LORD, Come Quickly!

Revelation 22:20

Even so, come, LORD Jesus.

This is my daily prayer now and going forward.  I am so ready for the LORD to come and rescue His people that I could stand on the roof of my house and just wait there for Him to come.  The world is just going so crazy and it burdens my heart so much for myself, my children and the church of Jesus Christ.  I know God’s Word tells us in 2 Timothy 3:1, “…in the last days perilous times shall come…”  I understand that God’s Word says, in 2 Peter 3:3, “…there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts…”  Knowing these things does not make enduring these things any easier….

My heart is so burdened for the legislation of immorality these days.  In my home state of North Carolina, it is now legal for a man who is dressed up as, or pretending to be, or thinks he is, a woman, to use a public restroom that is designated for women only.  Not only that, but I read recently that the governor of this fine state has decided to put into law something that will force businesses to designate the fact that restrooms are to be gender confused.  Businesses will have to make sure that the gender confused know that they can use either restroom that they choose.  What effect does this have on me?  I am the mother of two teenagers and one pre-teen.  There are times when we are in public places.  There is no way that I am going to allow my daughters to use a public restroom where there is a man pretending to be a woman.  Regardless of what he pretends to be, he is still made by Creator God to be with a woman, and he is still going to be attracted to women, which is going to lead to lascivious behavior if he is allowed to be in the restroom with young women while they are using it.  I have had to have some uncomfortable conversations with my children to explain to them that we will NOT be using public restrooms unless there is an absolute emergency.  How did we get to this place?  All I know is that I am ready for Jesus to come and take us home.  Come, LORD Jesus!

Many states in the US have “legalized” what they call “marriage” between two people of the same gender.  I use those terms loosely because they cannot change what God created.  Marriage is between one man and one woman.  Genesis 2:24 says “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.”  This is as clear as glass.  A man shall cleave to his wife.  What don’t we understand about that?  I remember back in 2012, right here in the state of North Carolina, a vote was cast to maintain the biblical definition of marriage.  The liberals in our state tried every trick in the book to make sure that they bullied conservatives into voting to allow men to marry men and women to marry women.  The vote was cast, and with landslide numbers, the people of North Carolina voted that marriage is indeed what God said it is: between one man and one woman.  The day after the vote was cast, then-President Barack Obama said that the state of North Carolina had “set civil rights back 50 years”.  Excuse me?  First of all, sin is not a civil right.  Two men doing what is unseemly to each other is not a civil right.  Shortly after his statement, one rogue judge in North Carolina ruled that the vote was unconstitutional, and he unleashed same gender marriage on our state.  It reminded me of the scripture in Romans 5:12 that says “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned…”  One man (Adam) ushered sin into the world, and one judge ushered same gender marriage into the state of North Carolina…and one man (Obama) ushered the flood of sin into this country!  But I know this:  Jesus is going to come and take us up out of this mess.  Come, LORD Jesus!

On January 23, 1973, the greatest act of terrorism that has ever been exacted against our country was written into law:  the legalization of abortion.  Since that time, nearly 60 million babies have been aborted in this country.  More than 550,000 Black babies alone have been aborted in this country THIS YEAR.  Nearly 4,000 babies will die in abortion clinics TODAY ALONE.  The blood of dead babies is crying out from the ground.  No matter how you slice it, abortion is murder.  Exodus 20:13 says “Thou shalt not kill.”  God made it clear to us in His Word in Genesis 2:27, So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them.”  God created each of those babies that was aborted in HIS image.  God is not pleased with us murdering His image as though His image is not important.  His image is extremely important…Psalm 148:13 says “…for His Name alone is excellent; His glory is above the earth and heaven…”  God told the children of Israel in Deuteronomy 18:10, “There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire…”  The fire to which He referred was the fire of sacrifice:  in other words, the children were not to be murdered on the altar as a means of “sacrifice” to any god.  That is exactly what abortion is…a means of sacrifice to the god of convenience and the god of selfishness.  Have you found that you are going to have a baby that will not be convenient for you?  Abort it and you will not have to deal with it.  God hates that.  Abortion is an abomination to Him.  But abortion is a way of life for many.  How long, LORD, will you allow the world to continue to murder your image?  Please come and rescue your people out of the darkness that is abortion!  Come, LORD Jesus!

When I was a child, I don’t remember the exact year, no fault divorce became legal.  In other words, two people who had made a covenant to love, honor and cherish one another as long as they both lived, could decide that they just didn’t want to be married any more and they could get a divorce, and use the reasoning that they had
“irreconcilable differences”.  Those differences could be anything from physical abuse, infidelity, or fraud to “she can’t cook” or “he has bad breath”.  No fault divorce was a death blow to marriage as God designed it.  Marriage is a “covenant”.  The word covenant means unbreakable promise.  God made a covenant with Abraham in Genesis 12:2-3, And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.”  The promise that God made to Abraham in Genesis 12 is still in effect at this very moment.  Why?  Because God made a COVENANT, and He does not break His promise.  God made the people of Israel a great nation.  Israel is the greatest nation that exists on planet earth.  They are still, to this day, God’s chosen people, and when Jesus does return He is going to set up His kingdom on Mt. Zion in Jerusalem.  God promised that He would bless Israel, and to this day, some of the most blessed people that you will ever meet in the US, in Israel or anywhere else in the world are the Jewish people.  God has destroyed many people who have come up against the Jews, and He will continue to destroy Jewish enemies.  Why?  Because God keeps His promises.  But humanity does not keep its promises.  Men do not keep their promises to be faithful to their wives.  Women do not keep their promises to honor their husbands.  Marriage, which should be a picture of Christ’s relationship with the church is more like a picture of the world going through a revolving door.  Micah 2:15 says “…let none deal treacherously against the wife of his youth.”  God is going to deal seriously with those who have not kept their marriage vows.  Erwin Luther said “God holds fathers accountable for their wives and children.”  This is one of my favorite quotes, because I am so thankful that the God of the Bible is not going to let husbands, including mine, and fathers, including mine, get away with not being the husband and father that they should have been.  God’s judgment is on their lives even at this moment, and I praise Him because He loves me enough to let me see some of the repayment that people get for hurting those that He loves.  Nevertheless, it will all be over when He comes….come, LORD Jesus!

If you are reading this and you do not know Him, ask Him to save you today.  He is going to return one day, we do not know when; and when He returns, you do want to be in a right relationship with Him.  You do not want to be left behind.  You want to go back with Him and live with Him forever.  Do not let this moment pass without asking Him to be your LORD, so that you can say with confidence, “Come, LORD Jesus!”

Advertisements

For The Very First Time…

Hello my WordPress readers!  This is the first time since I started ABiblicalWorldview blog several years ago that I have ever advertised anything that I am doing in my personal life.  I feel the need to share this with my readers so that you may have the opportunity to bless my three children and myself should you desire to do so.

I am a merchandiser for Chloe and Isabel fashion jewelry.  Chloe and Isabel is handcrafted jewelry, made right here in the United States, and it is stunning jewelry.  I own several pieces myself, my daughters own several pieces, and we wear these pieces on a regular basis.  I would like to invite you to purchase some pieces of your own.

Go to my Chloe and Isabel site:  www.chloeandisabel.com/boutique/michellemoniques and browse the entire catalog.  The prices are reasonable, the jewelry is quality, and the lifetime guarantee is real.  If for any reason you are not satisfied with your product, you may return it for a full refund.

Once again, that site is http://www.chloeandisabel.com/boutique/michellemoniques!  I look forward to doing business with you there…

Boy Scout of America: The Latest to be DECEIVED

2 Corinthians 6:17

Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the LORD…

1 Peter 1:15-16

But as He Which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation;  Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.

It is being widely reported that the Boy Scouts of America has finally decided to allow girls to join their ranks.  I remember a few years ago, when the Boy Scouts stood out amongst the civic organizations and vehemently decried attempts from the LGBTQ crowd to force them to allow homosexuals to become scout masters.  They firmly said that they would not allow that to happen.  My best friend and I were excited at that news, but I remember her saying to me, “Eventually, they will cave…one day they are going to give in to the pressure.”  She could not have been more right.

Here we are now, a few years removed from that event, and I find myself thinking back to the time when churches all over America were celebrating the fact that someone was fighting back against the onslaught of the homosexual agenda.  I remember being so happy to know that at least one male dominated group would remain just that, teaching boys how to become men, and not allowing the secular humanistic homosexual agenda to rule within their ranks.  Now that excitement is gone.

My heart is hurting for the families of the boys who love Boy Scouts. I imagine that there are fathers and mothers who are having conversations, even as I type these words, about whether their son will continue to be a part of the organization.  I imagine that some parents have already made the painful decision to pull their sons out, and their sons are more than likely heartbroken.  We live in such a pain-filled world.

The thing is that the homosexuals are no more interested in being true Boy Scouts than they are being legally married to one partner for life.  The homosexual agenda is to make the rest of us, who know their lifestyle is sinful, accept their lifestyle as normal.  God said something different in His Word:

For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:  And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.  And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;  Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,  Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,  Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:  Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them…Romans 1:26-32.

I know you may read this and think, what does the Boy Scouts allowing girls in have to do with the homosexuals?  It is all part of the same agenda.  They all want to change the face of the family that God created.  They want to gender neutralize the world.  They want to do away with male leadership.  They want to erase the man, and make him as lily-livered as Adam was in the garden, when he disobeyed God and fell for the trap satan set for him.  Eve was the bait, and Adam was the fish…

I continue to pray for America.  I believe that God is giving us one last chance to get it right.  I believe that God is allowing us another chance to repent for allowing the homosexual agenda to reach Sodom and Gomorrah proportions.  I believe that God is not pleased with the state of America where homosexuality is concerned.  He did not like it in Sodom and Gomorrah, and He does not like it in America.  He rained down fire and brimstone over Sodom and Gomorrah, and He is able to do likewise to America if He chooses.  I pray that we will repent.

If you are reading these words and you do not have a relationship with the LORD Jesus Christ:  if you have not asked Him to forgive you for your life of sin, and be the LORD and  Master of your life, do not let this moment pass without doing so.  The next moment is not promised to you.  None of us know the number of our days, only God does.  None of us knows when Jesus will return, and He is coming back.  Cry out to Him today.  He never turns His back on those who come to Him in sincerity.  He will save you.  He will give you new life.  He has already paid your sin debt on the cross, because He loves you and does not want you to spend eternity in hell.  Give your life to Him today….Romans 10:9-10.

 

Double-Minded Men…

James 1:8

A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.

You would have to live underneath a rock not to have heard at least some of the controversy surrounding the National Football League, or NFL, and their anthem protests.  The protests began last year with one player in particular, who claimed that he could no longer salute a flag that stood as representation of a country that “oppressed” people of color.  (The word “oppressed” is his word, not mine.)  That football player was quoted as saying that he would not stand for the national anthem anymore until there was change in the way people of color are treated by law enforcement officials.  (By the way, at the end of last season, the team for which this young man played dropped him, and up to the time of this writing, he has not been picked up by any other team.  Hmm.)  Since the beginning of this football season, the whole anthem protest thing has picked up a lot of steam and teams, their coaches, retired players and even owners are joining in the fray.  One team decided to stay in the locker room, while only one of their players came out and stood, hand over heart, for the national anthem.  Another team stood in the tunnel until after the national anthem was finished.  All of this chaos began when one man decided not to stand for the national anthem.

Being the opinionated person that I am, I have several thoughts about these anthem protests.  I will express each one of them at some point.  My main problem with the protests is the fact that the original player claimed that he wanted to see changes in the way “oppressed” people are treated in this country.  I keep going back to the word “oppressed” because I cannot imagine how anyone can think that Black people in the United States of America in 2017 are “oppressed”.  Any oppression that is exacted upon Black people today is the oppression that they bring upon themselves.  For instance, (and I have used this example in a previous blog post) there was the situation with the young man who was killed by police officers after being asked not to sell cigarettes on the street in front of a certain business.  The part of the story that the media fails to publicize is the fact that the young man had robbed the very store he was arrested in front of earlier that day.  The police officers were called when he  began selling individual cigarettes in front of the very place that he had robbed!  The police came and politely asked him to move along and he became belligerent.  An altercation ensued, and he ended up dead.  After his death, tributes began pouring in on social media from persons claiming to know him, calling him a good person and such.  My question is this:  how good a person do you have to be to rob a store?  How good do you have to be disobey police officers?  How good do you have to be to become belligerent when given instructions?  That is not the kind of good that I want to be.

So……when is the NFL going to start protesting against behavior like this young man’s?  When are they going to say enough with all the crime and killing and nonsense that goes unnoticed in the Black community?  When are they going to consider the fact that this nation is being “oppressed” by “people of color” who hold their own neighborhoods hostage, while making White America feel guilty for having a standard.

Another killing comes to mind when I think of protests gone awry.  There was a young man who was killed by the neighborhood watch person because he refused to submit to questioning.  The neighborhood watch person was out there doing the job he had been assigned, but this young man came along and defied him, wound up dead, and it’s the neighborhood watch guy’s fault.  He went to trial and was acquitted, but he was, for a long time, hounded by the media and by Black America because of the death of the young man who defied his instructions.  When is the NFL going to start protesting young men defying authority?  When is there going to be an uproar over people not doing what they are told to do by the persons in authority?

There was another killing late in 2016 of a man who had been convicted three separate times for drug-related crimes.  He was wanted for questioning concerning a fourth crime, and when police approached his home to talk to him, he ran.  The police chased him and caught up with him, only for him to attack them physically and they shot him.  The next day, the newspaper in the city where he lived showed a bunch of Black people carrying signs and walking in the middle of the street holding up traffic.  News cameras wound up in that area, and of course, someone put a microphone in one of his relatives’ faces.  The relative called him such a good man…he was a good dad to his kids, all three of them, by three different women, neither of whom he had the decency to marry, and the only reason he was dealing drugs was so that he could buy school clothes for himself and his kids.  When is the NFL going to start protesting irresponsible behavior on behalf of young Black men who impregnate women that they know they are not going to marry, leaving the burden of raising the children to the young women, and many times, the young women’s parents?  When is the NFL going to start protesting against young Black men selling drugs on the streets of Black communities?  When is the NFL going to start protesting against anything other than something that makes no sense?

I am not an NFL fan and never have been.  I am only familiar with all that goes on in the NFL because I am a fan of other sports, and the NFL always manages to become inserted into the other sports talk that I like.  I hear the praise of the persons who support what the NFL is doing, and I hear those like myself, who think this is nonsense.  I strongly support our president when he says that the owners should fire anyone who disrespects our nation, our flag and the brave service personnel who sacrifice to give us the right to disrespect our nation and our flag!  I would suspend and/or ban any player who did not stand for the national anthem at the beginning of a sporting event.

I do not worship the flag.  I do not worship the national anthem.  I do not worship sports.  I do worship the LORD Jesus Christ, and I do know that America was founded on the principles that are taught in the Word of God.  I am proud to know that there is evidence of what the LORD did for this world by suffering and dying on the cross at Calvary all over this nation.  The players in the NFL are not ultimately disrespecting our nation; ultimately they are disrespecting the LORD Jesus Christ.  They want chaos…they do not want order, and Jesus commands order amongst His people.  They want lawlessness…Jesus commands us to govern ourselves according to His law.  They want to be subject to no one…but we will all stand before Jesus Christ and give an account for all the things we did in our lives.

If you do not know the LORD Jesus Christ, come to know Him as Savior today.  Repent of your sin, ask Him to forgive you, and ask Him to be the LORD of your life today.  The reward will be great when you get to heaven.  The consequence of rejecting Him will be equally as terrifying.  Do not let this moment pass without confessing your sin to Him and asking Him to save you.  Don’t be a double minded man…unstable in your eternity.

Dear Churches, You’re Killing Yourselves…

As you may have noticed by now, I am not too proud to share my blog with other writers who have eloquently expressed my sentiments.  I have found another such writer in a gentleman named Matt Walsh.  I have never met Matt; as a matter of fact, I had never heard of him until I read this article.  I saw this article on my Twitter timeline and once I started reading it, I could not stop.  This is just what the “doctor” ordered.  I hope you enjoy this article as much as I have.

Matt Walsh: Dear churches, you’re killing yourselves and this is how

 
Matt Walsh: Dear churches, you’re killing yourselves and this is how

Arrangements-Photography / Getty Images

A certain sermon I heard a little while ago has stuck with me.

It began with a reference to “Toy Story.” Yes, “Toy Story.” The cartoon with talking toys.

The Pixar film, as the pastor explained, contained many examples of friendship. Friendship is important, you see. It’s good to have friends. In case anyone thought friendship was bad, he was standing up to boldly declare otherwise. Remember that Randy Newman song called “You’ve Gotta Friend In Me” from the movie? He did. He quoted it at length. Then he handed out juice boxes and graham crackers and we had nap time on the alphabet rug.

I have no problem with a sermon that draws on art or literature outside of Scripture to illustrate a theme contained in it. But of all the poems, novels, songs, films, paintings, sculptures that may reveal some divine truth, he went with “Toy Story”? Oh, but “Toy Story” is relatable, you say. Really? Relatable to whom? Kindergartners? Well, are we in a Kindergarten class or a church? It certainly is hard to tell anymore. Just add a few boxes of crayons and a couple glue sticks and some of these churches would be indistinguishable.

Of course, this dissertation on the theological significance of Buzz Lightyear was pretty standard fare. The message preached from most pulpits in America is just like this: superficial, childish, empty, and seemingly designed to insult the intelligence of anyone who hears it. Christianity is dull and lifeless in this country because that’s what the church and its leaders have done to it. They’ve made it into something so bland, generic and inoffensive that it no longer bears any resemblance to the faith of our Christian ancestors. Even the church buildings themselves reflect this trend. Most of them look like shopping malls or government buildings. Sleek, gray, ugly, secular. But inoffensive. Inoffensive in the same way that the DMV is inoffensive.

Indeed, the primary goal of the modern church is to avoid offense, at whatever cost. And this is precisely why they’re dying. The problem is not merely that they’re boring people. After all, there are those who are bored watching anything that doesn’t involve explosions and car chases. The problem more specifically is that they’re starving people. There is no substance, no meat, in the message being preached. The congregants sit there and slowly starve to death.

Your flocks are starving, churches. You are starving them.

John 21 tells us of a conversation between Our Lord and St. Peter. Three times Our Lord tells the apostle to “tend” or “feed” His sheep. You are not feeding us when you serve up a bunch cliches, platitudes, and vapid pop culture references. The sheep need something real. We need to be guided. We need to be taught. We need to be empowered. We need to be called to repentance. We need to hear about sin and redemption and Heaven and Hell. We are confused. We need explanation. We need to be told how to navigate the spiritual minefield of modern culture. We need something to hold onto. Something to think about as we return to our daily lives. Something real. Something true. Something unsettling. Something dangerous. Something incredible. Something religious.

We are getting killed out there. Don’t you understand that? We drag our sorry, beaten carcasses into church each Sunday (and fewer and fewer even bother to do that anymore) after another week languishing in Sodom, and what do you have to say? Friends are good? Really? Is that it? The Disney Channel could have told me that. What else do you have? Nothing? Could you really have nothing to say to us? Then what are you doing? Why do you exist? Tear down the buildings. Turn them into parking lots. At least they’ll serve a purpose again.

The troops are suffering massive defeats in battle, and when they consult their commanding officer, what do they hear? “Yeah, it’s rough out there, guys. So let me tell you what I learned about teamwork from watching Guardians of the Galaxy.” I spoke to someone at an event recently and he told me that a pastor at his Methodist church actually gave a sermon about lessons from Spider-Man. I guess he was trying to tap into the superhero craze, taking his preaching cues from Stan Lee instead of St. Paul. Millennials must love that! Well, this millennial didn’t. He left mid-sermon and found a new church that very day.

A woman emailed me last week to complain that her priest has given three homilies — three, in a row, Sunday after Sunday — on “inclusivity.” Yes, the brave warrior for Christ stood before his church and fearlessly waged war against the great spiritual danger of non-inclusiveness. This is the real problem we face, you see. There’s not enough including going on. It’s not that our families and marriages are falling apart. It’s not that millions of babies are being killed. It’s not that America is full of porn addicts. It’s not that our children are being sucked into a heathen culture of decadence and moral degradation. It’s the lack of inclusiveness. The road to Hell is paved with people who weren’t appropriately inclusive. That’s what this priest thinks, anyway. A priest who became a priest for reasons that are as unclear to me as they likely are to him.

Speaking of courageous sermons, there’s a non-denominational church not far from me, attended by some family members, where the congregation was treated to several weeks of sermons on the issue of racism. The white churchgoers nodded along while the pastor explained that we shouldn’t judge people based on the color of their skin. Everyone felt grateful for the opportunity to profusely agree with him.

Racism may still be a problem in America, but it’s most likely not a sin that tempts the people sitting in the pews of a church in a liberal north eastern suburb in the year 2017. It’s more likely that they struggle with lust, selfishness, materialism, and worldliness. I guarantee not a single person in the church would disagree with the notion that people of all races are equal. But they almost certainly disagree with many other fundamental Christian teachings, which is why their church ought to be focusing especially on those.

There probably weren’t any neo-Nazis or Klan members in attendance, but there were, I’m guessing, fornicators, adulterers, gossip hounds, moral cowards, gluttons, and heretics. This pastor was careful to avoid all of those areas, though, for fear that he may say something that would accidentally spur someone to repentance. But it is harder and harder to avoid talking about sins that hit close to home for the modern Christian, considering that he has such an extensive and diverse resume of them. If a pastor is going to attempt to condemn any evil at all, and he has resolved to do so without mentioning any of the evils that his own sheep may have actually committed or be tempted to commit, he has an increasingly limited supply of sins from which to choose. He’s basically left with racism and pollution. On that latter point, the Pope is all over it.

It’s not that this stuff is outright heresy (although there’s plenty of that going on as well), but that it’s nothing. It doesn’t even have enough substance to be heresy. It’s just rhetorical flatulence. Vapor in the air. A soft breeze with a slightly putrid odor. Christianity in America is so hollow because our fearless leaders have decided that it’s better to keep people in church by putting them to sleep than to draw them deeper into their faith with the full force of unvarnished truth. So, they drone on about friendship and tolerance and recycling, while Satan prowls about devouring souls. And Satan has never had such an easy time finding souls to eat — it’s a veritable soul buffet down in Hell — because most Christians never hear about Satan or Hell in the first place.

People need to be woken up. They need to be offended. Offend us, pastor. Make us uncomfortable. Make me look at my reflection and see the things I’d rather not see. Pull me out of my comfort zone. Make me angry at myself, or at you for making me angry at myself. Can you stand to have people angry at you? If not, I believe you have chosen the wrong profession — and the wrong religion.

Here is a good example of how this can work: A couple of years ago I heard a blessedly offensive sermon at a church in Pennsylvania while I was on vacation. It was about the important and neglected topic of reverence. The point was that we are often too casual in how we approach Our Lord, in or out of church. The men in the congregation were admonished because many of them couldn’t even be bothered to put on pants and a nice shirt, and some of the women came dressed like they just stumbled out of a college bar at 2 AM (my phrasing, not his). It was explained that their lackadaisical, slovenly attire is a symptom of a far greater problem. Many Christians have a lackadaisical, slovenly spiritual life. Their outfits only reflect that fact.

I say this was offensive to me because, as I listened, I looked down at myself and remembered that I was wearing a t-shirt and shorts. And flip flops, God forgive me. Oh, I had a reasonable explanation. I hadn’t remembered to pack formal attire, you see. I began to feel embarrassed and angry at him for making this sweeping statement without considering that some of us may have a good reason to be dressed like beach bums. I knew I’d have to walk down the aisle like a scolded schoolboy, wearing exactly what I’d just been told not to wear. I was offended. I had an excuse and it was outrageous that this guy hadn’t prefaced his remarks by specifically exempting me, personally, from everything he was about to say. How dare he assume that I lack reverence just because I wore pool clothes to church. I don’t lack reverence! I’m, like, so reverent! You wouldn’t believe how reverent I am!

But I couldn’t convince myself. He was right. I had no excuse. I’d been chastised and I deserved to be. As I thought about it, I understood that this isolated incident was not so isolated. I often lack the appropriate reverence and humility when approaching God in church or in prayer or in any situation. There is little of the solemn and the sacred in my faith life, I conceded. He nailed it: this wardrobe malfunction was a symptom of a deeper problem. I left that day resolved to do better, and, though I still am far from perfect in this or any other regard, I believe I have improved by the grace of God. And it all started with getting a little offended.

Sure, I could have stormed out of church, my sandals flapping furiously as I walked, and never come back. I could have whined about that mean “judgmental” man who had the audacity to criticize my behavior. I could have been so offended that I left the faith entirely and never returned. I could have spent the rest of my life telling stories, as people often do, about the self-righteous old Puritan who caused me to leave Christianity, through no fault of my own. But, had I gone that route, it would have been no great loss to the Church.

I heard a story about a priest who recently watched some of his parishioners — including choir members — leave his church in the middle of a sermon because he preached against abortion. That did not dissuade him, nor should it. Let the cowards leave. Let them run out of the church in tears. Let them have their temper tantrum. Let the weak and the selfish declare and separate themselves. If there are only two people left sitting in the pews, all the better. At least we’ll know where we stand.

Whoever does not want to be challenged, whoever insists that they are above reproach, whoever wants only sweet nothings whispered in their ear, whoever wants a comfortable Christianity, does not want Christianity at all. They are not limbs on the Body of Christ. They are malignant growths. They are toxic. Cut them out. We pray that they return to the faith, but not until it is the faith they truly desire. If they are sitting there hoping to have their ears tickled and their preconceived notions confirmed, it is the duty of any pastor or priest to disappoint them. And offend them. There is no other way to tell the truth.

 

God’s Public Answer To Hannah’s Private Prayer

1 Samuel 1:10, 13, 17

And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the LORD, and wept sore.  

Now Hannah, she spake in her heart; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard: therefore Eli thought she had been drunken.  

Then Eli answered and said, Go in peace: and the God of Israel grant thee thy petition that thou hast asked of Him.

The book of 1 Samuel opens with the introduction of Elkanah, and his two wives, Penninah and Hannah.  Penninah had given Elkanah children, but Hannah could not.  Elkanah made his annual trip to Shiloh to worship and make sacrifices to the LORD.  He was a faithful man of God.  He loved Hannah dearly, and his heart was near to her because she was barren.  Elkanah was a sensitive man…

Penninah was mean-spirited and proud.  She mocked Hannah for being barren.  This hurt Hannah’s feelings badly.  She cried and had no appetite.  Elkanah did all he could to make up for her barrenness.  Nothing can take the place of a child in a barren woman’s arms.

So, Hannah prayed.  She had a deep longing in her heart.  She knew that only God could fix the longing in her heart.  The Bible says “…she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the LORD, and wept sore.”  

As Hannah prayed, not with glamorous, eloquent, repetitive words, but prayed within her heart in silence, she was noticed by Eli the priest, who thought she must be drunk.  It is amazing how others are not understanding when it comes to the depths of our pain!  Eli judged her immediately and even scolded her to stop drinking.  Hannah did not let Eli’s wrong conclusion discourage her.  She explained to him that she was not drunk; she was only pouring out her heart to the LORD.  She had a deep need and only the LORD could meet that need.  Only the LORD needed to hear the cry of her heart.

Once Eli heard Hannah’s explanation, he bid her to go in peace, and assured her that the God of Israel would grant her petition.

How I relate to Hannah!  There is such a deep longing in my heart that sometimes has to go unspoken to those around me, but I cry out to the LORD in silence.  My silence in my prayer time does not mean that God does not hear; just as He heard Hannah, I know He can hear me.

This day, I cry out in silence for the LORD, the God of hosts, to come down and hear my petition, have pity on me, and meet my need…just like He did for Hannah.

 

Salvation or Social Justice: Which Do We Really Want?

I saw the link to this article on my Twitter feed.  After reading it myself, I thought about how insightful the author is in his writing, and how clearly he explained the problems that plague the so-called “Black church”.  I wanted to share this with my readers.  I hope you come away as excited about someone telling the truth as I did.

Is the Gospel No Longer Enough for Black Christians?

https://i0.wp.com/www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/sites/default/files/styles/article-gallery/public/m-11280.jpg

Located on one of the most historic streets in the United States, particularly for black Americans, Auburn Avenue in downtown Atlanta, stands the venerable Big Bethel AME Church.

“Big Bethel”, as it is affectionately and reverently known, was founded in 1847, the same year educator and abolitionist Frederick Douglass began publishing his anti-slavery newspaper The North Star, and the slave Dred Scott filed a lawsuit in St. Louis Circuit Court claiming his temporary residence in a free territory should have made him a free man.

It didn’t.

But, I digress.

For all its notoriety as the oldest predominantly black congregation in Atlanta, Big Bethel is equally renown, if not more so, for a simple two-word message which, for nearly a century, has stood conspicuously affixed atop the church steeple against the backdrop of an ever-expanding Atlanta skyline.

It reads: Jesus Saves.

The message that “Jesus Saves” has been the clarion call of black Christians in America since their earliest exposure to Christianity in the 1600s. It is this unwavering, and perhaps unfathomable, faith in the redemptive power of the gospel that was the impetus for slave-poet Jupiter Hammon, the first black person in America to publish a work of literature (1760) and whose entire earthly existence was as a slave, to comment:

“Now I acknowledge that liberty is a great thing, and worth seeking for, if we can get it honestly, and by our good conduct, prevail on our masters to set us free; though for my own part I do not wish to be free, yet I should be glad, if others, especially the young Negroes were to be free. For many of us, who are grown up slaves, and have always had masters to take care of us, should hardly know how to take care of ourselves; and it may be more for our own comfort to remain as we are. That liberty is a great thing we may know from our own feelings, and we may likewise judge so from the conduct of the white-people, in the late war, how much money has been spent, and how many lives has been lost, to defend their liberty. I must say that I have hoped that God would open their eyes, when they were so much engaged for liberty, to think of the state of the poor blacks, and to pity us. He has done it in some measure, and has raised us up many friends, for which we have reason to be thankful, and to hope in his mercy. What may be done further, he only knows, for known unto God are all his ways from the beginning. But this my dear brethren is, by no means, the greatest thing we have to be concerned about. Getting our liberty in this world is nothing to our having the liberty of the children of God. Now the Bible tells us that we are all, by nature, sinners; that we are slaves to sin and Satan; and that unless we are converted, or born again, we must be miserable forever. Christ says, except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God, and all that do not see the kingdom of God, must be in the kingdom of darkness.” – An Address to the Negroes of the State of New York, 1787

In excogitating these words of Hammon, the question naturally becomes: what could possibly have possessed a man, whose every breath of his existence on this earth was as someone else’s property, to see beyond his station in life to something that was of infinitely greater significance to him?

I believe this question to be germane to the current milieu in America, as many black Christians have begun to advocate a purely activist theology borne of a soteriology that proffers the idea that the preeminent, if not sole, mandate of the gospel is the pursuit of “social justice”, the manifestation of which is evidenced primarily by the bringing about of such realities as socio-ethno egalitarianism and the eradication of all human suffering and oppression, particularly of those whose melanin happens to be of a black or brown hue.

There are many black Christians today who, believe it or not, would assert that, collectively, the plight of black people in 21st century America is tantamount to that of Jupiter Hammon in the 18th century. This, I believe, is because words like slavery and oppression are applied so flippantly and, dare I say, ignorantly today as to divest them of their historical significance with regard to legitimate injustices that were perpetrated against God’s black and brown-skinned image-bearers (Gen. 1:27; Acts 17:26).

But at the risk of incurring the wrath of many who will read this blog post, particularly those who self-identify as social justice warriors (SJWs) or “race workers”, not every perceived injustice involving black people can be attributed to ‘racism’ (another term which, like slavery and oppression, is losing its force due to overuse.) Nonetheless, that is secondary to the matter of how blacks who profess to be Christian are to respond when injustice – as defined objectively in Scripture – does, in fact, rear its sinful and ungodly head (Lev. 19:15; Jer. 22:13).

Since the founding in 1773 of the First African Baptist Church in Savannah, Georgia – the oldest black church in all of North America – the church has served as both the soul and heartbeat of social and political consciousness for black Christians in America. Organized both politically and spiritually, black churches were not only given to the teachings of Christianity but were faithfully relied upon by their members to, under the biblical precept of imago Dei (Gen. 1:27), address specific socio-economic issues that directly impacted them.

This infrangible and abiding bond with the church is conveyed rather soberingly by author Richard Nathaniel Wright who, in his book 12 Million Black Voices: A Folk History of the Negro in the United States, declared that: “It is only when we are within the walls of our churches that we are wholly ourselves, and that we keep alive a sense of our own personalities in relation to the total world in which we live.”

Interestingly, if not ironically, the forging of these bonds between blacks and the church was necessitated, to a great extent, by the hypocrisy of people who failed to live up to their own stated ethos concerning the equitable treatment of their fellow human beings. Case in point, on October 21, 1774, the Continental Congress, in an address to the people of Great Britain, said:

“When a nation, led to greatness by the hand of liberty, and possessed of all the glory that heroism, munificence, and humanity, can bestow, descends to the ungrateful task of forging chains for her friends and children, and, instead of giving support to freedom, turns advocate for slavery and oppression, there is reason to suspect that she has either ceased to be virtuous, or is extremely negligent in the appointment of her rulers.” 

And yet, less than 20 years after those words were spoken, the first Fugitive Slave Act was enacted that outlawed any efforts to harbor or impede the capture of slaves. It was another 70 years until slavery was officially, though not totally, abolished by president Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, only to be replaced by the equally unjust and inhumane peonage system in the post-Reconstruction South.

https://i0.wp.com/abolition.nypl.org/content/images/image/full/1231517.jpg

But for all the influences that may or may not have been factors in black churches becoming the bastions of social and political activism they are, foundational to that existence is the proclamation of the saving gospel of Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12).

The truth is there is no gospel and, conversely, no church – regardless of ethnic composition or denominational affiliation – apart from the life-changing message that ‘Jesus Saves’. It is that message which, I fear, is being lost as increasing numbers of black Christians become convinced that their primary loyalty is to an ecclesiastical legacy rooted in a socio-ethno missiology that emphasizes societal reformation apart from spiritual transformation.

It is this concern that was the impetus for my posing the question that is the title of this blog post; a burden that is echoed in the words of esteemed theologian D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones who, in his excellent work Preaching & Preachers, remarked that:

“The people, they say…are interested in politics, they are interested in social conditions, they are interested in the various injustices from which people suffer in various parts of the world…so they argue, if you really want to influence people in the Christian direction you must not only talk politics and deal with social conditions in speech, you must take an active part in them…But I have no hesitation in asserting that what was largely responsible for emptying the churches in Great Britain was that ‘social gospel’ preaching…It was more responsible for doing so than anything else…This concern about the social and political conditions, and about the happiness of the individual and so on, has always been dealt with most effectively when you have had reformation and revival and true preaching in the Christian church… My argument is that when the Church performs her primary task these other things invariably result from it.”

At the risk of coming across as facetious, let me remind you that the words “You must be born again” are still in the Bible. Open yours to Jn. 3:7 and you will find those words there (perhaps in red letters.) I point this out because most people’s paradigm of morality is anthropological not theological, which is why we fail to see the futility of trying to fix ourselves (Jn. 3:19).

A social justice-centered gospel will take you only so far (Mk. 8:36).

How can we for whom the gospel was sufficient – and necessary – to change us, expect something other than the gospel to change someone else?

To believe that an innately sinful society inherently possesses either the capacity, or the ability, to bring about the kind of equity so zealously desired by social justice advocates is both unrealistic and naive.

As Christians, we must be about the business of changing hearts not just minds (Eze. 11:19-20).

That said, however, the question remains: Will the gospel in which you profess to believe be enough for you if and when those hearts and minds do not change? Not all of them will, you know.

What, then, will you do?

What will be your response?

Will it be that of a man like Jupiter Hammon who, though a slave his entire life, kept his “eyes on the prize”? Or will it be more in line with Malcolm X, demanding your rights “by any means necessary”?

These questions are not to suggest the “religious fatalism” that W.E.B. DuBois cautioned against in his seminal work ‘The Souls of Black Folk’ but, instead, are meant to reorient us to the fundamental truth that gave birth in the first place to such revered black houses of worship as Big Bethel Church in Atlanta, and Bethel A.M.E. Church in Indianapolis, and “Mother Bethel” A.M.E. Church in Philadelphia – the truth that Jesus Saves.

Such is the essence of the gospel and the message of the church.

Apart from that, everything else is secondary.

Everything.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Darrell

Related:
Hijacking Social Justice (Podcast) – The Mortification of Spin
Darrell Harrison on The B.A.R. Podcast with Dawain Atkinson