Normalised!

I am noticing more and more that things once held as ‘wrong’ are seen as ‘right’ and the other way around. I also frequently hear the words “who has the right to tell me what is good and bad anyway”? It’s a fact that if you keep on doing (wrong) things for long enough, you get used to it. In fact it becomes normal and accepted not only by individuals, but also by the community and eventually society.

 

The liberal thinkers will call it progress, but cast your mind back some 20-30 years and ask yourself, have all these liberal changes been good for our youth or have we passed them a poisoned chalice? Whether from local or national government, we have relaxed our views on many things we once felt ‘wrong’ and immoral. It’s not difficult to list some and you could add more:

 

>Ease of gender abortion.

>Making a district a ‘safe place’ for prostitution.

>Providing clean drug rooms where addicts can inject and ‘stay safe from infection’.

>Movie and TV censorship is now almost non existent, and sex and violence is rampant.

>Unrestricted access to pornography on the unregulated internet.

>Promotion of ‘alternative gender lifestyles’ to appear inclusive, and not cause offence.

>Calls for the decriminalisation of drugs.

>There is no absolute truth. Everything is relative. What is right for you, is not right for me.

 

I think there is a direct link between the fact that the gospel is no longer preached in many of our churches, and has now been replaced by a feelgood, social psychology message without the need for repentance. Small wonder church attendance is falling. The primary  reason for the church’s existence is no longer known, taught or preached, so why attend? If ever a Holy Ghost revival is needed, it is now!   

 

Woe, judgement is coming to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! Isaiah 5:20 AMP

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Hacked and Scammed?

Be careful—watch out for attacks from Satan, your great enemy. He prowls around like a hungry, roaring lion, looking for some victim to tear apart. 1 Peter 5:8 TLB

 

We take great care that no one hacks into our computers, intending to scam us into doing something that usually costs us money, we don’t really want to do. But sometimes we fall for it, and the least savvy are always the target of these immoral people who have no scruples. We have all seen the reports of those who have been ‘reeled in’ and played like a big trout until money changes hands, and sometimes that’s a LOT of money! Perhaps we know someone who has fallen prey. We feel sorry for the ones who have been hacked and scammed, and have nothing but contempt for those who perpetrate these hateful deeds. Will they ever be caught? Probably not in this life.

 

That brings me onto my real point. When it comes to the faith filled life of Christianity, there are folks looking on who see our actions, and they don’t want to be hacked and scammed into a ‘religion’ that bears little resemblance to the Jesus in the Bible. They don’t want to fall for the trick of a shallow or false faith when there are bells ringing and lights flashing in their brains. Is the message true? More to the point is the question, is the messenger true? The devil’s scheme works well and the average person does nothing. They stay where they are because they don’t trust the messenger to provide the true message, and they don’t want to be hacked and scammed into a false gospel. Result? The devil wins because he is the one who sows those seeds of doubt and disbelief, and we fall for it!

 

When we fall for a scam in this life, the most we lose is some money and our reputation. This will pass, and we will be wiser for next time. However, when we fall for the devil’s scam, we lose eternal life in heaven, and get to spend that eternity with the devil and all his scheming demons in hell. What a waste! The moral of this little story? Live a life given over to the Jesus of the Bible, and live your faith so that others looking on will not be hacked and scammed by the father of lies, the devil. There is literally everything to lose!

Peace

It has been more than 100 years since the outbreak of WW1 which was touted as “The war to end all wars”. The commemorations are sobering and a reminder of the futility of war. The first day of the war saw a death rate of 450,000 in slimy mud which bogged down the living and engulfed the dead. Here we are 100 years later and North Korea is launching long range Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles with the capability of reaching the whole USA. Their next step is the addition of a nuclear warhead. All this time has passed, and we have not progressed. A wise man once said, “The one thing we learn from history, is that we don’t learn from history”. How true.

 

Our little planet earth has never been free of fighting and war since Cain and Abel fought out their differences in Genesis, and it has been going on ever since. The Bible is right up to date on this, and many other subjects, when it records these words in Jeremiah 6:14:

They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. ‘Peace, peace,’ they say, when there is no peace. Has anything changed?

 

Our peace is founded on the person of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, Messiah who assures us in John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” As the nations of the world goad each other for supremacy, we have the assurance of that peace which can only come from God. Jesus also said in John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” I don’t know about you, but that gives me real peace and great comfort.

The TOP

Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. Matthew 6:33

 

I think I have been reading this verse wrong for a long time. Jesus isn’t saying we need to stop sinning and find the Kingdom of God, although that is also true. He is saying this to those who already have followed Jesus up the mountain. They want more of His words of wisdom. They have followed Him, and are already convinced, and now their Messiah is coaching them on the sermon on the mount to greater truth.

 

Most, if not all who read this, are doing their best to live righteously as this verse commands, so we are part way there. In among all of our right living, we are also seeking the Kingdom of God. That becomes one of our many goals. But Jesus says we must put our seeking of His Kingdom FIRST. Not one of a list of ‘to dos’ but right at the top of every Christian’s “Things to Do”.
Only when we do that, Jesus says: He will give you/me everything we need. How good is that? So will we start today to “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else”? We have nothing to lose, and everything to gain. What a great thought.

Disown?

We do it on Facebook when we decide that someone posts things which are offensive, inappropriate, or racist, and we think nothing of it. We do it in life with some folks we come into contact with who might be opposite from ourself in so many ways and you get irritated and annoyed when you are in their company. Churches do it, by excommunicating or excluding those who do not uphold that church’s beliefs, and who go directly against doctrine. They might be called heretics. These are all examples we could live with, and we may have done one of these ourselves. Social media comes to the rescue, and makes it so easy to ‘unfollow’, ‘unfriend’ or ‘block’ that annoying person.

 

Does this mean we are free to disown anyone we take a dislike to, or one who goes against the things we like, accept, believe, or uphold? Disowning someone publicly has serious consequences, especially if we claim the name of ‘Christ’-ian. In life, there are lots of people who don’t agree with us in everything, and likewise there are those we don’t much like ourselves. Is it enough to disown someone purely because we don’t like their lifestyle? I don’t think so. We might decide never to holiday with them, but disown them? No.

 

What message are we giving to the people we would disown? Maybe it’s that they don’t live up to my or your standard? Is it because they are inferior? Could it be that we forget how we behaved when we were immature, and the behaviour we now detest, we once did ourselves? Am I getting uncomfortably close to the truth? If we really want to claim the name ‘Christ’-ian we need to believe His word and behave like He tells us. After all…..

 

God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 5:8

‘D’ for Different

The trouble began with an unhappy church attender. Let’s face it, which of us has always been happy with our church? It can be the pastor, the singing, the choice of songs, the things seen as important, or even as simple as the people who share that same space once a week. We are a motley crew, and hard to please at times.

 

This particular church member wasn’t just unhappy with the peripherals in his place of worship. He really loved his church, but didn’t like everything that went on in it, from the leader up. But what to do? Being a good and righteous man, he researched and studied, watched, listened and learned from others around him, both the good and the bad. But on top of everything, he read his Bible from cover to cover because he believed it to be the ’Word of God’ and if truth was anywhere, it would be there. He showed some wisdom because it was a good place to start, but not everyone thought the same. It got him into trouble with the church leaders.

 

It came down to two things, Bible interpretation, and church practice. You know how that goes. We’ve always done it this way, so why change now? It has served us well until now. We know it’s ok to complain between friends who may agree, but when you take your worries to the top of the church organisation, that’s when it can get difficult, and it did. They were not prepared to listen and instead dug their heels in and remain unchanged to this day.

 

This man was certainly ‘D’ for Different but the letter ‘D’ is also the Roman numeral for 500, and it has been 500 years since this not so young church leader literally nailed his colours to the mast by fixing his 95 differences he saw with the corruption of indulgences within the church he loved. The result was that his actions echoed around Europe and the World, slowly but surely forming an unstoppable movement which protested against the wrongs of the the church of his day. It had moved so far from the original teachings of Christ, it could no longer could be called ‘Christian’. To this day, adherents will refer to themselves as ‘Catholic’ and not as ‘Christian’.

 

My hope and prayer is that the reformed church of today never strays so far from the teachings of Scripture that it takes another Martin Luther to help us change course again. As a renowned theologian, he paid the price of excommunication from the church he wanted to help. We need never be complacent in our core belief that The Bible is the very Word of God, and we must to read it constantly, and live by its teachings. History is clear, and should not be repeated.

Hidden Heart

Have you watched the TV adverts which show how to be better, bigger, lovelier, softer, stronger, happier, etc etc…? They all have one thing in common. To be liked and loved, you need to change, and we are here to take your money and help you. So we are sold an image of a bodybuilder, a youthful looking 70 year old, happy, smiling holiday times, contented spouses, and again the list could go on. Each one depends on a change to the outer you. That part which others see. The superficial. So, does a change to the outside make a corresponding change on the inside? I fear not! Are we so stupid? Apparently we are, because the sales of these products increase every year.

 

The world is good, and getting better at convincing us that the answer to all our problems is a pill, potion, lotion, some makeup, or a work out. Surely we are not that gullible? Can we not see through the commercial sham? On the other hand, what if the change came from the inside? Would that make a corresponding difference to our outward appearance at no cost? Absolutely yes, and with 100% certainty! Ask yourself, who would I want to  spend the rest of my life with, a good looker or a good heart? Case closed. Once again, the Bible is not silent.

 

For as he thinks in his heart, so is he. Proverbs 23:7
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of … all uncleanness. Matthew 23:27