Bible


I recently noticed that the popular NBC TV show, Heroes, is boasting a new series with the promo “In every hero there could be a villain”.  It seems to be centered around the idea that the heroes are also the villains at different times throughout the drama.  I think I can relate.  But I would argue that in every hero there IS a villain.

I have been a believer in Jesus Christ since I was five years of age.  I was dramatically converted from a life of thumb-sucking and temper tantrums, I like to say.  In reality, I know I was “born from above,” as John chapter 3 puts it, because of the warfare that has raged in my soul ever since, among other reasons.  Recently, I have felt frustrated with some of the ways that I have been tempted and, at times, given in to my old nature, the sinful power in me, the “villain” that opposes everything I want to be for God.  I’ve been asking myself alot of questions.  Questions like:

Where does my desire to tear down another person in order to build myself up come from?

Why do I worry about the future when I am promised my needs will be cared for forever? 

What keeps me from sharing God’s truth to my aquaintances every chance I get? 

Why do I care so much about my own comfort? 

Why do I fear for my own loss when everything that really matters I already have, and that which I have I can never lose?

Why do I lose my joy?  How can I fix my eyes on any earthly situation for more than a moment when I could be gazing (spiritually) into the eyes of my Redeemer?

How can I neglect to truly pray when I know that all that I could ever want is found in the whisper of His name?

Why do I choose to feed my physical thirst and neglect feeding my spiritual thirst when my appetite for the former is never quenched, but the latter springs up unto life eternal? 

How is it that I can sin and not shed a single tear when Jesus Christ wept over my sin in the Garden the night before it cost Him His life?

Why do I no longer tremble when I think of how close I came to spending all of forever in eternal damnation and punishment?

How can I forget so easily the agony of that night in the garden or in Pilate’s palace?  How is it that Golgotha slips so quickly from my mind?

Why does my anger rise up within me when I am ridiculed – do I not deserve every word against me and more?

How can I choose the evening sitcom over bedside prayers with my children?

How can I allow images of women other than my wife to linger in my mind?

What causes me to desire to deceive or withhold information in order to be praised by my peers or obtain a larger paycheck?

Why do I choose to stay in bed some mornings when I could be exploring the riches of the Holy Scriptures?

Why do I quickly question and want to rebel in my heart against any and all authority set over me regardless of who it is? 

How do I fall in love so quickly with anything and everything that tickles my fancy when it displaces my first love for my Savior? 

Why do I fail to be content when I already have everything that is good for me?

These are just a few of the questions that lately have plagued my mind.  I want to do what is right.  I want to be holy.  I get so tired some times of struggling with my self.  I see in me this law that all that I don’t want to do, that I do.  And that which I want to do, I don’t do.  What a treacherous man I am!  Who will rescue me from from this war that rages in my soul?  Thank God that I can be free through Jesus Christ, my Lord.  So with my mind I am serving this principle of Christ, but with my flesh I am serving this principle of sin.  (See Romans 7:22-25 – my own paraphrase) 

Once again, my victory over this arch enemy deep within lies in Scripture.  Romans chapter 8, verses 5,13, 14, 26 & 32 seems to spell it out.

Verse 5 teaches me to set my mind on the things of the Spirit.

Verse 13 teaches me to put to death the actions of the sinful nature (the flesh).

Verse 14 commands me to follow the Spirit.

Verses 26 & 32 prompt me to pray for the victory.

Can it really be that simple?  Yes, I think it can be.  Has God’s will ever been hard to understand?  The difficulty is in obeying these simple commands daily.  This battle that I face every day is won by following these four commands.  When I keep my mind on spiritual matters (the Word of God) through memorizing, meditating and mentioning (Psalm 119:11 & Joshua 1:8) it consistently, I have obeyed the first command.  But I have only begun the battle.  When I refuse to obey the desires of my sinful nature, I have gained another part of the victory. 

Thirdly, I must follow the Spirit of God.  “Follower” is a synonym with “disciple”  from which we get the word discipline.  We must discipline ourselves to follow the new law of the Spirit.  Over 1000 commands are given in the new testament and by God’s grace, we are to follow them.  Not as legalists trying to obtain God’s favor, but as children seeking to please Him who has made us accepted in the beloved.  But, even this is futile if we fail to follow verses 26 & 32. 

It is only when I add quality time before the throne of God, allowing the Spirit to pray through me in groanings that often cannot even be uttered, that I ensure I have done my part and have been victorious.  Yes, and I know that I am victorious over this principle of sin because I am more than a conqueror through him that loved me and that predestined me to be conformed to the image of his Son.  (Romans 8:30 & 37)

Praise God for the victory that I have over the villain inside me when I simply trust and obey the truths of His word!   And I don’t even need to watch the TV show.

                                                       

Jesus loves porn stars! So heralds the cover of the controversial Bible (The Message version) being distributed by the guys over at Triple X Church. Triple X is an anti-porn website run by Mike Foster and Craig Gross, who also run the ministry Starving Jesus, and together authored the book, “Questions You Can’t Ask Your Mama About Sex”.

The flashy picture above is the actual cover of the Bible Foster and Gross are distributing. Distributing at Porn conventions, that is. The ministry of XXXChurch is to attend porn conventions which are frequented by the top names in pornography like Jenna Jameson and Ron Jeremy (who often participates in public debates with XXXChurch on porn). Does Jesus love porn stars? Here’s my controversial answer– No, He does not.

Modernly, “porn star” is simply a euphemism of a lifestyle, not a human being. It’s used, as best I can tell, exactly like “pimp” or “rock star” or “redneck” , words which no longer refer to an individual, but a particular lifestyle. Go to your local superstore, and you’ll find t-shirts (in the teen section by the way) with those titles screen printed on the front. I remember a girl with whom I went to high school wearing a t-shirt which simply said, “I’m a Porn Star,” in the same coloring and typeface as the Bible cover above. Who’s not seen the Rockstar brand energy drink, or heard a rap song about being a pimp or a country song about being a redneck? These titles don’t refer to people as individuals, but lifestyles. Contrariwise, I could say that Jesus loves homosexuals, because this currently still refers to individuals, not the lifestyle. Does Jesus love Ron Jeremy and Jenna Jameson? Absolutely! He also loves every single other individual involved in the pornography industry. However, He does not love porn stars, nor does He loves pimps, rock stars, or rednecks, as those words are used in modern vernacular to convey not the individual man, but his lifestyle; lifestyles often characterized by their committment to ignorance, promiscuity, drug use, and immorality on many fronts. Does Jesus love that? Of course not.

The message that Jesus loves porn stars, to modern individuals, does not convey the intended meaning, therefore, that Jesus loves the individual man, but that Jesus seems to have a special place in His heart for the porn star lifestyle. This is clearly seen in the ABC news video (below) where a female pornography actress says the Jesus Loves Porn Stars t-shirt is “awesome”. Finally, porn stars are justified, Jesus loves it, and if He does, what’s the problem?

Aside from the obscure message that Jesus loves porn stars, the XXXChurch website sells items which again are intended to deliver the message of Christ to individuals struggling with sex addiction. To encourage men to abstain from lust, cards are handed out that remind them (forgive me for typing this) “Don’t Spank that Monkey”, and the XXXChurch website sells Jesus pencil toppers, and Jesus bobble heads, called Jesus nodders.

  Penciltoppers_copy           

Jesus loves you. Let’s remind modern men that they are just that- you, men, women, people, individual humans in God’s image. Jesus doesn’t love porn stars, but He loves every single human, despite their man made titles.

Romans 5:12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:

You may have seen the commercial on TV that seems to run year after year. It advertises a medical alert system allowing a person who lives at home alone to push a button on a device around his or her neck signaling that he or she is in need of medical attention. It was made famous by the phrase, “Help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!”

I can’t help but think of this statement when I read this passage of Scripture. The apostle Paul is describing the human race as fallen in sin and without hope of pulling itself up to acceptance with God. We are all in need of a spiritual rescue. As the Apostle Paul wrote, “we all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Now what in the world does this word “sin” mean? It sounds like something we’ve heard of before, but have you and I really sinned? How would we define the word “sin”? It comes from “hamartia” in the original manuscripts, meaning “to miss the mark”.   Anything that displeases God, anything that contradicts his nature, rebels against his authority, anything that misses his mark of perfection is sin.

But what makes an action “right” or “wrong”? Who has the authority to judge between good and evil? These questions will naturally flow from any discussion of missing a mark or of a need for a spiritual rescue. Some people feel that right and wrong are simply societal constructs designed to preserve the power of the government or the ruling class. Others may feel that right and wrong are simply based upon what makes us feel good or bad emotionally or what the “majority” rules them to be. A few may actually believe that there are absolute standards of right and wrong. One way to press the issue is to find an extreme case. In other words, if a person believes that right and wrong are simply societal constructs, how can we absolutely condemn the actions of a serial killer like Dennis Rader or Jeffrey Dahmer? Is there a setting in which such behavior would be acceptable? Is genocide acceptable as long as the ruling government condones it? Is it okay if every government in the world favors genocide or turned a blind eye? If not, then why not?

If right and wrong are purely individual concepts, based on conscience and personal preference, then what are the ramifications of such a viewpoint? Is it wrong for one person to indulge his sexual desire by raping another, simply because it makes the offender feel good? Why or why not? On what basis can we call a sociopath’s version of morality incorrect if there is no absolute standard? 

One problem with sin is that, if we admit it exists, then we have to define its boundaries. Once we acknowledge that absolute morals exist, known as sin and conversely, holiness or moral perfection, we must tip our hats to a moral law giver outside of our own human race. No human could set a standard by which we could judge all other humans. Only a being of moral perfection could stand in judgement of those who were not morally perfect. Furthermore, once we acknowledge this person exists, we would be foolish not to then seek out as much information as possible about this individual and to determine whether we have “missed” any of his “marks”.

This is the logical progression that we as Christ followers have employed to help us judge our own lives and strive to obtain the upmost morality. We do this for a couple of reasons. First, we want to stay out of trouble with this morally perfect being. We assume that since he is good enough to establish a code of conduct for all of the human race that he is also powerful enough to enforce this code. Our senses lend themselves to this rational as we observe the rhyme of the solar system, the rhythm of the beating heart and the complexity of all things around us. Only a very powerful individual would be responsible for such a universe. However, this trail of thinking leads us to unpleasant surroundings. We either choose to progress down this pathway to the natural result known as “conviction of sin”, the realization that we have offended this perfect law giver and deserve his anger; or, we peek around the proverbial corner to see where the trail is leading and then choose to run in another direction.

There is an element of cowardice in all of us when it comes to our own depravity, but for those who choose to see their own evil and confront it with sorrow and remorse, there is hope in the forgiveness that Christ provided by his death on that cross outside Jerusalem almost two millennia ago. For those who reject the mirror of truth and turn away into their own debauchery, they beg the question, “Is there not a reckoning day?” The patriarch Abraham said it most effectively, “shall not the judge of all the earth do right?”

I originally saw this on the Mabe family’s website.  It is unspeakably infuriating to see God’s Word abused and God Himself blasphemed in this way. To think of all the time my pastor spends, and our youth pastor spends, and I (college pastor) spend trying to correctly handle this precious book and teach our students God’s truth, then to see this heretic treat the Scriptures like a bathroom tissue is almost too much to handle.

N. T. Wright says that most Christians are wrong about Heaven in a recent article by Time magazine:

If people think “my physical body doesn’t matter very much,” then who cares what I do with it? And if people think that our world, our cosmos, doesn’t matter much, who cares what we do with that? Much of “traditional” Christianity gives the impression that God has these rather arbitrary rules about how you have to behave, and if you disobey them you go to hell, rather than to heaven. What the New Testament really says is God wants you to be a renewed human being helping him to renew his creation…
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Despite the provocative title, Wright makes some excellent points about Heaven, the after life, and the after, after life.  Certainly worth a click.

Chris over at Nihil Fit has provided an interesting post that deals with this very question.  Why not check it out and give your thoughts?