Friday, October 17, 2014

Exposing Satan's Lies; Revealing the Truth of Jesus

I really wanted to write an article this week exposing Islam to be a false religion. I intended to use this space to pose some questions like: If Islamic terrorists groups such as ISIS are not truly representative of the Muslim religion, then why is there not a great outcry among mainstream, peace-loving Muslims condemning such acts of terror? Why isn’t more action being taken to root out potential Islamic terrorists from our own country? Why do our nation’s leaders seem so quick to defend Islam while mounting increasing attacks on Christianity? 

Have we forgotten 9/11? What about the sniper attacks in 2002? The Boston Marathon bombings? Have we missed the news on the Ft. Hood shooter? Have we ignored the recent beheading in Moore, Oklahoma, and the killer’s conversion to Islam, his disdain for America, admiration for jihad terrorists, and desire to see Sharia law enforced? Who else hijacks planes and plants bombs and beheads innocent victims all in the name of religion, shouting Islamic phrases about bringing praise to Allah?

But maybe I don’t know enough about Islam to write a piece that would reflect their beliefs and practices accurately. I don’t really know what most Muslims think about the “radical” extremists who murder, rape and pillage as they seek to establish a broad Islamic state. And I sure don’t know why the politically correct establishment can’t tell the difference between workplace violence and radical Islamic terrorism.

What I do know, however, is the truth of the Word of God. The Bible – not the Qur’an, not the Book of Mormon, nor any other “sacred text” – is God-breathed, inspired by the Holy Spirit, completely true and unchanging, tells the all-time greatest story that’s ever been told and compels us to believe word for word.

For central to this incredible story lies the truth that Jesus Christ came from heaven to earth as the Son of God to take on the likeness of man, that He died on a cross to forgive the sins of mankind, that He triumphed over sin and death by rising from the dead, that He ascended into heaven, and that one day He will come again and bring salvation to all who believe in Him while executing judgment on all who reject Him.

That’s the story of a holy God against whom we all have sinned and deserve the sentence of death and hell, but who in the riches of His love sent His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. That’s the story of mercy and grace. It’s a story of redemption, and it’s available to all.

In fact, part of the beauty of this story is that salvation is offered freely in Jesus to all who call upon His name in truth. That includes the Jews and the Gentiles alike. It includes both men and women. It includes people from every nation under heaven, every tongue, every tribe. In Christ there is pardon from sin to all who repent of their wicked ways and receive the mercy of Christ Jesus.

The Bible says the unrighteous will not inherit the Kingdom of God, so don’t be fooled. The sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, homosexuals, thieves, greedy, drunkards, revilers, swindlers – they’re all disqualified (cf. 1 Cor. 6:9-11). Sin disqualifies us all. But those who are washed clean of their sins in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ will indeed inherit the promise of everlasting life in heaven.

Jesus is our only Savior and our only hope. Not Mohammad. Not Buddha. Not Confucius. Not Moses. But Jesus. And only in Him are lives truly changed, set free from the chains of sin and given the breath of life. May Satan’s deceptions be exposed, and may the truth of Jesus Christ prevail. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Barry the Betta

Recently we have welcomed a new member to our family: Barry, the betta fish. Don’t ask me why his name is Barry; Toby named him. I don’t think there’s any political connection, but living in a fishbowl puts both the president and the fish in the same water.

Can you imagine what it would be like to have your every move tracked, every decision judged, every golf outing scrutinized, every vacation criticized, and every fundraising event analyzed? The guy can’t eat without somebody counting his calories (and the cost of the meal to taxpayers). He can’t read a book or attend church without someone inferring his motives by whom he’s allowing to influence him. The guy can’t even take a smoke break without someone making it into a headline.

It’s kind of like being monitored by the NSA.

It’s tough to be Barry. He lives all by himself in a one-gallon aquarium on the center of the kitchen table. Please don’t call PETA on us. He needs to be insulated from the wild of the sea otherwise he’d get eaten alive. He’s no match for the hardened enemies who would destroy him. They’re not interested in peace treaties or dialogue. Their only intent is to make him an appetizer.

I’m not sure if Barry likes living in the fishbowl or not. He likes to be the king of the waters, though. He swims around like he’s looking for a fight. If he could, I’m sure he’d make all kinds of changes, to the climate, the conditions, the culture. He’d think they would all be positive, progressive changes that would lead to a better future – at least his version of a better future – even though there are good reasons why the stability of the current structures have worked well for the success of fish for a long time. 

But he’s only a fish. What does he know?

The thing is, he doesn’t even realize that he’s not really in control of his own destiny. There is a greater King who reigns over all the fish of the sea (and those in aquariums). And He rules with wisdom, power and love. This King is an awesome King. Even though some fish despise the King’s rule and set themselves together against Him, raging and plotting to overthrow Him, their efforts are all in vain.

In fact, the King laughs at their futile attempts. They are to Him a school of minnows strategizing over how to destroy the great white shark. Then He warns the rulers of the sea to bow before His throne, or else they will face the fury of His wrath.

Those who serve Him with fear and tremble before Him with rejoicing will find that His ways are good and right and just. They will know the great blessing that comes by taking refuge in Him. Would that all the fish recognize the gracious King and turn to Him for salvation!

Barry’s only going to last for a couple more years. His time in the fishbowl is running short. How will he live out his remaining days? Will he continue to fight against the provisions and protections and purposes and promises of the King, or will he yield himself in trust and thanksgiving and service and love to the One who placed Him there?

I’d better row this column to shore. I think Barry needs some more food. And lots of prayer.