Archive for February, 2015

In 2012, the average American making 50k a year spent over $2600 on entertainment.  That is about $200 a month.  That is more than the average person gives to charity annually.  We are entertained in many different ways; movies, music, games, sports, etc.   Americans spend more time and money on entertainment today than any other nation in the history or the world.  We like to be entertained.  There is nothing wrong with being entertained.   In fact, if the Westminster Catechism is correct stating that man’s chief end is to “glorify God and enjoy Him forever,” then good godly entertainment is certainly one way we can enjoy Him.  However, not all (or even most) entertainment that we spend money on today falls under the “godly entertainment” category.  Let us not say, on the other hand, that all entertainment must be inherently Christian for Christians to partake in and enjoy.

Is it okay to watch and enjoy a football, soccer, or baseball game without feeling sinful?  Most certainly!  Nevertheless, there is also a way to watch these things and it be sinful, depending on your motive.  How are we to discern what to watch and listen to in the way of entertainment?  I believe the Philippians 4:8 test is the best way to do this.  Paul wrote,

 “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

Before you turn on The Game of Thorns or Downton Abby, and before you download that new Taylor Swift album, take this test and hopefully you will be able to see if you should be spending your time, money, and energy on it.  Before you do anything, ask yourself these questions.

Is it True?

Can this (movie, book, TV program, etc.) be found in God’s Word as something that is true?  For example, can you listen to a love song not written by a Christian? I would say yes, as long as it is something that lines up with the truth of God, and is not distorting it.  If it lines up with the truth that is found in scripture and your conscience allows . . why not?  Remember that all truth is ultimately God’s truth.

Is it Honorable?

This is to say, is it something that is honorable to God?  Is it something where people are making light of sex? Then no, this is not honorable. Is it a game that glorifies violence? Again, I would say no, that is not honorable. What about a book that makes you lust after its character?  Is that honorable? NO!  You get the point.

Is it Just?

Is this something that is in harmony with God’s Word?  What about music that is glorifying getting drunk or songs where the singer is bragging about themselves?  I don’t think these are things that are justifiable to the Lord.  And what about watching some kid being beat up on YouTube?  Sorry, I don’t think that is justifiable entertainment either.

Is it Pure?

Is this promoting good or godly morals?  Is the music video, TV show, or movie that is showing people making out in a provocative way okay?  The question is, how is watching this going to make you more pure?  Peering through a window watching a couple make out would be a good way to have yourself arrested wouldn’t it?  There is not much difference in watching it on TV.  If it is not pure, you do not need to be entertained by it.

Is it Lovely?

Is this pleasing, kind, or gracious?  Is it okay to read a good hearted story about someone overcoming adversity?  Sure, we all love to hear these kinds of stories.  Actually, it often points us to the gospel.  There are plenty of feel good movies and books that are not overtly Christian that fall into this category.  However, if it is not pleasing, kind, or gracious, then the Philippians 4:8 test would say to “not think on these things.”  It is inevitable that you will have to face things that are not lovely in your life, but to openly be entertained by them is a different matter.

Is it Commendable?

Is it respectful?  Is it of high character?  Is this something that you could recommend to your friends or a Christian family?  I love war movies.  My all time favorite is Braveheart (but only the edited version).  I have recommended it to many people over the years.  However, there are some songs, articles, TV shows, and movies that could never fall under this category that I have been sinfully amused by in the past.  If you would not be willing tore commend it to your pastor, there is a great chance the Lord would not want you to participate in being entertained by it either.

These seven questions have helped guide me into making better choices in entertainment for my family.  They apply to movies, music, books, and even sporting events.  I love all sorts of entertainment. So, if Paul can quote a pagan poet (Acts 17:28) and it become part of the canon, it seems to be okay to be entertained by things that are not distinctly Christian as well as long as they fall into the above listed guidelines.  The next time you want to run to the theater to watch the newest flick, or click to download the newest album on iTunes . . . take the Philippians 4:8 test first and see if it is something the Lord would be okay with.

Soli Deo Gloria,

Adam B. Burrell

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Should Christians Get Tattoos?

Posted: February 16, 2015 in Bible, Uncategorized
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Let’s face it: tattoos are more popular now than they have ever been. Roughly 21% of all adults in America are said to have at least one tattoo. In the last 30 years they have become more culturally accepted than at any other time in history. At one time they were considered to be a sign of rebellion, but now they are seen as more of a sign of self-expression. Formerly, they were only for sailors and ruffians, but now doctors, lawyers, and even pastors are frequenting tattoo shops to get inked. The question is, while it may be more popular and more accepted now than ever, is it something that Christians should participate in? To be upfront, I have 4 tattoos myself.  I got them all before the age of 21, and now that I am older and more mature in my faith I wish I had not gotten them. While I am not ashamed of the content of the tattoos, I simply wish I had not done it.  This does not expressly mean it is wrong for everyone, especially the Christian. In short, scripture is not clear-cut on the issue of Tattooing, but the Bible does say some things that may guide you in a better understanding of tattoos for yourself.

The Leviticus Argument:

There is only one place that the word tattoo is used in scripture. We find it in Leviticus 19:28. Most English translations render it this way, “You shall not make any cuts in your body for the dead nor make any tattoo marks on yourselves: I am the LORD.”  While the word tattoo is not in the original language (“mark your body” is the best translation) the idea of it certainly is.  So, shouldn’t this be enough to end the argument? Scripture says it right? To understand this scripture it must be put into its context. According to your view of Jesus’ fulfillment of the OT law, a different argument could be made here. I (along with most of the Church over the past 500 years) hold to a moral law perspective: Only the moral laws still apply from the OT. I believe scripture supports that Jesus fulfilled this temporary law that was given specifically to the nation of Israel for a specific time. Leviticus 19:28 was a specific law for a specific people with a specific purpose. The law was intended to set Israel apart from cultural Egypt that was known for tattooing themselves for their dead. Tattoos were seen as an offering to the gods who ruled the dead. Thus, when the Lord brought his people out of the land, he told them not to tattoo. If in Christ the law has already been paid for and no longer binding on Christians, then Leviticus 19:28 does not seem to aid in the discussion on modern tattooing for the Christian. The Levitical argument used by some to forbid tattooing does not seem to hold much weight.

The I Corinthians 6 Argument:

Once we become Christians, we give ourselves over to the Lord including our bodies. Paul writes in I Corinthians 6:19-20, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” The context of this has to do with joining oneself to a prostitute; however, there seems to be many implications for this truth as well. Every act of fornication, or any other sin committed by the believer in the “temple” was/is a very big deal. In the Old Testament, the High Priest would enter only once a year, and only after extensive cleansing, or he would be struck down by the Lord.  A case could be made to say that tattooing your body is a defilement of the temple. But if you go down that road too far, you could make that argument for eating unhealthy food, for piercing your ears, for smoking, and so on. The list is endless. Therefore, we need not make fast and overarching laws based on 1 Corinthians 6.  Nevertheless, the “temple” mandate of this text is enough for me personally to never get another tattoo.  I don’t believe this Scripture can be made into a mandated law for all Christians. While it does aid in the narrative, the argument from 1 Corinthians 6 is not an end-all on the discussion of Christians and tattoos.

Discernment in Tattooing: 

Since scripture does not have a clear stance on the subject, how then are we to discern whether it is lawful for a Christian to get a tattoo?  I would suggest asking a few questions before you ever get stuck with the needle.

1.  What is your motive? If it is to “stick it” to your parents or another authority (pun intended), then Ephesians 6 would forbid it. If you are trying to draw attention to yourself (pun intended), then James 4:6 does not seem to support that view either. If there is a way to draw attention to Jesus and him alone, then this is the only motive I can see that the Lord would accept.

2.  Have you prayed about it? There is much that can be discerned through prayer. God has told us to commit all things unto him (Psalm 37:5). Before you do something as permanent as a tattoo, it would be wise to seek the Lord’s blessing on it.

 3.  Is this going to glorify God? The content of your tattoo is very important if you decide the Lord has permitted you to get one. It should be something that is glorifying God.  After all, I Corinthians 10:31 says “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” If you don’t know the answer to that, then let me suggest you wait until you have a definitive answer. Remember, “DO ALL THINGS,” this includes tattoos.

4.  Will 45 year old you regret this Tattoo? – Many regret ever getting them.  Will you?

5.  Money, Message, Placement – these are all practical things you need to consider as well.  Is it good stewardship? What does it say to others about you? Will I be able to get a job if I am showing this tattoo off?

Does the Bible have a clear answer on the subject of tattoos?  No, but there does seem to be some good guidelines in Scripture. Ultimately, the decision is up to the person getting one. It does need to be an informed decision not one made out of ignorance. Finally, the law of liberty (Romans 14 and I Corinthians 8) must be applied I believe. Nevertheless Paul’s words, “All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable” should ring in our ears when searching through this subject. For myself, my conscience would never allow me to get another one. If you are considering getting one and you are a Christian, I would suggest doing your research . . . and more importantly seeking the Lord for your answer.

Soli Deo Gloria,

Adam B Burrell

When you think back to the day you got married, there should be two important words that come to mind.  Those two words said that you wanted to join in covenant with your spouse.  You said “I do” in promise to be true to your loved one, in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, to love them and honor them all the days of your life.  You looked into the eyes of your spouse with great anticipation of the life to come.  To that life to come, you said . . . “I do!”  But, what you might not have realized with that “I do”, came “I’m done” as well.   While many have found this list to be untrue (as evidenced by a divorce rate hovering around 50%), the “I’m done” is the other side of the “I do” coin, if your promises were true that day.  Here are a list of a few “I’m done’s” if you forgot to flip over that “I do” coin on that ceremonious day.

“I’m Done Looking”

When you said “I do” that meant for life (until death do us part).  When you are married, you have decided that you have already caught the right one, which means you are done looking for another one.  Some people like to say it is okay to look as long as you don’t touch . . . the problem with that philosophy is when you look hard, you are already touching with your heart.  Looking at someone else as a possible mate is telling your current one that they are not good enough.  But that is not what you said the day you took your vows.  So, “I do” also means “I’m done looking”.

“I’m Done Holding Another”

Those words, “To have and to hold” mean different things to different people.  For my wife, that means she wants me to go to bed at the same time as her each night.  When you said “I do” you also said that you would hold on to each other exclusively.  Holding on to one another also means letting go of others.  When you said “I do,” that not only meant that you would no longer be with another person physically, but mentally as well.  It is not just your body that becomes one flesh, but your mind as well, which is why you also said I’m done holding onto anyone else.  I do give you my heart.  I do give you my body, and I am done holding on to anyone in my past that ever possibly had a part of me (an exception would be if your previous spouse had died).  This is to say, “I do to you, and I am done with all others of my past.”

“I’m Done Putting Myself First” 

You may have a similar story to mine… I got married in my late 20’s.  That meant I had already been an adult for close to 10 years.   I was set in my ways of doing things.  However, when I said those two words I ceased being myself, and became one flesh with another.  When you have that one flesh union you are supposed to put that person’s needs before your own (Phil. 2:3).  For example . . . “I want to go hunting this weekend.”  Have you talked to the other side of your flesh about that?  Or, “I want to go on a weekend shopping retreat with the girls.”  Have you spoken to your husband about that one?  So, when you and your spouse said “I do” in those marriage vows, you also said, “I’m done putting myself first.”

Marriage is wonderful.  It is sanctifying.  It shows the picture of Christ and the church.  When you were drawn unto the Lord and came to know Him in a personal way, you not only became a new person, but you also did away (through Christ while continuing to be sanctified) with the old person.  This is the same thing you did when you got married.  You said to your husband or wife, “I do choose to marry you . . . and only you for life, and I am done living with only myself in mind.  I do and I am done.”

Can you think of any other “I’m done’s” that I missed?  Feel free to add them to the list.

Soli Deo Gloria,

Adam B Burrell

One of the worst things for a parent to go through has to be the death of a child.  I can think of few things more tragic than this.  While I have never experienced the death of a child after they have been born, I have felt the pains of death in miscarriage.  Statistics say that somewhere between 10 and 20 percent of known pregnancies end in miscarriage.  If you have ever been a part of that 10-20 percent, you know the pain it can cause.  You know all the questions that you have asked.  Often you are left with more question than answers. Often, there are just no good answers to give for why your little child died in the womb.  For many, there seems to be no hope in the case of a miscarriage.  It felt this way for my wife and me for a while.  It seemed that few people had answers . . . and even fewer cared to talk about it.  But what we found out is that you can actually find hope in the midst of it.  I read several articles on the subject when we went though it a few years ago.  They were helpful, but I would like to offer the perspective as a husband and father who has witnessed it firsthand.

Hope in the Right Questions:

First, it is important to note that God is big enough for your questions.  Jesus said, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”  He desires for us to come to Him with our burdens.  He even asked His father if He could “take this cup” from Him before He went to the cross.  When a miscarriage happens, a part of the grieving process may be to ask God why.  That is okay; He is big enough to field that question.  But the key factor in asking that question is not to stop there, but to submit it to the Lord.  Jesus submitted to His Father’s will by saying, “not My will but Yours be done.”  Have hope that there are answers to your questions, even if you don’t find them when you are asking.  God knows.  This leads us to the second point where we can find hope.

Hope in a Sovereign God:

There are four people involved in a miscarriage: the child, the mother, the father, and the Lord.  It is not always easy to remember during time of great pain and sorrow, but according to scripture God is the giver and taker of life.  Death is ultimately a byproduct of sin.  Death hurts. There is no way around it.  But when you have an understanding that God is sovereign over both life and death, it should bring comfort to know that the death of that little child was not an accident.  We should rejoice that the Lord counted us worthy to have that blessing for even a day.  God in His highest ways knew that it was best for His purpose.  He does not say that we have to enjoy His plan (I am sure Job did not), but when we have a good understanding of who He is we can submit to it and find hope that He knows what He is doing . . . and that He loves us while doing it.

Hope That You Will See Them Again One Day:

According to where you fall in the “covenant children” spectrum, this point of hope can be controversial.  Time, and words, would fail me if I tried to give a complete biblical defense of why I think infants who die very young go to heaven when they die (look here for my defense).  However, I believe there is great biblical hope for a parent who is a believer that suffers a miscarriage that they will one day see their child in glory.  This is one of the reasons my wife and I named our child that we miscarried.  While the case for miscarried (and even young children) going to heaven when they die is not as black and white as something such as the divinity of Jesus, or the virgin birth, I still believe we can say with a high degree of confidence that if you are a believer, you will one day again be united with that unborn child.  What hope that should bring.

Hope For Healing For Your Wife:

This miscarriage was the hardest thing I have ever dealt with.  Part of the reason for the hurt was seeing the pain my wife suffered.  For weeks she cried, it seemed like non-stop.  I felt helpless to do anything for her.  It felt the pain of the loss, but not in the same way she did.  I found the best thing I could do for her was to pray constantly, have a listening ear, and be a shoulder to cry on.  While my words did not bring much comfort to her during the first few weeks, she has since told me that what spoke volumes to her was me simply showing my love in these other ways.  I must admit: that was a God thing.  I am a fixer.  But for this hurt . . . the fix was just holding her and letting her cry.  I had hope that the Lord would heal her broken spirit . . . because I knew that I could not.

Miscarriage is difficult.  It hurts.  But for the Christian, there is hope.  We have a Father who crushed His own son so that His people could have a hope.  We have a Savior who can sympathize with us in our pain.  Finding hope during the distress of a miscarriage it not always easy, but if you are willing to look . . . it is there.

Soli Deo Gloria,

Adam B Burrell