The Downfall of Institutions and Pride

The central point of Romans 9-11 that is missed because of our fixation on Calvinism, is the warnings about rejoicing at the fall of the “others.”

Paul explains the interaction between Jews and Gentiles in those chapters. The Jews were chosen to bring forth the Messiah. Through them, by way of the Messiah, all nations would be blessed.

Unfortunately (if that’s the right word), the Jews rejected their own Messiah. In so doing, they were cast aside for a time. But also, fortunately (if that’s the right word), through the rejection of the Messiah salvation through Christ’s death and resurrection is fully revealed, so much so that Gentiles will be drawn to The Light.

Paul warns Gentiles not to get arrogant. Gentiles will think Jews were set aside because Gentiles are better. Paul says not to go there!

“Don’t get a big head, Gentiles, if God cut out the original people, you better believe He’ll cut out new rebellious people.”

This issue has implications for other contexts as well.

Last week the Catholic Church got busted and I saw many a Protestant Evangelical proudly preening. “What’d you expect from them? You don’t see that problem in our churches.”

Willow Creek is falling apart and many with small churches like to point out the megachurches and the flashy suburban Christian stuff. “What’d you expect from them? You don’t see that problem in our churches?”

Republicans and Democrats trade these shots on a daily basis, pointing out the fault in the other side. “What’d you expect from them? You don’t see that problem on our side.”

Here’s the thing: Is is on your side, you just forget it or justify it more easily.

When we point out the failures of others, our own ego gets a boost. When our egos get boosted, we soon fall into our own pits.

Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall. Pride comes not only through your own success, but also by observing other people’s failures.

Pride will knock you down. Legitimate wrong should be addressed and punished. But gloating over sin, over destructive behavior in others, is not helping; it will only foster the same arrogance that produces sin to begin with.

Pursue righteousness. Other people being sinners does not make you or your side righteous. Doing righteousness is what pursuing righteousness is. Do that.

Blinded By The Fight

The Catholic Church took a big hit last week. The largest child abuse case was detailed in Pennsylvania. The offending priests were shuffled around, no one took action to stop the abuse.

Willow Creek Church is falling apart as board members and clergy resign after founding pastor Bill Hybels was accused by multiple women of adulterous relations. No one took the allegations seriously as they were going on.

Ohio State football is going through a similar ordeal. Which reminds us of the disgusting revelations of the Joe Paterno Penn State program.

The president and other politicians can say and do all manner of ridiculous things and yet their party continues to back them.

There is a pattern here!

Institutions take on a life of their own. Members of the institution feel that their institution is doing great work, they must be preserved so their work can carry on.

If a bad apple gets in the bunch, cover it up! The institution is bigger, and the work is too important for one person to bring it down.

Everyone is guilty of this fault. We are a communal people and we’ll defend our communities to the death.

Of course, if the other side does an equally bad thing, that’s the worstest thing ever! Hitler!

Human institutions appear important, but they are like all earthly things: temporal.

But our eyes get clouded. We start looking to the things of this earth and defending them. We will compromise our values, our morality, and our witness to maintain the important work of our institution.

People get hurt when institutions become too big. The poor kids whose lives will forever be scarred, it boggles the mind how such sickness can take place, let alone be covered up.

The power of institutions is a scary thing. What institutions carry too much weight for you? Your political party? Your football team? Your denomination? Your theological camp?

We each have at least one institution we defend. Be careful. No matter how big or how important you think your institution is, it’s not bigger than the Gospel and the simple truth that we are to love our neighbor and do righteousness.

Don’t be blinded by the fight for your institution. The only fight to fight is the fight of faith.

Gloria Copeland’s Jesus Flu Shot

Gloria Copeland, wife of Kenneth Copeland of televangelist fame, has recently told her people that they don’t need flu shots if they have Jesus.

“We all ready had our shot. He bore our sickness and carried our diseases” Copeland slurred. I wonder if Christ’s wounds heal slurring issues?

I’m not mocking her slur. I’m merely pointing out the inconsistency of the message. If Jesus heals all diseases, why does she appear old and show signs of stroke? Why does Ken wear reading glasses? But this sort of logic does not stop the flow of stupid.

“Jesus Himself gave us the flu shot. He redeemed us from the curse of flu.”

She staggered on, “By His stripes we were healed. When we were healed; we are healed. So get on the word, stay on the word, and if you say, ‘well, I don’t have any symptoms of the flu,’ well great! That’s the way it’s supposed to be. Just keep saying that I’ll never have the flu. I’ll never have the flu. Put words, inoculate yourself with the word of God.”

Interestingly enough the words, “I’ll never have the flu” never appear in the word of God.

The power of positive thinking does not heal people, nor does it prevent disease. This is pure gibberish.

Meanwhile, they repeatedly miss the clear point of Isaiah 53 and the supremacy of Christ to redeem sinners.

The clear message of “Repent and believe the Gospel” has been replaced with “Don’t get a flu shot cuz Jesus.”

We should all be in a state of mourning over the state of the church.

One More Thing I’m Not Worried About: Google Home Doesn’t Know Jesus.

I’m not even sure why this is an actual news story, but a Nashville TV station reports on a person who is troubled that Google Home does not know Jesus.

Seriously, this is a news story.

Google Home is Google’s version of Siri or Alexa. A box you ask questions to that gives you answers from the internet in a computerized voice.

Apparently, if you ask Google Home who Jesus is, it replies, “I’m not sure how to help you with that.”

The complaining citizen goes on:

“I even asked Google who is David Sams? Google knew who I was, but Google did not know who Jesus was, Google did not know who Jesus Christ was, and Google did not know who God was,” Sams said.

Sam later went on to say, “It’s kinda scary, it’s almost like Google has taken Jesus and God out of smart audio,” Sams said. “First it started with schools.”

Another person quoted in the article said, “They took prayer out of schools, they think just taking Jesus out of everything is politically correct these days and I think that’s the stem of a lot of our problems.”

This argument tires me. Logically it makes no sense.

Follow the logic:

God was in the schools
They took God out of schools
Now our culture is the pits

Didn’t the time when God was in schools lead to the time when He wasn’t? (Which also raises the silly notion that God is bound to go only where people have passed laws allowing Him to be.)

Why does no one take it back to that? If God in the schools led to a culture that took God out of school, then clearly we can say that God in the schools wasn’t all that great either. Maybe having school in charge of God wasn’t a good idea based on the results.

In all honesty, I do not want the schools teaching about God. They will mess it up, as history clearly seems to show. The Church is the institution entrusted with teaching who God and Christ are.

So, yes, I’m sure you can guess that I do not care that Google Home is not teaching people who Christ is.

Google Home, according to the article, has no problem telling you about “the prophet Muhammed, Buddha — even Satan.”

This is simply more confirmation that the world doesn’t like Jesus. No kidding. What was your first clue?

There is no point to being upset by this. If anything, it’s amusing and shows the world’s fear. I’m cool with that.

If you want more people to know who Jesus is, I suggest not relying upon a computer device, but in your own ability to go tell them. You’ll hopefully do a better job anyway.

The Great Commission is not, “Go forth and tell computer devices to tell the world about Jesus.” That’s our job to tell people about Christ. Go do it.

Matt Walsh on the West’s Indifference to Church Persecution in the East

Christian persecution and genocide is worse now than it has ever been in history. Christians in Afghanistan, Somalia, Sudan, Pakistan, North Korea, Libya, Iraq, Yemen, Iran, Egypt, and many other countries, are regularly imprisoned, tortured, beaten, raped, and martyred. Their churches are destroyed. Their houses burned. They meet and worship in secret, risking their lives in the process. They live every moment in constant danger.

About 215 million Christians face what is called “extreme persecution” for their faith. It’s estimated that around a million have been slaughtered since 2005. There is no way to know exactly how many. What we do know is that Christianity has been dramatically reduced in parts of the world where it had existed for nearly 2,000 years.

But what do we care?

There are other things to worry about here. Hollywood sex scandals. Twitter disputes. Whatever controversial thing Trump said this week. So on and so on. We — myself included — spend far more time, and spill far more ink, on these issues than we ever have on the coordinated genocide of our fellow believers in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. Why?

I have come to believe that our disinterest stems not only from the general apathy that defines western society and the western church, but from moral cowardice. To face the plight of our brothers and sisters is to face ourselves. To see these Christians who would rather be shot dead in the desert than renounce their faith is to see our own faith as a shabby, pitiful, hollow imitation. To see Christians who would risk their very lives to go to church and preach the Gospel is to question why we will do neither of those things, even though we are perfectly free and able. We cannot confront these truths of ourselves, so we will not confront the truth of Christian persecution.

We have submitted to the forces of darkness. We have bent our knees in homage to Satan, and the enemies of the faith haven’t even fired a shot to induce our surrender. Satan does not beat us with a stick; he dangles a carrot. He lulls us to sleep. He distracts us. He tempts us. Kill us? Why would he do that? We are no threat to him. A Christian in Afghanistan is a threat. He must be destroyed. It’s the only way. But a lazy, soft, equivocating Christian in the West? There is no need to persecute him. He is not worthy of it. Just give him a television and the internet and let him damn himself.

And Satan laughs.

He does not want us to be jolted out of this stupor, and he has no doubt instructed his legions accordingly. The persecutors of the church in America have quite an easy job. For them, the strategy is clear: Put down the gun. Drop the machete. Don’t scare these people. Don’t make martyrs of them. Don’t give them any hint that there is a war going on and the fate of their souls lies in the balance. Let them be arrogant and self-assured. Let them push out any thought of their own mortality. Let them dismiss everything I’m saying right now as “pessimistic” and “negative.” Let them enjoy themselves. Let them have their spiritual indifference and let them dress it up as “positivity” and “hopefulness.” Let them have it all. Fluff their pillow for them, even. Turn on the TV and hand them the remote. Feed them. Pamper them. Pleasure them. Give them everything their hearts desire. Don’t appeal to their fear; appeal to their lust, their laziness, their gluttony, their vanity, their pride, their boredom.

And watch them drop like flies.

 

Read the whole article by clicking here.

Preferred Pronoun Confusion and God

One of the central tenets of Christianity is our aloofness to the idiocy of the world. We’re not to be conformed to the world. We’re to come out from among them and be separate. We’re to be on guard for the deceptions and lies of human philosophy.

If a person does this and has no “dog in the fight,” it’s fascinating to behold what sin makes people do. The irony of sin is inherent to itself–you desire to do what kills you–and the fruit of sin is equally ironic.

Here are two separate news items from our current sin-filled culture.

There is a new law in California about making people use transgender people’s preferred pronouns.

Among the unlawful actions are “willfully and repeatedly” failing to use a transgender person’s “preferred name or pronouns” after he or she is “clearly informed of the preferred name or pronouns.”

The law states that if provisions are violated, the violator could be punished by a fine “not to exceed one thousand dollars” or “by imprisonment in the county jail for a period not to exceed one year,” or both.

Near the same time that this comes out, we also have this news item:

The Church of England should stop using male pronouns when referring to God in order to counter the erroneous belief that the Almighty has a gender, the first female bishop to sit in the House of Lords has said.

Speaking before the event, the bishop raised the issue of God’s gender, saying: “We’re told that God created human beings in God’s likeness… If I am made in the image of God, then God is not to be seen as male. God is God.”

Instead of using either “He” or “She” to describe God, Bishop Treweek said she  prefers simply to use the word “God”.

Am I the only one who sees the irony?

Clearly the Bible, which Christians believe was authored by God, addresses God with male pronouns. Male pronouns, like “He” and “Him,” are God’s preferred pronouns. That’s how He wants to be addressed. He is our Father in heaven.

I thought we were supposed to use people’s preferred pronouns and that willfully not doing so was wrong? What gives?

I am so confused.

Yet I’m not.

Our world is insane.

If you have eyes to see and ears to hear, you will notice the insane everywhere. It becomes rather entertaining.

There is nothing new under the sun. The world has always had crazy people because sin makes people crazy.

We’re told that being rational is a result of having a materialistic, scientific view of the world.

The Bible tells us being wise/rational comes from the fear of God and listening to His Word, which is truth.

Stick with God’s Word, it abides forever. Humanity’s words are far sillier and far more temporal. Act accordingly.

7 Thoughts on the Numerous Recent Moral Failings of Public Figures

When Bill Clinton was elected president, I was cleaning floors in the Northwestern College cafeteria. My roommate’s girlfriend came in and told me, with tears in her eyes, that Clinton won.

“Oh,” I said, and went back mopping.

The Clinton years were a fascinating time to be a Christian. I will admit I got caught up in the hysteria. Monica Lewinski, rape allegations, “at least Nixon resigned” t-shirts, etc.

The moral outrage amongst Christians was astounding. Clinton was the devil incarnate.

Oh how far we’ve come, dear church.

“a new PRRI/Brookings poll says. In 2011, 30 percent of white evangelicals said that “an elected official who commits an immoral act in their personal life can still behave ethically and fulfill their duties in their public and professional life.” Now, 72 percent say so — a far bigger swing than other religious groups the poll studied.

Evangelicals no longer think moral failings are that big of a deal in our politicians. The “other side” apparently has no monopoly on moral failing, so our morals have adjusted accordingly.

The recent election is one possible reason white evangelicals don’t think moral failings are that big of a deal.

Hillary Clinton potentially has played into it, as well. Many Republicans find her unacceptable, and it may be that some dislike her so much that they have stretched their conceptions of who it’s OK to vote for.

Hillary Clinton carries with her all the baggage of her husband. Christians, as I recall, absolutely hated Bill Clinton. His wife is lumped in with him. We’ll vote for any louse as long as it’s not a Clinton louse.

Here are a few points to consider:

  1. Christians think they vote for the lesser of two evils. If we have to vote for someone who degrades women, so be it, at least he’s not for abortion. Although I understand the desire to protect the unborn, tying our boat to the dock of immoral, immature leadership seems tenuous.
  2. Voting typically makes Christians look stupid. Vote if you think it matters, but perhaps consider keeping it private, along with all your political views. A vote is putting a stamp of approval on a person. When the Church is seen doing that, the Church gets lumped in with the politician. This has never worked out well for the Church.
  3. Our government in America is by the people. We get what we deserve. Politicians are not going to morally reform America. They are not going to get rid of abortion. They will, in fact, continue to flush our morals down the toilet, because that’s what human nature wants to have happen. America needs the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If America came alive to the Gospel, politics would follow. It doesn’t work the other way. Never has; never will.
  4. Moral lapses in our leaders should be expected occasionally. Leaders are people. People are sinners. But that’s why the Bible says the people we follow should be tested and proved to have character. People make mistakes and grace should be shown to both sides of the political spectrum. Currently, however, we appear to be in a time where the majority of leaders are failing regularly. I’m not sure this is a new thing, or if it’s a result of invasive, incessant media coverage. I don’t know, but none of this makes it right.
  5. The typical way to deal with the moral failings of a person on “our side” is to bring up moral failings of a person on the “other side.” We’re in a battle now of ignoring moral failures while also comparing and contrasting them indefinitely. Moral failings are moral failings. Apologies don’t cut it in leadership. If a leader fails they’re supposed to step down. The fact that our leaders fail and don’t step down, but instead point out how other leaders do it too so leave me alone, is not a good sign.
  6. Men are disgusting. If there’s no other point to take out of the recent headlines, it’s that men are out of control animals. Good grief, men. Get a grip. It’s time to personally fight against pornography, sexual perversion in all forms, and dealing with dignity toward women. Women should also wear more clothing. But still, even if women walked around buck naked, grow up men! Get control.
  7. We are more loyal to our party than we are to our God. We’d, apparently, degrade moral standards for the sake of staying loyal to our guys. When we are in a spot like this, it’s time for an examination: Do we have our trust in God who established morals, or rulers who wield temporal power? The obvious answer here is troubling.

However, this is just a poll and polls are easily manipulated. Polls also show what the majority wants, and a majority of human nature is always going to side with sin.

Actual believers in Jesus Christ are not selling out godliness for the sake of political power. Followers of Jesus Christ are not entangling themselves with the affairs of this life. Jesus paid next to no attention to politics. What He did say is that we seek first the Kingdom of God, He’ll take care of the rest of what we need. He tells His people to let the heathen fight for power; the meek will inherit the earth in the end.

I do wish the Church were more interested in the better country to come than we are in this tottering republic. America has been good to me. I mean no disrespect. But this is not my home. I will not let go of godliness for a bowl of pottage, even if the bowl has the Stars and Stripes on it.