Larry Farlow

Commentary on Theology & Culture

How To Fire Up Your Spiritual Growth

January 29, 2016
by Larry Farlow
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How to Fire Up Your Spiritual Growth

Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. – John 17:17

When my boys were in Cub Scouts (back before the gender and sexuality warriors made such innocent places ground zero in their war on manhood) we learned how to make a fire. We explained to the boys that fire requires three things: oxygen, heat and fuel. If one of those things is missing you will never start a fire.

As I read Jesus’ words in John 17:17, I had similar thoughts about our growth as Christians. As with fire, certain things must be present or it won’t happen.

The first is prayer. Jesus is praying here for the sanctification of his disciples. We too must pray for the sanctification of ourselves and others. God has ordained prayer as one of the ways He works out his will for His people.

Second is truth. Christ says we are sanctified by truth. But he doesn’t stop there. He goes on to tell us what truth is. Truth is the word of God. Again, one of the means God uses to grow His people in the faith is His word. We must be continually in the scriptures if we are to grow.

Finally, while not directly mentioned in this verse but taught directly in scripture as a whole (Hebrews 3:13, Colossians 3:16), is other people. We’re not called to practice our faith in isolation. That is one of the reasons Christ created the church – to be a place where believers are taught the faith, loved and equipped to do the same for others.

Prayer, truth and people. If any one is missing, I won’t grow in the faith as I should.

January 12, 2016
by Larry Farlow
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Should Christians Buy A Lottery Ticket?

Should Christians Buy A Lottery Ticket?As the Powerball jackpot reaches new highs, so does discussion in Christian circles about whether it’s something believers can / should participate in. I’ve seen a few posts similar to Seven Reasons Not to Play the Lottery by John Piper.  Here Piper all but says “no Christian should buy a lottery ticket” and is adamant that he wants no contributions to his church from lottery winnings. But the underlying question is not “should Christians play the lottery?” but “Is gambling a sin?” If it is a sin then the lottery issue is settled. If it’s not, then rather than call it “spiritual suicide” a more nuanced approach is called for.

If something is sinful in and of itself then it is forbidden to all Christians, at all times in all circumstances. To think this through, let’s use something no one would disagree is sinful: use of pornography.

This is not a “wisdom issue.” There is no circumstance under which pornography can be used legitimately by Christians. It is wrong for all people, at all times, in all circumstances. So far so good. But, there’s more to it than that. If pornography use is a sin, then not only can Christians not use it, neither can they facilitate it. So, for example, a Christian accountant cannot keep the books for a studio that produces pornographic movies. Nor can a Christian makeup artist work on the set preparing the actors for the camera – even if he or she never watches what the company produces. The same can be said for abortion. While working for a company that provides abortion as part of its health care plan is an issue of individual conscience, working for Planned Parenthood in any capacity is a sin and should not be done by anyone who claims the name of Christ.

Now let’s apply this to gambling. If gambling is sinful for all people, at all times, in all circumstances then a Christian in Las Vegas cannot work as an accountant at Caesar’s Palace or as a maid or waiter at a casino – even if they never gamble themselves. If a Christian has such a job, they should quit and find something else, just like the accountant at the porn studio should. If someone is willing to apply the same standards to gambling that they would to something like pornography then I’m willing to entertain their argument that it is sinful in and of itself. If not, we must say, while it may not be wise in many circumstances, it is not an area where we can bind the consciences of all Christians. Can gambling be sinful? Sure. Is it always so?  I don’t believe so.

On another note, the government sponsored lottery is certainly no less evil than the government sponsored social programs which, unlike the lottery, forcefully separate people from their money to give it to those who did not earn it – also undermining the virtues of work and personal responsibility democratic societies require. More people would be helped financially by being allowed to keep a higher percentage of their paycheck than by stopping them from spending a few dollars a week on lottery tickets.

 

 

December 30, 2015
by Larry Farlow
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The Ten Commandments of the American Left

  1. I have no other gods before Me.The Ten Commandments of the American Left
  2. Thou shalt not make for thyself a god other than Me and My feelings.
  3. Thou shalt not take My name in vain or disagree with Me in any way.
  4. Remember January 22, 1973 and keep it holy.
  5. Honor Me that you may live long in the land and not get fired or have your livelihood threatened.
  6. Thou shalt not kill – animals. Babies, that’s fine.
  7. Thou shalt not commit self-control and personal responsibility with regard to sexual practice.
  8. Thou shalt steal from the rich (as defined by Me) and redistribute it to the poor (as defined by Me).
  9. Thou shalt bear false witness any time the facts are not on thy side.
  10. Thou shalt covet all that thy neighbor has and try to take it from him because he only has it due to privilege.
Love Tells the Truth

December 28, 2015
by Larry Farlow
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The Marks of True Repentance

The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “If anyone sins and commits a breach of faith against the Lord by deceiving his neighbor in a matter of deposit or security, or through robbery, or if he has oppressed his neighbor or has found something lost and lied about it, swearing falsely—in any of all the things that people do and sin thereby— if he has sinned and has realized his guilt and will restore what he took by robbery or what he got by oppression or the deposit that was committed to him or the lost thing that he found or anything about which he has sworn falsely, he shall restore it in full and shall add a fifth to it, and give it to him to whom it belongs on the day he realizes his guilt. And he shall bring to the priest as his compensation to the Lord a ram without blemish out of the flock, or its equivalent for a guilt offering. And the priest shall make atonement for him before the Lord, and he shall be forgiven for any of the things that one may do and thereby become guilty.” – Leviticus 6:1-7

This passage deals with sins against fellow Israelites. It’s interesting to note that not only was a sacrifice required to reconcile the sinner to God (against whom all sin is ultimately committed, Psalm 51:4) but restitution to the wronged party as well.

Repentance is never less than recognizing our sin against God but it is usually more than that – especially when the sin is also against another person. In such cases we are called not only to seek forgiveness from them but to make the situation right to the extent that we can.

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December 28, 2015
by Larry Farlow
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Should Christians Own Guns for Self-Defense?

Should Christians Own Guns for Self-Defense?This question has been much discussed recently because of an article written by John Piper and republished, with I’m sure much glee, by the editorial staff at the Washington Post.

In the article, Piper answers the question with a “no.” Among his reasons are that we’re not called to seek vengeance for wrongs done to us, we are told by Christ to expect persecution and this world is not our home so our hope should be in things above not things below like guns.

Piper is off base in every one of his arguments in my opinion but I’d like to deal with just the last one – the idea that having a gun to defend ourselves and our families shows that we have a misplaced hope and are too attached to the things of this world.

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