Archive for category testimony

And the Beat Goes On

It’s happened again. Another believer in the public eye has been hauled over the coals for something they said. This time one of the Duggar girls made a statement about our national shame surrounding the atrocity of abortion ending her thoughts with, “EVERY LIFE IS PRECIOUS.” Instantly, the opposition revealed itself.

In a fairly regular cycle, some Christian celebrity comes under fire for their perspective, words, or actions. As soon as the reports hit the media, the columnists from Slate, Salon, and the rest are offering their condemnations.

For a while, it seemed like Tim Tebow couldn’t smile at the camera without taking heat for his public faith. In fact, one of the most benign commercials ever produced featuring him and his mother was routinely bashed because of its anti-abortion stance. (I offered my thoughts about his situation back in 2011.)

While being interviewed in 2012, Dan Cathy (Chick-fil-A) clearly stated his personal and corporate support of the traditional family – marriage between one man and one woman. Suddenly, the boycotts and lawsuits from various groups hit the scene. Some colleges booted their stores off campus, and a California high school principal forbade the football booster club from selling their chicken sandwiches and waffle fries. (See here and here.)

Duck Dynasty’s patriarch Phil Robertson openly identified homosexuality as a sin according to Scripture and the howling dogs in the media were on full alert. The pervasive calls for tolerance were suddenly replaced with cries for censorship. (How ironic!) Never mind that Phil also identified adultery, idolatry, drunkenness, and extortion as sin when he referenced 1 Corinthians 6:9-10. Never mind that he also said, “…the Robertson family really believes strongly that if the human race loved each other and they loved God, we would just be better off. We ought to just be repentant, turn to God, and let’s get on with it, and everything will turn around.”

What is being overlooked in all of this is that these views and statements are really nothing new. For centuries everyday Americans – Christian and unbelievers alike – have understood that the Bible recognizes marriage as only between a man and a woman, homosexuality as sin, and abortion as murder. In fact, the great majority supported those views and lived accordingly. God’s Word has not changed. Our society has.

The truth is that this goes much further than even the founding of our nation. For millennia civilizations have for supported these truths. Even pagan societies recognized the internal witness of conscience that God placed within us and acknowledged some sense of right and wrong. Wise King Solomon told us that “there is no new thing under the sun.” Declaring biblical truth in words and actions is only radical today because of its rarity.

Perhaps instead of being shocked every time someone is attacked for their biblical perspective we should remember the words of Jesus Christ.

If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. John 15:19

Maybe we should also embrace the fact that there are spiritual benefits attached to this type of treatment.

Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Matthew 5:11  

Perhaps we should be asking why it doesn’t happen more often. Why doesn’t it happen in our own lives more regularly? Why aren’t we personally feeling the heat from the world around us? If we are living out our faith as Scripture calls us to do the results should be evident. If our Christian walk is genuine others should notice, and some will oppose.

Finally, if you are discouraged because your personal faith or witness has been rejected recently, remember this promise:

Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. 1 John 4:4 

A Song for Today

Music possesses the mighty power to leave a lasting impact on our spiritual lives. Recently, I read about the background of the well-loved hymn, How Great Thou Art. Like many, this song is a special favorite because of its message and majesty.daldorch valley a

Whenever I see this picture, I feel an emotional stirring in my soul and sometimes tears come to my eyes. Certainly, it is not because of the dramatic visual impact of this photograph! After all, this is a digital scan of a Kodak slide taken almost 35 years ago by a young boy with a 25 year-old Ansco camera. The color and quality is poor, at best, even after being retouched. (Slides don’t hold up as well as you might think). Yet, the strong feelings have more to do with the occasion associated with  this slide.

I remember as a 13 year-old boy spending my summer in Scotland working on a construction project with Teen Missions International. After several weeks of separation from home and family, long hours of laying bricks and digging trenches, and cold, drizzly weather, I was feeling low physical and emotionally. I took a walk late one afternoon to explore and was talking out loud to God about what I was feeling.

About that time I discovered this wonderful vista of the River Ayr winding between the rolling hills. Having been raised in Florida (elevation 15 ft.), hills and mountains of any size seem especially majestic. Combined with the emotion of the moment and the spiritual impact of sincere prayer, I felt an overwhelming impulse to sing. The only song that seemed right was How Great Thou Art. It has always captured for me the goodness and greatness of our God and still reminds me of the wonder of those moments alone with Him.

The psalmist sang that the Lord had “put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: Many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the LORD.” (Psalm 40:3)

No one was around to see or hear me out on that hillside in 1980. But our day-to-day purpose as God’s children should be that others are seeing the evidence of His presence in our lives. They should be hearing our mouths filled with praise and thanksgiving for what He has done. It is not always accomplished by singing a hymn, although that is a wonderful privilege of our personal relationship and a vital component of our corporate worship. Rather, every word that comes out of our mouth should reflect our Savior. Even the countenance of our face can reflect Him.

What will your song be today?

He told the truth

klose and refIt made news. In fact, that one simple act drew lots of attention.

Two years ago in an Italian soccer match, the ball sailed in front of the goal and Miroslav Klose knocked it in. The problem was that instead of hitting the ball with his head, he hit it with his arm. One team celebrated while the other protested.

After a few seconds, Klose walked over and spoke into the referee’s ear. He told the truth and the goal was cancelled. Members of the opposing team patted his shoulders and congratulated him, and the story of one man’s honest act began to spread.

In contrast, Argentine player Diego Maradona is remembered for a goal that he punched in with his fist during the 1986 World Cup competition. When asked about that goal afterward, he evasively described it as “a little with the head of Maradona and a little with the hand of God.” Almost 20 years later, he admitted on a television program that he had purposely hit the ball with his hand and knew all along that it was illegitimate.

Honesty is strikingly absent in so many realms of our society. We’ve all been hurt by someone’s trickery or deceit. People distrust politicians (and others) because of broken promises. A man’s word is no longer considered his bond. A handshake means nothing to many.

Years ago, Dr. Madison Sarratt, who for many years taught mathematics at Vanderbilt University, would admonish his class before a test with this thought:

“Today I am giving two examinations – one in trigonometry and the other in honesty. I hope you will pass them both. If you must fail one, fail trigonometry. There are many good people in the world who can’t pass trig, but there are no good people in the world who cannot pass the examination of honesty.”

As believers, we should be known for our integrity. Honest words. Trustworthy transactions. Honorable behavior. Consistent conduct. Through these traits we are able to fulfill our responsibilities as salt and light in the world. Commit today to demonstrate the change that God has made within you with every word and action.

A Matter of Perspective

Recently, I was halfway through a two-hour flight out of Tampa when our aircraft experienced an “incident.” I sensed our slow descent and heard the captain announce that we would be heading to Atlanta, instead of our destination, because of an indicator in the cockpit. He assured us that the issue with the hydraulic system should not concern us as plenty of backup measures were in place. Immediately the skittish family seated behind me began asking the flight attendants, “What’s wrong? What’s happening?”

During our descent, storm clouds caused us to encounter a few bumps of turbulence. Each new question from the nervous family grew in volume and pitch. Finally, the grandfather, apparently not a frequent flyer, declared to all who would listen, “I don’t care what anyone else is doing. I’m not going back up in one of these things. I’ll rent a car and drive 13 hours.”

After a short delay we were off to our original destination in a new aircraft – with four fewer passengers. I realized then that the perspective and experience of the passengers affected how each viewed that flight. The bumps that barely distracted me from my reading, likely kept one man from ever boarding another jet.

A similar truth is evident in our daily lives. When the storms of this life bring turbulence, we may look around and question what will happen next. We wonder why life has to be so jarring. Many strain against uncomfortable circumstances and nervously take matters into their own hands.

However, believers can live confidently because of our perspective. While we are limited by our human senses, we trust that an eternal God with an infinite viewpoint holds us firmly. Our salvation is secure in the hands of the One who has redeemed us. Our needs are met by a heavenly Father who loves us and is rich beyond measure. Finally, our glorious future is assured by His unfailing promises.

Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ: Philip. 1:6

Experience is another wonderful tool for God’s children. The psalmist recalled that he had never seen God’s children forsaken or destitute (Psa. 37:25). We live by a faith that is reinforced by our experience. Take a few minutes and remember God’s faithfulness in your life. Follow that recollection with a prayer of thanksgiving. That healthy habit enables Christians to look at life with hope and assurance. Even when life seems unsettled, we are secure in God’s infinite care.

Out of the Abundance of the Heart

Recently, I heard two national news items that centered on foul language. First, Vice President Biden used particularly vulgar language in a whispered aside to the president while microphones were recording. People everywhere quickly rushed to defend and justify his words. John Dickerson at stated that Biden’s language was entirely acceptable for the occasion. In fact, he asserted that vulgar language is sometimes the most appropriate way to express your thoughts. (One might hope that a professional writer would have a vocabulary extensive enough to avoid that.)

The second incident occurred at the recent NFL scouting combine. Apparently, Tim Tebow suggested that players bow in a word of prayer before taking the Wonderlic exam. To this, a player told him to shut up using the same vulgarity as the vice president. The room filled with the laughter of other players.

We could probably agree that this type of language is far more prevalent than in years gone by. Words that at one time would never have been broadcast now find their way onto even “family-friendly” television programs. Language that was once reserved for “sailors” can now be heard in the mouths of preteen girls. As foul words grow more accepted in society, it is important for believers to remember the biblical guidance we have about our language.

Deceitful, slanderous, hypocritical, vain, idle – God’s Word warns about the dangers of these types of speech. Gossip and lying are condemned as particularly damaging. In contrast, the words of Christ are described as gracious and full of life. The book of Proverbs is rich with instruction about how our language can produce blessings or bitter consequences. The New Testament offers counsel about controlling even the most difficult tongue (James 3). We must remember that God hears all the words, even the idle ones, that slip past our lips (Matthew 12:36). Why does Scripture devote so much attention to our words? They are powerful and important.

What will my words accomplish today? A whispered exclamation when surprised or upset. Personal conversations between two friends. Public statements of my opinions or judgments. Each of this expressions reveal what lies in my heart. We don’t have to stand behind a pulpit to share the words of eternal life with another person. They should be an integral part of our daily life.  What comes out of my mouth originated in my heart.

The Psalmist reminds us that ultimately there is only one to whom we must give account. May David’s prayer be ours as well.
“Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer.” Psalm 19:14