Posts Tagged ‘Christians’

Shavuot is a little known holiday among Christians today. It is ironic to me, since it commemorates the single most important event in Judeo-Christian history—the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai. And in the 3,300 years since, the Torah’s ideals—monotheism, justice, responsibility—have become the moral basis for Western civilization.

Shavuot (Hebrew for “Weeks”) occurs on the sixth day of the Hebrew month of Sivan (late May or early June). Shavuot commemorates the early harvest in the land of Israel. (See Leviticus 23:9-16 and Deuteronomy 16:9-11) It is one of the three biblical pilgrimage festivals. It also commemorates the anniversary of the day God gave the Ten Commandments to Moses and the Israelites at Mount Sinai.

Since Shavuot occurs 50 days (7 weeks) after the first day of Passover, it is sometimes known in Christian circles as “Pentecost,” a Greek word meaning “50 days.” Shavuot, however, has no connection to the Christian Pentecost holiday.

Many people today are taught that after leaving Egypt on the day of the Passover, only Jews traveled into the Sinai desert. And there, God spoke to the entire Jewish nation and  instructed them to keep the Ten Commandments He inscribed on the stone tablets. (See Deuteronomy 4:1-14) So they mistakenly assume that all of the feasts mentioned in the Old Testament are meant only for Jews. But what most Christians fail to understand is that when the Hebrews left Egypt they were also joined by non-Hebrew people. We read in Exodus 12:38 that a “mixed multitude” went with them. Some perhaps, willing to leave their country after it was laid waste by plagues; others, out of curiosity; perhaps a few out of love for the Hebrews and their religion. And the same laws applied both to the native-born Hebrew and to the foreigner. (verse 49) Also, the Bible never refers to the feasts as Jewish feasts, but the “Feasts of the Lord”. (See Leviticus 23:2, 4, 37, 44; 2 Chronicles 2:4; Ezra 3:5)

How to Celebrate Shavuot

In biblical times, Shavuot was tied to the agricultural calendar. It originally celebrated the first fruits of the wheat harvest seven weeks after Passover (Leviticus 23:15-16). Counting the omer between the holidays added an element of anticipation of looking forward to Shavuot and a bountiful harvest. On this pilgrimage feast, Israelites traveled to Jerusalem to offer the first portion of their crops to the Lord in thanksgiving for His provision of food.

Celebrating the Spiritual Harvest

But Shavuot is more than the celebration of the first fruits of a physical harvest. Today, we observe it as the first fruits of a spiritual harvest. On the first Shavuot after Jesus’s death and resurrection, the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit that enabled them to speak so that many people in attendance heard their words in their native tongue! Many who heard these messages in their own languages were amazed, though others thought the disciples were just drunk. (Acts 2:12)

Peter went on to explain that Jesus had been raised from the dead and God had poured out His Spirit in fulfillment of His promise through Joel 2:32-33. When the crowd asked what they should do, Peter urged them to turn their lives around and be baptized in the name of Jesus. Then they would be forgiven and would receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:37-39) About 3,000 people were added to the church that same day!

Just as Jesus promised, God sent His Spirit on that Shavuot to enable His people to be witnesses for Him: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

Anticipating the Future Harvest

Thus, Shavuot is a reminder that we are living in anticipation of a harvest that is yet to come when people from every nation will be gathered into God’s Kingdom. Until that final harvest time, God expects us to be His witnesses to Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection to all peoples and nations. And He has empowered us for this task. How we celebrate Shavuot can impact the size of that future harvest as we obey God’s commandments and share the gospel to all peoples, nations and tongues.

True obedience or just looking good? 

“What is more pleasing to the Lord: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams.” (1 Samuel 15:22)

In our human attempts to look good in serving God, there is the temptation to perform certain religious duties rather than to truly obey God. Even good activities, such as giving money to charity, attending church services, or praying in public, are not as important to God as obeying His commands. Disobedience is an act of rebellion, disrespects God’s Word, and is based on looking good to other people rather than to God.

Jesus criticized the teachers of his time for similar practices. Matthew 6 notes three religious activities—fasting, public prayer, and giving to those in need. People often use these things to look good in front of other people rather than to honor God. The problem is not our religious activities or good works, but the disobedience of God’s commands and the desire for approval of people rather than the approval of God.

Charles Spurgen once wrote: “The first thing which God requires of his child is obedience; and though you should give your body to be burned, and all your goods to feed the poor, yet if you do not hearken to the Lord’s precepts, all your formalities shall profit you nothing. It is a blessed thing to be teachable as a little child, but it is a much more blessed thing when one has been taught the lesson, to carry it out to the letter. How many adorn their temples and decorate their priests, but refuse to obey the word of the Lord! My soul, come not thou into their secret.”

Many are up in arms after President Trump told Bill O’Riley in comparing the U.S. to Russia, that “America has killers.” Sometimes the truth upsets people. Especially when it’s an ugly truth.

Targeted killing is a modern euphemism used for the assassination (premeditated killing) of an individual by a state organization or institution outside a judicial procedure or a battlefield. According to a senior CIA official, from July 2008 to June 1, 2011, the CIA launched 220 strikes inside Pakistan. The agency said that some 1,400 suspected militants were killed, along with about thirty civilians. The United States government also carried out the “targeted killing” of Anwar al-Awlaki—A United States citizen who was killed without due process. And two weeks later also killed his 16 year old son without any proof that he was even involved in any terrorist activities. Mayor Marion Barry infamously stated, “Washington should not be called the murder capital of the world. We are the targeted killing capital of the world.”

In a speech before the CIA celebrating its 50th anniversary, President Clinton said: “By necessity, the American people will never know the full story of your courage.” This, of course, is the heart of the problem in the first place. An agency that is above criticism is also above moral behavior and reform. Its secrecy and lack of accountability allows its corruption to grow unchecked. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/article/inside-the-cias-kill-list/

In an interview on ‘Face The Nation’ John Dickerson asked Vice-President Mike Pence, “Do you think America is morally superior to Russia?” Although Pence skirted around the question, the answer should have been an unequivocal NO.

So, do I think America is morally superior to Russia? 

Absolutely not! Not when U.N. workers and military personnel are allowed to rape women and children without any repercussions; or when 1 in 5 children are molested and raped in their own homes and the perpetrators are allowed to walk free; or when people are more concerned about a women’s right to abortion than they are about the homeless; when our children are taught how to protect themselves from unwanted pregnancies and STD’s instead of moral purity; and when Bible believing Christians are reduced to name calling and using vulgar language simply because they disagree with someone, then no, we are not morally superior to Russia—or any other country that places human wisdom above God.

When it comes to morals, we have the same age old problem that the rest of the world has: All of us have sinned and are deprived of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23) And when a nation collectively rejects God and His wisdom, “Their hands are on what is evil, to do it well; the prince and the judge ask for a bribe, and the great man utters the evil desire of his soul; thus they weave it together.” (Micah 7:1)

Every civilization that rejected God’s laws and instead depended on their own wisdom, fell into moral decay and then finally deteriorated into near destruction. So must we remain under God’s wrath? Are we all doomed for destruction? No! There is another way laid open for us. This is the righteousness of God—That while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8) It is by that faith by which we are delivered and spared destruction. A faith that respects Christ as a Savior, in all his three anointed offices as Prophet, Priest, and King; trusting in him, accepting him, and cleaving to him.

In this way Russians, Americans, Israelis, Palestinians, Mexicans—are all welcome to be partakers of God’s grace through Christ. There is no difference, his righteousness is upon all that believe. It is a free grace; there is nothing in ourselves or our own works that deserve such favor; it comes freely to us. But Christ bought and paid the price for that grace with his own blood.

So let us not trample the blood of Christ beneath our feet by giving in to the temptation to lash out; to pay evil for evil. But instead, let us be a light that will lead the world to our only hope: To repent of our wickedness and return to God’s ways. Remember: “When the righteous increase, the people rejoice, but when the wicked rule, the people groan.” (Proverbs 29:2 )

According to a 2012 CDC report, child abuse and neglect cost the United States over $124 billion a year! https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2012/p0201_child_abuse.html

1 out of 5 children are abused, molested or raped every day—Many in their own homes! The prevalence of child sexual abuse is difficult to determine because many times it is not reported. Experts agree that the incidence is far greater than what is reported to authorities. And even when it is reported and the perpetrators are charged, most judges only sentence them to probation and require them to register as a sex offender.

Although many people depend on the Sex Offender Registration law to keep children safe, this is a common misperception.The SOR law in many states does not have the legal jurisdiction to prevent an offender from attending events, limiting employment, restrict an offender from entering facilities—such as schools, playgrounds, children’s museums, or refrain from living with or socializing with children.The SOR law can only mandate that the offender register his or her required information at the sheriff’s office within the required time.

Knowing all of this, why is not more being done to prevent this heinous crime? Because in most cases, it does not personally affect people—Not the police officer who was just doing his job; not the attorneys who agreed to plea deals for the perpetrators; and not the judge who only sentence them to probation; and not many who are reading this right now.

At times it seems that people are more outraged about animal abuse than they are about child abuse! Unfortunately, when a child is sexually abused there is no one on TV pleading with the community to help these children. No commercials that tug at our heart strings, showing images of sad children who have been abused and pleading for us to send in a donation of $19.00 a month to fight child sexual abuse. Sexually abused children don’t have anyone to speak out for them. So we must be the ones who speak out for them—and the thousands of other young girls and boys who are victims of this horrific crime.

People at one time or another have spoken about following “the golden rule”. Many of those people do not even realize that the golden rule comes directly from the Bible: “Whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 7:12 )

So what exactly do the Law and the Prophets teach?

“…Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.” (Psalm 82:4)

“Rescue those who are being taken away to death; hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter. If you say, ‘Behold, we did not know this,’ does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it, and will he not repay man according to his work?” (Proverbs 24:11-12)

“If anyone sins because they do not speak up when they hear a public charge to testify regarding something they have seen or learned about, they will be held responsible.” (Leviticus 5:1 NIV)

“Do not stand idly by when your neighbor’s life is threatened. I am the LORD.” (Leviticus 19:16 NIV)

“Do not place a stumbling block before the blind.” (Leviticus 19:14) This includes the obligation to warn someone from a danger that we are aware of. If you know of someone who is planning to kill people, you are obligated to warn authorities. If we are aware of a sexual predator, we must do everything possible to protect children from him.

Jesus also said, “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 18:10)

It is our obligation as parents, teachers, writers, legislators, or just plain adult citizens to protect innocent children from these criminal predators. Abuse, whether physical, psychological, emotional or sexual, is a violent crime. Sexually abusing a defenseless child is no different than beating them to cause bodily harm. And because of its terrible long-term effects, child sexual abuse could be much worse.

Child sexual abuse has reached epidemic proportions and must be addressed and brought to the attention of the public to make everyone aware of the dangers, the long-term consequences and the zero-tolerance policy that needs to be applied to every form of child abuse.

Many reading this may say, “But I’m just one person. What can I do?”

Talk to others

Start by having an honest conversation with friends, neighbors and family members about child sexual abuse. If you are certain that there has never been a child molester or a molested child among your friends or family, you’re probably wrong. In spite of the millions of victims in our families, many people stick to their mistaken belief that child molestation has nothing to do with them. To help prevent child molestation from happening to the children closest to you, begin by telling others the basic facts. The less people know, the more they want to pretend that today’s estimated three million sexually abused children don’t exist. By telling the people closest to you the facts, you can help those same people become strong adult protectors of the children closest to you.

Write to your legislators 

Although most legislators pay little or no attention to laws pertaining to sexual child abuse, if enough people would write to their senators and lawmakers, they would be forced to consider the issue.

If you see something, say something

If you suspect a child is being abused or see a situation in which a child is vulnerable, it is your responsibility to inform authorities—even if you are in front of others, or in a public setting. Many States have a toll-free number to call to report suspected child abuse or neglect. To find out where to call, consult the Information Gateway publication, State Child Abuse Reporting Numbers.

Talk to your children 

Have age appropriate, open conversations about our bodies, sex, and boundaries. Teach them that it is “against the rules” for adults to act in a sexual way with them, and use examples. Be sure to mention that the abuser might be an adult friend, family member, or older youth. If a child seems uncomfortable, or resistant to being with a particular adult, ask why. Starting these type of conversations early gives children a foundation for understanding and developing healthy relationships. It also teaches them that they have the right to say “no.”

If we do nothing to protect vulnerable children from sexual abuse, we are just as responsible as the perpetrators who commit these heinous acts.

For more resources visit:

http://www.d2l.org/site/c.4dICIJOkGcISE/b.6035035/k.8258/Prevent_Child_Sexual_Abuse.htm#.WH-BSrGZPVo

https://www.childhelp.org

http://justiceforchildren.org

“But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.” (Matthew 18:6)

Scream! Kick! Run!

That’s what kids are taught to do when confronted with a stranger trying to harm them. But the advice to “scream, kick and run” doesn’t work with a step-parent or Good ol’ Uncle Joe. It is not the responsibility of children to defend themselves against adults. Adults need to step up and be protectors for children.

Ask nearly anyone and they will say that they would speak up if they thought a child was being sexually abused. Almost no one believes they would knowingly allow harmful sexual behavior to continue if they knew for sure that it was going on. And yet, millions of children continue to suffer from sexual abuse in their own homes. Many of them believe, correctly, that someone else knows, or should know, about their situation. But then little or nothing is done to protect them. Some children tell adults what’s going on; seeking protection and help, only to be met with disbelief, denial, blame, or even punishment.

Approximately 90% of children who are sexually victimized are abused by someone known to the child or the child’s family. Step-parents, family friends, relatives and persons in positions of authority over the child are more likely than strangers to commit  sexual assaults against the child. In fact, a child who lives with someone other than their biological parent is 33 times more likely to suffer from child sexual abuse than a child who lives with biological parents.

One in three girls and one in six boys are sexually abused before the age of 18.

These numbers may be even higher because many child sexual abuse victims never disclose their abuse to anyone. Less than 12% of child sexual abuse is ever reported to the police. The average age for first time sexual abuse is 9 years old!

Imagine for a moment that you’re the child who has been sexually abused by someone in the safety of your own home—In your own bedroom! You may feel doubly betrayed by someone’s failure to help. You were in danger, they could have protected you but they chose not to. And to make matters worse, when you speak up to the one person that you trusted to tell, they refuse to believe you or actually blame you! No excuses or rationalizations for their failure would seem acceptable.

Would you feel more anger toward a non-abusive adult who didn’t speak up or toward the person who actually abused you? You may have expected the worst from the abuser, who was clearly deeply disturbed and had little or no concern for you, but you expected better from someone who was supposed to be caring, loving and worthy of trust. And this anger may last for decades.

There are over 805,000 sex offenders living free in the united states today. Texas and California has the most with over 80,000 followed by Florida with nearly 70,000. You can check your own state HERE.

The crime of silence in the Church

The statistics of child sexual abuse are startling to say the least. But what makes this even more heartbreaking is that these statistics aren’t much different in the Church. The apostle Paul spoke against this type of sin to the Corinthian Church: “I can hardly believe the report about the sexual immorality going on among you—something that even pagans don’t do.” (See 1 Corinthians 5:1-5) He went on to rebuke them for not doing anything about it.

Many in the Church today are guilty of the same thing. But what is even more repugnant is when child sexual abuse is discovered within a church member’s home and many decide to hide it within the walls of their church rather than report it to the police. This is not only ludicrous and unbiblical, it is against the law!

In Romans 13, the Apostle Paul teaches that believers are to be subject to the civil authorities. “For the authorities do not strike fear in people who are doing right, but in those who are doing wrong.” (Romans 13:1-4) Child sexual abuse has been deemed to be criminal by the civil authorities deserving just punishment. Child sexual abuse should be a matter of public alarm. Not only because of the long term psychological problems it causes for the child, but also because of the ripple effect it causes in countless of lives.

While the right to silence is a right we have in order to guard against self-incrimination, a witness of a crime who doesn’t stand up and testify on behalf of the victim of a crime is held as an accomplice in the crime. (Leviticus 5: 1)

Abuse flourishes when adults do not take responsibility for protecting children. Many Christians would rather avoid this difficult topic, and so they do not understand how abusers operate. Abusers almost always go out of their way to appear trustworthy. They are master manipulators. They disarm with a facade of generosity and kindness. With the Bible so readily available to us, we in the Church should be least likely to fall prey to this, but sadly we do.

So what do we do?

First, adults must own up to the problem of child sexual abuse and accept responsibility for protecting children in their care.

Secondly, we must report suspected child sexual abuse to the civil authorities. Child sexual abuse is a crime, and in many states an adult’s failure to report a reasonable suspicion of abuse is also a crime. Serious crimes should not be addressed with church discipline alone, and there are few crimes worse than child rape and molestation.

Sadly, even when perpetrators are arrested and charged with child sexual abuse, many times they are allowed to plead guilty to a lesser charge and most judges only sentence them to probation and register as a sex offender.

Sadly, the Sex Offender Registration law in many states does not have any restrictions on registered sex offenders.This is a common misperception.The SOR law also does not have the legal jurisdiction to prevent an offender from entering schools, playgrounds, children’s museums, daycare centers or refrain from living with or socializing with children or other vulnerable persons.The SOR law can only mandate that the offender register his or her required information at the sheriff’s office within the required time. Period!

You can be a voice for victims of child sexual abuse by writing to your senators. Last year I wrote to the Governor of Nebraska and 18 senators, voicing my concern about sexual child abuse and the SOR law. All of them ignored me. So I wrote to two more senators. There are now a few senators that drafted a bill that will do more to protect children from sexual predators. They plan to bring it to the senate floor during the next session. It’s not all that I wanted, but it’s a small step toward it.

I am just one person. Imagine what would happen if hundreds of you wrote the same kind of letters to your senators. Information on how to contact your senator is at: https://www.senate.gov/senators/contact/

We must be willing to openly confront child sexual abuse and give of ourselves so that those impacted by it can experience the healing and transformative power of Jesus.

For decades, adults have put the burden on children to come forward if they are being abused. This status quo has failed. Because abusers spin a web of manipulation and lies around a child, children cannot protect themselves and rarely tell about abuse without another adult’s help. While teaching our kids about their bodies and sexual boundaries are vital, these actions alone cannot keep kids safe. Adults must take that burden off children. The antidote to child sexual abuse is faithful adults working together to create a safe environment for children.

For more information on what you and your church can do to protect children from sexual predators visit: http://byfaithonline.com/key-questions-about-child-sexual-abuse-in-the-church/

 

Update:

I recently received letters from Nebraska senators Sara Howard and Brett Lindstrom who are working to bring bills to the legislature that will provide more protection for child sex abuse victims. Brett Lindstrom has introduced bill LB60 to address custody issues and convicted sex offenders living in the homes of children. It mandates that the non-custodial parent receive written notification when a sex offender is residing with the children or is allowed unsupervised contact with the children. It also clarifies the standard judges must use when declaring their opinions to what is in the best interest of the children and that there is no significant risk to the children in doing so.

Sara Howard has created the Office of Inspector General specifically to provide independent oversight of the child welfare system. The recent report by the Inspector General discovered that at least 36 children in foster care had been sexually abused over the last three years. Sara Howard is on the Health and Human Services committee and will be working with the Inspector General on how to improve the system.

This is not everything I had hoped for, but it’s a good start. Just imagine what would happen if hundreds of people wrote to their senators.

Sin has just about wrecked this world of ours—And the Church is not immune to its effects. Just as Israel of old, we too, have forgotten God and replaced Him with our own golden calf. We have bowed down to the idols of humanism, secularism, and government control, and we have reaped the rewards of our actions.

It is probable that a great majority of church members in America today have few convictions against breaking any of God’s commandments. Child sexual abuse has become an epidemic, that the Church rarely speaks out against. (If they speak about it at all) Deception, robbery, and even sexual assaults have become all too common among Christians in both urban and suburban communities across our nation.

A very insidious doctrine has been developed in both Catholic and Protestant theology which has tended to minimize the authority of God’s commandments and moral precepts. It has led many to look lightly upon transgressions and has made sin to appear less objectionable. In fact, sin has become an acceptable mode of life for both youth and adults in the Church. How can this be? Especially among those who profess such high regard for the Bible, and a love for Christ?

This question becomes more significant when we consider the historical position of Christianity toward the Bible’s Ten Commandments. Almost all of the great denominations have confessed that they support the authority of the Ten Commandments, yet very subtle errors of interpretation have crept into the modern Church that has lead to the present state of confused loyalty toward God’s spiritual laws found in the Torah. (The first five books of the Bible) God’s spiritual laws are those that focus on moral precepts and thankfulness to God.

We need to look at God’s spiritual laws and their relation to God’s grace and salvation. It is so easy to accept the popular clichés concerning God’s laws and grace without searching out the biblical facts by which we will finally be judged. We must find authoritative scriptural answers to questions like these: In what sense are Christians free from the God’s law? What does it really mean to be under the law? Does God’s grace nullify God’s commandments? Can a Christian be justified when breaking any of God’s commandments because they are under grace?

We read in Romans that “the wages of sin is death”, (Romans 6:23 ) and that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) We might as well replace the word “all” with our own name. Because according to 1 John 3:4, “sin is the transgression of the law,” and we are all guilty. Whose law did we break? God’s law. The shocking truth is that we are all guilty and under the sentence of death! And and in God’s court there are no plea deals or appeals that can reverse the sentence!

In desperation, many search for a way to be justified in spite of fact that they have broken God’s law. How can the sentence of death be turned aside? Can we atone for our sins by obeying the commandments of God for the rest of our life? Paul gives the answer in language that no one can misinterpret: “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight.” (Romans 3:20)

There is a logical reason why works will never justify us. A convicted murderer may serve 10, 20 or even 50 years in prison. But because of good behavior, the warden may reduce his sentence. Then soon after completing his sentence, he can try to justify himself, saying that he paid his debt to society. But his crime will still remain on his criminal record that will follow him for the rest of his life. But suppose his sentence is death instead of 50 years? Can the prisoner then hope for a reduced sentence because of good behavior? Never! Even if he should become a model prisoner for a hundred years, the law would still demand his death.

It is the same with us. We have broken God’s law and the sentence is death. And without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin. (Hebrews 9:22) This is why good works can never justify us from the sentence of death. Only the shed blood of Christ can satisfy the sentence of death on us. (Romans 3:25)

Is the Law still binding?

Now we are brought to the question that has created confusion for multitudes of Christians: If the works of the law cannot save a person, is it therefore necessary to keep the law? Apparently this was a burning issue in the early church, because Paul asked the same question in Romans 6:1: “Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?” In other words, does grace give us a license to disobey the law of God? His answer is an unequivocal No! “God forbid! How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” (verse 2 )

Sadly, Christians have invented their own definitions that not only condone lawbreaking, but teach others to do so as well. (Matthew 5:19) The Bible tells us that sin is violating God’s commandments—the law which has been described as irrelevant today by many modern Christians. Don’t be deceived. Every one of God’s spiritual laws and moral precepts are just as timely and needful today as they were when God gave them to Moses, who in turn instructed his people. And nothing has ever happened to make them less binding than they were when God gave them. In fact, if you study the Bible with an open mind, you will discover that Jesus came to bring the full spiritual meaning and intent the law and making it more comprehensive to us. That’s what he meant when he said that he came to fulfill the law. (Matt.5:17)

Countless sincere Christians have been taught and have accepted the idea that the Old Testament was the dispensation of works, but that the New Testament provides for a dispensation of grace. Under this pretzel logic people were saved by works in the Old Testament and by grace in the New Testament. This is simply not true. There is only one way for anybody to be saved—that is by grace through faith. God will not divide people up between those who got saved by works and those who got saved by faith. Those who entered into salvation in the Old Testament were those who trusted the merits of the blood of Jesus Christ, and they looked forward in faith to the atoning death of Jesus. We look back in faith to the same death and are saved in exactly the same way. (See Hebrews 11) The Bible teaches that the entire redeemed host throughout eternity will be singing the same song of deliverance, exalting the Lamb slain from the foundations of the world. (Revelation 5: 11-13)

Did Jesus give us a “new law”?

Some try to ignore God’s commandments on the basis of the “new” commandments of love that they say Jesus introduced. It is certainly true that Jesus laid down two great laws of love as a summary of all the law, but did he give the idea that these were to replace God’s spiritual laws? The fact is that Jesus was quoting directly from the Old Testament when he gave those “new commandments” proves that he had no intention of replacing God’s commandments. “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.” (Deuteronomy 6:5) And “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” (Leviticus 19:18) Jesus was merely pointing out the spiritual principles of God’s laws—Unlike the traditions of man taught by the Pharisees. In fact, most of what the apostle Paul spoke about came directly from the Old Testament  Scriptures.

Jesus told a parable of two sons who were asked to work in their father’s vineyard. He asked the Pharisees which son obeyed. After they answered Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, corrupt tax collectors and prostitutes will get into the Kingdom of God before you do.” (See Mathew 21:28-32)

In 70A.D. the Jew’s Temple was destroyed fulfilling Christ prophecy. (Matthew 24:1-2) The Temple’s sad end slammed the door on the Jew’s sacrificial system. Could it be that God allowed the Romans to destroy His Temple because of  the Jew’s legalistic observance of their traditions and ceremonial-sacrificial laws? Or maybe God just wanted them to realize that He doesn’t live in temples made by human hands. (Acts 7:48) They adjusted, of course, creating new rituals and traditions in their synagogues.

Perhaps that is why God will not destroy the Christian’s houses of worship—Even though they are filled with just as many traditions and ceremonies as was practiced in the Jew’s Temple. Because God knows that we too, would just create new places for our rituals and traditions.

Christians today are no different than the Pharisees when we place traditions above obediance to God’s spiritual laws. Scripture warns against any traditions, customs, precepts, or laws that are in opposition to, or contradictory to God’s commandments. (Deuteronomy 12:31) Customs, rituals, and practices such as Christmas, Easter, or Lent are inventions and traditions of men that Jesus warned against. (Matthew 15:8-9)

We must be cautious of the emptiness of the traditions of men passed down through time—even those from our own forefathers or elders. Because when we place more importance on our traditions than we do on God’s commandments we dishonor God and  turn the grace of Christ into sin. (Jude 1:4)

Remember, there is a thin line between holding onto non-biblical traditions and participating in pagan practices.

Recently, many have been voicing their fear while comparing Donald Trump to Adolf Hitler. This is strangely reminiscent to me of Barak Obama’s run for president.

Comparing someone to Hitler is as ridiculous as comparing someone to the Antichrist.

Every American president since George Washington has likely been suspected of being the one to usher in the end times. FDR, JFK, Nixon, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama have all been named by various individuals and organizations as being potential Antichrists. And it most likely won’t be long before Donald Trump is added to that list.

Anyone who studies the Bible would know that the Antichrist will be not be revealed to the world until a great falling away happens first. (2 Thessalonians 2:1- 4)

One has to ask: What would cause a great many people fall away from their faith?

The apostle John states that if someone claims to be a prophet and does not acknowledge the truth about Jesus, that person is not from God and has the spirit of the antichrist, which is already here. (See 1 John 2:18; 4:3)

Just as God poured out His spirit onto those who believed, Satan has also poured out his own spirit on those who have rejected God—the spirit of the Antichrist. And without a true repentance and surrender to God’s will, that spirit will continue to grow like a cancer until it destroys all who it infects.

The result of this spirit is people becoming lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderous and lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God. (See 2 Timothy 3:1-9)

But it is not the same with those who profess to be followers of Christ. We are to be submissive to rulers and authorities (provided they do not rule against God’s word), to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. (Titus 3:2)

For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray by various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us—not because of good works done by us, but according to his own mercy through Jesus Christ our Savior. (See Titus 3:1-6; Philippians 4:8; 1 Timothy 2:1-15)

I can’t help but think how it must break God’s heart to watch His people, whom He created in His own image, argue amongst themselves about worldly matters. So instead of verbally attacking others who don’t happen to agree with your point of view and speaking slanderously about someone you don’t really know, perhaps we can follow the advice of Ephesians 4:29-31: “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.”

But this will involve repenting of our own wickedness and turning over our own tables in our lives.

If everyone would do this maybe, just maybe together…we could make our country truly great again.

 

 

Mudslinging, name calling and misleading political ads have always been all too common during election years. But the 2016 election has become more volatile than anyone can remember. Name calling, cursing, lies and violent outbursts at political rallies have become the new norm.

What saddens me more is how many Christians are speaking the same way on social media sites like Face Book, Twitter and Instagram. If someone disagrees with them they are quick to use words like: stupid, idiot, racist, or Nazi.

To make matters worse, these same people who degrade others with their words have professed to being a “God loving Christian” but have a habit of posting memes of inspirational Bible verses right along with others that portray their opposing candidate as the devil incarnate. “Out of the same mouth proceeds blessing and cursing. These things should not be.” (James 3:10)

I imagine a non-believer reads those things and thinks, “They’re no different than I am.” Or, “If that’s what a Christian is like, I don’t want to be one.” Or, “Christians are such hypocrites!”

In the midst of political and religious debates it’s easier to attack people rather than lovingly challenge someone’s actions and ideas. But that is not what God expects from His children. The apostle Paul wrote in Ephesians 4:29, “Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear.” Calling someone stupid or an idiot does none of those things.

“A Covenant for Civility” adopted by a number of evangelical leaders in 2010 asserted seven scriptural steps for civil dialogue:

1) Reflect the spirit of Scripture, being “quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” (James 1:19)

2) Acknowledge that all people are created in the image of God. “With the tongue we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse those who are made in the likeness of God. … this ought not to be so.” (James 3:9, 10)

3) Disagree respectfully without falsely impugning others’ motives, character, or faith. We recognize in humility that in our opinions, “we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror.” (1 Corinthians 13:12) We will therefore “be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” (Ephesians 4:2)

4) Watch the use of language, being neither arrogant nor boastful. “Before destruction one’s heart is haughty, but humility goes before honor.” (Proverbs 18:12)

Civility is needed now more than ever. No matter the results on November 8th, civility and Christian compassion will be vital to rebuild community and cooperation in the wake of a contentious presidential election.