Home

Double standards!

Leave a comment

Proverbs 20:9,10 “Who can say, ‘I have cleansed my heart;  I am pure and free from sin.’?  False weights and unequal measures the Lord detests double standards of every kind.”

How often have you said to yourself or others; ‘Wow, how can people be like that!’  It really doesn’t matter what behaviour or action you’re referring to because the reality is – you’re judging.  People can be any way that occurs to them.  There is a very wide base of variability in human behaviour and in a world without any real standard practically anything goes.

As Christians we shouldn’t wonder how others ‘can be like that’.   The apostle Paul warned us not to judge those outside the church; “For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within? But them that are without God judgeth.” (1 Corinthians 5:12,13)  And yet we in the church often slide into this judgment  through an attitude of smug self-righteousness.  Quite forgetting that Jesus gave us a mission to the hurting world;  “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  (Matthew 28:19,20)

And this is exactly where the church has fallen.  Over the centuries since Jesus gave us this mission the church has sought too much friendship with the world.  Many false gods have become enshrined within the church such as love of prosperity, worldly philosophy and bureaucracy.  The demarcation between the church and the world has blurred and faded to such an extent that even for those who profess to be Christians can not distinguish themselves from those who don’t.  And more importantly, those outside the church cannot see how those within are any different from them.  To their ears our preaching has the ring of hypocrisy.

Scripture clearly describes this double standard; “You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere human being, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment?”  (Romans 2:1,2,3)  And yet far too many in the church don’t realize that much of the New Testament is written specifically to those within the church! We mistakenly think that once we ‘sign up’ we can do no wrong!

God is speaking to us – those in His church – when we are chastised: “You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures. Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, ‘The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously’”?  (James 4:3,4,5)  No wonder the power of the Gospel has been emptied out of our prayers and life.  We ask – where is the Spirit? And God asks why aren’t you coming to me?

The Lord detests the double standards of the worldly church.  Revival will come but only when it is preceded by repentance – not our neighbours’ but ours; “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”  (1 Chronicles 7:14)  Folks, that’s not them – that’s us!

Sounds good but is it really?

Leave a comment

We are all fond of posting great ‘one liners’ that seem to have a lot of deep meaning and offer guidance.  But how can we really evaluate their depth or worth?  Take for example  a picture that  was posted recently on Facebook with a saying on it by Vine Deloria; “Religion is for people who’re afraid of going to hell. Spirituality is for those who’ve already been there.”

The image indicates that the saying has special significance to Native North Americans – particularly the Sioux.  Can such a saying be taken out of its cultural context and generalized to other faiths?

As a Christian the crucial test of the legitimacy of any statement is its alignment with Scripture.  Does the Word of God agree or disagree with the saying? Does the saying go beyond what Scripture says?  Does it fall short?

The Bible clearly tells us that it contains everything that is needed to guide and instruct us;  “Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”  (2 Timothy 3:16,17)  So from the outset, Christians do not need extraneous sayings to guide them – Scripture is sufficient.

Further; this saying by Vine Deloria doesn’ align with the Biblical description of hell.  There is only a one-way ticket to hell and no human being ever returns from it.  Jesus teaches us to fear God and God alone; “Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”  (Matthew 10:28)  Later Jesus tells us that those who are not righteous in actions as well as intent will have a one-way ticket to hell; ” ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” (Matthew 25:44,45,46)  There is no coming back from hell.  For a Christian that’s just magical thinking.

The Apostles’ Creed tells us that Jesus being the Son of God is the only One who descended into Hell and ascended into Heaven; “Suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, dead and buried: He descended into hell. The third day he rose again from the dead.  He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty. From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.”  (Acts 2:24, Eph 4:9)  Jesus is the only One who will judge which of the two eternal destinations – heaven or hell – people will go to (Acts 10:42, 2 Timothy 4:1).

Entertaining  such a nice sounding thought as; “Religion is for people who are afraid of going to hell.  Spirituality is for those who have already been there.” is a real ego trip.  We like to say such things because just by mouthing the words we can lay claim to the flattering affectation of ‘being spiritual’.  Like the Chevrolet commercial – ‘Tried, tested and true’ – those who have been to ‘hell and back’ can sit back and bask in their superiority to those of us who are merely ‘religious’ and afraid of hell.  As I said earlier Jesus told us that hell was not a place you want a one-way ticket to and to fear the One who could send you to hell.

But what does Jesus know compared to Vine Deloria!

 

Empty laws and lawlessness

Leave a comment

The Ontario Safety League is urging a crackdown on stores that sell drug paraphernalia to under-aged teens: “The provincial government should crackdown on convenience stores that sell bongs, drug pipes, pill grinders and similar items, the Ontario Safety League says.  Brian Patterson, president and CEO for the Ontario Safety League, said an undercover operation this spring carried out in convenience stores in Toronto and Barrie that carried drug paraphernalia found staff were routinely willing to sell to 17-year-old mystery shoppers.”  (Antonella Artuso, Queen’s Park Bureau Chief, July 17, 2014)

Selling drug paraphernalia is already illegal so a crackdown should simply mean applying the laws that already exist.  But what is the suggested crackdown?  The Toronto Sun reports;

“We need action to stop neighbourhood stores from selling drug paraphernalia, particularly to our children,” Patterson said.

The OSL is calling on the province to ban the sale of lottery tickets from convenience stores that carry illicit drug paraphernalia.

Finance Minister Charles Sousa said retailers convicted of wrongdoing will lose the right to sell Ontario lottery tickets.

“We don’t have a mechanism within the system by which to remove lottery terminals unless they’ve broken the law,” Sousa said. “We have to respect the agreements that we have in place, but we’ve got mechanisms there to protect the public interest.”

Apparently people feel that taking away a store’s right to sell lottery tickets (a legalized activity that many are addicted to) would hurt the local venders more than any punishment provided by law for selling illegal drug paraphernalia.    What do the local venders as a group think about this whole issue; “The Ontario Convenience Stores Association supports the prohibition on the sale of illegal drug paraphernalia, but argues that federal law already deals with these items so new provincial penalties would likely be ineffective.”  (Toronto Sun)

What is really disturbing about this development is that we aren’t dealing with drug lords in some cartel in Mexico or South America.  We are dealing with convenience stores – mom and pop shops – at every corner in our towns and cities.  The owners live in the neighbourhoods that they sell this stuff in.  When ordinary people put profit ahead of morality we are in trouble.   The decay of moral responsibility in society advances with every soul that sells out for profit, convenience, fear or just plain apathy.

Austin Brunson writes; “As a whole, moral behaviors and actions are steadily losing their value as advertising becomes more sensual, immorality becomes the norm, and values such as honesty and integrity no longer play an important role in our daily lives.  Although many people turn their head to the rapidly declining moral society, the problem needs to be recognized and faced head on with immediate action.”  Brunson argues that the individual in society can play a crucial role in moral reform; “People want to be good and to be the cause of something that will better society as a whole.  To have enough influence to create a moral change, we need the individuals themselves to have the drive.  This drive is something that cannot be forced or impressed upon any individual.  Moral reform of the country is a big movement.  If the individual is not deeply committed to the cause, it will not last, nor will it have to drive to push the much needed moral change.” (Ibid)

Being deeply committed to a cause is a not popular in our individualistic society.  It’s ok to donate money, wear a ribbon and honk your horn for a cause that’s popular and not controversial.  Any positions that can be construed as intolerant or prejudicial are not allowed to be publicly expressed.  Yet any moral or ethical stand by definition has to be prejudiced against it’s opposing position.  So problems that we face are hard to dialogue on when the rule is to talk around your  position rather than stating it plainly.  But in order to have moral reform a society has to collectively agree that it has  big problems.  Few want to risk appearing  intolerant or bigoted by speaking out?  Real talk about real problems in society is stifled.

As a result many people today feel that things are going just fine.  They see no need for change.  A similar kind of moral relativism and decay had beset Israel in the time of their Judges; “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” (Judges 21:25)  This philosophy widely adopted by a society is simply self-interest carried to its end stages.  No amount of legislation can make a people moral at this point.  Everyone looks to their own profit margin – the shop keepers as well as the politicians, priests and trusted officials.  Current events in any newspaper attest to this sad state of affairs.

The law of faith

1 Comment

Romans 3:22-28 “Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.”

     Being right with God depends only on our faith in Jesus Christ.  Faith is active –  meaning it is lived out.  Matthew Henry describes a faithful lifestyle in this way; “trusting in him, accepting him, and cleaving to him: in all these, Jews and Gentiles are alike welcome to God through Christ.”  It is practice not Pharisaical perfection that characterizes a believer’s life.  We owe our righteousness to Jesus not our own efforts.  If we look for differences or make comparisons between each other we’re looking at ourselves and not God.  Self-righteousness is a form of idolatry.

     Everyone on earth needs the righteousness of God because no one is born good and everyone sins.  Most  of the world doesn’t believe this.  Yet the Bible makes no ‘bones’ about it; “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me.” (Psalm 51:5)  Sin is a disease, we are born into it and constantly exposed to it.  The only antidote is Jesus; “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)

     The world doesn’t want the cure because it doesn’t think it’s sick;  “He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.  This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil.” (John 3:18,19)  No matter how much good behaviour is legislated bad things will continue to happen because laws don’t change people.   Man-made laws can only condemn people who break them.

     Only one law makes a person change – the law of faith.  Jesus took our sin and bore the penalty; “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) The law of faith is a law that no one can break and everyone can accept.  There is no condemnation in it; “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” (Romans 8:1)

     Only one law takes away  this world’s lawlessness.  Only one law does what millions of man made laws over thousands of years have failed to do. Only one law does what the Laws given to Israel through Moses couldn’t do because we couldn’t live up to it.  Only one law saves.  The law of faith makes us right not because of what we do but because of what Jesus did.  Jesus said; “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.” (Matthew 5:17)

     The world hates the law of faith because people love to boast.  People love to look good.  People will do good to look good, feel good and think good about themselves and others.  But if people slowly became good by doing this after centuries of it you would think the world would be kinder and more peaceful.  It isn’t. Appearances and affectations don’t really change anything; “I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.” (Ecclesiastes 9:11)

     The law of faith leaves no room for boasting, good deeds or looking good.  The law of faith empties out everything that we have to justify ourselves with.  The law of faith embodies just one Person.  His name is Jesus.

    “I am the light of the world; he who fallows Me shall not walk in the darkness, but shall have the light of life.” (John 8:12)

     Praise the Lord!

Life span does not equal life expectancy!

Leave a comment

A recent article in the National Post heralds the possibility of increasing ‘life expectancy’; “Canadians have added 25 years to their lifespan in the last century, pushing the limits of aging to extraordinary lengths. . . . The average Canadian’s life expectancy at birth is 81.7, up from 57 in 1921, according to a report Thursday from Statistics Canada.”  (Sarah Boesveld)

Lets not accept an easy equation between life span and life expectancy.  Life span is simply how many years you will live before you die.  Life expectancy should be something much more than a number.  The word ‘expectancy’ is defined as; “the state of thinking or hoping that something, especially something pleasant, will happen or be the case.” It doesn’t take a great deal of reflection to come to the conclusion that perhaps life span and life expectancy may be two very different things.

Sarah Boseveld states; “Quality of life inevitably enters the conversation, and alarm bells have been ringing: One federal report released last year said the average Canadian will spend more than a decade of his or her life dealing with diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes or cancer.”  Life span is simply a quantitative measure and life expectancy is a qualitative concept.  Ten or twenty years of diabetes and cancer tacked on to the end of your life isn’t a positive expectancy.

My wife, a retired nurse, is always encouraging me to eat right, exercise daily and watch my weight.  She claims that keeping your mobility and fitness level past middle age are very important factors that contribute to a good quality of life in your senior years.  By following her advice I am increasing my ‘life expectancy’ all by myself.  Although in the freezing months of winter as I am putting in my four to five kilometer walk I sometimes have difficulty maintaining a positive attitude.

By losing forty pounds of fat around my gut and cutting back on the carbs and sugars I have gone from being pre-diabetic to ‘normal’ again.  (My wife the ‘head nurse’ is a tough but good coach).  My life expectancy has improved not just for twenty years down the road but I’m enjoying my life today a lot more than when I was an overeater.  I’m not all that concerned about living to be 120 years old but I would like to live well in the time that I have.  Being able to enjoy life is more important to me than putting in years.

I can’t do much about my ‘life span’ –  until I die it remains an actuarial statistic.  Sadly, far too many couch potatoes prefer science and technology to increase their life spans under the mistaken impression that somehow this will magically increase their life expectancy.

Decline

Leave a comment

Romans 1:21 “Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.”

     How can you know God and not glorify Him as God?  How can you know His blessings and not be thankful?  And who are they? What will they become?

    The Apostle Paul is writing about those who suppress the truth about God and of God; “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.” (Romans 1:18,19) ‘They’ is people who know better but don’t want any part of the truth. When you don’t want any part of the truth your mind invents lies to believe that are more appealing to your carnal nature.

     Since beauty always has an author, natural beauty should speak to mankind about God;s existence as loudly as the burning bush (Exodus 3:1-22) to a mind willing to hear the message.  Paul argues that though the specific intentions of God might not be as clear without revelation certainly His handiwork speaks to His larger attributes; “The object of the apostle was not to say that every thing pertaining to God could be known by them, or that they could have as clear a view of him as if they had possessed a revelation. . . but that they knew enough to Proverbs that they had no excuse for their sins.” (Barnes’ Notes)

     So whether you are growing in a covenant relationship with God or whether you know His works in the natural universe –  you do know Him partially.  And the degree of intimacy you have with Him depends on your partiality to the knowledge of Him you have.  No one is excused.  Today we have the Gospel clearly laid out and available to all.  We all make the choice and many hide in darkness; “. . . the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.” (John 3:19,20)

     And here we have the answer to the first two questions.  You can know God and not glorify Him as God.  The demons do this and so do those who love darkness because their deeds are evil.  You can know His blessings and not be thankful.  Jesus told us; “He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Matthew 5:45)  All of humanity receives good things from God.  Some are grateful, many are not.  Many turn away and have since the beginning.  Decline sets in and grows and grows.  

     Since the fall, humanity has hidden from God and turned away from His truth; “I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself.” (Genesis 3:10)  Before the great flood mankind was wicked beyond measure; “. . . the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” (Genesis 6:5)  And Jesus told us in Person; “An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonah” (Matthew 12:39)

     Decline is the outcome of turning away from God.  History chronicles this decline.  Current events document the decline as it continues today.  Desperate and hopeless people march to its tune – downward and ever downward.  If the leaders of the world in the past had any wisdom that could turn things around the world would be a far better place and not the ‘hell hole’ it is for a vast majority of people;  “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written: ‘He catches the wise in their craftiness'” (1 Corinthians 3:19).

     In individuals, the decline is evident in hard hearts, pride and love of self; “. . . There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God — having a form of godliness but denying its power.” (2 Timothy 3:1-5)  This is us and those of us it isn’t could so easily slide into it.

     The Forerunner commentary says; “Rather than following truth, man rejects the knowledge of God. He willingly turns a blind eye to His creative powers, and instead, in his mind, replaces the faultless and perfect God with frail, perishable organisms: man, birds, reptiles, etc. He is willing to elevate almost anything above the true God. And God allows this! In essence, He says, ‘If this is the way of life you choose, fine. Its consequences you bring upon yourselves!’ The results are given in verses 24-25.”  God gives mankind the freedom to live in our own filth; “God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator . . . ” (Romans 1:24,25)

     Idolatry doesn’t arise out of ignorance.  Rather it arises out of disobedience and the decline that comes with it.  Go against history and the march of man’s ‘progress’!  Stick with the truth.  Abide in it; “And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness. And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life. Little children, keep yourselves from idols.” (1 John 5:19-21)

     Praise the Lord!

    

Things are not what they seem!

Leave a comment

Acts 28:1-6 “Now when they had escaped, they then found out that the island was called Malta. And the natives showed us unusual kindness; for they kindled a fire and made us all welcome, because of the rain that was falling and because of the cold. But when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks and laid them on the fire, a viper came out because of the heat, and fastened on his hand. So when the natives saw the creature hanging from his hand, they said to one another, ‘No doubt this man is a murderer, whom, though he has escaped the sea, yet justice does not allow to live.’ But he shook off the creature into the fire and suffered no harm. However, they were expecting that he would swell up or suddenly fall down dead. But after they had looked for a long time and saw no harm come to him, they changed their minds and said that he was a god.”

     A friend of mine was given a vision from God where he was told; ‘Things are not what they seem.’ How true.  Only God sees the entirety of our existence and understands how everything fits into His plans and purposes;  “The eyes of the Lord are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good.” (Proverbs 15:3)  We can observe people in the world around us and come to what seems to be reasonable conclusions only to have events turn around and upend all our pronouncements.

     Paul was a murderer, if not in deed certainly by intent and complicity; “. . . and they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul. And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God and saying, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’” (Acts 7: 58,59)  This young man Saul was to become Paul.  Prior to his conversion Paul hated Christians and His church; “. . . Now Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest, and asked for letters from him to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, both men and women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem . . . ” (Acts 9:1,2)
    

Paul who was Saul had a murderous past and if any deserved to die a bloated painful death by snake bite it was Paul.  It’s a cold and unforgiving justice that the world has for all sinners that takes no account of Grace.  The world of onlookers could not (and cannot) see that Saul had an encounter with Jesus Christ who changed his life from the old man, Saul, to the new man, Paul.  The world rejects and condemns but Jesus selects and commissions; “. . . he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake.” (Acts 9:15,16)

     And even when events prove the world wrong, people re-consider their pronouncements and come to opposite conclusions which are equally in error and fall as far short of reality as their original views.  To the people of Malta, Paul went from being a murderer getting his just deserts to a god immune to snake bites.  Popular opinion in Paul’s day was based on popular ignorance of not only  history but spiritual realities too.  This is true today as well.

      Even popular spiritual ‘psychics’ say the same; “Constantly exposing yourself to popular culture and the mass media will ultimately shape your reality tunnel in ways that are not necessarily conducive to achieving your Soul Purpose and Life Calling. Modern society has generally ‘lost the plot’. Slavishly following its false gods and idols makes no sense in a spiritually aware life.” (Anthon St. Maarten)  There is no rationality in modern day delusions.  Anthon St. Maarten’s popularity is an instance of this sad state of affairs.  The paradox of our culture is that the more technologically adept we become because of the scientific advancements of a very small percentage of our society the more the minds of the general population are inclined to fickle superstition.

     The reality is that God is operating in the world today as he was in Paul’s day – unseen and not understood by those who will not  perceive.  Paul in addressing the inclination of people in the early church to follow celebrities rather than Jesus warned; “. . . Do not deceive yourselves. If any of you think you are wise by the standards of this age, you should become ‘fools’ so that you may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written: ‘He catches the wise in their craftiness’ and again,  ‘The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile.’” (1 Corinthians 3:18-20)

     The Bible tells us where we can get the  wisdom we are to follow and use to understand what is happening in the world with; “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings.” (Hebrews 13:8,9)  If you want to understand what’s really going on in the world and behind the scenes read the Holy Bible.  if you have ‘lost the plot’, so to speak, don’t despair. 

     You can find meaning again in the Word of God.  You can have an encounter with Jesus and you’ll never be the same again.  Things are not what they seem.  There is meaning.  There is healing.  There is hope and His name is Jesus; “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)

     Praise the Lord!

Older Entries

%d bloggers like this: