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Out of the Heart the Mouth Speaks

This past month, the Supreme Court handed down a ruling in favor of Westboro Baptist Church‘s right to protest at a soldier’s funeral. Over the past several years, I’ve seen videos and news articles of this group’s hate-speech, sign-waving demonstrations primarily directed towards homosexuals and cringed each time, wondering what’s behind this method of presenting the gospel. This can’t be what Christ intended when He said, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News…” (Mark 16:15) And they’re not the only group or individual I’ve seen act in a similar fashion: That is, focus almost exclusively on a particular sin while condemning those committing that sin. When I compare the life of Christ to their actions, something just doesn’t add up.

Out of the Overflow of the Heart the Mouth Speaks

When an individual or church only focuses on one particular sin AND their emotional responses around that sin are consistently filled with anger, outrage and/or hate, this says more about the condition of the person’s heart (Luke 6:45) rather than the severity of the sin they’re attacking. Most of the time, Jesus responded to the lost with compassion (Matthew 9:35-38), not anger. Christ reserved the rough stuff for the religious leaders. There are many in the Church who feel called to speak out against specific sins such as abortion, alcoholism, or domestic violence. But they express a variety of emotions with compassion often leading the way. I’m not concerned with them, only with those who can’t let go of their anger towards a particular sin. This almost always is a red flag that something’s not right with their heart.

What’s Beneath the Anger?

Howard Olsen, a professional counselor with CrossWays Ministries, states that we only experience three negative primary emotions:  Pain, Shame, and Fear and that Anger, along with other emotions normally considered negative, is really a secondary emotion. Generally, we become aware of our anger long before other negative feelings as a means to help us regain control of the situation. With pain, shame, and fear, we feel vulnerable and exposed, unable to protect ourselves. Thus with anger, it’s always important to ask the question: What’s beneath the anger? What are the issues (wounds) and emotions I’m trying to avoid by hanging on to my anger? Matthew 7:3 gives us a clue where to start. “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own…?”

What Wounds Am I Avoiding?

For example, if I consistently rage against homosexuality, hatefully attacking those committing that sin, maybe what’s simmering beneath the surface is a fear of my own homosexual impulses. Or maybe it’s the shame of past homosexual sins or the painful memories of a molestation at a young age by someone of the same sex. Maybe the homosexuality reminds me of a painful wound that I desperately want to avoid. And instead of pouring out my heart to God like King David did after he sinned,  and confessing my faults to those in the Body of Christ, I hide my wounded heart by pointing to the failures of others. I control my behavior by attempting to control yours. And when I do, my wound never heals.

Search Me O God

An unhealed wound blinds us to the condition of our heart and makes it easy to deceive ourselves into believing that we’ve moved past the sin or the traumatic event, past the pain-filled, shameful memories that defile our lives in so many areas. David knew this about himself when he prayed in Psalm 139:23-24 (English Standard Version), “Search me, O God! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous  way in me…” He knew that only God saw the truth of what was really inside his heart. So the next time I see a Westboro Baptist Church or other individuals rage against the sins of others, instead of cringing and shaking my head, irritated at the speck in their eyes, I’ll take the opportunity to have a ‘David moment’ and pray, ‘Search me O God and show me my heart and any unhealed wounds hidden inside.’

In the Beginning Was…?

Atheists champion evolution as proof that God does not exist while creationists declare that the universe  and everything in it is simply too complex, too intricate to have happened through a series of ‘accidents.’ and, therefore, there  must be a God who’s the master designer. Whether you’re a creationist who believes in a six thousand or sixty-five billion year old universe, or an evolutionist trumpeting Darwin’s Theory and the scientific method, this debate ultimately comes down to one thing:  In the beginning was…

In the Beginning Was…Who? What?

Stephen Hawking, a physicist and, until October 2009, the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge (a position once held by Sir Isaac Newton), stated in his most recent book, The Grand Design, that a creator “is not necessary.” “Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing…” Others believe that gases such as hydrogen and helium collided and through a series of ‘incidents’ over billions of years somehow ‘accidentally’ evolved into higher life forms.

Belief in Something Eternal

When I consider all the possible explanations for the origin of the universe, I’m struck by this one thing: Everyone, including the atheist, believes in someone or something eternal, some entity that has existed forever with no beginning or end. Whether it’s gases or an eternal ‘nothingness’ or an infinite  law of gravity or God, someone or something has always been.

Simple is Better

Noted atheist, Richard Dawkins, states that “explanations” built “on simple premises” are more reasonable than those built on “complex and statistically improbable beginnings.” Mind-boggling! What’s more statistically improbable than something coming from nothing? No scientist either living or dead has ever witnessed nothing turning into something in any type of setting and yet atheists hold this as a plausible and rationale possibility. And the evolutionist should not confuse the simple elements of gases and suggest this as the basis for a ‘simple premise.’

Evolution:  Complex Premise

On the contrary, evolution is a complex premise that asks us to believe something irrational such as the universe suddenly appearing out of nothing (that’s not a simple idea) or that simple elements through trillions of accidents over billions of years created life as we know it today in a haphazard fashion (not a simple idea either). And from this turbulent, chaotic, disorganized beginning came an organized rational plan (by accident) in the form of DNA, the master ‘blueprint’ for how things are made. Though still difficult for our minds to comprehend, the simplest premise for the intricacies and magnificence of creation is that an intelligent Creator spoke the worlds into existence in a manner consistent with the laws of science He created, laws intended to point man to Him.

How DNA Points to God

In this video, atheist-turned-Christian Lee Strobel speaks on how DNA points to a God who created the universe. The New York Times best selling author and former teaching pastor at Saddleback Valley Community Church in Lake Forest, CA says, “When we look at DNA and see these written instructions for the assembly of proteins in our bodies, we are looking at some of the most powerful evidence that there must be intelligence behind life.”

DNA Proves Creation

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Militant Atheism

Atheist Ads on Buses and Billboards

Have you noticed a rise in the number of billboards and ads on the side of city buses advertising atheism? Chances are the United Coalition of Reason (UCR) is behind this as part of their national campaign to ‘evangelize’ America. Other groups. such as the American Atheists, are more militant toward Christianity. Recently on a billboard in Huntsville, Alabama, this group attacked churches with the following message: “You Know They’re all Scams.” In an interview on January 4, 2011 with Bill O’Reilly of The Factor, David Silverman, President of American Atheists stated that “everyone knows religion is a scam and a myth” and that churches are “deliberately misleading people.”

History of Militant Atheism

Over the past decade, we’ve observed the rise of a militant atheism bent on ridding our culture of all religions and, in particular, Christianity. Christopher Hitchens in his book, God is Not Great, wrote, “The real axis of evil is Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.” Believing that “organized religion is the main source of hatred in the world,” Hitchens debates religious leaders declaring God a dangerous myth and that scientific discovery should replace religion as the moral compass in our culture.  Two other advocates for this new atheism are Daniel C. Dennett (“What Should Replace Religions?”) and Sam Harris, founder of The Reason Project, whose mission is to fill the religious void with secularism and scientific thinking that embraces Darwin’s Evolution.

The ‘Four Horseman’ of the New Atheism

Though Hitchens, Dennett, and Harris work tirelessly for the removal of Christianity as an influential force in our culture, perhaps the most hostile and militant of the ‘Four Horseman’ is Richard Dawkins (The God Delusion).  Referred to as “Darwin’s Rottweiler,” Dawkins lays out his vision for the rise of atheism and it’s influence on our culture in a 2002 presentation at the TED Talks (seen below). Openly despising Christianity, Dawkins declares that “evolution is fundamentally hostile to religion” and calls for a militant atheism to rise up against such things as Intelligent Design, belief in the supernatural, and life beyond the grave. In a campaign similar to the Gay Rights Movement, he calls for all ‘closet’ atheists to ‘come out’ and join his movement to sway the educational, judicial, and political systems in this country away from God.

Richard Dawkins:  An Atheist’s Call to Arms

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A Call to Prayer

As I study these intelligent men and their determination to destroy Christianity, I’m reminded of a similar man who also gave his life to persecute the Church. As a result of the prayers of the saints and the willingness of some like Stephen to lay down their lives to the point of death, a radical transformation occurred in the life of Paul as we read about in Acts 9:4-5: “‘…Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?’ ‘Who are you Lord?’ Saul asked.” Though we should give a reasonable defense of the Gospel, the course of history will never be changed by our rational arguments but only when we stand in prayer against the forces of darkness and lay down our lives in a ‘militant’ love for those who seek to destroy what God has created.

Authority of Scripture at the Crossroads

Progressives

Within the Church, those on the far left cling to the mantle of progressivism while reciting the mantra of ‘political correctness,’ accepting anything and everything anyone says or does as long as they don’t violate their liberal litmus test of ‘close-mindedness,’ all the while  dismissing what God’s Word says. For the Progressive, it’s more important to espouse the cultural ideology of  inclusiveness and tolerance rather than risk the belief that God’s heart is good and that His Word can be trusted. It’s much ‘safer’ to believe in the laws of science than the God who made those same laws.

A Widening Schism Within the Church at Large

As a result of the Progressives’ insistence on cultural relevance, many dominations are stretched to the point of a church split. One such domination is the Anglican Church that is torn over the issue of blessing same-sex unions. In the following clip, the Reverend David Short of St. John’s Church in the Diocese of New Westminster discusses this split and suggests that the issue of blessing same-sex unions is just the “tip of the iceberg” and that the deeper issue driving this debate is the “Authority of Scripture” and the Progressives’ attempts to revise the Christian faith by declaring various parts of Scripture irrelevant when  it conflicts with the culture at large.

Anglican Realignment 2/10 – What is the Crossroads?

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Can I Trust God’s Heart?

After reading Romans 1:25-27I Corinthians 6:9-10, and other Scriptures on same-sex relationships, it’s clear that the early Church faced similar divisions. In Galatians 1:6 Paul states, “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel–which is really no gospel at all.” Is it possible that the Progressives’ embrace of ‘cultural relevance’ is really “no gospel at all” and simply a ‘smoke-screen’ for the real issue, one that goes even deeper than the Authority of Scriptures? Is it possible that at the heart of this debate is the one question with which everyone struggles: Can I trust that God’s heart is good toward me?

Does God Exist?

The Rise of Atheism

In recent years, we’ve seen the rise of atheism in our culture as evidenced by the popularity of such authors as Richard Dawkins (The God Delusion) and Stephen Hawking (The Grand Design). Intense debates like the ones between seminary professor Dr. William Craig and Christopher Hitchens, a self-proclaimed anti-theist, pack university auditoriums across the country with hungry minds seeking an answer to the question:  Does God Exist?

A Time to Reflect

It’s common for many to spend the last week or two of a year reflecting on the past and looking forward to what the new year might bring. As we prepare for 2011, I encourage you to take some time to consider what you truly believe about God’s existence. How we answer that question, both individually as well as collectively,  will determine the path we travel as a nation in the coming year.

A young Albert Einstein’s Answer to this Question

The following clip is a reenactment of an exchange between a young Albert Einstein and his professor over the question of whether or not God exists and, if He does, is God evil. This might be a good starting point for your reflections as this year comes to an end.

Does God Exist? Albert Einstein

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“You will seek me and find me when you search for Me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13, NAS). May God reveal Himself to you in 2011 as you earnestly search for Him.

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