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October 1, 2015, 12:00 PM

Surprised by Sick People in a Hospital?

On a recent Facebook post, I asked a question similar to this:  “If the church is a “hospital” and Jesus is the Great Physician, why are we so surprised and critical when we find sick people within the ranks of the Church?"   The sick (the sinful) are those who need Jesus, the Great Physician!  Indeed, Jesus Himself declares this truth: “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick” (Matthew 9:12, ESV).  

The surprise and criticism may come from Christians and non-Christians alike.  It is, perhaps, understandable coming from the ranks of the unchurched. When it emerges from the ranks of the churched, however, it is often troubling.  The truth is that many of those persons in the “hospital” (church) are at various stages of spiritual disease and healing!  Yet, they are in the best place to receive healing (salvation) and seeking the best Physician (Jesus Christ)!  An interesting and note-worthy truth is that Jesus is the only One who has never been sick.  “He was tempted in all points as we were, yet [He] without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). He alone provides the only remedy for our sins and our sicknesses—Himself—His substitutionary death on the cross for our sins!  Jesus is the Doctor who writes the prescription and offers the only effective Remedy for our sins and our sicknesses!  

Interestingly, these critics, whether Christians or non-Christians (saved or unsaved) missed the fact that they too are sick and are in need of Christ, the Great Physician and the Church (the hospital for sick people).   The greatest sickness of humankind is not physical; it is spiritual!  Nevertheless, Jesus is the Only Solution for the problem.  The sin-sick sinner must come to Him, acknowledging their sins, and making a commitment to turn to Christ and accept His death on the Cross, as the payment and only remedy for our sins, and make a commitment to live for Christ. 
After accepting Christ, the possibility of being infested with the disease of sin is still a reality.  Yet, Jesus again is the Prescription and Medicine! He gives us the grace (enablement) to be sanctified, to be made holy, to be conformed into His image!  Whether we need a remedy for our salvation or sanctification, the “sick” must come to the Great Physician, Jesus Christ.  They should come to the “hospital”—the Church (Hebrews 10:24-25)!

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September 22, 2015, 12:00 AM

Media and Morality

I was listening to a recent media report concerning some policy changes made by the Pope towards marriage annulment. What struck me was not the issue of marriage annulment but how some in the media were characterizing it as a move by the church to be more “welcoming”. This buzzword word “welcoming” is often used to label a church or Christian that rejects biblical standards and capitulates to the latest cultural fad or societal definitions of morality. This same tactic is used with words such as “tolerance” or “discrimination”. Interestingly, these media personalities seem to miss the fact that they themselves are not very “welcoming” to any biblical or moral position other than the one to which they subscribe.

The power of the media is in the ability to not only reflect the cultural mindset and values but to shape and influence it. A subtle, pervasive, biased perspective influences many who are exposed to this kind of reporting. Reporters who readily criticize Christians of indoctrination or attempting to win others to Christ, including those of other religious persuasions, often regularly engage in their own brand of indoctrination. (Even though, supposedly, they are to simply just present the facts and not engage in advocacy activities).

Christians, therefore, must be spiritually discerning when exposed to all media—television, radio, movies, music, blogs, Websites, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Realizing that there is a subtle undermining of the authority of the Bible, the centrality of Christ, and a presentation of a non-Christian worldview, values, or perspectives, the Christians’ morality must be informed and shaped by the Word of God—the Bible!

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April 7, 2015, 12:00 AM

Same-Sex Marriage and Discrimination Against Religious Liberty

In our rapidly changing socio-cultural environment in the United States, there is increasing support for “same-sex marriage” and other declarations of sexuality. Along with these changes have come an increasing discrimination against those who hold to the historically orthodox Christian view of marriage as being between a man and a woman.   Interestingly, many proponents of “same-sex marriage” accuse Christians of discrimination, even though, at the same time, these supporters of "same-sex marriage" are engaging in legal, cultural, and economic coercion against those who hold sincere religious positions.  

A part of this strategy is to attach emotionally charged labels to those who do not support their declared sexual viewpoints.   Many of these labels such as “discrimination” and "intolerance“, were rightfully used in the fight against racism in United States.   A dangerous precedent, however, was set when the proponents of “same-sex marriage” highjacked legitimate categories and attach them to any group who did not affirm their newly declared positions! 

Several issues are of primary concern in this irreconcilable tension between what Dr. Albert Mohler calls “erotic liberty” and religious (Christian) liberty. First, it is the issue of redefining marriage.  The Bible reveals that human government was establish after the creation and institution of marriage (a union between a man and a woman).  Therefore, the government’s role was to affirm marriage and not to define marriage!  God never gave government the right to redefine anything that He had already defined!  Hence, we see a problem—the confusion between the ability to do a thing with the right to do it! 

Second, there is the presence of a venomous political and socio-cultural agenda, which seeks to use the mechanism of government to force a person of religious conviction or a Christian institution to follow another person’s theological, religious, and social perspective.  Furthermore, the majority (proponents of "same-sex marriage"), based on newly held assertions, is trumping the religious liberty rights of the minority. Even when the minorities’ actions are based on “sincerely-held beliefs”, a Christian baker, florist, or photographer, for example, would be forced to provide services for a “same-sex wedding ceremony”.  This could occur even though the Christian’s convictions are supported by the Bible and centuries of Christian teachings and affirmations! 

Third, when politicians with concerns for political expediency couple with activist judges who make law from the bench rather than interpret in accordance with legislative intent support this vitriolic cultural movement, it becomes an ever-increasing assault on the biblical and Christian position concerning sexuality and marriage.  Many seminaries and denominations espouse an neo-orthodox view concerning biblical interpretation that offers a poisonous mixture of “heretical hermeneutics” and liberal theology to further undermine the historically orthodox view of marriage and sexuality.   Pastors (and other Christians) who have lost their prophetic voices and capitulated to the “spirit of the age” (zeitgeist) are equally culpable in this assault on Christianity and Christians, even if unintended.

What are Christians to do in light of this new movement against religious liberties?  (1) Love God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength and love your neighbor (including all people regardless of their sexuality) as yourself; (2) Obey the government, except when what it commands us to contradict or violate what God ordains or commands; (3) let the Bible take its preeminent position over all other books or documents; (4) Stand for the Gospel of Jesus Christ, no matter what the cost!

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February 24, 2015, 8:00 AM

Church Discipline

Often in conversations with Christians across denominational lines, I have noticed a disturbing level of passivity or disengagement concerning the area of church discipline.  Sometimes, an elaborate but shaky support for the failure to act is offered. Interestingly, when other Christians carry out this biblical mandate, they are often branded as “angry” or “unloving”.  Although it is entirely possible to carry out biblical mandates in an unbiblical manner, obedience to biblical directives should not be automatically construed as “unloving” or “angry”.  Notwithstanding, church discipline is an essential and should be a non-negotiable Christian practice. 

In Matthew 18:15, Jesus Christ gives a clear command.  He said, “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother”.  Interestingly, Jesus Christ gives the responsibility to the one who has been offended.  Even if one has not been offended, a Christian should attempt to encourage a brother or sister to repentance.  The apostle Paul teaches in Galatians 6:1: “If a brother [or sister] be overtaken in a fault, you who are spiritual restore such a one in the spirit of meekness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted”.

One reason often cited for the failure to obey this command is the belief that the effort would not be successful.  Yet, Christ gives instructions for the potential failure.  He says, in verse 16, “If he does not [listen with the intent of repentance], take with you one or two more; so in the presence of two or three witnesses every word may be established.  These should be mature Christians who have redemptive motivations for engaging in the efforts. 

Church discipline is not only a mandate for the individual Christian; it is mandated for the congregation.  Sometimes, it is necessary to bring a matter before the entire congregation, as Jesus taught.  If a person is unrepentant after being admonished by a Christian Brother or sister and by a group of well intended, loving, humble, and mature Christians, then the matter is to be brought before the entire congregation.  

Obedience to the Lord, Jesus Christ, demands that a Christian and a congregation be a proponent and practitioner of Church discipline! 


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December 2, 2014, 1:00 PM

Christian Courage in an Non-Christian Culture


What has happened?  Are we all now wimps?  As the late Dr. D. James Kennedy once said.  “[Everybody] is coming out of the closet, but Christians are going in the closet!”  In an age of increasing secularism, increasing religious intolerance, and abandonment of biblical morality, it appears that many Christians—preachers and parishioners alike---have lost moral courage.   
There seems to be an unwillingness to take a stand for biblical truth and a Christian worldview, particularly in the face of a virulent, strident, and sometimes, vicious anti-Christian fervor.  

Is it possible that even many preachers who trumpet strongly against some moral issues may be hiding the fact that they are, in reality, merely “prophetic wimps”?  When the majority of the audience to which you speak is already predisposed to agree with your positions, it does not take much courage to take a strong biblical position.  For example, to emphatically declare that racism is unjust to a predominately African-American congregation is not particularly courageous, when most parishioners have similar convictions.  The result is that often a Christian—preachers and parishioners—will often speak loudly on certain issues but are yet strangely silent when the gospel demands a response.  This movement from “loud to laryngitis” is disturbing and telling!  

To take a biblically moral and ethical stance against the prevailing winds of the secular culture usually requires much more courage!  This is often true in congregations, families, workplace settings, and other community venues in which we find ourselves in the minority as Christians.  Even many places that include a supposed majority of professing Christians may be difficult, because some members of these communities take their perspectives and social cues more from the secularized culture than from God.   Consequently, when a preacher (or Christian) takes a principled stance informed by the Word of God (Bible), he or she may experience an immediate backlash or resistance even from Christians.  

To be true to biblical truths, Christian doctrine, and personal convictions, Christians need courage to go against the socio-cultural tide.   Courageous Christian actions require preparation for loses!  There may be loss of affirming looks or verbal responses to preaching.  There may even be prosecution and persecution from both Christian and non-Christian sources.  Often, a Christian may not encounter a direct, overt and vitriolic response.  It may be a danger much more subtle, silent, and yet ominous.  Notwithstanding, all Christian—pastors and parishioners alike--are called to speak courageously and prophetically to the current issues in our world!  We are called to make God’s position clear concerning every issue.  It must be spoken but most importantly it must be acted upon!  The Gospel of Jesus Christ demands it! 

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