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Sexual abuse in the Church: has this become an acceptable sin?

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Readers of this blog are well aware that I have not shied away from taking to task the many sexual predators who are part of the Catholic Church hierarchy. Whether the abuser is a Priest, a Bishop, or a Pope, there is a seemingly endless trail of shattered and broken lives in the wake of the unprecedented abuse of the Catholic Church’s many deviant and perverted sexual predators.

That is not to say that the Catholic Church stands alone in its abuse of innocent boys and girls. Far from it. As today’s church rejects the clear teaching of God’s Word, thus becoming less Christ-like in the process, it is becoming more and more like the world, willingly taking upon it the sins and iniquities for which Christ died.

In essence, what we are witnessing today is the proverbial “I want my cake and I want to eat it too”. In other words, the Church wants to be recognized as Christ’s representative here on earth, but at the same time want to indulge itself in the vile sins of the world. Such are men and women who have had their conscious seared with a hot iron. [1]

That being said, it would be unfair of me to fail to call out these same types of predators who ‘worship’ in other churches, so today’s blog will center around the recent sexual abuse scandal that has been brought to light in the Baptist church.

Before I begin, I am well aware that this is not a popular subject. There will be no “Amens!” shouted from the pew. No one will applaud this message because the truth is most people would rather not know of these abuses in the Church.

When I speak on subjects like this, it usually generates silence. No one wants to believe that their church leader could be guilty of such heinous behavior. And besides, the attitude that some things are best left unsaid is just as alive in the church today as it always has been.

All of that aside, I recently came across an article in the Houston Chronicle that details a pattern of sexual abuse in Baptist churches in Texas going as far back as 1998. In that time, approximately 380 Southern Baptist church leaders and volunteers have faced allegations of sexual misconduct for their abuse of over 700 victims.  [2]

The pattern of sexual perverion and abuse in these Baptist churches differs little from that which is taking place in the Catholic Church. Indeed, a summary of the article linked above details a very similar approach to sexual abuse.

“Many of the victims were adolescents who were molested, sent explicit photos or texts, exposed to pornography, photographed nude, or repeatedly raped by youth pastors. Some victims as young as 3 were molested or raped inside pastors’ studies and Sunday school classrooms. A few were adults — women and men who sought pastoral guidance and instead say they were seduced or sexually assaulted.”

So, a reasonable person might wonder what in the world is going on here? These are not isolated incidences of a rogue minister gone bad. This is a clear and established pattern of sexual corruption and abuse. This is also a very clear testimony to the fact that these ‘ministers’ are wolves in sheeps clothing, unregenerate in heart.

How can such things be permitted to happen, or better yet how could these predators have been allowed to remain in positions of power and authority?

One of the answers to those questions, and there are many, is that there is an expectation that members of the church, in particular the clergy, will conduct themselves in such a manner as to exhibit the highest moral and ethical behavior possible. They are,after all, supposedly representing God as they fulfill the duties of their position.  [3]

That is the expectation at least, one I believe that is shared by most.

Because the expectation is that the clergy will always take the high road, it can be difficult for laypersons to believe that any of them could actually be capable of committing such acts of sexual violence against our childeren. Thus, it makes it easier to either disregard an allegation or choose to simply look the other way when confronted with the evidence.

Disregarding ANY allegation however is completely unacceptable, no matter how uncomfortable it may be. I can think of no place where this should be permitted, most certainly not the Church. Choosing to look the other way in the face of sexual abuse allegations is tantamount to saying “I don’t care”.

Every single sexual abuse allegation MUST be investigated to the full extent of the law, and perpetrators found guilty must be punished according to the same extent of the law. Anyone found guilty of covering up sexual abuse in the church is just as guilty as the perpetrator, and MUST share in the guilt of the offender and must also be punished accordingly.

Beloved, these things are taking place because the Church, just like the world in which she abides, is systematically severing its relationship with the Almighty. Having convinced itself that it is above reproach, there is nothing off limits to it as she seeks to disregard the clear admonition of scripture to “come out from among them, and be ye separate, and touch not the unclean thing…”. [4]

Church leaders of every denomination would do well to read again the words of Jesus as he spoke to the Laodicean church this warning:

So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked— I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten.” Rev. 3:16-19

Rest assured, the day is coming when every deed will be judged. No one will escape the judgement seat of Christ. Not Catholic, Baptist, or any other religious person.

In that day, Jesus said that he would separate the sheep on his right hand from the goats on his left hand. Many will be shocked to see those they had held in high esteem being ordered to stand with the goats, as their sins will be made known to all. [5]

God’s Church deserves better then this. Jesus Christ was mocked, beaten, and whipped until nearly dead. Forced to carry the instrument of his own impending death, He staggered through the streets until reaching the place of execution. Without hesitation He allowed his hands and feet to be nailed to the Cross, after which He was elevated above the earth so all could see Him. Hanging there naked, blood pouring out of his body, he became the Supreme Sacrifice for the sins of all men.

This is the True Leader of the Church! I submit to you that any man or woman who is guilty of perverse sexual sin against His Church, has never had an encounter with Him!

Ron

 

[1] 1 Timothy 4:2

[2]https://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/investigations/article/Southern-Baptist-sexual-abuse-spreads-as-leaders-13588038.php?fbclid=IwAR2BdtoC8nvXuizrZhBcvQ5vAz9AA8lgWGltfCZDnDO1BAsQPcDEpwFH4VM

[3] Titus 1:7

[4] 2 Corinthians 6:17

[5] Matthew 25:32-46

 

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Am I my brother’s keeper?

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Many of you will no doubt recognize that question, taken from the Genesis account of Cain and Abel.

If you’re unfamiliar with the story, Cain was angry with his brother Abel because his brother’s offering was acceptable to God, while his own was rejected. In a jealous rage, this is what happened:

Now Cain talked with Abel his brother; and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him. Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” He said, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?” Genesis 4:8-9

We know that Cain asked this question as a means of deflecting attention away from his guilt for having murdered his own brother. He basically told God “how should I know where he is, it’s not my job to watch him, is it?”

Ever since then, it’s a question that individuals have been asking themselves whenever needs arise, whether man-made or natural. It is a question that probes at the heart, and our answers reveal a lot about how we feel about our fellow man.

In a perfect world, there would be enough of everything to go around. There would be a job for every able-bodied person. The issues of hunger, sickness, and poverty that now plague the world’s society’s would vanish.

It doesn’t take a sociologist(or a theologian)to look around and determine that we are not living in a perfect world. That world existed for a very short time in a place called Eden, a place where the only two humans on the planet existed.

In our modern world however, things are quite a bit different. In this less than perfect world, there are a lot of people that are in dire need of help. The notion of a perfect world to them is the stuff of fairy tales.

It may be the hungry child down the street, or the immigrant family trying to cross the threshold into what they perceive as paradise, or a thousand other desperate situations.

Regardless, the numbers of people who have reached the point of helplessness in their quest for survival is nothing short of staggering. So much so that one could make the case for not even trying to find a viable solution to this seemingly impossible situation.

But how do you tell the desperate, the hungry, and the hopeless that their plight is too big to bother with? How do we look them in the eye and say they are not worth the effort?

Sadly, there are an ever increasing number of people who believe just that, that the problems are too large and complex, and besides, it’s not us but “them”. But is that how loving, civilized society’s are to function?

Poverty in the U.S. alone affects over 40 million people. An additional 95 million are living at ‘near poverty’ levels. How can this be ignored? And what of the rest of the world, all of which is far worse off than the United States? [1]

My contention is that we as a society, particularly a society founded upon Christian principles, do indeed have an obligation to help those who cannot help themselves.

Otherwise, ‘survival of the fittest’ and ‘only the strong survive’ become the new laws of the jungle and it’s every man, woman, and child for themselves.

Is that what any of us really want?

All of us, irregardless of political, religious, or sociological backgrounds are inextricably linked together by a common bond: the need to have enough food to eat, clothing to wear, and a roof over our heads.

When you really think about it, the question of “Am I my brother’s keeper” is actually more relevant today than it was in the days of Cain and Abel.

In the world that Cain and Abel lived in, there were only four humans upon the earth. Four, as in Adam,Eve,Cain, and Abel. Four souls.

In our world, we have a far greater challenge before us.  At last count, there were over seven billion people living on earth. While some will contend that the numbers are too great for anyone to have any kind of positive impact upon, I say that God is equal to the challenge.

He just needs a few willing vessel’s to step up and say that “yes, I am my brother’s keeper”.

Something to ponder, I trust.

Be blessed,

Ron

[1] For a detailed look into the poverty crisis in America, please go to povertyusa.org.      Here you will find an enormous amount of data, broken down into many different categories that will help you better understand how severe the problem is.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you’ve ever wondered if God cares

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Let’s face it.

There are very few of us who haven’t wondered from time to time if God really does care about us. When we’re dealing with feelings of insecurity, loneliness, fear, betrayal, or shame this opens the door for the enemy to cast doubt in our minds as to whether God cares.

We rationalize in our minds the thought that if God does indeed care, would I be dealing with these feelings in the first place?

So, we wonder.

This falls perfectly in line with John 10:10 where Jesus said that “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy…” Satan comes to steal and kill our confidence in God, and once this is accomplished he moves in to destroy.

So how do we know that God really does care about us, and that he knows what we are going through? After all, aren’t there times when even the most ardent follower of Jesus needs to be reminded of John 3:16?

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

I’d say that a God who would give His only Son as a sacrifice to pay for your sins has demonstrated His care and concern for you, wouldn’t you agree?

But let’s dive just a bit deeper into this matter. I believe another way that Jesus demonstrates His care for us is in the fact that He knows all about us. That’s right, He knows all about YOU.

Just how do we know this to be true?

Because He has given us detailed examples in His word.

Using the seven churches in Asia found in the Book of Revelation as our guide, we find that Jesus had many things to say to these churches. The word that Jesus spoke to each individual church reflected their spiritual condition and relationship with Christ. Some received words of comfort and edification, while others received words of rebuke and correction.

Imagine if you will two columns, one with pluses and one with minuses, and in each of those columns Jesus lists the positives and the negatives that He has found within each of these seven churches.

Yet for all of that, there are commonalities in what Jesus had to say to them. For example, to each one of the churches of Revelation Jesus says the same two words:

“I KNOW”

  • I know your works, your labor, your patience…
  • I know your works, tribulation, and poverty…
  • I know your works, and where you dwell…
  • I know your works, love, service, faith, and your patience…
  • I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead…
  • I know your works…
  • I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot…

“I KNOW”

So how do we know that God really does care about us, and that he knows what we are going through?

Because He knows you more intimately than you could ever know yourself. Just as He knew every detail of each of the seven churches of Revelation, so does He know you.

We can take comfort in knowing that Jesus knows all about it.

Ron

 

How Good Do We Have to Be?

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This is the title of a book written by Harold S. Kushner. Full disclaimer: before seeing this book on a shelf along with several other used books, I had never heard of either the author or the book, therefore I have no idea of its contents.

What intrigued me about it however was the title, because this is THE question that people have been asking for thousands of years.

Just how much do I have to do, and how good is good enough to make it into heaven?

We all know that the underlying belief system for many people is one based upon works. If you’re a good enough person, meaning that at the end of your life your good deeds outweigh the bad, that’s all that’s required to gain entrance into heaven.

If you’re like me, you’ve heard this all of your life. That’s how pervasive this belief is.

So, is it possible to be ‘good enough’?  If so, how exactly do you measure what ‘good enough’ is? Is there a sliding scale or barometer of ‘good’? Has the criteria for ‘good enough’ been made available to us all?

For the answer to those  questions, let’s go to the official source of information for understanding heaven’s entry fee: God’s Word.

The Psalmist declared that there were none that were good. Not even one!

The Lord looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one.   Psalm 14:2,3

Jesus, in response to the question of “Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?”, said “Why do you call me good? there is none good but one, that is, God…”  Matthew 19:16,17

The man that asked Jesus this question was very wealthy, and believed (like many of us) that the key to inheriting eternal life was found in the word ‘good’. He likely thought he could donate a sum of money or possessions, or that by doing a “good thing” it would ensure him entry into heaven.

Unfortunately for this man (and billions like him), the scriptures are clear that any priority placed on ‘good’ is misplaced. That is because ‘good’ as defined by man is never going to be ‘good enough’.

That is why Jesus said that there is no one good, but God.

In other words, apart from God man can never be ‘good enough’ to inherit heaven. If he could, there would have been no need for Jesus to come and offer Himself as a sacrifice for our sins. Indeed, He has died in vain if we ourselves could somehow be ‘good enough’.

If your church or denomination teaches you that God will accept you because of your good works, you are sitting under deception. God will only accept you because he sees that your sins have been covered by the blood of his only Son.

If we were to humble our hearts and really think about it, is there really anything within us that is good, except for the Lord himself? For me personally, I know that the answer to that is NO!

Any good found within me has nothing to do with me, and everything to do with Him!

How about you?

Be blessed,

Ron

 

 

In the end, what really matters?

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You’ve no doubt heard the expression “he who dies with the most toys wins”. Based upon what I’ve seen in my life’s journey, I have no doubt that there is a segment of humanity that subscribes to this sentiment.

You’ve either seen them in your own neighborhood or driven to theirs to see how the other half lives. They have the biggest house and the nicest cars. They always dress like they just stepped out of a photo shoot. Cars, motorcycles, jet skis, boats, the best latest and greatest of everything.

To some people, great wealth is what they live and work for. It’s what drives and motivates them to get more and more, to achieve greater notoriety, to scale the ladders on their never ending quest to reach the pinnacle of their chosen profession.

Surely every man walks about like a shadow; Surely they busy themselves in vain; He heaps up riches, And does not know who will gather them.   Psalm 39:6

At the end of their life however, they must pass through the very same veil that you and I do. To be sure, there are no segregated corridors for the ‘well to do’. There are no golden staircases reserved exclusively for the uber wealthy.

No, all of us, rich and poor, black-white-brown-or whatever skin color you may have, all of us will travel the very same path into eternity.

The only difference, of course, is in the final destination.

God created man a living soul, and whether our eternity is with Him in Heaven or in Hell with the devil and all those who rejected Christ, we will live on.

Our response to the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for the sins of the world will dictate our personal eternal existence.

Is Jesus Christ your Savior today?

At the end of it all, that is really all that matters.

Ron

 

 

 

The question shouldn’t be WWJD….

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WWJD bracelet

Amazon.com

The phrase WWDJ, or “What Would Jesus Do” was popularized several years ago as a kind of “mental prompt”to assist us in coming up with the right decision when we are faced with having to make an ethical or moral choice.

In order to “do the right thing”, or so the the theory goes, we ask ourselves WWJD?

Of course we all know that Jesus always did the right thing and always made the right choices. In fact, He made the following statement about this very thing when defending himself against the Jews.

And He who sent Me is with Me. The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do those things that please Him.   John 8:29.  emphasis mine

As the only perfect one to ever be born of a woman, Jesus never sinned and he never came up short. He did everything right, which is why the idea to use WWJD came about. Jesus is the benchmark for truth and righteousness. He never got it wrong.

From a practical standpoint, I’ve never bought in to the whole WWJD craze. We all know what Jesus would do because we have his words and his testimony of exactly what he did do.

No guesswork there!

I think the question of WWJD should be rephrased to “what will you do with what Jesus has ALREADY DONE? In other words, the impetus falls on us, not Jesus because He’s already done “the right thing”.

For example, what do we do with this?

who does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the people’s, for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself”.   Hebrews 7:27

Or this?

Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption”.   Hebrews 9:12

I believe the bigger question that everyone must answer is what will we do, what will be our response to what Jesus Christ did for mankind when He offered himself as a sacrifice for your sins and mine?

This is one question that we all MUST answer, for we will all be called one day to give an account as to how we responded to His sacrifice.

Maybe we should replace the wrist bracelets that say WWJD with ones that say WWWD,or What Will We Do?

After all, we’re the ones who are prone to give the questionable responses, not Him!

Have a great Sunday, and be blessed!

Ron

 

 

Why is this so difficult?

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Giving to God what is rightfully His. Why is this so difficult? Is it because His requirements are so out of reach for us mortals that we give a weak, anemic effort?

To answer that, let’s first understand what His requirements actually are.

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?   Micah 6:8

Anyone? Can anyone give a reasonable explanation as to why it is so difficult for us to do just these THREE things? To do justly and treat people fairly, to be kind one to another, and acknowledge that there is One much greater than any of us…is this so hard?

Or how about this? (emphasis mine):

And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he 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. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” ‘ Matthew 22:35-40

Anyone? Can anyone give a reasonable explanation as to why it is so difficult for us to do even these TWO things? For us to love God with our entire being, and to love one another as much as we love ourselves, is God asking the impossible of us?

It seems so trite, so obvious for us to say that the reason we struggle with doing these very doable things is because we live in a fallen world. Or that it’s because the enemy is hard at work.

As if he hasn’t always been hard at work.

Here’s what I think. Like everything else in life, we make time for the things that are important to us. With unending devotion we sacrifice for what we deem necessary. We exert monumental effort to achieve our dreams.

Don’t we?

And the things that are not important to us…..

Ron

 

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