A friend of mine who is part of an international Christian organization shared with me that when a survey was taken with one of their ministries, 100% of the respondents admitted problems with sexual purity. Struggles ranged from marital infidelity to widespread use of pornography. The ease with which people have access to pornography on the internet is creating a crisis throughout the worldwide community of those who follow Jesus.
Last week I stayed at the Crown Astor in New Orleans for a military conference. On Friday night I got almost no sleep. On the fifth floor near my room was a group of visiting university students. Evidently, the guys partnered with girls to drink and engage in loud and vulgar revelry. It saddened me to think how many parents don’t care or have no idea what their children are doing.
Do you ever wonder what the point is for reading books of the Bible that primarily contain prophecies of God’s impending judgment against certain people and nations? Jonah, Nahum and Zephaniah all prophesied against the Assyrian empire. When Nahum predicted the impending destruction of the capital city, Nineveh, Assur-bani-pal was its evil king. Nineveh was full of bloodshed, deceit, plundering and constant warring against others (3:1).
I can imagine what happened. She had lived there too long. Over time, she grew increasingly used to the sleaze to the point where the vices probably no longer shocked her. No doubt she and her friends gossiped about the bizarre and strange conduct of the city’s inhabitants. Perhaps she was close to the two men soon to marry her daughters. Even her husband hesitated—unsure about leaving. In the end when the persistent angels grabbed their hands and pulled the four of them outside the city warning them to run and not look back, she didn’t get far before she turned away just once to see what should not be seen. That turning away made her a pillar of salt. (Gen. 19)
One of the reasons I love to study the Bible is the amazing way God speaks to the times in which we live. Read what the prophet Hosea wrote to his countrymen sometime between 755 and 722 B.C. and see if his words speak to your nation.
Roman Catholic monk Girolamo Savonarola, (September 21, 1452 – May 23, 1498), was shocked by the immorality in Italy and by the corruption he observed within the church. As a teenager, he walked beside the River Po where he sang to God and wept over the condition of the people. At the age of 22, he wrote “Contempt of the World,” comparing the sins of his time to Sodom and Gomorrah. Years later, while praying, the Holy Spirit gave him a vision in which he was told to announce to the people that hard times were coming to the church.
Mote worked in the building for years. As I got to know him I was amazed at his disdain for women—particularly his own wife. He would ridicule her at every chance and belittle her publicly. He made her seem stupid. He complained of her shortcomings yet seemed clueless to his own failings. In fact, the more I got to know him the more I could appreciate the pain his wife must have endured. Perhaps most grievous, was knowing that he was unfaithful to her and completely uncaring.
I received an email last week along with scores of other pastors, from a man by the name of Rick. Because of the poor representation in Salem, Oregon’s capital, by spiritual leaders against the impending legislation that grants civil liberties and benefits to homosexuals he was spurred to send out an exhortation. He feels we are failing in our duties as shepherds to speak out against sin. His appeal caused me to think much about what it means to be earnest.
Two friends drug him down. It started with watching mediocre movies and descended into pornography. Sambo felt miserable and tried to rationalize his actions against a brighter conscience. He felt trapped until one night he listened to his father, Titus, preach a message he’d heard countless times. On this evening in December of 1994, God’s Word pierced Sambo’s heart. He felt the potent pull of the Holy Spirit. Tears filled his eyes and plunged downward washing away built-up shame. Later that night he repented of his sin and honestly asked Jesus to become His Lord and Savior. Lingering guilt was replaced by enduring peace. Love came and filled a 14-year-old boy in Trivandrum, India.
In 1725, Franciscan monks established the Convent of Ocopa to evangelize and civilize the tribes of the Peruvian jungle. Located about 45 minutes from the city of Huancayo in the central Andes, this monastery contains a library with over 25,000 volumes of antique literature. Adorning many of the walls of the splendid building are paintings that date 200-300 years in age. It is a most impressive place where the walls literally seem to breathe with stories.
While browsing through a magazine at an X-ray clinic, an advertisement caught my eyes. The bold headlines proclaimed something to the effect of, “It is WRONG! . . . It is Nationally Televised”. The ad promoted some upcoming cable channel roast of Playboy magazine’s founder and owner, Hugh Hefner.
The story is told of a conversation between a teenager and his grandfather. The young man said, “Gee Grampa, your generation didn’t have all these social diseases. What did you wear to have safe sex?” The wise old gentleman replied, “A wedding ring.”
The Bible emphatically informs us that we who love God are temples of His Holy Spirit (1Co.3:16). Abusing the temple is a quick way to cut off spiritual fellowship. It’s amazing how many ways we can abuse our jars of clay.
Across the table sat a man of large girth and hostile demeanor—one who formerly had served as his platoon sergeant. This noncommissioned officer faced legal charges that if successful, would eject him from the army dishonorably. He had been caught stealing equipment from his own soldiers, lying and shirking his duties. Now, less than a year later, enough charges had accumulated to bring him to trial.
The Manchurian Tiger is the largest member of the cat family. A large male can reach twelve feet in length! A leopard ambushes its victims by staying camouflaged and it is so strong it can carry its prey high into a tree where other animals cannot steal it. Lions, unlike other cats, operate within a community called a pride and work as a team to bring down their hapless victims. The Lynx, a smaller bobtailed cat, will hunt its prey tirelessly for hours and are capable of catching fish. Ocelots often hunt in pairs mewing to keep in touch with one another. Pumas, also known as cougars or mountain lions, live among rocky fortresses and can jump 20 feet or vertically leap 15 feet. Jaguars are excellent swimmers and are so secretive, little is known about their habits. They will fight, kill and eat alligators.