Tuesday, November 12, 2013

PROGRESSIVE THINKING IN REVERSE

Contrary to the way many people would have it, the Bible does not hesitate to pass judgment on human conduct. Over and over again in the pages of Holy Scripture we read about God’s anger, wrath, and fury being poured out upon sinners. Consider for a moment the catastrophic judgment of a worldwide flood in the days of Noah because God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5).  Therefore, God destroyed the inhabitants of the earth, sparing only the righteous Noah and his family (Genesis 7).  Sounds horrific, and it was.  And yes, there really is evidence of a global flood. How else does one explain the presence of marine fossils in strata across the continents, unless the continents were once covered by water (even the highest mountains of the world)?  If you have ever been to the Grand Canyon, you have seen with your own eyes exactly what a catastrophic judgment by water can do.  There we find the remains of sea creatures more than a mile above sea level, and two-foot long nautiloids in the Redwall Limestone.  Further on in the book of Genesis is a statement about the inhabitants of ancient Sodom: “But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the Lord exceedingly" (Genesis 13:13). This sounds quite like God’s assessment of the people of the earth in Noah’s day:  Evil continually (Noah’s day),and sinners exceedingly (in Sodom).  And guess what happened to the inhabitants of Sodom and the cities of the plain?  God rained brimstone and fire upon them from heaven and they became the cities of ash (Genesis 18 and 19). Granted, to speak of such judgments by water and by fire doesn’t go over very well in a culture of people who want to have everything “their way.”  But just like the evidence for a global flood, evidence for the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah has been found. I would refer the reader to the articles on this subject at the Associates for Biblical Research website.

Reflecting on God's judgment upon the sinners of Sodom, I couldn’t help but think about America’s moral decay.  As a nation before God, we are sinners exceedingly. Recently I was reminded of just how badly the moral foundation of America has been shattered. Vice President Joseph Biden, while campaigning for Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe, characterized his opponent Ken Cuccinelli as "a relic from another era."  What did Biden mean?  “A relic from another era”! In part, he meant that Cuccinelli is not a progressive social liberal who supports such things as a woman’s right to kill her unborn child via abortion. Cuccinelli also opposes the gay rights agenda, the opposition of which, according to Biden, is out of step with a new way of thinking.  In Biden’s own words, "Everything they (Cuccinelli’s supporters) talk about without exaggeration is about turning back what the rest of the country and the world thinks is progress." Biden said, "It's hard to fathom this state being led by a man who rejects all that this new thinking stands for.”  Putting politics aside, I find honest Joe’s comments compelling evidence that America is not Slouching Toward Gomorrah, the title of Robert Bork’s 1996 New York Times Bestseller. America is like unto Gomorrah. Biden’s new way of thinking, which progressives embrace, is progress in moral reverse. And Biden made his comments in his typical arrogant tone. He seems to be quite proud of his progressive vision for the future of the United States. But I know that God doesn’t agree with Biden’s new way of thinking, which the world calls progress. In Noah’s day, the preacher of righteousness (2 Peter 2:5), the just man Noah, was the only one who didn’t jump on board with the crowd that was bent on doing evil.  Rather, he took his family and got on board an ark which God had him prepare, so that they could be saved from the judgment He was going to bring upon the whole earth. And Lot’s family was escorted “out of Sodom” so they could escape a fiery end.  Only his foolish wife looked back and perished: Then the Lord rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven; and he overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground.  But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt” (Genesis 19:24-26).   Peter comments on the destruction of Sodom with a stern warning about what God did: “And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly” (2 Peter 2:6).

 If the vice president’s vision for America is progress, count me out.  I won’t travel this road of progress because I know where it ends.  God has made it plain: "Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people" (Proverbs 14:34 NKJV). And sin is not something that an Almighty God winks at. He is not a social liberal, nor a right-wing conservative.  He is the thrice-holy God that Isaiah the prophet had a glimpse of in Isaiah 6, which made him declare, Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts" (Isaiah 6:5).   Here is another word of truth found in the book of Isaiah-- I pray that all the “new way of thinking” advocates take it to heart: “ Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness"(Isaiah 5:20).
 
Pastor Tom

 

Saturday, July 27, 2013

WHY ATHEISM FAILS

Let me say at the onset that I harbor no ill will against atheists. I am not sad for them, glad for them, or mad at them.  But as a system of belief, atheism fails.   An atheist may state clear reasons why he feels that a belief in God is not rationally justified, but he can go no further.  He cannot say with certainty that there is no God. For instance, just ask a friendly atheist (don’t bother with the angry ones) the following question: “How much knowledge do you think you possess in view of the sum total of knowledge that presently exists and is constantly growing?" Before he answers, you might remind him of the exponential increase of knowledge in the world in which we live. Just think of new developments and discoveries in the fields of technology and medicine. It has been said that every minute scientists add 2,000 pages to man's scientific knowledge, and the scientific material they produce every 24 hours would take one person five years to read.  That may or may not be true, but I cannot prove it either way.  I did, however, read an interesting article (The Expansion of Ignorance) written by a gentleman named Kevin Kelly (The Technicum) who states:

  Ninety- six percent of all matter and energy in our universe is some unknown variety we call dark." It is clear that “dark” is a euphemism for ignorance.  We really have no idea what the bulk of the universe is made of.  We find a similar state of ignorance if we probe deeply into the cell, the brain, or even the earth.  We don’t know nothin'. Yet it is also clear that we know vastly more about the universe than we did a century ago. This new knowledge has been put to practical use in such consumer goods as GPS and iPods, and a steady increase in our own life spans. Our beneficial progress in knowledge comes from tools and technology. Telescopes, microscopes, fluoroscopes,  oscilloscopes, for instance, allow us to see in new ways, and when we look with new tools, we suddenly win many new answers. Yet the paradox of science is that every answer breeds at least two new questions.  More answers, more questions. Telescopes and microscopes expanded not only what we knew, but what we didn’t know (emphasis mine). They allowed us to spy into our ignorance. New and better tools permit us new and better questions …. Thus even though our knowledge is expanding exponentially, our questions are expanding exponentially faster.”
The bottom line according to Kelly is this: “ In other words, science is a method that chiefly expands our ignorance rather than our knowledge.”  I believe Kelly is being forthright.  All men are extremely limited in knowledge, even the brightest of men.  Back to the question to the friendly atheist I mentioned earlier:  If he were to put any kind of percentage  on the amount of knowledge he thinks he possesses in consideration of all the knowledge that exists and is exponentially growing, he would only be demonstrating his ignorance and pride.  So the next question I would ask is this: Since you admit that you know practically nothing in view of all the things which can be known, do you think it is possible that somewhere in the vast amount of things you do not know, evidence for God might truly exist?   To confuse the matter, some atheists will attempt to redefine the definition of atheism to mean someone who doesn’t argue for the non-existence of God, but someone who is simply not a theist. But this doesn’t work.  As philosopher William Lane Craig has said, “If atheism is taken to be a view, namely the view that there is no God, then atheists must shoulder their share of the burden of proof to support this view.”  Genesis Chapters 1 and 2 are still the best explanation of why man exists and why he has the mental and spiritual capacity to even contemplate and discuss matters such as this. “The fool has said in his heart, 'There is no God'" (Psalm 14:1,NKJV).

Pastor Tom

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

GOD'S SPECIAL TREASURES

I can say with all sincerity that my greatest joy is in knowing Christ as my Savior and Lord.  It is something that far exceeds any earthly pleasure.  Sometimes when I am down about something I find great consolation in my status as a child of God.  I think of how much I love my daughter and would do most anything for her, but my love for her is weak in comparison to my heavenly Father's love for me.  My love is human and finite; God’s love is Divine and infinite.  And I am even more blessed when I read in the Scripture that God takes special delight in those who delight in Him: The LORD taketh pleasure in them that fear him, in those that hope in his mercy” (Psalm 147:11).

When God delights in His children He often has a special plan or blessing in store for them. This was the case in the days when Malachi the Prophet penned the last book of the Old Testament.  It was written after the construction of the Second Temple, a time when spiritual decline was evident in the camp of God’s people. Many had once again turned away from God,  so Malachi came as God’s messenger to prick their conscience and call them to repentance. The root of the problem is given in Chapter 1 and verse 6, which says, “A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master: if then I be a father, where is mine honour? and if I be a master, where is my fear? saith the Lord of hosts unto you, O priests, that despise my name. And ye say, Wherein have we despised thy name?”   What stands out is to me is God’s interrogatory statement, “Where is my fear?” The priests and leaders had become corrupt, yet there was a community of men and women who did fear the Lord. When you get to Chapter 3, the division between the unrighteous grumblers and the godly becomes very apparent.  Because  their motives were all wrong, the grumblers felt that serving God was in vain.   Their heart was in the wrong place. Their delight was in earthly things of no lasting value. However, the godly folks feared the Lord and spoke often to one another (about God), and meditated upon his name (3:16). In other words, they took delight in heavenly things. Their joy was in thinking upon the beauty and goodness of the Lord.  This is what they treasured.  What did the Lord do in return? Well, reading further, we see that He put their names in His book of remembrance to honor them in the future and said of them, “They shall be mine… in that day when I make up my jewels" (3:17).  I believe this speaks of the fact that God will regard them as a special treasure, because they treasured Him.   Jesus said, For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Luke 12:34). 

Dear friend, do you delight in God and the things of God?  Do you fear the Lord and honor him as a faithful son would honor his father?  I trust that you do, and I hope that your greatest joy is found in your relationship with Jesus Christ.


Shalom,

Pastor Tom
  


Thursday, April 18, 2013

ULTIMATE JUSTICE!

I find it ironic that Dr. Charles Benjamin, an abortionist (baby killer), recently testified against Dr. Kermit Gosnell, another abortionist, who is on trial in Philadelphia for killing a patient and seven babies.  The irony is that Dr. Benjamin, by his own admission, has killed 40,000 babies over his thirty year career. Talk about a career stained with blood, the blood of the innocent.  The only difference between the seven babies Gosnell is charged with killing and the forty thousand Benjamin has put to death is the time of the murders.  You see, Dr. Benjamin kills them before 24 weeks of development, which is the legal limit in Pennsylvania. This is not just the ultimate hypocrisy, it is morally reprehensible. One man is on trial for murder, while the other, who testifies against him, goes back to doing what he does best – killing the most vulnerable human beings in America. Yes, you heard me right.  Dr. Charles Benjamin, Dr. Kermit Gosnell, and all the other abortionists throughout this country are killing human beings - they are taking human life!  No one can doubt that the embryo (baby) in the womb of its mother is alive. And if it’s alive, then it can only be a human life, a fully human person.  If it is only a potential human life we are left in a quandary.  At what point does it become an actual human life?  Can any of the women’s choice advocates give us the answer? When does the miraculous moment occur, when a potential human life becomes an actual human life?  And why is it only worth saving at that point? But many people have hidden behind the myth that the embryo is not a human person. For the sake of argument, we have only three choices about this matter:
 
1) The embryo/fetus is a human being.
 
2) The embryo/fetus is not a human being.
 
3) We do not know if the embryo/fetus is a human being.
 
If number one is correct (which it is), then all abortions are acts of murder, regardless of the time they are performed. If number two is correct, then we must ask, “What kind of life is it?”  And if we don’t know (which we do), then why would we kill it? What if a small child went to his father with something in a closed box and asked him, “Dad, can I kill this?” I’m quite sure his father would not say, “Sure son, go ahead and kill it.” Rather, he would ask, “What is it?”  If you think that is a foolish example, please think again. 
 
The truth of the matter is that we know that a human embryo is a member of the species Homo sapiens at the very earliest stage of its development (Biology 101). Oh, but it’s not fully developed, some say. Somehow, in their minds, that makes it alright to kill it before that indefinable, magic moment when it has value and becomes worth saving. Do we really want to judge the matter by the question of development? After all, a newborn has a lot of developing to do and can’t survive outside the womb without a lot of love and tender care. And there are many people of all ages with developmental disabilities and limitations. Do we think they are not fully human? 
 
Robert George, who was  a member of the President’s Council on Bioethics under President George W. Bush, is on record as stating, “The adult that is you is the same human being who, at an earlier stage of your life, was an adolescent, and before that a child, an infant, a fetus and an embryo…. The human embryo is not something different in kind from a human being, nor is it merely a ‘potential human being,’ whatever that might mean. Rather, the human embryo is a human being in the embryonic stage.”
 
There we have it: “The HUMAN EMBRYO is a HUMAN BEING in the embryonic stage!  In my previous list of three choices, the correct answer can only be number one. It is not a matter of choice; it’s a matter of fact! Apart from basic biology, I also happen to think that there is something inside the majority of us human beings that has told us that all along.  But the obvious conclusion is that we cannot and must not continue to kill human beings. That is the law of the land. It is also the law of God: “Thou shalt not kill” (Exodus 20:13). Christian author Gregory Koukl is absolutely right when he states, “If the unborn is not a human person, no justification for abortion is necessary. However, if the unborn is a human person, no justification for abortion is adequate.”
 
So Dr. Benjamin should be on trial for murder as well as Dr. Gosnell. But honestly, why should we even call abortionists doctors?  I was always led to believe that the medical profession was about saving human lives, not taking them.
 
People have to be heartless to slaughter innocent human beings in such a horrible fashion and in such massive numbers in the abortion clinics throughout America.  It is a very dirty business. The abortionists can use sterile techniques when performing their murders, but they can never sanitize the brutality of the act.  This is why the media has been ignoring the trial of Dr. Gosnell. If they provided all the details and graphics, many Americans would be appalled, and rightly so.  Have you ever wondered why organizations like Planned Parenthood object to the pictures of aborted children that pro-life groups publicize?  The answer is obvious: We are killing human babies and they don’t want you to see those aborted babies.
 
Here is the hard truth: Some people are so hard of heart and morally callused that they have no problem with killing human babies outside the womb. And why should they? If an unborn baby at seven months has no right to life inside the womb, then why would he have a right to life outside? Think I am making this up?  Florida legislators considering a bill requiring abortionists to provide medical care to an infant who survives an abortion were shocked during a committee hearing by the testimony of Alisa LaPolt Snow. Snow was the representative of the Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates. She testified that her organization believes the decision to kill an infant who survives a failed abortion should be left up to the woman seeking an abortion and her abortion doctor.  Representative Jose Oliva followed up by asking, "You stated that a baby born alive on a table as a result of a botched abortion-- that that decision should be left to the doctor and the family. Is that what you’re saying?”
 
Snow once again replied, “That decision should be between the patient and the health care provider.”  Oliva would not let her off the hook in his reply: “I think that at that point the patient would be the child struggling on the table, wouldn’t you agree?” asked Oliva.
 
Anyone with a conscience would agree, and Alisa LaPolt Snow should have been able to answer Oliva’s question; but she could not:  "That’s a very good question. I really don’t know how to answer that," Snow said. "I would be glad to have some more conversations with you about this.” How many conversations would it take to convince her that a child struggling to live on a table should receive the medical care that he needs in order to survive?
 
Let me conclude where I began, with the trial of Dr. Gosnell.  My guess is that he will be convicted of some of the charges against him--hopefully, enough to send him to prison, where he deserves to be.  Some degree of justice should prevail. But what about Dr. Benjamin?  What about the justice he deserves?  Who will hold him accountable? 
 
Thankfully, there is a higher court of law than any human court. The Almighty God, who made man in His image (Genesis 1:26), will serve the ultimate justice on Dr. Benjamin and his fellow abortionists.  Justice delayed is not justice denied!  “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (Genesis 18:25). Yes, God will do what is right, and as the Scripture says, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Galatians 6:7).  Ultimate justice will be served.
 
Pastor Tom
 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

WHAT IS THE ULTIMATE AUTHORITY IN YOUR LIFE?

As a Christian I have complete confidence that the Bible is the Word of God. I believe it is a book of Supernatural origin and more than adequate to help me live a life of faith which would please God: “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:16, 17). I also have complete confidence that when it comes to matters pertaining to the natural world, they will always harmonize with God’s Word, even though my human understanding of things is very limited and incomplete.  Another way of saying it would be that I have learned to give the benefit of the doubt to God’s Word over the opinions and ideas of men when the two disagree with each other. This may sound like a “simplistic faith” but it is not without a firm foundation. In the field of Christian apologetics there is a large body of credible evidence to substantiate the reliability of the 66 books of Holy Scripture.  That however is not the purpose of this writing.  My purpose is to get people to think about the matter of an ultimate authority in their life.  Every man has some basis for the spiritual, moral, intellectual, or philosophical things they hold to be true. Even the most profound atheists who vehemently deny the existence of God believe in things that have originated from the mind of others.  Solomon the wise was absolutely right when he said, “there is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9).  There are no “original thinkers”.  So it all comes down to what ultimately captures our minds and hearts and the allegiance we give to those thoughts and ideas.  These are things we live with and will ultimately die with. 

Men will continue to question, ridicule, and deny the Bible, but they do so for the most part with a very limited or prejudiced study of it’s’ message. They often rely on the information they have gathered from other skeptics rather than a diligent personal investigation.  So, what is the ultimate authority in your life?  Are you too busy to even give this question any consideration? Are you so involved in the “here and now” that you don’t take time to think about what happens when your life ends?  I read about a man who calculated the approximate number of weeks he hoped to live based on the average life expectancy.  He then filled a large jar with marbles, each one representing one week of the remainder of his days.  After a week would pass he would remove one marble from the jar.  Little by little the pile of marbles in the jar grew smaller and smaller.  I’m not suggesting you follow his example but the Bible does tell us that our time on earth is limited and we should act accordingly.  In Psalm 90 and verse 3 we read: So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom”. Given the brevity of life doesn’t it make sense to prepare for what comes afterwards?   I believe that is a very wise thing to do. However, you can’t do that until you decide who and what you will put your faith in.  For me, the answer was God, and His revealed Word, the Holy Bible. This has been the ultimate authority in my life for nearly 40 years and will be till I die.  I have looked elsewhere and nothing can compare with what I read in the pages of Holy Scripture.  It has not only satisfied my intellect, it has given rest to my sin weary soul by pointing me to Jesus Christ: Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls” (Matthew 11:28,29).
The older I get the more I realize just how quickly the days of my life pass by, and the more grateful I am that my eternal life is certain and secure. This certainty and security is not of my own doing, nor based on any good that I have done. It is based on what Jesus did when He died on the cross to pay the penalty for my sin.  Having confessed my need of His forgiveness I now have God’s guarantee of eternal life:  “… if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:9, 10).
If you don’t know Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior I pray that you might consider the possibility that the ultimate authority in your life is misplaced and bow the knee to Him because one day you will: “And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (1 John 5:8-11).

Pastor Tom

Saturday, January 05, 2013

THE MANIFEST PRESENCE OF GOD


I praise God and the Lord Jesus daily for His love toward me and the comfort which comes from knowing that He is ever by my side, even when I may not sense it.  I recently wrote about this in an article on the comfort and strength of God’s presence in difficult times.  God often speaks in a still, small voice.  But there is more to God’s presence than that.  Sometimes He does come with a whirlwind and shakes the earth. All throughout the Scriptures, we read of the manifest presence of God. This is God working in a supernatural way to do some extraordinary thing in the lives of those whom He has redeemed.  It is the undeniable and visible reality of God’s Almighty Power.  It is not a hoped-for miracle; it is God doing the impossible in the life of a Christian for His glory.  Oh, that everyone who proclaims to know God would know the manifestation of His presence as well as the assurance and comfort of His presence!  I cannot claim that I have, but I hope I am not asking for selfish or prideful reasons when I pray for such a thing.  Is it biblical to do so?  Do we limit God because our theology does not allow for the supernatural?  I do believe that these are valid questions.  Thinking about these things and searching the Scriptures has led me to affirm that we cannot confine the Lord’s marvelous doings to ages past and look for them in the age to come, but rule them out in the present.  Maybe that is why we see so little of them.  We don’t expect God to do really big things, so we don’t pray big prayers.  I believe we can begin to pray really big prayers without abandoning sound doctrine.  In fact, I think God would delight in our doing so, with this qualification: God is God, and He alone exercises His power in accordance with His sovereign will. I would never deny that, so I reject the “name it and claim it” brand of evangelicalism that is rampant worldwide. There are many faith healers and prosperity preachers who are nothing but charlatans fleecing the flock.  May God reward them according to their works.  And yet, I must also have faith in the truth that God is a God of wonders and that we can come boldly to the throne of grace.  Jeremiah 33:3 is a prayer that I still pray: Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not. “  A. W. Tozer wrote, “What God in His sovereignty may yet do on a world-scale I do not claim to know: but what He will do for the plain man or woman who seeks His face I believe I do know and can tell others. Let any man turn to God in earnest, let him begin to exercise himself unto godliness, let him seek to develop his powers of spiritual receptivity by trust and obedience and humility, and the results will exceed anything he may have hoped in his leaner and weaker days.”  The father of modern missions, William Carey said: "Expect great things from God, attempt great things for God."  One really great thing I would love to see God do in my lifetime is the outpouring of his Spirit in a genuine heaven- sent revival.  He has done it before and can do it again.  May He be pleased to revive a fallen church in a fallen land!

Dear brethren,

Pray bold prayers!