Monthly Archives: April 2014

Pro-Christian Rally

Since you probably were not there, lazy Christian, there was a rally on the courthouse steps yesterday, put on by the Montana Family Foundation.  They have been battling this issue at the state level for at least three sessions as liberal advocates have attempted to add the sexually confused and homosexualists to the protected classes we currently know as race, sex and gender as Jeff Laszloffy pointed out.

Then final speaker was one Bishop Porter a pastor from Denver who has been applying his Christianity to public policy for years.  I thought his message was good, it was about as much as you can get away with these days.  You aren’t going to convince anyone that race was not the defining issue of our history or the basis of slavery.  And no one really cares that they wrongly think the Civil War was about slavery.  But the Matthew Shepard incident he got blatantly wrong.  It’s wasn’t an anti-gay hate crime it was a drug deal gone bad.  And how messed up is it anyway, that murder impacts us more if it is a homosexualist instead of any other human being?  But the rest of his message was good and biblical.  He pointed out that in Scripture love is a two edged sword of compassion and correction.  This is evident in Jesus’ ministry.  He showed compassion everywhere he went as he healed the sick and the lame.  But he also spent just as much time correcting the errors of the people and their religious leaders, and his disciples.  ”For the LORD disciplines those he loves, and he punishes each one he accepts as his child.”  Hebrews 12:6  Like we discipline our children God disciplines those who are truly his children.

It was disappointing that so few people where there.  I guess it makes sense, the Church should be ashamed of herself.  Romans 1 makes it clear than when homosexual behavior is rampant it is a sign that God has left the building.  He is no longer disciplining us, he turns us over to our iniquity. The created order is very simple, sex in keeping with the created order isn’t hard to figure out.  But it has become that way because our minds were darkened with sin.  People chose to worship what is not natural and he turns them over to their unnatural practices.  This is the current state we are in.  But how did this happen?  From groups of people sailing over to this continent, with Bibles in hand, setting up a country as close as they could come to the law of God, to today, something went terribly wrong. The Church went terribly wrong.  Jesus makes it clear in the Sermon on the Mount that the Jews were supposed to be the light of the world and the salt of the earth. They were supposed to provide light, guidance, wisdom the the world about the laws of God that liberate from sin.  But they didn’t do it, they hid it under a basket.  They were supposed to be the salt, the preservative, keeping the world around them on target with God’s law, but instead they forget it themselves, they lost their saltiness.  It has always been understood that the same things are true of the Church.  We are the children of God, we are his heirs, we will judge the earth and the angels.  We have the wisdom of God and we are supposed to spread it to all the world.  But we have not.  If only we had but passed it on to our children we could have avoided the mess we are in.  We didn’t have masses of pagans to convert, we only had to remain true.  Sure there were the Indians and we ministered to them as faithfully as we could, despite what you have heard.  But the majority of people here today are descended from those historically Christian.  Fewer and fewer people have conversion stories these days, but more and more have unconversion stories.  If not them, then their parents.  The Church has lost it’s saltiness.  How can we lead the world when we can’t even lead ourselves?

We, the Church, don’t even follow the word of God why should the world around us?  And so the homosexualists press at the door, trying to pass legislation limiting where we can practice our Christianity, in an attempt to ease the burning of their lust.  But we know nothing will soothe that lust besides the truth of God’s Word.  But they don’t know, we need to tell them and we need to live it ourselves.  They want to limit where we can practice our religion to organized church buildings.  But I think we already have.  We don’t find victory by out worlding the world, by trying to live up to their definition of ‘love’.  A love about accepting whatever sin and not judging anyone.  We find victory by being the Church that Jesus intended.  A close knit body loving one another so much that the world takes note.  A body walking this earth with wisdom in every area of life and godliness, that must be acknowledged like the wisdom of Solomon.  Queens will come from afar and our neighbors will sit up an take note.  And certainly our children should continue to walk faithfully.

So we can either sit at home as the world falls apart and lament the mess or we can do what we are supposed to do.

Government School Monopoly Elections

It’s that time of year again, when the local School District sneaks in a special election to pad their pockets and their buracracy while no one is looking.  I am personally getting tire of it.  The same old lies written by the same old liberals pushing us as far left and as far in debt as they can every year.  I know I’m a ‘hater’ bla bla bla.  In reality I care about education more than most people and so I despise this travesty masquerading as education.

Why aren’t the school elections the same time as the regular elections in the fall?  Because then too many people are paying attention and that is not good for them.  With secret elections in the spring they can send all of the school employees and bureauracrats to the polls and overwhelm the few in the public who are actually paying attention.

And boy would I like to be the partisan hack who writes these ballots.  Also, this year I got a special propaganda mailing from the school district “Quality Bozeman Education!”  Don’t you forget it, when you read this wonderfully ‘neutral’ pamphlet, which I’m sure we all got to pay for. . .well I mean our grandchildren.  They are of course always asking for more money in the form of levies.  The reality is that each new levy pays for the debt service of the previous levies.  Basically we need money to pay the interest on all the money we already borrowed.  And the wording is always something like “This small levy will allow us to scrape by for another year while only costing the average home owner 14¢.  It’s for the children!  If you give us the money world peace is sure to follow!  You would have to be a Hitler to vote against it!”  The reality is that the largest property owners in this and most cities are companies like Northwestern Energy, Costco and thousands of other businesses.  And I’m sure that when their costs go up they won’t raise their prices or anything, they will just take a loss.  Think again, high property taxes raise the price of everything.  And adding three more levies each year adds up.  And this is not to mention the fact that taxing people for their own property is a destruction of private property rights.  You can’t really own property in this state.  Try not paying the government rent and see who really owns the property.

Also, how is it that in a rapidly growing community school expansion involves bringing in double wide trailers, while our poor backward ancestors built massive beautiful brick structures?  Where is all this money going?  I can tell you from experience it goes into massive rooms full of unused furniture and electronics in the basement of Willson School. Or there was that semi load of legos I once saw there collecting dust.  Alas they had to spend the budget or they wouldn’t get it next year.  Government waste on technology in the name of education is astounding.  Even Steve Jobs had to admit that computers had not had any beneficial effects on education.  But they remain faithful to flushing our money down the drain in pursuit of technology.  In addition school bureauracracy is out of control.  There are buildings full of people, I’m not sure what they do but it’s not education.  I worked at a private school for a number of years, and our cost per student was about half that of the public schools, which spends about $9000 per student per year.

Oh I hope the new school looks as good as this trailer or maybe it will be one of those prison schools that are popping up everywhere.

Oh I hope the new school looks as good as this trailer or maybe it will be one of those prison schools that are popping up everywhere.

So back to the ballot.  I really don’t care who is running this year.  ’Public schools’ are little more than a federal government monopoly.  The local school board has given almost all of their control on things that actually matter over to the federal government, in exchange for a few dollars and the rest of their autonomy has been signed over due to politically correct peer pressure and unions.  But there was something different on the ballot this time.  The school district wants permission to purchase a piece of land for a future school.  Oh they assure us in column three that they have the money, as they ask for over half a million dollars in column two for the ‘General Fund’.  If they really wanted to plan ahead why didn’t they save up money for these new projects instead of always being behind and having to pass levies to service the levies?  That’s how normal people have to operate, but the government get’s to live in fantasy land.  Until they one day kill the growth that they depend on like say Detroit or all of California.

Also why would I want to give the government schools more domain?  We need to start shutting these things down and build private schools that actually follow our ideals.  What if a church or a restaurant had such a monopoly and were claiming more territory.  We would call them a cult or a monopoly and there would be lawsuits and government agents, but not the government school monopoly.  They hold the reigns of the next generation teaching ghastly evils in an unsafe environment, paid for by money they extort from every one of us and no one seems to have a problem with it.  Well I do.  That’s a no on any more money and a no on any more expansion, and Santa Claus and John Galt for School Board.

Barabbas, The Insurrectionist

I was struck by that phrase at our Good Friday service, “Barabbas the insurrectionist”.  He wasn’t just a common criminal, he was almost an anti-Jesus.   It calls to mind all the historical context which was the backdrop for the life of Jesus.  Israel was occupied territory.  This wasn’t exactly anything new.  Babylon conquered Jerusalem in the instance mourned over in Lamentations and Jeremiah.  The people returned to the land after Persia conquered Babylon.  Then Alexander the Great conquered them again in 332.  But then there was the revolt led by the Maccabees.  These events are detailed in the apocryphal book of the same name.  A new priestly ruling line was established that began the Hasmonean dynasty.  The temple was rededicated and everything seemed swell.  Now we come to the Romans who installed Herod the Great, the first in a line of Herods who were Idumean Jewish puppets for Rome.  These are the men who ruled over the course of the New Testament.  They were cruel but effective leaders.  Needless to say the Jewish people were not happy about this situation.  They were the chosen people of God this was there land and how dare another entity impose itself on them.  Never mind the fact that they were living in complete apostasy.

barabbas by pseudo jeromeThe Jews were looking for another Maccabean type leader to revolt against the Romans, liberate the Jewish people and rededicate the temple and things would go back to normal.  This was the cause of many groups in Israel at the time of Jesus.  No doubt many of the disciples of Jesus followed him for this very reason.  It was obvious that he was a prophet, and the scriptures were clear that Messiah would come and establish his eternal kingdom in the line of David. But they were not thinking big enough.  This was obviously what was motivating Judas.  He saw the power of Jesus and was sure that he would overthrow Rome.  He wanted to be in on the ground floor when the action started.  Then when things didn’t go according to his plan, he betrayed Jesus and came to him with a mob in the garden (This gives new light to the statement “he who lives by the sword will die by the sword”, for every man who stood up to Rome was killed.  The final hold out was in Masada where 960 people committed suicide as the Roman army broke down the walls of the city about 73 AD.  Jesus was no pacifist, but his time called for this action.  His comments were out of love for preserving his people, both their lives in the coming conflict and their souls in eternity.  There are times when we are called to fight and there are times when we are called to love our Messiah.  It requires wisdom and faith to discern which is which.  Silly mantras of pacifism or rebellion will do you no good if you are in the opposite situation).  No doubt he thought he could force Jesus to submit to his plan and overthrow Rome.  This was also the motivation of the mob who wanted to make Jesus king by force in John 6.  How silly is this.  It is a theme repeated often in movies today as the diabolical evil genius is sure he can turn Spiderman or Batman or whomever to his cause and then they will rule the world together, ha, ha, ha.  But it didn’t work out this way with Jesus.  He kept talking about the temple being destroyed, and he seemed to be always spouting blasphemies agains the new religion that the Jews had become quite comfortable in.  Of course if they really knew Moses Jesus would not have been a surprise.  But they didn’t, so when this Jesus, clearly a powerful prophet of God got out of hand, they thought they could take care of him as they had all the other prophets.  And better yet they could trade Jesus in for this Barabbas person, who was really true to the cause.  He had already started an insurrection and killed some people.  Maybe he can be our leader.  In this judgement they made the biggest error of all of history.  Just like the original radical, Lucifer, they looked over God’s shoulder at what he was making, and they thought they could do things better.  They thought their plan was the way to go.  So they got Barabbas, a murderer.  

This instantly called to mind another murderer, Moses.  If you remember a young Moses decided he was going to free his people single handedly from Egypt.  So he killed an Egyptian.  Pharaoh tried to kill him so he fled to the desert for 40 years.  Moses was trying to do things his own way too.  Even though he was the person God planned to use to liberate the people of Israel from Egypt, this was not the time or the way he intended to do it.  Stephen lays out these events, at his execution, showing that the religious leaders were not true followers of Moses but Jesus and Stephen as his disciple were the true followers of Moses.  But now you have Jesus, is even better.  He was a true son of God, he did the will of his father.  He didn’t try to do things his own way.  He didn’t commit murder, he was faithful in laying down his life, and so he took it up again as prophet, priest and king over all creation not just Israel for a few years.  Barabbas had literally done everything they accused Jesus of, he had stirred up the people, he had blasphemed God by disobeying his commands and he had not paid tribute to Caesar(Luke tells us he was a thief).

Pilate liberates Barabbas and orders Jesus is crucified. Codex of Predis (1476). Italy.

Pilate liberates Barabbas and orders Jesus is crucified. Codex of Predis (1476). Italy.

They had all missed the Messiah. But certainly we would never do such a thing.  We never choose our own path or do things our own way when God has laid out his plan for us.  You might say God has never told me anything.  Well he has given us far more commands than we can follow in his word.  Maybe after you follow all of these you can worry about receiving special prophecy.  But that is the reality of our sin, we let fear drive us to rely on our own experience rather than the rules laid out in scripture. “But I love her.” “But it’s really hard.” “But I don’t feel like it.” “But but but.”  We usually want good things.  A free Israel was a good thing, but it was not as good as a humanity saved from sin. If we allow our circumstances to take precedent over the commands in scripture we are just like those who crucified Jesus.  We are followers of Barabbas the Insurrectionist instead of Jesus the King.

The Humanity

I don’t think my neighbor his human.  I’m not just talking about the fact that he is a pompous jerk with whom everyone I know has personal differences.  It is not a reactionary personal conflict statement.  It is a real Christian observation.

Neighbor with his electric wheelbarrow.  The short lived eco garden.  I love how the ice sliding off the solar panels destroyed the rainwater collection that was supposed to supply this garden.  Also wondering if the hail-destroyed panels ever made more energy than was put into them.

Neighbor with his electric wheelbarrow. The short lived eco garden. I love how the ice sliding off the solar panels destroyed the rainwater collecting gutter that was supposed to supply this garden. Also wondering if the hail-destroyed panels ever made more energy than was put into them.

He and his whole family live a life that is entirely fake.  They have no idea why they are on this planet or what the point of life or anything else is.  They are left wandering from fad to fad trying to find some meaning in something.  I have never seen people who have less of an idea what to do with a dog than these.  I am convinced that the poor golden retriever is decomposing dead, somewhere on their property from a case of broke heart.  She was so strange as to hardly know what to do when I attempted to pet her and she barked constantly from loneliness, that is until they muzzled her.   They just got a dog because that’s what people do and they want to be real people.

Their relations with their token child are not much better. I never see the child, I’m not sure she even knows how to play in the back yard.  And the relationship of her parents to her is the most sterile thing I have ever witnessed, aside from their dog.  I think here too, they just had a kid, or procured her in some manner, simply because they are trying to be human.

They started some silly business mocking Christianity and Judaism.  Having no meaning themselves the thought they would try to mock those who have found it.  This is nothing but tragic.

He has searched for meaning in Green Building, which was an exercise in pure hypocrisy.  Taking a perfectly livable house and dumping piles of money and energy into it to make it ‘green’, and then telling everyone else in town that they had better do the same or his cabal would shame them in to recanting their backwards ideas.  He plants native thin ugly low water plants in the front lawn while planting a thick normal law in the back. He parks the micro electric EV-BS whatever vehicle in the front and the huge diesel truck in the back. It’s quite a show.

Speaking of electric vehicles.  They are supposedly the solution to the end of the world which is quite soon if you don’t buy the right car, from him.  Of course no one bought these stupid vehicles that cost over $20,000 for something that would fit in the back of my pickup,  well except for you. You see while preaching to us about the wonders of these 7 year machines, his only clients ended up being the government, that means you.  You bought them and they now sit dead at various places around town.  Oh well it was good intentions.  Or was it.  Having been in this community for only a few months he was already bashing our Neanderthal ways in the newspaper decrying the fact that there are so many large trucks.  He being clearly more sophisticated than us, and being forced to leave the hive of his sophistication in New York, presumably because it was so glorious, decided to come here to reform us.  Soon afterwards, he purchased a large diesel Dodge of his own.  Though I did get to know the mechanic who is always fixing his electric car, a little.  Not a bad guy from Seattle.  There is no problem with makers and doers.  But if it’s so great let it speak for itself, and stop shaming and shaking down people to pay for your crazy earth saving nonsense.  And stop trying to feel good about saving an earth you don’t understand at all.

But the sickest thing of all is how he is doing everything he can to turn this community into the cesspool from which he escaped.  The audacity of asserting yourself into the politics of a community of which you know nothing is astounding.  His yard is full of so many political signs it looks like a satire.  And most of these name are his peers, who also having moved here recently seek to overthrow anything decent that unites our upright community.

Now he is undermining physical humanity itself by being one of the  biggest pushers for the so-called Non Discrimination Ordinance, he and the two recently elected commissioners, each recent transplants from New York and California.  He started the petition in his coffee shop Wild Joe’s (please stop going there and encourage your friends to do the same), and he has been pushing it right down our throats ever since.  Evil is active, it lives right next door and it has no other creative motive than to destroy the created order put in place by our God.  It doesn’t know why.  It doesn’t know what it means to be human, but it masquerades and it wants to destroy it. It is a tragic story, but we might be able to mitigate the consequences if we are vigilant.  There is a City Commission meeting next Monday and 6pm, discussing this evil ordinance.  I encourage you to come and speak up.

How Dare You Compliment Me

Today we like to leave the judging to God.  At least half of it.  When it comes to pronouncing  something as bad, Whoa! leave that to God.  But when it comes to proclaiming something as good, anything goes.  I’m good, you are good, everything is good fine ok and I have Christian liberty, so how dare you judge me–bad.

10042-the-ghent-altarpiece-the-just-judg-jan-van-eyck

The Just Judges or The Righteous Judges is the lower left panel of the Ghent Altarpiece, painted by Jan van Eyck or his brother Hubert Van Eyck between 1430–32. It is believed that the panel shows portraits of several contemporary figures such as Philip the Good, and possibly the artists Hubert and Jan van Eyck themselves. The panel was stolen in 1934 and never been found since. -Wikipedia

The verb form of the word judge means “to form an opinion or conclusion about”.  Of course judgements can be good or bad or anything in between.  We make these sorts of decision every day, we must.  The story of scripture is one of mankind making many bad judgements.  Hey this snake sounds pretty good, maybe I will eat the fruit.  Hey I’m kind of mad at God, maybe I’ll kill my brother.  And on and on.  Judging rightly is seen as the quintessential quality of the godly leader.  Paul tells us that we in the church have special access to the truth which should allow us to make better judgements than the world I Cor 6:1-11.  He is talking about lawsuits which can include any number of areas of human conflict, we should be able to decide and make judgements about everything.  There is no aspect of life which Jesus is not Lord over, his Word instructs us in everything for life and Godliness II Peter 1:3.

Yet the postmodern mantra, is “don’t judge me”.  But only in some circumstances. We like to leave the bad judgements up to God, “vengeance is God’s, don’t cha know?” But Scripture also refers to God as the great comforter, the rewarder of good deeds.  But we have no problem taking over this role.  When homosexuality is rampant and sleeping around is common ‘loving’ these people and pronouncing their behavior as fine and these people as ‘good’ people is perfectly acceptable.  We pronounce acceptance of any number of clear sins as loving.  We commend our fellow man even in the face of blatant sin, declaring that “they are still a good person”, “they are doing the best they can.”  But I don’t think we are.  We have created a system that insulates us from any real criticism.  People who find anything wrong with any behavior are ‘haters’, ‘legalist’, ‘puritans’, etc.  Only permitting positive comments “likes”  is a sure way to guarantee that our behavior becomes worse and worse.

Making good judgements takes practice and skill.  Wisdom is not a theoretical exercise it is like a trade or craft that must be developed.  It starts when we are very young and our parents help us to begin making decisions for ourselves.  Refusal on the part of parents to push their children to develop this skill can leave them morally helpless.  But it’s never to late to start the work of judging rightly.  Like learning any subject and applying it to the real world.  We will make mistakes, but we must learn from them and try again and again.  Fortunately we are not left alone to make every mistake for ourselves.  We can learn from the mistakes of others through watching them, or hearing stories of their applied wisdom.  This is why the bulk of Scripture is made up of stories.  Real people doing real things, they often fail, but we get diving commentary on their failures and successes.  There are also many commands, covering areas that are not possible for us to understand. Sometimes God tells us to shut up and listen, simply because he is God and we are not, as he addresses Job or Jeremiah.  Paul reiterates this idea in Romans 9.

If we as a people have any hope, we really must take judgement more seriously, we must learn to judge rightly and teach others to do so as well.  We must hold ourselves and others to a much higher standard.  We must be open to negative judgements from others.  We must be willing to speak difficult negative judgements to others.  This is biblical Christian living, this is the true mission of the Church.  We are saved to good works Ephesians 2:10, that by them we may bless the world, that they may see our light and come to faith.

The Puritans understood this well.  They took sin very seriously, corporate sin and individual sin.  Our nation was born out of their work at judging rightly.  Never in history had so many men, striving to mortify sin, striving to glorify God in all that they did, been assembled in one place.  They were free to start over, to renew the tradition of English Christendom, to even a higher standard.  We and the world are blessed to this day by their difficult work.  If we want the future to be brighter for the world we need to follow their example.  What we do on earth has consequences for eternity.  While ultimate judgement is reserved for Jesus at the end of days. Judgements we make our binding on eternity.  What is bound on earth is bound in heaven, what is loosed on earth is loosed in heaven Matthew 18.  So make those judgements wisely, scripturally, boldly as priests of the most high God.

Further Listening:  Puritan Sermon Series here.

Bad Religion

You know what is worse than religion?  People who are always bashing religion.  The fact is that we are religious creatures, we are designed to worship.  If you have a problem with that take it up with the creator.  Lack of worship is not possible, the only options are good and bad worship.  You don’t ever hear about God telling his people “If you are going to stop worshiping the one true God, make sure you throw out all religion rather than following one of those false ones.”  No, there are two options, the one true God, and all the others.

Vintage aged papyrusReligion is one of the many terms that we allow to be defined by the world rather than the Word.  Religion isn’t some category of private spiritual awareness or interaction.  Religion is the outworking of what we believe.  If you show bad fruit it is because you are bad at heart, if you show good fruit it is because you are controlled by the Spirit.  These are the only two options according to scripture.  But in our modern Evangelical silliness we have tried to create a third category, the bound Christian.  This is a Christian who has been fooled into believing that the outworking of the faith in every area of culture are not necessary and might even be damaging to the message of the ‘gospel’.  I put gospel in quotes because they a have so limited it’s scope that it means something entirely different than the Word does.  These are the Christians who are always lamenting Christians who actually try to live like the Bible commands.  They label them as ‘fake’ or ‘phony’ or accuse them of ‘empty religion’ or being ‘holier than thou’.  They pride themselves on only sticking to the gospel and not getting involved in politics or cultural areas.  ( I was blown away at our missions conference a few months back at people fearful that missionaries were teaching English to unreached people groups.  Instead of realizing the innumerable Biblical resources that could be opened up to these people by the English language, to say nothing of the economic opportunities, they lamented that we were forcing our ‘culture’ on these people.  They cling to this notion of the noble savage, reeling like the modern post-Hitler multi-culturalist, at the notion that one culture could be better than another.  Well our culture is better because it was born from Christendom.  The noble savage recognizes this, he wants to learn English.  And we stupidly hold him back, misunderstanding our history, and the way that God works on this earth.  Can you imagine Paul wasting time translating his letters into all the indigenous languages of the peoples in the Roman Empire from before they were conquered?  No, he took advantage of a world united by Greek.  This is the old notion of pillaging Egypt that I wrote about last time.  Take the aspects of culture you can appropriate for the gospel and replace those that you can not.  Don’t lament Christian cultural involvement, that will only create an empty house for the Devil to come and fill, Matthew 12:43-45.)

We are the salt of the earth, where does the Church go to get salty if it is gone?  If the world becomes rotten because it lacks the preservative characteristics of salt, it can go to the church, but when the Church has no sense of right and wrong, when the Church does not judge correctly, everyone is lost. Where does the salt then come from?  The blind are leading the blind.  But don’t worry the blind Christians have an inner relationship with Jesus–it’s there–honest.  Or is it. James didn’t seem to think so, James 2:14.  John didn’t seem to think so.  I was blown away by a sermon I heard last week on 1 John suggesting that the gospel is not about a club or a culture it was about a relationship with Jesus.  Well it is about a relationship, but John’s point is the exact opposite. “If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth.”  What good does it do to talk about your personal faith with lovey-dovey Jesus if it does not manifest itself in and outward way, in a religion, in a culture?  ”My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not.”  Not sinning is the point.  What do you call someone devoted to the practice of not sinning?  I would call them religious, yet today we are wont to call them legalists.

And of course we are part of a club, it’s called the Church.  We are supposed to look good to the world and show them by our real interaction what love is, John 13:35.  How are a bunch of individuals with private Jesus-relationships supposed to display this to the world without a physical group interacting together regularly?  Which, I believe, be careful here, is the definition of a club.

Of course it is true that there are many bad religions.  But I think it is silly to suggest that these religions are damning people.  If these people are following good religious practices without real heart commitment, they still benefit as the Jews did for thousands of years, and still do to this day.  Living a good clean moral life, even without true faith is a good thing.  It’s sad that they put in all this effort only to be lost in the end, but every murder stopped and every marriage vow kept is a good.  Creation acting as it is supposed to, glorifies God.

But today we suffer from the opposite sin. We think our faith is something private and individual, that has very limited outworking.  We think we have faith without works.  We allow the world around to set the parameters of every area of our life except for a few ‘religious’ compartments that we turn over to the word of God.  People who take the word of God seriously, who have both true inner faith and outer works, are labeled religious, legalists.  But this is what God requires, our faith should work it’s way out into every area of our lives.  This is what culture is.  And of course it will be in conflict with the world.  It was from the very beginning, as Paul and the other disciples began to crash the idol manufacturing economy of Ephesus, Acts 19:21-41.  Kings will tremble, Matthew 2:3. This is not a distraction from the gospel, this is what the gospel does. It divides.  If you want to stifle this so you can get along with the world, this is sin.  It is the sin we are most likely to commit.

“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”  This is what God requires of us.  It takes hard work. It takes generational work, building these good habits into our children, that they may be free to obey more of God’s word every generation.  But this is the true religion.