Thursday, December 25, 2008

The real Joy of Christmas

This Christmas, we decided to slim down the number of gifts
we were going to give our kids, focusing on getting them the
one or two things they really wanted more than anything else.

We shopped for the items online, and with mounting excitement
we read the descriptions of the items; we checked for the best
prices, made our choices, and clicked "Submit Your Order" when
we were ready... A week or so later we received the items on
the front porch, and we gleefully opened them to examine the
contents and to make plans for transport, wrapping, etc.

In the past few days we cheerfully shopped for a few add-ons,
enjoying the anticipation of seeing their little faces light up
on Christmas morning... And as I was driving away from the
Best Buy the other night, it occurred to me:

This is FUN!!

And that got me to thinking (once again) about the nature of Love:
Love is mostly a VERB instead of a noun; it consists of things
you DO for your beloved... And those things almost always
boil down to GIVING to the beloved... And then I recalled that
I have often heard and read about how HAPPY people are, how
contented and fulfilled they feel, when they are unselfishly
giving to those around them, and how "rich" people are often
said to be so miserable (presumably because they're consumed
with things like possessions and status)...

... and then I recalled how I, too, an often-selfish person
side-tracked by my own desires and wants and needs and thoughts,
can once-in-awhile get out of myself and focus on GIVING
to those around me (or to anyone for whom I can perform what
are sometimes called "Random Acts of Kindness), and I recalled
how HAPPY I too am when I succeed in doing so...

"It is more blessed to Give than to Receive"...

My experience with getting Christmas gifts for my kids
(and of course this was not the first time) reminded me again,
as I literally smiled as I drove back to the house the other
night, that I'd MUCH rather give gifts than receive them;
it's truly an enjoyable experience to watch your beloved enjoy
those acts of Love.

Well of course these thoughts led me directly to John 3:16:
"God loved the whole world so much that He gave
the most precious thing to Him - His own Son - so that anyone
who believes won't perish but receive the gift of LIFE, forever".

This means me. This means YOU. And I smiled again as I tried
to picture the Father, ever since (and because of) the Fall, tee-ing up
the Greatest Gift of All ... excitement building for thousands of years...
hardly able to contain Himself as His Gift to the world was unwrapped
from the physical packaging of a virgin's body... on Christmas morning...
all those years ago, in a filthy cattle cave in Bethlehem.

But of course THIS Gift was a mixture of profound Pain as well
as Pleasure for God; the FUN for Him is when any of us accept the Gift
and then LOVE Him back by giving to -- Loving -- those around us.

Merry Christmas.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Countering the Homosexual Mindset

There has been a good deal of attention in the media lately related to "gay"
issues, due in part to recent events on both the political and social scenes...
On the whole subject of Homosexuality, I for one have no interest at all in
judging and condemning a "gay" human being; God will eventually do that with all the
power and authority that are part of His very nature, AND, I am too concerned
about that same power coming down on my OWN sins to pay much attention to
anyone else's...

Two of the very best treatments I have ever heard regarding Homosexuality and
the Christian are in a couple of sermons that were given at our church
not long ago... HERE is one and HERE is the other...

But since this is a Blog that attempts critical thinking about World Views,
primarily the Christian World View, and since its conclusion is that the
Christian World View is absolutely True, then my interest in discussing anything
related to homosexuality centers primarily on what I see as being fundamental
errors in what we hear the homosexual community saying, often, and loudly:

"Natural is Good"
This is the idea that homosexual desires are a basic part of how one was born,
and that they are very "natural" desires, and are no less valid than, say,
heterosexual desires, or gender, or ethnicity... It is the idea that "this is just
the way I was made" and even that "God made me this way so it must be okay."

Well of course this kind of thinking is completely contrary to the Christian
message, which begins with the tragedy of our "natural" state: We are born
"naturally" at odds with a holy God, and the whole point of
Salvation -- and our desperate need of a Savior -- is that I, in my "natural"
state, am bound for an eternity outside of the presence of God...

The "natural" Man, with all our desires, feelings, thoughts, intentions,
longings, etc., must be laid on the altar and sacrificed to a holy and just
God, so that He can redeem us, change us, and create in us His SUPER-nature,
to His own glory and for His pleasure...

ALL of the "seven deadly sins" stem from "natural" desires
within every single one of us, yet to set up those desires as "good" and
"acceptable" in their unredeemed state -- and to ignore what God has to
say about what is "sin" and what is not -- is indeed a deadly course;
to ignore that, and to live one's life celebrating those perversions and
applauding whatever comes "naturally", is to absolutely guarantee a spot in
the Eternal Darkness that exists for those who refuse to die and be reborn...

The Bible allows for Homosexuality
This one is easy:
If you come to the Scriptures begging the question, looking for "evidence"
to support a presupposed Lifestyle, then of course you can "make" the Bible say
whatever you please...

But you have to do some serious mental gymnastics to see the Scriptures as
delivering anything less or other than the most thunderous Condemnation of
the homosexual lifestyle. Over and over again, in both what it says and what it
implies, the Bible portrays that lifestyle as an absolute Abomination in God's eyes,
backed by a boiling reservoir of Judgment for those who embrace it.

One silly editorial in a recent issue of "Newsweek" (not that any thinking Christian
looks to "Newsweek" for accurate Biblical interpretation) noted that Jesus' message
was one of "tolerance" and "acceptance", making the ridiculous point that Jesus never
explicitly forbade homosex...

Jesus never spoke out specifically against Polygamy either, nor a whole lot of
other perversions, but He didn't need to: The Old Testament Law was the backdrop
of Jesus' moral teaching, and what it taught (and still teaches) was fundamental
to everything Jesus ever said or did. Scriptural writers both before AND after Jesus
roundly condemned homosex as perversion... And any child knows, intuitively,
that though his father may have never said, explicitly, "don't smash the windows
on my car," there would be hell to pay if that child did so...

Rejection means Homophobia
So much for "tolerance": If the homosexual cries "homophobia!" when he encounters
a genuine Christian who proclaims God's Truth on the matter, then he has left
the arena of honest debate and has lurched for the weapons of the culture wars...

And if "homophobia" doesn't mean "a fear that one might, himself, be 'gay' ", OR,
"a fear of homosexuals in general", then the word becomes little more than an epithet,
used to slander anyone who merely disagrees with their agenda and its militant methods...

A genuine, Biblically-trained Christian will REJECT homosex but embrace, and care for,
and attempt to help, a repentant homosexual, just as he would attempt to help those
who are consumed with pride, or sloth, or rage; genuine Christian love and compassion
attempts to help the alcoholic and the prostitute and the glutton; all the while, a truly humble Christian is constantly and acutely aware of his OWN sinfulness, thanking God for His Mercy
toward us and for the Grace that sustains ALL of us.

Despite all this, however, some people only understand the Stick, and just as the
rabid homosexual mobs in Sodom and Gomorrah were ultimately wiped out by God, those
who absolutely and violently insist that "gay is good" will (short of a miracle of
God's Wisdom piercing that Blindness) meet with the same treatment someday...