Taking the Temperature of Morality in America

Nashville-based LifeWay Research Group found 81 percent of Americans agree with the statement, “I am concerned about declining moral behavior in our nation.” Let’s take a closer look at what that actually means.

The Decline of the Family: Nearly half (48 percent) of American children are born to a mother who is not married. Forty-three percent of American children live without a father in the home.

The Decline of Education: The average American school teaches much less about important subjects such as American history, English grammar, and literature and are instead teaching much more about “social justice,” environmentalism, and sex.

The End of Male and Female: At the core of the same sex marriage argument and the redefinition of marriage is the idea that gender doesn’t matter. Marriage is marriage and gender means nothing, the argument goes. Why? Because for the first time in recorded history gender is regarded as meaningless. 

The End of Right and Wrong: At least two generations of American young people have been taught that moral categories are nothing more than personal (or societal) preferences.

The End of Religion: There are no moral truths because there is no longer a religious basis for morality. It was the Bible that guided the Founders’ and other Americans’ values. Not anymore. Instead of being guided by a code higher than themselves, Americans are taught to rely on their feelings to determine how to behave.

The End of Beauty: Just as morality is subjective, so are beauty and excellence. There is no good or bad art or literature. “Street art” and graffiti is now worthy of museum exhibition; paint thrown by an “artist” from atop a ladder onto a canvas is considered high art and fetches over $100 million.

Despite the evidence, the Huffington Post recently ran an article by John Pavlovitz entitled, “The Christian Myth of America’s Moral Decay.” In it, Pavlovitz states, “…the truth is America is not in decline any more than at any time in its history.” He goes on to say, “It’s reckless for Christians to keep playing the Decay card with such regularity, and irresponsible for the Church to wring its hands and shout doom and damnation from a distance, instead of looking for the beautiful, loving, redemptive work already happening in the world, and joining in.”

Pavlovitz is leading people astray, promoting “tolerance” and “getting along” as paramount in the relationship between the church and society. The following invitation greets first time visitors on the website of the church where he pastors, “It doesn’t matter where you are on the spiritual journey—new and eager, or seasoned and disillusioned. Your political leanings don’t matter either. Nor does your race, or whether you’re straight or gay. None of that matters to us. We’ll invite you to belong—right along with everybody else.” In the Statement of Faith lists the following comments in regard to their beliefs on sin: “Consequently, at NRCC, we’re not too focused on one another’s sin. We don’t spend much energy trying to keep one another on the straight and narrow.”

How sad! More importantly, how very misguided and wrong.

1 Timothy 3:1-5 says: “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.”

As believers, we must stand out as God’s witnesses to truth. Our world is changing. We live in a world that is spinning out of control morally speaking. The nearer we get to our Savior’s return the more distance we will see between society and the church. More and more the world needs to see the hope that is within us. Society desperately needs a path to discover a sane, healthy, and moral alternative. That path is Jesus and is found through His church. “Let your light so shine among men that they see your good deeds and give glory to your Father in heaven.” (Mt. 5:15-16)

May 2018

Love Your Neighbor 

What does the Bible say about loving your neighbor?  What does the Bible say about loving people at all?  Love is a big topic in the Bible, it discusses 3 types of love.  In Greek, pornea is the selfish cravings dealing with lust and sex.  Phileo is brotherly love.  Lastly, agape, is the unconditional love that denies “self” for the care and compassion of others. 


The Greatest Commandment: Matthew 22:36-39, a Pharisee asked Jesus, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?”  And Jesus said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the great and first commandment.  And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  


The kind of love expressed in both of these laws is agape love.  In regards to the second commandment, this love seeks for the greatest good for our neighbor.  By way of definition, “neighbor” in this passage refers to anyone who is around us:  our actual neighbor or the person at the desk next to us at work.  Here are practical tips for loving our neighbors as ourselves. 


Seek Out Your Neighbor: In Ezekiel 34:16a, God says, I will seek out the lost, and I will bring back the strayed.  God does this so many times through his flock.  Jesus did not spend His time around the saved, but the unsaved.  We should model our lives after His.  Seek out someone that God has placed on your heart.  Seek them and love them for who they are, not for who you want them to be.  Jesus ate with tax collectors, he talked with prostitutes and spent time with the sick.  His reputation was not even a factor.  He spent time with them because He loved them unconditionally.  We have to put pride and our reputations down at the cross if we want to truly love others. 


Bless Those Who Persecute You: Yes, the ones who persecute you need Jesus more than ever.  Romans 12:14 says, bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.  This is a reflection on Jesus’s words in Matthew 5:44 when He says, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.  God has never stopped seeking the hearts of man. We need to pray throughout the day for those who persecute us.  And in all circumstances, show them love no matter what.  It is the very least we can do considering the grace and mercy God has given us through Christ’s death. 


Be Real:  “People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care.” -Theodore Roosevelt. We live among hurting people, ourselves not excluded. So often we struggle with life and its consequences, and sometimes these struggles are faith shattering. How do we cope? How do we live? Who can we turn to? Can I overcome with God’s help, or do I even need God anymore? Most of us have been there and they’re looking for real people to stand with them. Our love must be sincere. Our relationships must be authentic. 


Be a Good Listener: We all know what it is like when we try to talk with someone and they interrupt us or ask, “What did you say again?”  It feels like they don’t even care and they honestly may not.  You will always feel like someone cares for you when they genuinely listen to you.  Listening is a conscious choice you have to make.  James 1:19 says, be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.  Following this model, we will show our neighbor love even if they don’t recognize it. 


Respect The Boundaries: You will not be seen as loving if you break into a person’s home.  You have not respected their boundaries.  The same goes for the peripheral boundaries that each person has set for themselves.  It is important that we as Christians can read the signs.  To love like Christ is to be the salt of the earth (Matthew 5:13).  Salt adds flavor and seasoning to food.  We are to be like salt.  People want flavor.  Colossians 4:6 says, “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.”  When we answer our neighbor like we “ought” to, they will be drawn to us.  They will notice something different about us if they are not already a believer, and that is what attracts them.  While respecting someone’s boundaries, they will be more inclined to converse and they will be much more receptive to what we have to say. 


Conclusion: In order to really focus on loving others, we have to constantly be aware of how much Jesus loves us by how He laid His life down for us on the cross.  When we are thankful for Him, we can really express the love needed to plant the seed into an unbeliever’s heart.  I pray that we all can learn daily how to love even more then yesterday. 

April 2018

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