abortion and the god Molech in the Old Testament

21st Century Molech

“You are not to make any of your children pass through the fire to Molech. Do not profane the name of your God; I am Yahweh.” Leviticus 18:21

There is an interesting command God gives to the Israelites in Leviticus chapter 18. It is sandwiched between other commands concerning prohibited sexual relations and forbidden pagan practices. God specifically calls out Molech, a god of the Canaanite people. According to ancient historians, worshipers of Molech would sacrifice their infants to Molech to ensure prosperity for their future. It is said that the Canaanite people would also get rid of their illegitimate children by way of child sacrifice. I even read somewhere that poor families would sell their infants to those who did not have babies of their own.

It is important to understand what was going on when people worshiped Molech. The Canaanites would heat up a statue of Molech until it was red hot. The statue usually featured a bull-like figure with outstretched arms that slopped down like a slide into a fire pit. The infants literally melted before the eyes of those in attendance. Keep in mind that the child’s parents were among those watching. Yet, they were told not to cry or shed a tear lest they forfeit the blessing that would come as a result of their sacrifice. In fact, the Canaanites would play loud flutes and drums to drown out the sound of the infant’s screams.

Wicked is not strong enough a word to describe what was going on here.

Going back to the command that God gave Israel, we see that He abhors such behavior and practices. Don’t forget that the command was given amidst other commands about  sinful sexual practices. This type of “worship” would be tempting to those who either didn’t want their child or felt this was the way they could take hold of their future.

Make no mistake, Molech is still being worshiped today. He has just taken on a more modern, 21st century look. The drums and flutes have been discarded, but there is still plenty of noise to drown out the cries of the infants. In both situations, the baby is offered up so that the parents might have a “better life.”

God was patient with the Canaanites for 400 years before He sent His righteous judgement. When will His patience run out with us? Oh Lord, have mercy!

Wooden carving of Jesus on the cross

Is Jesus Beautiful to You?

“We must focus on Jesus, the source and goal of our faith. He saw the joy ahead of him, so he endured death on the cross and ignored the disgrace it brought him. Then he received the highest position in heaven, the one next to the throne of God ( Hebrews 12:2 GWT).”

I am constantly overwhelmed by the beauty of the Lord, especially during times of personal trials. During those difficult times, I begin to focus and meditate on Jesus’ death on the cross. You might say, “how can a naked, bleeding, dying man on a cross be seen as beautiful?” And I’d tell you, “the cross of Jesus is beautiful because I know that it should have been the cross of Jesse (me).”

As horrific and awful as Jesus’ crucifixion was, it is exceedingly more beautiful once you understand what He was accomplishing for us. Jesus was paying our debt, suffering our punishment, and satisfying the wrath of God for our sins. It often renders me speechless because it is so beautiful and undeserved. Nothing will ever surpass this in beauty.

Is Jesus beautiful to you? Do you find His shed blood repulsive or life giving? Do you run from His wounds or are they your hiding place? Jesus endured the cross for you, friend. Fix your eyes upon Him and behold His beauty today. Turn from your sins and turn to Jesus in faith.

Learn a New Skill to the Glory of God

Learn a New Skill to the Glory of God

Have you ever tried learning a instrument? Or studied a foreign language? It can be a very challenging undertaking. There are plenty of wrong notes and words at first, but eventually you get to where you can play your first song or have a conversation in the new language. You feel a great sense of accomplishment for persevering through all of the hours of practice and repetition. It’s a wonderful feeling!

Learning new skills can open up doors of opportunity that were previously closed to you. It allows you to make new friends and develop new relationships with people you never would have met before.  For the past two years, my wife and I have been studying the Thai language. It has been a rather daunting task at times, but it has also been extremely rewarding. It is difficult to imagine where we would be right now if we hadn’t been studying Thai. We have met so many people as a result of our studies and practice of the language. I believe it has also allowed us to make real friends with Thai people because they see we appreciate their language and culture enough to learn it. We still have a long journey ahead of us on the road to fluency, but I know that the Lord will help us every step of the way.

Of course, as missionaries, we aren’t just trying to learn the language so that we can order Pad Thai or talk about our favorite Thai movie. We are pouring hours and hours into studying so that one day we can preach the Gospel and share God’s Word in Thai, without too much distraction from our foreign accent. There is a goal to all of this: it’s to make Jesus known among Thai people, that they too might glorify God.

Maybe you are considering learning a new language, taking a cooking or photography class, or perhaps, learning how to juggle. Whatever it is, let me encourage you to do it. Pursue it! Give it a try! You never know, you may end up loving it. It may even take your life in a completely different direction. But, whatever you end up trying, leverage it to the glory of God. Do painters need Jesus? Do writers need Jesus? What about skateboarders? Yes, of course they do! And you could be the person to tell them about Him. Is that not reason enough to give it shot?

In 1 Corinthians 9:19-23, the Apostle Paul says:

For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, that I might win the more. And to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law, though not being myself under the Law, that I might win those who are under the Law; to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, that I might win those who are without law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, that I may by all means save some. And I do all things for the sake of the gospel, that I may become a fellow partaker of it.

Paul was willing to do some “preevangelism” in hopes that unbelievers would be more open to listening to the Gospel. If he had to learn a new skill, so be it. In verse 19, Paul says that although he is a free man, he has made himself a slave to all people. He was willing to do whatever it took in order to save some. Are we?

small group outside

This Will Change the World

This Sunday, I will be teaching on the role of small groups in discipleship at our church here in Chiang Mai. Small groups (life groups, house churches, etc.) have become increasingly more popular in the West. In recent days, many Western Christians have looked to the tremendous growth seen in the Eastern Church as an argument for implementing them in their local congregations. In fact, I believe that Francis Chan recently published a new book about this very thing.

We know that discipling in small groups is biblical for two reasons. First, this is model Jesus chose for discipleship (Mark 3). He could have chosen to disciple hundreds of people, but instead He chose to focus on 12 men. Second, the early Church often grew from house to house, family to family, small group to small group (Acts 2:42-47). Evangelistic crusades and worship conferences have been used mightily of God in the past, but nothing can compare to living in community with people you know and love, personally.

I am not arguing that “big Church,” as we sometimes called it back home in Georgia, is wrong in any way, shape, or form. I love meeting together to worship with my church family; it is a truly a foretaste of what heaven will be like. I just know from personal experience, and from what I hear from some of my closest friends, that the turning point in their lives with Jesus was having a small group to be a part of. I know one guy, in particular, whose life changed dramatically as the result of being discipled in a small group setting. I should note that one-on-one discipleship has been proven successful for some. However, if the long term goal in our discipling methods is not to plant healthy churches, to live in community with others, what is the goal?

Jesus said, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another (John 13:35).” If we want the world to know the love of Christ for themselves, we have to show them it is real first. We show them by the way that we love one another. I don’t know about you, but I am terrible at remembering peoples’ names. If I can hardly do this, how can I effectively love people? The answer is simple: I must be intentional. Maybe I cannot remember everyone’s name at church, but I can remember everyone’s name in my small group. Maybe I don’t know how to pray for everyone’s needs at church, but I do know how to pray for everyone’s needs in our small group. And maybe I can’t realistically love everyone at my church with as much zeal as I would like, but I can love the eight or so people God has given me to love in our small group. No Christian can do everything, but we can do something.

I believe that this type of intentional love for others is what changes the world, not political policy or social revolution. It is just people loving people the way that Jesus demonstrated and commanded us to do, as well.