Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Whatever Happened to Live and Let Live?

      I’ve always loved the movie The Hiding Place—Hollywood’s version of the life of Christian author and speaker Corrie Ten Boom and her family. The Ten Boom’s were arrested for hiding and helping Jews during the German occupation of Holland in World War II. Betrayed by Hollanders who prided themselves in obeying German law, the Ten Boom family spent several years in concentration camps. God graciously rescued Corrie, but most of her family died there.


     More recently, I found another movie, The Zookeeper’s Wife, a true account of Antonina and Jan Zabinski, who also hid Jews when the Germans occupied Poland. Yad Vashem in Israel aptly recognized them with the “Righteous Among The Nations” honor.


      I love Israel. And it breaks my heart to see the unquenched resurgence of anti-Semitism in New York City. Or to be reminded of Jews suffering at the hands of pure evil—Hitler and his Nazi regime.


     But lest we forget, Hitler’s rise to power was slow at first. For example, in his 1919 letter to Adolf Gemlich, “…Hitler argues that antisemitism should be based on facts, Jews were a race and not a religious group, and that the aim for the government ‘must unshakably be the removal of the Jews altogether.’”[1]


     In 1925 and 1926, he published Mein Kamph and dedicated it to his mentor, Dietrich Eckart, a member of the occultist group, The Thule Society. In the book, Hitler equated Jews with germs, and he expounded upon his plans to transform German society into one based on RACE. By 1934, well over a million copies had been sold.[2] Any of this sound familiar??


     Hitler undermined Germany’s understanding of right and wrong. He twisted the minds of children (and adults), claiming, “He alone, who owns the youth, gains the future.”[3] When the German people were thoroughly indoctrinated, they gladly betrayed Jewish neighbors believing them to be sub-human.


     With the rapid erosion of America’s freedoms, I see Hitler’s same ideologies rising up. So, I better speak while I still can.


     Last month, The Salem News carried an article written by Connie Schultz, wife of Senator Sherrod Brown, titled, Get thee vaccinated, evangelical friends. Since I attend Alliance Evangelical Friends Church, I began reading, but halfway through, I was fuming.


     The author bases her opinion piece on a New York Times article. Schultz’s “good news—65 million people in the US have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.” However, her “pull-out-your-hair news from a Pew Research study—out of 41 million white evangelical adults, 45% said in late February they don’t plan to get vaccinated.”


     Quoting Jamie Aten of Wheaton College, an evangelical institution in Illinois, Shultz wrote, “If we can’t get a significant number of white evangelicals to come around on this, the pandemic is going to last much longer than it needs to.”


     Whoa — déjà vu — a teacher punishing the whole class for one child’s misbehavior. But after school, isn’t it the classmates who correct the one child?


     The Times also cited, “Lauri Armstrong, a Bible-believing nutritionist outside of Dallas…[She]…said she did not need the vaccine because God designed the body to heal itself, if given the right nutrients. [And] it would be God’s will if I am here or if I am not here.”


     Appalled, Schultz then commented, “I am related to many evangelicals, and some of them I love, but we are at an impasse here. Listing all the reasons to get vaccinated is like reading a restaurant menu to a giraffe. They are smart and attentive, but we’re not speaking the same language. If I hear one more person tell me, “It’s in God’s hands…”


     Shultz claims she’s a Christian. But it’s clear she’s not a true believer, because she then asks the question, “When did white preachers stop telling the helicopter story?” This where I paused my reading to cool off a bit. How dare her write such a “racist” article.


     Long Helicopter story short:  A man who drowns in a flood says to God, “I trusted You to save me.” God says, “I sent you a police officer, a boat, and a helicopter. What more did you want?”


     Is Schultz claiming God sent the vaccine to save us, and the unvaccinated are too dumb to realize it? I think so.


     This mindset is doing the same to our citizens as Hitler did to Germans. It’s twisting our thinking, causing us to trust government more than our real Savior or our fellow man, thereby making criminals out of the unvaccinated.


     Think I’m overreacting? Consider New York’s Excelsior Pass, vaccine passports, and The Epoch Times article, “Oregon First State to Require Vaccination Proof for Maskless Entry Into Businesses, Workplaces, and Churches.”[4] Now Facebook is tracking its members for vaccine hesitancy. What’s next?


     To me, these government requirements are like the Nazi-required armbands for Jews. It’s the same type of recognition. The armband was the first step used to separate and dehumanize Jews.

     Where is our freedom of choice? Women are free to choose to murder their unborn baby, but the unvaccinated are not free to put only themselves at risk?


Whatever happened to live and let live?


     If you have strong convictions that the vaccine is good—take it. If you have solid beliefs that the vaccine is harmful, the agenda behind it malicious, and the subsequent mandates Naziesque—don’t get vaccinated. But be prepared for persecution because the days are evil.


“Therefore He says: ‘Awake, you who sleep, arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.’ See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.”[5]

Friday, April 30, 2021

Whatever Happened to Sin?

Many moons ago, when I was a freshman in high school, smoking was about the worst thing kids would do. By the time I was a senior, it was “going all the way,” if you catch my drift. Perhaps that’s when sin began to be erased, or at least the idea of sin.


Since then, humans have worked tirelessly to accept, normalize, and even protect sinful actions. What we once knew as sin—because the Bible said so and because our consciences made us feel it—no longer has that label.


Think about it. What thing, considered wrong and sinful when you were young, is fully accepted today?


The big one I mentioned earlier hits a bit closer to home:  sex outside of marriage, aka sexual immorality, or fornication, as some Bible translations call it.[1] Not only was it wrong, but we knew it was wrong and tried to hide it. (I didn’t come to Christ until I was married with two children, so that should explain a lot. And I take full responsibility for my part in the dissolving sin—which is why I’m writing.)


Living together, or shacking up as my parents called it, was taboo. Nowadays, it’s the norm. And since the ’70s sexual revolution, no one is shocked by it, nor do we want to broach the subject. If we dare say this is against God’s law, we are chastised.


But that isn’t even the worst of it. Lately, if you are a person with a deeper skin tone than what is considered “white,” you can commit a crime—pass bad checks, take drugs, resist arrest, and be touted as a hero. If you are a Lieutenant in the military, you can set up your smartphone to record a video after evading cops for over a mile, refuse to get out of the vehicle when ordered, and still be commended by your branch of the service. This type of insubordination would not be tolerated if this military man disobeyed his superiors. But when it’s a police officer giving the orders, that’s another story.


And more recently, in Columbus, Ohio, you can even wield a knife while wrestling someone intending to stab them, disregard repeated orders to drop the knife, and then be considered a wonderful young woman. Yes, this girl did lose her life because of her stupidity, and any death is terribly sad. But why do the public and the media make the one protecting the people from this maniac, the criminal?


I say it’s because sin is no longer sin.


God speaking through the prophet, Isaiah, said, Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight! Woe to men mighty at drinking wine…mixing intoxicating drink, who justify the wicked for a bribe, and take away justice from the righteous man!”[2]


And the worst thing about this upside-down thought is that when sin isn’t sin, there’s no fear of eternal punishment AND no need for a Savior.


Now I realize some unbelievers have always been this way, considering the Isaiah passage, but it feels worse now. The numbers are growing, the age of criminals younger, and the crime more intentional and vicious. There’s no concept of wrongdoing—pride, arrogance, and entitlement have taken over. And while our focus is America, this thought is throughout the world, just in different forms.


So, how do you convince someone they need a Savior if they don’t believe the wrong (sin) they are doing is actually wrong (sin)?


Only God can, for Jesus said, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him…”[3]


But how do we know they are being drawn? Maybe the Share Jesus Without Fear question is a good place to start. “If you were to die today, where would you go?”[4]


Pray, and go in the LOVE of Christ,

[1] II Corinthians 12:21; Galatians 5:19

[2] Isaiah 5:20-23

[3] John 6:44


Wednesday, March 31, 2021

The Same God



I love it when I find the Gospel in the Old Testament. To me, it confirms the Scriptural Truth that God does not change—He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.[1] And for some reason, I need this understanding settled within my heart to function in my daily life.


Lately, Job has been sort of my go-to book when I was feeling down. No matter how bad things got, it wasn’t as bad as it was for Job. Amid the horrific disasters God allowed Satan to perpetrate on Job’s life, even killing his children, Job did not charge God with wrong. In fact, he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”[2]


I find that fascinating—and so unlike me.


It’s possible in my rantings this past year, I did charge God with wrong. I pray I didn’t, but if I didn’t, I think I came very close. And I wasn’t really suffering.


Only God could have placed those words on Job’s lips and in his heart. But how does one cope with such personal pain and loss?


Job sunk into depression, despised his life, and wished he’d never been born. Afterward, Job recounted his days, his actions, and how he honored God in everything. This man even offered sacrifices for his children just in case they sinned. Moreover, God Himself declared Job blameless and upright—a truth Satan did not refute.[3]


Job’s heart was kind and compassionate. He loved God and did every good work he knew to do to please Him and avert this type of calamity. So, to Job, his suffering was unfair.


Why did God allow misery in Job’s life?


From the text, God’s exact reason isn’t clear. Still, I believe it was much more than proving a point to Satan. I think it was so Job could gain a deeper understanding of the Almighty and so God could correct Job’s thinking about sin.


Everyone at that time understood works righteousness:

good deeds = blessings        sinful deeds = misfortune.


And each time Job’s friends expressed their disgust at Job’s reluctance to admit he had sinned—that his current situation was God’s punishment, Job countered, saying, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him. Even so, I will defend my own ways before Him.”[4] Job longed to plead his innocence before God, but he knew God was not a man. And even if they could go to court together, there was no mediator Job could see.[5]


When the three older men finished their statements, a younger man began to speak. Elihu spoke truth but had no insight into the underlying cause of Job’s physical and emotional pain. Yet, Elihu told of a messenger, a mediator, to show man God’s uprightness. By this one, man could see himself in comparison to a holy God. And faced with God’s Holiness, man confesses, “I have sinned…” In those moments, the grace of God delivers his soul from the pit because the Almighty found a ransom—a cover—a redemption price [6] to pay the condemned man’s sin,[7] in the merits of the mediator.


For Job, God himself became his Mediator—the One for whom Job longed. In the testimony box, Job sat while God proclaimed His glory and power and said, “Who is this who darkens counsel by words without knowledge?” Four chapters later, Job understood his sin nature, the insufficiency of works to save, and he repented. God then, in His mercy, restored Job.


How great is it that our Triune God is the same today as He was in Job’s day? We also have God as our Mediator AND our Ransom—His name is Jesus, God the Son. “For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all…”[8]


Have a blessed Resurrection Day!

[1] Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 13:8

[2] Job 1:21

[3] Job 1:8-9

[4] Job 13:15

[5] Job 9:32-33

[6] Strong’s Concordance

[7] Job 33:22-30

[8] I Timothy 2:5-6

Saturday, February 27, 2021

The LOVE of God

The love of God is greater far than tongue or pen can ever tell; it goes beyond the highest star, and reaches to the lowest hell. The wand’ring child is reconciled by God’s beloved Son. The aching soul again made whole, and priceless pardon won.”[1]


A few weeks ago, we sang The Love of God in worship, and it stuck with me. Kim Knowles led worship that Sunday and as always, the Holy Spirit flowed through her and she effortlessly ushered us into the presence of God. Thanks, Kim! 💗


Since I’ve been singing this song all month, I did some research. The lyrics are beautiful, especially the refrain: “O love of God, how rich and pure! How measureless and strong! It shall forevermore endure—the saints’ and angels’ song.”[2] (Are you singing yet??)


Verse two seems to speak about the times in which we live—human thrones, kingdoms falling, and people refusing to pray. But confirms God’s love is sure, it shall endure, and His grace will resound. Glory to God!


Nevertheless, it was verse three that really caught my attention. “Could we with ink the ocean fill and were the skies of parchment made, were every stalk on earth a quill and every man a scribe by trade, to write the love of God above would drain the ocean dry, nor could the scroll contain the whole tho stretched from sky to sky.”[3]


What great word pictures and what truth. John 21:25 says, “And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. Amen.”


But can you write of God’s love for us without understanding who He is? I don’t think you can. So, I was shocked to learn that “lines similar to verse 3 are found in the Qur’an (18:109 and 31:27) and Akdamut, an 11th-century Jewish poem. Frederick Lehman, the song’s author, said the English rendition included in his song had reportedly “been found penciled on the wall of a patient’s room in an insane asylum after he had been carried to his grave.”[4]


Reading all this, I was reminded of a radio interview I heard last week. “The one thing Muslims need to know is the love of God. There is no LOVE in the Qur’an—Allah.” But if verse three is similar to the Qur’an and the song says “the love of God,” doesn’t that contradict the interviewee’s statement?


Back to the internet. Surah Al-Kahf – Qur’an, Chapter 18, Verse 109: Arabic and English Translation: “Say: ‘If the ocean were ink (wherewith to write out) the words of my Lord, sooner would the ocean be exhausted than would the words of my Lord, even if we added another ocean like it, for its aid.’ (Translation by Yusuf Ali)” Well, no LOVE there.


What about the Akdamut?  This poem, written by Meir ben Yitzchak Nehorai in the 11th century, has been incorporated into Jewish liturgy. Aviva Sterman explains, “the Jews make G-d their chativa, object of loverecite the Shema twice a day…study the Torah constantly, and since by doing so they follow the Divine will, G-d accepts their prayer.”[5]


The closest the Akdamut comes to the love of God is saying, “the Jews are chaviv, dearer, to G-d than the angels because they praise G-d regularly.”[6]


Neither Islam nor Judaism understands our One True and Living God. Sadly, some Christian denominations believe Muslims worship the same God we do, but they don’t. Our God IS love.[7] Allah is a counterfeit. And Jews completely misunderstand when the Lord says in Jeremiah, “I have loved you with an EVERLASTING LOVE.”[8] Why? Because they don’t have God’s complete Word. They refuse to see that “…God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”[9]


And my heart breaks.


The only reason we love God is because He first loved us.[10]

Do you know the love of God?


[1] Hymn:  The Love of God (vs. 1) by Frederick M. Lehman, 1917,

[2] ibid

[3] ibid

[6] ibid

[7] I John 4:8

[8] Jeremiah 31:3

[9] Romans 5:8

[10] I John 4:19

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Whatever Happened to Live and Let Live?

         I’ve always loved the movie The Hiding Place —Hollywood’s version of the life of Christian author and speaker Corrie Ten Boom and h...