6/29/2015

God will not judge America over gay marriage....



Lately, I've been reading a lot on social media about God's impending judgment on America because of the recent Supreme Court ruling in favor of gay marriage.

However, I couldn't disagree more with this perspective.  God will not judge America over the issue of gay marriage.  No fire and brimstone is getting ready to fall from the sky.  We aren't about to be destroyed in an economic or nuclear holocaust.

Rather, looking to the apostle Paul and and what he said in Romans 1, we get a glimpse into the mind of the apostle as to what the "wrath of God revealed from heaven" normally looks like in God's dealings with mankind.  Paul wrote:
"For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.  
Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.  
For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error. And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them." ~ (Romans‬ ‭1‬:‭18-32‬, NASB)
In this passage we see that God's wrath seldom manifests itself in apocalyptic gestures involving angry angels smiting nations while calling down fire and brimstone.  Make no mistake, such has happened and will happen according to Scriptures. But, such grand gestures are exceptionally rare, and as a result, I believe we should be extremely reluctant to call down such judgments upon America, or any other nations.

Rather, God's normal means of bringing judgment on an individual or nation often comes in a much more subtle way.  Rather than summoning plagues and famines, God has a way of simply giving people over to the full magnitude of their own devices.  When you choose sin, God will often let you drink the fullness of your wants and desires, as He allows you to progress from one bad choice to another.

There is an old saying that says "sin will take you further than you ever wanted to go, keep you longer than you ever wanted to stay, and make you pay a higher price than you ever wanted to pay."  God has a way of letting people simply destroy themselves in their own sin.  People and nations have a way of rotting from within, and leaving nothing for God to strike down.  Fire and brimstone is seldom ever needed.  Rather, there is a tendency for people to simply waste away on their own.

We see this in many different ways in life.  For example, if you cover an indiscretion with a little white lie, it is often just a matter of time before you you have to tell another lie to cover your original lie, and before you know it, things snowball out of control, and you've told a thousand lies all because of one. Then finally the truth of a matter comes out, the lie is exposed, and the fallout ensues. We see things like this all the time with crooked politicians and business executives, or husbands who are cheating on their wives.

In light of such things, I can't help but dismiss the idea that God will judge America over things like gay marriage. And I believe that preachers who call for such things are often doing so out of extreme theological naivety.  They are venting their own frustrations instead of expressing the heart and mind of God.

Rather, a perspective that is more in keeping with Scripture, is that we have things like gay marriage in our land because God long ago judged America.  Gay marriage exists because God is simply letting us drink the fullness of our own ways.  We want our sin instead of God, and as a result, God is letting us have all the sin that we could ever hope for. He is allowing us to spiral out of control, as we sink further into the mire. And, long before a foreign army destroys us, or fire falls from heaven, God will allow our situations to go from bad to worse, as we destroy ourselves from within.

At the end of the day, things like gay marriage are but a sign that God long ago judged America, and that we are currently experiencing the wrath that is revealed from heaven.  The ruling of the Supreme Court is merely God turning us over to further depravity, and allowing us to become intoxicated from the cup of our own sin. 

If we wish to repent of anything, we have much deeper issues to look at than simply that of gay marriage.  Gay marriage is but the fruit of a tree with much deeper roots.

6/22/2015

Dear Governor Nikki Haley: Take the Confederate Flag Down!



Dear Governor Nikki Haley,

I understand something of the history behind the Confederate flag that is lifted above your state capitol.  There are many people who would like to see that flag continue to fly.  But in light of the tragedy that recently befell the citizens of your state at the historic AME Zion Church in Charleston, there are many more people who would like to see it come down.

I understand that flag is flying by means of state legislation that commands it to be lifted up every single day.  I also understand, we live in a republic, and are a nation of laws.  And, I understand as an elected official, you have sworn to uphold the laws of your state.  But, I also understand that sometimes there are things that are more important than laws.

Drastic times call for drastic measures.  I am calling upon you, as the Governor of the state of South Carolina, to bypass the political and legislative process required by your state, and to physically remove the flag from the capitol of South Carolina yourself.  Order its removal anywhere else it may fly in your state, and dare anybody to put it back up. Such may be illegal for you to do.  But as we have learned in the history of our nation, sometimes civil disobedience is a necessary action required of those who wish to break the chains of injustice.

Don't wait to legislate. Help fight the hate.  Take the rebel flag down.  Nobody in their right mind will oppose you.


God bless,


Jimmy


6/21/2015

What Is Racism: Through the Eyes of Dylann Roof


If you were to ask most people what racism is, most people would probably use the adjectives "prejudiced" or "hateful" somewhere in their definition.  Or, in light of the tragedy that happened at the historic AME Zion Church in Charleston this past week, you could probably open a dictionary and find a picture of Dylann Roof.

But what exactly is racism?

In trying to understand what was going through the head of Roof, reporters have discovered a "manifesto" written by this young man.  I find this manifesto interesting, because in it we discover exactly how the seeds of racism developed in Roof, and in seeing how it developed, I believe we can get a better picture of exactly what racism actually is.

I have selected portions of the letter for analysis.

Analyzing the Manifesto

Roof wrote:
"I was not raised in a racist home or environment...

The event that truly awakened me was the Trayvon Martin case. I kept hearing and seeing his name, and eventually I decided to look him up. I read the Wikipedia article and right away I was unable to understand what the big deal was. It was obvious that Zimmerman was in the right. But more importantly this prompted me to type in the words “black on White crime” into Google, and I have never been the same since that day. The first website I came to was the Council of Conservative Citizens. There were pages upon pages of these brutal black on White murders. I was in disbelief. At this moment I realized that something was very wrong. How could the news be blowing up the Trayvon Martin case while hundreds of these black on White murders got ignored?

From this point I researched deeper and found out what was happening in Europe. I saw that the same things were happening in England and France, and in all the other Western European countries. Again I found myself in disbelief... 
Niggers are stupid and violent. At the same time they have the capacity to be very slick... 
Segregation was not a bad thing. It was a defensive measure. Segregation did not exist to hold back negroes. It existed to protect us from them. And I mean that in multiple ways. Not only did it protect us from having to interact with them, and from being physically harmed by them, but it protected us from being brought down to their level..."
Roof's manifesto lends proof to the idea that racists aren't born, they are made.  Admittedly, he says he didn't grow up in a racist home or environment.  He wasn't born a racist.  His parents didn't raise him to irrationally hate people of another race.

Rather, we see that his racism was to him a sort of moral philosophy that he discovered after in-depth research and analysis.  He discovered "the truth" in a way that sounds reminiscent of the greatest thinkers and scientists of history.  After hearing all the fall out in the media over the Trayvon Martin trial, Roof became curious over the incident, and started digging around. And, the facts and figures of what he unearthed left him stunned "in disbelief."

Roof wasn't born a racist, rather he believes he saw the proverbial light, and experienced something he likened unto an awakening.  He believes he became enlightened.  In his mind, the facts spoke for themselves, and such required practical actions in light of the reality he discovered.

True Lies

From Roof's writings we discover that his racism wasn't an irrational hatred of black people and other races.  It wasn't an "a priori" knowledge.  It had nothing to do with his upbringing, and everything to do with the truth he discovered by means of in-depth research.  In Roof's mind, his hatred of black people is perfectly rational, and grounded in facts and figures, and supported and confirmed by his own real world personal experiences and observations.

If asked, I believe none of us would admit to hating blacks or any other race of people simply because of who they are.  Rather, like Roof, we would admit that our bias towards others is based on certain facts and observations we have made over the years.

Racism is a belief system that is grounded in what we perceive to be "truth" of what we've extrapolated about other races over the years.  It is the belief that there are certain truths that exist about other races and nationalities, and such truths justify us treating other people groups differently based on the bias we've formed.

Sometimes this bias is positive.  "Italians from New York know what great pizza is!" or "Germans are great engineers, and make the best cars!"   Other times this bias is negative.  "Black people are lazy and have a bad work ethic!"  or "All Arabs are dirty and potential terrorists!"  

BMW and Volkswagen are able to sell a lot of cars as a result of marketing that plays off the positive bias that Americans have towards German made cars.  They are treated as a luxury, and the finest automobiles on the road. Whereas a black family from Georgia might struggle in marketing an Italian restaurant, no matter how "authentic" their pizza is.  One might suggest that they would find more success in opening a soul-food restaurant instead.

But in spite of all these perceptions, we know these things to ultimately be lies.

BMW and Volkswagen make some pretty good cars.  But we also know they make some bad ones.  Likewise, there are Italians from New York who make great pizza, but there are others who should stay very far away from a kitchen.  But regardless of the truth of the matter over such things, the perception still exists, and the perception of the truth is the story that is sold time and time again.  And it is in such stories that racism finds a place to lodge in our hearts.

A Poisoned Pill and the Cure

At the end of the day, racism is built upon a lie masquerading as the truth.  And all lies have their origins in the Devil, whom Jesus calls "The Father of All Lies."  (John 8:44) 

Therefore, if racism has its origins in the demonic, then it is fundamentally a spiritual problem.  And as such, no amount of talking about racism or attempting to craft legislation will ever cure man of the poisoned pill he has taken, and ingested into the depths of his soul.  The only cure can be found in the truth of the Gospel message, wherein the lies of the Devil are crucified upon the cross of Jesus Christ, and exposed to all of the world for what they are.  And it is only in the cross that our hope can hang, for it was on the cross that Jesus reconciled all the races of the world together.

I only wish Dylann Roof would have seen this truth earlier, instead of all the "truth" he found on Google.

It is reported that Roof has said that he almost did not go through with his massacre, because of how nice they were.  For in the hour leading up to the killing, he sat there and listened to these people pray and study the Bible together. And I earnestly believe in that hour he got a heavenly taste of how good the Lord is at AME Zion Church in Charleston.  He almost couldn't imagine killing them as a result.  He became a partaker of heavenly manna.  And like the Hebrews in the wilderness, he simply did not know what it was he was experiencing.

Roof did not know it, but the cross of Jesus Christ was at work in his heart.  God was appealing to him in that hour not to go through with the killing that was in his heart.  The truth of the Gospel was wrestling with the "truth" that was in his heart.  It was attempting to dig out the poisoned root so deeply at lodge within his heart.

Even in this hour, the hope found in the Gospel continues to work in Dylann Roof, as the families of the victims have announced their decision to forgive this young man.  They are forgiving Roof even as Jesus forgave those who crucified Him in their ignorance, the same ignorance that resulted in the death of 9 black men and women in Charleston this past week.

I pray the full work of the cross in felt in the heart of Dylann Roof.  It's his only hope.  And it is our only hope.

6/13/2015

Stop "Taking A Stand" for Jesus!



Jesus Christ was raised from the dead, ascended into heaven, and currently sits at the right hand of the Father.  He promises to return one day.

So with that said, where has this idea come from that Jesus needs you or anybody else to stand up for Him?

Jesus does not need you or anybody else to take a stand for Him.  He's not in danger.  He's at the right hand of God after all.  He is sitting as the Lord of all creation.  All power and authority on heaven and earth are His.  He wants for nothing.  He holds the entire world in His hands.

Needless to say, I think it's fair to say that Jesus Christ is doing pretty well where He is at.

And in light of such things, I think it's fair to say that Jesus does not need us to "take a stand" for Him in the public arena.  He's not calling you or anybody else to boycott Disney, Starbucks, or Wells Fargo.  He's not calling on you to demand prayer be put back in public school, or to make sure that the U.S. Treasury keeps vainly printing "In God We Trust" on the back of dollar bills.  He doesn't need the Ten Commandments erected as a monument outside of court houses.

Instead of trifling in such matters, I think the Lord is calling us to do something else entirely.

We often point to individuals like the prophet Daniel and his three friends as "taking a stand" for the Lord in the midst of Babylon, and point to them as an example of how we ought to live.  But make no mistake about it, Daniel and his friends never once took a bold stand for the Lord.  They were simply those who remained faithful to stand before the Lord while the rest of the world bowed before a graven image.

Likewise, I believe the Lord is calling us to be faithful witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, and to the uttermost ends of the earth.  He is calling us to practice justice, love mercy, and to walk humbly with our God.  If we take a stand for anything, it should be the stand we take on behalf of those who have cannot stand up for themselves.   He's calling us to love our neighbors even as we love ourselves.  He wants us to deal kindly with them, and be a source of blessing in their lives, instead of a source of contention.  He wants us to share the grace we have received in our lives with others, who are desperately in need of the same saving grace.

Above all, I believe Jesus Christ wants us to disengage from the culture wars.  Stop fighting to turn America back to Jesus.  America never has had Jesus.  If it did, she would've crucified Him just like the Jews and the Romans did.

Jesus will deal with America in His own time.  She will eventually go the way of all nations.  And until that time, simply share your faith with those around you.  Be bold, and tell somebody about the hope that is within you.  Pray for the salvation of those within your sphere of influence.  And show others the same mercy that Christ has shown you.  And in doing such, you may just see hearts and minds transformed, and souls snatched from an eternal flame.

And if somebody wishes you "Happy Holidays" at Christmas time, don't correct them by wishing them a "Merry Christmas" in return.

6/12/2015

5 Questions for Franklin Graham about Wells Fargo



Dear Mr. Franklin Graham,

I am a "born-again" Evangelical Christian.  I currently attend one of the largest Southern Baptist churches in the country (Elevation Church).  I am a Bible college graduate of Lee University, and also attended a seminary that your father is affiliated with, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, in Charlotte, NC.  Needless to say, I think we share a lot of similar beliefs and values.

I am also a Wells Fargo Employee.

And in light of your recent social commentary on Facebook, and boycotting of the bank I work for, as a Christian, I have several questions I would like to ask you:

  1. On what Biblical basis do you believe Christians should boycott a business?  I've read the Bible quite a few times, and I'm drawing a blank on where this idea was ever advocated by Jesus or His twelve apostles.  I'm not so sure this idea of yours is distinctly Christian, and part of the faith once and for all handed down to the saints.  Perhaps you could show me a chapter or verse?
  2. Since you believe that God has called you to bank with BB&T instead of Wells Fargo, do you believe that as a Christian that I should resign my job with Wells Fargo, and seek other employment opportunities?  If so, would the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association be willing to hire me and all other Christians who resign from Wells Fargo, and be willing to pay us similar pay and benefits?
  3. In the Bible, Jesus was frequently seen eating with some pretty notorious bankers in His day.  The religious leaders back then objected to this practice.  They thought Jesus should refuse their company.  My question to you is simple.  Are you willing to tell me that while Jesus was willing to fellowship and have a communal meal with these bankers, that He would also simultaneously refuse to bank with them out worry over what they are doing with His money?
  4. In your USA Today article, you said you think businesses such as banks should be "gay-friendly" and that "Being gay-friendly is not optional: it is a commandment from Jesus."  However, you never exactly define how a bank such as Wells Fargo (or BB&T) should be gay-friendly.  In my mind, such would be inclusive of targeting gay customers in ways that appeal to gay customers (such as advertising), and telling them how we have the best financial products and services in the country, and that we can help them achieve their long-term financial goals.  What did you specifically have in mind as an alternative to this? In what ways should BB&T be gay-friendly, and market their financial services and products to gay customers?  What would be an acceptable practice to you?  
  5. What exactly is the ethical difference between BB&T sponsoring a local Miami gay pride event, and Wells Fargo running a national TV commercial, besides the size of the reach of the intended audience?  It would seem BB&T was giving money directly to an organization to help them further their agenda, whereas Wells Fargo's TV commercial is a 30 second spot appealing to a segment of the population that the bank ultimately hopes to have as a customer.  If anybody has sinned in all of this, it seems BB&T has committed the bigger sin, by directly giving money to an organization you oppose in order to directly sponsor them.  Wells Fargo's TV commercial seems to simply be asking gay couples to come bank with us.  What's the harm in that?  Shouldn't a gay-friendly bank do just that?

I would love to talk to you about these matters further should you have the time.  And I would love it if you would ever consider banking with Wells Fargo again some day.  I truly believe the company I work for to be a great bank, and I enjoy working for them, and using them to meet some of my financial needs as a consumer.  Indeed, I believe God placed me at Wells Fargo, and has called me to work for them.  I would love to share that story with you some day if you ever have the time.

God bless,

Jimmy

(Disclaimer: I am a Wells Fargo employee. I also own a very small amount of Wells Fargo stock.  The personal opinions I have set forth in this letter are entirely mine, and in no way reflect the opinions of Wells Fargo.  They are questions of a religious nature.)