Stop Taking God’s Name In Vain

You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain. Exodus 20:7 (ESV)

Most likely, you’ve done it before. You hit your thumb with a hammer, almost got into a wreck, actually got into a wreck, watched your favorite team blow a huge lead in the Super Bowl or witnessed your middle child spilling grape juice on the new carpet. And then you said it. You used the name of the Creator of the universe as a curse word.

Why do we do this? When we hit our thumb with a hammer, we don’t say, “Oh, Hitler!” Or when we try to check out at the grocery store and only one out of 13 lines is open, we don’t say, “Charles Manson!” Yet, for some reason, it comes naturally for us to use the name of God in that way.

But that’s not the only way that we break the third commandment. There is a more subtle way to use God’s name in the wrong way. If you pay attention, you’ll see it all the time. All you have to do is watch the way that people in this country talk about politics.

Judging simply by my Twitter feed over the weekend, it looked like the world, or at least America, had come to an end. People were losing their minds because of a tax cut that had been passed. Of course, there were the usual suspects who love paying enormous taxes who were not happy at all about this. But there was another group of protestors in the mix. They were the religious left. That’s right, the folks who can’t so much as mention the name of Jesus during a Sunday morning, ahem, sermon, started invoking his name to criticize this tax plan.

Their basic point was clear: if you support tax cuts, God’s going to get you for neglecting the poor.

This foolishness isn’t confined to the left side of the political spectrum. That’s right, even members of the religious right, you know, the ones who claim to revere Jesus, are guilty of using his name in vain. This happens when they declare that the hurricane that just wiped out a city was most definitely God judging the folks of that city for living a lifestyle that does not fit the GOP platform. It also happens when they constantly remind us that a certain politician is, “God’s man” even though the only qualifying attribute in that politician is that he happens to be a Republican. Republicans, some evangelicals would have us to believe, are God’s favorite political party. That’s why it’s okay for a grown man to have inappropriate relationships with  fourteen-year-old girls and it’s why it’s okay for another man to live his entire adult life as an adulterer, even going so far as to be caught on tape joking about his motives that, were he an average citizen would be called for what they are – sexual assault. But this is God’s man, they tell us. After all, they reason, the man did just give a great speech where he mentioned Mary and Joseph and said Merry Christmas. It was the greatest moment in church history since Johnny beat the devil in that fiddle contest!

The church should be ashamed. And, just a short time from now when we have lost any moral ground to stand upon as the sexual revolution continues to spiral out of control, we should not be surprised that no one wants to listen to what the crowd who supported two of the biggest partakers in the foolishness has to say on behalf of God.

For once, the left and the right have one thing in common. They both routinely break the third commandment because they have broken the first commandment.

“You shall have no other God’s before me.” Exodus 20:3 (ESV)

The god of the left is a bloated, angry and hateful beast who wears a disguise of compassion. The god of the right preaches a gospel of family values and the good old days but deep down he only cares about the same thing that the god of the left cares about. Power. That’s because the god of the left and the god of the right are the same. His name is Government.

Government is a gift from God (Romans 13:1-14). We need government. If you don’t believe me, visit a country where there’s a new military coupe every fifteen minutes or so. But here’s the thing about government. It makes a terrible god. Yet, for some reason, folks on the left and the right keep worshiping it. And when their god leaves them unfulfilled, rather than taking a second look at the object of their worship, they just cry for more of him while yelling louder at the folks on the other side. It’s like an addiction.

The early church sold their possessions and belongings and distributed, “the proceeds to all, as any had need” (Acts 2:45). They somehow managed to do this without being coerced by the government, as some on the left would have us to believe. And their compassion was not limited to one group of allegedly deserving people (Acts 6:1-7), as some on the right like to model. Rather, they gave because of their devotion to the one true God. He had worked in their heart in such a way that they couldn’t help but live generously with their own money rather than ignoring the needs of others or simply relying on some bureaucracy to be compassionate for them.

Jesus Christ reigns supreme over all political parties and government institutions. He doesn’t need hucksters who pretend to follow him in order for his kingdom to advance, just as he doesn’t need the selectively outraged who only care about the poor online and when cameras are around.

He doesn’t need anything.

But we need him.

It’s time we cry his name out in repentance rather than using it to advance our favorite political cause.

Otherwise, when he says our name, it might just be to pronounce a curse on both of our houses.

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Hillary Clinton And Colored People Time

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Everything is offensive.

Everything is racist.

Well, not quite everything. The only time when something isn’t offensive or racist is when a progressive politician says something that actually is offensive and racist.

Case in point, Hillary Clinton and the socialist mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio.

It was one part skit and one part political endorsement when the two met together last week before a group called the Inner Circle. After announcing his endorsement of Hillary Clinton, the former first lady said to de Blasio, “Well, it took you long enough.” The mayor responded by saying, “Sorry, Hillary. I was running on CP time.”

CP time stands for Colored People Time and plays into the stereotype of black people being late for things. When questioned on the comment, a spokesman for de Blasio said, “No one intended to offend anyone.”

Quick question.

Can you imagine how big of a cow the media and the social justice warriors on Twitter would have if a more conservative politician had said something like this? Especially if he responded to the outrage by saying, “Look, it wasn’t meant to be offensive.” Or imagine what would happen if some kid with chalk in his hand got caught sprawling CP Time all over the sidewalks at Emory University.

But never mind the double standard. What we should learn from the Clinton and de Blasio incident is that just because a politician promises to fight for you and give you a bunch of stuff doesn’t mean that they actually care about improving your situation. In fact, economic freedom and criminal justice reform are the last things that progressive politicians like Hillary and de Blasio want for black Americans, or any other Americans for that matter. It’s sort of like the charity that makes a $3 billion dollar profit every year trying to cure some disease. Do you think the folks on that charity’s payroll really want to find a cure?

The sooner that American citizens of all colors realize that most of the politicians in D.C. are fighting for themselves rather than the freedoms of the people, the better off we’ll all be.

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Homosexuality, Religious Liberty And Being On The Wrong Side Of History

“And I support the right of people to believe what they do and say what they wish — in their pews, homes and hearts.”

Those words were written in an op-ed by Frank Bruni in Sunday’s edition of the New York Times. Bruni was writing to say that homosexuality is no threat at all to a person’s religious liberty – just as long as that person doesn’t want to enjoy that liberty out in public. Hence the, “pews, homes and hearts” line. In short, Bruni would like to be gay whenever and however he wants while Christians with a different point of view keep their opinions in their pews, homes and hearts. I’m no constitutional scholar but that doesn’t sound very much like liberty to me.

Imagine if a Christian wrote a book saying that gays should only practice their homosexuality in their pews, hearts and homes. Never mind that. Imagine what would happen if a Christian simply wrote a book saying that homosexuality was a sin. Oh yeah, you don’t have to imagine that. All you have to do is read the news. A Christian did write a book saying that homosexuality is a sin. And the mayor of Atlanta fired him. 

Somehow I think that former city of Atlanta fire chief Kelvin Cochran would take issue with Frank Bruni’s claim that religious liberty is not under attack.

And an old preacher named John would laugh at Mr. Bruni’s suggestion that one’s faith should only be a private matter.

Much like Chief Cochran, John found himself on, “the wrong side of history” as the progressives like to say. Herod, the ruler at the time, had taken his brother’s wife and made her his own (Mark 6:14-29). John committed the unforgivable crime of saying that it was wrong. A lot of people who are wrong do not like being told that they are wrong. It was true 2000 years ago and it is true today. So John was thrown into jail for being, “on the wrong side of history.” Isn’t it a shame that he didn’t get to enjoy the American privileges of freedom of speech and freedom of religion. Well, actually that American fire chief didn’t get to enjoy those privileges either so never mind.

The story doesn’t end with John in jail.

You’ve probably heard the saying, “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.” That proved true in this case. Herod’s new wife, Herodias, held a grudge against this intolerant pastor for daring to say that something was wrong. And she waited for her opportunity to act on her grudge. That opportunity would come at one of Herod’s banquets.

Herodias’ daughter danced for Herod and the other leading men under his rule. Don’t think of this as your daughter’s dance recital. Well, unless your name is Billy Ray Cyrus and your daughter’s dance recital is at the Grammy’s and it involves licking hammers. That’s more in line with the show that Herod and his leading men enjoyed.

And boy did they enjoy it.

So much so that Herod promised to give the young girl up to half of his kingdom. She went to her mother for advice on the best way to cash in on Herod’s offer. The answer was simple.

John’s head on a platter.

This grieved Herod. He made a foolish vow and it would make him look weak if he didn’t follow through. But he liked John. He liked visiting him in prison to hear what the preacher on the wrong side of history had to say. More than that, Herod feared John.

Herod wasn’t afraid because John had an experienced legal team. It wasn’t because John represented a huge voting block that could cause Herod trouble when the November primaries came around. It was because John was a righteous and holy man.

Christians, we must remember that it is possible to win arguments in ways that are not righteous or holy. We must be willing to lose if winning means sacrificing our righteousness and holiness. Even if losing means having our head on a platter.

Herod kept his promise. Herodias got her wish. John lost his head.

Sometimes I hear Christians talking about this account like it is a blemish on the Christian faith. As if John would still be with us today if he had only kept his mouth shut and been more contextualized. That’s because too many Christians are more concerned with being liked than they are being righteous or holy.

One of many lessons we can learn from John is that when we do God’s will, we should expect opposition. And we don’t have to go out picking fights like the Westboro fools. Simply submit to the lordship of Christ and follow his example, not just in your heart, home and pew, but in the public square and you’re sure to find yourself on, “the wrong side of history.”

Remember, life isn’t a contest where he who finishes with his head attached to his body and the full approval of the LGBT community wins.

But life is a race.

And there is a finish line.

Some of us will reach that line with scars and open wounds because of our allegiance to Christ. Others will get there penniless because they cared more about the Way, the Truth and the Life than they did the mayor, their job and being liked.

And that’s okay.

For those on, “the wrong side of history” because of failure to keep their faith to themselves, there is One seated at the right hand of the Father who has saved us a place at his table once we reach the finish line.

“And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness while you stretch out your hand to heal, ands signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” Acts 4:29-30 (ESV)

Should That Dad With The Baseball Bat Have Been Charged With A Hate Crime?

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Last week a man beat another man with a baseball bat. The man who did the beating is the father of a 15-year-old girl. The man who received the beating is the 42-year-old teacher of that young girl. If you’re not familiar with the story, you can probably guess why the beating took place.

The adult teacher was having an inappropriate relationship with the young girl.

When he came to the girl’s house to try to smooth things over with the child’s father, things went south. Well, at least for the teacher.

No charges have been filed against the father and most people seem to be of the mindset that they would have done the same thing if they were in that dad’s shoes.

But if we are to be consistent in our current progressive views on love, sex and relationships, we should be outraged. The father of that young girl should be charged with a hate crime.

Who was he to stand in the way of two consenting individuals who are in love? As long as the love is there and both parties are willing, why should anything else matter? Who’s getting hurt here? Where’s the crime?

That’s how the current fascination with gay marriage was sold to us, remember? It’s how Michelle Obama and others presented their argument to us. Love is all that matters. No one is allowed to judge if it’s called love.

But, as is usually the case with progressives, the natural outcomes were never considered. They scream and shout for higher minimum wages but wonder why all of the businesses are leaving town. They demand free healthcare but fail to consider that, in economics at least, nothing is free. Everyone pays something. So a lot of people are left with no job but all the birth control they can get their hands on.

The same is true for so-called marriage equality. Progressives like to call those in support of traditional marriage bigots, hypocrites and religious extremists. But they fail to see their own bigoted hypocrisy. If love and marriage is just a matter of how one person feels about another, with no fixed standards, why is there a problem with a 42-year-old man carrying on a relationship with a 15-year-old girl? Who are we to stop a 45-year-old woman from marrying a 13-year-old boy? Why should it matter to us if she wants to marry two or three teenage boys at the same time?

Love is all that matters, right?

Who are we to judge?

Marriage equality for all!

I should stop now before I give the progressives anymore ideas. But you get the point. With our current downward trends regarding sex and marriage, today’s child predators are tomorrow’s freedom fighters.

The truth is that standards do matter. To some degree, most everyone believes that. The problem is that those standards can’t be based on current fads or trends, as they tend to be today. The term traditional marriage leaves one with the impression that marriage was invented at the 1960 Republican National Convention. It wasn’t. It was designed by God at the beginning of time (Genesis 2:18-25). We would be wise to follow his instructions for what he designed.

The dad with the baseball bat did the right thing. It’s what any loving father would do. Most of us agree with that. For now. But, as we move further and further away from God’s fixed standards of marriage and replace them with our emotion based fads, something frightening is happening.

We aren’t just redefining marriage.

We’re redefining love.

And in a society where truth is based merely on the feelings of the moment, love is a scary thing.