Sunday, June 28, 2015

The Significance of the Rainbow

Knowing I have a mixed audience, I tread a careful line. I have fellow Christians as well as non-Christians who are part of my life. I have never been ashamed of the Gospel, but also recognize that some will never (outside of divine intervention) will never see things as I do. But this hit me so forcefully today in the Sunday school I am teaching that I had to share it here. As my Lord said 2,000 years ago - "Let him who has ears to hear, let him hear." 
If God is anything, He is consistent. The parallels between Bible days and today are often amazing. Follow me in thought here, with this as a given: if you do not share my faith, blow it off and ignore it. If you have a more liberal view of my faith, blow it off and ignore it. If you share my Bible-believing, conservative evangelical faith, see it and be amazed. 
Per the Bible, God destroyed the earth in the Flood in the days of Noah due to the totally wicked, corrupt practices of the people. God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah for their evil, wicked, corrupt practices. While non-believers assume Christians are only concerned with sex sins, the truth goes much deeper, and sex sins are only a part of it all. Greed, violence, robbery, hate, etc. are all in the mix. 
How interesting it is to me that when God destroyed the world in the Flood, He gave the Noahic Covenant including the rainbow as a sign of His promise that He would not destroy all life through water again. He kept His promise and has not done so. But the Lord Jesus, in prophesying what would happen in the Last Days before His return and the final judgment, said things here on earth would be as it was "in the days of Noah, and in the days of Lot." And what does the gay rights movement choose as their symbol? The rainbow. They do not see that the rainbow was the sign of a covenant reached after God destroyed the antediluvian world due to sin. The sin of Sodom and Gomorrah was all part of it. 
We are now under a state of grace, where God commands all to repent and trust in His Son for forgiveness of sin and salvation. It is not cheap grace, but grace paid for by His precious blood, and if we are truly born again, we will have the same attitude toward sin as He does, and want to turn AWAY from it, not toward it. We are in grace now, but the sands in the hourglass are running. Instead of seeing our warnings as loving, and sharing the desire of the Lord that not one should perish, but turn from their wicked ways and live, the unbelieving world calls us hate-filled bigots.
And they adopt the rainbow as the ultimate sign of rebellion and giving God the middle finger, rather than remembering the history and reason the rainbow came into existence in the first place. 
If I was someone who drooled at the mouth at the thought of sinners going to Hell, I could well understand the caricature of evangelical Christians. But God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked, and neither do I. I would much rather that people repent and live. 
And to blunt the final, expected retort, I do not write any of this in self-righteous judgment. My own unregenerate heart is as black and wicked as anyone else's. I need the Lord, and only through faith in His shed blood on my behalf can I hope to enter eternity forgiven. I hope that is the message people hear, but I am not optimistic. Instead of a loving, prayerful heart praying that my loved ones will be saved and live, I no doubt will be called a hateful, judgmental bigot. Another sign that many do not even want to hear or understand. And further confirmation of the Lord Jesus' own warnings. "They hated Me before they hated you. And they will hate you because they hated Me first."

Monday, June 08, 2015

Tony Banks: Best Political Song (With a Jaundiced Eye)

Not the clearest photo of Genesis keyboardist Tony Banks that I could find, but I liked the shot of him surrounded by keyboards. So I used it.

But this isn't about Tony's brilliant keyboard playing. It's about his brilliant writing. I wish Tony's albums had gotten more of a listen by radio. Each album had songs that were hit worthy. But one in particular from his solo album "Still" always stands out because it has to be one of the most deliciously keen, incisive, and cynical takes on politics I've seen. It's called "Red Day on Blue Street." You can give it a listen here.

What is almost preternatural is that this song came way before Bush vs. Gore in 2000 — really before the whole "red state vs. blue state" thing became a byword. And that got started when USA Today published a map of that election showing a mass of red states where George Bush won a vast majority of counties across America, but the Electoral College decides presidential elections. The map was a bit misleading because it did not take population centers into account.

Another thing: Tony is English, and typically isn't all that concerned with American politics. I think his target was politicians in general. I have a hunch the song is applicable in the UK and in America. The Tory/Conservative Party in the UK is not exactly comparable to the Republican Party in the States, although there are some similarities. Also, the Labour Party is not an exact duplicate of the Democratic Party in America.

All this said, Tony delivers a sharp stick to the gluteus maximus of politicians, and I enjoy every minute of it.

Thursday, June 04, 2015

You Can't Blame Anyone Else

Something worth pointing out and letting it sink in within the community of believers (and some application to those who do not believe). This has been on my mind quite a while, and it's especially important for parents, children, families, etc. I've had some experience with all three. 
People will let you down. Me included. It's a fallen world, and we all are fallen human beings. Even the "best" of us. I wish most sincerely I could go back and fix every error I ever made, every time I didn't live up to what I say I believe, every time I hurt someone. I can't. All I can do is ask God for forgiveness first because He is the ultimate offended party, and then ask those whom I've hurt for it. I can't erase the past no matter how much I might want to erase it. That is one comforting thing about the central truth of Christianity—saved by grace through faith. I thank the One who paid the price for my sins and who cleanses me of all unrighteousness. 
However. (And you knew there was a however coming, didn't you?) We tend to blame other people for our own sins and lack of faith and obedience to the Lord. If we grew up as children in a Christian family and our parents or believing family members let us down, that's our excuse for not walking with the Lord. If we're not believers ourselves, often our excuse is to point at those who are and say, "Look at them! They're no better than anyone else! Hypocrites!" How often have I heard that through the years. 
News flash. When you stand before God yourself, you will not be able to point at anyone else and what they did (or didn't do) as a way to squirm out of your own accountability. God will be interested in what YOU have done. That is not to say He won't hold others accountable for things they did. He most certainly will. But you will not be able to say "My parents/relatives/friends/ were a horrible example and witness, so this God business is a bunch of bunk and I'm going to live the way I want to live. So there!" It will be you and God alone, and you will be asked about your own life. For those who grew up knowing and hearing the truth, and rejected it, the judgment will be all the more severe. 
I know I have stumbled. I continue to stumble, and as long as I'm living in this body of flesh, I will continue to stumble. Please forgive me when I do. But I won't give up the fight, and my desire is to live godly in Christ Jesus. I'm not going to throw my faith into the garbage can and habitually live an ungodly life just because some fellow believers may have failed me. My Christian life is all about being conformed over time by the power of the Holy Spirit into the image of Christ. Being TRANSFORMED. Having my MIND and way of thinking renewed to where it matches His. Viewing things the way He views them. Showing the same mercy and grace He shows me. Living a LIFE of repentance. Waiting eagerly for the day when this body of flesh will be left behind and I will be in His presence - the day positional sanctification becomes complete. Glorification. 
One more thing. Parents and caregivers need to remember this one. Children must have faith of their own. They will not be saved because of your faith, or through your relationship with God. They can go to church, youth group, summer camps, missions trips until the cows come home, and be no nearer to heaven than the most distant atheist. They must have their own real, personal, saving faith in Christ. You must set the example and teach the lessons. Point the way to the bread. But the child has to personally interact with the Lord and deal with their own sin problem. You can't do it for them. I'd love to see my entire family saved and walking with the Lord. But I can't force it to happen, nor is it ultimately my responsibility. Just don't be a stumbling block.