Monday, July 27, 2015

Pro-Life's "Frederick Douglass Moment"

     In 1845, Frederick Douglass wrote his best-selling autobiography titled, "Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave".  His book lifted the vale off of the public's eyes as to what black slaves had to endure under the hardships of slavery.  He detailed how he had limited contact with his mother and how he watched other slaves being whipped to keep them under control.   He showed how slaves were in constant fear from their "masters" and prevented from learning how to read and write in order to keep them ignorant of their true condition.   As humans we often cover our eyes to the truth of how brutal we can be as humans.   In the 1800's the public had adopted a humanitarian view of slavery in which slaves were well taken care of, fed well and given opportunities that they would not have had if they had been left back in the African jungle.  Like the Germans of the Holocaust who had pretended that the Jews were simply being moved to other locations in the railroad boxcars and not to their certain death and destruction in the cremation ovens so we too kidded ourselves as to how horrible slaves were treated on a daily basis and how families were torn apart and treated like cattle for breeding purposes.  Douglass's biography blew the lid of that lie and made the American public come to grips with the reality it was willing to live with so it can have cotton to make their clothes, curtains, bed sheets, towels and other necessities of modern life.

    Now today, a series of videos of Planned Parenthood doctors has emerged showing them to be heartless bargainers of human tissue and organs for their own profit.   We are horrified to see these woman doctors talk about the details of their work as they enjoy salads and glasses of wine.  As they crunch on their salads they discuss how they can use "less crunchy methods" in order to harvest larger amounts of tissue for the buyers to purchase as if the product they are providing was apples or tomatoes and not human beings at all.

   The vale has been pulled and many wish it was put back in place.   Many wish they didn't know what they do now know.    It was easier to pretend that the service rendered was that of removing a cancerous growth and not something with "hearts, lungs, kidneys, livers" which can be utilized for human medical research.   Those who want us to feel "good" about these harvests would have us pretend that its for OUR good.   They tell us, "Think of all the good these woman are doing!  Think of all the countless lives they might save by offering these organs for medical research!".

    Does that sound familiar?   Did America not use that same argument for why slavery should be kept in place?   Were our ancestors not given the same bull-shit lines of the economic necessity of slavery and how we were doing these uneducated brutes a better life here in America?  Were they not told to "Turn away. Nothing to see here"  as we are?

    But thankfully our ancestors did not turn away.  They faced their atrocities and went to war to end it all.  They sought to correct their error in judgment and repair their humanity that had been lost.  For you see,  both the slave and the slave-owner were damaged by slavery.   The slaves damage was to his body and his mind, but the slave-owner was damaged in his soul.   Through the atrocities he inflicted he chipped away at his own soul and humanity until there was nothing left.   By his mistreatment of another human being, he himself became less of a human being himself.

    Likewise, in the abortion industry, there are 3 people being harmed at the same time: the mother, the child and the doctor.    Do you think that Dr. Gosnell (the now infamous late-term abortion doctor who treated his female patients with such lack of medical care that he is now behind bars) went in to the medical profession to abuse woman the way he did?   I don't think any person who goes into the field of medicine does so with the intentions of becoming a medical monster.   But somewhere in the story of Dr. Gosnell, he went from a doctor wanting to help others to a doctors who cared for no one but himself.   When and where  that transformation occurred, only Dr. Gosnell knows, but now we see that abortion takes a toll on the human soul as well.  Like the pounding waves of the ocean wearing away at the coast and turning the largest of rocks into pebbles and sand, so also aborting human life and disposing of arms, legs, feet with tiny toes, hands with tiny fingers, heads with eyes and ears developed chips away at your humanity until nothing is left.

    I do not hate these woman on these videos who see nothing wrong with what they are doing.   I feel sorry and lament for them as much as the little children they seek to sell to the highest bidder.   I pray that they regain their humanity and see what they are doing as wrong.   But now the question remains for the rest of us.   Will we seek to regain our humanity and our soul or will we turn away and try to pretend that it never happened.   Will we go on pretending that what is being extracted is just a gob of tissue that only turns into a live human being seconds upon entering the birth canal and exiting outside the mothers body or will we admit to ourselves that that miracle happens seconds after the joining of sperm and egg?    






Thursday, July 9, 2015

Does God have a split personality?

    This has always been a concern of mine since I was just a kid.  It often dumbfounded me as to why in the OT (Old Testament) God lays down harsh laws and punishments and then in the NT (New Testament) God is all about grace and forgiveness.    Does God have a multiple personality disorder?  Why does he in the OT put restrictions on eating, dressing and circumcision and then in the NT says none of that matters anymore?

    It occurred to me later in life after having children that God does not have a split personality.  Instead, he is merely a Father on a mission to save the world.    We fathers are often like that.   We can be reading our kids the riot-act and threatening them with all kinds of punishments one minute and the next minute jovial and kidding around with them.   The difference is the context.   If you have ever been in Disneyland or Disney World you will have undoubtedly witnessed one of the transformations.   All it takes is a father who realizes that they have 5 minutes to make it across the park in order to make their Fast-Pass scheduled time for a ride they have been waiting for all day and suddenly the jovial, happy-go-lucky parent turns into a strict, do-as-I-tell-you-or-else parent who threatens their kids with all kinds of punishments if their actions prevent them from arriving at their destination as scheduled.

     God is no different in the OT.   We forget that God is a man on a mission.  He has already decided to come to earth through the Israelites at the time of the Roman Empire.  He needs to get his people from where they are at in Egypt (around 2000BC) to where they need to be to enter our history and set all things straight.   Like the children in Disneyland, they have a lot of distractions along the way that could cut that trip short.   They will have to wade through cultures that run counter to God's directions.   Those cultures will suck them in and try to dilute them and turn them into one of the many other cultures that don't exist anymore such as the Hitites, the Amonites, the Caananites and many more.   Can you point to anyone today and say they descended from the Amonnites?   Of course not!   They are all gone and assimilated into the other cultures around them.  The same could have happened to the Jewish people as well.  Likewise,  the worship of other gods like Baal and Moloch could cause the Israelites to forget God's mission and his promises to them.   Too often we fail to see that their culture was nothing like what we have today.   We often make the mistake in our minds of thinking that all that is different for the people in the OT is the year and that they don't have our modern conveniences.   But nothing could be further from the truth.   They were dealing with cultures very much far removed from what we deal with today.

     Take for example the god Baal.  Baal was a fertility god who was worshiped by paying money to a
priest and then having sex with a temple prostitute.   How does God compete with that?  The line of men outside of the temple must have gone on for miles.  Now imagine being surrounded by thousands of Baals followers who keep telling you that you are missing out on some really good worship at the temple.  Is it really any wonder at all that in the OT the Israelites are constantly being pulled back in the Baal worship?   Also ask yourself where did the Baal priests get the girls to be the Baal prostitutes?   Most likely they came as offerings from families looking for additional blessings from Baal and so offered their own daughters to the temple for service since girls were held in such low esteem by these other cultures (an ancient letter from a Egyptian nobleman to his wife suggested drowning the baby if it turns out to be a girl).  What should God do about this?  Nothing?  Do you think that these people will end their worship of Baal with just a harsh talking to by their Jewish neighbors? 

     And let's not forget about the god Moloch.  God warns them in multiple places to not sacrifice
their children in the fire to Moloch.  Let that sink in for a while.   These people were offering up their very own children as a burnt offering to an idol to help insure their crops come in at harvest time.    For some time, people thought that this was pure hyperbole on the part of the Jewish people.  But in recent years , altars built in honor of Moloch have been uncovered and the burnt bones of children 2 years old and less were found  (my guess is that most of these children were girls as well).   God's need to remove these people from the land the Israelites were going to inhabit was necessary not only to prevent them from getting involved in this religion, but also as a way to bring the worship of Moloch to an end as well.

    Given all of these problems that could prevent God's people from reaching their goal, God uses a system of "blessings and curses" to help guide his people and keep them on course.   He's not doing this just to be a "mean God" but to bring salvation to the world through these people.    

      But what about all those silly rules about not eating shell fish, pork, etc ?   Why do those go away in the NT as well but not the other commandments like "Do not commit adultery" ?   To answer this you must understand that there are 2 sets of laws in the Jewish culture.   The first is the legal or social laws.  These consist of the 10 commandments and the laws that God gives under these to help them clarify what they mean.    The other laws are religious or dietary laws.  Unlike the former laws, these do not have blessings and curses attached to them.   They are merely told that God detests them.   For a Jew these can be practiced or not practiced, but if you are a "good Jew" you will.    But why did God have them do these things?   So many of them seem so silly to us today.

      To answer, let's go back to our Disneyland example.
You often see families do strange things
when they visit large theme parks like Disneyland.   They will often dress their kids in bright (some would say gaudy) clothes and even put name tags and even have them wear silly looking hats in some cases.  Why?  So they stick out in a crowd and therefore can be more easily identified by the others in case they get lost.    The same goes for the Jews and their religious laws.   It's meant to distinguish them from all the other tribes in the area and remind them on a daily basis about who they are and what they stand for.   Imagine every time a Jewish man goes to the bathroom and they look down and see that their wee-wee is different from every other wee-wee.  Instantly they are reminded, "Oh yeah! I am a Jew".   Then imagine every time they go to the market and they see shell fish for sale or pork.   Again they are remind, "Oh yeah! I am a Jew!".   Other laws as well not only remind them of their heritage but also as a prophecy of what God will do in the future.   Take for example their laws requiring that all debts be forgiven every 50 years or that every year they were to take a spotless sheep and sacrifice it to God for the atonement of all their sins.

    Similarly,  just like the family takes off their "Disney attire" when they leave the park because its not needed anymore so also after Jesus has accomplished all that the Father has destined him to do we no longer need the religious laws such as not eating pork, shell-fish or circumcision.   In fact, the early Jewish-Christians dropping of these laws illustrates to the rest of the world just how real Jesus life-death-and-resurrection are to them as they are willing to go against their Jewish tradition and upbringing for the sake of the Gospel.

     In conclusion, when you take a step back and look at what God's mission is and the various mind-fields he has to walk these people through you begin to understand the purpose of these "silly laws" and you begin to see God for who he is.   Loving, caring and concerned for our well-being and not having a split-personality.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Church needs to end its dependence on Spiritual Welfare

    For many decades the church has relied too heavily on the government to do what it has needed to do by itself.   I call this "Spiritual Welfare" because it operates much like "Economic Welfare" in that it makes the co-dependent weaker and less able to take care of themselves and their own needs.    I never really began to see this dependence before until in recent years as we have seen our government slowly turn its back on the church.   

Church's reliance on tax-exempt status and tax deductions

    For those who are addicted to the Spiritual Welfare they have been receiving over last several decades it is going to come to a shock.   Especially to churches who have built themselves up on the monetary aspects of the Spiritual Welfare system.   Of course when I mention "monetary aspects" I mean of course the churches tax-exempt status as well as our tithing kickbacks we have been receiving as givers every April 15th.  It came as a shock to me too as I realized that all these years I had not really been tithing at all to my church.   Yes of course I give 10% from my paycheck every month, but forgetting (to be honest probably more conscious rather than forgetful) that my tithe is tax deductible and therefore reduces my overall taxable income thereby allowing me to get a kindly sum back every year and allowing the government to subsidize my contribution to the church.    I too was unknowingly receiving Spiritual Welfare kickbacks!

    Will that come to and end for me?  My bets are that they will eventually.  Maybe not this year but who knows!   Five or ten years from now and the public sentiment could be such that my church will be seen as more of a pariah  than a benefit to society and call for its demise.  

     What about churches tax exempt status?   Will that come to an end?   Possibly as well.   Now imagine your church why may already be strapped with loads of debt having their budget cut by 30, 40 or even 50%?    Could they survive?  

     But of course this is all conjecture.   If Congress did this they would run afoul with the many black churches across this country they depend on for votes (mostly democrats).   To do this would have big effects on them and most likely lose their support.   Congress could attempt pass some legislation that would protect the churches they like, but that would not pass the courts views on "favoritism" and "promoting religion" and would be hard to pass.   It could just pass the buck to the IRS to handle the issue and it could deal with the churches much the same way it dealt with the 5013c applicants and bury the churches it disapproves of with mounds of paperwork and interviews to prove they are not bigots in applying for their tax-exempt status.

     Which ever way it goes, I think the church needs to prepare for it.   Both the churches and its members will have to come to grips with the fact that their free ride is about over.   We must see that  taking care of the body of Christ shouldn't depend on a government handout or hand-up.   It needs to be freed from these chains that it has allowed it to be shackled with over the years.   By giving up its tax-exempt status it will be MORE FREE to speak the truth about our society and the sins that plague it.   Especially those sins committed by those who sit in high office in Washington DC.  

Church's reliance on Government to solve problems

     Spiritual Welfare also has non-economic aspects to it as well.   For too long the church (and when I say church I don't mean any one denomination but Christian's in general) has worked with politicians to push agendas they felt would create heaven on earth where everyone will be forced to behaves AS Christians even if they are NOT Christians.    Much of this began in the early 1900's during the progressive era.   First with the banning of alcohol, but later it expanded into other social agendas as well.   Here are just a few:

Drugs:

     The usage of drugs in our country is a huge problem.   Every family knows someone who has been affected by drug addiction.  But too often we seek easy answers.  It's easier to push for tougher legislation and more money on drug enforcement which uses public money rather than churches spending more on youth programs and hiring trained youth leaders to work with their youth and help them stay away from drugs.   After all, if government can fix the problem then we don't have to do it.  We would rather keep it quiet in our churches and not talk about it rather than address it and see what we can do to help stop it.

Prostitution:

     Now take prostitution as another example.   The church was a big proponent of making prostitution illegal in the early 1900's  as sex is a difficult problem.   It's easier to keep your members on the straight and narrow and away from breaking the 6th commandment if you make prostitution illegal and punishable with jail time.   Remove the temptation and you remove the sin... right?   Wrong.   All the vice-squads in America haven't ended the problem of prostitution.  Instead it has driven it further underground and has cultivated a world where under-age girls are used because they are more easily controlled by their pimps and the pimps make more profit.    When is the last time you even heard a pastor talk about prostitution in church?   If you only listened to sermons you would think it didn't exist at all?   That is because the church has relinquished its responsibility to the government to take care of this issue for it.

Anti-gay laws:

     Homosexuality is as old as Sodom and Gomorrah in the Bible.  As the church it would rather not deal with it or see it so it has worked with government to push laws to make it illegal.  Like prostitution it didn't end it, but merely pushed it into the closet so we as Christians don't have to discuss it.    Later, to try to hold back the tide it refocused its efforts on laws to prevent them from marrying (Really, ask yourself why is government even involved in the marriage business in the first place!  Answer:  it was enacted to prevent blacks from marrying whites and also to stop Mormons from polygamy).  Here again, the church has used government to promote its views and protect it.   This is NOT to say it is NOT a sin.   It is still a sin.   God's word will not change and our views will not change either.   The church can still excommunicate those who would rather take part in this sin rather than take part in the body of Christ.   What the church's attempts have done is create the illusion to those outside Christ's body that homosexuality is the only damnable sin man can commit.  We must allow those who don't want to be Christian to NOT BE CHRISTIAN!   We must end this charade where we expect all of society to behave like us despite them not being a follower of Christ just so we can have the illusion of some perfect and sinless world.


The church needs to suffer

     Finally, I believe the church needs to suffer for the cause of Christ.  We must step out from behind our First Amendment rights and be willing to pay the price for believing in Jesus Christ.   We have hidden for too long.   We have been protected for too long.   As the old adage goes that you read in any fitness gym goes.   NO PAIN... NO GAIN!    Christ's body grows best when it is stressed.  When it is under the pain of struggle and torment.    Does anyone even doubt the strength of the Egyptian Coptic Christians as they pray before they are executed by ISIS?    How about the believers in Iraq as they are dragged from their homes and executed in mass graves?   Do we doubt their sincerity?   Absolutely not!    Now compare that to our faith here in America as we sit in churches that look more like NBA basketball arena's than they look like places of worship.   Do you see WHY so many millennials look at you like they do and why they shrug off all you have to say?    Jesus doesn't  "If you are taken before rulers and kings" , he says "When you are taken before kings and rulers".   It's not a maybe... it's coming event.  

     We must also stop quoting the founding fathers and the Constitution more than we quote our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.   George Washington didn't die for your sins.  Jesus did!    Thomas Jefferson didn't rise from the dead.  Jesus did!   The Constitution is not infallible.  God's word is!   The Lincoln memorial is not going to last for ever.   God's reign will!