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Archive for December, 2009

The lack of moral outrage and the judgment of God

The other day I was in my car listening to the radio when the topic turned to Tiger Woods. The analyst began to wax eloquent in his pleading with Tiger to come out of hiding. The argument went something like this. “Tiger, this is America. Play golf; win a tournament, that’s all you have to do. The people will forget about what has happened. After all, why all the seclusion? You really didn’t do anything that wrong. You didn’t break any laws.” I was stunned but also realized I had just been given a glimpse into the heart of many in modern America. (My thoughts on Tiger Woods have been updated in the addendum below)

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining about second chances. I rejoice in the fact that God (and my wife) is willing to forgive seventy times seven. I need every bit of that grace in my life. I am simply reflecting on a country where so many seem to be unable to feel moral outrage any longer.

How did we get to this place in America? Where sin is not only accepted but in so many cases even applauded? Where stars on talk shows can openly parade their latest sinful endeavors while the audience not only responds with laughter but also with applause? Romans 1:18-32 gives the answer to how we can come to such a state. These verses tell us there is a tremendous cost in pushing God away. He will eventually remove His gracious, restraining hand and begin to give man over to their own base desires. The natural result is an unleashing of sin on that God rejecting people. This is why we are seeing a frightening escalation of every kind of sin imaginable, from sexual perversion to ruthless brutality. It’s all there in Romans 1 where God has outlined what it will look like when He begins to judge a society that has rejected Him.

Now back to my original question, why does moral outrage seem to be missing. How could a society slip so far that it would approve of sin rather than being shocked by it? The answer to that is in the last verse of Romans chapter 1.

Romans 1:32 (ESV)  Though they know God’s decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

One result of God giving man over to their own desires is not only greater personal sin, but also greater delight in the sins of others. Next time you see sin taken so lightly, even applauded don’t be shocked. Romans 1:32 explains why that is happening. When God begins to judge a nation one of the victims is moral outrage. It begins to die.

I was going to write about what the Christian response should be, but I thought it would be much more interesting to discuss it. Feel free to leave a comment. You don’t have to be a pastor or a theologian, you’re opinion is appreciated.

Bill

ADDENDUM: Since I first wrote this there has been a growing backlash against Tiger Woods and his actions. I believe that is only because of the extent of his moral indiscretions. Last I heard he was up to eighteen women he had been committing adultery with. When I first wrote this the number was 3 or 4 and that didn’t seem to be bothering people all that much. Even the sponsors had decided not to drop him. Instead of moral outrage I heard jokes about the situation, I heard people telling Tiger to come out and play golf, entertain us and we will forget. I heard people excuse his actions away by stating such things as “He’s only a man. What would you do if you had all those beautiful women wanting you?” So, I’m glad there is still a threshold that will cause a reaction when it is crossed  but saddened on how high that line has been set.

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Here is a snippet from the sermon I preached last night. We looked at God’s grace in the life of the Prodigal Son and in the life of Peter after his denial of Christ. The primary lesson was, there is a door open to go back to God after sin. God is willing to forgive you, restore you and bless you once more. God’s grace is stunning!

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By Bill Foote

Amos 4:12 (ESV) “Therefore thus I will do to you, O Israel; because I will do this to you, prepare to meet your God, O Israel!”

Prepare to meet your God for what? For judgment! This is one of those verses that knock the wind out of you. Almighty God telling a people that He is going to break forth upon them in wrath. They have rejected His ways and have chosen unrighteousness and now the time has come to reap what they have sown.  The God who cannot be mocked (Gal. 6:7) is about to prove exactly what that means.

Fortunately for the believer there is an answer to this. It is found in the good news of the Gospel. Amos 4:12 tells us to “Prepare to meet your God in judgment.” The Gospel answers with the assurance that the believer has already met God in judgment in the person of Jesus Christ. He paid the penalty for my sin; He drank the cup of God’s fury until there was no fury left. I now stand before a holy God with nothing on the books of heaven against me. Though my sin was as scarlet, my record before God is now as white as snow.

Because Jesus was prepared to meet God in judgment I am now prepared to meet Him in glory.

Jude 24-25 (ESV) Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you  blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, [25]  to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord,  be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

Amen indeed!

Any thoughts. I’d love to hear them.

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Henry was a hero to me. I met him while serving as a missionary and pastor in England. He was a WWII vet and I learned from him what it was like to be a soldier. I sat transfixed by his stories of landing on that blood-drenched beach on D-Day and the circumstances that led up to him being captured by Nazis behind enemy lines. This man had lived quite a life. I learned from him the cost that was paid for my freedom.

I learned from Henry what a hero really was. They don’t wear fancy costumes with a big “S” on their chest. Sometimes they are old men whose bodies are being slowly devoured by disease and who hobble into church with a cane.

Henry could tell most of his stories with ease. There was one story, however, that was much more difficult, one memory that had affected him in a far greater way than the others. One day Henry had to kill a child. He didn’t want to, he tried not to, but he was forced to, and it haunted him for almost fifty years. In WWII there was a group of kids called “Hitler’s kids,” children so brainwashed, so sold out to the cause that they became murderers. They were willing to give their own lives to kill enemy soldiers. One day Henry encountered such a child, about twelve years old he figured. This young kid started to approach Henry and his fellow soldiers. Henry did what he was told to do and started shouting “Halt” in German. He kept coming. Henry fired shots at his feet, which did nothing to stop him. Eventually this young boy reached into his coat and started to pull out a gun. Henry had no choice but to send him into eternity.

At that moment everything changed for Henry. A haunting fear entered into his life that could not be dispelled. He thought to himself, “Certainly anybody who kills a child will not be able to escape the fires of hell.” He was tormented. He started to drink to drive the fear away, but that did nothing. He asked to be put on the front lines in hopes of dying there, but he survived. He went to a priest, who told him to be faithful with the rosary beads – Henry knew that wasn’t the answer. Nothing he tried worked, so he lived with fear and guilt. He lived with nightmares. He lived with the thought of hell hounding him for almost fifty years!

Henry was in his seventies when he started attending our church. He came in and sat in the back. He was searching for something, anything, that might give him peace. One day I was speaking about the wonders of the cross and simply said, “The blood of Jesus is able to cleanse you from all sin. Past, present and future.” At that moment, Henry knew he had discovered what he’d been longing for. Henry trusted in the Savior and, in an instant, almost fifty years of guilt and fear were washed away. That is the unique power of the Gospel. There is no other message that can do something like that. What man couldn’t do for Henry, and what Henry couldn’t do for himself, Jesus did in a few minutes on a Sunday morning in a little church in Ashford, England. Henry was free!

It was a thrill to watch Henry fall in love with his Savior and begin to grow. He faithfully read his Bible until his eyesight began to fade. We provided a large print Bible so he could continue with his devotions. Henry’s only complaint was that he and his wife kept fighting over it because they both were reading God’s Word. When his eyesight became too weak to read the large print, we took him audio tapes of the Bible that he faithfully listened to.

One of the highlights of my time in England was the day I baptized Henry. I will never forget watching this man in his late seventies hobble up to the baptismal and willingly declare his allegiance to his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. About a year after his baptism, Henry went to glory. I miss him and look forward to seeing him again. I thank God He entrusted me with the honor of baptizing a hero.

If this story has touched your heart, please feel free to leave a comment. This not only encourages me but also can start some wonderful discussions.

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To make us strong our heavenly Father must weaken us.

Taken from the sermon “Paul’s Pastoral heart”

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I’ve discovered it is a lot easier to fight sin by finding a greater pleasure in Christ than what the sin can offer.

A short one minute segment taken from the sermon “Gazing on the glory of God”.

To get the full sermon and download the notes I preached from:

http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?sermonid=1130091353150

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Having our pastors proclaim the truth clearly and passionately doesn’t seem to be good enough today. We want them to be cool. Entertainment in church is as important as what is being taught, maybe even more important. This attitude in congregations puts pastors under tremendous pressure to compete. If I want my church to grow, if I don’t want my people to go to Mr. Big Personality’s church down the street, then I need to up my game as far as coolness goes. I need to be funny, quote modern rock songs, be up-to-date with recent television shows and movies and be very “now” with my fashion.

The problem is this pressure often results in a dumbing down of Christianity. If a joke has to be tacked on to every subject, no matter how serious it is, the appropriate gravity of the moment can be stolen. Unfortunately this is not a rare occurrence. Today I received an email from a friend who recently visited a church in the process of looking for a new pastor. Their search hadn’t been going so well. The last three preachers they invited had read a scripture, told a couple of jokes and a few stories and felt that was enough. This congregation wants more, but many don’t.

Other times, the commands of the Bible are turned into options so that nobody is offended. As Fred Craddock (Professor of Preaching and New Testament, Emeritus, at Candler School of Theology) so eloquently put it, “The exclamation points of the Bible are curled into question marks.” It is not uncommon to hear a pastor scrambling, trying to explain away a clear command rather than just simply teaching it. In the end, the passage that was meant to transform is so weakened that nobody feels any need to change, all because the pastor desired popularity above faithfulness to God’s Word.

Is this the model that Jesus, the greatest teacher of all time, left us? No! He told the truth in love, without fear of offending the people. Why? He knew that only truth can set the hearers free. Free from God’s wrath, free from sin, free from the joylessness of a self-centered life.

I’ve heard many styles of preaching and have decided that I want preaching that is more like Jesus and less like a late night talk show host. I want to be confronted by a courageous man who, from a heart of love, simply tells me what the Scriptures say, even when it’s uncomfortable.  I want to be called to move toward a life that is beyond anything I could ever experience in my own strength, that abundant life found in surrender to Christ and dependence upon Him. I want to be comforted by God’s promises and encouraged to take those promises from the pages of Scripture and put them into practice.

I want to be inspired by messages that so exalt Christ, my heart becomes willing to release its grip on the world and cling to Him as my treasure.

That’s what I want. Men who dip into the book so filled with God and His glory and bring out those God-drenched truths so I can understand and respond. That’s who I think is cool.

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