. Their thinking is darkened, their lusts increase, and aberrant behavior often takes place.

    Romans 1:26-27 – “For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.”

    The sad truth is that sinful people often ruin their lives by fighting against God’s perfect ways. Instead of seeing the benefit of obeying God, they search for fulfillment in things that will never satisfy and that will eventually lead to their destruction.

  3. How should we respond to unbiblical ideas?

    a. We should know what the Bible says.

    It is easy for us to “be conformed to this world” (Rom 12:2). When the world says something is acceptable, some Christians are convinced that it is without knowing what God has declared about the subject. In order to have a transformed mind that thinks like God does about these issues, we need to study what He has revealed in the Bible. If our opinions are not confirmed by Scripture, they are merely opinions. This is important to remember. We are not to base our beliefs on how we grew up or what experiences we have had. Instead, we need to know what God says. He is the ultimate authority on any subject, and He knows what is best because He designed how things work.

    During this message, we have looked at what God thinks about this topic. Now what should we do?

    b. We should speak the truth.

    We Christians tend to be tight-lipped about sin for fear of offending sinners. While we don’t need to be unnecessarily offensive, we must remember that the truth needs to be revealed to people.

    John the Baptist spoke the truth about sin (Luke 3:7-20).

    John the Baptist called on people to repent of their sins … and named those sins. He addressed the sins of common people, tax collectors, soldiers, and even the king’s adulterous relationship with his brother’s wife. You might remember that John the Baptist was beheaded by the king, but he also made a big difference in many other people’s lives. The preaching of repentance prepared these people to receive Christ.

    Jesus spoke the truth about sin (Luke 4:23-29; John 4:17-18, 22).

    Jesus, the most loving Person who ever lived, was sometimes offensive to people. Although He loved them, He knew that their sinful hearts needed to be addressed before they could be helped. When addressing people in His home town, He addressed the common problem—unbelief. How was that received? Not very well. But He still spoke the truth they needed to hear. When speaking to the woman at the well, He addressed her immoral lifestyle and her false worship. How was that received? It appears that she became a believer in Jesus after this conversation.

    Instead of being afraid to offend people, maybe we should change our perspective. If we remembered that Satan is deceiving the world and dragging as many people as possible with him to the lake of fire, maybe we would be less afraid of offending those who need to be rescued. Keeping the truth to ourselves is not only cowardly but eventually harms those who need to hear the truth.

    c. We should be concerned.

    There are times when Christians choose to ignore the sins around them. While they recognize them, it is easier to avoid the subject and not say anything. But maybe we should be more concerned than before.

    Did you know that children are being invited to drag shows? Did you know that some public schools are keeping a student’s sex change decisions from their parents? Did you know that children are being given puberty blockers that mess up their system for the rest of their lives? Did you know that doubles mastectomies are being offered to underage girls who want to transition? Did you know that sex change surgeries are irreversible? Did you know that puberty blockers can have long term effects on growth, bone density, and infertility? Did you know that transgender people are more likely to commit suicide? (“Suicide…”) And did you realize that those who continue in this lifestyle are under God’s wrath?

    These things should concern us.

    d. We should lovingly lead sinners to Jesus (Eph. 4:14-15).

    While there is a time for bold preaching, this should also come from a loving heart. In Ephesians 4:14-15, Paul addressed this by pointing out a problem as well as the proper solution. The problem is that people can be easily deceived. He gave the illustration of a child who easily believes all he is told. To counter this, the Lord has provided ministry leaders (Eph. 4:11) to equip, edify, and strengthen our discernment. When we become mature believers, we should be “speaking the truth in love.”

    It is possible that our stand for the truth may be misunderstood. We may come off as uncaring and judgmental. However, in some ways, that may be unavoidable. God’s ways are often different than what the world wants to hear. For instance, most people like to hear that God loves them, but not why they will perish without Him (John 3:16). But let’s talk about the things that you can control. When you talk to people, can they tell that you are actually concerned about them? Do they see a loving individual who cares? Most people can see something about your demeanor by the way you talk and how you interact with them. Be sure that you remember to love those whom you talk to.

Conclusion

Since the beginning, sinful people have rebelled against God’s righteous standard. This has often led God to severely judge their behavior. By sending the Flood, God destroyed wicked minded people who refused to turn from their sin. By sending fire and brimstone from heaven, God destroyed the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah because of their pride and homosexual behavior.

The Bible is filled with other stories about sexual temptation (Joseph, Samson, David, Amnon, etc.) and the results that followed. And from what Paul told the Corinthian church, it must have been a temptation to them as well. Has anything changed? No, the sins that tempted our ancestors are still prevalent and appealing to us today.

What hope is there?

In Paul’s description of sins that will keep people from inheriting the kingdom of God, there is not room for many to stand. We all fall short of God’s glory and standard of righteousness. But Paul gave hope to sinful humanity by concluding with a hopeful thought.

1 Corinthians 6:11 – “And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.”

Although our sinfulness against God is great, God provided a way by which we can be washed from our sin, set apart for His use, and made right with God. That is possible to those who repent and believe on Jesus. (1) Repent – God calls us to recognize and turn from our sin. Note that the topic today is homosexuality and sex-change but these are not the only sins listed in the Bible. We all need to recognize our own sin and turn from it whether it is this or another type. (2) Believe – God calls us to trust in Jesus who died to pay the awful price for our sins. Those who put their trust in Jesus will be washed clean from their sin, made right with God, and set apart for His service.

Some of you may have experienced this already. You can rejoice that what once described you is no longer true. I am thankful to God that He made that change in my life. What I once was, I no longer am. If you, too, are a sinner who needs to be changed by God, help is available for you today. If God has brought you to a place of repentance (a change of mind about your sin), then you are in a good place. Now, He calls on you to put your trust in what Jesus did for you on the cross. He took your place and paid for your sins to make you right with God. Will you turn to Him today?

Bibliography

“Christian parents win in court after school labeled 6-year-old son potentially ‘transphobic'” as viewed at https://www.foxnews.com/world/christian-parents-win-court-school-labeled-6-year-old-son-transphobic on 9/28/2022.

“Intersex” as viewed at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intersex#cite_note-witchel-3 on 10/1/2022.

“Is it wrong for men to be effeminate or for women to be masculine?” as viewed at https://printer.gotquestions.net/GeneratePF?articleId=9360 on 10/1/2022.

“‘Name and Gender Legally Changed’: Dwyane Wade Helps 15-Year-Old Daughter Make Huge Life Decision” as viewed at https://www.essentiallysports.com/nba-basketball-news-name-and-gender-legally-changed-dwyane-wade-helps-15-year-old-daughter-make-huge-life-decision/ on 10/1/2022.

“Pubertal blockers for transgender and gender-diverse youth” as viewed at https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/gender-dysphoria/in-depth/pubertal-blockers/art-20459075 on 10/2/2022.

“Suicide and Suicidal Behavior among Transgender Persons” as viewed at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5178031/ on 10/1/2022.

“What does the Bible say about getting a sex change?” as viewed at https://printer.gotquestions.net/GeneratePF?articleId=553 on 9/28/2022.

Definition of μαλακός, as viewed at https://www.billmounce.com/greek-dictionary/malakos-0 on 10/1/2022.

Coming Destruction!

It seems that there is a new danger presented every so often. Global warming, the pandemic, a coming asteroid collision, and many other possible dangers have caught the imagination of the world and left them feeling anxious and fearful. The problem is that many of these things are out of the control of individuals and even governments of large countries. No amount of money or change can guarantee that we will survive the coming catastrophes. The end may be near. At least this is what is said.

This is the attitude that many in the world have about the possibility of world-wide calamities. But is this the way that we should respond to front page news? Or should we, as Christians, have a totally different perspective? In today’s message, we will contrast what the world says with what the Bible says.

  1. What the world says

    According to the world, there are many problems that could lead to the destruction of all that we know. Things that happened in the past, things that are currently happening, and things that could happen in the future ought to alarm us and move us to protect the world at any cost.

    a. Terrible things happened in the past.

    An asteroid supposedly killed off the dinosaurs.

    For those who subscribe to the theory of evolution, many ideas have been posed as to why dinosaurs no longer exist. One idea is that a large asteroid hit earth and caused all of the dinosaurs to die. While there is no proof for this hypothesis, people have accepted it as a viable hypothesis. Something killed off the dinosaurs.

    A volcanic eruption destroyed the people of Pompeii.

    “Pompeii, a flourishing resort city south of ancient Rome, was nestled along the coast of Italy in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius, an active volcano. Its most famous eruption took place in the year 79 A.D., when it buried the city of Pompeii under a thick carpet of volcanic ash. The dust “poured across the land” like a flood, one witness wrote, and shrouded the city in “a darkness…like the black of closed and unlighted rooms.” Two thousand people died, and the city was abandoned for almost as many years” (Pompeii).

    As you read reports about ancient cataclysms, you get the idea that there is no hope. If these things happened long ago, they could happen again.

    b. Terrible things are currently happening.

    Climate Change

    In the last twenty years, the concern about global warming (now called climate change) has received much attention. People like Al Gore have presented the idea that pollution from burning coal and oil has made an impact on the world. They say that failing to address these concerns could lead to higher temperatures worldwide and perhaps the destruction of the world.

    Pandemics

    In the past couple of years, the world was affected by a global pandemic. The effects of COVID-19 were real as many people died from the virus. However, government responses were sometimes drastic. But their response was deemed justifiable due to the possible danger of doing nothing. It was thought better to shut down schools, businesses, travel, and social interaction for the sake of saving lives.

    War with Ukraine

    The current Russian conflict with Ukraine is something that we hear about in the news quite often. “The Russo-Ukrainian War has been ongoing between Russia (alongside Russian separatists in Ukraine) and Ukraine since February 2014. Hostilities were initiated by Russia shortly after Ukraine’s Revolution of Dignity and were focused on the political status of Crimea and the Donbas, which remain internationally recognized as part of Ukraine. Incursions into Ukrainian territory culminated in Russia’s annexation of Crimea” (Wikipedia). The continuing war against Russia seems to be a land grab by Russia and has led to the deaths of many soldiers and civilians. And with the US government supplying arms to Ukraine, there is always the possibility of starting WW3 if Russia and China take advantage of the situation.

    c. Terrible things may happen in the future.

    Recent report have talked about a number of possible catastrophes in the future. Did you know that the Andromeda galaxy may collide with the Milky Way galaxy in the future? Did you know that an asteroid may hit the earth? Did you know that the earth’s temperature may rise so much that we all could die? Did you know that Elon Musk is leading a movement to colonize Mars to get away from future problems?

    What has been the response to these things? When these reports are believed, people become anxious. An air of uncertainty fills their minds. And if some of these things are going to happen, how should we respond?

  2. What the Bible says

    When Christians hear about coming catastrophes, they should first respond by comparing what is reported to what God has revealed in the Bible. We read in the Bible that things happened in the past, are currently happening, and will happen in the future. However, our response to these possibilities or realities should be different than those who do not know the Lord.

    a. Terrible things happened in the past.

    The Great Flood

    According to Genesis 6-9, God sent a world encompassing Flood to destroy the world during Noah’s lifetime. God saw that the wickedness of man was great and his imaginations were always evil (Gen. 6:5) and so He decided to flood the earth and destroy all but Noah and his family. The evidence of the Flood is found throughout the world with even whale skeletons being found on mountains.

    Sodom and Gomorrah

    According to Genesis 13:13, the people of Sodom were exceedingly wicked. Although Abraham pleaded for mercy, the Lord destroyed the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah with fire from heaven (Gen. 19:24). Two angels led Lot and his daughters out of Sodom, but all who remained were destroyed. None escaped.

    Assyrian and Babylonian invasions

    The Bible records two invasions that took place in ancient history. The Assyrian empire conquered the northern kingdom of Israel in 722 BC when these people had turned away from the Lord. Later, the Babylonian empire conquered the southern kingdom of Judah in 586 BC when they had turned away from the Lord. During these invasions, many people were killed, abused, or taken captive. People like Jonah, Habakkuk, and Daniel were affected by these invasions.

    As you think about the incredible destruction that took place in each of these situations, did you notice a current theme? All of these were a result of God’s judgment against sin. The Flood dealt with wicked people. Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed because of their sin. The Assyrian and Babylonian invasions were God’s judgment against His own people who had rejected Him.

    b. Terrible things are currently happening.

    Invasion of Ukraine

    When you hear about the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, are you surprised? In some ways we may be surprised, but in another way we should not be. The Bible says that there will be “wars and rumors of wars … but the end is not yet” (Mark 13:7). The fact that leaders of countries are willing to sacrifice people’s lives to acquire land is terrible but something the Bible says will continue throughout history.

    Persecution of Christians

    The persecution of believers is something that has happened throughout history. It is currently happening most prominently in places like China and Muslim countries. Families are separated, people beaten and killed, atrocities take place—all because of their faith in Jesus. Does this surprise you? It should not. Jesus promised that His followers would be persecuted by unbelievers (Luke 21:12). Sadly, these things affect many believers today.

    c. Terrible things will happen in the future.

    While the world is concerned about coming catastrophes like asteroid collisions and climate change, the Bible warns about terrible events that will affect those who reject the Lord. After the Church is taken up (1 Thess. 4:13-18), God will pour out His wrath on the believing world during the Great Tribulation, the Battle of Armageddon, and eventually the final judgment of the Lake of Fire (Rev. 20:11-15).

Conclusion

What should be our response to these things?

First, we should take our concerns to the Lord. Habakkuk had some of these same concerns (Hab. 1:2-4). He thought that God was not aware or was ignoring the terrible things that were taking place in his country. God told him what he was going to do and that he needed to live by faith (Hab. 2:4). When Habakkuk finally came to terms with what God was doing, he had great peace (Hab. 3:17-19). Jesus said the same thing to his disciples in John 16:33. “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” When a Christian experiences terrible things, he should not lose hope. He should turn to the Lord and trust Him. This is the only way to have peace.

Second, we should prepare the lost for the real danger. While our peaceful attitude amidst troubling times may be noted by unbelievers, it will not help them unless they know where that peace comes from. God has sent us into the world as His ambassadors so that sinful people can be reconciled to God (2 Cor. 5:20). At this moment, most people are unaware that they are at odds with God. They may even think that they are pretty good people. But sinful man is not on good terms with God. The coming judgment is evidence of that. So, their only hope is to repent of their sins and place their faith in Jesus. Only then will they find the peace that passes all understanding.

Bibliography

“Pompeii” as viewed at https://www.history.com/topics/ancient-history/pompeii on 9/18/2022.

“Russo-Ukrainian War” as viewed at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russo-Ukrainian_War on 9/18/2022.

God’s Father Solution

During the last few years, there has been an increase in violent crime, including mass shootings by angry, young men. The proposed solution to these problems range from outlawing guns, spending more money on mental health, and looking at the effect of violent movies and video games. Others have looked at problems in the home. But few have offered real solutions.

This article brings up some good points about the need for fathers. He basically says that young men often have problems when they don’t have a father in the home. The loving care of a father and mother are important to the proper training of a young person. But this article leaves out answers to two important questions.

  1. Why are fathers not in the home?

It seems to me that many people, men and women, are trapped in the “intimacy without commitment” idea. The enjoyment of what God intended for one man and one woman during marriage (Heb. 13:4) has been replaced with self-indulgent pleasure with no responsibility or commitment. When an unintended child results from a moment of pleasure, it is often considered unwanted and abortable, and those who are allowed to live are often avoided by the father because he wasn’t intending for a child to result in the first place. The child then becomes a burden to him and an extra burden to the mother who raises the child without the father’s help.

The solution is for men and women to see the value of waiting for sexual intimacy until marriage. This is the way God intended for things to work. In the beginning, God stated that it was not good for the man to be alone (Gen. 2:18-25). His solution was marriage. One man and one woman were committed to each other and enjoyed the intimacy where God intended it to be … in a committed marriage relationship.

  1. What kind of fathers are needed?

The article mentions the need for fathers in the home and notes that many bad results have been documented from young men who had no father. While it is true that the lack of a father in the home is not best, the idea doesn’t address what kind of father is needed in the home. Is the need for a father so important that a drunken, abusive, or drug addicted man should be given access to their children? No, there are some scenarios when removing the father may be best.

However, if having a father in the home is God’s design and is part of the solution to our current societal problems, we should also figure out what kind of fathers are best in the home. God gives several ideas about this. First, the father should love his wife (Eph. 5:25; 1 Cor. 7:2-3). The man who loves his wife will be a good example for his sons to follow. He should also be a leader in the home (Eph. 5:22-24). This is not an abusive type of leadership as it is compared to the way Jesus is the head of the Church. When the father shows good and godly leadership in the home, the sons will see how to be a loving leader.

The last characteristic I will mention is from Ephesians 6:4. God doesn’t want fathers who provoke their children to become angry. Fathers who mock their children or push their buttons can cause their children to become resentful and angry. That can lead to angry outbursts outside the home and lead to fighting and violence. The opposite of this is giving the child a biblical worldview (Prov. 3:5-6; Deut. 6:1-9). How does God want him to think, speak, and act? How should he respond when someone wants to fight? What should he do when tempted to sin? A godly father will train his children in God’s ways as they are best.

Conclusion

The world is full of needy sons who need a godly father and mother in the home. This is God’s design for success. When the husband and wife love each other, love their children, and the family follows God’s advice for the home, there is a much better “chance” that things will go better. Why? God created us, knows what is best, and wants what is best for us.

How should I identify myself?

A lot of people talk about being [FILL IN THE BLANK]-Americans, nowadays. That word before the hyphen usually has something to do with where the person’s family came from. And that historical adjective might even refer to things that happened hundreds of years ago. I really don’t think that way. And apparently I am not the only one. Someone has compiled a list of strange things that Americans do. Here is one of them:

“Identifying as your heritage instead of your nationality. Americans will say that they’re Italian, German, Polish, etc. when they don’t speak the language and have no real connection to those countries anymore. In other parts of the world people just identify with the country they were born in or have lived in for a significant amount of time, regardless of their ancestry.”

https://www.buzzfeed.com/stephenlaconte/weird-things-americans-do-reddit

This is something I didn’t grow up thinking about. Yes, I did hear funny jokes about ethnic people. But most of them could apply to just about any other people group. Remember this one?

Q: How many [FILL IN THE BLANK]s does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A: One to hold the bulb and 3 to turn the chair.

I really don’t have a firm grasp of where my family came from. My brother traced the family tree back several hundred years, but it didn’t make me think that I was from another country. My only recollection about me is that I’m an American from Ohio. What happened hundreds of years ago has little to do with who I am today.

When we think about who we are, our ethnic heritage really doesn’t matter for a Christian. It might shape the way we talk, act, think, or look, but our main descriptor should be Christian.

Think about what the Bible says about this.

  1. What does the Bible say about our past?

    While the Bible was written before we were born, there is plenty of information about our ancestors contained in it.

    a. We all descended from Adam and Noah (Gen. 3:20; 9:18-19).

    When God gave Eve to Adam, he named her because she was the first mother from whom all people came from. Sadly, those descendants spiraled out of control and became very wicked until only one family remained that was true to God. Noah and his family escaped God’s judgment on the Ark and later repopulated the earth.

    Because this is true, we are all related. We are related to the professors in the Ivy League schools as well as the primitive tribes in the jungle. We are all part of the human race irrespective of any differences we may see today.

    b. We have good and bad ancestors.

    It is easy to talk about our famous ancestors but not the ones we dislike. On Sharon’s side, we may be related to Stephen Foster. On my side, we may be related to someone who was in the Olympics. My personal claim to fame is that I was next in line to play a game of pickup basketball with the professional football player, Pepper Johnson. Are you impressed yet?

    If we go back to Noah, we can say that we are related to him. Yes, Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. But he also got drunk and took off his clothes after the Flood. Which of these are you more happy to be related to?

    The problem is that we are also related to criminals, pathological liars, and ungodly people. But nobody brings that up unless they are blaming you for something that happened in your family’s past. Were your ancestors slavers? Were your ancestors Nazis? Were your ancestors hateful? Probably, but we didn’t have a choice in becoming a part of our family just as others didn’t either.

    c. We have problems of our own.

    The Bible describes the entire human race in terms that do not flatter:

    Isaiah 64:6 – “But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; we all fade as a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.”

    Romans 3:9-12 – “What then? Are we better than they? Not at all. For we have previously charged both Jews and Greeks that they are all under sin. As it is written: There is none righteous, no, not one; there is none who understands; there is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; they have together become unprofitable; there is none who does good, no, not one.”

    These descriptions leave us with no excuses. We all are sinful and much different than what we want to be known for. But God peels away our facade and shows who we are at our core.

  2. What does the Bible say about different people?

    The Bible does talk about different people groups. In the Old Testament, the Bible talks about the color of someone’s skin (the Ethiopian, Solomon’s wife) but it mostly divides people up into nationalities based on where the people live. But even then, the Bible describes people by how they responded to God and his ways.

    When you get to the New Testament, the idea of describing people by their nationality is not as important. Not several verses that show us this.

    a. God loved the world (John 3:16).

    While we are very familiar with this Bible verse, we don’t often think of the context. Jesus was talking to a Jewish teacher named Nicodemus. When these words were spoken, a Jewish person would have expected Jesus to say that “God so loved the Jewish people.” Instead, Jesus said that He loved the world. That includes people outside of God’s Chosen People.

    b. God divides us into two types of people (Matt. 25:31-33).

    Jesus announced that He would divide people like a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. Apparently, this was necessary at the end of the day. In this passage, Jesus puts some people (sheep) on his right hand and calls them blessed for their character and actions. He then puts other people (goats) on his left hand and calls them cursed. He sends them away because of their character and actions.

    This gives us the idea that it is not one’s heritage that counts but one’s relationship to Jesus. Who are the people who do what is right? It is the people (in any place) who believe and obey the Lord. Who are the people who are rejected by the Lord? It is the people (in any place) who do not believe or obey the Lord.

    c. God unites believers from all over (Rev. 7:9-10).

    This final passage is one that makes me smile. After listing off the tribes of Israel, John writes that he saw an immense crowd of people from diverse backgrounds. The people in this group came from different nations, tribes, peoples, and languages. But these people were not united by those characteristics but by what they all believed. They all agreed that Salvation came from God and the Lamb and they praised God for that fact.

The Bible shows us what God thinks about our identity. While it does not ignore our nationality, skin color, and culture, it does minimize the value of those characteristics. Even being a Jewish person is not as important as you would think.

What God deems valuable is not our historical background, or national origin, but our response to Him. Are you a believer in Jesus Christ? Are you listening to and obeying God? Are you unified with the faithful people of God? These are the important characteristics that should differentiate us from other people in the world.

How does Romans 12:16-21 apply to political disagreements?

During the past four years, we have become a very divided nation. Topics in the news have included: collusion with Russia, impeachment, Black Lives Matter, Antifa, QAnon, white nationalists, election issues, Hunter Biden, COVID-19, and riots all over the country. Social media discussions about these topics have become rather heated at times. How then should Christians respond? Romans 12:16-21 seems to be a good starting place.

“Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’ To the contrary, ‘if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

1. We should be peaceful whenever possible.

If God tells us to be harmonious, humble, honorable, peaceable, not vengeful, and not to be overcome by evil, that should be our modus operandi. The response or actions of other people should not change the way we respond. However, if we decline to follow God’s commands as here mentioned, we are no longer representing Christ but something else. No matter how great the political cause, disobedience in these areas can be detrimental to God’s greater purposes. We must do God’s work in God’s way to honor Him. Keep that in mind.

2. We should defend the US constitution and American law when possible.

One of the tricky things about being an American Christian is that we are both citizens of heaven and our country. We have responsibilities to both. Our first priority is to God but another priority is loyalty to our country. A good summary of this loyalty is in the oath I took when hired by the US Postal Service:

“I, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.”

When a politician, judge, or any other person tries to do something that goes against the constitution or laws, I should voice my concern and take lawful action to stop them. When an individual or organization seeks to limit someone’s ability to speak freely, I point to the 1st amendment and try to stop them from subverting lawful rights. When an individual or organization seeks to limit someone’s right to bear arms (for protection against criminals or tyrannical government), I point to the 2nd amendment and try to stop them from subverting lawful rights.

Conclusion

There are times where strong words and actions are needed. We must stand up for what is right and speak out against unlawful and evil activity. But, as Christians, we must remember that our normal way of doing things should be to seek peace, to be humble, to leave revenge in God’s hands, and to overcome evil with good. Let us be careful in our verbal and written responses to hot button topics. Winning a debate is not the only priority for Christians.

Your Current Influence

Recent events in the US have resulted in protests, rioting, looting, vandalism, murder, and arson. What should be the response of Christians during this time? While reading through the Proverbs, I came across one that gives a good perspective on how our choices affect those around us.

“By the blessing of the upright the city is exalted,
but it is overthrown by the mouth of the wicked.”

– Proverbs 11:11

Upright – These are people who want to do what is right, who want to please God and follow his wisdom.

Illustration – Daniel blessed Babylon with his presence by being, doing and speaking what was right despite the attempts of wicked people to destroy him. As the various kings saw his upright behavior, he was honored and promoted, and he proved to be a blessing to the people in that city.

Wicked – These are people who want to do what is wrong, who hate God, and rebel against his wisdom.

Illustration – King Manasseh of Judah rejected God. By his words and actions, he “seduced them to do more evil” (2 Kings 21). He degenerated so far as to burn his son in fire while worshiping an idol. His influence harmed those around him.

These two examples are extremes. That is the way proverbs are written. They show opposites to make a point. These illustrations show the possible outcome of living either uprightly or wickedly from real life examples.

Choice One – If you love God, his wisdom is evident in the way you influence your community. Doing right helps others, holds back evil, and points people to the Lord.

Choice Two – If you love wickedness, your thinking will affect the way you influence your community. Your words can promote lawlessness and the ultimate destruction of those around you.

Choose wisely.

Current Events: Where are the answers?

It seems that our country has come to a place where few people can agree on any given subject. The government is shut down because of a disagreement about immigration and the proposed border wall. Should it be built or not? Certain states have legalized marijuana in the past few years. Will this turn out to be a good idea? Some people are having surgeries to change their biological gender. Is this a good idea? Politicians are arguing about whether government should provide universal healthcare. Is this feasible? There are many other questions that may come to mind as you watch the news. But there is seldom any agreement as to the answers for each situation.

Have you ever considered what God’s perspective is on any of these subjects? Think about it this way. According to the Bible, God created everything. He also designed everything that was created. Now think about that for a moment. The God who created everything in the universe and who designed it to work together a certain way probably has answers for all of the current problems we face today. But how do we know what God thinks about each issue? Does he specifically address immigration, drug use, sexuality, or healthcare in the Bible?

The Bible is God’s revelation to humanity. In it, you will find real life accounts of human failures and victories. There are true stories about people who made important life choices and then experienced the results from what they did. There are also accounts of how God interacted with people throughout various times in history. His interaction with people often showed his desire for their situations. The more you read the Bible, the more you will notice God’s perspective about a variety of issues. You will quickly notice that his thinking is different than what is commonly accepted today. However, you may notice something else. As God interacted with various people, he had their best interest in mind. He made laws for the good of the people. He often stepped in to warn them of poor decisions and the results that would come from them.

Maybe it would be good for you to read the Bible again and see what God says about current events. It may take a while and you may not find the answers right away. But as you read, you will see that God is wise and compassionate toward people. But he has also setup things to work a certain way. When people reject his principles, things don’t normally go very well. So, take a look at the Bible and see if you can find the answers you are seeking. Others have been amazed at how wise God is.

——-

“Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!” –Romans 11:33

No Consideration for Rights Abandoned

During the last year, we have heard many stories about freedom of speech in the work place. These have come from a variety of people including NFL players and conservative Google employees. Is freedom of speech protected at work? The answer is not very clear.

However, during the 19th century, one man faced opposition for what he wrote about politics during his own time. After publishing articles under an assumed name, the clerk of the office of the Secretary of the United States Senate was confronted by his superior for expressing his opposition to the election of Andrew Jackson (1829-37). Apparently, his pseudonym had not hidden his identity very well.

Was it inappropriate for him to express his views outside of the workplace because of his position? In other words, should government officials be quiet about their political leanings on their own time? While there may be times when one’s position should prohibit his mouth from talking too freely, this clerk was not so inclined.

“Upon entering the public office, I engaged to perform, to the best of my ability, a known and prescribed duty; to conform to the instructions of the head of the office relating to that duty; and to receive as an equivalent for the services thus rendered, not as a consideration for rights abandoned, the compensation which might be allowed by law. But I never did engage to become an automaton or machine; to look on unmoved, or without effort, when I should see the republic institution of my country in danger, or to surrender a single right of an American citizen.

In the office and during the hours devoted to its duties, I acknowledge and obey an official superior. When my official duty has closed, I stand on an equal footing with any man that breathes. In the hours of relaxation from the toil and drudgery of office, my thoughts shall wander as discursive as the air; my opinions, uncontrolled by human authority, shall be embodied in any form my judgment shall approve; … it shall be my endeavor to treasure up these precious fragments of existence, and devote them to objects which I may deem beneficial to my family or society, and pleasing to that Being who has the time of all at his command.”1

Lewis H. Machen (1790-1863)

Machen wasn’t willing to give in to pressure just because someone disapproved of his opinions. He stood up for what he believed and continued speaking despite the frowns of those who were over him. While opinions may need to be held back at work, there is no law in the United States holding back the free expression of ideas at other times, nor should there be.


1As quoted in J. Gresham Machen: A Biographical Memoir by Ned B. Stonehouse.