Twisted Symbols…

What I’m about to say is not very popular… but I find it in many ways terribly repugnant to see the way Satan twists the things that God has made for good and uses them as symbols for evil…
 
One such example…
 
Back in the Old Testament, there lived a man named Noah. He was pretty much the only righteous person left on earth. The whole world had become corrupt (Genesis 6:11-12), and yet Scripture tells us that “Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord” (vs. 8) and that he “was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God” (vs. 9).
 
Because of the wickedness, violence, and corruption of the world at the time (which is itself quite a topic, which I’ll save for another day), God decides to flood the whole world and “start over” (Genesis 6:7). But because Noah was righteous, God told him to build an ark (a sea-worthy vessel to house him and his family, along with the animals God had created) (vss. 14,17-19) so that he can be saved from the flood and life can be preserved.
 
When all was said and done, and the ark was made, and 120 years had passed by in which Noah and his son Methuselah had been preaching to the inhabitants of the earth to repent (or, so the story goes in the book of Jasher – Jasher 5:7-10 – and as is hinted at in Genesis 6:3)–
 
–When all that time had passed, and the people of the earth were unwilling to turn from their wickedness, God opened the windows of heaven and the springs of the earth, and a mighty flood came and destroyed all the people and animals that were not inside Noah’s ark (Genesis 7:11,21-23).
 
After all this (and this is really the point of my retelling this account from the Scriptures), when the waters receded and the ark settled on the ground and Noah and his family were finally able to get out on dry land, God made a promise:
 
“I establish my covenant with you: Never again will all life be destroyed by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth” (Genesis 9:11).
 
This is a great promise! And do you know what God chooses to be the sign of this covenant – the continual reminder that God will not go back on His word?
 
You ready?
 
…The rainbow. (Genesis 9:12-16)
 
Yes, friends, the modern-day symbol for “gay pride” was originally the sign of God’s covenant with Noah (and, in turn, the rest of the world) never to flood the whole earth again in order to destroy all mankind.
 
Phew… I told you this wasn’t a popular message.
 
See, Satan likes to twist everything God made for good and turn it around to use it for his own purposes.
 
Now, I know this LGBT+ issue is really big right now, but let me say, very simply,
 
In the beginning, “God created them male and female” (Genesis 5:2; also 1:27; Matthew 19:4; Mark 10:6).
 
That’s it.
 
There is a whole “movement” sweeping our culture right now that’s basically getting rid of gender and letting people determine for themselves what they are. People in our modern-day society are allowed to be one gender one day and identify as a different gender the next.
 
And the choices are a lot more than just “male” and “female.” Children are being taught that there are many gender options. You can be any gender you want; almost like you can pick your career. In fact, “gender-fluidity” is a thing now, too. It’s pretty crazy to watch.
 
And now we see the rainbow plastered everywhere to “celebrate” this “pride”… I’ve seen the rainbow next to YouTube’s logo the past couple days; I’ve seen the rainbow mingled with PayPal’s logo after a recent transaction (instead of the normal, basic, blue color), and now Spotify even has a whole rainbow genre/mood called “Pride,” next to all the more typical genres like pop, rock, and country. I’m not quite sure what kind of music it is… and frankly, I didn’t want to listen to find out.
 
Yet, whatever your stance is on these issues (and I understand these are some hot-button issues for a number of people), hopefully, if you are a Christian, you can at least recognize with me that when God made people, he did not make them as anything other than male and female. And hopefully you’re also willing to recognize that, on top of this, He made them heterosexual – to enjoy the love of one another and populate the earth (Genesis 1:28).
 
To be anything else is to live in contradiction to the created order, the natural way God intended things to work (Romans 1:26-27).
 
I mean, can I be plain with you? There is no natural way to procreate and “fill the earth” as God commanded (Genesis 1:28, 9:7) in anything other than a male + female relationship.
 
Why do we try to add to and change what God made perfectly from the start?
 
Now, LGBT+ friend, whoever you may be, I’m not at all trying to be mean or dismiss you as a person. Certainly, I don’t at all say that the feelings you have aren’t real, legitimate feelings. I don’t say that it’s impossible to really love someone of the same sex or some other non-heterosexual combination (certainly, even David had a great love for Jonathan in the Bible… it didn’t lead to intercourse, of course, but it was still a genuine love for another person; 2 Samuel 1:26, 1 Samuel 18:1,3).
 
In fact, I myself wished, growing up, that I could become a girl from time to time and live that life and see things from the other side. And there have been times where I have been of such a mind that I related, in some ways, more to the female population than to the male population. And I was a fan of many ideas within the “metrosexual” community (it’s an older term by now, but it basically means combining aspects of one gender into the other). It all seemed very appealing to me for a number of reasons.
 
Yet, I came to realize that all these things were merely perversions in my mind. I had become prey to a particular way of thinking, a particular way of feeling, a particular way of believing that was contrary to all that God had intended from the beginning. I was into these ideas because they appealed to my flesh; they made me /feel/ good.
 
But I am thankful to say that God had the power to bring me back under the created order, to redeem and renew my life. And, even though you may not want it, He can truly do the same for you. That is not to say that you are “defective” in any sense of the word, but only to say that living in such a manner is a broken way of life.
 
Does God love the LGBT+ community? On the one hand, yes, He certainly does, for He demonstrated His love for everyone (including those who are LGBT+) by dying on our behalf (Romans 5:8). Yet, on the other hand, He did not intend for anyone to continue to live in such a manner, but instead He intends for those of us who claim His name to walk in newness of life (Romans 6:4).
 
So, if you consider yourself a Christian, and if at the same time you consider yourself LGBT+, consider the words of Peter:
 
“As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.’
 
“Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear. For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.”
(1 Peter 1:14-19)
 
We are called to be holy, to live “set apart” (for that is what the word means) from what the world is doing all around us. The world is engaging in all the various expressions of sexuality that it can think of (an “empty way of life”) but we are called to find love in the way that God has established, between a man and a woman — and, even above that, to find love in our blessed Creator. If we struggle in this way (as all people struggle from time to time in various sins), desiring a love from a same-sex partner or other deviation from God’s created order, may we seek deliverance from these passions by calling on our God and Savior, Jesus Christ, seeking Him with our whole heart.
 
So, friends, when you see a rainbow… Let’s remember that at the beginning this was not a symbol for the acceptance of and “pride” in our modern-day society’s corruption of sexual preferences and ideas; instead, it was and still is a sign of God’s covenantal faithfulness to the inhabitants of the earth that although He destroyed the world with a flood, He will do so no longer. And let us look with careful (indeed, sometimes even fearful) expectation to the future and soon-coming day when He will yet again destroy the world, not with water but with fire, to once again remove the godless and the wicked from the earth (2 Peter 3:5-7, esp. vs. 7; then also vss. 10-12).
 
As Peter writes:
 
“Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives.” (2 Peter 3:11)
 
And…
 
“But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.
 
“So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.” (2 Peter 3:13-14)
 
May we be found blameless and know His peace. Amen.

Virtual Reality or True Reality?

One of the greatest tragedies I see in this world is an obsession with leaving true reality in favor of seeking to dwell in a virtual reality…

This may seem like an over-exaggerated statement, but “virtual reality” takes a lot more forms than simply the wearing of a special set of goggles connected to one’s phone.

Some people choose to linger in virtual reality merely by diving into the realm of TV programming instead of engaging in thoughtful conversations with their family.

Some people come into virtual reality by means of drugs or other psychedelic or mind-altering substances, unwilling to face the harsh, cold reality of the depression, anger, and emptiness they find themselves in.

Some people are addicted to the virtual reality presented to them on their phones and cannot even come to a restaurant or a gathering of friends without having their gaze diverted every other moment by the notifications their phone presents.

Yet other people linger on past memories or hopeful wishes for the future, hoping that this virtual reality can somehow manifest itself in the real world.

And while there are certainly other ways in which people often desire to escape the confines of true reality in favor of an alternate, virtual reality — a reality that seems more pleasant to them than the true reality all around them — the consequences of all of these various escapes tend to be alike: they take us away from what is right in front of our faces — this world, its Creator, our sinfulness, our need for redemption, and the love we ought to give to our brothers and sisters on this earth.

People, we need wake up.

Our thoughts have oftentimes been morphed and crafted more by the media and our culture than by the Bible or our families or respected elders.

Now, I know not everyone respects what the Bible has to say, but if you are someone like me who believes that God literally speaks /through/ the Bible, we really ought to read it and listen to what He has to say. It’s a tragedy when we choose instead to listen to our “cool” friends, or all the latest “news,” or all the spectacular things we read on the internet…

We’re deceiving ourselves. None of these things amount to even an ounce of what constitutes “true reality.”

As the Word of God tells us, “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17).

It is the Word of God — the Bible — that is the truth which ought to shape our reality — not culture; not escape-ism; not our peers; not media; not drugs; not TV; not the internet…

It is certainly tempting to come to the side of the unorthodox and unusual, the mystical, the dark… I’ve had some voyages there myself, and in the end, I’ve found them terribly lacking.

I had been seeking to create a reality for myself steeped in dark, poetic, unusual, electronic, eccentric ideals, ignoring in many ways the God who was only a simple thought or prayer away.

It was just like the apostle Paul’s concern: “But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 11:3)

Simplicity… See, following God is simple. It’s not /easy/, but it is simple. And it requires getting our heads straight — that is, leaving the false, virtual reality often presented to us, and coming to embrace the realness of true reality; coming to find out who we really are, who God really is, and what the eternal fate of our souls will be.

All these things we find in God’s Word.

May we forsake the virtual reality of our culture and come instead to be grounded in the true reality found in God’s inerrant Word.

Amen.

The Darkness

Oh, the darkness, where all sorts of evil is wrought…

“There are those who rebel against the light,
who do not know its ways or stay in its paths.

“When daylight is gone, the murderer rises up,
kills the poor and needy,
and in the night steals forth like a thief.

“The eye of the adulterer watches for dusk;
he thinks, ‘No eye will see me,’
and he keeps his face concealed.

“In the dark, thieves break into houses,
but by day they shut themselves in;
they want nothing to do with the light.

“For all of them, midnight is their morning;
they make friends with the terrors of darkness.

“…But God drags away the mighty by his power;
though they may become established, they have no assurance of life.
He may let them rest in a feeling of security,
but his eyes are on their ways.

“For a little while they are exalted, and then they are gone;
they are brought low and gathered up like all others;
they are cut off like heads of grain.”
Job 24:13‭-‬17,22-24

And, I don’t read books like the following very often (since it’s generally considered in Protestant circles to be an /addition/ to the Bible), but nonetheless this quote is very fitting, tying right into the above:

“For he which is Lord over all shall fear no man’s person, neither shall he stand in awe of any man’s greatness: for he hath made the small and great, and careth for all alike.”
Wisdom of Solomon 6:7

God doesn’t care who you are – He doesn’t show favoritism (Romans 2:11); He is going to judge you for what /you’ve/ done (Matt 16:27, Jeremiah 17:10, Romans 2:6), and if you are one who loves the darkness and continues in evil, there will come a day when you will stand before your Maker and will perish (Revelation 20:12-15, Galatians 6:7-8). You will be thrown into unquenchable fire in which you will be tormented forever (Revelation 21:8, Matthew 13:49-50).

Don’t choose to die. Turn from your evil ways and live. (Ezekiel 33:11)

Even if you consider yourself a Christian, examine yourself (2 Corinthians 13:5). What does your life /really/ look like? Are you following Jesus, or have you forsaken Him to go your own way (Luke 9:23-26, Revelation 2:4-5)?

“There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.” (Proverbs 14:12)

“This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.”
John 3:19-‬21

Jesus is the light. Turn away from your sinful ways and come to Him:

“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.'”
John 8:12

Break Up With The Devil

When you become a Christian, “you break up with the devil, you give him back his stuff, and you quit hanging out with him and his friends.” (Dean Odle)

A good, strong picture of the level of repentance we ought to have in forsaking everything to follow Jesus. No longer are we to be tied to this world-system governed by Satan, no longer are we to live to please the flesh (doing all the things /we/ want to do), but instead we are to offer all that we are (spirit, soul, and body) to Jesus in worship and reverent service, trusting /Him/ to meet our every need.

A well-known, but simple and fitting verse that speaks to this end is Romans 12:1-2:

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

As Jesus simply put it, “In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.” (Luke 14:33)

Speaking to being either a child of the devil or a child of God, John writes:

“Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. The one who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God. This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister.” (1 John 3:7-10)

So, let us /no longer/ walk in the ways of the devil, partnering with those who live lives of darkness and sin; but rather, let’s make sure to “break up with the devil, give him back his stuff, and quit hanging out with him and his friends.” (Dean Odle)

Deceptive Churches

It’s depressing seeing the condition of the church at large today… There’s a lot of deception, a lot of subtlety…

And, in some ways, it’s not all the church’s fault – they’re just helpless sheep following their misguided leaders.

See, all that subtlety and deception – that’s exactly how the Adversary has always worked. He likes taking part of the truth and mixing it with his own lies.

I see churches today who “preach” a lot of love, a lot of grace, and yet they completely miss the gospel. There’s no mention of sin, no mention of repentance, often no mention of Jesus’ cross and His blood’s atonement for our sin. Instead what we hear is how we were “born to live wild” and “free” and that God came to restore us to our created value.

And again, there’s some truth in that. But salvation is more than just an awakening of our true worth and value; it’s more than becoming alive and “jumping in the river.” Salvation is turning away from our old path of sin and selfishness and kneeling at the foot of the cross, where Jesus paid for our pardon with His own blood. It’s embracing the risen Savior who conquered death. And it’s choosing to live a new life by the power of His indwelling Holy Spirit.

It’s a broken man realizing he is broken and headed to destruction and acknowledging that hope can only be found in Jesus Christ.

See, these false, deceived churches speak a lot about love – but love is more than an experience; it’s more than the warm fuzzies you get from being “in Daddy’s presence.” Love isn’t afraid to speak up and tell you the truth, even when it hurts. And the truth is, this world, for the most part, is on the path to destruction, and no amount of positive experiences or spiritual encounters or even singing of worship songs with hands outstretched to heaven is going to save that person.

Only Jesus can save. As it is written, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)

And don’t be deceived, not everyone who claims the name of Jesus is His. As Jesus Himself said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 7:21)

Later on, the apostle Paul also testified:

“You know that wicked people will not inherit the kingdom of God, don’t you? Stop deceiving yourselves! Sexually immoral people, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, homosexuals, thieves, greedy people, drunks, slanderers, and robbers will not inherit the kingdom of God.

“That is what some of you were! But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of our Lord Jesus the Messiah and by the Spirit of our God.”
(1 Corinthians 6:9-11)

If you are living in sin, you might be well in the right to be concerned about your eternal fate. After all, “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” (1 Corinthians 5:17)

If you’re still living in the old way of life, what has really changed? What kind of gospel did you accept?

Friend, be careful:

“If, after escaping the world’s corruptions through a full knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus, the Messiah, they are again entangled and conquered by those corruptions, then their last condition is worse than their former one.

“It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness than to know it and turn their backs on the holy commandment that was committed to them.

“The proverb is true that describes what has happened to them: ‘A dog returns to its vomit,’ and ‘A pig that is washed goes back to wallow in the mud.'”
(2 Peter 2:20-22)

We simply cannot continue to live in sin as children of God. To do so is to spit in the face of our Savior, to return to our own vomit.

But these big churches don’t tell you anything about sin. Instead, they promise without reservation, as if speaking on God’s behalf, “Who said you were unworthy of My love? It wasn’t Me.” Yet how can you promise what you have not offered in the first place? When you have not even explained the gospel in real truth and clarity, how can you promise peace?

They are just like the false prophets and deceptive priests of old:

“They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. ‘Peace, peace,’ they say, when there is no peace.” (Jeremiah 6:14)

Hear me out, people… We live in evil times. There’s blatant evil all around, that’s for sure, but there’s also plenty of evil operating under the guise of righteousness:

“Such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.” (2 Corinthians 11:13-14)

Keep a watchful eye and a vigilant spirit. Stay in the Word. Know it. Turn away from your sins and follow Jesus.

As it is written,

“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)

And,

“Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.” (Galatians 6:7-8)

Let us not become entangled in strange teaching that promises life but delivers only emotional highs. Instead, let us hold true to “the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people.” (Jude 1:3)

May we do so in Jesus’ name and by His power. Amen.

Science Speaks; the Bible Speaks “Backwards”

Sometimes I feel like modern science says everything backwards compared to the Word of God…

For instance, scientists tell us the earth is spinning and orbiting the sun, but God’s Word says:

“He set the earth on its foundations;
it can never be moved.”
– Psalm 104

Scientists tell us the sun is older than the earth, but God’s Word tells us that the sun wasn’t made until the fourth day of creation, after the earth had already been made:

“God made two great lights–the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. … And there was evening, and there was morning–the fourth day.”
– Genesis 1:16,19

Scientists have told us that the “atmosphere becomes thinner and thinner with increasing altitude, with no definite boundary between the atmosphere and outer space” (Wikipedia), but God’s Word tells us there is a hard firmament above our heads, with waters above it:

“And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.” – Genesis 1:6-7

“Can you join him [God] in spreading out the skies, hard as a mirror of cast bronze?” – Job 37:18

“Praise him, you highest heavens and you waters above the skies.” – Psalm 148:4

Scientists tell us the sun, moon, and stars are inconceivably great distances away from us, but God tells us He placed these lights inside the firmament, which functions as a tent-like barrier:

“And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:” – Genesis 1:14

“The LORD wraps himself in light as with a garment; he stretches out the heavens like a tent” – Psalm 104:2

“In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun.” – Psalm 19:4b

Scientists tell us the earth goes around the sun, but God’s Word tells us the sun circuits the earth (continuing from the verse I just quoted):

“It [the sun] is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber,
like a champion rejoicing to run his course.
It rises at one end of the heavens
and makes its circuit to the other;
nothing is deprived of its warmth.”
– Psalm 19:5-6

I could go on, but in sum, it seems like if you take the Bible literally, there’s quite a difference of opinion on these things…

And certainly, you can feel free to believe as you like. I’m more than aware that going against the grain of scientific thought isn’t exactly popular, but personally, I’m trying to be true to what I believe God has said. And I know many people will interpret these verses that I’ve quoted figuratively, saying that they don’t literally mean what they say, but inasmuch as I’m able, I’m trying to take what God says at face value, because I don’t want to fall into the doubt that Satan is so fond of introducing (“Did God really say…?” – Genesis 3:1)

Just some food for thought… Feel free to disagree. What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear what you have to say.

Persecution, One Christian To Another

I thought this had a lot of truth in it, especially relevant to those of us who live in the West — a good call to consider how we treat our brothers and sisters in the Lord…

Brother Yun, a Christian from China, after being attacked in an article by someone he’d never met who was saying all kinds of false and negative things about him, said this:

“In China I had been used to beatings, torture with electric batons, and all kinds of humiliation. I guess that deep in my heart I had presumed that now I was in the West my days of persecution had ended.

“I couldn’t understand how someone who had never met me could write such a nasty article. I complained to my Christian friends, ‘Why don’t these people call us and read the documents? I don’t understand! Why don’t they find the truth out for themselves? It’s right here for them to see!’

“My translator told me, ‘Brother Yun, these people don’t want to know the truth. That’s why they’re not calling you or wanting to meet you. In China, Christians are persecuted with beatings and imprisonment. In the West, Christians are persecuted by the words of other Christians.'”

Dang…

And that’s the sad state of our world today — we would rather strike down our own and openly slander them or gossip about them than choose to suspend judgement and talk to that person directly.

As James tells us, “Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister or judges them speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it.” (James 4:11)

Instead, if we really think a brother or sister is in the wrong, we need to speak to them personally:

“If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over.” (Matthew 18:15)

It’s only after they personally refuse to listen to you that we have any right to get other people involved:

“But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.” (Matthew 18:16-17)

If you look for it, you can find bad things about anyone. But that should not be our goal. We need to be willing to /love/ others and give them the benefit of the doubt. For,

“Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” (1 Corinthians 13:6-7)

Do you see that? “Always trusts.”

So may that be the attitude of our hearts — to trust that our brothers and sisters are in the right. And if we have any reason to doubt their walk or doctrine, may we come to them personally and seek out the truth for ourselves, knowing that we will all be judged someday:

“You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat.” (Romans 14:10)