Spiritual State of The Union

***In a few days, we’ll see if the American court system caves into the demand of her pro-gay marriage citizens. Continue to pray for a Christian Nation. It appear we’re on the cusp of redefining a foundational issue in Christianity–Marriage.

This is an update from the 2013 State of the Union post.  I thought it would be insightful to revisit some of the on-going issues Christians face.  *** Indicate updated points for 2014.

Yearly America’s President gives a State of the Union address.  This address provides us imageswith an overview of where we are and where we’re going. This inspired me to write this short blog on our Spiritual State of The Union.  What is the spiritual state of America?  We hear a lot about how the Founding Fathers were Christians.  We’re told how the bible shaped and influenced America from her humble beginnings.  Yet, there has been a turn in the moral tide over the last 50 years or so.  Well, actually it happened before that.   Although this blog will not go into politics, we will discuss a few things that can be controversial.  Obviously there are other issues to talk about but I think these four things will provide us with enough lively but Godly conversation.  These issues do not have a “I’m in the middle position.” Either you condone them or you don’t.  So lets briefly look at these controversial issues.

  • Same sex marriages
  • Tithing
  • Living in Sin
  • Tolerance

images-1Same Sex Marriage:  *** Seventeen States now recognize this union.  Queen Latifah officiated the ceremony, while Madonna joined the crowd on stage for “Same Love” and a rendition of “Open Your Heart.” The moment marked a remarkably overt political statement for the Grammycast, albeit one for a cause that has broad support throughout the entertainment industry. The acceptance is more mainstream.  Some politicians, celebrities, sports officials and others were “encouraged” to change statement they made that didn’t support the LGBT lifestyle and marriage.***

Sooner or later you will have to state where you stand on same-sex marriage and the homosexual lifestyle.  Some Christians choose to ignore it but same-sex marriages are happening.  I devoted a chapter and an addendum to homosexuality in my book, There Is No Gray In Moral Failure.  Christians can’t have hatred towards people who live a lifestyle contrary to their own.  Hatred is the exact opposite of what we stand for.  Well, we do hate sin and evil.  Let’s be clear. We should not accept anything that isn’t aligning up with our Christian values.  If we accept a little, sooner or later we’ll accept a lot.  Someone once said, “Stand for something or fall for everything.”  The issue is not whether or not your family member, co-worker or friend is a homosexual.  The issue for us is the devaluing of what Christians hold dear: Marriage between a man and woman.  We are going down a slippery moral slope.  Once we go down, we will never come back.  Some will argue the bible doesn’t specifically say you can’t marry a person of the same sex.  It’s true Jesus didn’t address same sex marriage.  Well, He didn’t directly address jaywalking either.  But the Apostle Paul does address this issue.  You’ll also hear Apples-and-Oranges arguments.  An example will be, “You told a lie so does God loves you?”  Or, you might hear, “No sin is worse than another.  So the person who stole will go to hell also.”  The issue is on Same-Sex Marriage and if God approves.  Those point-counterpoint arguments are set up as a lose-lose situations. Your goal is to win them to Christ not add extra barriers.

There is now a Gay Bible.  This rewriting of our holy and sacred book is deliberate attack on our belief system that hasn’t garnered any negative press.  Yet, there are grave repercussions if a Christian says anything negative about Gays.

*** Mr. Hagel was confirmed.*** Chuck Hagel has been nominated to the next Secretary of Defense.  His approval will be tough because he spoke out against the homosexual lifestyle in the 1990’s.  Or we can look at Rev. Louie Giglio.  He was selected to give the benediction at the Presidential inauguration.  He withdrew his name or it was withdrawn because he spoke out against the Gay lifestyle.  The Rev. Dr. Luis León of Saint John’s Church’s was chosen to replace Pastor Giglio.  Pastor León’s church “is gay-affirming and blesses gay and lesbian unions, and has been attended both by President Obama and former President George W. Bush.”  CNN and the Huffington Post (staunch supporters of Gay rights) did not have long debates or write articles in defense of Chuck Hagel or Rev Giglio.  Yet, they regularly publish news segments or post articles supporting the homosexual-lifestyle.  Your stance, will cause you discomfort if it is based on God’s word.  You will be going against the soon-to-be status quo.  Now some of our leaders are indorsing Same-Sex marriages.  This list includes President Obama, former President Clinton and Bill Gates  One senator has changed his stance on the issue because his son is gay.  While these are great political moves, they do not go in line with their stated Christian beliefs.  Our religious stance shouldn’t change because of our personal situation.  The Word of God doesn’t change.

Jesus dealt with and interacted with sinners.  Just like you and I.  In fact, we all are sinners.  The chief difference is that Christians know Who our Savior is. No one will win if we deal with this debate through anger and hatred.  We do not have that option but they do.  We are to love.  We are to love those who hate us (Matt 5:44).  This is not to say that those disagreeing with our position hate us.  Our individual responsibility is three-fold.  We should know what the bible says about this issue.  Second, we have to align our worldview (the way we see things throughout the world) with the Christian worldview.  Last, we must stand up for those beliefs.  It doesn’t help the Christian cause if you stand strong on a stance inside the comforts of your church but don’t speak on it, when warranted, outside the church.  I can only recall Joel Osteen as the only Megachurch minister to publicly speak out against the Gay lifestyle.  He amended his words a bit after he received some heat but at least he said something.

One of your goals is to bring everyone to Christ.  You’ll be better able to do this once you know where you stand on this issue.  Then you need to look at what Christianity says about it. Those two things should be congruent.  Ask your pastor to provide you with several points on why Christians do not endorse same-sex marriage.  Remember, this isn’t an emotional debate.  You want to know what “thus says the Lord.” Or at least what our biblical standards are.

You should realize that those opposing Same Sex Marriage will soon be in the minority.  Results from a new LifeWay Research study show the number of Americans who think homosexuality is a sin has signficantly decreased in a year. Their survey taken in November 2012 found only 37 percent of American adults see homosexuality as a sin. In 2011, 44 percent of Americans agreed. And 17 percent of those in the 2012 survey said they didn’t know if homosexuality was a sin, an increase of 4 percent from last year. Some television stations celebrate when someone “comes out.” There are even some churches that now openly endorse this marriage.  In fact the Cathedral in Washington DC just had their first same-sex marriage.  Many Episcopalian churches and some Baptist churches have ordained openly gay ministers. Watch out for anyone who changes or manipulate Scripture to prove their point. The Scripture states “they will be known by their fruit.”  Study the Scripture (2 Tim 2:15) and ensure you know which side to stand on.  Jesus told us to take up our cross.  This wasn’t a call to action to have fun.  Times will get tougher for Christians who stand their ground and stick up for biblical values.  Regardless, we must love those who despise us.  On this issue, your worldview should be Christian-based not secular.  As such, your viewpoint may not be universally accepted by some of those you love or are friends with.  Remember, we want all to know and come to Christ. You might be the person to show them the way to Christ.

images-2Tithing:  Money is always a touchy subject. Ouch. Dr. Ron Sider, professor and founder of Evangelicals for Social Action, made an interesting assessment in an interview with Christianity Today. He stated, “The average church member [from across the denominations] today gives about 2.6 percent of his or her income—a quarter of a tithe—to the church.”  Two years later, the Barna Group’s research showed that, “Whether they believe in the principle of tithing or not, few Americans give away that much money … the research revealed that just 5% of adults tithed.” This simply means that only one out of 20 people are tithing! The 2008 Hartford Institute For Religious Research surveys shows that 32% of mega church attenders give nothing financially, or just a contribute small amount when they can. But, according to this survey, both small churches’ and megachurches’ members say they give a tithe or more. Money is important to many people.  We some often get protective of our assets.  God doesn’t need your finances.  Tithing is an act of obedience.  *** I was unable to find any reports or surveys indicating tithing has risen more than it was in previous years.***

I grew up thinking that the Pastor was “stealing money from the church.”  In my research for my book, There Is No Gray In Morale Failure, I found that those allegations are off quite a bit. Regardless, your job is to be obedient to what the bible says about tithing.  I suggest you consult with your pastor to get a better understanding what your denomination believes.  For example, some believe we should tithe on the net while others say we should tithe on the gross.  The point of this is this: Study the bible and find out what it says about tithing.  Then do it.  You do not want anything to hinder your walk with Christ.  Your job isn’t to determine who is stealing from the church.  You want to be obedient and do your part.  God will handle the rest.  Your tithe helps keep your church running and allows her to minister to those in the church, those in the community and those abroad.  Jesus mentioned tithing three times in the New Testament. In Matthew 23:23 and Luke 11:42 & Luke 18:9–14.  ***In 2014, the numbers were pretty consistent.  However, people like con man and thief Barry Minkow makes us forget that not all clergy members are crooks. He stole $3 million dollars from his church. While it is true some clergy have stolen from the church, this amount is outside the norm.  Actually, my research shows the preacher isn’t the typical person stealing from the church (need to buy the book to get more of this shocking info).***

images-4Living in Sin:   This too is a straightforward position that Christians should take.  The question is, “Is the person you’re sleeping with your lawfully wedded spouse?”  On a recent move, I overheard one of the movers state that his “wife was XYZ.”  Some time later in the day he mentioned that his girlfriend said, “XYZ.”  One of the guys asked him, “Do you have a girlfriend and a wife?”  He stated, “No, I just call my girlfriend my wife.  A piece of paper doesn’t make us more in love. Plus we’ve been together for (or four) years.”  This is not the way Christians should live.  It’s easy to know if you’re married or not.  Do you have to go to the court to get a divorce?  Is there any sort of process you have to go through in order to dissolve your relationship?  You’re not married if the dissolution of your relationship is as simply packing your suitcase.

Either you are or you aren’t going to engage in pre-marital sex, extra-marital affairs or you aren’t.  Many television shows and movies entice their viewers with scenes of scintillating sex.  They have scenes of voluptuous women and manly men and that’s just the commercials!  Many magazines models leave barely anything for the imagination. One can say that Victoria’s Secrets is no longer a secret.  We’ve seen it all already. There are more movies that now show male frontal nudity. The list is endless.  Christians shouldn’t indorse people “shacking up.”  In the recent past, a couple would be ashamed to admit they were “living in sin.”  Many parents were adamantly against it.  Not so much now.  On this issue, your worldview should be Christian-based not secular.  As such, your viewpoint will not be accepted by some of those you love or are friends with.  You must stand strong in your convictions.  Obviously, when addressing the unmarried Christian couple, you cannot force one person to move out of their house.  That’s not your role or authority.  You cannot be tolerant of the issue.  You can kindly advise them on the way Christians should live.  The key here is, as in the other issues, to address them in love.  Here are some Scriptures you can review. 1 Corinthians 6:9, 2 Corinthians 12:21, Galatians 5:1 and Hebrews 13:4.  *** Barna Group is an excellent source to look at trends in Christian lifestyle.  As of today, they haven’t updated their research.  I talked about this subject a lot last year. This is more anecdotal than empirical but it gives you an idea of what’s going on. One church knowingly allows one of their leaders to minister despite that person living with someone who isn’t their spouse.  In another incident, one church is functioning (rather well) by a crew of volunteers who are in the same situation as the minister I just ministered.  I can go on with this point but you can see the picture I’m painting.  I was able to talk to some of those people and they were simply incredible.  They were kind, respectful and simply nice.  However, what message are those pastors sending when they allow leaders and key members to blatantly live in sin while serving as church leaders?  Heck, what message is the Christian, not in a clergical role, sending when he/she is doing the same thing? We represent Christ at all times.***

imagesTolerance:  Some secular arguments state that to deny another person’s belief is intolerant.  It’s said that Christianity is exclusive since it doesn’t believe there are more than one way to heaven.  Those who oppose Christianity are right.  As Christians, we stand on and believe in what the bible says, not what an unbeliever says our faith should be like.  Ironically, it is not labeled intolerant when others do not believe in Christianity.  The problem or opportunity is that we must reach out to those who don’t believe in Christ.  We can’t reach them if we have an adversarial attitude.  We would be wise to think about and read John’s Second Epistle.  He warns believers not to associate with heretics.  John was telling them not to let their lives or actions indicate an acceptance of those counter religions.  Paul talks about this also in Romans 14:16.  Although, he wasn’t talking about intolerance or heretics, the spirit of what he was saying is applicable. The same thing, in principle, applies to us today.  We must stand firm in our belief that there is only one God.  We believe there is only one way to God.  Also, we believe in Jesus, His death and Resurrection.  We must coexist with other religions. The key thing to remember is that they have to coexist with us also.  Therefore we must maintain our steadfastness in faith.  Perhaps our light will be bright enough for them to want to know more about our God.

Where do you stand on these issues?  Are you endorsing or involved in any of these things?  You do not want anything to hinder your walk with Christ. This is the time.  This is the day to search yourself.  Ask God to help you.  Ask if you’re upholding Christian values.  Pray for clarity.  If you aren’t aligned properly with God’s word, repent and get aligned. You might have to fast in order to get clarity and understanding.  Christianity is an “all in” lifestyle.  We do not have the right or privilege to only accept what we want and disregard the things we don’t.  Either you’re fully committed or you aren’t.  While those words might sound harsh, they are the reality of the lifestyle we’ve chosen to follow.  We need every Christian in the battle.  We need each other.  I’m pulling for you.

Whew! If you stuck with me…we reviewed some tough issues.  Unlike my other blog posts, this blog isn’t really about you.  It’s about Christians in general.  Admittedly, these issues align up with our journey this year by doing 12 Things You Can Do To Strengthen Your Christian Walk.  So I guess it is about you.  I simply picked a few areas that Christians need to talk about.  Regrettably, self-professing Christians give unbelievers conflicting messages when we embrace same sex unions, or we don’t tithe, or when we are living in sin.  Simply put, Christians have not and still do not always act like Christians.  In other words, we don’t practice what we preach. We are flawed individuals and those who have opposing views are just like us – flawed.  This should remind us that we must stand up for our beliefs.  This walk will have its pitfalls.  We must remember some of our leaders have exerted policies and taken positions contrary to our belief system and worldview.  We also must be cognizant of the sexually laced television shows and must.  The influence of those medias have a profoundly negative affect on our society.  Please don’t go out and stop looking at television. Rather, be aware of what’s going on.  Be the Christian you’re called to be.  We need you because the Spiritual State Of The Union will not get any better without your help (1 Chronicles 7:14).

I realize some of my followers will fall away.  Others will criticize the blog because it isn’t favoring these positions.  My about page states that I’m here to help Christians grow in their faith.  We can’t do this if we fail to address issues that Christians need to know where they should stand. ***The Christian message of love must be shown and spoken.  However, it must not be compromised in order to make someone we know and love feel good about the sin they are living in.  Christ’s message is not being heard because of the drumbeat of negativity.  Christianity is positive, not negative. It’s addition by subtraction.  We try our darndest to subtract sin from our lives.*** As always, I love feedback…let me know your thoughts.

Much of this blog has been taken from my upcoming book on the “Outside The Wire: Combating Spiritual Warfare.”  I hope release it by the Summer.  *** Outside The Wire: Every Man’s Guide For Spiritual Warfare has been released.  None of this information in blog was not used in the book.***

[1] Johnson, Yves N. There Is No Gray In Moral Failure, (Fort Washington: John 316, 2012), 28.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s