Category Archives: Jesus Christ

A Brief History of “Perversion”, and its Relevancy to the Boston Bombings

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Here in Turkey, I went to work one day as I usually do, only to hear from a British co-worker of mine the news of the horrific and disturbing bombings in Boston.  I remember thinking, “Oh not again!” as my stomach began to sour with grief.  Haven’t enough people had their fill of bloody violence and their appetites quenched with innocent lives, I was thinking.  Apparently not.

Many people are searching for answers.  Why did the brothers do this?  What does this mean about the future of security in America?  In the world?  People like FBI agents, Police Officers, psychologists, and the family and victims of the bombings are all searching, to name a few.  I suppose you could say whenever violence like this happens, like a lightning bolt shattering the calm of everyday life, most people who hear about such things, start to struggle for answers.

I’d like to share with you my strugglings, mainly through the historical and semantical exploration of the word, “perversion”, and its relevancy to the issues at hand.

Latin – Pervertere – “to turn the other way, to overturn”, figuratively to “subvert, corrupt, or abuse”

English – Pervert (verb) – 1300 AD “to turn someone aside from a right religious belief to a false or erroneous one”

Online Etymology Dictionary

It wasn’t until later, in the 1300’s that the word “perverse” started to carry mainly a religious tone, used to describe those who had gone astra, or those who had apostatized, or turned away in an erroneous way.  This was noted as late as 1660.  It wasn’t until 1892 that the way you used that word morphed to describe someone who has a “perversion of the sexual instinct.”

Perhaps we’ve lost our sense of the broader use of the word.  Pervert has become simply a noun, and maybe we’ve lost the sense that it can be a verb as well.  To “pervert” something.  The modern definition of being a “pervert”, is the definition most of us would be familiar with.  It’s a sexual term, to describe someone who is sexually deviant, or just twisted.

So why did I chose the word “perversion” to be the center piece of this exploration?  I like the severity of the word in describing how twisted ones actions need to be in order to earn that title.  To simply call the brothers “twisted” or even “radicalized,” just doesn’t do what is happening on a larger scale justice.  The Tsarnaev brothers were perverts, but not in the sexual use of the term.  Using the Latin definition together with the 14th century definition along with the modern adaptation to the word, we can give “perversion” a generalized umbrella definition of “the act of turning someone, something, some idea away, towards corruption, or simply towards the wrong way.”  It is a twisting of what’s true; a misconstruing of what exists.  Perversion doesn’t just happen to terrorists and dictators.  It happens at all levels of life.  Perversion is a parasite, and it can latch onto anything.  It takes sex, something beautiful between a man and a woman, and taints it with notions of selfish unedifying acts of pleasure, diminishing each other to mere objects from which “feel good” moments come.  It takes meal time, something useful to bring people together over, and turns it into a gluttony fest where food is used to quench not the stomach, but the hurting spirit.  It takes the workplace, something where honest bread-money can be won for a family, and turns it into an arena where control hungry men and women dominate others, or where simply crooked men and women use their employees for less than honorable ends.  It takes a simple family man, named Tamerlan Tsarnaev, with a wife and a daughter, which could have been a happy family, and it turns him into a tool of terror, death, and heart-break.  Perversion happened.

The tragedy in all of this, is when the one who “turns away”, becomes convinced it is the right way.  Perhaps it is the mere feeling of something “right”, that confirms this, or they have convincingly been lied to.  In the case of the Tsarnaev brothers, who knows how that slippery slope happened.  All we know is that the tool of perversion was radicalism, which really is a synonym to perversion.  Let me be clear at this point.  I’m not saying anything about a connection between radicalism and religion here.  There are radical Hindus, radical Christians, and radical aetheists.  Somewhere between birth, maybe during adolescence, maybe when he came to America, a lie entered his worldview, and perverted reality for him.  The lie altered the course of his life, it soured the good that was in him.

The state of things is simply not good.  In recent history, Colombine, 9/11, Sandy Hook, to name a few.  In history past, wars of all kinds, genocides for any reason.  Things are not well with us.  Lets be honest.

Will it always be like this?  Does it have to be like this?  Now I’d like to take our exploration into the origin of the word “perversion”.  It takes us back quite far.  My hope in reaching this far, we’ll be able see a glimpse of hope, to this violent state of affairs.

The greatest perversion that happened, is in one of the oldest books we have, the Bible.  You may already know what I’m talking about by now.  Yes, how the serpent lied to Eve, she took of the apple, gave it to Adam, and they both fell from favor in God’s sight.  Why?  Because they believed the Father of Lies, corruptor of everything, the most perverse of perverts.  The one who himself “turned away” from God first, leading all who are willing, in the way of perversion, that is, in sin.  In simplest terms, we could say, sin is living life turned away from the way God intended.

What is the hope I was talking about?  If what I’m describing is true, life seems pretty dismal.  Things are not well with us, but they will not always be this way.  Christ is coming again, and when he comes with the power of a creator that he used when time began, once again, like in Eden, earth will be heaven for those who truly know Christ.  It will be perfect.  We will be free of perverse acts that malign us, harm us, and cause us to despair in this time.  It’s hard to imagine what a world like that would be like, but that’s what I want, and that’s the hope we have in Christ.

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The Sufficiency of God: Rock for the Present, Hope for the Future

The classroom is an excellent place to be.  One learns so much in such a place, but you can’t stay there forever.  Life requires you to venture out and live.  But because none of us have the memory of an elephant, we forget things and we need to return to the classroom of life again and again.

For the Christian, the Bible has all the lessons we need, but if you’re like me you wonder at times “Is this really true?”  I can remember countless times finding myself in a conflict.  Angry at someone who wronged me, denying the urge to revenge and embracing the escapist mentality.  I run away and go do something else that will consume my mind in hopes of drowning my anxieties in worthless busyness.  The other extreme can be equally useless, that of immediately spouting off the tongue with the emotions of the moment.  In so being reactionary we often harm those we love.

If we truly believe that the Bible is true, and what it says about itself is true, than Christ is sufficient for everything.  That trustworthy statement could have transformed so many situations for me.  Instead of running away or instead of giving full vent to my tongue, with self-control I could have brought my situation to the Lord and humbly ask His wisdom in the matter.

He is so sufficient!  Isn’t it funny how we do this.  In the moment we say, “My temper can’t handle thinking about anything but alcohol right now, so I’ll just take a sip…..but Jesus? NO!  I need something here and now!”  It’s like we forget stories like how God saved the Isrealites from the Egyptians, or how God delivered Israel in countless battles, or consider this verse that epitomizes the suffiiciency of God for us on into eternity.

“And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb.  And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb.”  – Revelations 21:22-23

This is talking about heaven, when John the apostle saw Jerusalem descending onto earth he noticed there was no temple, and no need for the sun and moon.  In other words, the Glory of God and the presence of the Lamb, which is Jesus Christ, will be our sufficiency and true good.  There will be no need to offer sacrifices anymore, no need to worry about things done in the hurry of the day or the necessity of rest at night.  There will be no more sin, no death, no more pain.  God will be our sufficiency in the most amazing way!!

This is not just hope we have for the future, but an echo for the present.  We are fallen creatures and not perfect yet, as Christ is, but even so God extends his sufficiency to us who will take it.  And grasp it and cling to it we ought.  Like a floundering drowning sailor at sea swims and clings to a floating board of wood, so we too must struggle against pride and selfish-ness and anything that might hinder us from humbly reaching out to the ever-sufficient hand of God.

“All scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.”  – 2 Timothy 3:16-17

Top Death-bed Regret; from new book

Every morning I get out of bed, skip breakfast so I can make a big one later, and drop off my wife at work.  Our TV doesn’t work, and I don’t subscribe to a major newspaper, so most of the news I get briefed on comes from the radio in the car.  Emily and I happily listen to NPR every morning as well as other stations that might strike our fancy.

This morning I happened to tune into 101.9, the “Mix”.  If you hail from Chicago, you’ll know this station well.  They were talking about an interesting book compiled by a nurse.  This nurse tended to those on their death bed, and being at the bedside for countless people she heard many of her patients dying regrets in life.  She compiled the top regrets into a book.  I didn’t catch the book name, nor did they mention the author, which I wish they would have mentioned.

They did talk briefly about the single most mentioned regret that the nurse heard.  After considering the entirety of their lives, “working too much” was the most mentioned.

Why did they work too much?  What was the problem?  That’s a question that could have millions of answers, but I’m sure answers like “money, prosperity, happiness, nice house, nice car” is what composes much of the working classes motives.

More compelling, and striking to the heart, is the question Why did they come to this conclusion?  Why after a lifetime of good hard honest work, did they realize “Wow, I worked so much, but lived little.”  Wouldn’t they be proud of their accomplishments?  Perhaps thats why on peoples tombstones loved ones don’t put, “He worked hard all his life.”  Maybe after all has been said and done, work really isn’t the all in all.

Perhaps they suddenly realize all that they worked for, was in vain.  Death the ultimate sure thief, comes and takes away all that is precious.

When someone prepares for a disaster, they make sure they have means to survive for when the storm passes over.  Survival requires you to look beyond the disaster.   Before a hurricane, you stock up on fresh water and canned goods, because after that storm you may not know what will be available.  Your world is going to change.

If people spend as much effort looking at what might be beyond the grave with as much effort as they spend working all their lives for something that will be taken away, death won’t be so much of a thief.  But merely a transition.  And regrets?  A vapor of a memory for those who put their trust in the one who has already conquered the grave.  Jesus Christ our Lord!!

If you haven’t struggled through that in your life, I invite you to. Work, labor, struggle, wrestle with this question.  Where am I going?  That is a question worth working towards an answer!!

Does true Hope exist?

 

I don’t know why but I was just thinking about death recently.  The sun is shining, life is good, but I believe I started pondering it for a good reason.  I’ll share that reason with you.

I think death entered my idle mind as I started thinking about my little brother who is in the Holy Land right now, touring around Israel.  I love him so much.  My mind went into “what if…” mode.  I hate it when it does that, and I have to forcefully stop it sometimes, because it can be so damaging.  But my mind played the “what if…” question to my brother.  “What if my brother died in Israel?”  Well he would certainly get a front row seat of the return of Christ when he rises from the dead, but in the off-chance he did die in Israel, it would be a devastating blow the family.  We would miss him dearly!  But praise be to God, we would have hope of seeing him again.

Does everyone have this hope?  I know of a family who don’t believe in a heaven and hell.  They believe that we live for the best we can in this life, and then die.  Die and disappear pretty much.  Which is why its important to them to invest in society so much, so as to leave a legacy.

I want to pose a series of “Isn’t it curious….” questions to this type of outlook towards death, for those who say there is no God, and there is no after-life, we just…..disappear.

Isn’t it curious we place so much effort and life into the pursuit of love….only to lose it in the end?

Isn’t it curious we spend the good part of our lives investing in material things that we seek and work to call our own…to only lose it in the end and it become others possessions?

Isn’t it curious how we react to death…as if death is a cruel thief stealing our loved ones at a most inconvenient time?

Isn’t it curious how we mourn and miss our loved ones….as if we feel we have been dealt a crappy hand, and life turns to be an unfair master?

Isn’t it curious why a word even exists called HOPE?

If a word called “hope” exists, and all is useless in the end, are we just fooling ourselves when we talk about hope, at all?

Or maybe there is hope…true hope!  Hope that says, “All your love is not wasted!”  Hope that calls back from the grave, “You’ll see me once again, but in paradise!”  Hope that offers a saving hand to you, that will pick you up out of any trouble you get into.  Hope that says, “Even if you’ve been dealt a crappy hand, ultimately there is hope for you beyond the grave.”

Hope is written on Christ’s arm as he turns to death and deals a blow so great, it crushes him to disappearing, while saying, “Death is swallowed up in victory; O death where is your victory?  O death where is your sting?”

Those who love Jesus Christ, we are “waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.” Titus 2:13-14

Stats revealing how our church may be a bit off-goal!

First a quick history lesson.  The gospel arrived in Jerusalem, and from there the world knew of Jesus.  First in Israel, then to surrounding Middle Eastern countries (before Mohammed great monastery’s were everywhere in Saudi Arabia), then spreading west-ward to Europe.  Through the ages, the gospel crept further west, spreading to America, and then to South America, as well as shortly after spreading to Asia.

Well that’s the whole world then, right?  Phew!  But as far as people who know Jesus Christ as their Savior, or even knowing who he was historically, most of the world does not know Him.  So when we talk about the “least-reached people” we talk about people groups who have the least amount of believers among them, and do NOT have access to the gospel because no church or Christian presence is there in their own language.  The most reached ones being countries like South Korea and America, with confessing believers in Christ ranging in the 30% of the population.  Least reached countries being like Indonesia (which is mostly Muslim) where the believing community is more like 0.01%.

The stats below are presented to bring to your mind the perspective of urgency in our world that oh so desperately needs to know Jesus Christ.  Because “globalization” is happening and is already here, and our world is ever increasing to be an Internationalized community, its good to know where we stand in perspective to other countries, gospel-wise.  So now, the stats:

We Live in an Asian World**

(this includes the Middle East)

61% of the Worlds population are Asian

12.7% are European

8% are from Latin America

5% of the Worlds population of the world are North Americans

“Asia is the only continent where Christianity is not the largest religion.”

“Asia is our greatest challenge for world missions.”

America is Packed Full of Churches

The US and Canada have 575,000 churches, or one church for every 537 people.

In Turkey there is approx. 1 BELIEVER for every 2.5 Million people in Turkey.  About one church for every 5.5 million people.  That’s like ONE church for New York, of about 150 people.

In some places the stats are worse, like India and Pakistan.

Least-Reached People groups by Blocs

Western (much of Europe) – 100 Million

Tribal/animalist – 242 Million

Buddhist – 376 Million

Chinese – 400 Million

Hindu – 841 Million

Muslim – 1.27 Billion

Foreign Missionaries Working in those Least reached Blocs

Western – 60,000

Tribal/animist – 11,200

Muslim – 7,000

Hindu – 5,000

Chinese – 2,000

Buddhist – 1,800

We are Good at Reaching the Churched Here in the West

(Not in the stats, but ask yourself how many people you know have attended church once, grew up in the church, have heard of Jesus Christ, have a Bible but not read it, or just heard of Christmas or Easter)

74% of our Foreign Ministers we send out, are sent to reach “nominal Christians” either in the America’s or Europe.

If Asia consists of 61% of the Worlds pop. how many are we sending to Asia?

1% to Jewish people

2% to Chinese (Asia)

3% to Buddhists (Asia)

4% non-religious Aetheists

6% to Muslims (Asia)

Where There is Darkness There Aren’t Enough Candles

Ratio of Foreign Ministers per Million in Geographical areas

<25 FM’s per Million in Middle East

<25 in Eurasia

<25 in Asia

85 FM’s per Million in Africa

100 in Europe

175 in Caribbean

415 in Latin America

500 in Pacific per Million

If the church is the body, are we more like a mis-proportioned body builder, who only works out his biceps, but forgets to work the rest of his body and so appears awkward.  Are we like a shipbuilder who focuses all his attention on the mast and sail, but forgets to water-seal his hull, and so making him dangerously prone to sinking?

Don’t get me wrong, local ministry of the church is absolutely necessary!  Just posing the question….perhaps we are a bit mis-proportioned?

What do you think?

** All stats and information found in “Through God’s Eyes: A Bible Study of God’s Motivation for Missions”, by Patrick O. Cate, William Carey Library, Pasedena, CA. Pp. 61-69

AW Tozer on Justice and Goodness

Tozer has always been and will be one the fiercest writers I know!  Fierce in the sense he writes like a lion; you can tell the fire of God has breathed through his life in his years pastoring in Chicago.  In this excerpt pay attention to God’s Justice, as an act versus an identity.

“Justice, when used of God, is a name we give tot he way God is, nothing more; and when God acts justly He is not doing so to conform to an independent criterion, but simply acting like Himself in a given situation.  As gold is an element in itself and can never change nor compromise but is gold wherever it is found, so God is God, always, only, fully God and can never be other than He is.  Everything in the universe is good to the degree it conforms to the nature of God and evil as it fails to do so.  God is His own self-existent principle of moral equity, and when He sentences evil men or rewards the righteous, He simply acts like Himself from within, uninfluenced by anything that is not Himself….God’s compassion flows out of His goodness, and goodness without justice is not goodness.  God spares us because he is good, but He could not be good if He were not just.  When God punishes the wicked…it is just because it is consistent with their deserts; and when He spares the wicked it is just because it is compatible with His goodness; so God does what becomes Him as the supremely good God.”

– AW Tozer, “The Knowledge of the Holy”, The Justice of God, p. 88

Terry Jones and Politics, Pulpit and the Quran

Everyone reading this, please watch this video first, and then proceed.

I just want to contrast the core of what two pastors said and draw light to one of them (and hopefully show one is really not so much a pastor at all)

Reverend Ed Rowe

“I’m here to say, the Quran was not just burned.  The “quran burning” burned everything Jesus said on the Mount of Olives, it burned every statement Jesus made.  I’m here to say there is nothing in the gospels that support the burning of the Quran.”

Reverend Terry Jones

“We did not come [to Dearborn] to demonstrate against the Quran.  The only thing we ask is that they honor and obey the constitution of the United States.  If they are willing to do that, then our message is one of ‘welcome.'”

I want to highlight two words that makes Reverend Terry Jones more like “Republican” Terry Jones.

“Gospel” and “constitution.”

What does Reverend Ed Rowe quote for his authority?(Gospel)  What does Terry Jones quote for his reason of demonstrating?(Constitution)  For Terry we clearly see that he is using and abusing his pulpit for “patriotic” propaganda!

At the core of Terry’s worldview, is an extremely messed up idea of government.  For some the order, the system, the infra-structure that a government brings constitutes the blood in their veins, they’re all about government.  They believe in the solutions, they believe in the people who founded it.  They might even be dreaming that it is a perfect system.

It’s interesting to consider the story of the prophet Samuel and Israel’s first king, Saul.  With all the chaos happening in Israel, God was pleased to place someone in charge, to put order to this chaos.  Right?  I mean, they needed help, so it would have made sense to appoint a king, someone to put int place a “system”, or a government.  Wrong!  What did God say exactly when Israel asked for a king to be over them?

“Now appoint for us a king to judge us like all the nations’ but the thing displeased Samuel….And the LORD said to Samuel, ‘Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but rejected me…”  I Samuel 8:5-7

What?  Israel rejected God by asking for a king?  How is that?  Listen further, this drives to the core of the sufficiency of God.

“…for they have not rejected you, but rejected me from being king over them.  According to all the deeds that they have done, from the day I brought them up out of Egypt even to this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are also doing to you.” vv. 7-9

God is sufficient?  For everything?  Indeed yes!  And so it is a slight form of idolatry that government is.  It’s when a people like Israel say, “We cannot see God, we cannot touch God, and we cannot tell if he is even there.  Let us appoint for ourselves a person, or an assembly of people to act like God, to determine the laws, to perceive what is right and wrong for us.”

And so, Republican Terry Jones (not Reverend), a loyal patriot to his great nation, commits idolatry of the slightest kind, and with stars and stripes across his heart he burns a book.  Radicals burn things!  Cars are burned in riots, flags are torched in protests, and people light themselves on fire in utter desperation.

Are we radicals?  Are Christians to be different?  You bet!  Are we to burn books?  No!  Those who seek the warfare of the physical, take on physical means!  Bullets, propaganda, bombs, and mobs.  Those who wage war on spiritual forces, arm themselves with spiritual armor.  Equipped and empowered with the zeal of God for the lost, we ought to live like Christ.  Set the captives free!  Champion the light into darkness!  Breathe life into dead bones!  Love the unlovable!  Correct the uncorrectable!  Give a firm hand to those who would slight you, but do not strike.  Pour water into leaky and dry cisterns, but do not exhaust your own.  Give, give and give as if you have to draw on supernatural resources to continue!

Terry Jones misunderstands government as a pastor.  Government has its place, it is a terrific thing, don’t get me wrong.  But I am embarrassed of my brother when stupid gospel-less things come out of his mouth.  A pastor seeks the Glory of God.  A statesman seeks the Glory of a Nation.  Two different offices; two different people.  One seeks the coming of a perfect ruler to a perfect kingdom; the other seeks to make his rule perfect.

Pray for Terry!  He not only burns Qurans, but bridges!