Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Fighting the Wrong Battles – Part 2

Based on what I wrote in Part 1 of this two-part series, you may be wondering what will happen to society if we stop promoting our social causes. I’m not sure, but I suspect that no matter what Christians do, our multi-cultural, diverse, and largely secular society will do what it wants. If society at large views gay marriage a something desirable, then it will happen so matter how much Christians try to prevent it. If society feels civil unions are better, then that will happen. Why should Christians spend millions of dollars to fight gay marriage or civil unions when the money could be put to better use evangelizing, feeding the poor, and helping the needy?

On the other side of the coin, why should Christians promote certain social causes that are really more of a legal issue than anything else? Why should Christians be fighting for gay marriage, even if they view it as a fairness issue? There are many other “fairness” issues that are mostly ignored yet involve a much larger percent of the population and that more people could agree on. Why does this one issue take up a disproportionate amount of time, effort, and money? It is especially questionable when you read the prohibitions of homosexual behavior in the Bible. Aren’t those Christians promoting gay rights and abortion really buying into a secular worldview in which God’s prohibitions are ignored?

Christians, let’s get our priorities straight! Let’s stop fighting and start bringing more people to faith in Christ. As more people follow Christ, these social issues will take care of themselves. Let’s stop being politically correct and start obeying Christ’s command to go and make disciples. Let’s stop being so theologically correct and have more concern for people’s eternal destiny. Right now, thanks to this divisiveness, the Church is largely ineffective, seriously divided, and is regarded by many as irrelevant.

I’m sure my proposals have annoyed more than a few people, but I believe what we’re doing now isn’t working. The Church is divided, resources are being wasted, and society isn’t being transformed. We should be in the business of transforming lives and saving souls, not fighting for or against gay marriage and the like. Let’s get back on track and move forward as one, holy, catholic and apostolic church, doing God’s work of converting the world, one person at a time. Then I believe God will bless our work and the Church will once again be relevant, effective, and thriving.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Fighting the Wrong Battles – Part 1

I have come to the conclusion that most Christians, unless they are completely on the sidelines, are fighting the wrong battles. I know some will disagree with me, but hear me out.

Those on the left spend an enormous amount of time and energy fighting on behalf of social issues such as gay ordination, gay marriage, pro choice, anti capital punishment, and other favorite left wing causes. I ask, shouldn’t those battles be better left to secular folks? All you are doing is dividing the Church in the United States.

Those on the right spend an enormous amount of time and energy fighting against the pressures from the left to redefine marriage as something other than between a man and a woman, against gay ordination, against unrestrained abortion rights, and other favorite right wing causes. I ask, shouldn’t these battles, except as they impact the Church directly (such as gay ordination) or the free practice of religion, be better left to the secular folks?

Why shouldn’t Christians be engaged in these social struggles? After all, aren’t they really moral issues? Yes, they are moral issues, but I believe the Church is called to a higher calling.

The higher calling of the church is to go and make disciples. We haven’t been doing that. The mainline denominations have been losing members at an alarming rate. Why? Because we’ve taken our eyes off the ball. Instead of making disciples, we’ve been engaged in fighting among ourselves over these issues. We’ve demonized those on the other side of an issue, and have seriously split the Church. What did Jesus say about a house divided? He said in Mark 3:25: “And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand.” We see that happening right now in the Church.

So what should the Church be doing? Evangelizing! Bringing people to Christ. Transforming lives one person at a time. If we change one person at a time through the power of the Holy Spirit, pretty soon the nation will change and will be more in keeping with God’s principles and not being guided by worldly principles. Look at the early church. The Apostles didn’t set out to reform the decadent Roman Empire, but its priority was to make disciples. We should be doing the same. Eventually a self-indulgent Roman Empire turned to Christ and was transformed. The same thing can happen here.

Christendom, such as it is, can either continue to slide into the post-Christian era as the Church bickers within itself and is distracted and weakened by these peripheral battles, or the Church can commit to making disciples and reverse the trend towards humanism and secularism. So let’s stop fighting the wrong battles, and work for transformation.

More on this topic in a future post.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

How Do We Know the Bible Is True? (Part 3)

This post is a continuation of my discussion on the truth of the Bible.

Differing Interpretations

The Bible is the most studied book in the history of the world, but has also been subject to differing interpretations, especially in the last 150 years or so. These differing interpretations have added to the confusion and the controversies surrounding the Bible. For millennia, the Bible has generally been understood in light of Church tradition, which has been handed down from the Apostles. Many of these traditional interpretations were written down by the early church fathers, who had received them orally from those who learned from the Apostles.

Today, we see the Bible being misinterpreted to fit various social or personal agendas. Clear teachings are distorted using a smokescreen of scholarly language, so as to make the Bible politically correct, but not theologically correct. Along those same lines, we see scholars deconstructing the Bible, creating doubts about its truth. In addition, verses have been taken out of context to fit doctrines which really aren’t biblical. So no wonder the Bible is so controversial and people can find it confusing. Yet the Bible is, for the most part, clearly written and easy to understand when you take time to study it and you have the Holy Spirit guiding you.

Why Should We Care?

Regardless of how we might define “true” regarding the Bible, why should we even care about whether or not it is true? We should care for the following reasons:

·Our faith is based on it.

·We understand God through it.

·We have guidelines for living in it.

·We have some idea of the future based on it.

·We learn about Jesus, our Savior, by the Gospels in it.

What, then, are the ramifications for not believing the Bible is true?

¨If we don’t believe the Bible is true, then we don’t have a code of morality that is higher than ourselves, and anything goes.

¨If we don’t believe the Bible is true, then we have no basis for understanding God, life, the world, and the spiritual realm.

¨If we don’t believe the Bible is true, then we are missing out on the way to salvation, placing our eternal destiny at risk.

¨If we don’t believe the Bible is true, then we have no foundation for a relationship with God through Jesus.

Those are the reasons why we should believe the Bible is true and then study it to deepen our faith.


There is much more in the study book about the Bible, and I encourage you to read it to strengthen your faith in what God tells us through the Scriptures. The message of the Bible will transform your life, and it will also:

·alter your view of the world;
·change your patterns of relating to God and other people;
·change your values and ethics;
·change your view of history and world events;
·and it will change your opinion of eternity.

With all this discussion about the Bible, let me end with a word of warning. I believe some people elevate the Bible too high, making their veneration of the Scriptures a form of idolatry. There’s even a word for making the Bible into some sort of idol: bibliolatry. The Bible is a vehicle for transmitting God’s truth to us, using human agents. Jesus was both divine and human, so he had both divine and human traits. Some raise the Bible above even Jesus, giving it all divine traits and little or no human attributes.

The Bible was inspired by God and written by humans. Let’s not forget both sides of that equation. Since the Bible tells the story of Jesus, reveals God to us, and gives us God’s guidance and standards for living, let’s commit to study it regularly. I encourage you to join a study group, and delve deeper into the Scriptures. It will be very rewarding, and you will be blessed.

Note: Some material in this post was based on the book The God Questions by Hal Seed and Dan Grider, published by Outreach Publishing, © 2007

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

How Do We Know the Bible Is True? (Part 2)

This post is a continuation of the earlier discussion about the truth of the Bible.

Various Views of the Bible

The Bible is probably the most controversial book ever written, and there is quite the range of opinions about it. Let’s look at a few of them.

1. Bible Is Mythology

At one end of the spectrum, some say the Old Testament is just one culture’s mythology and code of laws, nothing more. They claim the Bible is just like the stories other societies have about their gods and creation, such as the Greek, Roman, and Norse mythology. They say the Ten Commandments and other laws in the Bible are just one culture’s expression of their moral code, which doesn’t necessarily apply to us.

Regarding the New Testament, these doubters claim that the stories about Jesus have been grossly exaggerated. They say these stories of Jesus take on mythical properties similar to stories of King Arthur and Robin Hood. These skeptics would say Jesus is not the Savior of the world and the Son of God who performed many miracles, including rising from the dead.

2. Bible Is Literally God’s Word

At the other end of the spectrum you have those who believe the Bible should be taken literally, and is without any kind of error in its original manuscripts. They claim that through the years, some factual errors have crept in, but nothing that compromises the overall truth of God’s Word.

3. Bible Contains God’s Truth

In between there is a wide range of opinions concerning the Bible. As Christians, we don’t believe the Bible is mythology, but understand it to be God’s inspired Word, which reveals to us some important information:

·We see God’s interactions with his people thru the historical narrative;

·We see God’s revelation of himself using various literary forms;

·We see Prophecy, much of which has already been fulfilled;

·We learn God’s standards for our behavior and God’s expectations of us;

·We learn the story of Jesus and how he is the Savior of the world and God’s fullest revelation of himself.

While we may believe the Bible contains God’s truth, there is still the problem of interpreting the Bible to discern that truth.

More on the Bible in a future post.

Note: Some material in this post was based on the book The God Questions by Hal Seed and Dan Grider, published by Outreach Publishing, © 2007

Monday, November 10, 2008

Pandering to the Left

If you are a social conservative, there is one thing you must be prepared for, and that is something I mentioned in my earlier blogs about Obama. That is, Obama will pass some laws early in his presidency to pander to certain left-wing special interest groups. There are at least three areas where I suspect we will see immediate action:

Abortion: Obama said, “The first thing I’d do as president is sign the Freedom of Choice Act.” That bill could wipe out every abortion restriction in state and federal law and result in an increase in abortions each year in America. The number of abortions has declined during the last few years.

Same-Sex Marriage: Obama has pledged to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) signed by President Clinton in 1996. Overturning DOMA will force every state without a constitutional amendment or specific state law protecting traditional marriage to recognize same-sex marriages.

Hate Crimes: Freedom of religious expression may be hindered if the gay lobby’s two top bills, hate crimes and Employment Nondiscrimination Act (ENDA), become law. A veto threat is all that has stopped them before, and Obama has said he will sign them.

With a Democrat-controlled Congress and a liberal Democrat as president, we will see significant changes with respect to these social issues. If you don’t want to see these laws enacted, then let your Senators and Congressman know. If they receive enough mail on the subject, they will be less inclined to vote for them or at least they may water them down somewhat.

As I mentioned in earlier blogs, pray for this country, and pray that the new administration will be guided by God.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Why Did Obama Win?

There has been a lot of discussion in the media as to why Obama won and not McCain. I think there is validity to much of what they have been saying, although I believe Obama’s victory can not be attributed to just one major factor or any particular group. Below is a list of those things contributing to his victory and the victory of many Democrats over Republicans in the House and Senate races.

Republicans Unpopular: the do-nothing Republican Congresses and a wildly unpopular and incompetent president were major factors. But we can’t blame Bush entirely.

People Want Change: Because Washington hasn’t accomplished much for many years and politicians are more interested in their own welfare and the good of the party over caring about the people who elected them, the people want “change.” The current office-holders had better understand what “change” means, or they will be voted out too.

Economic Problems: Although the current economic problems are the result of years of mismanagement and neglect, the current president was blamed by many for the problem. Since McCain is a Republican, it is guilt by association.

The Campaigns: Obama ran a brilliant campaign, while McCain’s campaign was lacking (where was Karl Rove when they needed him?) He was not the same McCain we knew from only a few years ago, and Gov. Palin’s handlers did a terrible job with her.

McCain’s Judgment Questioned: His selection of a relatively unknown, Gov. Palin, called into question his judgment.

Age vs. Race: McCain’s age was against him, while Obama’s race wasn’t a major factor for many whites (although he certainly lost some white votes, but that was made up by the African-Americans who voted for him primarily because he is black).

Charisma: Obama has Kennedy-esque charisma, while McCain wasn’t particularly inspiring. I remember the 1960 election, and JFK was an inspiring speaker whose rhetoric produced hope and optimism.

Republicans Perceived as Out of Touch: If the Republicans don’t cooperate with the Democrats and instead act as obstructionists in matters of grave importance to the future of this country, they will lose even more seats in the next election.

All of these produced the “perfect storm” for the Democrats. Let’s pray that the Democrats will be effective in solving this country’s problems, and will no longer pander to the special interests. The people must come first! If they continue with business as usual in Washington, then vote the bums out. Eventually our politicians will get the message.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

President of All?

Some people have worried that because Obama’s voting record leans far to the left, he would be a president for the Liberals more than president for all. Of course we don’t know how the Obama presidency will shape up, but from the way he talks, he will be a president for all. Let’s hope so.

Need Effective Solutions

As I mentioned in my earlier blog on the subject, I believe he will take care of the noisiest part of his base in his first 100 days. This will get them off his back for the time being, and he will then be able to concentrate on fixing many of the problems this country faces. Let’s hope his solutions to our problems are effective and consistent with American values. He will have to remember that we aren’t Europe, so European solutions won’t work here.

It’ll Take Time

Bear in mind two things. First, the president is limited in what he can accomplish. He needs a cooperative Congress, for one thing, and Congress can be notoriously ineffective. Secondly, these problems are the result of years of neglect and mismanagement. Some of these problems will take years to get resolved. Don’t expect all of our problems to go away overnight. A quick fix, even if possible, most likely won’t be a good long-term solution.

New Era

I’m also hoping that the Obama presidency will usher in a new era of racial harmony. When whites see an African-American president who goes against the ugly stereotypes we have built up over the years, then maybe opinions will change. When blacks see an African-American president elected by a significant majority of the population and admired by many whites, maybe their resentment and anger will diminish, and true healing can take place. The tears of joy in the eyes of my African-American friends testify that a new era may be dawning. Let’s hope so.


As I mentioned in my earlier blog, pray for this new administration, for this new congress, and for our country as a whole. Pray that relations between the races will improve, and that color will no longer be an issue. Pray that this country will return to the values that made it great, and that those with a Christian background will return to the faith of their fathers. Without God in the equation, success is doubtful. Pray without ceasing.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Historical Times, Historical Election

These are certainly historical times, and this has been an historical election. We have the first African-American as president-elect, something I didn’t think I would see in my lifetime.

The Obama Presidency

Obama is an intelligent man and I believe he is smart enough to surround himself with the best people. He has seen in George Bush what it looks like to fail miserably as president, and I don’t think he wants something like that as his legacy. I don’t think he is as ideologically-driven as some in Washington, although in his first 100 days he will take care of some of his special interest supporters such as gays, abortion rights people, environmentalists, and maybe labor. Nevertheless, I think he realizes he is the president of all the people, not just those on the left and the special interests. Once someone is in office, they often tend to drift towards the middle, where most of their constituents are.

I believe Obama will be starting his presidency with a lot of political capital on the international scene. If he uses it wisely, he can establish better relations throughout the world. We need to get back into right relationship with our European allies, and work effectively with Russia, moderate Islamic leaders, and other nations. He will have to build coalitions among interested nations to deal with hot spots such as Iran and North Korea, not to mention Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The People Have Spoken

In the 2006 election and again last night, the people spoke loudly. They threw out the do nothing Republicans, who squandered a great opportunity to actually accomplish something in Washington. Although they were hindered by certain Democrats, such as Tom Daschle, they still could have worked out compromises. Now a lot has to get done in a short time, and I think both Obama and Congress realize that they had better perform. If they don’t conduct the people’s business and address many of the problems facing this country, they will be voted out. No more business and usual. I think that’s what people meant when they talked about “change.” More power to the people!

In God We Trust

I urge you to pray for the president and the congress, that God will give them wisdom to make the right decisions, that they will put aside petty partisanship and ideological differences and fix what’s wrong with this country, and that they won’t be influenced by the special interests. Pray also that you and I don’t think our salvation rests with a new president, a better congress, more government programs, or anything else but God and God alone. Only God, working through human intermediaries, can move this country and the world in better directions.

Do Your Part

Let me also remind you that the responsibility does not rest only with our government officials, but with every citizen. We must participate in the political process by holding our officials accountable, and making sacrifices ourselves. Get involved in your kid’s school, don’t buy a gas-guzzling vehicle, begin to save some money, help a neighbor in need, contribute to charitable organizations, and pray for our country.

May God bless this country and its new administration.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

How Do We Know the Bible Is True? (Part 1)

Another question people have is, “Is the Bible true?” A related question could be, “How can we know the Bible is true?” A further question might be, “Why should we even care whether or not the Bible is true?”

Defining “True”

To answer the question, “Why should we care whether or not the Bible is true?” we should first define what we mean by the word “true.” Let’s look at three different possibilities.

1. True Means Without Factual Error

Some understand “true” to mean that the Bible is without any kind of error. This would mean all historical information is accurate and all facts and figures are correct.

2. True Means Take It Literally

Some understand “true” to mean the Bible is to be taken literally. This interpretation of “true” would mean, for example, that you must believe the world was created in six 24-hour days, not over eons.

3. True Means It Contains Absolute Truth

Still others understand “true” to mean that the Bible may not always be factually correct or literally true, but it does contain absolute truth from God. In other words, the various forms of literature contained in the Bible convey absolute truth about God, about the world, about God’s will, about morality. In my opinion, you can believe the Bible contains absolute truth without taking everything in it literally or claiming it is factually correct in every historical detail. Using the creation example, you can believe God created the world over eons, not six literal days, as long as you believe God created everything out of nothing.

John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, avoided this whole debate about the Bible by saying simply, “The Bible contains all that is necessary for salvation.” And when you think about it, that’s the bottom line, the salvation of our souls.

More on the Bible in a future post.

Note: Some material in this post was based on the book The God Questions by Hal Seed and Dan Grider, published by Outreach Publishing, © 2007

Monday, November 3, 2008

Is God Real? (Part 2)

In this post I am continuing a discussion about how we can be sure of the existence of God. Three reasons were given in an earlier post.

4. Jesus

The fourth reason we can believe God is real is the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Colossians 1:15a tells us that: [Jesus] is the image of the invisible God. NRSV

Hebrews 1:3 says something similar:

[Jesus] is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being, and he sustains all things by his powerful word. NRSV

While we generally consider God to be invisible and distant, God actually made himself visible and close to us in the form of Jesus. We know that Jesus is God because of all the miracles he performed, including raising the dead and his own Resurrection. So the divinity of Jesus is proof that there is a God, because we have seen him.

5. Personal Experience of God

Another reason we can believe God exists is our personal experience of God. What has come to be called The Wesleyan Quadrilateral looks at ways we can know God. The four sides of the quadrilateral are the Bible, Tradition, Reason, and Experience. So we can know God exists by our own personal experiences, and the testimonies of others. Think about the stories you have read or heard about how God worked in people’s lives. Think about your own experiences and how God has worked in your life. Unless we are willing to write off just about everything in life as luck, coincidence, or fate, we have to believe that God is active in our lives. As I look back even to my days as an unbeliever, I can clearly see God’s hand in my life in many different ways.

6. Logic and Reason

Another one of the sides of the Quadrilateral is Reason, and that is another way we can know of God’s existence. God, of course, can’t be adequately explained or proved by science, reason or logic, because God isn’t natural – God is super-natural (above or beyond nature). Nevertheless, by using reason and logical thinking, we can deduce the existence of a Supreme Being. For example:

·A creation requires a creator.
·An intelligent design requires an intelligent designer.
·Our inborn morality indicates a giver of standards who is higher than ourselves.
·The evidence of Jesus’ deity is proof that there is a Deity.
·Personal experience tells me there is a God who loves me and is active in my life.

While the existence of God can’t be proven scientifically, we know that logic, reason, experience and the Bible show us that there is a God. This is a God, not of our own making, but one who is above us and can be difficult for us mere mortals to understand. As a matter of fact, if God were easy to understand, then he really wouldn’t be God, would he? That’s another proof, in a way.


In conclusion, just about every society and culture in the history of the world has believed in and worshipped some sort of Supreme Being. God has put into all human beings some knowledge of himself and his moral standards. We as Christians believe God’s fullest revelation of himself is in Jesus Christ. Yet while on the earth Jesus was rejected by many – especially by those who should have known better – and he continues to be rejected today. So we have to realize that these five arguments for the existence of God will not convince somebody who has a closed mind on the subject – as some do. As Psalm 14:1a tells us: Fools say in their hearts, “There is no God.” NRSV

Nevertheless, it is yours and my job to share the truth with people as God gives us the opportunities, because some may be genuinely searching for answers. Remember, we can’t judge who will be receptive and who won’t, so we should just go ahead and share our faith when we can. To do that, we have to be prepared. We also have to be prepared for rejection and closed minds, but remember, we aren’t responsible for success – that’s God’s business. People aren’t rejecting you – they are rejecting God. We are to be open to God’s leading, so when God presents us with an opportunity, we should respond to it in obedience. And to respond effectively, we have to be equipped.

Note: Some material in this post was based on the book The God Questions by Hal Seed and Dan Grider, published by Outreach Publishing, © 2007