Tuesday, January 28, 2014

A clarifying follow up to Super Bowl post/Making of a Champion/Jesus is better than Super Bowl!

Hello all.

I said previously that I would not apologize if I offended anyone.  Well I would like to retract that.  If I have offended anyone by being unclear in my attitude or intentions then I am sorry.

I am writing this for two reasons.
One, I just want to clarify, that I recognize my previous post regarding the Super Bowl was serious and pointed at times because the nature of the concern called for it.  However, I want to be clear that it was not intended as an attack on churches or church leaders, but a strong challenge.  Whether you are a church leader or not, we are all prone to blind spots.  This topic likely is a blind spot for some and not so much for others.  But my attitude was one of protection for all and an attack on the enemy deceiver regarding this issue.  Sometimes when we attack deceptions and the deceiver we don't make it clear that those are our targets.  So I wanted to clarify.

I also wanted to make it clear that this warning applies to all Christians everywhere.  You may not be attending a Super Bowl party hosted at a Christian venue.  If that is the case, you are in even more of a dangerous environment.  Each and every Christian is ultimately responsible for guarding their own hearts.  Please be careful to do so, no matter what environment you are in.

Making of a Champion
My second point is that one of my pastors shared an awesome video on FB that is particularly appropriate for this topic and I wanted to share it as well here.  Thanks Pastor Dennis.  If you will go to www.makingofachampion.org you will find a thirteen minute video of interviews with members of the Seattle Seahawks whom are going to the Super Bowl.  There they give some of their testimony regarding their careers and how they came to be followers of Jesus.  It is awesome.  

Jesus is better than the Superbowl
Another awesome video is found at http://youtu.be/s8U_ewtHZdw.  It is entitled "Jesus is better than the Super Bowl".  In it Pastor Mark Driscoll interviews several Christian team members of the Seattle Seahawks. One of them actually coins the phrase that is the title of the video.  The video is about 3 minutes. 

A God glorifying opprotunity! 
These videos would be terrific alternatives to the halftime show and the commercials during a Super Bowl party. These are both generally unglorifying to God and unedifying to believers.  Not to mention it might just be the first time an unbeliever at your party hears the gospel.  My suggestion would be to show the short piece repeatedly during commercials and then show the longer piece during the halftime show.  How awesome would it be to inundate your guests all through this secular entertainment with a gospel presentation presented by the people playing the game.  Praise God for the opportunity to do that!

So please. Watch it, use it, and may God be glorified through your influence by showing it.

In Jesus name,


Saturday, January 25, 2014

When I think about the Lord...and the Super Bowl

I have thoughts and concerns regarding the Super Bowl.. Can you imagine.  You might think, "what doesn't he have thoughts or concerns about"?  That's ok.  But here's the thing.  You have heard me rail on about movies, TV, and music regarding the nature of it being predominantly unglorifying to God and unbeneficial to our spiritual growth.  Now I want us to consider the following question regarding these topics as they apply to the Superbowl culture.  It is coming up in about a week and we should truly consider these things before we indulge in what many consider harmless.  But is it?

Is the Super Bowl harmless?
The answer is no.  I will make the case that it is deceitfully harmful.  If so, How do they fit?  Can we as believers have Super Bowl parties at home or at church, and glorify God in the process?

I would say the answer is yes.  Is it happening?  I would say the answer is, more often than not, no.  Now many would make the following argument.  We are just a bunch of Christians getting together to watch a football game.  No beer, no cursing, maybe not even coarse joking or filthy language.  Though that is more prevalent in "Christian" fellowship than anyone wants to admit.  Just good, holy fellowship.  This may be true if done at a home or in a church setting.  Yet, there is more to consider than physical intake and verbal output.  There is also spiritual intake and God-glorifying output.

Do you think about the Lord..in everything?
We sing a song at my church called, "When I think about the Lord"?  It is a great song about remembering everything that Jesus has done for us.  Everyone gets extra excited when we sing it and in the moment, I have no doubt that they are genuinely grateful and happy.  The problem in this country and in our culture is that we don't generally carry that exuberance and gratitude into our everyday lives.  We don't examine every decision in light of what Jesus did for us and what God commands of us in His word.

So what does scripture say about this?  For me, Philippians 4:8  is a key scripture for this topic. It tells us what it is best to meditate on.  Psalm 101:3-4 says this, "I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless.  I hate the work of those who fall away; it shall not cling to me.  A perverse heart shall be far from me;  I will know nothing of evil."

Those are just two.  There are plenty of scriptures that speak to our eyes being the gateway to our hearts and being careful about what we look on or think on, etc.  If we believe that Jesus said, "if you love me, you will keep my commands"(John 14:15-31); and if we believe that the bible is the whole council of God, infallible, inerrant, and inspired by the Holy Spirit; then we know that if a commandment is in the bible, especially the NT, then it should be heeded.

Get to the point dude!
So what are you getting at Josh.  I will tell you.  The Super Bowl has become a vehicle by which Satan can deliver all kinds of crudities visually and audibly into our minds via the commercials and the halftime show.   I was at a past, church sponsored, Super Bowl party that, in and of itself, was harmless.  Good, holy, fellowship.  However, my children were there and I found myself having to audit every commercial for its appropriateness.  For most of them, I had to turn heads and cover ears.  To say nothing of the halftime show which encompassed a very talented artist who was singing unholy lyrics and performing dance moves that were extremely provocative.  The evil and perverseness of the above mentioned Psalm 101 was prevalent.  Certainly not the God-glorifying items that Philippians 4:8 would have us keep our minds on.

So don't bring your children you might say.  Be careful.  No where in scripture does it differentiate between what is holy for children and what is holy for adults.  Every age is called to pursue holiness and to evaluate what is spiritually healthy to read, watch or listen to.  I sat at the same party and watched teenagers and grown folks alike staring at the screen during the raunchy half-time show and laughing at the crudeness of the commercials.  There is something wrong with that.  Now don't get me wrong.  I understand this is secular entertainment.  However, this does not excuse our responsibility to examine everything that we engage in, in light of scripture.  Especially considering that the venue I am discussing is intentionally striving to glorify God in its efforts.  I in no way want to make it seem as though I am trying to tear down this church or any other.  Unfortunately, Satan has done a good job of blinding even many strong Christians to the dangers of media in relationship to God's holiness and His call for us to pursue that same holiness.  This is a battle cry.  No one is perfect but, let's not continue making the same mistakes once we are made aware of them.

A gentle warning.
I would gently and respectfully challenge any pastor or head of a household who is hosting a Super Bowl party to consider their influence over those attending.  On some level, especially that of pastor, you have the authority and responsibility to create alternatives, to the sin-filled commercials and the half-time show, that are entertaining, and yet glorifying to God.  Activities that will guide the people in your care past the sinful influences and redirect their faces to God in the midst of this worldly entertainment.  Then you literally get the best of both worlds.  Everyone can watch the football game, which there is nothing inherently wrong with, and yet avoid the spiritual pollution of the commercials and the half-time show.

I know some will roll their eyes and see this as a wet blanket of religiosity.  However, I beg you to ask the question, "If Jesus were sitting in your midst, would you still allow that stuff to be showing and taken in by those you love".  I hope the answer would be a resounding NO!  If not then there is something lacking in the way of intimacy between you and Christ because through the presence of the Holy Spirit, whom is equally as easily grieved, Jesus is present.  Scripture makes no bones about how the Holy Trinity feels about sin glorifying material of any kind.

Please at least consider what I have said, for the spiritual well-being of you and those in your realm of influence during this time of football celebration.  Explain the issues and the desire to see God glorified in all aspects of the party and then introduce some games or activities that, even if they are not directly related to God or the bible, will turn their hearts away from the worldly garbage that is on the screen in those moments discussed here.

If I have offended you or you feel like you have totally wasted your time reading this.  I will not apologize.  If you are offended, you probably needed to be.  Your hearts and spiritual well being are more important to me than your happiness or whether you like this post or not.  Recognize the power and influence of Satan in even the smallest things.  If it does not bring glory to God, then it should not exist in our lives.



Thursday, January 16, 2014

Abortion and the Pro-choice Heart Condition

 On January 22 1973, now over 42 years ago, we began allowing for the legalization of the murder of the unborn.  This weekend their will be pro-choice efforts remembered and recognized and there will be celebrations regarding the sanctity of life.  Now, before you turn me off, at least hear what I have to say.  It might not be quite what you think it will be.  Then again...

Last year I wrote the first version of this blog post in response to the 40th anniversary.  I have been stirred horrifically regarding the subject of abortion.  I have not experienced it personally but I have friends and family who have and I have strong convictions regarding the bibles' stance on the subject.  In light of this I wanted to share this post again, with a few tweaks, for those who may not have read it or perhaps want to revisit it.

Someone told me last year that they were impacted in a somewhat offensive but positive way.  They watched some of the videos referenced below, read what I had to say and said that, in the end, it did in fact cause some considerations regarding this controversial topic that they had not had before.  I pray it will do the same for you.

I want to make it clear from the beginning that the intent of this post is not to bash over the head those whom have had abortions.  In fact, I intend to defend them.  We have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23), I have certainly made my share of past mistakes, though none of them have scarred me in the way that an abortion emotionally scars the mothers and fathers of aborted babies.  The fact is that many women whom have abortions regret it after the fact, even if they are not professing Christians.  They may have even gone into it kicking and screaming.  There is something about having a living, breathing human being ripped out of you that leaves you never the same after that.  Not only does it kill the baby but it destroys a part of the mothers life.  Though not considered nearly as often, many fathers lives are also negatively impacted in a significant way as they spend the rest of their lives trying to live with the guilt and grief that is attached to the decision to abort.  They are all victims of the system.

I may speak encouragingly to those whom have had abortions in another post.  In the meantime, www.saveone.org is the website for a post-abortion recovery organization that could also prove helpful to you. It was started by a victim of abortion and one of my friends was the first male member of this organization as a father who was negatively affected by abortion.

If you are reading this and are interested in more info regarding the misunderstandings or outright deceit regarding the abortion industry check out the 20 minute video, To Save a Life@  http://youtu.be/MNJmpQSbFeE or buy Blood Money Film@ www.bloodmoneyfilm.com.  There are a lot of resources and information at the latter website.  You can also check out a mind blowing 33 minutes of interviews with people on the street who ignorantly think they are pro-choice, many of whom's minds are changed by the end of the video.  You can find it at www.180movie.com or there is a tool at the top of my blog page that will actually play the video for you right there.  One other resource I would mention is a book entitled "ABORTION: The ultimate exploitation of women".  It discusses the idea that from the beginning abortion was created by men and promoted by men and women and that in the grand scheme of things, women are victims.  What we must see above all else is that, while that may be true historically, ultimately sin created abortion and we must learn to see it for what it is and HATE it for what it is.

The pro-choice heart
My desire for now is to speak with those who are pro-choice.  Those who would like to dive headlong in favor of abortions while professing Christ as Savior and Lord.  I would dare to say it can't be done.  If you are justifying blatant sin in the face of biblical teaching then the most likely fact is that your heart is hard toward the things of God and you have no relationship with Him.  I do not write this to condemn you for as Jesus said in John 3:18, "Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God."  Perhaps you are grossly misinformed either by bad teaching or your own understandings as to who God is and how He speaks on matters of the heart, which abortion most certainly is.

It must be understood regarding belief, that it is not merely intellectual ascent.  If you say you believe in God, Jesus, and the bible, yet this belief does not create change in your thought life and behavior, then it is no belief at all.  Belief is a revelation in your heart of who you are, as a sinner that has rebelled against your Holy Creator.  Yet this Creator, who had every right to squash us all like a bug long ago, supplied, from the beginning, a resolution to this problem of rebellion, in His Son Jesus.  When you begin to get a hold of these truths it will drive a willing submission to His Lordship and obedience to His commands.  John 14:15-24 speaks repeatedly to the fact that those who truly love Jesus will obey Him and keep His commandments.  So, if you are not doing this you are already condemned.  In fact, all believers were condemned in the same way since their birth, but for the saving grace of God applied through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  

I pray that, by the end of this post, you will see God's heart regarding abortion as sin and no longer be able to stomach the thought of it in relation to the life giving love of God.

Is It Really Murder?
One of the Ten Commandments is "THOU SHALT NOT MURDER!" (Exodus 20:13)
Jesus said in Matthew 5:21-22, "You have heard it was said to those of old, You shall not murder and whoever murders will be liable to judgement.  But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgement".  The Apostle John expounds on this in the letter of 1 John 3:15 by saying, "Everyone that hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him."  If Almighty God himself says that anger towards your brother is as murder in order to drive home the seriousness of the offense, then how severely do you think He feels about the actual taking of life?

Whether you are talking about an innocent adult, a guilty, murderous rapist, or an innocent, unwanted, unborn child; if this person is bringing anger, hate, guilt, or resentment into someone's life, are those not equally dire offenses in the eyes of God.  Now follow those feelings one step further and actually take the life of that person and imagine the wrath of God directed toward that.  Make no mistake, the bible is clear from beginning to end.  When one life is taken by another, God sees it as murder and He condemns that act, if not the non-repentant person.

Who says it's a person?
Many have tried to justify this vicious act by arguing over the time table at which a fetus becomes a person.  It is a ridiculous argument.  Possibly the youngest surviving premature baby ever was born in November of 2010 at 21 weeks weighing just one pound.  That baby is now thriving.  The obscene irony is that if the doctor had intentionally killed that baby he would have gone to prison.  Doctors have been tried for this. However, if that baby had been in the womb at 21 weeks and unwanted by the mother she would have been completely justified in aborting it.  It is a terrifically horrendous travesty that our hearts will allow us to differentiate between the two.  Only an unregenerate aka. non-Christian heart could maintain the ability to ignore this truth.  I know this because God cannot stomach that thought process.  In fact, He hates it.

While no man can truly know the heart of another in relation to Jesus Christ and only God is the judge as to their eternal outcome, Jesus himself makes it very clear that the fruit of our Christian walk will be representative of our relationship with Him. (Matthew 7:13-27)  You cannot claim to know and be known by the God of the universe, Creator of all things, and support the destruction of what God's word says He made and formed. (Psalms 119:73)  In fact, Psalms 139:13-16 says this about Gods creation of us.

 "For you formed my inward parts.  You knitted me together in my mother's womb.  I praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.  Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.  My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.  Your eyes saw my unformed substance.  In your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them."  

God inspired the writer to use words and phrases like, "knitted me together", "fearfully and wonderfully made", "and intricately woven" in this scripture.  These words do not indicate the carefree, emotionally uninvested efforts of some factory manufacturer on an assembly line.  NO!  These are the words of our Creator who took delicate care to lovingly mold us into exactly who he wanted us to be.  The means by which we are conceived, who we are born to, and where we are born are no accident.  Our personality, temperament, cognitive ability, and physical make up and ability are no mistake.  Our God made us exactly how he intended us to be, to accomplish the purposes for which we were created. 

How dare we think we have the right to destroy that! 

This is the same God who said, "Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God." (Matthew 18:14) Anyone who thinks that abortion and this God of the Bible go hand in hand are deceiving themselves and have much reason to be concerned about their eternity.

God says a fetus is a person whom HE carefully crafted, and it will be God that will hold the guilty accountable regarding this travesty!

What do they know about it?
On a website called, www.abortion.procon.org  This pro abortion idea was stated.  Motherhood must never be a punishment for having sexual intercourse.  President Barack Obama said in a Mar. 29, 2008 campaign speech in Johnston, Pennsylvania, "I have two daughters... I'm going to teach them first about values and morals, but if they make a mistake, I don't want them punished with a baby."

This man, our President, claims to be a Christian and yet, rather than thinking of a baby as a consequence for which responsibility should be taken, he thinks of it as a burdensome punishment that no one should have to endure courtesy of their own moral irresponsibility.  That is heinous and it angers me.  But he is not alone.  Thousands, if not millions of people in America and around the world think just as selfishly and just as sinfully.  And profess Christ in the process.  Let me tell you,  their eternal life is in danger.

I wonder statistically, how many pro-choice advocates have ever actually had an abortion.  The evidence that I have seen and you will to if you watch the above referenced videos is that there is absolutely nothing beneficial to the mother.  In fact, if they don't die, the overwhelming majority wish they had never done it. The impression is that the mother is as much a victim of the system and a victim of the peer/family pressure of others as the baby is.  She is scared, confused, and very rarely has an advocate telling her both sides of the story. Although I have seen testimonies of those whom have been talked out of abortions by those who have had them.  They do seem to be the rarity. Probably because news of that is not a great selling point for an abortion clinic.

Where do you stand?
Listen, I could go on and on but the primary issue is this.  The moral decline of this nation and this world are spiraling out of control at break neck speed.  I am speaking as strongly as I am  regarding this topic because it is that serious.  There is a significant demonic deception on this matter and tip toeing around the issue is not the answer.  I am doing this out of a tough love that realizes that if we don't stand up and shout about this issue, there will more be babies lost, even if only temporarily.  Worse yet, there will be souls lost for all eternity.

We, the true believers must continue to stand against the lies of the enemy.  Not only those directed toward us but those directed at sinners or believers caught up in a huge mistake.  Listen to me!  If you stand on the side of the murder of the born or the unborn, whether in word or deed, in an unrepentant stance then you will not inherit the kingdom.  You will not go to heaven. The bible says that God hates all evildoers and that He must and will pour out His wrath on all sinners at the judgement. (Psalms 5:4-6)  That is why Jesus had to die.  In order for God to be just and loving, someone had to pay the price for our sins and that is what Jesus did.  He took our place so that God's wrath could be satisfied and we could still have a shot at eternity with Him.  Please do not think that He will stand by idly, watch you ignore His word and selfishly do whatever you please and not do something about it.  Judgement will come swiftly, horribly, and eternally if you do not surrender you life to Jesus.

Where do you stand?  Will you repent in response to the heart of a loving God and His word?  Or will you ignore the warnings of the bible, continue to defend the murder of defenseless children, and risk your eternal destiny.

We were all condemned at one time!
Please understand that this is bigger than being pro-choice or whether or not you have had an abortion before.  This is about the fact that we are all sinners and we all deserve to go to hell.  Not because of any one sin.  We are not sinners in the eyes of God because we sin.  We sin because we are sinners in the eyes of God.  We are born guilty sinners.  We all bear the guilt of Adam's sin from the moment we are conceived(Romans 5:12-21) As I said in my last post, it is his incredible mercy and grace that patiently waits for us to repent and believe.

Unless we are born again and begin living for God instead of for ourselves we cannot enter the Kingdom of God(John Ch. 3).  I pray that if you do not know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, that the Holy Spirit will convict your heart about that and you will cry out to God to save you.  GOD LOVES YOU!  That is why he sent Jesus.  Make no mistake, you cannot earn salvation.  It is a free gift.  Romans 3:24 says that we have been "justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus."  Romans 5:8 says that, "God demonstrated His love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us."   We are all dead in our sins until God makes us alive in Christ(Ephesians Ch. 2).

If you already feel that tug at your heart to believe on Christ and begin walking in obedience then it is time.  Pray to God.  Tell him of your need for Him.  Thank Him for saving you.  If it is real, you will know because your heart will be changed. Not only should you no longer be ok with abortion or any other sin, but your desires will begin changing away from the desires for the things of the world and toward the things of God.  Repentance means turning away from sin and running towards God. You will not attain perfection until you get to heaven but you should always, by God's grace and the power of the Holy Spirit, be striving for perfection. (Philippians 2:12-13)

You cannot merit salvation by doing this.  Salvation bears the fruit of obedience to God's Lordship as evidence of that salvation.  Fruit that is not motivated by obligation, but by love for your Heavenly Father.  Begin reading the Bible and attending a solid Bible teaching church.  Your life will never be the same.  If you have given your life to Jesus and you are struggling with the guilt of a past abortion, you need to know that there is freedom from guilt and healing from the pain available in this new relationship with Jesus.  As you begin praying and reading your bible God will show you this and He will set you free and fill you with joy and peace, even in the midst of trials.  This is the Good News of the Gospel!

As always if this post only sets one person free from the bondage of the pro-choice heart and brings glory to God in that process, then it has been worth the effort to right it and the criticism it could bring.

Love in Christ,

Joshua Newton

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Was Jesus more loving than today's Christians?

What is More Loving, Compromise or Truth?

In this day of relative truth and compromise of the word of God in the name of making it more palatable to the world there is a gross misconception.  It is that "a loving God would never destroy sinners for desires that seem to be so natural."  
That somehow God's love and Jesus' kindness that was so often exhibited in scripture must somehow mean that some truths in the bible don't apply. That if it feels natural, God must mean for us to enjoy it.  Even if it directly contradicts scripture.  So by that thought process, in today's culture, any Christian that calls sin, sin even if done lovingly, is still considered a judgmental, hatemonger and not acting as Jesus would have.  Is that true?  I would not dare suggest that all Christians deliver the truth appropriately all the time.  This however, does not change the truth.  Let's see how the bible connects God's love and Jesus' kindness in relationship to our repentance.

In our day, this discussion is most often had in relationship to homosexuality, but before that the same discussion was had about fornication, adultery, and even divorce.  All of these sins have ben justified at one time or another based on an unbiblical understanding of love.

A Key Text
In Romans Ch. 2 the Apostle Paul is speaking regarding judgment.  God's judgment of sinners and sinners' judgment of each other.  In speaking to people's judgment of each other, Paul is condemning hypocritical judgment.  He is condemning those who judge others for sin that they themselves are guilty of. In the grander scheme of the chapter Paul is making it clear that all are guilty of sin and that those who are impenitent (without repentance), are not followers of Christ and will be judged.
My primary text is Romans 2:4(ESV) in which Paul states, "Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance."
A Misunderstanding
I have heard this scripture stated this way, "God's kindness leads us to repentance".  You will notice that this is a misrepresentation of that text.  The verse states that, "God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance".  Thus, if you believe that God does not expect you to change biblically sinful behavior just because it feels natural, you have a misunderstanding of the purpose of God's kindness.

So What Is Repentance?

Repentance means to recognize actions, thoughts, or attitudes of disobedience as rebellious acts against God, to feel remorse for them, and to intentionally change directions. It means we must move away from disobedience and toward acts of biblical obedience to God and His word.

This should not be done out of biblical duty, but from the desire of a changed heart.  If this is not the desire of our heart we have a problem.  If we do not feel remorse and desire change when we become aware of sin in our lives, then we have reason to question our eternal destiny.  A heart that has truly been captured by God will make itself evident through acts of repentance.

What Does Jesus's Kindness Look Like?

Does kindness in the scriptures suggest a compromise of truth?  Let's look at a scripture that many use to suggest that Jesus tells us not to judge each other.  The presumption being that Jesus did not judge the sin of the adulterous woman in the following scripture reference.
In John 8:7(ESV) Jesus says, "And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said, "Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her"
Now, it should be noted that most bibles have a notation stating that John 7:53-8:11, which encompasses the whole of this story, is not included in the earliest manuscripts.  Whether you agree with this or not, and I am not saying that I do, the fact remains that many use this scripture as an argument against judging sin.

What this scripture is actually dealing with is two fold.  One is the fact that the Pharisees are trying to test Jesus and catch him in something that they can hold against him.  Second is that Jesus is effectively ruling out our right to punish sinners in a corporal punishment sense.  Just as Jesus does at the end of this text, we are to lovingly call sinners to repentance, not beat them up or personally kill them.  (Corporal punishment is given to the government later in the New Testament, not to the individual).

Jesus' kindness does NOT manifest itself in condoning the woman's adulterous ways.  He shows his kindness by providing the grace of another chance to "go and sin no more".  In saying this, He indirectly makes it clear that the lifestyle she was in was sinful and needed to be repented of.

What Does God's Love And Kindness Look Like?

As evidenced in the quote from Romans above, God's kindness manifests itself in loving patience and forbearance.  You see, if God acted merely out of His justice and wrath, and His love and mercy did not play a role, He would be well within His rights to destroy every sinner right now and send them to Hell.  In view of His holiness and our rebellion against Almighty God, that would be a righteous and just response to our sin.  However, He does not do that.  Romans 3:23(ESV) tells us that
 "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation, by his blood, to be received by faith.  This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.  It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus."
Jesus came to take the punishment for our sins.  He satisfied God's wrath toward the sin of, and removed the guilt that was due to, every believer that has ever been and ever will be.  All who believe will receive the redemption that was bought for us by the blood of Christ on the cross.  That is what it means that God put Jesus forward as a propitiation. 

2 Peter 3:9(ESV) tells us that,
"The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance."
So What Does All Of This Mean?

It means that God's love and Jesus' kindness should not be understood as a license to do whatever feels right. It means that God has allowed us to live in spite of our sin and rebellion and sent His son to take the punishment for our sins so that all who, by His grace would believe, will be saved.

It means that Christians must not only call out sin, but continually recognize that even they, are simply sinners saved by grace.  This realization should create an appreciation for their own salvation that fuels compassion in their hearts toward the lost.  If that is happening then their approach to sinners or believers, whom they are calling to account, should not be one of contempt, but of grace.  We as believers should be calling sinners, and believers who are sinning to repentance with all the grace by which God calls us to repentance.

It in no way means that if we are truly loving, we will say nothing at all and let people do what makes them happy.  If we truly believe that people who are living in unrepentant sin, which manifests itself as a lifestyle or an attitude of disregard for biblical truth, are headed for Hell; then the least loving thing we could do is say nothing at all.

What we must help them realize is that we understand that we were lost sinners as well, just like them, until God saved us.  And, that we want them to know God's saving grace in the same way that we do.  We must help them understand that this life is a vapor and that they must appreciate the full weight of the eternal consequences of sin in order to appreciate their need for Jesus.  We must help them understand that we do not speak the truth of God's word because we think our way is better.  We do it because Jesus commanded this of His disciples before He returned to heaven(Matthew 28:18-20).

Wrap Up.

If you are reading this and everything in you is screaming, "HE'S FULL OF IT!  HE IS TWISTING SCRIPTURE!"  or anything else that feels angry about what I have stated here, I pray that you will go back and read it again.  Read the whole of John and at least the first eight chapters of Romans.  Get a real solid feel for what the bible says about sin and it's consequences.  Also, for who the bible says Jesus is and why He came.  If your going to reject these truths, at least know that you have studied enough to know what you are rejecting.

If you are reading this and you feel a stirring and tugging at your heart that is uneasy, not because you hate it, but because you are starting to feel as if you might actually believe it then please, read more.  Cry out to God to save you.  You don't need a formulaic prayer or to do anything else first.  God can save you right where you are and then He will give you the continuing hunger for Him and His word and He will enable the clarity needed to do everything else.  As I said before, read the Gospel of John and Romans.  Get in a church that teaches through books of the bible.  Meet with the Pastor and discuss your thoughts and feelings.

As always, if one life is changed by this post or any other in this blog, then it is worth the effort.  I pray it will be so.

In Jesus name,


Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year! Kept and Sent by a Mighty God!

Happy New Year everyone!  

I pray all remained safe during celebrations and travels throughout the holiday season.  For the Newton...uh, Newton-White family...yes, there is a story there, but we will save that for another time.  Anyway, for my family and I, 2013 held many blessings, challenges, and taught not a few lessons.  

He Has Kept Us!
Rather than go into detail, I would just like to praise the one and only, true and mighty God that I serve and that looks out for me and mine.  No matter the challenges along the way, the Almighty Creator of the universe has kept us yet another year.  In His great mercy and kindness we have not had perfect health, but we also have not experienced many of the physical challenges and heartbreaks that many a family has to endure.  Working in the ER of a hospital I can tell you, there has been much loss of life and many physical challenges in this city alone this year.  I praise God that we have not had any major physical setbacks this year.

When there have been financial challenges God has made a way.  Many across the country and most certainly in this city have seen all kinds of financial setbacks this year.  I praise God that He knows our daily struggles before they come and that He has provided an answer that is waiting for just the moment that it is needed.

Yes, there is NOTHING too big for my God.  Yes, there are NO surprises to my God.  There is no one like Him.  He knows the beginning from the end because He has declared it to be so(Isaiah 46:9-11).  Whether good or bad in our eyes, He ALWAYS has a purpose for it and works it out for the good of those who love Him and have been called according to His purpose(Romans 8:28), even if we don't understand it or it doesn't seem so very good in the moment.  TRUST HIM!  He is just in all His ways and all His ways are right!(Deuteronomy 32:4, Psalm 18:30, Psalm 145:17)

He Has Sent Us!
There are plans on the horizon.  Things that God has been building us up for that I believe are going to happen soon.  There will no doubt be challenges along the way but I know my God is faithful, patient, and always on time. I strive to be patient as well, not acting before He says to, but also not hesitating when He says act.  I can certainly think of times that God has laid something on my heart and I have hesitated. 

My prayer is that this year I will be bolder, more obedient, and that I will grow in my faith to do and to grow as I do.  I do not want to be status quo.  I want this year to be full of loving submission and obedience to my God that accomplishes mighty things for His glory.

I have a goal to read through the entire bible this year.  Believe it or not I have not done that.  Oh I have read much of it, but never the whole thing from beginning to end.  A former great preacher and author in the 1800's in England named J.C. Ryle is know for many quotes, but this one I saw today and is appropriate to the topic.  He said, "Knowledge of the Bible never comes by intuition. It can only be obtained by diligent, regular, daily, attentive reading."   I would agree and that is my goal.  I have a plan to read the bible and another thick theological work this year in their completion and I pray God gives me the grace to do it.  

I have the goal to develop my prayer life more.  Not just privately but publicly for others.  As I said,  I work in a hospital.  What greater opportunity is there to pray for the sick and needy and give God an opportunity to respond in their lives in whatever way He sees fit.  God uses answered prayers to draw people in and I want to be a part of that process.  

I also pray that I will be bolder in my witness of the gospel of Jesus Christ verbally in my workplace, my neighborhood, and beyond.  Please pray for me that the boldness with which I speak to the truth of the gospel and peoples need for it here in this blog, would transfer to my personal walk in face to face interaction.  It is much harder there, but I desire to do it.  As the Apostle Paul wrote, "pray that a message may be given me and that I may speak boldly as I ought"(Ephesians 6:19, Colossians 4:4)

Last but not least, I desire to lead my family closer in their knowledge and understanding of God and His word.  
God has provided opportunity and begun a work in this area.  I pray that He will continue to open the hearts of my wife and children and that we will grow in grace and obedience to God as a family.  There is much room for improvement among us all, most especially myself.  I must grow if I am to lead effectively.  Please pray to that end.

How has He kept you?  How is He sending you?
Notice these questions are presumptive.  You see there is no doubt that God has been involved in your life this year and He will most certainly be involved in the year to come.  I want to encourage you, if you have not already, to take a little time and reflect on the year.  Remember the ways that God has kept you this year.  Count your blessings and recognize the areas that God has helped you to grow whether in trial and tribulation or through His many blessings.  Then consider HIS purposes for you in this new year.  We are not talking New Year's resolutions.  I mean genuine time spent on your knees and in His word asking God what HIS PLANS are for your life this year.  Rather than asking for your hearts desire, consider what HIS hearts desire is.  

One thing is for certain.  Two commands apply to every believer. "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Teaching them all that I have commanded you".(Matthew 28:19-20)  Christ also gave this command, "You are the light of the world, a city on a hill cannot be hidden.  Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before all men,so that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven".(Matthew 5:14-16)

Whatever else you do with your life in this year, these commands are universal.  They can be included in any circumstance. They could also be summed up as they were by Jesus in this passage, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind and you shall love your neighbor as yourself".(Matthew 22:36-40)  Everything else we do, and that God expects of us hangs on these two commandments.  

Live a life worthy of the Gospel!(Philippians 1:27)  May you have a blessed and highly fruitful year in your life, for the kingdom of God and for the Glory of God!

Thanks be to God!