Sin Isn’t the Leading Cause of Death

As Christians, we sometimes wonder why God doesn’t bring an end to the pain and suffering in this world caused by sin. We ask, “Where is God’s justice?” But God has done something: He sent Jesus to die for sinners.

Our real difficulty is accepting God’s patience. We want Him to do something now, something we can see today and know that justice is being served.

God’s justice, however, is bittersweet when we remember that the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). Sin isn’t the leading cause of death – it’s the only cause of death. God told Adam and Eve that in the day they disobeyed Him, you shall surely die (Genesis 2:17); and so it’s been ever since.

His justice means that the sin of every person must be punished. Every sinner must suffer the consequences of offending God. Crying out for God’s justice means that some of our own family members and friends will be forced to cash that check which brings eternal damnation.

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23).

Kenyatta, Odinga, and the Will of God

Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God (Romans 13:1).

Kenya is a young nation, having gained its independence from the British on December 12, 1963. The nation has struggled to set aside tribal animosity and bind itself together as one people. Politics has been the flash point. A decade ago, over 1,000 people were murdered in election violence.

Voting for a candidate, or against a candidate, based on his tribal ethnicity instead of his beliefs – will destroy Kenya and any other nation. Tribalism divides rather than heals.

In a few days, on August 8th, Kenyans will go to the polls to elect their president. The great question every Kenyan should be asking is not which candidate will win the election, Kenyatta or Odinga, but how the hearts of sinful men will respond to the will of God.

Therefore, whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves (Romans 13:2).

** Please keep us in prayer while we minister in Kenya. Thanks!

The Power of Salt

My introduction to the power of salt occurred when I was just a boy.

For most of my youth, my mother provided for us by doing child daycare in our home. Quite the wiseacre, one April Fools Day I filled the sugar bowl with salt.

Once I left for school, my mom served the other children their Cheerios, topped with a spoon of the white crystals from the sugar bowl. No matter what she said or did, not one of the kids would eat their cereal. When I got home from school later that day, I found myself in a heap of trouble.

In the ancient world, salt was more valuable than gold. The Roman government often paid its soldiers with salt. The Latin word for salt, salis, is the basis for our English word salary. Ancient Rome is also the origin for our saying that something without value isn’t “worth its weight in salt.”

At a time before refrigeration, salt was also valuable because when liberally applied to food, it preserved the food by slowing corruption.

Salt which loses its saltiness is worthless.

Jesus said to His disciples, You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men (Matthew 5:13).

God’s people are salt in this world. By our very nature as His children, we retard the sinful rot in society around us. He uses us to flavor the world in which we live for His glory. Our loyalty to Christ Jesus and faithfulness to His commands is a proof of our conversion so that wherever we go, we live as representatives of His presence.

The Lord’s Day

the-lords-dayI was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet (Revelation 1:10).

Cult groups harp on the idea that the Roman Catholic Church changed the day of Christian worship from Saturday to Sunday; but the accusation is neither historical nor Biblical.

God gave the Jews the 7th day of the week for rest. Saturday, the Sabbath Day, commemorates God’s completion of Creation (Genesis 2:1-3) and God commanded Israel to observe Saturday as a time of rest from their labors (Exodus 20:8-11).

Christians, however, held Sunday as our day of worship from the very beginning of the Church (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:2). The Church began on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1), which always falls on a Sunday, exactly 50 days after the Passover Sabbath.

Jews found the rest from their physical labors in a day on the calendar, Christians find their spiritual rest in the Lord of the Sabbath, Jesus  (Matthew 12:8; Hebrews 4:9-11). He called everyone tired of struggling to keep the Law of Moses to Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28).

Sunday is the first day of the week. It was the day God began His creation of the universe (Genesis 1:5). Sunday, the day of new beginnings, was the day He created light (Genesis 1:5) and the day Jesus, the Light of the World, was raised from the dead (Matthew 28:1; Mark 16:1-2; Luke 24:1; John 20:1).

As Christians, we worship God every day of the week, but Sunday is our primary day for corporate worship through teaching the Word, prayer, taking the Lord’s Supper, and giving thanks.

More Boring than a Wheel

Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day (Exodus 20:9, 10, 11).

A CBS News story reported in May that Jews and Christians made up the idea of the 7-day week as a form of time slavery. The “week is man-made, arbitrary, a substance not found in nature.”

Instead of time being a continual revolving cycle of renewal, “Judeo-Christians decided that time was actually linear, beginning at creation and moving toward end times. This idea stuck—and it’s way more boring than a wheel.” To improve the conquest of time, the author of the report said we must elevate the weekend, which she claims was invented by socialist-minded politicians.

If you think that socialism is compatible with Christianity, here’s more proof you’re wrong.

God has a different idea about time than communists. The Bible says that He created the idea of a 7-day week when He created the heavens and the earth in six days and then rested on the seventh. It’s not man-made, it is inherent in His creation.

Instead of conquering time, we must be living circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil (Ephesians 5:15-16).

Our Citizenship

German officer coat and hat 6.2016My son is finishing his third year of German language in high school. He loves it! Every conversation is littered with Deutch words and phrases. He listens to their music, follows German politics and politicians and is planning to move to Germany. It seems that everything he thinks of has a German slant to it. Fortunately he’s not scouring the internet for a German fraulein! … at least not yet.

Though the United States is his home and has been the home of his family for 6 generations, he keeps his mind and eyes on another land. It’s a land he’s never visited, but he’s heard about, read about, and has his heart set upon.

The Bible says of Christians: Our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ (Philippians 3:20).

It seems we often forget this truth because our minds, eyes, and hearts get too wrapped up in the things of this earth. We forget that Heaven is our true home and homeland. We fail to set our minds on things above, not on things on the earth (Colossians 3:2).

It’s hard not to be consumed by the things in the land where we reside and what we naturally know, but remember Christian friend, your citizenship in not in this world. Heaven is your eternal home.

A New Commandment

two churchesMore than thirty years ago, it was my first stint as a youth pastor and our Youth Extravaganza! was going to be amazing. One of the old-time leaders of our denomination was going to preach a “wing-ding” of a message. There would be special music and ice cream sundaes afterward.

We printed up fliers and posters, and sent letters to every church in our city. We went out of our way to specially invite the other churches of our denomination.

The big night came – but only the youth in our own church showed up.

I was terribly embarrassed. I was embarrassed for myself and my youth who worked so hard to invite others. I was ashamed that no other churches, especially those of our denomination, showed up. I was horrified for our guest who preached to a near-empty auditorium.

Sadly, this wasn’t the first time I experienced this kind of Christian fellowship.

Churches located next to each other, with near identical beliefs, won’t cooperate. Each group is concerned in protecting its own money and attendance figures.

Just as bad, Christians live next door to each other and won’t even speak.

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another (John 13:34-35).

Many but One

Different but NecessaryAs long as there are two people left on planet earth, no matter who they are, they’re going to be different.

I’m often told how much my son looks like me. Looking back at photographs of the two of us, there are many similarities. One of my favorite pictures is of a 1-year old Daniel and I sitting on the couch eating pickles: same facial expression, same hairline, same everything … but he’s still very different from me.

We sometimes consider our differences as weaknesses. It’s why we want the same new technology, teens demand the same style of basketball shorts, and we’re shamed into group-think.

But consider your body. Your ear is important. So is each finger, toe, and nerve ending. Even the parts of our bodies that medical science used to say have no valuable function, like the appendix, we now know are vitally important to a healthy life.

Being different is a strength rather than a weakness when we are found in Jesus. Being free to possess and share a different opinion, gift, function, or skill is an advantage when we’re using those differences for the good of the whole. We all need each other. We need the strengths that only others can bring to our own weaknesses.

The body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body … (First Corinthians 12:12).

Jesus brings different people together in His body for His praise, glory, and service.

Being There

not-the-same-as-being-there“I’m not going on vacation this year. I’m just going to watch a video about the Grand Canyon.”

“A Honeymoon? We’ll just listen to your Mom and Dad tell us about their own while we look at photos.”

“Hospitals make me queasy. My wife will tell me about the birth of our first son later from the comfort of our own home.”

“I’m not going to Great-Grandma’s 100th birthday party. Gonna watch the video on Facebook later.”

“I don’t go to church. I watch a preacher on the tv Sunday morning.”

Going to church isn’t just another routine event. It is our opportunity to hear God speak to us through His Word and fellowship with other believers around Him. There isn’t anything routine about it!

There may be times when physical circumstances make it impossible to get to church on a given Sunday, but like so many other things in life, actually being with other Christians to worship God can’t be conveyed any other way than being there in person!

Do not forsake the assembling of yourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching (Hebrews 10:24).

God is Love

god-is-loveFor God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16). 

God is good and He is also love. It is His love, after all, that motivated Him to send Jesus into this world.

Love is more than something God shows, it is who He is (1 John 4:8). It is His nature.

Our fallen nature is not to love but to hate. Contrary to what the world says, kids don’t learn to hate, they hate because they are sinners. Cain’s hatred of Abel flowed out of his sinful heart.

Our human idea of love is very selfish. Look at the “love and hugs” crowd which is intolerant of those who don’t have their sappy vision of a humanistic world. They “love” you as long as you’re a liberal. That’s the sinful world’s concept of love. It’s based on a value of return. As Christians, our ideas and values flow from the Bible. The world’s love doesn’t describe God’s love or the love that He expects from us.

God’s love is not based on anything in us or even about us. As sinners, enemies, and haters of God, we are wholly unlovable (Romans 5:5-11). In me no good thing dwells (Romans 7:18).

Just as God is eternal (Jeremiah 31:3), so is His love. He didn’t decide one day when we did something pleasing that He’d love us. As His elect, He loved us before the world was even created (Ephesians 1:4). His love, which had no beginning, also has no ending!

He loves whom He chooses. As twins, Jacob and Esau had the same parents, were born at the same time, and raised the same way, yet God loved Jacob and hated Esau (Malachi 1:1; Romans 9:13). His love is as sovereign as He is, dependent upon nothing but the good pleasure of His will (Ephesians 1:5). It is immeasurable and inseparable (Romans 8:35-39).

God’s love isn’t emotional, for emotions change upon circumstances. His love is holy and pure, and thus He cannot wink at sin. Love does not let sin have its own way or go unpunished (Hebrews 12:6). Love does what is best for the loved one, and so God gave Jesus to die for us