Heaven Bound for Seniors

A couple of weeks back, after my “Heaven Bound for Singles” sermon, I mentioned to Bradley that my next sermon in the series would be directed at older Christians.  “You’d better make it interesting, then,” he replied.  “Otherwise, we’re likely to go to sleep on you.”

All humor aside, the reality is that old age is a very different stage of life.  The boundaries of this time aren’t sharply defined—getting your AARP card in the mail doesn’t automatically age you 20 years—but most Christians sooner or later find themselves in a very different place.  Their physical abilities are different.  Their mental abilities are different.  Their relationships with other Christians are different.  Indeed, the ways they serve God are different.  It can be extremely difficult to reconcile all of these changes with a sense of self that they established when they were 40.

At this point, I’m reasonably certain that some of you are thinking, “Yes, we know all this, but what do you know about it, o preacher who is 40 years younger than I am?”  Admittedly, I haven’t gone through all of these things myself, but I did go through them with my dad.  He and I were very close, particularly during the last years of his life, and I learned a lot from him about the experience of growing old and even dying.

Similarly, while I was writing this sermon, I did research.  I called older Christian friends of mine, went through my outline with them, and asked them what they thought.  My final product this morning reflects those things, so with much humility, and with some trepidation about outrunning my experience, I’d like to talk to you about what it means to be heaven bound for seniors. Continue reading

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Those Who Dwell With God Most High (Psalm 91)

Those who dwell with God Most High
In His shadow will abide;
To their Fortress they will cry
And, within His shelter, hide.
He will save you from the snare
Of the death His judgment brings,
Faithful, He will shield you there
In the refuge of His wings. Continue reading

My #MeToo Wishlist for Hollywood

It’s a surreal experience for me whenever I find myself agreeing with the American entertainment industry about anything.  Normally, the things those folks celebrate strike me as unnatural and downright sinful.  However, apparently we agree with each other when it comes to sexual harassment and sexual abuse.  The (spoken, at least) Hollywood consensus is that these things are wrong.  I agree.  Indeed, I would go so far as to call them evil, a stench in God’s nostrils.

Hooray!  However, from our apparent agreement, something seems to be missing.  Various actresses, singers, etc., have been tweeting #MeToo as an indication that they were sexually harassed or abused.  I suggest, though, that there’s another #MeToo that ought to be going out—an acknowledgement of culpability in creating the sex-obsessed culture that has given rise to all these monstrous abusers and harassers.

Let’s be real here.  The likes of Harvey Weinstein weren’t just perverts in their private dealings.  They were perverts in crafting the entertainment that they put out for worldwide consumption.  They preached the same gospel of unrestrained sexual license that they practiced.  There is no disconnect between those two things.

If Hollywood truly is sorry about all of this, then, it needs to collectively repent.  Here’s what I think repentance would look like.

Stop acting like skin scenes are art.  They aren’t.  They’re smut.  I suppose that some epicene creature out there truly might appreciate them for their aesthetic value, but 99.9 percent of the people who are watching are watching because they’re sexually stirred (unless they’ve seen so much smut that they’re desensitized).  Trash is trash, even with a big-name actress and a soft-focus lens.

Stop cramming them into every single movie that isn’t animated.  It’s unnecessary, and if nekkid people do happen to be essential to the plot of some story, it probably isn’t a story that should be told.  In real life, you aren’t catering to the artsy crowd.  You’re giving aid and comfort to the pervert crowd.  Don’t do this and then turn around and complain that men are treating women like sex objects.  It’s utterly hypocritical.

Stop pretending that sex has no consequences.  As atheists love to remark, the Bible is a fairly R-rated book.  You’ve got various characters raping their sisters, sleeping with their father’s concubines, and committing adultery, then murdering to cover it up.  The Scriptures are pretty blunt in their discussion of these actions and many more like them.

However, the Bible never pretends that sexual immorality has no consequences.  What Paul Harvey would call “the rest of the story” unfolds with remorseless inevitability.  Sure, Biblical characters can be immoral, but they generally get clobbered for it.  Not surprisingly, since the Bible is a factual book, this tracks the consequences of sexual immorality in our time too.  You can buy now, but you’re going to pay later.

Sadly, the treatment of sex in TV shows, movies, etc., does not reflect reality.  When such loving attention is paid to the act itself, one might expect equal attention to be paid to the ensuing crash-and-burn disaster.  However, that’s not the Hollywood way.  Instead, the countless characters who sin generally manage to dance between the raindrops and escape ruin altogether.  Sadly, as millions of single parents and broken homes attest, things don’t go so well for the foolish people who try to imitate them.

Stop undermining the family.  When you get right down to it, I’m a fairly cautious soul.  I don’t use my lawn mower to trim hedges.  When I’m ripping boards with my table saw, I use a push stick rather than putting my hand an inch away from the spinning blade.  As a rule, when I’m dealing with powerful equipment, I follow the manufacturer’s instructions because I like having ten fingers.

Power tools can tear you up, no doubt, but they’re nothing next to the power of the human sexual impulse.  According to our Manufacturer, there’s only one safe way to channel that force, in the intimate relationship between husband and wife.  Do things any other way, and you’re asking for trouble.

Hollywood sees things differently.  To them, the nuclear family is only one of a multitude of equally good options.  Same-sex marriage, open marriage, open debauchery—they’re all equally wonderful.  One presumes that if handed a lawn mower, the intelligentsia of the entertainment industry would use it not only to trim their hedges, but also to cut their hair.  Never mind the silly warning!  Look how well this works and how happy we are!

In reality, not all options are created equal, and the health of our families and our nation depends on dropping the pretense that they are.  Let’s see some promotion and celebration of God’s plan for the family for a change.  The Lord knows that millions of Americans take their moral marching orders from the TV.  At least that would get them marching in the right direction.

Of course, I am under no illusions that any of these things will actually happen.  With one side of their mouths, the glitterati will decry the shameful, shameful behavior of these monstrous, monstrous men (even though their misdeeds were an open secret for years before it became fashionable to call them out).  With the other, they will continue to promote the same sex-drenched worldview that creates monsters.

Not surprisingly, the years ahead will yield more of the same:  more promotion of moral decline, more sex scandals, more handwringing, more pious affirmation that at least we’ve left behind the straitjacket of patriarchal morality.  A little more progress, and surely we’ll leave behind the harassment and abuse too.

Tragically, all the progress appears to be in the wrong direction.

The Red Sea and Baptism

The crossing of the Red Sea is one of the most important events in the history of Israel.  Before God intervened, any rational observer would have said the Israelites were dead meat.  There they were, on a hostile shore, no means of crossing to safety, and an enemy army coming up to destroy them.  However, God did intervene, and by the time He was through, it was the Egyptians, not the Israelites, who had been destroyed.  Clearly, their deliverance was due to God and God alone. Continue reading

Heaven Bound for Singles

I’ve never met a Christian who believed that you had to be married to go to heaven.  However, sometimes the way that we treat the subject might give the opposite impression.  Churches all over the country hold gospel meetings on marriage and the family, but I’ve never even heard of a gospel meeting aimed at the unmarried.  The same holds true with Bible classes.  I’ve been in all kinds of marriage-enrichment classes, but I’ve never seen a Bible class specifically for singles.  It’s very easy for single Christians to draw the conclusion that the ideal disciple is married with 2.4 children, and if that’s not you, you’re some kind of second-class disciple.

However, this impression is as unwarranted as it is insulting.  There is nothing in Scripture that suggests that being single is a spiritual problem.  Arguably the most famous disciple of Christ in history, the apostle Paul, was single.  For that matter, so was Jesus Himself.

Consequently, the notion that we can’t really follow Christ unless we’re married is absurd.  Unmarried Christians need and deserve some attention for their situation too.  Let’s look this morning, then at what it means to be heaven bound for singles. Continue reading

Pro-Life and Politics

As any longtime reader of my blog knows, I am passionately opposed to abortion.  My views on the matter crystalized about 10 years ago, when my daughter Macy was stillborn.  As I struggled to come to terms with my loss, one thing became clear to me.  Life is a gift from God.  He is the One who holds the power to kill and make alive in His hands.  When we take that power upon ourselves, we put ourselves in the place of God and usurp His authority.  We wade in waters that are too deep for us.

I’ve also written a considerable amount (though with less passion) about my concerns with making political action (particularly on a national stage) a substitute for discipleship.  I don’t have any problem with Christians taking pro-life political positions.  In fact, if I believed that political efforts to defeat abortion in America had any likelihood of success, I would join them.  Continue reading