I preached and taught for 8 hours this weekend, and I am feeling all done in. I am sitting in my chair attempting to write this and I have to keep deleting and starting over because I am so brain dead right now. It was a great weekend, and I feel incredibly blessed that I got to preach and teach God’s Word. I am looking forward to tomorrow because I am going to work on my boat all day. I am expecting that I will get all the plywood on and get started on the fiberglassing. After a weekend of using my brain it will be nice to think about nothing but my boat, and to talk to just a few people. It is going to be a good week in that Thursday Patty and I are going to drive up and visit my Mom for thanksgiving, and then we will have a bunch of kids and grandkids over on Friday for barbecued brisket and lots of food and conversation. This coming Thanksgiving weekend we are going to have a bunch of our best musicians and singers do a concert at each of our three weekend services. It is going to be amazing and I plan on being incredibly blessed.
Years ago I read Francis Schaffer’s book “How Should We Then Live”. The book was very good, and resulted in much thought and reflection on my part on what was right and wrong based on what God said, not man, as Schaffer put it, “there is a true truth”. The book was basically about the difference in values and standards between the culture of the Western World and the Bible. The book came out in the mid 70’s when I was a student at Western Baptist Bible College in Salem, Oregon now called Corban University. The difference now between the culture of the United States and the standards of the New Testament are much greater than when I first read it. As I read and study the Bible, and attempt to teach it with relevance and accuracy the greatest challenge is stated in Romans 12:2 where the Apostle Paul says, “do not be conformed to this world”. We live our lives submerged in a nation with values and standards that are increasingly contrary to the Words of the Bible, and it is very easy to allow the morals and standards that are all around us to seep into the “true truth”. Part of the problem is that it isn’t very comfortable being radically different, which is exactly what a person who follows the Biblical admonition of “do not be conformed to this world” will become. The greater the difference grows between these two world views the more pressure there is to conform. When the New Testament was written the difference between the Roman Empire and the brand new Christian belief was probably much like today, which probably is why Paul wrote in 1st Corinthians 16:13, ” be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, be courageous, be strong”.
But in the midst of the clash between our two contrary cultures there is the need to be loving, gracious, kind, and wise, which is probably why Paul followed up verse 13 with verse 14 which says, “Let all that you do be done in love”. So “Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, be courageous, be strong, and let everything you do be done in love”. Sounds nearly impossible, but the person who successfully lives that life will be an effective ambassador for “true truth”. One of the principles of Schaffer that I keep in mind is that the greater the difference between the two cultures grows, the clearer and more obvious ” true truth” will become to those truly looking for truth.
There are a lot of very important, or maybe a better phrase is well known people, who are being revealed as sexually immoral in the news lately. It is interesting that a country as sexually immoral as ours is, one where pornography addiction is increasing yearly, movies and television programs make moral purity seem odd, would all of a sudden make such a big deal out of these people’s sexual behavior. It wasn’t that long ago that the press was making fun of Tim Tebow for his public commitment to remain a virgin until he was married, and someone offered a million dollar reward to anyone who could get Tebow to sleep with them, and that offer became a point of mocking his commitment to be morally pure.
I am of the opinion that sexual purity is very important to God. People mess up on this area, and God forgives and restores, but He does so on the basis of conviction, remorse, and repentance. In our culture today the rules have changed from what the Bible clearly teaches as what is right and what is wrong. A passage of scripture that is one of my life verses is 2 Timothy 2:21-22
“Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work. Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.”
“Useful to the master”, useful to Jesus, useful to the God of the universe! That is what I want more than anything in all of my life, to be useful to the Lord. “If a man cleanses himself from these things” , and the context is sexual purity, God will use him.
I remember as a little kid lining up in a line as the two biggest and oldest kids picked who was on their softball team alternating choosing among those who were in the line, and being the one who got picked last. It happened so much that I got used to it and even expected it to happen. But now I want Jesus to pick me to be on His team and for Him to give me lots to do that matters. He doesn’t choose on the basis of size, athletics, intelligence, talent, education, personality, He chooses on the basis of moral purity, that motivates me.
One of the clear evidences of an almighty God who made us is the inner desire in us for justice. We have it when we are very small children, and become aware of injustice and cry “that’s not fair”. This inner sense that there is right and wrong, that wrong ought to have consequence and good ought to be rewarded is put in us by God. Our conscience is a key part of our inner, real person that is our guide through life. Our conscience is our inner google maps system, it guides us well in making choices that are good, right, and a blessing to others. Our conscience can become calloused, that is it becomes less and less sensitive to what’s right and what’s wrong. Our conscience becomes calloused by degrees, little by little, compromise by compromise, and before we know it we are capable of doing just about any evil with little remorse or sense of guilt for doing it. Our conscience is seared when we start allowing the world around us to begin programming our brain in what is right and wrong. Again it is little bit by little bit but before long we believe what the world believes and we act the way the world acts. The Bible talks about those who overcome the world and says that those who do will have great influence on others and will be used by God in the lives of others. Blessed are the overcomer.