Commentary On a Viral E-mail

What follows is the body of a controversial e-mail that a good friend and brother sent to me. If you think it looks familiar, check with Snopes, for a decidedly biased article about lots of related complaints. If you have lots of time, read the e-mail’s contents below. Otherwise, skip down to my commentary, which isn’t quite as long.

  In the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham asked the Lord to spare the city if he could find 50 righteous people. God responded to Abraham’s plea “If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all.”….Genesis 18:16-33

The movie “Corpus Christi “is due to be released this June to August. It is a disgusting film set to appear in America later this year which depicts Jesus and his disciples as homosexuals! As a play, this has already been in theaters for a while. It’s called “Corpus Christi” which means “The Body of Christ”. It’s a revolting mockery of our Lord. But we Christians can make a difference.

That’s why I am sending this e-mail to you. If you do send this around, we just might be able to prevent this film from being shown in Canada and America. Let’s stand for what we believe and stop the mockery of Jesus Christ our Savior. Where do we stand as Christians?
I am forwarding this to all I think will respect and appreciate being informed. Please help us prevent such offenses against our Lord. There is no petition to sign, no time limit, or minimum number of people to send this to…It will take you less than 2 minutes!

If you are not interested and do not have the 2 minutes it will take to do this, please don’t complain if God does not seem to have time for you. Imagine what would happen if this film were depicting Mohammad in the same way…the Islamic world would be in flames!! . Apparently, some regions in Europe have already successfully banned the film. All we need is a lot of prayer and a lot of E-mails.

JUST GET THE WORD OUT!

Will God be able to find at least 50 righteous people who are willing to express their concern and voice their opinion against this act of blasphemy?

God Bless You All.

If you want to be thoroughly confused, the actual film is a documentary titled, “Corpus Christi: Playing With Redemption.”
 The issue in my mind isn’t gullibly accepting unattributed e-mails, but condemning blasphemy in the most depraved—yes, I said depraved—elements of society, while Christendom practices blasphemy of the Holy Spirit by attributing to Him what is offensive to God. Even among the Evangelical churches, some “Spirit filled” individuals publicly exhibit hatred, sour attitudes, conflict, impatience, critical spirits, meanness, conceit and arrogance, to name just a few of our sins, much of which is done in our Lord’s Name. Is it any wonder that corrupt people do their best to offend God’s church?
 Before we condemn corrupt—and yes, I said corrupt—people, with their corrupt entertainments, we need to cleanse our own house of its own worldliness and corruption. I believe silence on this issue is not the same as approving it, but the more bitterly vociferous our objections, the more we confirm the world’s view of us as ignorant bigots. While we must hate the world system, we must love those trapped in it—a most delicate balance that Jesus pulled off perfectly. Can we truly learn from Him?
 Another great tragedy with this, “Corpus Christi,” is all the people suckered into paying money to behold it in its play form, and in its film documentary form. This is a disturbing commentary on both society’s messed up values, and the church’s failure to keep Jesus and His Word holy before the world’s scrutiny. Jesus made the blind see; now He needs to make His church see as well.

No Limit

If this title were to suggest to you a rap by Usher you likely wouldn’t be reading this blog post … so fergetaboutit. Not that rap-fans can’t be Christ-followers, but, just sayin’ …

There’s another use for, “No Limit,” and that’s from—drum roll please—the Bible!

My mouth shall tell of Your righteousness And Your salvation all the day, For I do not know their limits. (Psalms 71:15 NKJV)

One rock-solid fact of life is you can’t overstate God, His righteousness, or the wonder of His salvation. Nobody ever had praise down like King David, yet even he ran out of adjectives with which to glorify God.

Not that God needs our praises to feed His ego, but as His creation, our purpose, our destiny, is to lift up holy hands in praise to Him, to magnify His perfection, His holiness, His love. In short, everything about Him is worthy of our praise. If only we knew the half of His glory we would spend eternity declaring it.

So tear down that Pentecostal or Calvinistic box you’ve built around our eternal, infinite God! There’s no limit to His praiseworthyness.

Communion Sunday …

Communion Elements

Or as I prefer to call it, Communion Lord’s Day.

Please forgive me if this comes across as a rant; I assure you it isn’t, as you’ll see if you read to the end. And it’s not a passive-aggressive attack on a brother I love and respect, so please read this in the spirit with which it is intended.

Regarding what we call the day of the week we choose to celebrate our Lord’s resurrection, call me a fundamentalist if you wish, but I don’t worship on a day devoted to the Sun god. I celebrate on the Lord’s Day, not Sunday. And every day we gather as the church we join in the communion of the saints, maybe not using the communion “elements,” but with fellowship in God’s Word and His Spirit.

And the “elements” are another bugaboo of mine; the first century church celebrated the Lord’s supper with unleavened bread, not with little cardboard wafers—okay, they’re not cardboard, but they might as well be. And the “wine” we Evangelicals serve as celebrating our Lord’s shed blood isn’t wine in the traditional sense, but grape juice. True, it’s “fruit of the vine,” but not the dilute, mildly fermented kind the Lord used during His Last Supper. But I tend to nit-pick.

My purpose here—believe it or not—is not to rail on today’s practice of the Lord’s Supper, but on a mistake our associate pastor made, and his thoughtless attempt to correct it. Though I have the greatest respect for him, he really put his foot in it this Lord’s Day. Yes, he was on the spot, as our lead Pastor couldn’t make it to preach today. No doubt I would have folded worse than he did, having to get creative to fill the void. But in so doing he forgot this was Communion Sunday, and dismissed the body without the Lord’s Supper service.

That wouldn’t have been so bad, just a waste of the communion elements, but he tried to save an unfortunate situation by having everyone grab the wafers and juice on the way out, without a time of reflection and, if needs be, confession and repentance. As I walked out of the auditorium I passed right by the good folks holding the elements and headed straight to the exit.

Here again, maybe I’m nit-picking, but I felt like the formality had taken over the Spirit on this one. I personally held conversations with two visitors before our meeting, and both were brothers looking for a church home. If I were in their place I wouldn’t be back, based on today’s unfortunate gaffe. But I will be back, because I love the family of God, and God’s word tells me:

And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10:24-25 NKJV)

So, because I call these folks my home church I must forgive the occasional mistake; Lord knows I’ve made more than enough for three people. And I must commend our associate pastor for his normally godly attitudes and practices. If only I had been as mature at his age.

If I were to focus only on the negatives, I would be grossly disregarding Hebrews 10:24, as well as the balance of Scripture. And that would be sin. Then I’d have to examine my conscience and repent before taking the Lord’s Supper, regardless what “elements” the leadership chooses to dispense on Communion Lord’s Day.

No Limit

If this title were to suggest a rap by Usher you likely wouldn’t be reading this blog post … so, fergetaboutit. Not that gangsta rap-fans can’t be Christ-followers, but … just sayin’.

There’s another use for, “No Limit,” and that’s from—drum roll please—the Bible!

My mouth shall tell of Your righteousness And Your salvation all the day, For I do not know their limits. (Psalms 71:15 NKJV)

One rock-solid fact of life is you can’t overstate God, His righteousness, or the wonder of His salvation. Nobody ever had praise down like King David, yet even he ran out of adjectives with which to glorify God.

Not that God needs our praises to feed His ego—He doesn’t have one—but as His creation, our purpose, our destiny, is to lift up holy hands in praise to Him, to magnify His perfection, His holiness, His love. In short, everything about Him is worthy of our praise. If only we knew the half of His glory we would spend eternity declaring it.

So tear down that Pentecostal or Calvinistic box you’ve built around our eternal, infinite God! There’s no limit to His praiseworthiness.

It’s Inevitable

King David got it right:

O You who hear prayer, To You all flesh will come. (Psalms 65:2 NKJV)

Expressed as a prayer to the One who hears prayer, King David named a universal truth, a spiritual law: All of humanity will one day stand before Jesus, the righteous Judge. We’ll have the opportunity to wave our good karma, to state all our religious works, to schmooze the all-knowing One, but He will ask only one question: What did you do with Me? That, of course, will be a rhetorical question, as He already knows the answer.

Will you rely on your good works?
But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, Have taken us away. (Isaiah 64:6 NKJV)

Will you depend on your position as a pillar of the church?
If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless. Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world. (James 1:26-27 NKJV)

Will you stand before the righteous Judge and refuse to admit He even exists?
The fool has said in his heart,”There is no God.” They are corrupt, and have done abominable iniquity; There is none who does good. (Psalms 53:1 NKJV)

I realize this won’t convince anyone, but it might just cause someone to pause and reconsider their dogmatic self-righteousness. All God asks of anyone is their openness. He’ll take it from there.

See With Your Heart

If you’ve watched Disney children’s programming, you know they are all about feelings and following your heart. The heart is code for emotions.

Now, I’m an emotional guy; I cry at the drop of a hanky. What fired this topical electrode was an ad that I saw on Netflix—it’s not just Disney—about their animated feature, The Little Prince. Here’s the blurb: “He taught her about imagination, loneliness and love. She’ll always remember to see with her heart.”

See with What? Heart is an especially flexible word, as it’s what we call that muscular blood-pump in everyone’s chest. The idea of its being a visual organ is absurd, unless it has x-ray vision. Then we’d have to call it, Super Heart. Romantics speak of their heart flying out of their chest, but I doubt it would stop a bullet.

The Bible’s first use of heart is Genesis 6:5 Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

That doesn’t sound like a reliable way to see. Obviously, the seat of our emotions can have a darkside. Unless, that is, we sincerely pray with King David: Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my strength and my Redeemer. (Psalms 19:14 NKJV)

Only by depending on God’s answer to that prayer, and comparing your feelings with the principles of God’s Word, can we reliably see with our heart.

Father, I pray for the wisdom to know when to trust my emotions, and at all times to balance what I feel with Your Word.

 

Have You Ever Been Lonely?

Patsy Cline’s song has replayed itself in my mind since a show I watched included it. No doubt it’s a catchy little ditty, and in all honesty I have to admit my answer to her question is in the affirmative. A literary cliche mentions being lonely in a crowded room. All such thoughts are intended to emote feelings of dejection and longing for the better times before, “My Darlin’, she went away.”

When I feel sorry for my solitary self, God reminds me what He gave up to indwell Jesus, live among His creation, and subject Himself to all the abuse we could dish out. Think about it; the I Am, the eternal One, the Creator of the Universe, stepped out of His eternal comfort to be born of a virgin, not to set up His kingdom and be worshiped by all mankind, but to be tempted in all the ways that we have—without sinning—and in His innocence to be treated like an accursed sinner, even a criminal, to buy us back from the lying enemy who swindled humanity with promises of God-likeness.

I know you’ve heard all this before, but how often do you think about it, meditate on it, shed tears of conviction for taking Him for granted, and thanks for His unending love, forgiveness and faithfulness toward you personally. Here’s God’s promise, along with one of His requirements, from Hebrews 13:5 Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I WILL NEVER LEAVE YOU NOR FORSAKE YOU.”

In view of all that, we should live in a constant state of thankful elation, but we don’t. We let our short-term worries distract us from our long-term hope. We need to memorize Matthew 6:25-34, then meditate on His words, controlling our worrisome emotions and trusting Him as we say we do.

Father, in Jesus name I ask you to give me the joy of Your salvation, instead of letting me wallow in my own self-pity. Let me see You as You are, faithful, even to Your own hurt. Make me always grateful for your free gift of reconciliation with You and eternal salvation.

Remember What?

What’s inside YOUR noggin?

I’ve long wondered why I am the way I am. Did we go by alphabetical order in the memory recall and self-control line when I was created? Was it luck of the draw?

King David, by the Holy Spirit’s inspiration, wrote: Psalms 33:14-15 NKJV From the place of His dwelling He looks On all the inhabitants of the earth; (15) He fashions their hearts individually; He considers all their works.

Often I forget about God’s sovereignty, His craftsmanship, His artistic ability. Years ago, like a thunder clap, I realized that God doesn’t make junk, that we aren’t trapped by our bad habits and corrupted self-image. By the Word of His mouth He fashioned my inner self, and He keeps track of all my works. He doesn’t ignore me and He most certainly hasn’t forgotten about me. Any lacking or loss of my faculties is due to sin corrupting His perfect creation.

When David wrote, “He fashions their hearts individually,” he referred to God placing within each individual a hunger for Himself, so regardless what we’ve done and where we are, all we have to do is reach out to Him.

Remember King David’s prayer: Let Your mercy, O LORD, be upon us, Just as we hope in You. (Psalms 33:22 NKJV)

#OddSensations

On my way to the kitchen to retrieve my bowl of oatmeal, I realized I was in the grip of an odd sensation. “What is this odd sensation?” I asked(I tend to talk to myself when no one is around to look sideways at me[Yes, I know I shouldn’t care so much about what others think of me, but I do, so shut up!{please}]).

Let’s see, where was I? Oh, yes, “What was that odd sensation?” you’re asking, so I’ll tell you.

Happiness.

What bums me is feeling purposeless. When working at New Life Center I was happy, because despite the minimum wage and the menial nature of the job, I felt I was making a difference. Since leaving there that sense of purpose has been absent, and much of the time I felt depressed.

Until recently, that is, when my friend Tricia sent me her new novel’s manuscript for beta-reading. Well, you know me; being a compulsive editor I couldn’t just read it for content. I had to edit her hard work line-by-line, and though that is heavy mental work I get a kick out of making something worthwhile even better.

Though I’m sure there is a Scriptural application in this, at the moment I have bigger mice to slay. So do me a favor, if you can think of Scripture for this principle, please leave it in the comments. I await your response with ‘bated breath.

And I thank you.

Hurry Up and Wait

“How can I help you, son, to feel more comfortable here?”

People in the military’s basic training always have drill instructors breathing down their necks, usually yelling. The poor recruits have to run wherever they go, and it’s never fast enough for the D.I.s.

When they reach their destination the D.I. yells at them to form up in ranks and files … and then wait for his good pleasure. That’s where the saying, “Hurry up and wait,” originated.

Hurry Up!

Since you found this on my blog, you already know I have a spiritual application in all this:

2 Corinthians 6:1-2 NKJV
(1) We then, as workers together with Him also plead with you not to receive the grace of God in vain.
(2) For He says: “IN AN ACCEPTABLE TIME I HAVE HEARD YOU, AND IN THE DAY OF SALVATION I HAVE HELPED YOU.” Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.

First, there’s the, “Hurry Up,” part. Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthian church, who should have already been Christ-followers. Yet, he urges them to accept the Lord’s salvation.

If you are at all familiar with the Corinthian letters, you know it was a most worldly church. In fact, it was a church in name only, and many, if not most, of the attendees were nominal Christians, and were possibly even men and women of influence, or whatever served as the church board in those days. Trouble is, they influenced the church in the wrong direction.

To Receive, or Not to Receive …

I had thought that one could either receive, or not receive, God’s grace, but this passage plainly declares that one can receive God’s grace in vain. No Bible-believing Christ-follower would say that St. Paul was wrong, but many seem to ignore it.

The letter to the Hebrews issues us a challenge, and a warning:

Hebrews 2:1-3 NKJV
(1) Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away.
(2) For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward,
(3) how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him,

And Wait!

But those who wait on the LORD Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31 NKJV)

Okay, the above two passages may not be topically linked, but I think they go together nicely. Evildoers, i.e., those who are easily angered, wrathful and fretful, are evildoers, causing harm to themselves and others.

Waiting on the LORD means we are at His disposal, always available for His good pleasure, like a waiter or other servant. It also means we are willing to wait for Him to direct our lives, rather than running willy-nilly, trying to get things done for Him without His direction.

That Means Patience

Galatians 5:22-23 ESV
(22) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
(23) gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

Patience is one of the hardest parts of the Spirit’s fruit to get right. Patience and meekness, or gentleness, closely pair under the heading of love, which is really the heart of all the qualities of the fruit of God’s Spirit.

The longer I live in Christ, and the closer I get to my Father, the more I realize just how far I have to travel for the fruit of God’s Spirit to be fully manifested in me. Like I said, patience is the hardest part.