Entertainment Detox

Three years ago, Steph and I decided to cancel our TV subscription and try Netflix instead. We did this primarily for two reasons – we were getting tired of all the filth and profanity on TV and secondly, it would save us a few bucks. For the most part, we were happy with Netflix because we were able to watch our kinds of shows and without all the commercials. Last year we switched from Netflix to Amazon Prime, once again because it was cheaper. Still, we weren’t entirely satisfied. We were able to watch good, wholesome shows and movies, but something was still missing. Our solution was to take the month of January and watch nothing at all. That’s right – no TV for a full month (some of you are probably gasping right now).

One month later, having met our goal, I can honestly say we barely missed the TV at all. TV for us was almost exclusively an evening activity, after the kids went to sleep. It was our time to relax and kick back, but the problem was it was costing up precious time to talk with one another. The funny thing is that just this morning Steph was even talking about getting rid of the TV all together. I don’t think we will be going back to our old TV watching ways anytime soon.

In the book, Don’t Waste Your Life, John Piper offers the following:

Television is one of the greatest life-wasters of the modern age. And, of course, the Internet is running to catch up, and may have caught up. You can be more selective on the Internet, but you can also select worse things with only the Judge of the universe watching. TV still reigns as the great life-waster. The main problem with TV is not how much smut is available, though that is a problem. Just the ads are enough to sow fertile seeds of greed and lust, no matter what program you’re watching. The greater problem is banality. A mind fed daily on TV diminishes. Your mind was made to know and love God. Its facility for this great calling is ruined by excessive TV. The content is so trivial and so shallow that the capacity of the mind to think worthy thoughts withers, and the capacity of the heart to feel deep emotions shrivels.” (page 120)

I would encourage you to examine your entertainment viewing habits. I am not saying you should give up TV and entertainment completely, but simply to take a serious, sober look at your entertainment consumption. Our Lord only gives us a short time here on earth – may we use every moment to His glory.

Two Reasons Not To Vote For Obama

I suppose there are many reasons not to vote for Barack Obama in the coming presidential election, but as a Christian, I believe there are two main reasons: Obama’s support for abortion and his support for homosexual marriage. These policies are in direct opposition to God’s Word and yet they form two pillars of the democratic platform. Essentially, what it comes down to is that the President does not value the sanctity of life and the sanctity of marriage.

If you study the first part of Romans 13, you will find that the role of governing authorities is to punish what is evil and protect what is good. Therefore, when you vote for someone, you are looking for a leader who has a sense of morality. President Obama has proved over and over that he is an advocate for the killing of unborn life, and an advocate for sexual freedom outside the bounds of marriage. Clearly, he is not doing his job and is not worthy of another term in office. He has no regard for what the Bible teaches or what God thinks. This is tragic and we know that one day he (and all those who stand beside him) will incur the wrath of God.

As I said in a post last week, more than anything, we need to pray for the coming election. If only the people of God would go to their knees in prayer, God would act (2 Chronicles 7:14). Maybe, just maybe, God’s purpose for this election is to wake us out of our slumber and force us to our knees.

Last week I read a column in the newspaper with this title: “Election Day: I’ll not vote for a pro-death president.” Friends, that’s what it comes down to. Do the American people want to have a President in favor of killing babies? Do the American people want to have a President who shows no regard for the sacred institution of marriage? Do the American people want a President who shows no regard for right and wrong, morality and justice? Four years ago they said they did. I hope and pray that won’t happen again.

“When the wicked rise, people hide themselves, but when they perish, the righteous increase.” Proverbs 28:28  “When the righteous increase, the people rejoice, but when the wicked rule, the people groan.” Proverbs 29:2

Questions to Ask About Political Candidates

Part 1:  Does this candidate have:

1. Integrity?

Integrity is a consistency of actions, values, methods, measures and principles. Keep in mind that it should be biblical values that are the foundation for such consistency. As we read in Psalm 78:72, “And David shepherded them with integrity of heart; with skillful hands he led them.”

2. Humility?

Humility is the opposite of pride. It is not thinking better of ourselves than we should. James writes, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6) Ask: is this candidate a humble servant leader?

3. Good judgment and discernment?

Will this person make good decisions?  Will this leader seek godly counsel? Solomon is a great example of a leader who had discernment. 1 Kings 3:11-12 reads, “And God said to him, because you have asked this, and have not asked for yourself long life or riches or the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern what is right, behold, I now do according to your word. Behold, I give you a wise and discerning mind, so that none like you has been before you and none like you shall arise after you.”

4. A godly vision?

Proverbs 29:18 “Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained. But happy is he who keeps the law.” Ask: what is this candidate’s vision? Is it a godly vision?

Part 2:  What is the candidate’s position on:

1. Abortion, homosexuality, and other moral/ethical issues?

Scripture is very clear on this – God values the sanctity of life and marriage is between one man and one woman. In Genesis 2:24 we read, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife and they shall become one flesh.” To not take a biblical stance on these important ethical issues is very revealing about the character of the candidate.

2. Stewardship of our resources?

Stewardship is the responsibility of taking care of another person’s property or financial affairs. Certainly, there is a stewardship involved in being a politician. We must ask; will this candidate be a good steward of what he has been entrusted with?

3. The Family?

From the very beginning, this earliest of social institutions was given by God and valued by God’s people. Today the family is under attack from every imaginable direction. Ask; is this candidate going to support the family? The saying holds true: As the family goes – so goes the nation.

4. Issues of Race relations?

Some think this is not an issue these days. The civil rights movement happened over 40 years ago and now we are a civilized society, right? Unfortunately, racism is alive and well today. Once again, the Bible is clear on this matter. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28)

Let’s not be naïve enough to think that one of the candidates will be able to answer these questions exactly the way you want them to. In any election, there are two sinners (or three or four) running for office. Neither one is perfect. But let’s not go the other way and say that since no one is perfect, I won’t critique the candidates from a biblical perspective. Lastly, put your hope in Jesus and his Kingdom (Matthew 6:33). Every time you put your hope in man, you are setting yourself up for disappointment.

Abortion: America’s Holocaust

Recently I watched the documentary film “180”, written and produced by Ray Comfort. The film grabs your attention in a hurry by comparing the abortion epidemic to the holocaust. Ray Comfort explains how in the same way it was legal for Hitler to kill 11 million people, including 6 million Jews, it is legal in America to kill unborn babies. Since 1973, tragically over 50 million babies have been legally aborted.

What is fascinating about 180 is not just how Comfort makes this parallel, but how he is able to change the minds of the students he talks to.  Anyone who is familiar with Ray Comfort knows that he often takes to the streets as an apologist/evangelist. He is sharp, serious, and convincing as he aims to point people to Christ. This film has Comfort at his best, talking to college students about abortion. While most start off thinking it is “a woman’s right to choose,” after talking to Comfort, many change their minds on the matter. Comfort would ask, “At what point in a pregnancy is it ok to kill the baby?” Even those who are radically pro-choice had a hard time answering that one. Comfort ends the film by challenging his audience never to vote for a politician in favor of abortion.

I could say a lot more about the film, but the best thing for you to do is watch it for yourself at www.180movie.com. Over the last several months over 3 million people have watched it online, so it is garnering a lot of attention.

“Did not he who made me in the womb make him? And did not one fashion us in the womb?” (Job 31:15)

The Gagging of God

In Luke’s Gospel, the passage that immediately precedes the Triumphal Entry account is the parable of the Ten Minas. Jesus began the parable by saying, “A nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and then return. Calling ten of his servants, he gave them ten minas, and said to them, ‘Engage in business until I come.’ But his citizens hated him and sent a delegation after him saying, ‘We do not want this man to reign over us’” (Luke 19:12-14) Now that I’ve wet your appetite, I’ll let you finish the parable account for yourself. What’s important to note is there was a rebellion against the reign of this nobleman. His citizens did not want to acknowledge his rule or authority.

Fast-forward a few verses (Luke 19:28-40) to the Triumphal Entry and the beginning of Passion Week. Jesus enters Jerusalem with great fanfare as thousands of people go crazy over His arrival. It seems as though many did want to acknowledge His reign and rule. Could this be the long awaited Messiah? Some (perhaps many) seemed to think so. Quoting from Psalm 118:26, the people shouted in praise, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” (Luke 19:38) It seemed as though they finally got it. This Jesus is not just a man – He is the very Son of God!

At the same time, however, another picture emerges. There was a group of people who had made it clear – “We do not want this man to reign over us.” They were convinced their system of religion worked just fine and there was no need for a new King. Luke gives the details of what happened next. “And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, ‘Teacher, rebuke your disciples.’ He answered, ‘I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.’” (Luke 19:39-40)

Even before the time of Jesus, there was a monumental effort to silence God. The Old Testament provides a predictable pattern – God raises up a prophet to speak His Words and the people kill the prophet. Time and time again this happened because the people could not bear to hear the words of God. The words of the prophet convicted them so much that it was often easier to kill him and remain in sin than to heed his words. Little has changed since that time. Like the prophets of old, Jesus was killed so the religious leaders could protect their little kingdom, and for the past two thousand years, Christian’s have been killed for speaking God’s word. Even today there are tens of thousands of Christian martyrs each year.

What the enemy knows is that killing Christians is not always the best approach. History proves that martyrdom often increases the advance of the gospel. So the enemy does what he can to silence the word of God. Satan works hard to muzzle voice of our Christian witness. He knows that the gagging of God (I borrowed this term from D.A. Carson) is an effective tactic. Let me give you one example of what I mean. A few weeks back, Kirk Cameron appeared on CNN on the Piers Morgan Tonight show. With Kirk Cameron being an outspoken Christian, you know Morgan is going to bring up homosexuality. And when Cameron articulated his position, predictably, Morgan proceeded to tell him how wrong he is for believing what the Bible says about homosexuality. Obviously, this is an example that generated a lot of attention and we are never surprised when the media attacks Christianity and claims that Christians are intolerant and unloving. However, the efforts to muzzle and silence the word of God happen in a million different ways all over the world. Just to personalize it, think of all the times you have felt pressure not to talk about Christ with someone. I am sure you can think of many examples and Christians all over the world feel this same pressure. What we often forget is that “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31) And what we need to remember is “he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4)

Going back to Luke 19, it is clear that the Pharisees thought Jesus had let things get way out of hand. They could not stand the fact that people were praising and acknowledging Jesus as the Messiah so they tried to silence the people. Jesus knew that was simply not possible, “If these were silent, the very stones would cry out.” Today, there is a halleluiah choir that resounds in heaven and all over the world. Millions of people sing, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come! Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created” (Revelation 4:8,11) No doubt Satan hates this and the world hates this, but it can’t be stopped. God will be worshipped, adored, magnified, and glorified both now and for all eternity.

What about you? Have you joined the halleluiah choir?

7 billion reasons to celebrate

According to the United Nations, this past Monday (October 31st) was the day the population of the world hit 7 billion. After taking thousands of years to cross the 1 billion plateau (reached in the early 1800’s) it took just 12 years for the world to grow from 6 billion to 7 billion people.

I have to admit I was a bit irked by some of the commentary I read suggesting that this many people on the planet is a problem. It’s as though these articles were saying we should really think through whether or not life is truly precious and that women need to be better educated when it comes to their reproductive health. If we don’t act fast (or so we are told) the world will face a population crisis. In fact, some say we are already in the midst of such a crisis.

As far as I could tell, none of these writers were coming at this issue from a biblical perspective. They, like much of the world, fail to realize that life is a gift from God and something to be celebrated, not feared. The bible tells us, “Sons are a heritage from the Lord, children a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.” (Psalm 127:3-5)

There is no question that there is a poverty problem in this world. Millions of people go hungry every day and poverty is a significant problem. But the world’s poverty problem is not a result of a resource shortage. Two hundred years ago, when the world first hit a billion people, I don’t think anyone would have imagined a day when 7 billion people shared this planet, but that is where we are at today and there remains an abundance of resources to sustain the population. It is next to impossible to know how many people this planet can support, but we do know that it is more than 7 billion.

Unfortunately, there is another side to this story. Amid the rapid population growth, especially since 1960 when the world only had 3 billion people, murder has been rampant. Of course, I am referring to abortion. In the United States alone, 50 million babied have been aborted since 1973. A culture of death has emerged with little or no value on human life. In countries such as Japan and Russia, population growth has completely stalled, and abortion is a big reason for this.

This past Sunday, we had a baby dedication in our church. To say the least, this was a celebration. It was a time to recall the faithfulness of God and the miracle that is life. The last thing on our minds was that our piece of the pie continues to shrink with the birth of each new baby.

Make no mistake about it, life is something to be celebrated, not feared. Every human life is a miracle and a testimony to the power and faithfulness of God. King David writes, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth.” (Psalm 139:13-15)

Today, there are 7 billion reasons to celebrate and praise God for His life giving power. He is the Creator and sustainer of all life, to the glory of His great name.

Some thoughts on the death of Steve Jobs

Jesus once asked, “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? For what can a man give in return for his soul? (Mark 8:36-37).” These questions came to mind yesterday after I heard the news of Jobs’ death.

Jobs died Wednesday at the age of 56 after a long battle with cancer. What Jobs accomplished in his life is nothing short of remarkable. Recently, Apple Inc. (the company he founded and led) surpassed Exon Mobil as the most valuable company on the planet. Jobs is deserving of much of the credit for the phenomenal rise of the once “small” computer company.

Blogger Albert Mohler writes:

“The death of Steve Jobs, founder and iconic leader of Apple, is a signal moment in the lives of the “Digital Generation,” which Jobs, along with a very few other creative geniuses, made possible. Few individuals of any historical epoch can claim to have changed the way so many people live their lives, do their work, and engage the products of the culture.

Jobs was one of the most influential cultural creatives of all time. If that seems like an exaggeration, it is only because the products that Jobs and Apple brought into being have become so familiar that they appear as the furnishings of contemporary lives. The personal computer was not invented by Steve Jobs, but he saw the possibility of integrated systems that would allow personal creativity to blossom. He saw products that customers did not even know they needed — and then released the products to the public, creating entire new markets and unleashing an explosion of worldwide technological creativity.”

Steve Jobs was indeed, a “creative genius.” The Creator God blessed Jobs with rare abilities and he certainly made use of those abilities, but the question that I have been asking myself ever since his death is – to what end? If anyone could claim to have gained the world, it was Jobs, but was it really worth it?

Apart from a deathbed conversion, it is likely that Jobs, in the words of Jesus, “forfeited his soul.” There is no indication that he ever repented or gave his life to Christ. This means that on Wednesday, Jobs entered into a lost eternity. While we can’t help but be impressed by his earthly accomplishments, as a follower of Christ, I am deeply saddened that Steve Jobs died without the hope of heaven and the hope of eternal life.

The bible says, “it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment.” (Hebrews 9:27) If he hasn’t already, Jobs will soon meet his Maker and I fear that he won’t be covered with the blood of Christ. His life will be an open book before Almighty God and there will be no excuses. The only way to be spared from the wrath of God is to repent and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Friend, don’t wait another day to give your life to Christ. Like, Steve Jobs, you might have enjoyed a life marked by success, riches, and perhaps even some fame. But in the end, none of that will matter. After all, “what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?” Don’t waste your life – repent and turn to Christ before its too late.