“Ducking” the Issue

Ok, so I have seen just about enough hatred on the issue with Duck Dynasty Patriarch Phil Robertson.  I think it is about time that we take a Christian stand on the issue, which ultimately, if you actually have taken the time to read the article, was the message that Phil was trying to share.

2 Timothy 4:1-8 lays it down for us, “I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.”

I feel that we as Christians do not need to become the problem.  Phil was doing what this scripture commands us to do, “Preach the Word”.  He presented an honest answer to a question that was asked of him, giving his interpretation of a scripture that he felt was relevant to the question asked of him, “What, in your mind, is sinful?”  I think we should all take a moment to answer this question for ourselves.

We as Christians are called to do two things: love God and love people.  I think if you have taken the time to read this article you will see this played out in the words that Phil Robertson was ultimately trying to share. “We’re Bible-thumpers who just happened to end up on television,” he tells me. “You put in your article that the Robertson family really believes strongly that if the human race loved each other and they loved God, we would just be better off. We ought to just be repentant, turn to God, and let’s get on with it, and everything will turn around.”

I think what we need to do right now is this:  As Christians, REAL Christians, we need to stand up for God…look at what he said, Love each other and Love God!  We do need to repent for the ways that we have handled things, including this situation.  How are we supposed to save the lost when all we do is condemn them to hell?  How are we supposed to show them the love of God when all we are doing is focusing on the huge “problem” we seem to have with them.  For years I have heard, “Love the sinner, hate the sin,” and I feel that we must apply that in the best way we possibly can today.

You may not agree with the way someone lives their life, but the way to approach it is not to attack and condemn, it is to love and forgive, and ultimately show the love of Christ to the world; in the hope that the example you are setting will allow someone to see Christ in you!

I ask each of you today to pray for this family, but also to pray for the executives who have had to, in their mind, make a difficult decision.  We must today take a stand…not for Phil Robertson (because I’m pretty sure, based on his own words, that is not what he would want) but for God as His children.  We should take a stand for Christ and show His love for the lost to each one.

John 3:16-17 will show you what God feels for each one of us…”For God so loved the world that he gave is only begotten son, that whosoever believes in him, will not perish, but will have eternal life.  For God did not send His son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved.”

He didn’t send Christ to condemn, so what right do we have to do so?  He came to save, and love is how Christ came to save the world.  He loves us, gave his life on a cross, and rose from the grave to defeat death so that we would have the chance to share his love with others.  Please, take a stand for God, but do it in a loving way that shows others the true meaning of why Jesus came…stop with the hateful messages and images, that is not what Jesus would want done.

It’s CHRISTmas Time!

Christmas is a time to spend with your families…it’s a time when we all sit back and analyze our lives.  We reflect on family members that pass on, we reflect on family and friends, and we reflect on our lives as a whole.  A number of people use their Christmas cards to send mass letters to update family and friends on their lives over the past 12 months.  We use Christmas to reflect on a majority of things, but due to the commercialization of Christmas, are we forgetting to reflect on the reason we celebrate all together?

Christmas in many cases has become about that perfect present, the perfect tree, and the perfect light show…but with all the hustle and bustle…where is the Perfect Son in all of this?  With all the hoopla around Christmas these days, are we making time for Jesus?  I can remember when I was younger seeing signs everywhere that said, “Jesus is the Reason for the Season.”  Now, those signs have faded into the background; those signs have been replaced by signs that read, “70% off”, “Buy one, get one Free”, and “Financing Available”.

Why have we let the materialism of Christmas override the Reason we celebrate?  Why have we seemingly become like Peter in his denial of Christ, by taking Christ out of Christmas?  What was so hard when Jesus was the Center of our Christmas Experience?  What has changed?

We can blame it on a number of things…but it all comes down to one thing…YOU and I!  We need to refocus our Christmas; we need to refocus our lives…we need to refocus on Jesus.  Not just for December 25, but everyday of our lives…if our day revolved around Christ as the centerpiece, our Christmas would revolve around the reason we celebrate.  Everyday should be CHRISTmas … Everyday we should celebrate the birth of our Lord.

Everyday we should be thankful for the love of a Father who would send his Son to this world with a plan for salvation.  God looked at the world, saw OUR sin, and knew there was only ONE way to save us from ourselves…JESUS CHRIST!  This Christmas, remember your focus…remember the reason…remember Christ this CHRISTmas.

What Breaks the Heart of God

“21“Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”

23Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”

24Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”

25Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; 26and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

27“Yes, Lord,” she told him, “I believe that you are the Christ,] the Son of God, who was to come into the world.”

28And after she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary aside. “The Teacher is here,” she said, “and is asking for you.” 29When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to him. 30Now Jesus had not yet entered the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. 31When the Jews who had been with Mary in the house, comforting her, noticed how quickly she got up and went out, they followed her, supposing she was going to the tomb to mourn there.

32When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

33When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 34“Where have you laid him?” he asked.
“Come and see, Lord,” they replied.

35Jesus wept.”

— John 11:21-35(NIV)

Here we have a story of a family torn apart like many of our families are by the death of a loved one.  Lazarus was a friend of Jesus – so were Mary and Martha, his sisters – so of course Jesus would be upset at the loss of a loved one, a cherished friend.  But look close at this text; you’ll see many of the same tendencies that we have when dealing with tragedy.

First, questioning: When Jesus arrives Martha greets him with the statement, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” The same thing we ask each time something doesn’t go our way – “Where are, or where were You, God?”

We wonder why the God of the universe has seemingly forgotten us in our time of need.  We wonder how we are ever going to make it through the toughest part of the days ahead.  We wonder if we will ever be back on our feet again.

Second, the Response:  Jesus gives two responses to Martha, first – “Your brother will live again.” A promise that we know is true for each of us losing a loved one who was devoted to Christ – those who made their life goal their Father’s work.  Jesus tells Martha of the gift of eternal life.

His second response – “I am the Resurrection and the Life.  He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.” Jesus offers her the promise of life through him.  The same promise that he shares with his followers a little later on; a promise we find in John 14:6 –

 

“6Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.””

— John 14:6-7 (NIV)

We then see what breaks God’s heart, because we see what broke Jesus’ heart and what brought him to tears.  “Jesus wept.” – One of the shortest yet most profound verses in the Bible…a verse that tells us what breaks the Heart of God.  God’s heart is broken every time that one of His children hurts.  When we mourn, God mourns with us…when our heart is broken, his breaks…His love for us is like that a husband has for his bride.  His love is unconditional, and just as we hurt for those we love when they are hurting…God hurts the same way…

This is where we choose one of two options…we can choose to react in the same way as Martha, by saying, “Yes, Lord, I believe; or we can choose to react with doubt as the skeptics did in the verses following:

37But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”

— John 11:37 (NIV)

It’s your choice…how do you respond?  Do you believe that God is with you during the hard times?  Do you believe that he is always with you?  Do you believe that His heart is broken when yours is?

Or…do you do as the skeptics?  Do you choose to break the heart of God even more by rejecting what He has to offer you?  Do you question motives and blame God when something doesn’t go your way?

Which of these are you? Don’t become dissatisfied with the situation…don’t give up just because you didn’t get what you prayed for…because the promise that we have from God is that even if it doesn’t look like what we want…it is always what we need.  Let God handle this one…you’ve got other things on your plate…

Plainly put…His heart breaks with you or because of you…you decide which it is…believe.