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Archive for March, 2017

There is a widespread belief in today’s world that you are simply not up to speed unless you are politically correct in everything you say and do. The self-appointed culture authoritarians who determine what is currently fashionable have even decided that the Bible, God’s Word, is not politically correct.

In Berlin, Germany on November 9, 2006, a group of so-called biblical specialists released a new version of the Bible in which inclusive language and “political correctness” replaces what they considered “some divisive teachings of Christianity.” They said the Bible needed a “more just language” for certain groups.

According to the AFP News Agency the PCV (Politically Correct Version) of the Bible was presented at a book fair in the city of Frankfort. It is published by the Oxford University Press. It no longer refers to God as “Father,” but as “our Mother and Father.” Likewise, Jesus is not referred to as God’s “Son,” but rather as the “child of God.” The title “Lord” is replaced with “God” or the “Eternal One.” Satan, strangely, is still referred to with masculine pronouns. In other words, God is required to be politically correct, but Satan isn’t.

The injustices of all previous Bible translations, it claims, are numerous. It states that the “begats” in the King James Translation favors fathers over mothers. Out the window they go. And whenever the wife of a Biblical husband is known, the editors inserted her name into the text. The metaphors of evil as darkness and light as good were considered offensive to people of color. Similarly, references to the blind, the deaf and the lame are insensitive to people with disabilities – so they were changed.

References to “the right hand of God” was said to be offensive to left-handed people. My wife, who went home to be with the Lord on April 5, 2016, was left-handed. It never bothered her in the least. Parents “guide” their children because “discipline” was considered offensive. References to circumcision posed a problem to the translators because they could think of no way to translate it so it would apply to the female gender. The big challenge came in how to deal with God. Personal pronouns were outlawed. “Our Father” became “Our Father-Mother.” To mention one gender, not both, might offend someone.

In addition to the PCV translation, Martin Dreyer, pastor and founder of the sect called “Jesus Freaks,” published what he called “The People’s Bible” in an attempt to make the message of Christianity “more relevant and inclusive.” Jesus “returned” rather than “was resurrected.” He multiplied “hamburgers” instead of the “fish and loaves” to feed the hungry multitude. In the parable of the prodigal son, the younger brother squandered his inheritance at dance clubs and ended up “cleaning bathrooms at McDonalds.”

What needless and misdirected inanity! It is a shame that some people, even when highly educated, can get bent out of shape by the fact that the Bible contains language used by the culture at the time it was written. How else could God have inspired His Word? It seems to me that getting bogged down over whether God is right-handed or left-handed is absurd. I am reminded of another time when those who thought of themselves as scholars argued over how many angels could fit on the head of a straight pin.

I believe it is God’s will for our lives to be changed by the truth found in the Bible, not that Bible truth be changed to fit today’s arbitrary politically correct standards. The same Holy Spirit who originally inspired the writers of Scripture is able to guide us to interpret and apply it to our lives and to the culture in which we live.

Please be careful how you live. You may be the only Bible translation some people will ever read.

 

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A little more than twenty-five years ago when I was serving the Sanford First Baptist Church as their pastor I saw something that for me was highly unusual and very special. I almost missed it. But I didn’t, and I am very glad indeed. It happened as I was driving up Carbonton Road near the Chisholm street intersection.

There, in the middle of the road, was a dove – just standing there on the center line. It’s not every day that you see a dove standing on the center line of a much traveled road, but there it was. As I barreled in its direction – on my side of the road, or course – it didn’t offer to fly away.

My first thought was that the dove was wounded. But as I came within fifty feet or so, I noticed that it was standing beside another dove lying prostrate on the center line. The fallen dove had undoubtedly flown into the grill or windshield of a speeding car and had fallen to the pavement.

The dove I had seen first was obviously standing guard. As I passed, it did not move. It refused to fly away. Even though it might have been killed, it held its ground. Was the injured dove on the center line his or her mate? Was it a buddy or friend? Do doves have buddies and friends as we humans do? I wondered.

I don’t know the answer to these questions. But I was emotionally moved by what I saw. It deepened within me my appreciation for nature. It caused me to be more aware of and grateful for the marvelous world in which we live that God has created.

If doves could speak and understand English, or if I could understand the language of doves, I would like to have stopped to share the pain of the dove that was standing by the side of its fallen mate or comrade. However, I knew if I had stopped, the live dove would undoubtedly have flown away. After all, the things we humans do to doves – intentionally and unintentionally – are generally not very kind. In any event, as I drove by, my hat was off and my heart stood at attention.

Reflecting on the experience recently, it dawned on me that I needed to share with others what I had seen. We humans are not always as empathetic or as kind to one another as this dove was. We often pass by others who are hurting without even noticing them and without a single tear. We stand in the presence of the majesties of God’s creations with our hats on – and with no gratitude in our hearts.

We are so preoccupied with our own personal interests that we do not offer to share the pains and problems of comrades who have fallen and lie in the middle of life’s road. I am not referring to the kind of tragedies that happen in other countries where wars are commonplace. I am talking about human needs in the community where you live, and the community where I currently live.

Perhaps the story of the two doves in the middle of Carbonton Road in Sanford more than twenty-five years ago – one seriously wounded and the other standing guard by its side – can instill within each of us the grace to be a little kinder to each other. Think of the positive impact this could have on our families, our fellow church members, our neighbors, and especially on those whose needs we could meet.

It was more than a quarter of a century ago that the event I described above took place. Remembering it causes me to renew my commitment to the goal of supporting the persons I meet who are in desperate need. My hat is still off and my heart still stands at attention remembering those two doves in the middle of the road.

 

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When the time arrives for you to breathe your last breath on planet earth, how would you like to be remembered? It is a sobering question, isn’t it? Perhaps you have never given it any thought at all. If that is true, why not give it some consideration now?

Happy and healthy individuals normally want to make a positive impact on the world while they are living. To leave no lasting legacy behind would be like making footprints in the sand as you stroll down the beach and have them wash away as soon as the next high tide comes marching in. In other words, you would be here today, and tomorrow you would be gone — and forgotten.

Our country, officially founded as a nation in 1776, has had forty-five presidents. Every one of them, particularly in their last year or two of service, has given strong consideration to how they want to be remembered. They refer to this as building their legacy. National leaders throughout history have attempted to leave great monuments which would guarantee that their names not be forgotten.

Have they succeeded? Consider the most famous pyramid in Egypt called the great Pyramid of Giza. Do you remember who built it? Neither did I – until I looked it up. His name was King Khufu, not exactly a household name. The Shah of India built the Taj Mahal because he wanted his third wife to be remembered by others for centuries. Do you remember her name? I doubt it. It was Mumtaz Mahal. The Great Wall of China is the largest man-made structure in the world. Astronauts can even see it from outer space. Yet no one remembers the name of Chin She Whon Tea, the man initially responsible for this incredible structure.

Who are the individuals whose names you will remember as long as you live? It is very likely those who have touched you and blessed you in specific ways without wanting personal recognition. It is very easy to remember the names of those whose primary objective is to serve others. It is the names of those who live primarily to serve their own interest that you will find the easiest to forget.

The names in my Hall of Fame that I will never forget are too many to list, but I will mention a few. First of all, I would list my mother and father who modeled for me what it means to be a Christian. There were dozens of dedicated teachers, all the way from elementary school through college and seminary, who shared their knowledge with me and taught me to pursue truth wherever it is found.

There were and still are many dedicated Christians whom I have served as pastor since 1949, whose commitment to Christ and whose love for my family and me, have made my labors for the Lord a genuine joy. Their names are locked within a secure place in my heart where they will never be forgotten. Such friends have warmed me by their presence, trusted me with their secrets, and remembered me in their prayers.

You may also have such a list of people who have touched your life in unique ways. You have forgotten most of the names of those who sought only to serve themselves, but you will never forget the names of those who sought primarily to serve others. Do you know someone who needs to discover God’s gift of grace? Individuals saved through your effort will be grateful forever that you took the time and made the effort to bring them into God’s presence. It is the finest way to leave your footprints in the sands of time.

“Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament, and those who turn many to righteousness like the stars forever and ever” (Daniel 12:3).

 

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Do you know my name? I have met you on many occasions. In fact, you may have even introduced me to your friends more often than you realize.

However, I am not interested in the welfare of people. Whether or not they succeed in life is of no concern to me. I care not if their marriage lasts or if their relationships within the home are filled with happiness. I do not have the slightest interest in whether or not they are respected by their friends, neighbors, co-workers, or fellow church members.

I have absolutely no interest in seeing that justice is done. I maim without killing. I break hearts and ruin lives. I am cunning and malicious and grow stronger with age.

The more I am quoted, the more I am believed. I flourish at every level of society. You will find me in homes, in the workplace, and in the locations where people spend leisure time. I attend church regularly.

My victims are helpless. They cannot protect themselves against me, for I have no face and don’t like for anyone to know my name. I don’t mind other people knowing what I tell you, as long as you do not reveal your source. To track me down is often difficult. The harder you try, the more elusive I become.

I keep a lot of people busy. Those who know me best generally do not mind their own business very well. The reason this is true is that they had rather mind other people’s business.

I am nobody’s friend. Once I tarnish a name or a reputation, it will never be quite the same again. I am like mud thrown against a clean wall. It may not stick, but it will always leave a dirty mark.

I wreck marriages, separate friends, ruin careers, and sow discord within communities and divide them. I cause dissension within churches that sows discord and prevents them from accomplishing their mission. I have caused countless sleepless nights, heartaches, and grief. I make innocent people cry into their pillow. I make headlines wherever I go. I have even been known to topple governments.

I have the ability to say very little in a way that leaves practically nothing unsaid. The reason I even exist is that some people think a fertile mind requires a lot of dirt. I always travel faster over grapevines that are a little sour. I am sometimes referred to as halitosis of the mind. I have a strong sense of rumor.

My name is GOSSIP. You may not believe everything I tell you, but you can repeat it. I can give you some very interesting information even though I do not know all the facts. One gossip said to another: I won’t bore you with all the details. In fact, I’ve already told you more than I heard myself.

It isn’t difficult to make a mountain out of a molehill – you just keep adding more and more dirt. When you realize that it requires dirt to grow things, you can understand why gossip thrives. Spreading gossip would be impossible if people refused to hear it. Without tale-hearers there would be no tale-bearers.

Yes, my name is GOSSIP. The only reason I exist at all is that people often do not ask five very important questions: (1) Is it true? (2) Is it kind? (3) Is it necessary? (4) Is it helpful? (5) Will it bring honor to the Savior?

 

 

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Advertising in today’s world is a huge enterprise. In every Sunday newspaper ads take up probably twice as much space as everything else combined. Turn on the radio or television and commercials are stacked on top of each other four or five times in each hour. Every time you turn your computer on and see an item or topic in which you are interested, it will be surrounded on every side by an endless number of ads. Advertising dominates the landscape so thoroughly that you cannot be unaware of it.

Both my house phone and cell phone are listed on our government’s “Don’t Call List” – the list is a joke! I still get at least one or two sales calls every single day. As if that were not enough advertising to face, I get a huge amount of it placed in my mail box every week. I realize that advertising is a legitimate way to sell things, but I receive so many ads promoting everything from hamburgers to Caribbean cruises that most of them elicit little or no response from me. That is, until a certain pamphlet arrived in my mail box.

It was obviously designed by Madison Avenue advertising experts, mass produced, and mailed with the latest equipment. It was mailed by a Christian evangelist who said I could have anything I wanted. He mentioned one person who had asked God for a $40,000 automobile – and got it! All I had to do was to draw up my want list and send it to him. Each request for material things that anyone mailed in to him would be prayed over by him personally – and, pronto, God would provide it. A grandiose promise, to be sure.

Located in the same section for writing my prayer request for things I wanted filled by God was space to indicate the amount of money I was going to send to him. I was encouraged to pledge an amount every month. He even suggested specific amounts. My volition was not trusted to choose the amount I would send. A few verses of Scripture were then thrown in — taken out of context, of course. This was to make it sound spiritual and to increase my guilt complex should I not send him an amount he considered to be adequate.

Answered prayer for sale! It was as though God would not answer my prayers without his help. Manipulation of other people’s want list — for his personal profit! Such an idea attempts to make God our servant by having Him do our will. Prayer doesn’t work that way. The preachers who send pamphlets like the one I received will one day have to give account to God on the Day of Judgment.

Normally I am a moderately composed Christian minister. I don’t get my hackles up all that often. But I must confess that this self-styled prophet for profit caused me to lose my composure. I immediately wrote him a personal letter. I even quoted some Scripture verses myself. They compared his enterprise with the moneychangers mentioned in Matthew 21 and Mark 11 whose tables Jesus overturned when He was in the Temple. God’s Temple was designed to be a house of prayer, but the priests had made it a den of thieves.

This modern moneychanger did not reply to my letter. I really didn’t expect him to, but I felt a lot better. I was hoping that it would cause him to have second thoughts about His business of packaging the King of Kings in a Madison Avenue campaign for the primary purpose of increasing his own bank account.

Yes, even religion is available through the mail for the convenience of anyone who wants to be vaccinated with what is, at best, not even a mild case of Christianity. The tragedy of such a vaccination is that it could keep you from catching the real thing. God’s blessings cannot be purchased through the mail. They are available – if they are within His will — to every person who will claim them by faith (see Matthew 7:7).

 

 

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