The Shepherd of Hope blog is here to serve you, to help you know Jesus better and to find hope in Him. This blog relies on the Spirit of God using the word of God to build people of God. All material has been prayerfully submitted for your encouragement and spiritual edification. Your questions and comments are welcome.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Same Sex Marriage: What's wrong with it?

On June 24th, 2011, in the dark of night, New York State passed the Marriage Equality Act making same-sex marriage legal in the State. Statistics claim that residents of the State support same-sex marriage by a 54 to 40% margin. It would seem, in this state at least, (and five other states in the Union) that same-sex marriage is acceptable to most people. Most people view same-sex marriage as harmless and no big deal. When we look nationally we see that from 1988 to the present public opinion polls indicate a trend toward more acceptance of same-sex marriages.

So what’s wrong with same-sex marriages? There is a lot wrong with same-sex marriages. And we need to get informed so that the trend toward acceptance of same-sex marriages can be reversed. What’s wrong with same-sex marriage? Let me give you some things to think about and then you decide.

Biological Barrenness

Since a man cannot bear a child and a woman cannot bear a child without a man, same-sex couples are doomed to infertility unless extraordinary measures are taken. Lesbian couples can utilize in vitro fertilization but homosexuals can never bear children. Some same-sex couples can adopt a child and adoption is a wonderful thing. But children adopted by same-sex couples are not being put in the healthiest environment for upbringing. (This will be discussed further below.) Without the ability to reproduce same-sex couples are kept from one of the greatest blessings of God, to “be fruitful and multiply” (Gen. 1:28). This is self-imposed biological barrenness. It speaks of a self-centered deeper spiritual barrenness. It is the product of entering a relationship that was never intended to be.

Evolutionary Death

I don’t believe in evolution but for those who do same-sex couples and same-sex attractions where reproduction is not possible leads to death of the species. For humans, marriage is designed for cohabitation and creating an environment where offspring can be birthed and nurtured. In a relationship where two of the same-sex are joined, reproduction is not possible and perpetuation of the human species is stifled. Now some might respond that there are too many people on this planet already, but on the basis of evolution same-sex attractions that lead to same-sex coupling is literally, a dead end. When Paul speaks to those who have been delivered from the dead sinful life he comments, “What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death” (Rom. 6:21). This is literally the case in same-sex marriages.

Matricide / Patricide

Homosexual and lesbian relationships that lead to same-sex marriages with children involved make an inherent statement that either of mother or a father are unnecessary. Same-sex couples may try to include people of the opposite gender in the lives of the children they raise, but the question children will inevitably raise is, “Why don’t I have a Mommy?” or “Why don’t I have a Daddy?” In the case of homosexual and lesbian same-sex marriages the importance of either Mother or Father will be diminished. There is a plethora of studies that show children need a Mother and a Father to grow and develop into healthy societally sound people. Same-sex marriage proponents can point to the exceptions where a Mother or Father have been sources of abuse for children. Studies also show that homosexuals and lesbians are frequently victims of such abuse. But that doesn’t change the fact that children biologically, statistically, emotionally and scripturally, need a Mommy and Daddy for optimal nurture. God designed families to include a Father and a Mother (Gen. 2:24).


Same-sex marriage is a question of morality. The word “morality” is defined as “a doctrine or system of moral conduct; particular moral principles or rules of conduct.” This definition raises the question of “What doctrine/teaching, system, principles or rules of conduct do we base morality on?” If mere popular consensus is the basis of our morality that can lead to some pretty immoral conduct. In the Middle Ages the Roman Catholic Church viewed inquisitions as morally acceptable. For Hitler and the German people and those sympathetic to their beliefs, Jews were viewed as subhuman and immoral simply because they were Jewish. There was a time when our nation viewed slavery as morally acceptable. Today in many Muslim nations public flogging, stoning, and severing limbs is accepted as moral. I could go on and on with examples of immorality based on human consensus. No, if we are to truly live by a moral standard we need to go beyond human consensus to a higher standard. That standard is the Bible.

Critiques point to the abuses of the so-called Church throughout history. I would agree that there has been a great deal of immorality perpetrated by people who claimed the name of Christian. But naming the name of Christian does not make a person a Christian. Jesus warned of false followers (Mat. 7:15-23). He spoke of tares amongst the wheat or people who would present themselves outwardly as true followers of Christ but inwardly would be empty and void of any spiritual life (Mat. 13:24-30). Indeed the Bible tells us there are people who have a form of religion but deny its power or its true substance (2 Tim. 3:5). Those who claim the name Christian and act in unchristlike ways are the epitome of immorality.

When we look at the Bible and properly exegete it there is no better or higher standard for morality. God says He exalts His word even above His own name! (Psalm 138:2). God has a great plan and life for those who love Him and He has revealed this by the Holy Spirit in His word (1 Cor. 2:9-14). The Bible is the product of God’s inspiration, or God literally breathing out His revelation. It is profitable for doctrine, which guides our morality. It is profitable for proving things true or false and for determining right and wrong and correcting those who disobey. The Bible is the standard for righteousness so that we can be complete and well equipped for every good work (cf. 2 Timothy 3:16-17).

The Bible categorizes homosexuality and lesbianism as a sin that needs to be repented of and refrained from (cf. Romans 1:21-32). It also states that by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ that God will give spiritual life by the indwelling Holy Spirit who is able to deliver and free the homosexual or lesbian from their sinful lifestyle (1 Cor. 6:9-11). The Bible does not speak of same-sex marriages but given the fact it defines homosexuality and lesbianism as a sin, any attempt at solemnizing or legitimizing such sinful relationships would be a compounding of that sin. Accepting same-sex marriage is lowering the moral standard in society not raising it. Same-sex marriage is immoral.

There is also the question of what the legalization of same-sex marriage will lead to. If same-sex marriage becomes the law of the land, it isn’t farfetched to see polygamy introduced for legalization too. Canada is already debating the legality of their anti-polygamy laws. With the moral standard lowered for same-sex marriages the idea of lowering or even eliminating the age of consent for children in sexual relationships will conceivably be put on the table (e.g. NAMBLA: North American Man/Boy Love Association). What next, relationships between people and animals? You may laugh, but such immorality is practiced by people (e.g. In New Delhi Selva Kumar was advised by an astrologer to marry a dog to break a curse; just Google People who marry animals).


But wouldn’t same-sex marriage strengthen and bring stability to society since two people are making a life commitment to each other? Marriage is a statement of commitment, of fidelity to a person. Fidelity means being faithful to a person emotionally, sexually, spiritually. It means a person will focus their affections on their spouse. It means a person will not venture outside of their marriage for sexual gratification. It means a person will facilitate their spouse’s spiritual health.

The state of Vermont has allowed civil unions since 2000. Studies show that only 50% homosexual men in civil unions and 34% of homosexual men in “committed relationships” feel sex outside marriage is acceptable. In the Netherlands HIV/AIDS studies to determine the number of partners of homosexuals and lesbians determined that homosexuals with a steady partner had on average eight sexual partners per year outside that relationship. Another study showed that the average lesbian has more partners in their lifetime than heterosexual women. The issue here is that monogamy and fidelity in marriages in society will be eroded by the addition of same-sex marriages. With marriages constantly under attack in society, same-sex marriage will further detract from this core institution of society.


In the Old Testament the southern kingdom of Judah experienced decline and ultimately defeat and captivity due to her king’s leading the people into moral decline. This did not excuse the people. They were culpable for this moral decline because they went along with it. Of evil king Ahaz it states:

2 Chronicles 28:19 - For the LORD brought Judah low because of Ahaz king of Israel, for he had encouraged moral decline in Judah and had been continually unfaithful to the LORD.

The legalization of same-sex marriage is a sign of moral decline in our nation. History shows that the collapse of kingdoms and nations are preceded by a decline in morality. America has been an incredibly blessed nation. It has a Christian heritage. But America has forsaken its heritage and is in decline. We see this in the decline in morality. There is hope.

That hope comes from God. The decline of Israel and Judah in scripture did not take God by surprise. When King Solomon inaugurated the Temple of God (the national symbol of God’s presence) with public prayer and sacrifice, God confirmed His acceptance with fire from heaven (2 Chron. 6-7). But more importantly, after the ceremony was completed God appeared to Solomon in the night and spoke to him of how to work through times of discipline and trial from the Lord due to the decline of the nation. It is in God’s words to Solomon that we see the familiar words:

2 Chronicles 7:14 - if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

King Ahaz and the historical context of Judah testify to the failure of God’s leaders and people to humble themselves, pray, seek God’s face and repent of their wicked ways. There was no repentant prayer from them to God for Him to respond to. The consequence was captivity and exile; the loss of greatness and blessing.

Our history is not finished; yet. We are on the decline. Same-sex marriage and its legalization is evidence of that. But it’s not too late. If as a nation we humble ourselves to submit to God’s word, repent of our sinful ways and pray and seek His face, God will hear, forgive and heal our land. But that is the only way the decline can be corrected. If we persist in our sinful ways and continue down the road of moral decline, this nation will end up on the scrap heap of history.

There are those who say legalization of same-sex marriage is a good thing, a liberating thing, even a moral thing. They are as Paul describes, “having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.” (Eph. 4:18-19) There are those who ask, “What’s wrong with same-sex marriage?” Tell them. Speak God's truth in His love (Eph. 4:15; Rom. 5:5). But tell them.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Be-Ready Attitudes

Throughout the New Testament we are exhorted to be ready for the return of Jesus Christ or the Second Coming. The Second Coming takes place in two phases. The first phase involves Jesus coming in the clouds for His church to rapture them (1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:11). This first phase takes place before the seven year period of Tribulation predicted for the future (Daniel 9:24-27; Matthew 24; Mark 13; Luke 21; Revelation 6-18). During this Tribulation period God pours out His wrath on a Christ rejecting world (Revelation 6:16, 17; 11:18; 14:10, 19; 15:1, 7; 16:1, 19; 19:15). The rapture of the church saves believers from God’s wrath (Romans 5:9; 1 Thessalonians 1:10; 5:9; Revelation 3:10). At the end of the Tribulation Jesus will return to earth with His saints to save Israel and establish His thousand year reign on earth (Revelation 19-20).

While true believers will be raptured before the seven year period of Tribulation signs and deception will increase leading up to this time. Christians are exhorted to be ready for this. In God’s sovereign determination you and I have been birthed for such a time as this. We need to be ready. Below are seven be ready attitudes to help us prepare so we can be safe and a productive instrument in the hands of God during this time. What are these Be-Ready Attitudes?

First, Have A Simple Attitude. Something can be simple without being simplistic. The Gospel laid out in scripture is simple but profound. Paul specifically mentioned and warned against getting away from “the simplicity of Christ,” saying: “But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted—you may well put up with it!” (2 Cor. 11:3-4). Paul mentions “another Jesus,” “a different spirit,” and “a different gospel.” Alternatives to the simplicity of scriptural salvation by grace through faith in Christ are from “the serpent.” Those who depart from the simple gospel of Christ are anathematized according to God’s word (Gal. 1:3-8).

When the plain sense of scripture makes common sense, seek no other sense. Beware of complex eisegetical interpretations of God’s word or new revelations that deductively manipulate scriptures to support doctrinal preferences. A scripture out of context is a pretext. Instead be inductive; let the scripture form your doctrine. Verify everything based on the whole counsel of God’s word (i.e. the 66 Books of the Canon). The gospel has been made simple so that as many as possible can understand it and be saved. When we complicate the gospel it creates a barrier between God and those He is seeking to save.

Second, Have an Assessing Attitude. There will be pseudo Christians, lying signs and wonders in the church during this time (Mat. 13:24-30; 1 John 2:19). Paul states to the Thessalonians church: “Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. . . . The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, [See John 17:17] that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie,” (2 Thess. 2:3-4, 9-11). We need to have an assessing attitude.

The believer will be raptured to Christ before the revealing of antichrist, but we will likely see some of the signs that precede him. There will be apostasy in the church and a departure from Biblically based doctrine. People will begin to focus on and obsess over signs, wonders and experiential based religion rather than a doctrinally sound faith based on the truth of God’s word. Those who do “not receive the love of the truth” will suffer a, “strong delusion that they should believe the lie.” “The lie” refers to the serpent’s lie to Eve in Eden, that God is not faithful, His word is not dependable, He doesn’t have your best interests at heart and you don’t need Him anyway, you can be “like God” (cf. Genesis 3). Beware of such lies. Assess everything by God’s word (1 Thess. 5:21).

Third, Have a Self Appraising Attitude. “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified” (2 Cor. 13:5). Not everyone who uses the word “Lord” is necessarily saved (Mt. 7:21-24). Some trust in themselves, others trust in tradition for their eternal destiny. But God’s word gives the only true reflection of our status with Him (Ps. 139; Hebrews 4:12; James 1:22-25). Take the plank out of your own eye before you go fiddling with the speck in someone else’s (Mat. 7:3-5).

Jesus also said: “But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly.35 “For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth.36 “Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man” (Lk. 21:34-36). Jesus tells us to be alert and avoid being weighed down with things in this world. He wants us to be, “counted worthy to escape all these things.” Will you be ready when He calls?

Fourth, Have a Soldier’s Attitude. We are in a spiritual war! Both Paul (Eph. 6:10-18) and Peter (1 Pet. 2:11; 5:8-9) warned believers against the tactics and strategies of Satan who is relentless in his pursuit to destroy believers. Be aware of your enemy and his desire to defeat you. That problem you have with that other person or situation is not simply an issue with them, it is likely fueled and backed by a strategy of Satan to get at you in some way. Beware of Satan and keep things in spiritual perspective.

Fifth, Have a Prayerful Attitude. Jesus exhorted His followers to pray and never give up (Luke 18:1-8). There will be many anxiety producing events in these last days. But rather than worry and stress out, we ought to take it to the Lord in prayer (Phil. 4:6-7). Prayer has been referred to as the long range artillery of spiritual warfare. Make sure you soften the beach head with prayer before you try to storm it. Your progress is prepared for through prayer.

Sixth, Have a Contentious Attitude. This doesn’t mean we should be ornery or aggravating. We shouldn’t be like porcupines that have so many points no one can get close to us. But we are called to contend for the faith! (Jude 3-4). The “prevent defense” in football is a tactic where one team spreads itself out on the field in order to protect their lead. They lay back and wait for their opponent’s attack. Many have found that spreading yourself out too thin and waiting for the attack only leads to a loss. We need to go on the offensive against the enemy. We are fighting a ruthless sin promoting foe; we need to be ruthless with sin (Mt. 5:29-30). We don’t have much time left. We shouldn’t be hiding in our homes, or running for cover. We should be out contending earnestly for the truth of God. That is our calling and responsibility (Ezek. 3:17-19). We will be held accountable for that some day (2 Tim. 2:15, 24-26; 3:16-17). The word of God is the sword of the Spirit, let’s use it! Let’s go on the attack, defeat the enemy and liberate as many people from their sin as we can.

Seventh, Have a Loving Attitude. There was once a disciple of Jesus who drew his sword and chopped off the ear of one who came against Jesus (Mat. 26:50-56). Jesus told him to put his sword away and healed the one who was struck. We are not to hack away at people with the sword of the Spirit (i.e. the word of God - Eph. 6:17). Instead we are to speak God’s truth in love (Eph. 4:11-15). Love never fails (1 Cor. 13:8). The Spirit fills the believer with God’s love (Rom. 5:5). If we want to be victorious and effective, all that we do should be fueled by God’s love (2 Cor. 5:14-16).

These are the seven Be-Ready Attitudes. We can only obtain them through the Spirit (Acts 1:8; 1 Cor. 12:11). Are you ready to be used by the Lord? Do you have the right attitude? Why not take some time to prayerfully ask the Lord to search your attitudes and give you the Be-Ready Attitudes. He’s coming back; soon and very soon. What attitude will he find in you when he returns?

Monday, June 27, 2011

God is 4U- Even When You Suffer

Some people say, "God has abandoned you, that's why you're suffering." Or, "It's because you don't have enough faith that God hasn't healed you." Such comments are usually packaged in an authoritative tone such as, "The Lord gave me a word about you." But God does not contradict Himself. The Bible tells us that God will never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). Furthermore, it is the faith that Jesus gives us that enables healing to occur (Mark 9:24; Acts 3:16). Faith is not something we manufacture from within, but a gift from God (Romans 10:17; 12:3,6; Ephesians 2:8-9). The witness of Scripture is that sometimes it is God's will for you to suffer, and in such cases God is still for you.

The issue of suffering and how it relates to the will of God is often misinterpreted. When such misinterpretations are applied to real life the result is compounded pain and suffering for the recipients. At the very least such careless counsel leads to frustrated faith and confusion about the nature of God. Such counselors should take note of God's reaction to those who misrepresent Him. Remember Moses, He misrepresented God to the people, and he was barred from the Promised Land (Numbers 20). It's important that we rightly divide the word as it was given by God (II Timothy 2:15).

The apostle Paul was a victim of such accusations. His detractors used his trials to attack his apostolic authority. When you read Paul's second letter to the Corinthians Paul is likely addressing such catcalls as, "Hey Paul, God is against you, that's why He's letting all these trials come to you. He's beating you through the whips and stoning you through the stones of men! If He's for you, why hasn't He healed your thorn?!" ( II Corinthians 11-12).

To interpret suffering as a rejection by God compounds pain and robs one of a possible blessing. God never guarantees a believer will be free from suffering. Quite the contrary, Jesus said we can expect trouble in this world (John 16:33). The apostle Peter stated there is a suffering that is according to the will of God (I Peter 4:19). Paul said those who desire to live a godly life will be persecuted (II Timothy 3:12). Paul wrote personally of a "thorn in the flesh" that God chose to leave in place (II Corinthians 12:7-10). Trophimus was "left in Miletus sick" (II Timothy 4:20, emphasis mine). Whose faith was not enough in these situations? Was God judging people in these situations? These are only a few of the proof texts that indicate believers will suffer, either at the hands of men or even in physical illness.

But even though God wills or allows suffering in the lives of believers, we should not draw a conclusion which pictures God as enjoying the suffering inflicted on people. God takes no joy in the suffering of people. Through Jeremiah the Lord's feelings are stated, "For the Lord will not cast off forever. Though He causes grief, yet He will show compassion according to the multitude of His mercies. For He does not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men" (Lamentations 3:31-33. Emphasis mine.) The Living Bible translates verse 33, "For He does not enjoy afflicting men and causing sorrow."

If God dislikes suffering, why does He allow it, even will it? To answer that question we need to understand the root and result of suffering. First, the root of suffering is sin. Sin in it's most basic form is disobeying God. Suffering entered the Creation when Adam took Satan's alternative advice and disobeyed God (Genesis 3; Romans 5). Humankind became separated relationally, spiritually, from God by sin. But the material aspect of God's Creation was impacted too. Which leads secondly, to the result of suffering, death. The material Creation of God literally groans under the weight of sin's infection (Romans 8:18-25). Because our bodies are a part of God's Creation they groan too. Your body is growing from the point of birth to approximately age 25, but at age 25 your body turns a corner and begins the slow process of death. Your rate of cell replenishing is in the deficit from that point on.

But the good news is that in Christ, a glorious provision has been given! In chapter 15 of Paul's first letter to the Corinthians Paul explains that sin and death have been dealt a fatal blow at the cross and resurrection of Christ. But it is important to recognize that Paul is speaking in terms of the future in regards to receiving our "immortal bodies" (15:54). We can be saved now by faith, but we will not receive our heavenly immortal bodies until later. While the outcome is secure, there still remains some time in the game to play. In Christ we have an insurmountable lead, but the game is not yet over. The victory is as good as ours, but we still have a few minutes to play out. And while we play, we need to keep these soiled uniforms on.

To understand this leads us to also understand that, we suffer because God loves us. "What?!" some of you are saying. You may even be adding, "That's ridiculous! You've lost me now." Well, hear me out. When a game ends, the statistics go into the books and the result is permanent. In the same way, when death is literally "swallowed up in victory" and thrown into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:11-15) there will be no more opportunity for salvation. God's love for humankind is such that He desires none to perish (II Peter 3:9). He offers salvation to all (John 3:16) and His love for us is unmatched (Romans 5:8; 8:32). The price of God's loving, patient prolonging of the final judgment is the temporary continuation of a world, as is, wracked with the painful effects of sin. If we have to encounter suffering temporarily because God is waiting on the eternal salvation of others, then that is the price that must be paid.

The life of Joseph illustrates this in Genesis 37-50. Joseph was a favored son envied by his brothers. Envy birthed treachery and Joseph found himself narrowly escaping murder, thrown in a dark pit, and then sold into slavery. Years later the Divine plan moved Joseph to a prominent position in an Egyptian jailer's home. But when Joseph resisted the adulterous advances of the jailer's wife, her false accusations compounded Joseph's suffering by imprisonment. Patiently Joseph trusted in the Lord and faithfully God exalted this humble servant. Established as pharaoh's head man, Joseph found himself in just the right position to save his entire family. In the larger picture the messianic line was preserved through the long-suffering of Joseph. Joseph endured emotional and physical hardship in this scenario. His comforting words to his once jealous and now repentant brothers capture the purpose behind suffering, "But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive" (50:20).

But you say, "I'm suffering and I can't take it anymore. I'm at the end of myself." In a way, that's right where God wants you to be. Someone has said, "Man's extremities are God's opportunities." God has not left us alone, but He allows us to get to the end of ourselves. He picks us up where we leave off. And the sooner we leave off, the sooner He'll pick up. To learn this is to be blessed. This is the "good" God brings from all things (Romans 8:28). One of the most important spiritual lessons in our walk with the Lord is , "Whoever loses his life for My sake will find it" (Matthew 16:24-25: Galatians 2:20). Suffering seen in this light brings great profits. Suffering helps us to trust God more ( I Peter 4:19). Suffering can actually increase and purify our faith (James 1:2-8). Suffering can help us have a deeper understanding of Jesus ( John 16:33; I Peter 2:21-25). Suffering can provide an opportunity to witness about God's hope ( I Peter 3:14-17). Suffering helps us realize the sufficiency of God's grace (II Corinthians 12:9-10). Suffering helps us to look forward to the coming of Christ (I Corinthians 16:22). Suffering makes our future glory with the Lord that much sweeter (II Corinthians 4:16-18).

Yes, sometimes God will heal the afflicted, but sometimes He will not. In both cases He will always pour out His love and grace on the trusting soul. Whatever God chooses, understand that God is for you, even when you suffer.

"For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal." (II Corinthians 4:17-18)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

God is Not Indebted to Us!

Romans 3:27 – “Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? No, but by the law of faith.”

Pride is one of the most reprehensible sins a person can commit because it demonstrates that a person has not recognized the grace of God in Christ. If God justifies me on the basis of faith in Jesus and His work, not my work, then I have no basis or reason to boast.

Some like to think that they can earn God’s blessing and approval. If that were true then God's approval would not be by grace but would be owed to the person (Romans 4:4). In effect such an arrangement would make God a debtor to people. It would put God in a position where He was obligated to bless someone. GOD WILL NEVER BE A DEBTOR TO ANYONE. A DEBTOR IS UNDER THE CONTROL OF THE ONE TO WHOM A DEBT IS OWED –

Proverbs 22:7 – “The rich rules over the poor, And the borrower is servant to the lender.”

Those who try to earn God’s blessing are involved in a subtle attempt to usurp the control of God in their lives. God will not allow that.

When we get to heaven and see Jesus the Lamb on His throne we will worship Him and focus upon Him (Revelation 4-5). No one will be able to stand up and say, “Wait a minute, don’t forget about me! I visited a lot of people going door-to-door.” Or, “Wait a minute, I paid double tithes . . . I didn’t drink coffee . . . I never danced or went to a movie! etc.” You won’t even be saying, “Oh wow! Look, there’s Billy Graham, and there’s Chuck Smith, and there’s . . “ No, there will be no room for boasting in heaven. We’ll all be sinners saved by God’s grace and all eyes will be on Jesus.

All God seeks from us is our love and appreciation (2 Corinthians 5:14-15).
We need to learn to accept God’s grace gracefully. Enjoy the goodness and blessings of God even though you will never deserve it. Don’t work for it. Just receive and enjoy it. God has stamped us with the stamp of Jesus. You can’t improve on that. Yet so often we try to do so. You simply can’t. Just receive the blessings of His grace and enjoy them.

Friday, June 17, 2011

What does it Mean to Walk with God?

In Genesis six it describes Noah someone who “found grace in the eyes of the LORD” (6:8) and as “a just man, perfect in his generations,” and then it continues, “Noah walked with God” (Genesis 6:9). So grace, justness and perfection (i.e. spiritual maturity and fruitfulness) are associated with walking with God.

In the Bible walking with God is also connected and described as walking in agreement with God (Amos 3:3). This implies a relationship characterized by communication and agreement, cooperation. From this and the above we see that walking is another way of referring to the way of life we live or the direction in life that we go.

In the New Testament we are instructed to not walk in the way the world walks seeking only to fulfill the lusts of their flesh (Ephesians 4:17; Philippians 3:17-21). Rather we are to walk by faith (2 Corinthians 5:7) and to walk in the light of God’s revelation or word (Ephesians 5:5; 1 John 1:7a). When we do this it leads us into pure fellowship with God (1 John 1:7b). Ultimately we are called to follow in the steps of Jesus (1 Peter 2:21) and to walk as Jesus walked (1 John 2:6). Jesus is the pattern of walk or way of life to be followed. This is not something we do in our own strength (i.e. our flesh). The only way we can walk as Jesus walked is to “walk in the Spirit” (Galatians 5:25). And to walk in the Spirit is the means to overcome the sinful nature or flesh (Galatians 5:16).

The New Testament sheds further light on Enoch when it states:

Hebrews 11:5-6 - 5 By faith Enoch was taken away so that he did not see death, “and was not found, because God had taken him”; for before he was taken he had this testimony, that he pleased God. 6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

Enoch walked with God and walking with God is described in Hebrews 11:5 as “he pleased God.” Then in Hebrews it explains to please God you have to have faith, not just any old faith or faith in “faith” like the world seems to propose, but faith in God, “that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” That’s what it means to “walk with God” and that is the example that Enoch gives to us. And most importantly, that is the solution to the sinful nature, to walk with God.

Jesus spoke about abiding in Him. To abide means to cling to, to depend on, to live for, to see Jesus as our life and indispensable reason to live and our necessary source of eternal life (John 15). To abide in Jesus is to walk with Him. To walk with Jesus pleases God. Why does it please God when we walk with Jesus? Because when we walk with Jesus, when we come close to Him, when we abide in Him, we follow in His holy steps. The closer you are to Jesus, the more clearly you can identify sin and the more power you will have over sin. To walk with Jesus steers you away from sin and toward the holiness of God. That pleases God.

In light of this who we walk with impacts our lives. Who we walk with determines our character. Walk with God and we are humble and prone to live holy. Walk with someone else and we wander toward the world and waver when tempted by sin. Look at your life. Who are you walking with? God wants you to walk with Him.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

"Ten Arguments From Social Science Against Same-Sex 'Marriage'" (From Family Research Council -

A large and growing body of scientific evidence indicates that the intact, married family is best for children. In particular, the work of scholars David Popenoe, Linda Waite, Maggie Gallagher, Sara McLanahan, David Blankenhorn, Paul Amato, and Alan Booth has contributed to this conclusion.

This statement from Sara McLanahan, a sociologist at Princeton University, is representative:

If we were asked to design a system for making sure that children's basic needs were met, we would probably come up with something quite similar to the two-parent ideal. Such a design, in theory, would not only ensure that children had access to the time and money of two adults, it also would provide a system of checks and balances that promoted quality parenting. The fact that both parents have a biological connection to the child would increase the likelihood that the parents would identify with the child and be willing to sacrifice for that child, and it would reduce the likelihood that either parent would abuse the child.

Sara McLanahan and Gary Sandefur, Growing Up with a Single Parent: What Hurts, What Helps (Boston: Harvard University Press, 1994) 38.

The following are ten science-based arguments against same-sex "marriage":

1. Children hunger for their biological parents.

Homosexual couples using in vitro fertilization (IVF) or surrogate mothers deliberately create a class of children who will live apart from their mother or father. Yale Child Study Center psychiatrist Kyle Pruett reports that children of IVF often ask their single or lesbian mothers about their fathers, asking their mothers questions like the following:"Mommy, what did you do with my daddy?" "Can I write him a letter?" "Has he ever seen me?" "Didn't you like him? Didn't he like me?" Elizabeth Marquardt reports that children of divorce often report similar feelings about their non-custodial parent, usually the father.

Kyle Pruett, Fatherneed (Broadway Books, 2001) 204.

Elizabeth Marquardt, The Moral and Spiritual Lives of Children of Divorce. Forthcoming.

2. Children need fathers.

If same-sex civil marriage becomes common, most same-sex couples with children would be lesbian couples. This would mean that we would have yet more children being raised apart from fathers. Among other things, we know that fathers excel in reducing antisocial behavior and delinquency in boys and sexual activity in girls.

What is fascinating is that fathers exercise a unique social and biological influence on their children. For instance, a recent study of father absence on girls found that girls who grew up apart from their biological father were much more likely to experience early puberty and a teen pregnancy than girls who spent their entire childhood in an intact family. This study, along with David Popenoe's work, suggests that a father's pheromones influence the biological development of his daughter, that a strong marriage provides a model for girls of what to look for in a man, and gives them the confidence to resist the sexual entreaties of their boyfriends.

* Ellis, Bruce J., et al., "Does Father Absence Place Daughters at Special Risk for Early Sexual Activity and Teenage Pregnancy?" Child Development, 74:801-821.

* David Popenoe, Life Without Father (Boston: Harvard University Press, 1999).

3. Children need mothers.

Although homosexual men are less likely to have children than lesbians, homosexual men are and will be raising children. There will be even more if homosexual civil marriage is legalized. These households deny children a mother. Among other things, mothers excel in providing children with emotional security and in reading the physical and emotional cues of infants. Obviously, they also give their daughters unique counsel as they confront the physical, emotional, and social challenges associated with puberty and adolescence. Stanford psychologist Eleanor MacCoby summarizes much of this literature in her book, The Two Sexes. See also Steven Rhoads' book, Taking Sex Differences Seriously.

Eleanor MacCoby, The Two Sexes: Growing Up Apart, Coming Together (Boston: Harvard, 1998).

Steven Rhoads, Taking Sex Differences Seriously (Encounter Books, 2004).

4. Evidence on parenting by same-sex couples is inadequate.

A number of leading professional associations have asserted that there are "no differences" between children raised by homosexuals and those raised by heterosexuals. But the research in this area is quite preliminary; most of the studies are done by advocates and most suffer from serious methodological problems. Sociologist Steven Nock of the University of Virginia, who is agnostic on the issue of same-sex civil marriage, offered this review of the literature on gay parenting as an expert witness for a Canadian court considering legalization of same-sex civil marriage:

Through this analysis I draw my conclusions that 1) all of the articles I reviewed contained at least one fatal flaw of design or execution; and 2) not a single one of those studies was conducted according to general accepted standards of scientific research.

This is not exactly the kind of social scientific evidence you would want to launch a major family experiment.

Steven Nock, affidavit to the Ontario Superior Court of Justice regarding Hedy Halpern et al. University of Virginia Sociology Department (2001).

5. Evidence suggests children raised by homosexuals are more likely to experience gender and sexual disorders.

Although the evidence on child outcomes is sketchy, it does suggest that children raised by lesbians or homosexual men are more likely to experience gender and sexual disorders. Judith Stacey-- a sociologist and an advocate for same-sex civil marriage--reviewed the literature on child outcomes and found the following: "lesbian parenting may free daughters and sons from a broad but uneven range of traditional gender prescriptions." Her conclusion here is based on studies that show that sons of lesbians are less masculine and that daughters of lesbians are more masculine.

She also found that a "significantly greater proportion of young adult children raised by lesbian mothers than those raised by heterosexual mothers ... reported having a homoerotic relationship." Stacey also observes that children of lesbians are more likely to report homoerotic attractions.

Her review must be viewed judiciously, given the methodological flaws detailed by Professor Nock in the literature as a whole. Nevertheless, theses studies give some credence to conservative concerns about the effects of homosexual parenting.

Judith Stacey and Timothy Biblarz, "(How) Does the Sexual Orientation of Parents Matter?" American Sociological Review 66: 159-183. See especially 168-171.

6. Same-sex "marriage" would undercut the norm of sexual fidelity within marriage.

One of the biggest threats that same-sex "marriage" poses to marriage is that it would probably undercut the norm of sexual fidelity in marriage. In the first edition of his book in defense of same-sex marriage, Virtually Normal, homosexual commentator Andrew Sullivan wrote: "There is more likely to be greater understanding of the need for extramarital outlets between two men than between a man and a woman." Of course, this line of thinking--were it incorporated into marriage and telegraphed to the public in sitcoms, magazines, and other mass media--would do enormous harm to the norm of sexual fidelity in marriage.

One recent study of civil unions and marriages in Vermont suggests this is a very real concern. More than 79 percent of heterosexual married men and women, along with lesbians in civil unions, reported that they strongly valued sexual fidelity. Only about 50 percent of gay men in civil unions valued sexual fidelity.

Esther Rothblum and Sondra Solomon, Civil Unions in the State of Vermont: A Report on the First Year. University of Vermont Department of Psychology, 2003.

David McWhirter and Andrew Mattison, The Male Couple (Prentice Hall, 1984) 252.

7. Same-sex "marriage" would further isolate marriage from its procreative purpose.

Traditionally, marriage and procreation have been tightly connected to one another. Indeed, from a sociological perspective, the primary purpose that marriage serves is to secure a mother and father for each child who is born into a society. Now, however, many Westerners see marriage in primarily emotional terms.

Among other things, the danger with this mentality is that it fosters an anti-natalist mindset that fuels population decline, which in turn puts tremendous social, political, and economic strains on the larger society. Same-sex marriage would only further undercut the procreative norm long associated with marriage insofar as it establishes that there is no necessary link between procreation and marriage.

This was spelled out in the Goodridge decision in Massachusetts, where the majority opinion dismissed the procreative meaning of marriage. It is no accident that the countries that have legalized or are considering legalizing same-sex marriage have some of the lowest fertility rates in the world. For instance, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Canada have birthrates that hover around 1.6 children per woman--well below the replacement fertility rate of 2.1.

For national fertility rates, see:

For more on the growing disconnect between marriage and procreation, see:

8. Same-sex "marriage" would further diminish the expectation of paternal commitment.

The divorce and sexual revolutions of the last four decades have seriously undercut the norm that couples should get and stay married if they intend to have children, are expecting a child, or already have children. Political scientist James Q. Wilson reports that the introduction of no-fault divorce further destabilized marriage by weakening the legal and cultural meaning of the marriage contract. George Akerlof, a Nobel laureate and an economist, found that the widespread availability of contraception and abortion in the 1960s and 1970s, and the sexual revolution they enabled, made it easier for men to abandon women they got pregnant, since they could always blame their girlfriends for not using contraception or procuring an abortion.

It is plausible to suspect that legal recognition of homosexual civil marriage would have similar consequences for the institution of marriage; that is, it would further destabilize the norm that adults should sacrifice to get and stay married for the sake of their children. Why? Same-sex civil marriage would institutionalize the idea that children do not need both their mother and their father.

This would be particularly important for men, who are more likely to abandon their children. Homosexual civil marriage would make it even easier than it already is for men to rationalize their abandonment of their children. After all, they could tell themselves, our society, which affirms lesbian couples raising children, believes that children do not need a father. So, they might tell themselves, I do not need to marry or stay married to the mother of my children.

James Q. Wilson, The Marriage Problem. (Perennial, 2003) 175-177.

George A. Akerlof, Janet L. Yellen, and Michael L. Katz, "An Analysis of Out-of-Wedlock Childbearing in the United States." Quarterly Journal of Economics CXI: 277-317.

9. Marriages thrive when spouses specialize in gender-typical roles.

If same-sex civil marriage is institutionalized, our society would take yet another step down the road of de-gendering marriage. There would be more use of gender-neutral language like "partners" and--more importantly--more social and cultural pressures to neuter our thinking and our behaviors in marriage.

But marriages typically thrive when spouses specialize in gender-typical ways and are attentive to the gendered needs and aspirations of their husband or wife. For instance, women are happier when their husband earns the lion's share of the household income. Likewise, couples are less likely to divorce when the wife concentrates on childrearing and the husband concentrates on breadwinning, as University of Virginia psychologist Mavis Hetherington admits.

E. Mavis Hetherington and John Kelly, For Better or For Worse. (W.W. Norton and Co., 2002) 31.

Steven Rhoads, Taking Sex Differences Seriously (Encounter Books, 2004).

10. Women and marriage domesticate men.

Men who are married earn more, work harder, drink less, live longer, spend more time attending religious services, and are more sexually faithful. They also see their testosterone levels drop, especially when they have children in the home.

If the distinctive sexual patterns of "committed" gay couples are any indication (see above), it is unlikely that homosexual marriage would domesticate men in the way that heterosexual marriage does. It is also extremely unlikely that the biological effects of heterosexual marriage on men would also be found in homosexual marriage. Thus, gay activists who argue that same-sex civil marriage will domesticate gay men are, in all likelihood, clinging to a foolish hope. This foolish hope does not justify yet another effort to meddle with marriage.

Steve Nock, Marriage in Men's Lives (Oxford University Press, 1998).

Hardwired to Connect: The New Scientific Case for Authoritative Communities (Institute for American Values, 2003) 17.

This paper is reprinted with permission of the Witherspoon Institute, Princeton, New Jersey, on whose website a version of it first appeared at

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Is It of God?

How do we determine if something is of God or not? This is an important question because we are in a spiritual war in which our adversary the devil is a master liar, deceiver and destroyer. The Last Days will be characterized by “deceiving spirits,” “doctrines of demons,” and lies spoken by psychopathic hypocrites (1 Timothy 4:1-2). Satan’s aim is to murder you spiritually and physically (John 8:44). His main tactic is appearing as something good and luring people into evil. Therefore, if we ignore or take this question lightly we risk being victimized by the enemy or worse, being manipulated into a position where we give the enemies of the Lord reason to blaspheme God (2 Samuel 12:14). Because of this God has given us clear precautions in His word to help us discern what is of Him and what is not of Him.

There are many scriptures in the Bible which help us discern whether or not something is of the Lord. Below we list these scriptures with questions we ought to be asking when we are seeking to discern whether or not something is of the Lord.

Is it scriptural? Just because someone uses scriptures does not mean they are of the Lord? Satan used scriptures (out of context) against Jesus in the wilderness temptation (Matthew 4:1-11). Cults use scriptures, as do false teachers. How can we know if scripture is being used in the right way?

We need to see if the interpretation is correct based on the context, or the way it was used in the letter or book in which it is found. Usually you can determine this by reading before and after the scripture to see the proper interpretation of the verses. You may have to read the entire letter or book in which the verses are found. You should also ask whether or not the interpretation in question contradicts other parts of the Bible. God’s word does not contradict itself. We need to determine God’s truth based on the “whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27).

Does it bring me closer to God? You should ask if this use of scripture or thing in question is drawing you closer to or pushing you further away from God. The Bible tells us to draw near to God and move away from the devil (James 4:7-8). This is a question that can be tricky because our hearts are deceitful and we can’t know them on our own (Jeremiah 17:9-10). We need to ask God to search our hearts and see the truth in us (Psalm 139:23-24). And the way we do this is to bring our hearts and thoughts prayerfully to the altar of God’s word (Hebrews 4:12).

There is an interesting scripture in this regard and it states the following:

Deuteronomy 13:1-5 - “If there arises among you a prophet or a dreamer of dreams, and he gives you a sign or a wonder, 2 and the sign or the wonder comes to pass, of which he spoke to you, saying, ‘Let us go after other gods’—which you have not known—‘and let us serve them,’ 3 you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams, for the LORD your God is testing you to know whether you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. 4 You shall walk after the LORD your God and fear Him, and keep His commandments and obey His voice; you shall serve Him and hold fast to Him. 5 But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has spoken in order to turn you away from the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the house of bondage, to entice you from the way in which the LORD your God commanded you to walk. So you shall put away the evil from your midst.

Notice it is not the sign or wonder or impressiveness of something that determines whether or not it is of God. It is whether or not something draws us closer to God and moves us to love Him more and more that determines whether or not something is of God. Jesus said eternal life is to know the One true God and Him (John 17:3). That in a nutshell is the prime reason Jesus came to be with us (John 17:4). We should be asking, “Is what I’m doing bringing me closer to the Lord? Is it making me more spiritually sensitive to His voice? Is it helping me to know Him better? Can I see Jesus involved with what I’m doing?”

Is it causing me to worship the Lord? God is looking for true worshipers who will worship Him in spirit and truth. Those who are trying to determine if the music they listen to is of God should be asking themselves, “Is this causing me to love God more? Is it causing me to worship the Lord in spirit and truth?”(John 4:23-24). Does the music put me in awe of the Lord and cause me to fall at His feet in worship?

Does it bring pleasure to God? Contrary to the popular philosophy of the day, we do not exist for our own pleasure. Humanity was created for the Lord and His pleasure! (Colossians 1:16; Revelation 4:11 KJV). Christians have been purchased by God and redeemed from their sin by the precious blood of Jesus on the cross (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Christians should especially be asking questions like, “Is what I’m doing pleasing to God? Is it selfish? Does it risk displeasing God in some way?”

Is it really worth it? Is what I’m doing really worth the time? If I’m being tempted to do something that is questionable, is it worth risking my walk with the Lord in any way? Nothing is worth risking a single drop of closeness to the Lord. Greg Laurie once shared some questions we could ask to help us make good sound spiritual decisions. When you come to something that is questionable or really in any situation you should ask yourself five evaluative questions:

1. Will it build me up spiritually? - 1 Corinthians 10:23; Hebrews 12:1-2

2. Will it bring me under its power? - 1 Corinthians 6:12; Romans 6:14

3. Do I have an uneasy feeling about it? - Romans 14:23

4. Will it cause someone else to stumble? - Romans 14:15

5. Will it bring glory to God? - 1 Corinthians 10:31; Colossians 3:17,23

Satan is a brilliant enemy who is the master of deception. He disguises himself as something good when he is really the worst of the worst. Those he uses practice the same deception (2 Corinthians 11:13-15). Satan does not usually try to sidetrack or victimize people with what is blatantly bad. No. His tactic is to rob people of God’s best by tempting them with what is second best. Unfortunately too many Christians have passed up God’s best because they were impatient and settled for something good, but not God’s best. The choice is not necessarily between good and bad as much as it is between God’s best and an alternative. That tactic is as old as the Garden of Eden, but it is no less effective today (Genesis 3). So beware, pray to the Lord and ask Him for help to discern. Go to God’s word and let His peace be your guide (Colossians 3:15-16). But above all, care whether or not something is or is not of God