Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Pray for our Nation

One of the characteristics of God’s temporal judgments upon the earth is they usually come suddenly. When Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed they most likely began their day like every other day, completely oblivious to their pending destruction. Jesus wrote of the unexpected nature of the Noaic flood: "they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away" (Matt 24:38-39).

Could it be that our own nation is in great peril? In the history of the world nations have risen and fallen following a particular pattern. (1) God raises up a nation and they are blessed. (2) Men and women take all of the glory to themselves and deny God. (3) God brings the nation down in order to demonstrate that He alone reigns upon the earth. Sadly, our own nation is following this pattern. God raised up this nation and has blessed us beyond measure but we have denied Him and believe we are the lords of our destiny. We have fallen into terrible wickedness; we call the evil good and good evil. “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil” (Isaiah 5:20).

One blatant example of this is the sin of homosexuality. Our nation has determined that this is good and proper behavior. The homosexual agenda has been successful in convincing us that marriage between two men is no different than traditional marriage. And if a man wants to dress up like a woman it is perfectly acceptable. To further this wicked behavior, many churches have determined that it is righteous to ordain homosexual men (and women) to the ministry. This isn’t to say that homosexuality is a greater sin than all other sins. God will judge all sin. But our nation has determined not only that homosexuality is not wrong; it has determined that it is in fact good and proper and all must embrace this. To hold a different opinion is to be labeled a bigot, hatemonger, and intolerant person. To speak against homosexuality in our society is now completely unacceptable. Homosexuality may not be a greater sin, but our nation hasn’t yet declared murder to be good behavior or stealing good behavior. If we call murder sin or a murderer sinful we are not condemned for uttering hate speech. By embracing homosexuality as good and proper behavior our nation has declared evil to be the only right and proper choice. While our nation still stands there is still opportunity for repentance. May we as God’s people pray diligently.

Friday, March 28, 2014

"Noah" the Movie

When I heard that there was a movie about to be released about Noah and the Biblical account of the flood I thought, fantastic, what a wonderful opportunity to declare not only God's judgment upon sin, but also the grace of God's deliverance. My excitement was short lived. From all indications this film is nothing more than another display of Hollywood's contempt for God and His Word. I have no plans to view this movie, which for some, denies me the right to speak about it. Actor Russell Crowe has referred to those who criticize this movie as "stupid." I will risk coming under this label. I don't pretend this to be a review; only some statements on how our culture is continuing its slide towards secularism and the denial of God's right to reign, or as Robert Bork described in the title of his book almost 20 years ago, Slouching Towards Gomorrah.

In fairness, the producers of "Noah" do not pretend this to be a Biblical movie. Director Darren Aronofsky has stated that "Noah" is "the least biblical biblical film ever made." Then why make it? The answer is twofold. One, in order to make a lot of money, and two, to deny our accountability to God. Apparently, in this movie God is not bringing judgment upon humanity because of their sin and wickedness, but because of their abuse of the environment, over-population, and perhaps the eating of meat. Actually, this isn't surprising. As Christians we shouldn't expect Hollywood to understand all of the spiritual ramifications of God's Word. They will often miss the significance of God's redemptive purpose. For example, "The Passion of the Christ" glorified the physical suffering of our Savior while failing to portray the greater transaction as Christ came under the wrath of His Father. The words, "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsake Me" cannot adequately be expressed by bleeding flesh on film. Still, the movie tried to express the Biblical account. "Noah," on the other hand, does not pretend to seek Biblical accuracy. It goes far beyond the "artistic license" the film claims in its advisory. It is a denial of the very essence of God's judgment upon the sins of humanity. It also denies the beauty of God's grace in His transforming work upon sinful men. The Biblical Noah is described in Hebrews 11:7, "By faith Noah, being warned by God about things not yet seen, in reverence prepared an ark for the salvation of his household, by which he condemned the world, and became an heir of the righteousness which is according to faith." Peter refers to him as "a preacher of righteousness." Aronofsky's portrayal of Noah is apparently less than a description of a preacher of righteousness. And, oh my goodness, talking about artistic license. Instead of Noah and his sons building the ark, Aronofsky has the ark being constructed by giant rock creatures who are supposed to be fallen angels. And to this add Tubal-Cain who is leading an army to hijack the ark for his own survival.

OK, the critics are exclaiming, "It's just a movie." Christians are again being described as "intolerant" or well, "stupid." We are being told to lighten up, "this isn't supposed to be a sermon." On the other hand, the Bible speaks with authority which must be given all due attention. Its words are not to be changed in order to appeal to the masses. I hope few Christians view this movie. What are we willing to sacrifice in order to be entertained? Do we need to be entertained by those who make a mockery of God's Word and deny God's demand for holiness?

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Homecoming for Johnny Farese

It is with sadness and joy that I heard of the passing of Johnny Farese. Having muscular atrophy, he has been confined to bed for years unable to move or even feed himself. And yet, his testimony to the sovereign grace of God remained sure and confident. His directory of reformed churches has been a wonderful tool for those seeking Biblical churches. He is testimony to the reality that every believer is useful in our Lord's kingdom, even one who many would see as useless. He did not use his disability as reason to excuse himself from service to Christ. Instead, he used what he had to glorify Christ. His life should serve to convict those who have far more ability, and yet allow themselves to be consumed with the things of this world and do very little for our Lord's kingdom.

At this moment he is no longer in his weakness. He has seen our Master face to face. "He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away" (Rev. 21:4).

Oh Lord, help us to see this life as quickly fading. Help us to keep our eyes on things above.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Beware of the Sin of Pride

Paul writes in 2 Timothy 4:7-8, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness.” Paul’s immortal words were that he had finished well. He had endured until the end. May these words make an indelible mark upon our hearts. Oh, that we might finish well. There are endless ways to lose our way. The Bible is full of warnings. There seems to be endless examples of men who did not finish well. The common denominator for most failures is pride. We can become swallowed up by our own sense of entitlement.

Our attention is drawn to many of Israel’s kings who were righteous men; the Bible records that they “did right in the sight of the LORD.” But their pride was their downfall. King Asa reigned righteously but in the end he turned his trust away from God. When confronted by one of God’s prophets he became enraged and cast the prophet into prison. The last we read of his otherwise excellent life was, "In the thirty-ninth year of his reign Asa became diseased in his feet. His disease was severe, yet even in his disease he did not seek the LORD, but the physicians" (2Chron. 16:12).

Of Uzziah we read, "But when he became strong, his heart was so proud that he acted corruptly, and he was unfaithful to the LORD his God, for he entered the temple of the LORD to burn incense on the altar of incense" (2 Chron. 26:16). God punished him with leprosy and he remained a leper to the end of his life. 

Even the righteous reigns of Hezekiah and Josiah were marred by the wretched curse of pride. As soon as we think we are immune to this sin we are in our greatest danger. Peter stood boldly and announced, "Even though all may fall away because of You, I will never fall away" (Mat. 26:33). That very night Peter betrayed Jesus.

Our continued prayer must be, “Oh God, help me to finish well. Help me to know my weakness and my great need of your strength.” Paul knew his own weakness. God had taught him, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness" (2 Cor.12:9). Paul admonishes us from the words of Jeremiah, "Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord." (1 Cor. 1:31). May God grant us the grace to walk humbly before Him all the days of our life.