Monthly Archives: June 2016

Wait, I Left…What?!?

Screen Shot 2016-06-28 at 12.50.43 PMIf you’ve been following BREXIT, then you know what a wild week this has been. In voting to leave the European Union (EU), the United Kingdom shook up the political and financial world. But the thing that really seemed to anger the Internet is what happened afterward: Brits allegedly Googled en masse: “What is the EU?” AFTER the vote.

As might be expected, this news caused a stir. Were they really that ill-informed? Economies were wrecked! Fortunes evaporated! The pound was devalued! Mass BRysteria!!! Could they be that obtuse? Well, not exactly.

Many Brits did Google “What is the EU?,” or EU related questions after the vote, but it was thousands, not millions. Google recorded a high percentage of EU searches because of the time of day – between midnight and 4am. “What is the EU?” was, in deed asked several times, but it wasn’t nearly the outrage the internet thought it was.

Still, undeniably, many were ill-informed voters. And it raises a great question: are we informed about the decisions we make?

People in America are encouraged to vote. But they aren’t always well-informed. Campaign rhetoric riles people up, and they vote based on emotion. Then, (sometimes) they become better informed when it is too late. Emotional, rash decision are typically regrettable.

The church is not immune to this behavior either. Occasionally, people leave the church due to emotions, not facts. Only after they leave, do some bother to learn the importance of what they left.

I’ve sat down with people who have left the church. Many never understood what the church really was. They thought they could maintain a relationship with God on their own, without His church.

And then I tell them that God is the Head of the church (Colossians 1:18). I teach them that we enter into Christ (Galatians 3:27), whose body is the church (1 Corinthians 12:27). Jesus died because of His love for the church (Ephesians 5:25).

And, those who are willing to search the scriptures and see for themselves, finally understand and react, “wait, I left…what?!?”

Become informed about how important the church is before you cast a vote to leave it. And if you’ve left…consider coming back. Unlike BREXIT, it doesn’t matter what those around you choose. In fact, no one can choose for you. Come back today to God’s open arms; He stands ready to receive you!

Stay On The Path!

hot springI recently wrote an article about tourists at a National Park who “rescued” a Bison calf, causing its death because the herd rejected it. Since that time, several other stories are making headlines with tourists ignoring rules at National Parks. They want selfies with elk, they dangle over the sides of rock sliding areas, and they get far too close to the Bears. Sadly, many of these stories end very badly.

Colin Scott, a recent college graduate from Portland, Oregon, is no exception. He refused to obey the signs that clearly say to stay on the boardwalk at Yellowstone. But armed with flip-flops and the pride of youth, he ignored those signs and walked 225 yards off the path.

Unfortunately, it was a deadly mistake. Not only are the springs acidic, but they are also scalding hot – over 200 degrees. In fact, the spring was so acidic and so hot that, when the ground gave way and he fell in, his body dissolved and there was nothing left to recover.

The story is a sad one, and the family is in our prayers. But Park Services representative, Morgan Warthin, uses tragedies such as this to try to save lives. She warns that the ground is extremely fragile and there are thermal pools right below the surface. She warns that the hot springs “look beautiful and stunning…inviting, yet the boardwalks are there for a reason…to keep visitors safe.”

Spiritually speaking, I find real similarities. People often stray from God’s path to get a closer look at sin, refusing to heed warning signs.

The Bible consistently reminds us to stay on the path. It is a narrow path that leads to salvation (Matthew 7:14). God’s Word is a light on the path to show the way (Psalm 119:105). We are shown the boundaries that He has given, and we are told not to move the stones (Proverbs 22:28).

So many people today try to make the rules up as they go. They leave the tried and true path to get a closer look at sin. If they would stay on God’s path, unnecessary spiritual death would cease. Safety is only found on the Lord’s path!

What If You Had Known?

If you knew, pulse terror attack

Islamist terrorist, Omar Mateen, is responsible for the deaths of 49 people and the wounding of 53, some of whom are still struggling for their lives in critical condition. The Orlando community and the families of victims are in our prayers. The shooting is one of the worst acts of terrorism in American history. Law enforcement is working hard to piece together the facts.

For now, the investigation is focusing, interestingly, on Omar’s wife, Noor. Why? Because investigators want to know what she knew and when she knew it. They believe, at the very least, that she was aware the attack would take place and did nothing to stop it. In fact, a federal grand jury will likely be convened to consider bringing charges.

In America, we have several laws that require us to say or do something when we think a crime may be committed. And those laws aren’t a new idea. As far back as the days of Moses, those who had foreknowledge of a crime or witnessed any aspect of a crime, were required to tell the authorities. And they were culpable, whether complicit or complacent.

For example, Leviticus 5:1 told the Israelites, “If anyone sins because they do not speak up when they hear a public charge to testify regarding something they have seen or learned about, they will be held responsible.” Certainly, the “if you see something, say something” world we live in today would require us all to let the authorities know if we are aware of an impending terrorist act.

But the New Testament principle reminds us of our greater responsibility. James writes, “to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin” (James 4:17). Knowing that mass murder of civilians is wrong shouldn’t take much thought. At the very least, regardless of radical Jihadist beliefs, one ought to know that murder is against the law!

So Omar’s wife is being investigated. And if, as it appears, she knew beforehand, she will likely be held responsible in some way. And my guess is that most people would agree that she would deserve punishment if she did know. In fact, you might get very angry at the idea that someone could know of impending doom and say nothing.

But I wonder if we, as Christians, see the larger context and implications of such an idea. What if we are aware, what if we are witnesses, what if we have special knowledge of a coming disaster that will take out millions, possibly billions of people? And what if we do nothing and say nothing?

Will God ignore our complacency? It is worthy of consideration. Let’s remember our primary mission: preach the gospel…in season and out of season…warn others and let them know of the available salvation in Christ. Like the hymn says, we don’t ever want to be in the position where someone could say, “you never mentioned Him to me.”

“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” (Edmund Burke)

An Unlikely Solution For Spies And Double Agents

ISIS prop ex picISIS has a problem. They are convinced that they have spies among them. And as the coalition’s air strikes become more accurate and more successful, ISIS leaders are growing wildly paranoid. In the last several weeks they have implemented a Stalinesque solution to ferret out the spies – torture and kill anyone suspicious. Now, while this policy might eventually find spies, in the mean time, the shooting, beheading, and dumping their own soldiers in vats of acid, has hurt morale a bit!

The threat of spies is not a new challenge. Several examples of spies and double agents are even in The Bible: Joseph’s brothers were accused of spying (Genesis 42:9); Moses and Joshua used spies (Numbers 13, 21; Joshua 2, 6, 22); David & Saul (1 Samuel 26; 2 Samuel 10); and Delilah was a double agent (Judges 16). And throughout history, when spies are caught, they have been treated harshly.

Even Jesus had to deal with spies. In Luke 20, we read that spies had infiltrated Jesus’ disciples, and Jesus knew it. But rather than ferreting them out or having them harmed, Jesus did, as He always does, something very unexpected. He taught them!

In Luke 20:20, the Scribes & Chief Priests sent spies “who pretended to be righteous, in order that they might catch Him in some statement, so that they could deliver Him to the rule and the authority of the governor.” The spies asked if they should pay taxes or not. If Jesus responded, “pay taxes” He would upset the people, and if He said, “don’t pay,” He would upset the government…a no win situation.

But Jesus told them to render to Caesar that which was Caesar’s and to God that which was God’s (25). And because of His answer, they were unable to catch Him in anything wrong. In fact, they “were amazed,” and they “became silent” (26).

Wow! Jesus didn’t kill anyone or order the torture of anyone. He simply chose to answer their questions. And they were amazed. No one ever treated spies with such open access! “Come and see for yourself” was Jesus’ motto.

Jesus didn’t even try to stop a double agent who sold him out for 30 pieces of silver. Even though He knew that, when He was betrayed, it would mean pain and death. He knew that the reward in the next world is far greater than just avoiding pain in this one.

Share the Word openly, because there is nothing to hide! Many who come to spy will be amazed and silenced in their criticism. Others may want to harm us, but ultimately, no one can stand against us. No spies, soldiers, governments, or enemies, foreign or domestic, will be victorious if we follow Jesus’ example.