Sister to Sister: “We Have Contained Them…”

PARIS, FRANCE - JANUARY 12: French troops patrol around the Eifel Tower on January 12, 2015 in Paris, France. France is set to deploy 10,000 troops to boost security following last week's deadly attacks while also mobilizing thousands of police to patrol Jewish schools and synagogues. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images) *** BESTPIX ***

Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images) 

The U.S. quote of the week has to be “We have contained them”.  It was President Barack Obama speaking with George Stephanopoulos on Good Morning America. The subject of this containment? ISIS. And this statement was made only a few hours prior to the multiple attacks and carnage that awakened Paris to the horrific reality that 128 innocent citizens had been killed by ISIS terrorists and scores of others wounded.

This is not a political post, but ISIS did not look “contained” as it lit up the city with ambulance and police vehicle lights and as civilians who could still mobilize literally ran for their lives to places they only hoped would be safe from the carefully planned and executed destruction last Friday night in Paris.

That’s the way it is with our spiritual enemy Satan. He is not the kind of enemy we can, with one blast of spiritual energy, soundly defeat and bury forever. Sometimes we think we’ve “contained” him and, if we do, that’s the very time he is able to do the most damage to us…claim the most spiritual carnage. We don’t wrestle against flesh and blood (Ephesians 6:12). If it was flesh and blood, we could kill it and win. It’s principalities and powers. It’s rulers of the darkness of this world. It’s spiritual wickedness in high places. Fighting the devil is a lot like fighting ISIS, only on a massively huge scale. He’s an enemy that we can’t pin down, in this lifetime. In fact, even more resilient than ISIS, the devil is always seeking whom he may devour.(I Peter 5:8). I can never, in this world, say “The devil is contained. He is no longer a problem for me.” In fact, when I begin to feel smug in his containment and in my abilities, that’s when He’s more likely to attack.  Thus Paul’s warning in I Corinthians 10:12: “Let him that thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.” He (Paul) knew that even he, the chosen apostle, had to wrestle constantly to contain Satan—to keep him from reducing the fighting soldier to a “castaway” (I Corinthians 9:27).

Maybe the scariest part about the attacks in Paris for those of us who live on this side of the Atlantic is the statement often found on ISIS-related sites: “American blood tastes the best and we will taste it soon.”  I do not want to ever give an ISIS terrorist the satisfaction or impetus that comes with knowing that  Americans are fearful. But the obvious mood of America must now be, in spite of any words about containment, one of great trepidation. We are an obvious target and we pray that our leaders will find ways to protect U.S citizens from this evil.

The spiritual parallel is glaring. Christians are the target of our enemy, the devil. He is not spending his resources and time trying to tempt those who are already under his power. He wants the blood that is best. He wants those who have the blood of his arch enemy, Jesus Christ.

He wants you and me. He wants our marriages. He wants our children. He wants our money. He wants our time. In fact, he wants me to be routinely going about my life—to the soccer matches, to the restaurants, to the concerts—and even to worship. He wants my ears to be dulled to his blasts and my senses to be secure thinking his attacks are just “part of the noise” that is my everyday routine—until I am a part of the eternal carnage…until my life is done and his destruction has no reversal.

I do not know that the powers-that-be in America are always wise enough to recognize and deter the destructive power of ISIS and other terrorist organizations. But I DO know that my spiritual leader is wise and strong enough to have already ultimately defeated His enemy, Satan. The devil will not take down the kingdom of Christ. The gates of hell will not prevail against the church (Matthew 16:16). But Satan can still destroy people who are in that kingdom and he would like to sift us a wheat (Luke 22:31). It’s important to remember if you are in the kingdom, you are targeted by the devil. You have the blood that tastes best to his diabolical senses. Yes, he is powerful Yes, he is unthinkably evil. Yes, he is that roaring lion. But your Lion, the Lion of Judah  (Revelation 5:5) is stronger and has already won the war on terror with the Devil. So don’t be a casualty in a war that’s already been decided. Be strong and courageous. He has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and discipline (II Timothy 1:7). Soldier on!

Love or Hate? Which?

Wire_AP_9673b3bba0d9471ab228d8fc95beac7b_16x9_992It’s one of those days when I can’t find words. I don’t know how to breathe deeply enough to be calm in my soul when I think about the ramifications of last weekend’s Supreme Court  announcement. But I know I have to move on. WE have to move on. A huge premium of morality has been lost in America.  The night when our government dollars would light our grand old White House with the LGBT rainbow is a night I thought I would never see. And, in the shadows of those lights, it is as dark a night as it has ever been in the short history of the United States of America.

My nine-month-old grandson, Ezra, sleeps a few feet away from me tonight. To think that Ezra will never be able to even remember a time in America when marriage necessarily implied the union of a man and a woman is surreal to me. To think that his parents are going to have to talk to him, at least on some level, about the very adult subject of homosexuality, even in his early childhood, is very sad to me. To know that his father, grandfathers, and great-grandfather, all preachers of the gospel,  might very feasibly be placed in a position in which they would have to go to court and maybe even to jail for disobeying the laws of this land when they are called on to perform marriage ceremonies for gay couples, is a frightening prospect. The acceptance and legality of homosexual marriage in our United States has happened so relatively quickly. And this final ruling by the Supreme Court which forces all states to issue marriage licenses to gay couples is nothing short of a direct frontal attack on Christianity.

Twenty-three years ago, when my own children were very young, I vividly recall walking into a Walker County, Alabama library in which was being aired the live inaugural parade of the newly elected William Clinton, President of the United States. I could not believe there was a “gay pride” demonstration in that parade, for the first time in history, endorsed by that new administration. I remember the sadness of that moment and asking in my own heart “What will America be like when my kids are raising my grandchildren?” But I could not have imagined that the sacred institution of marriage could be so defiled by the rulers of our land as to legally acknowledge gay marriage. I could not have imagined that, to celebrate such an acknowledgment, our President would make the White House, the national seat of our government, a symbol of the LGBT movement, by shining the gay pride rainbow colors on it.

Several charges are being leveled at people like me, who are still writing and speaking about the sinfulness of homosexuality. The first is that we are hypocritical. “You just pick out one sin to hate, while ignoring the sins of your own hearts and lives.” Let’s make it crystal clear that Christians hate all sin of all kinds, especially the ones that beset us personally.  We understand that all of us sin and that none of us has any hope of eternal life without the blood of Jesus. But while continuing in any sin can keep you out of heaven, there are  certain sins that have greater consequences in this lifetime, than do others. Purposefully bringing up children in homes without a mother AND a father is a sin against those children. Recognizing nationally a “right to marry” for gay couples leaves Christian justices and ministers in a position in which they must disobey federal law or violate their convictions based in clear passages of the New Testament (Romans 1: 26-32). For the first time in United States history (at least of which I am aware), the federal government is obligating Christians to violate the law or violate their consciences. It is difficult for me to see how this conflict is going to play out without resulting in persecution of preachers and their families, among others (cake-makers, caterers, formal shops, and jewelers, to name a few).

Secondly, there is a broad charge against Christians who believe that homosexuality is a sin and who are opposed to the legalization of homosexual marriage, that we are filled with hate and that we “spew forth conservative venom against innocent people.” There may be some people in the “One-man-for-one-woman-for life” camp that are full of hate. You can probably take almost any platform that has a large number of adherents and find some hate mongers. But may I say that hate mongers are not Christians. If they call themselves Christians, they lie, for, by definition, a Christian is a follower of Christ—the Christ who said “As you would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.” He commands, over and over, those who follow Him to love—even to love our enemies. Christians are not militant. They do not hate people. They are a people of self-control. Christians love people and hate sin.

I’ve been privileged to get to travel all over the United States and speak to conservative groups of women. I have often spoken about what the Bible teaches about homosexuality. I’ve engaged many women in conversation who have family members or loved ones who are involved in the sin of homosexuality. I cannot recall a single time when any of these women had anything but hearts of love and kindness toward those who were caught up in the sin of homosexuality. They are saddened, it is true. But they are kind. They are meek, prayerful and broken over the loss of souls that they love. This picture is the spirit of love; not hate. And it is the spirit of the overwhelming majority of those who, basing their opposition on the Word, oppose homosexuality.

The truth is, there are many “haters” in the homosexual camp. They are very critical and angry at those of us who still call homosexuality a sin. Why are they so angered by those who believe what the Bible clearly says about homosexuality? I suggest that it’s not really because we are hypocritical or hateful. We could change “hypocritical” or “hateful”. But proponents of gay marriage are highly critical of Christians because of something we cannot change: the Word of God. We cannot change the very clear truth about homosexuality from the Word of God:

Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God (I Corinthians 6:9-11).

Finally, let’s just imagine, without blaspheming the Word of God, that our lives here on earth are done and we come to the other side of death….Only there is no other side. The Bible-rejecting majority was right. Life on earth was all there will ever be and we are all simply and forever annihilated. Who would be worse off? The one who sojourned on earth as a Christian or the one who lived in the sin of homosexuality or some other sin of outright rebellion against the Word? Honest people would have to answer “If we are all annihilated, never to again live, no one is any better or worse off than anyone else.”

But what if people, like me, who have examined the evidence and believe that Jehovah is our creator and sustainer and that His word is absolute moral law, in the end, are right? What if there is a God and the sins of Romans 1 do make us “worthy of death”?  What if there really is a place of eternal punishment and a place of everlasting life?  Who, in this scenario, would be worse off? Ah, in that case, the homosexual couple would give a million lives and “marriages” just like the one they celebrate now to have another chance to renounce sin and live for Him. But, in that scenario, there would be no more chances.

So now I would pose this question: If I really believe His Word (and I do), what is it that motivates me to call homosexuality “sin”?  Is it love or hate? Which is it that compels me to speak against the sin of homosexuality…to beg those who are involved to leave those “vile affections” (Romans 1:26) and be washed and sanctified and justified (I Corinthians 6:7-9)?  Is it love or is it hate if I really believe the Word of God? I submit to you that the convicted cannot help but call sinners to repentance. That’s not “hate speech”. It’s “love speech” at the highest level. It’s love that, in 2015, takes courage. And it’s love that may soon take His people to places of persecution—even maybe to jail.  But, for true believers, it’s worth the risk. We will work beneath the blood-stained banner that calls all men with all kinds of sin to salvation, even if the White House is, of all things, striped. Yes, it IS love that makes us call sin, “sin”.   And ultimately, eternally…love wins.

The Morning After–Can I Get This off my Chest?

While being fully aware of the of the injunctions in Romans 13 about the duty of Christians to be subject to civil authorities, let us be clear. There is a huge difference between being subject to higher powers and endorsing them. I’m hearing a lot of double-speak about coming together now and being supportive of President Obama. If supporting him means being respectful of his office and living within the confines of the law, so long as the law does nor require disobedience to God, then I’m supportive. But if being supportive means my personal stamp of approval on or support of the policies that I have so vigorously opposed before the election, then I am totally unsupportive. To say that “we can put our differences behind us” or that “since America has spoken, we must concede our ideals” is to say we must lay our Bibles down and join the ranks of “the fearful and the unbelieving, the abominable and all liars”…and they are the ones who “will have their part in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death” (Rev.21:8). The administration that has championed abortion and homosexuality is still that administration. The party that had so much trouble putting God anywhere in the platform is still that party. Any woman of integrity cannot simply stop the battle against what God views as sin simply because America has spoken. To do so is to renounce our lasting citizenship in the kingdom of heaven for a temporary unification in an extremely temporal kingdom of men. We must continue the war; not wrestling against flesh and blood (physical combat), but “against principalities and powers. against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Eph. 6:12). If ever there was “spiritual wickedness in high places, the time is now. (Take a look at the new senator from Wisconsin.) We may come to the realization one day that we have lost the country. We, in truth, may already be there. We may have to surrender our freedom to practice Christianity. Our pulpits are already dangerously close to losing the freedom to say what the Bible says about homosexuality. But should the day come when we can be incarcerated or even killed for practicing and speaking the truth, we will still practice and speak the truth.

Reaching across the aisle is good, in some cases. But, friends, if God is in the aisle, we do not reach across Him (in either direction) and compromise with the world.If compromise in politics means I surrender principles for “progress”, I do not compromise. I do not make concessions with the enemy at the expense of truth. Millions are exultant about the addition of the first lesbian ever to be seated in our United States Senate. LGBT groups are celebrating their champion’s victory. Planned Parenthood is rejoicing that their funding will continue to come from taxpayers. Ladies, Christian women cannot, must not decide that we are going to “get behind” this administration and “work together” to achieve its goals. Its goals are not our goals. It’s goals are, by and large, oppositional to the moral fiber of our land.

I love America. I cannot ever fully appreciate the lives surrendered in behalf of freedom in this great country. I pray every day for her leaders and for her future. But I love God more than I love America. When America does fall, and she will if the world stands long enough, I will still claim citizenship in the kingdom of heaven, where there is no aisle…just a throne around which all gather and bow.

Go to Church? On Christmas?

Every seven years, Christmas and New Years Day fall on a Sunday, and 2011 is one of those years. Since most families have special plans and traditions on these days, going to church may create some scheduling conflicts. Some families may even decide to skip church altogether, thinking, “Since it’s Christmas, we’ll stay home on Sunday, just this once.”

Of course, it is a good thing for families to be together, especially during the holiday season. Most families do not spend enough time together as it is. Nonetheless, our service to God must be a priority. Can a Christian justify giving God a Sunday “rain check” so he or she can have more family time on Christmas Day? I believe the Lord’s Day must take precedence, even on Christmas. Jesus said to “seek first the kingdom of God” (Matt. 6:33, emp. added), which means that serving God – including worshiping Him on Sunday – must come “first,” even if it means having to adjust our holiday plans.

Christmas should be about spending time with our families and enjoying the blessings of our loved ones. The Lord has been good to bless us with our families and the people we love, and there are countless reasons why we should be thankful to Him. I submit that Sundays are the best Christmas Days because we have the opportunity to be with both our earthly families and our spiritual family, worshiping the Name that is above all other names.

It was the practice of the early church to meet on the “first day of the week” (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:1-2). Jesus was raised on the first day of the week (Lk. 24:1, 7), and His church was established on the first day of the week (Lev. 23:15-17, Acts 2:1). Sundays, even Christmas Sundays, belong to the Lord. Therefore, on every first day of the week, we must make it a priority to be with our spiritual family and worship our Heavenly Father. When we decide to skip worship services because it becomes an ‘inconvenience,’ we’ve lost the ‘big picture’ of the Christian life. May we all understand and appreciate the importance of what God established and make Him the priority in life.

I wish everyone a Merry Christmas as we enjoy our time with our families; giving thanks to God every Sunday for the immeasurable blessings that we have both in Him and in one another.