Tag Archives: Homosexuality

Living by What “Seems Right”

There have been certain sins throughout history which have been so wickedly horrific that I’m quite certain the vast majority of people today would not even consider committing them. For instance, can you imagine sacrificing your daughter to an idol by burning her alive? Of course not, and neither could the Israelites when they first entered the Promised Land. And yet, a few hundred years passed, and sure enough…

“When you present your gifts and offer up your children in fire, you defile yourselves with all your idols to this day. And shall I be inquired of by you, O house of Israel? As I live, declares the Lord God, I will not be inquired of by you.” Ezekiel 20:31 (ESV)

Such is the shaping power of culture. What was at one time absolutely impossible to imagine…became reality. Sacrificing a child suddenly “seemed the right thing” to do, simply because it was the cultural norm.

God’s Response

What’s fascinating to note in Ezekiel 20 is God’s response to this wickedness. He said they would not be able to “inquire” of Him. In other words, no relationship. And so it was that idolatry, introduced through exposure to a wicked culture, destroyed any meaningful relationship they had with the One True God.

What We Lose by Adopting Cultural Beliefs

Of course, the same thing happens in our culture, only with different issues. The people of God today constantly find themselves under pressure to modify their beliefs and practices toward what “seems right”. But what I have realized recently is that adopting these cultural beliefs and practices has an unintended consequence: the loss of a vital relationship with God. We can no longer inquire of Him. This makes sense considering Israel’s experience under Ezekiel, but also because in order to adopt many cultural beliefs, one must reject Scripture, which is, of course, God’s Word to us. How can I have a vital relationship with someone who does not speak to me?

The Stepford Wives…the Stepford God

The lesson here is clear: while we will all be shaped to some degree by culture, we must be sure to let God’s Word have the final say (Romans 12:2).  Along these lines, one of my favorite Tim Keller illustrations comes from his book, The Reason for God:

“If we let our unexamined beliefs undermine our confidence in the Bible, the cost may be greater than we think.

“If you don’t trust the Bible enough to let it challenge and correct your thinking, how could you ever have a personal relationship with God? In any truly personal relationship, the other person has to be able to contradict you. For example, if a wife is not allowed to contradict her husband, they won’t have an intimate relationship. Remember the (two!) movies The Stepford Wives? The husbands of Stepford, Connecticut, decide to have their wives turned into robots who never cross the wills of their husbands. A Stepford wife was wonderfully compliant and beautiful, but no one would describe such a marriage as intimate or personal.

“Now, what happens if you eliminate anything from the Bible that offends your sensibility and crosses your will? If you pick and choose what you want to believe and reject the rest, how will you ever have a God who can contradict you? You won’t! You’ll have a Stepford God! A God, essentially, of your own making, and not a God with whom you can have a relationship and genuine interaction. Only if your God can say things that outrage you and make you struggle (as in a real friendship or marriage!) will you know that you have gotten hold of a real God and not a figment of your imagination.”

– Keller, Timothy. The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism

Therefore, only a real relationship with God can save us from being wrongly shaped by culture and what “seems right”. And not surprisingly, such a relationship with God only comes from a thorough commitment to Scripture as authoritative.

For as the history of the Israelites teaches us, if we abandon God’s Word, the fire is never far away.


Posted by on September 20, 2016 in Uncategorized


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The Blessings of a Trustworthy and True Bible

IMG_0425On a whim last Tuesday I threw a lunchtime party for elders and pastors at my house. Diane and the girls were skiing, so that made the place a veritable bachelor pad, and for the guys who could make it, my plan was munching on Jimmy Johns subs and watching the livestream of the opening message from The Shepherd’s Conference in California. This is the annual conference from John MacArthur’s Grace Community Church, and the topic this year was of particular interest: the inerrancy of the Bible.

As it turned out, the conference was having trouble with the live stream that day, so we enjoyed subs and good discussion, and then watched another message from a different conference I had attended last year. It was great fellowship.

Now that the Shepherd’s Conference is over, the videos are available for free viewing, and I’ve been watching and enjoying. If you have a chance, I heartily recommend taking in one or two. Your faith will be built up in God’s inerrant word!

You see, there may be no more important topic for Christians today than the absolute truthfulness of the Bible. As one of the speakers pointed out, there are certain issues that come up in the church that we think about and wrestle through and then don’t need to deal with anymore, but inerrancy is one of those issues that continually comes up again and again and again. And there is a reason for that – Satan knows that he can do no greater harm to Christians than to place doubt in our minds as to the truthfulness of the Word of God. He’s been doing this for a long time…

Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?”

And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’“

But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Genesis 3:1-5 (ESV)

So you see, since the beginning of the human race, the enemy has been seeking to cast doubt on the Word of God with questions to this effect: “Did God actually say…?” And notice how along with casting doubt on God’s character of truthfulness, the enemy also casts doubt on his character of goodness (in effect, saying to Eve that God wants to keep her from what is good). This diabolical method is utterly destructive to the Christian, for if we cannot be sure of God’s words (and God’s goodness), we cannot be sure of anything. As the singer Keith Green once said, “…all of the devil’s wicked lies – if you believe them, your faith just dies.”

The Apostle Paul didn’t believe Satan’s lies. Of course, Paul is most famous for telling Timothy that all Scripture is breathed out by God (2 Timothy 3:16), but in Acts 24, as Paul makes his defense before the Governor Felix, he makes it very clear what he believes:

But this I confess to you, that according to the Way, which they call a sect, I worship the God of our fathers, believing everything laid down by the Law and written in the Prophets, Acts 24:14 (ESV)

“The Law and the Prophets” was a technical term that really meant all of the Bible (in that day, of course, the Old Testament). Paul was trying to show Felix that he was not as bad as the Jews were making him out to be – he was both a peaceful man (not stirring up riots like they accused him of) and more than that, believing the Bible just like they did.

And just like we should too, for this is not a trifling thing – I think about how lately we’ve been watching our culture take on a new course in the area of morality, declaring good to be evil and evil to be good. In fact, it’s breathtaking how fast it has happened. And apart from the Word of God, there is nothing that will keep us from plunging headlong into such destructive thinking and lifestyle.

But more than that, there is no other book that will light the path to heaven and show us how to redeem a lost culture. To paraphrase Peter’s words to Jesus in John 6: Where else can we go? These are the words of eternal life…and they are trustworthy, and true.


For Monday, March 16: Acts 25


Posted by on March 13, 2015 in Uncategorized


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Persecution…Coming Soon to a Country Near You

Acts 1422 [widescreen] - CopyWhen the Apostle Paul’s life was winding down, he had a particularly poignant point to make in a last letter to his young friend Timothy. And it all began with remembering a journey he had made some 20 or so years before…

You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, my persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra– which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me. 2 Timothy 3:10-11 (ESV)

Sure enough – it’s Paul remembering his very first missionary journey with Barnabas, the very one Acts 13 and 14 tell us about. But, then again, how could he forget?

The Lord worked mightily all through this journey, but the Jews who had hounded Paul and Barnabas in Antioch of Pisidia and Iconium finally caught up with them in Lystra, stoning Paul and dragging him out of the city. Though many believed over the two years or so that they were gone, it was a painful recollection for the old man; and looking back 20 years later, Paul has a haunting word for Timothy and the rest of us:

Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.  2 Timothy 3:12 (ESV)

Of course, the recent murder of Christians by ISIS is an obvious example of persecution, but it’s not hard to make application to our culture in North America today. Most believers in the U.S. (not including African American Christians, among others) have been living in a surreal world of welcome and praise over the last 200 years. Christianity was the “it” religion, and we Christians shared general agreement about morality with the rest of the culture.

But times are changing. One has only to consider the couple forced to close their bakery doors for refusing to serve a same-sex couple’s wedding. My impression is that these sorts of items are cropping up around the nation. And unless revival comes, we can assume events will only continue to move this way more and more.

But that’s okay. This was never “our” country in the first place; it just felt like it. And now, reality has struck: non-believers in America are beginning to act more and more like they acted in the Bible. Meantime, our role has never changed. We, like Paul and Barnabas 2,000 years ago, are called to proclaim the gospel to a lost and dying humanity.

And from now on, more than ever before, we can know if we are proclaiming this message well, because if we are…we will be persecuted.


For Monday, March 2: Acts 15

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Posted by on February 27, 2015 in Uncategorized


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Why Did the Rules Change From the Old Testament to the New Testament?

Pork ribsHave you ever wondered why after centuries of following the Old Testament laws, it suddenly became okay for God’s people to enjoy lobster and pork chops? Well, there is a reason for this change, and we watch it happen in Acts chapter 10.

It happened like this: one day Peter decided to try to escape and spend some time with God, so he headed up on the roof of the house of Simon the Tanner, where he was staying. It was about noon. Now Simon the Tanner probably had some wealth, because he had a house by the sea, so I’m guessing a prayer time on the roof afforded a relaxing time not to mention a very nice view.

And then this…

…he fell into a trance and saw the heavens opened and something like a great sheet descending, being let down by its four corners upon the earth. In it were all kinds of animals and reptiles and birds of the air. And there came a voice to him: “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.” Acts10:10-13 (ESV)

Now Peter protested and we can understand this. He had spent a lifetime avoiding bacon, and now to start? But as a leader in the fledgling church, he needed to get busy making himself a BLT. But why?

The answer has to do with why God gave certain Old Testament laws in the first place – they were meant to illustrate our absolute uncleanness before God. In an insightful article from 2012, Tim Keller speaks to this issue:

“The Old Testament devotes a good amount of space to describing the various sacrifices offered in the tabernacle (and later temple) to atone for sin so that worshipers could approach a holy God. There was also a complex set of rules for ceremonial purity and cleanness. You could only approach God in worship if you ate certain foods and not others, wore certain forms of dress, refrained from touching a variety of objects, and so on. This vividly conveyed, over and over, that human beings are spiritually unclean and can’t go into God’s presence without purification.

“But even in the Old Testament, many writers hinted that the sacrifices and the temple worship regulations pointed forward to something beyond them (cf. 1 Sam. 15:21-22Ps. 50:12-1551:17Hos. 6:6). When Christ appeared he declared all foods clean (Mark 7:19), and he ignored the Old Testament cleanliness laws in other ways, touching lepers and dead bodies.

“The reason is clear. When he died on the cross, the veil in the temple tore, showing that he had done away with the need for the entire sacrificial system with all its cleanliness laws. Jesus is the ultimate sacrifice for sin, and now Jesus makes us clean.”

So you see, if Peter and other Christians continued to observe these ceremonial rules, they would have denied the cleansing they had in Christ. So I don’t know if Peter began to regularly enjoy a full rack of ribs after this encounter, but he had good reason to.  Jesus had declared all foods clean.


Tomorrow, Tuesday, February 24: Acts 11

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Posted by on February 23, 2015 in Uncategorized


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What Jesus Taught About Marriage

Rog and Di wedding

A joyous day, May 30, 1992

After 10 years of marriage and two children, Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin (not pictured 🙂 ) announced in March of 2014 that they were divorcing, only they didn’t call it that; the phrase they used was “conscious uncoupling.”

The (former) Hollywood power couple was guided by the husband and wife team of doctor and dentist Dr. Habib Sadeghi and Dr. Sherry Sami, who believe that divorce can have benefits.

From a article:

“High divorce rates, the doctors write, should be viewed in the context of our ‘skyrocketing life expectancy.’ ‘Our biology and psychology aren’t set up to be with one person for four, five, or six decades,’ they write, though noting that couples who do reach those milestones are to be envied, and also writing that just because a marriage is long doesn’t mean it’s happy and fulfilling.”

Well, who knew?  According to the expert dentist on marriage and her doctor husband, we weren’t meant to be in long commitments. Well, some may turn to a dentist for wisdom on matrimony, but I would rather turn to the Lord Jesus, who clarified the truth about marriage in Matthew 19…

Here are 4 truths about marriage we find from the Lord in this passage:

1. God is the one who joins two people together. To the individuals who are married, it always feels like they have made the decision to tie the knot (and thus they feel they can make the decision to “uncouple”), but Jesus assumes that when two people are married, it is because God joined them together (vs. 6), and because that is true, no man or woman (either inside or outside the union) should try to separate them. In other words, to seek to separate a married couple, or to seek divorce from within a marriage, is to seek to undo the very work of God. The phrase Jesus uses from Genesis 2 is, “Hold fast.”  Let not man separate.

2. When God joins two together, they become one flesh. One reason that divorce is so incredibly painful is that it is spiritually ripping the one flesh bond apart. This ripping is one of the many spiritual things that we cannot physically see in life, but ask anyone who has been divorced or who has watched one up close.  It actually feels like you are being sawn in two.

3. Marriage is always between one male and one female. Into our sexually confused world, Jesus, the Author of Life, says that God made them male and female. And according to this Author Jesus, marriage is always between a man who leaves his father and mother, and his wife. Therefore, Jesus assumed what civilizations have assumed for thousands of years: marriage is always and only heterosexual.  Even more than that, twice in the passage he calls them “two”, not “three” or “four” or more, as might be the case for polygamous relationships.

4. A hard heart will drive people to seek divorce. Not always, of course. Divorce and the desire for it arise for a myriad of reasons. For instance, in this passage, Jesus gives the reason that divorce is warranted (sexual immorality), and Paul said divorce was permissible when an unbeliever had deserted (1 Corinthians 7), but many times, a man or a woman seeks divorce because they have a hard and calloused heart.  I remember meeting with a young woman many years ago who told me she had fallen out of love with her husband, but that she still considered him a good friend.  Maybe she didn’t know it, but she had just driven a dagger into her good friend’s heart.

And while we’re on the topic, this 2 minute video from Tim Keller gives a grace-filled and biblical Christian response to the question of homosexuality:

Tomorrow, Wednesday, January 28th: Matthew 20

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Posted by on January 27, 2015 in Uncategorized


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