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Wednesday, October 3, 2018

How to Fight The Culture of Sexual Abuse

As I prepared to write this column, there were continuing news stories related to the devastating report about the 1,000 children whom were sexually abused by Catholic priests in some Pennsylvania dioceses.  One article highlighted the Catholic church’s own report from 2004, which found more than, “4,000 US Roman Catholic priests had faced sexual abuse allegations in the last 50 years involving more than 10,000 children . . .”  Wow!  And that was in just the United States.  There were also reports in Austria, Chile, and others.

What is happening that children do not appear to be safe in a church with a clergy person?  When I considered that, I slowly began to see how the Catholic church scandal is a devastating picture of a larger problem. 

In protestant churches, pastors have resigned after admitting to adulterous affairs with someone in their own congregation.  In the business world, executives have been fired for sexually preying on members of their staff.  On school campuses, teachers have gone to jail for taking sexual advantage of their students.  In politics, well-known elected officials have stepped down because of sexual harassment. In the home, family members have been arrested for sexually abusing their own children.  In neighborhoods, young men and women have been picked up and sold into the global sex trafficking industry. 

What is the common thread in all of this?  Sexual immorality.  God our Creator has given us instructions.  We are to walk in purity and restrict our sexual activity within the bonds of marriage.  Abusers and the immoral have total disregard for this.  They engage in adultery, pornography, incest, rape, homosexuality, prostitution, molestation, pedophilia, fornication.  All these and more are condemned by God and have devastating consequences for ourselves and others.      

What can we do?  Fight against these evils in our culture by committing to your own purity.  It is written, “Flee from sexual immorality.  Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body” (1 Corinthians 6:18).  When you commit to purity you are helping to protect your home, church, workplace, school, neighborhood and your own life.  It is not easy.  Temptation is all around us.  That is why it so wide spread and sometimes we fail.  We cannot do it on our own.  We need help.  We need Jesus! 

He died and rose again to defeat the power of sin, which is at the root of our immorality.  He rose from the grave to make us holy and beautiful before Him.  When we turn to Him He comes to dwell within us by His Spirit.  And that Spirit gives us the ability to be pure.  No matter who you are or what you have done, Jesus can wash you clean and empower you to live a pure life.   

A prayer for you to pray– “Lord God, I want to be clean.  I admit I have done things with my body I should not have.  I regret it and confess my impurity.  Please, oh Lord, wash me.  Remove my immorality.  Forgive me and make me a new person today.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.”

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Freedom from Alcohol

In the rural ministry God has given, I see the negative effects of alcohol on a regular basis.  Most of the time people deny they have a drinking problem while it’s clear to everyone else, or they admit they have a problem, but are not willing to get help. 

The millions who drink are part of a long and storied history dating back over 3,000 years to a man named Noah.  History records him as being the first person to plant a vineyard, make his own wine and booze it up until he became humanity’s first drunk.    

The biblical story recounts Noah as drinking alone in his tent, where the alcohol overtook him, then he disrobed and passed out on the floor without a stitch of clothes on.  The incident caused embarrassment and division within the family. 

Let me point out, this was Noah, the one whom God chose to be His voice to the world during the 40-day global flood.  He was the one about which the Bible says, “Noah was a righteous man, blameless . . . Noah walked with God.”  (Genesis 6:9)

It does not matter if you are a well-respected clergyman, are in constant trouble with the law or somewhere in between, anyone can fall prey to the temptation of the bottle.

I firmly believe no one takes the first drink with the intention to do something embarrassing or harmful.  Instead their reasoning may be, “It goes good with my meal,” “I like the taste,” “I just want to have some fun with a few friends,” or “It’s been a stressful day and I just want to relax.”  Then one drink, turns into two, three and soon they are feeling tipsy, buzzed, and then drunk. 

God says about alcohol, “Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise.”  (Proverbs 20:1)

Have you ever been a little woozy or totally drunk more than once or many times?  Are you able to go a day, week or month without a drink and have no physical symptoms?  After drinking have you ever quietly passed out like Noah, or became loud, obnoxious and abusive around others?

I urge you to please stop.  The practice of drunkenness is condemned by God.  According to Him, drunkenness is when alcohol hits the blood stream and it begins to intoxicate you, affecting your mind and body.  God’s view of drunkenness is much different than ours. 

You do not have to be a slave to the bottle.  You can be free, and freedom begins with Jesus.  He died and rose again that through Him you might overcome.  If you need help, contact me and I can point you to some resources, but the place to start is with Jesus. 

A prayer for you to pray– Lord God, I confess that I have let alcohol affect me.  I have allowed myself to become drunk and disobeyed your Word.  Forgive me.  I also confess I am a slave to alcohol.  Thank you for opening my eyes to this.  I cannot end it on my own.  I need your help.  Come and rescue me from this sin that is controlling my life.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.”

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

The Danger of Thinking You’re a Good Person

Jesus once told a story about two men who went to pray.  One was a high standing religious man, the other was a tax collector that had extorted money from people. The religious man prayed saying, “God, I thank you I am not an extortionist, immoral or an evil person like so many, including this man next to me.  And I praise you that I regularly fast and pray and give 10% of all my income to the church.”     

Then the other man prayed.  He stood far off by himself with his head hung low against his chest.  He could not bear to lift his eyes heavenward.  Instead he wept and cried out, “God, please show me mercy!  I am a sinful man!”

The differences between the two men are startling.  The religious man saw himself as a good person because of the good things he did.  He was not like everyone else.  He was better.  Meanwhile, the tax collector saw himself as nothing.  There was an admission of all he had done wrong.  A sense that he was undeserving, so in brokenness he called out for mercy. 

When I view the landscape of the American church and society, I see a nation filled with people like the religious man.  Multitudes feeling generally good about themselves because of their attempts at doing good things.  They admit they have done wrong, but counter with efforts that are akin to moral insurance to sooth their conscience.

They also view themselves as better than the other guy, like the religious man did.  They are better than the drug dealer or corrupt politician. They see “those people” as the ones who need the help and religious saving, not themselves.  

These attitudes are dangerous.  They can lead to a moral and spiritual obnoxiousness that will produce a sterile church, empty of spiritual power.  It can also divide a nation among the upright elites and the downright immoral. 

We all are sinners with evil lurking in our hearts.  All of us.  Regardless of our religion, political party or standing in our community.  All of us have done wrong.  No exceptions.  Who has never told a lie, never had a bad thought about another person or never has done something from a selfish motive?  Who?  We!  Are!  All!  Sinners! God affirms this saying, “None is righteous, no, not one . . . no one does good, not even one” (Romans 3:11,12).

We have this mysterious evil within us that surfaces in our words, actions, motives and attitudes. What are we going to do about it?  Wish it away?  Ignore it?  Increase our efforts at being good? 

Because of what we have done we face the penalty of spiritual and eternal death.  Yet, it can be avoided.  This was the reason Jesus came from heaven to earth.  He came to go to war against the evil by dying on a cross. There He took our place.  He took our penalty.  He suffered and died for us.  Then rose again, securing the promise of forgiveness and a new life in Him. 

If you admit there is darkness inside you, an evil that dwells within, then in the humble spirit of the tax collector, call out to God for mercy.  Then because of what the Lord God did through Jesus for you and your entire family, freedom is waiting. 

A prayer for you to pray– Lord God, examine my heart.  Point out to me the sin that lives within me.  I do not want it there any longer.  I place my trust in Jesus and ask for forgiveness for all I have done wrong.  Cleanse my heart.  Make it new.  Change my life.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

 

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

What is America’s Future?

President Abraham Lincoln once said, “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power.”  An ancient prayer from the Bible says, “Two things I ask of you . . . give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, lest I be full and deny you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God” (Proverbs 30:7-9).

The idea conveyed is having little or much can affect the character of a person - and a nation. The United States has seen both. In her early years she had little, while in modern times she has had much. Today, the U.S. is the leader in innovation, has the greatest university system, the world’s most powerful military, the largest economy and provides unequaled human freedoms.  

Since the late 1800’s, which began the industrial age, America has seen incredible growth. The success has changed America’s character. Her pride has grown into arrogance. Her increased knowledge has questioned the need for God. Her advancements in technology have made her like a god and her hi-tech weapons have replaced God.     

The principle of abundance leading to a denial of God is a predictable pattern. When riches, power and success mount there is a quiet shift in the heart of a nation, that when left unchecked, can lead to its downfall. 

Who is America’s greatest enemy? Some other nation, terrorists or a conglomerate of cyber warriors? Our greatest enemy is – we the people. 

The lure of money and power is becoming our Great Destroyer. Its deceptive appeal has caused us to think too highly of ourselves. It has created a false sense of security bringing us to believe we are a nation that is indestructible and indispensable to the world. We have been willingly seduced by prosperity giving birth to the children of ease, complacency and immorality.    

Let us learn from the downfall of ancient kingdoms like Rome, Egypt, Greece and the once vast British Empire. Mere common sense says if we continue down the path we are on, America will eventually implode. 

Despite the growing number of atheists within our borders, the Lord God does exist, and He is our only hope. Not political parties, legislation or changes in the economy. Let us examine our ways and do something about it. We must humble ourselves and stop our power hunger, corrupt and immoral practices. We must make peace with God and with one another. This cannot be done through multi-faith efforts or by starting an organization. This turn around can only be done through our faith in the Creator God, and His only Son. Let us plead for Him to pour out a heaven-sent spiritual revival to sweep border to border.    

A prayer for you to pray– Lord God, I see evil and lawlessness across our land. We desperately need you to send a move of your Spirit upon us. I admit my own wrong doings and how I have contributed to the condition of our country. Forgive me Lord for what I have done. Oh God, come upon our land. In Jesus’ name. Amen.