24 September 2010


Do We Really Grow Up To Become Our Parents?

Matthew 10:42

"And whoever gives one of these little ones only a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, assuredly, I say to you, he shall by no means lose his reward."

Last night my family and I attended the Western Washington Fair in Puyallup. What a great time we had, but boy, it can be an expensive trip.

By all standards of reference, attendance was down in all areas near as I can tell from reports. But hey, let's face it; the economy isn't the greatest right now. People are in dire straits. Ends are hard to meet or are not meeting at all. At any rate, discretionary income is at its lowest level in years, and so everyone is cutting back. The one good thing about that is this - it's less crowded, and the lines for everything are shorter.

As we walked around I noticed quickly that there were fewer vendors. Trade show type exhibits were smaller, and some of the people that we have seen there for years are just simply not there. As our populace relies more and more on our government to bail them out, or to give them some sort of light at the end of the tunnel, the reality is that things are getting worse for the majority of Americans.

As I pondered this thought, I really did begin to pray for our country and the people here. Our leadership in this nation lacks so much in so many areas. Foreign policy, if we have one, is an utter failure. Domestic policies have us on the fast-track to total socialism. Our Congress continually passes legislation that 65-70% of Americans oppose. The elite are ruling what is quickly becoming a subjugated middle-class who are seen as only servants to those in power. All I could think was, "Come Lord Jesus!"

Throughout my childhood, I knew inside my parents loved me. I do not remember my Dad telling me that in words until I was 24 years old and married, but I know the love was there. Growing up on a farm, life was hard, but while we may have had a lot of hand-me-downs, and lacked the latest styles in tennis shoes or didn't have the biggest birthday parties, I had enough. Thinking back, I see how hard we did have it, and also how hard mom & Dad had to work to provide for us 5 children. While I may not have had the Converse All-Star hi-tops that everyone else had and that I always wanted, what I was given was an appreciation for what we did have, and one thing that can never be taken away: Memories.

Walking through the animal barns last night holding hands with my kids, and an arm around my wife I was suddenly 10 years old again myself. In my mind I was the little one holding my Dad's hand, and looking up into his eyes. I remembered the hard life on the farm, and was so appreciative of the lessons that it taught me. I was once again skipping through the barns of the Butler County Fair back in western PA. I was reminded of the importance of the agrarian lifestyle, and how the hard work of so few feed this nation, and for a large part the world.

I remembered admiring not just the farm animals, but the men that owned and worked their farms and how proud I was that some of the best known farmers in the area knew my name and who my Dad was. Names like Knauff, Drueschel, Beahm, Knox and Scheibel may mean little or nothing to you, but they were legendary in the western PA farming community - and they knew my Dad! Wow! I remember the excitement knowing that I was going to get paid 50 cents a day for my work plowing the fields, putting in hay or working in the grain silos. Money I saved to put together $15.00 to become the first Spithaler in history to take a ride in an airplane; rides they sold at the annual Farm Show event for the $15.00 I worked all summer to save. I remembered the satisfaction I felt knowing the dirt that was rubbing off onto the towel even after my shower, was because I had put in a hard day's work.

Perhaps more than anything, I remembered the joy I felt being at the Fair with my family. I knew that this break from the labors of farm life was a well earned reward, and that my Mom and Dad had earned it as well. Days at the Fair or Farm Show were memories that could not be taken away - fond memories of my youth, family life, and the relationship I had with my Mom and Dad.

Then it happened. I was then struck by God with a firm reminder that my children are a gift from Him, and I wondered to myself: Am I making the same memories for my kids today that my parents made for me 35 years ago? Tears welled up, and all I could do was mutter a few prayers under my breath, knowing that the Lord would here, and hoping that my wife would not (grown men should not be caught crying at the fair after all). Well, she caught me anyway- but I did not know how to fully explain how i felt. At least in such a way that I would not totally break down in tears for everyone to see.

The family is God's design, and the most foundational element of society that He has created. We owe it to Him, and to our spouses and children to do all we can to make sure that family is loved and nurtured, supported, and cared for, and given our best attention and strongest most sincere love. Christ died for all of us as sinners so that we might be reconciled to God, and our sins fully forgiven. But He lived a perfect life to be an example of the love that we are to have for His children, and our families that He has gifted us with.

I cannot imagine being blessed with a more wonderful family. God is perfect, yet I am not, and so I pray today that the Lord bless me personally, and all of us corporately, that our Father gives us Wisdom, peace, kindness, caring, love and peace as we do our best in our failed, weak human bodies to live up to the example that Jesus gave us. Without fail, we must be certain to give God the thanks and glory for all that He has done to mold and shape these leaky vessels thus far.

23 September 2010

Obama Sells Out US Sovereignty to the UN Over AZ Imigration

Because Barak Obama knows that without the vote of the Hispanics in the next election that he has no chance whatsoever of getting reelected, he is hard at work. Not only is he doing all he can to legalize (and thereby give the right to vote) to the estimated 13-15 Million illegal aliens in the US from Mexico (along with who knows how many Muslim and Al Quida members and supporters), he has now filed suit with the United Nations claiming human rights abuses against his own State of Arizona!

In any previous generation, this would have been viewed as TREASON, and it should today. I cannot fathom in my mind a sitting President of this nation SUING a State within this Nation that he has sworn to protect and serve, in a Federal Court via the United Nations! it's simply incomprehensible and the word needs to get out.

This monster we have for a President, must go. I pray for him and this nation continuually. I honor and respect his office, but I dispise tha man and his obvious agenda to destroy this nation. If anything is worthy of imnpeachment, this is it.

What follows is copied in large part from Topix.com.

The battle over immigration and the challenge to Arizona's sound and reasonable immigration law has reached a new low. That low is President Obama's character.

President Obama's State Department has filed an unprecedented report with the United Nations Human Rights Council citing Arizona's immigration law as a human rights problem in this country. That's right - the Obama Administration, which is challenging the AZ law in federal court, is now appealing to the United Nations - and to some of the most repressive countries in the world - actually citing the Arizona law as an example of human rights abuses in this country.

It is a comparison that is deeply troubling. How can the President compare AZ's law - which protects the state's borders and residents - to a human rights abuse? There's no shortage of legitimate human rights abuses that need to be investigated - including the murder and torture of Christians around the world because of their religious beliefs. To compare AZ's immigration law to a human rights problem is simply absurd.

This is just another example of President Obama's disturbing philosophy of placing the United States under international review. Despite past presidential administrations repeated refusal to legitimize the U.N. Human Rights Council, the Obama Administration was quick to subject the U.S. to review under the Council. This position has met heavy criticism. Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (Fla.), ranking Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, is quoted as saying,“‘Without meaningful membership standards, that body will remain nothing more than a rogues’ gallery, and our participation will have the net result of legitimizing its biased actions.’”

The Human Rights Council devotes a majority of its efforts to condemning Israel, while ignoring some of the world’s worst human rights abusers. The current Council is made up of 47 countries, with less than half of its members considered to be “free” countries according to credible human rights organizations. The Council harbors some of the worst human rights offenders in the world.

The Obama Administration must not be permitted to get away with this tactic. As you know, we're engaged in the legal fight to defend AZ's immigration law and have filed amicus briefs with the federal district court and now the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on behalf of 66 members of Congress urging the appeals court to uphold the constitutionality of AZ's measure.

By including the AZ immigration law in this U.N. report, the Obama Administration sidesteps the judicial process accorded by the U.S. Constitution and places the duly enacted law before an international body for review. This move undercuts American sovereignty, the well-established principle of federalism, and the popular will of the people.

Most Americans don't support the President's position on this issue and according to a recent Rasmussen poll, 61% of Americans support a law similar to the Arizona measure in their own state.

22 September 2010

Lost Without You

Psalm 39:5

"Indeed, You have made my days as handbreadths, And my age is as nothing before You; Certainly every man at his best state is but vapor. Selah."

I am always inspired by the writings of Thomas a Kempis. The Lord so leads and guides when we seek Him, I just had to share my morning devotional with you today.

The following is chapter 40 of book 3 of his book, Imitatio Christi - The Imitation of Christ . I have edited it just to update some of the language as it was originally written in Latin in around 1418. Keep in mind that this is wriotten in the first. To better understand, put yourself as the person writing this note. I Hope you are as blessed as I was.

LORD, what is man that you are mindful of him, or the son of man that You visit him?

What has man deserved that You should give him Your grace? What cause have I, Lord, to complain if You were to desert me, or what objection can we have if You do not do what we ask? This I may think and say in all truth: "Lord, I am nothing, of myself I have nothing that is good; I am lacking in all things, and I am ever leaning toward nothing. And unless I have Your help and am inwardly strengthened by You, I become quite lukewarm and lax."

But You, Lord, are always the same. You remain forever, always good, just, and holy; doing all things rightly, justly, and in holiness, disposing them wisely. I, however, who am more ready to go backward than forward, do not remain always in one state, for I change with the seasons. Yet my condition quickly improves when it pleases You and when You reach forth Your helping hand. For You alone, without human aid, can help me and strengthen me so greatly that my heart shall no more change but be converted and rest solely in You. Hence, if I knew well how to cast aside all earthly consolation, either to attain devotion or because of the necessity which, in the absence of human solace, compels me to seek You alone, then I could deservedly hope for Your grace and rejoice in the gift of new consolation.

Thanks be to You from Whom all things come, whenever it is well with me. In Your sight I am vanity and nothingness, a weak, unstable man. In what, therefore, can I glory, and how can I wish to be highly regarded? Is it because I am nothing? This, too, is utterly vain. Indeed, the greatest vanity is the evil plague of empty self-glory, because it draws one away from true glory and robs one of heavenly grace. For when a man is pleased with himself he displeases You, when he pants after human praise he is deprived of true virtue. But it is true glory and holy exultation to glory in You and not in self, to rejoice in Your name rather than in one's own virtue, and not to delight in any creature except for Your sake.

Let Your name, not mine, be praised. Let Your work, not mine, be magnified. Let Your holy name be blessed, but let no human praise be given to me. You are my glory. You are the joy of my heart. In You I will glory and rejoice all the day, and for myself I will glory in nothing but my infirmities. Let the Jews seek the glory that comes from another.

I will seek that which comes from God alone. All human glory, all temporal honor, all worldly position is truly vanity and foolishness compared to Your everlasting glory. O my Truth, my Mercy, my God, O Blessed Trinity, to You alone be praise and honor, power and glory, throughout all the endless ages of ages.

Here I Stand, I can do no other.
*"Hier stehe ich, ich kann machen kein ander," Martin Luther

Speaking of Materialsim...

This idea of materialism is tied in with apathy in faith, not working out their faith with fear and trembling. We are going to study through James next (in our church), and we will see how people react to ‘faith without works is dead’ because there are a lot of dead people in the church today.

I was reading a book called The Divine Commodity by Skye Jethani (Zondervan 2009). I was a bit leery of it because it is endorsed in part by Brian McLaren, Phyllis Tickle (both leaders in the Emergent Church movement), but he had some great things to say about consumer Christianity. He stated that, “We have abandoned the vision that Christianity is an alternative way’, and ‘the emergence of a Christian sub-culture that parallels the secular culture in every way reveals the captivity of our imaginations”. Now the Emergent Church movement has ironically  taken this truth so far that they are redesigning Christianity in their own manner of consumerism and in the process leaving the inerrancy of scripture behind – a tragic mistake indeed.

But Jethani is right about at least one thing, we (the church) in an aim to reach those in secular/alternative lifestyles have abandoned the truth, forgotten the fact, that Christianity IS supposed to be an alternative lifestyle! We have made it look so much like the world in effort to reach the world that those who are to be sanctified, set apart, different, are indistinguishable from that which Gods is calling us out of.

Oh well. God’s work is not a burden, but getting people to accept what they say they have already accepted is mine. If I’m getting tired of people who call themselves Christians, show up to church on Sunday and yet you cannot get them to volunteer to host a potluck or put their name in a sign-up sheet to take responsibility in just one little area of church set-up or break-down, how do you think GOD feels about that?! If it breaks my heart to see the attraction of materialism and consumerism invading the lives of my little circle of Christian  friends, how do we think it makes God feel when He sees it so rampant worldwide?

I don’t know about you, but when I grieve the Holy Spirit… and finally realize it, I am heartbroken. But when I understand the grieving of the Holy Spirit as He looks at the apathy in our little church, I’m grieved that their apathy may have something to do with my leading – and it is almost crippling. It hurts. I wonder, I ask, and I pray. That's all I can do.

The simple answer is that we do not live for Jesus because to live for Jesus means we must die to ourselves, and we are just far too important to ourselves to do that...

21 September 2010

Tatoo, or not to Tatoo - That is the Question

It's not that this is a huge topic that needs to be covered because of a particular personal issue or burning desire to speak up on the subject. But it has cropped up from time to time, and I wanted to share an extensive paper that was done on this topic by a friend of mine.

Allow me to introduce Claude Stauffer, Sr. Pastor of Calvary Chapel of Hope, in Amittyville, NY. Being a pastor in the Calvary Chapel fellowship of churches, claude and I, along with a group of as many as 300 other pastors have bentered thoughts and idea back and forth for a couple of years now. It's always a blessing to see Claude weight in in topics, and his offering related to a recent discussion on tattoos not only mirrored ny thoughts and concerns on tatooing, but more then anything else, his heart for honoring God in all that we do, putting Him first, and seriously considering the effects of our actions on others, really made me stand up and take notice. He and I are kindred.

This little treatise may be longer than most of the posts here, but well worth the time to read it. You will be blessed. I give you, pator Claude:

Considering a Tattoo?
By: Claude T. Stauffer

The popularity of tattoos and body piercing is on the rise. There are television programs dedicated to “body art.” News media are always interested in a celebrities’ tattoos or body piercing. College and Professional athletes, fraternity and sorority members and gang members use tattoos and body piercing as signs of membership. Tattoos are popular in the contemporary music scene (both secular and Christian). What about all of this, what should the Christian do in response to the issue of tattoos and body piercing? What should our standard be for involvement in the things of the world?

The Bible says whatever a Christian does should be done to bring glory to God (1 Corinthians 10:31). That should be understood in two ways. First, we should understand that what a Christian does reflects on the Lord. People formulate their opinions of God to a large extent based on the words and actions of His people. What we do can reflect poorly on the Lord (2 Samuel 12:14) or it can bring glory to God (Luke 5:26; 7:15; Acts 11:18; Galatians 1:24). Second, if what we do reflects on the Lord, then what we do should bring glory to Him. We bring glory to Him by winning others to Him and not doing anything that would hinder people from coming to Him (1 Corinthians 9:20, 21; 10:33b; Romans 14:1 – 15:2). The principle is to restrict and limit our liberties if it would hinder another in their pursuit of God (1 Corinthians 8:9-13). Our behavior as Christians should always be aimed at giving the greatest amount of glory to God. Our freedom is great in Christ, but it should never be used to cater to our flesh (self) (1 Corinthians 6:12; Galatians 5:13).

The Bible also says that all that we do should be done in the name of Jesus (Colossians 3:17). That means whatever we do should be done in a Christlike way. What we do should be done the way Jesus would do it. That means we should not act in selfishness but rather in sacrificial ways. We should always be mindful of how our behavior will affect others (Philippians 2:1-4). We should ask, “Do my words and actions bring people closer to Jesus or drive them away from Him?” We should ask, “Are my words and actions in line with the sacrificial servant character of Jesus?” (Philippians 2:5-11).

Glorifying God and doing what you do in the name of Jesus are the two primary considerations for the Christian to measure their words and actions in life. In light of these two considerations, how should we view tattooing and body piercing? Can they be done to the glory of God and in the name of Jesus? There are arguments in support of both sides of this issue. To reach a satisfactory biblical response requires we not only consider what we do, but also address why we do it. We need to consider not only end actions but also our motivational means to that end action. With God it’s never enough to say the ends justify the means. Tattooing and body piercing are things done on the surface, a style. But what is the substance behind them? Are there deeper underlying issues involved with this topic? That is what we need to discover.

There can be little doubt that historically, in the world, tattooing and body piercing are rooted in non-Christian people groups. Tattooing and body piercing is not something God ordained, it was something pagan people’s did (Isaiah 15:2; Jeremiah 16:16; 41:5). God views His people as “holy,” separate and distinct from unbelievers in the world. He therefore forbids His people from copying the practices of the pagan peoples around them. Holiness, being separate and distinct, was one of the main themes of God’s Law (Leviticus 11:44-45). Therefore, tattooing and body piercing, a worldly practice, was one of His prohibitions (Leviticus 19:28).

Leviticus 19:28 states, “”You shall make no cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor tattoo any marks on you: I am the LORD.” Some say that this verse only refers to tattoos used in pagan burial customs. Others say this only prohibits the use of tattoos of foreign gods or idols. But one article that comments on this verse states:

For clarity it’s sometimes beneficial to discover what those, to whom the passage was written, understand it to mean. From Moses to today tattoos have been unacceptable in Jewish culture as explained by Rabbi Joshua Cypess: “For many years, a tattoo was a sign of religious rebellion, of going against the Torah and denying the existence of God.” [1]

The book of Deuteronomy contains God’s words of instruction to His people before they were to go into the Promised Land. Those instructions emphasize over and over the principle that God’s people were not to follow or copy the ways of the worldly pagans around them (Deuteronomy 7-12). This principle does not just apply to those under the Old Covenant Law but carries over to those under the New Testament. Indulging in and loving the things of the world puts us at odds with the Lord (1 John 2:15-17).

Those who argue that it’s okay to get a tattoo argue that under the New Testament we can pretty much disregard the Old Testament Laws. But under the New Testament we do not murder, blaspheme God or commit adultery. There are principles established by God in the Old Testament Law that still apply under the New Testament. The Law was given to direct God’s people to a way of life. We aren’t saved from our sin by keeping the Law of God. We are saved by God’s grace through faith in Christ (Galatians 2-4). The Holy Spirit pours love out into our hearts when we are saved (Romans 5:5). And that love poured back out into life enables us to fulfill God’s Law (Romans 13:10; 2 Corinthians 5:14-15).

In more recent history tattooing and body piercing are closely associated with being signs of a rebellious spirit. Tattoos and body piercing have traditionally been associated with outcasts, criminals and those who break the law. It’s only recently that tattoos and body piercing have been seen in a favorable light in society. This was not the case in past generations. Today a person seeking tattoos or body piercing may deny a rebellious spirit, but society sees these things as breaking with convention and going against established mores and practices. Society is becoming more and more receptive to tattoos and body piercing. These practices are becoming more “conventional.” Is this a sign that the world is better, more “tolerant,” or is it a sign of decline?

When we look at the recent history of the world we see a steady flow of pushing the boundaries of convention further and further. Secular society is constantly seeking to shake off what they see as the shackles of morality in order to indulge their sin. All true morality originates with God and His word. Therefore we see society moving further and further away from God. In the 1920s people began moving away from their traditional Christian upbringing and began to live with greater moral laxity. There were a lot of changes in what was and was not acceptable in society. Hence the title, “The roaring twenties.” In the 1930s and 40s the world was engulfed in World War II and with it came a host of changes. People began to question their faith because of the carnage of the war. Coupled with the liberalization of the church and moving away from trust in God’s word godly influence in society waned. This eventually led to initiating the removal of God and things associated with God from the public square. A landmark event to this end was the removal of the Bible and prayer from schools (in the 50s and 60s). There was an acceptable rebellion against God that began. With less of God’s influence the decline of society’s morals sped up.

In the 1950s slicked back hair, young ladies dressing in pants rather than skirts and young men discarding their suits and ties for T-shirts and jeans were seen as signs of rebellion. In the 1960s and 70s long hair, wearing bright colored clothing and worn bell-bottom jeans were the signs of rebellion of the day. In the 1980s people just lived to exalt themselves and “dance the night away.” Thus far in contemporary history the signs of rebellion were easily reversible. When we look back these signs of rebellion seem benign and laughable. But back then this was really big stuff, a major issue of each era.

From the 1990s to the present the signs of rebellion became more extreme and permanent. People were and are rebelling against the rebels of the past (their parents). It seems today’s generation of rebels are trying to show that their rebellion is deeper and more real. It’s as though this generation of rebels is saying, “I’ll show you, and I’ll rebel in a way that is more shocking and extreme than before.” They want to show that their rebelling is not just a passing fad, but is permanent. This is where tattoos and body piercing come in.

In an effort to shock and awe society, people have begun to express themselves with “body art.” Those who see themselves as victims of society are rebelling against it by expressing their pain in painful looking body piercing. For instance people don’t just pierce their ears for a “normal” size earring but through a series of procedures stretch the skin of their ear lobes until a very large thick ring can be inserted. Stretching the skin out of shape in this way used to be associated with people who did it to dissuade slave traders from capturing them and taking them far away from their families. Now it is a style to scare away the establishment. Body piercing has gone far beyond mere earrings or nose rings and now includes belly rings, eyebrow rings, tongue piercing and a host of other multiple piercing applications. There are those who go so far as to literally hang themselves up by hooks anchored in their physical flesh. Others cut themselves in a frenzy of bloodletting. Studies have shown how tattooing, body piercing and other associated practices have an addictive aspect to them. Some of these addictive practices end in suicide. A masochistic and sadistic mindset seems to permeate the world. We see it in the proliferation of violence and sex on television and in the movies. There seems to be no end in sight for what people will do to express their rebellion against what they perceive to be the injustices and inequalities of society and indeed, God.

Where does the Christian stand with all of this? Certainly these practices of the world represent a dark philosophical development. Christians should consider these things through the scriptural warning that states, “Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ” (Colossians 2:8).

The Christian should be concerned with what God and His word say about tattooing and body piercing. The Christian who neglects to consider what God says in His word is already on their way to becoming a prodigal. The Christian who does not care to consider God and His word is a prodigal. The prodigal sought out his inheritance from his father and then went out into the world to spend it (Luke 15:11-32). The same occurs when Christians use the inheritance of God’s gracious liberty in Christ to go off and selfishly spend it on indulging the things of this world. Hopefully those who indulge the world will come to the same conclusions as the prodigal of the Bible and run back to their Father. You can do a simple test to see where you are at by how you respond to this article. Do you care enough to look up the scripture references included herein, or is your mind made up and you really don’t care what God’s word says? If you look up the scriptures you are on the right track. If you don’t care to look them up, you need to check to see if there is a spiritual pulse in you.

There are some revealing questions that should be addressed by those considering or seeking tattoos and or body piercing. Before you run out to your local tattoo shop or get that piercing I encourage you to consider the questions that follow before you make that decision.

  • Have you prayed about this? (Psalm 44:21; Proverbs 12:23).
  • Have you asked the Lord to search your heart and reveal your motives (Psalm 139:23-24)?
  • Have you found scriptural support for what you want to do? (Proverbs 21:2; 24:12).
  • Will it glorify God? (1 Corinthians 10:31)
  • Are you trying to resort to a worldly way to accomplish a heavenly purpose? That is not the way God works. With God the ends do not justify the means. Uzzah found this out the hard way when David attempted to move the Ark of the Covenant in a way not prescribed by God (2 Samuel 6). God uses Biblical ways to accomplish His plans (Psalm 1). .
  • Is your motive to get a tattoo to be like the world? Is it to gain the world’s love and acceptance? Jesus said His disciples were not of the world and that the world would hate them as it hated Him (John 15:19; 17:14-17). What’s your relationship with the world?
  • Are you interpreting God’s word in a way that allows you to go beyond empathy with the world in order to indulge your desire to fit into the world? (1 Corinthians 9:19-22)
  • Is your desire for a tattoo or body piercing something birthed in the world or in God‘s word? Be honest. Did you get your desire for tattoos and or body piercing from reading God’s word or looking at the world? (1 John 2:15-16).
  • God looks at the heart. Why do you seek to express yourself to God by marking your body when God is satisfied to look at your heart? (Psalm 44:21; Jeremiah 17:9-10; Romans 8:26-27; 2 Corinthians 3:3; 1 Peter 3:3-4).
  • Jesus said to clean the inside of the cup and that those who adorn the outside only, are nothing more than hypocritical Pharisees (Matthew 23:25-28).
  • If you want a tattoo, is your heart attitude, “I want a tattoo (or to pierce my body) and I’m going to get one no matter what anyone says. I’m going to do what I want to do”? That is rebellion. Rebellion is a sin (Job 34:37; Isaiah 65:2; 63:10).
  • Have you sought the counsel of those around you who are godly? (Matthew 13:15; Acts 28:27). If God wanted you to get a tattoo He would move the hearts of those in authority around you (e.g. parents) to affirm His will for you?
  • Would you defy those in authority over you? Would you disobey those you say you love in order to get a tattoo or body piercing? Is your getting a tattoo a submission to authority or rebellion against it? (John 14:21).
  • You may just like the way a tattoo looks but do you have the right to mark up that which does not belong to you? (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
  • Where in scripture is a godly man or woman told by God to get a tattoo? Where in scripture does anyone but God (who owns us) or His particular representative mark us for anything other than a particular purpose of God? (Ezekiel 9; Revelation 14:1).
  • Would you do something that would be easily misinterpreted as approving of a worldly way? Would you do something for cosmetic reasons that would cause others to stumble? (Romans 14; 1 Corinthians 8).

There’s something more to consider for those interested in getting a tattoo(s) and or body piercing. When we look at the Bible we see that cutting or damaging the body was something done by those under the influence of demonic activity (Mark 5:5). Marking the body is also something connected with the Antichrist who is the puppet of Satan (Revelation 13:16-17; 14:9, 11; 15:2; 16:2; 19:20; 20:4). Could the rise in acceptability of body marking in society be a strategy of Satan to get people more and more prepared and open to accepting the mark of the beast? Just a thought.
When we look at the Bible we find evidence that literally and in principle forbids marking the body (e.g. Leviticus 19:28). For those that insist we are free to do what we want under the New Testament consider this. In the Old Testament God marked His people with circumcision of the flesh. The Old Testament is the New Testament concealed. The New Testament is the Old Testament revealed. The New Testament is the best commentary on the Old Testament. In Romans 2:28-29 we are told that circumcision that is acceptable to God is not merely circumcision of our physical flesh, but a circumcision or cutting away of the fleshly nature (i.e. self-centered sinful nature) of our hearts. The new mark of God for those who are in Christ is the seal of the Spirit, which is a transformed cleansed-from-sin heart (2 Corinthians 1:22; 5:5; John 6:27; Romans 8:9; Ephesians 1:13-14; 4:30; 2 Timothy 2:19). The more rudimentary and fundamental issue in all of this is, “What is the condition of your heart?”

Christian proponents of tattoos frequently refer to Revelation 19:16 which states, “And He [Jesus] has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.” Their argument in support of tattoos is that this passage indicates that Jesus will have a tattoo, “written . . . on His thigh.” This may be the case but I would point out a few things to consider. There is no evidence that Jesus had a tattoo in the gospel or during His earthly ministry. The Greek preposition epi that is translated “on” in this verse cannot be definitively stated to mean indelibly marked on the skin of Jesus. There is a Greek preposition en which means “in” that the Spirit could have inspired John to use when writing this verse. This would have been a clearer statement in support of a tattoo. The use of epi leaves the door open to alternatives to a tattoo. There is no indication that any of those who return with Jesus have tattoos. Only Jesus can be said to possibly have a tattoo. If “KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS” is tattooed on Jesus thigh to set Him apart and mark Him particularly it does not follow that those who follow Him necessarily have license to or should even seek to be tattooed in a way that would make common that which is a holy expression on Jesus.

Finally, a wise godly man once said to me, “Everything has a price; sometimes we don’t realize how high it is.” Consider the following:

  • “Here’s an interesting fact. It’s said that over 90% of the people who get a tattoo regret having done so within five years. The excitement of the moment wears off but tattoos don’t. The motto of a local tattoo parlor says it all, “Permanent proof of temporary insanity.””
  • “Consider the health risks of tattooing. According to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, even in modern facilities, tattooing is not without risks. The two most significant ones are allergic responses to the pigments and exposure to blood-borne pathogens. The compounds used as pigments range from metal oxides to synthetic organic dyes. Cases of hypersensitivity to a pigment resulting in allergic responses have been reported but the incidence of such reactions is low. Since tattooing involves injections under the skin, poor infection control practices before, during and after the procedure by the tattooist and the consumer can lead to risk of bacterial and/or viral infection. There have been cases of hepatitis B transmission through tattooing. Transmission of hepatitis C and HIV are also possible with lack of proper sanitation - http://www.niehs.nih.gov/external/faq/tattoo.htm.”
  • “Tattoos may be addictive. Once you get one, one never seems to be enough. http://www.mala.bc.ca/~soules/media112/zine99/tasha/news.htm” [2]

The Bible says just because something is lawful doesn’t mean we should indulge it. We should not do something that will prove addicting (1 Corinthians 6:12). We should focus on doing things which edify or build others and us up spiritually (1 Corinthians 10:23).

In light of this we should ask, “Is it really worth it?” Is getting a tattoo or having my body pierced worth risking my walk with the Lord in any way? Nothing is worth risking a single drop of closeness to the Lord. Greg Laurie once shared some questions we can ask to help us make good sound spiritual decisions. When you come to something that is questionable or really in any situation you should ask yourself five evaluative questions:
  1. Will it build me up spiritually? - 1 Corinthians 10:23; Hebrews 12:1-2
  2. Will it bring me under its power? - 1 Corinthians 6:12; Romans 6:14
  3. Do I have an uneasy feeling about it? - Romans 14:23
  4. Will it cause someone else to stumble? - Romans 14:15
  5. Will it bring glory to God? - 1 Corinthians 10:31; Colossians 3:17, 23

We need to be very cautious in our decision about tattoos and body piercing. We are created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27). There is an enemy who hates God and his name is Satan. He hates God and everything associated with God, especially anything made in God’s image. Satan is a rebel and is an instigator of rebellion against God (Isaiah 14:12-15; Job 2:4-5). Satan is judged, but he defies the judgment of God. He is all for the desecration of the image of God in any and every way (e.g. abortion; partial birth abortion). If he can’t destroy God’s image, he may settle for covering it up or cutting it. Gangs mark their territory with graffiti. Does Satan seek to steal or presumptuously mark people as his by getting them to mark their bodies? Does he even seek to manipulate unwitting Christians into taking his mark? Just a thought.
Considering a tattoo or body piercing? Before you get a tattoo or pierce your body in some way, you ought to seriously prayerfully seek God’s will and submit to it in obedience. Otherwise you just may prove to regret it.

20 September 2010

Greed, Materialsim... and Yet We Don't Ask.

James 4:2
You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask.

James was my devotional reading for the last couple of weeks. I kinda figured I’d be through it in a couple of days but the Lord thought otherwise. I found myself reading with greater depth, and going back through verse after verse for more of what God was trying to say to me.

One of the biggest struggles I see in the church today is materialism. Not just the individual, but for the churches themselves too. On the side of the church, greed for ‘stuff’ is taking hold in the way we evangelize. So much to that we will spend God’s money – even going into debt, so that we can be more relevant to the crowd, or present a better experience, or God help us, so that we can provide a better ‘experience’ for our visitors in hopes that we can attract more visitors that the church down the road. Individually, our greed drives some of us to unrecoverable debt, divorce, even crime and ultimately separation from God.

What does God tell us about this? It’s not surprising that greed is listed as one of the traditional ‘seven deadly sins’, a list by the way, that you will not find itemized in scripture. The Seven Deadly Sins, also known as the Capital Vices or Cardinal Sins, is a classification of the most objectionable vices that has been used since early Christian times to educate and instruct followers concerning (immoral) fallen humanity's tendency to sin.

The final version of the list consists of wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony. The Catholic Church divided sin into two principal categories, something that the bible does not do. "Venial sins", are categorized as relatively minor and could be forgiven through any sacramentals or sacraments of the church, and the more severe "capital" or mortal sins. Mortal sins are believed to destroy the life of grace and create the threat of eternal damnation unless either absolved through the sacrament of Penance or forgiven through ‘perfect contrition’ on the part of the penitent.

While all of these sins are harmful to our lives, our spirits, and grieve the Holy Spirit, greed seems to be all around us and all the time. Lust is used to feed our greed [ads and commercials with inappropriately dressed models or suggestive language to manipulate you to buy something]. Pride is used to feed our greed [You deserve this!]. Envy is used to feed our greed [He has something really cool, you should have one of those too!]. I heard an ad on the radio today for a ‘caviar facial’. I started thinking, why would anyone wants to spend that kind of time and money to sit with a bed of rotting fish eggs on their face? But hey, apparently, it is the ‘in’ thing to do for those that concerned about their complexion.

But yet greed is such that it will drive us to do just about anything. Forgetting about our relationship with God seems to be one of the first things that are left behind as personal greed and materialism takes a hold of us. Not only do we WANT things, we will do almost anything to get them, in the process feeding our own greed, when we think we are simply fulfilling a desire that we deserve to fill.

James spoke about this in chapter 4 of his Epistle. When you read this verse (James 4:2), you get a better idea of what greed can do to us. How hard we will WORK, how dramatically we will change our lives, all so that we might have, that which we do not really need. We covet, we murder, and worse. While we might relate to coveting something, for the most part we feel like this is as far as it goes. But often, we end up working in our flesh, fight hard for even using less than honorable means. Manipulation, deceit, by lying, hiding things, doing harm to another person or bring doubt into their mind or heart.

We will do all of these things, and yet God tells us this:
  • All we must do is ask.
Why do we feel like we have to work so hard to get what we need in life? I think it is mostly because we work for what we want, when what we want is not what we really need, and God knows it. So rather than stabilize and sanctify our lives by making our requests known to God daily, being prayerful in all that we do and consider, we ask in greed, ignorance and in the flesh for what we want, rather than what we need.

Here James says we are warring, not wanting. Our flesh is overcoming our Spirit, and our wants overshadow our needs.

Materialism is killing the American Christian. We need to balance our lives on the Word, not on our pile of stuff. Hey, I’m with you in that I find the latest electronic gadgetry cool, and very often helpful. I’d love to ‘have’ a bigger TV, or a better camera. But I ‘need’ neither. What I need is a stringer prayer life. What I need is more fellowship with God’s people, leaders, and my wife and kids. What I need is to forget about the latest trend in ‘the church’ and get on my knees before God and ask Him what I must do to serve Him better and to grow our church. THAT’S what I need.

I see Christian brothers and sisters bust their backs to get a boat, or a certain type of coat or brands of jeans or t-shirt – and yet they examine their lives and cannot understand why people do not look to them as support as Christians, and why God is not blessing them spiritually.

I’m so looking forward to what God is planning to do with our church body ion Wednesday nights. Every day He gives me something more to ponder and pray about. I can see God opening a big old can of Holy Spirit on us, and I pray that I can do my job to see that this is exactly what happens.