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Archive for December, 2013

It’s All A Gift

The Gift of Life – God dwells around us.

The Gift of Emmanuel – God dwells with us.

The Gift of the Holy Spirit – God dwells in us.

We are here, first and foremost, to receive – not perform. External conformity out of fear is not receiving a gift. It’s coercion.

A healthy Christian heart is fueled by humble gratitude. After all – “What do we have that we did not receive?”

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Phil Robertson Duck DynastyA huge amount of quacking has occurred about the Duck Dynasty/A&E kerfuffle this week, where Phil Robertson has been suspended from his (hugely successful) show for speaking his mind about homosexual practice.

(disclaimer: I’ve only watched the show once. Just to be able to say that I did…!)

And make no mistake – the incident has brought to the surface some huge, brewing cultural trends that need to come out in the open – even in such a stark and public way.

Let’s not duck the fact that this is really about something far bigger than a group of offended folks, as important as that may be. So, let’s grasp the opportunity to get below the surface and expose the core of our culture war.

Put aside, for a moment, Phil and his family, or the particulars about what he said and how he said it. That’s really secondary to what has actually been going on in our society for several generations.

You see, the very same cultural disconnect is driving issues such as who uses which bathrooms in California. That state, always at the forefront of “progressive” thought, is seeking to enforce the notion that students may select their own gender for the purposes of choosing restrooms or playing on sports teams.

I am not kidding. Choose-your-own-gender.

And this starkly illustrates the crux of our societal divide. To put it very plainly – we are having to choose between gender as defined by God and/or natural law; or, gender as defined by the almighty self.

In other words, we are wrestling with a societal push towards Gender Anarchy. Choose-your-own-gender. Choose-your-own-sexuality. Choose-your-own-behaviors. Subjective identity; subjective morality. Objective realities are so last century.

Gender anarchy will, of course, manifest itself in a growing assortment of social and sexual behaviors. People on one side of the cultural divide will tend to believe in defined roles and identities and behaviors that transcend personal choice or feeling. Those who seek more personal/societal license will inevitably break down barriers in the pursuit of a more radical form of individual expression. Which will lead, of course, to the inevitable questioning of strictures against polygamy (also in the news), and an untold number of other sexual choices. Because, you know – right and wrong are shifting constructs.

To put it another way – either a transcendent God has created us with clear and understandable gender identity and purpose, or not. Either we embrace an external standard of reality and morality, or we reject it in favor of personal subjectivism.

This is binary. We can’t have it both ways.

God = Accountability. No God = Whatever I can get away with.

If there is no capital-R Right, then everyone may do whatever is right in their own eyes – choose-your-own-everything. And even though those who embrace such moral and sexual license will always try to qualify it with the idea of “consent” between individuals, that paper barrier never stands. Respect for others is rooted in transcendent values – it is not in the vocabulary of either anarchy or tyranny.

Whoever is strongest and loudest wins, and the rest must be suppressed. Not accepted – suppressed. They stand in the way of the “progress” of limitless personal choice. And right now, in our culture, the cheerleaders for gender and sexual anarchy are on the ascendancy.

Bye-bye, Phil Robertson. Shut up, Christians. Farewell, traditional morality. If you like your convictions, you can’t keep your convictions. Because your convictions offend those whose core conviction is self-determination.

So, this is not simply about A&E and ducks. It’s not merely about toilets. It’s not primarily about this or that sexual behavior or preference. In fact, when you think about it – radical self-determination is not even just about gender.

It’s about God, and truth, and objective moral reality. The rule of a REAL, objective, moral, sovereign and holy (yet benevolent) God, and the anarchic rule of man, are incompatible. Period.

That’s why we’re at war over a duck-hunting, Bible-believing family.

We’re accountable to God, or we’re adrift in a sea of subjectivism, subject to the whims of whomever has currently seized the reins of power.

When we embrace radical self-determination, as individuals or as a society, we’re at war with God. We’re at war with each other. And we inevitably lose our freedom to the tyranny of majority opinion.

Let’s not duck the real discussion here. This is about more than freedom of speech. The Duck Dynasty blowup is a symptom of something far deeper. This is about God. It is also about the club of societal power, and who wields it.

Liberty is from God (recommended reading for Anarchist-Americans: our founding documents). Or, freedom is really just all about personal moral license joined to majority rule. Pick one.

Moral “progressivism” is not freedom. It is rooted in anarchy. It is thought-policing. It is tyranny in bud, waiting for full flower. It is the enemy of freedom; and it will, inevitably, destroy all of our liberties. When presidential advisor John Podesta broad-brushes Americans of a different political party as Jonestown cultists, he merely shows his bias toward suppressive tyranny. Such hate-filled extremists are not public servants. They’re quacks.

As for me, I’m with God, with objective reality, and with the founders of our country, thank you very much. I’d choose “Duck Dynasty” over “Quack Dynasty” any day of the week.

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God Within and Without

Some of the wording describing the “in-ness” of Christ in the Paul’s letter to the Colossians is mind-blowing.

  • Christ is before all things, and in Him all things hold together
  • It was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fulness to dwell in Him
  • In Christ are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge
  • In Him all the fulness of Deity dwells in bodily form

So – Jesus cannot be considered apart from His “in-ness” with God the Father, and indeed, with all creation. He is not some remote and limited historical figure of dubious significance. According to the gospel, He is the image of the all-wise God. Nothing came into being apart from Christ; nothing continues to exist without Christ.

From the intricate marvels of individual DNA strands, to the vast stretches of innumerable galaxies, and everywhere in between, resides the Creator and Lord of all. The barren notion that {all things = deity} is trumped by the truth that the Divine God is before, above, around, and in all the things He created.

But that’s not all.

This same Jesus takes up residence in the hearts of His people. He seizes our darkened souls, kicks out our selfish addiction to immorality, and renews us continually in gracious love. Not in some faraway, abstract sense. But in actual, real-time presence.

And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach…(the mystery of the gospel is) Christ in you, the hope of glory.

The fulness of God is in Christ, with no limits. And the fulness of the living Christ is in us who believe. The gospel is not merely one of many religious messages. It is Emmanuel – God with us.

Christmas is about the light and hope of God coming to earth in the person of Jesus. But Jesus didn’t just do some 33-year gig and go away. He, for all ages, dwells (through His limitless Spirit) on earth in His body, the church.

And since the fulness of Christ is within us, we have enduring hope. The God without limits has come into our hearts.

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