Pastor’s Viewpoints, “The Upside Down World”

“The Upside Down World”
Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
The world is upside down when right is called wrong or good is seen as evil. I believe that our Western Culture has reached the stage of being upside down! In our day, an unnatural lifestyle is called gay. It was said that “love won” when God’s institution of marriage was redefined as a union of a man and a man or a woman and a woman. Those who support the killing of unborn babies are said to be “pro-choice” rather than “pro-death.”

For such conditions, God issued a warning to the Church. God said, “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil.” Isaiah 5:20a This reality may offend our sense of rugged individualism. There are things that are right, good and loving and they are not defined by me or anyone else! Woe is used in Scripture to convey a dire warning. It usually precedes God’s judgment. Isaiah 5:20 continues with more clarity for our upside down world. “Woe (to those)… who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!” God issued a warning to His people for their abusive and oppressive behavior towards others. More specifically, God directed His “woe” against the leaders of His people. God’s people had become man-centered idolaters and thereby lived in an “upside down world.”

The book of Isaiah comprehensively covers God’s judgment and salvation. Chapter 5 was addressed to God’s “vineyard”, His chosen people. God sought justice and righteousness within His people and found none! God’s indictment of wicked people continued. They are described as oppressive, self-serving, unjust and liars. The word “woe” is repeated six times in Isaiah 5.

God expects His people to know good from evil. He expects His people to follow “the good”. “The good” is that which is morally and ethically right. The ultimate source of “the good” is God. He has revealed “the good” in His word. “He has told you, O man, what is good.” Micah 6:8a

The Bible was written to believers, yet it is universally applicable. God does not have a sliding scale. He doesn’t grade on a curve. “All must appear before the judgment seat of Christ…” 2Corinthans 5:10.

A recent candidate for the Presidency once called upon God to bless Planned Parenthood. This organization claims that they operate for the interest of women’s health. The founder believed in eugenics shaped by her belief in evolution. Eugenics is the attempt to improve the species through genetic control. Margaret Sanger, the organization’s founder, believed improvement of the species comes by removing the less desirable members of society, in her view, minorities and the disabled. One of the tools that she advocated was abortion another was sterilization of minority women. Margaret Sanger summarized her philosophy. “More children from the fit, less from the unfit — that is the chief aim of birth control.” (Birth Control Review, May 1919, p. 12)

Issues of human life do not fall in the category of ethical confusion. We need not wonder what the “good” course is. God is for life! Those who call killing babies good fall under the “woes” that Isaiah declared and are living in darkness in an upside down world.

Some issues may not be as clear as the issue of the life of the unborn. An example that comes to mind concerns obeying the rule of law. Applying the law of the land is described as inhumane especially when it involves the borders of our nation. Some have even said that it is unloving to expect those seeking entrance to our country to obey our immigration laws.

I am a minister of the gospel. Yet, in this I am writing as a man who believes in the Risen Lord Jesus. God made me a new creation by His sovereign grace alone. He caused me to see the truth and beauty of Christ. As a member of His family, I am obligated to declare the truth and live under His word. I dare not bless what God curses! I dare not remain silent when evil is called good.

It has been said, that for evil to succeed all that is necessary is for good men to be silent. I am not good in the sight of God. I am a sinner. God alone is good and He expects me to stand for that which is good, right and true not for the values of our upside down world.

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “It’s Inhuman!”

“It’s Inhuman!”
The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
Inhuman is to lack pity, kindness, or mercy. The political “elites” otherwise known as Progressives or Extreme Liberals have lately been issuing the cry of “It’s inhuman!” The issue, of course is the so-called mistreatment of foreign children crossing our southern border. It’s inhuman to cruelly rip these children from there assumed parents.

All manner of personal slander against our President and his family is being levied by those who say that they are really concerned for the treatment of these illegal immigrant children. Politicians can convince people of the most amazing things simply by claiming that whatever it is will be in the interest of children; even to the point of ignoring or breaking the laws of our land.

With all the cries concerning the protection of these foreign children no mention is made of the single biggest action of ripping a child from its mother. Society has “cleaned up” this evil act by giving it a less convicting name. We call this heinous crime abortion, the killing of a baby in the womb. Since 1974, more than 52,000,000 babies have been killed through abortion.

In this day of so-called scientific enlightenment, denying that the life of a human being begins at conception would seem to any reasonable person to be unbelievable.

Why do so many Christians speak strongly for the sanctity of human life? Actually, everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord Jesus should stand for life. The reason, God is for life. He is the one who set apart human life and sanctified it.

Since, the mid Seventies, the “Progressives” have given government the authority to remove the right to life given by our Creator. As Francis Schaeffer wrote in 1981, “The dignity of human life is not some peripheral issue,” The Christian Manifesto.

The protection of human life is not something upon which we can agree to disagree. The sanctity of human life is an absolute! The right to live is given by God who is the source of life. He breathed into Man the breath of life, Genesis 2:7. Human life is sacred because God, our Creator made it so.

Secular Humanism has clouded the mind of our culture. In a culture where there are no absolutes, men make decisions based upon personal preference. Our culture is governed by moral relativism. Everything is considered relative. There are no absolutes except that there are no absolutes. Yet, the sanctity of human life is an absolute.
Our very own Declaration of Independence stated clearly both the source of life and its inherent value. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” The Founders of our country declared that the source of life was God and that life is an undeniable right given by Him, therefore an absolute.
Further, when God gave the Law through Moses to His people, He included a commandment against murder, Exodus 20:13. The word translated kill or murder in the 6th Commandment is understood to mean the unlawful taking of life. Only God can authorize the taking of life. God’s highest consequence for the taking of life is the life of the one who took it.

The 6th Commandment is not only a prohibition for Man, but it reveals the character of God, as do all the Commandments. That is, God is for life not death. Jesus said that God is the God of the living, Matthew 22:32. Jesus also said that He is the life, John 14:6.

God has called His people to be light in this dark world. Christians are to stand for the truth, not only in the circle of believers, but also wherever God has placed them.

It seems to me timely to write concerning the sanctity of life. With such concern for illegal immigrants’ children, it behooves all of those who have any sense of humanity to cry out for the “silent ones”, those in the womb. Whether you are a Christian or not I urge you to speak for those who have no one to speak for them. Speak for the unborn babies. The statistics overwhelmingly demonstrate that the most dangerous place for our children is not in school or crossing our borders but in the womb.

May the God of life protect all children.

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “Psalm 23 Reveals the Ground of Assurance”

“Psalm 23 Reveals the Ground of Assurance”
The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)

“The LORD is my shepherd.” David wrote Psalm 23 and declared that Yahweh, Jehovah, the LORD was his Shepherd. He harkened back to Exodus 3:14. The Great “I Am” appeared to Moses in the burning bush. Moses asked God for His name. God told Moses that He is who He is. In other words, God declared that He is the Eternal Being. There is more to God’s name. LORD is descriptive of God’s covenantal faithfulness. The Hebrews held God’s personal name in such regard that they did not speak His name. God gave His name in the Hebrew verb “to be”. All being, all existence proceeds from the only one who has being, existence in Himself. In Psalm 23, David declared the propositional truth. Yahweh IS the one who tends and cares for every believer!

I recall one Bible teacher saying that we are misnamed as human beings. We should be called human becomings. We are always changing from one thing to another. From the time we are born we age. As we age we mature. God, however, never changes. He is. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today and forever”, Hebrews 13:8.

When David made the declaration: “The LORD is my shepherd” he stated that he was cared for and guided by the One and only Eternal Being. His declaration was made of the absolute highest and greatest being. More, king David addressed the eternal One as his Shepherd. As such, David was declaring his intimacy with God.

King David knew the LORD. He wrote that the one who led him, cared for him and provided for his needs was the Great “I Am”. As we look at this psalm, we who know the LORD profess with David the certainty of God’s care and providence.

The Gospel of John recorded the “I Am “sayings of Jesus. John 10:11 in particular recorded who this Great “I Am” was and is. Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd.”

The Apostle Paul wrote these words about Jesus who is the Great “I Am”. “He (Jesus) is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all things were created through him and for him… For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell”, Colossians 1:15-19. The fullness of God was revealed in Jesus who is eternally begotten (not born) from the Father.

David wrote Psalm 23 more than 3,000 years ago. Yet all who profess Jesus as Lord and believe that God raised Him from the dead have the Great “I Am” as their Shepherd as David did. King David looked forward to the person and work of Christ. We who trust in Jesus look back at Him.

God’s faithfulness revealed in the Bible from Genesis through Revelation is for all who call upon the name of the LORD. We say with King David” The LORD is my Shepherd. Therefore, I trust that the LORD will meet my needs. Because He is my Shepherd, “I shall not want!”

Jesus said do not worry about the needs of life. He said the Father knows my needs and will provide what I truly need.

Confidence in God’s providence is not exclusive to me but applies to everyone who calls upon the name of Jesus! Those who call upon the name of Jesus are those who rely upon and trust in the Person and Work of Christ.

The object of saving faith is the Jesus revealed in the Bible. He is the God-Man. He is God in the flesh. He is not a created being. He is not the Jesus of another testament, book or philosophy. He is not just a prophet. He is fully God and fully Man. This is the Jesus who promised God’s love.

There are two aspects of life in Christ to which David pointed in Psalm 23:1. They are guidance and provision. The Good Shepherd, Jesus guides and provides for His people. Jesus said that His sheep hear His voice and follow Him. Jesus said that He knows His sheep and He calls them by name, John 10:3-14.

You who hear Jesus through His word follow Him. You belong to Him. He will provide your needs. You shall not want! Your eternity is secure in Him.

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “Loss is Inevitable”

“Loss is Inevitable”
The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
We all face loss of some kind. We lose treasured things as a result of tragedies like fire, extreme weather, etc. We lose the opportunity of maintaining close relationships as a result of friends moving away. We lose jobs as a result of “down-sizing” or bankruptcies. The most stinging losses are those of people. The loss of family and friends due to death are the most stinging! The loss of life of a loved one challenges everything that we hold dear. The depth of this loss can cause despair.

God knows the significance of loss. He inspired the Apostle Paul to declare the necessity of good theology as the remedy to deal with the most significant loss, life, in this world. As we continue to live in this world, death, still has power over us. Paul wrote two significant texts concerning physical death. “The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1Corinthians 15:56-57. We know that Christ was victorious over death. He is Risen! Matthew 28:6 He has ascended to the right hand of God. Revelation 5 Jesus rules all things in heaven and on earth. Matthew 28:18 We know that those who are in Christ will share in His victory. When He returns, we will see Him as He is and we will be like Him.1John 3:2

But, what about now? Paul addressed our life now in 1Thessalonians 4:13. “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as other do who have no hope.” Paul desired to inform the church. This pre-supposes that the church was ill-informed, at least to the degree that physical death was challenging the faith of believers. They didn’t know everything. It was a disturbing thought that when God made me a Christian, I didn’t immediately become an expert in doctrine! I’m sure that you’ve experienced the same realization. When I have the privilege of sitting under someone who has “walked” with the Lord for a long time I discover how much I don’t know. I continue to study the word and listen to those who teach sound doctrine. My life in Christ will continue on this track until I go to be with the Lord. The Christian Life is one of growing in the knowledge of, dare I say, sound doctrine! We learn that God grows us up in Christ not in ourselves. The Apostle knew that the only remedy for despair over loss was sound, good theology.

Notice the first phrase in 1Thessalonians 4:13. Paul wanted, he desired, that the church be informed! How sad it is that in our day, many leaders of churches desire members to “feel” as though their desires and interests are being met! Being led by our desires will only lead to despair. We are no match for the world. We are certainly no match for the issue of loss, especially the loss of life.

Our family is in the midst of this inevitable loss. My mother, who has been granted 99 years of life is in the process of dying. The words of Paul have pierced my heart as never before, “… you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.” Because of the sovereign grace of God in choosing to make me His, I know that He has given me a hope that can never be taken away, even by death. I know that my mom is in the hands of the sovereign God.

I can’t fathom the depth of despair that those who do not know God experience. Even for those who profess Christ, I can’t imagine the damage that the lack of sound doctrine does to their faith. The Christian Life, as ordained by God, is a life of learning from and following Jesus as He is offered in the gospel. When the world’s challenges come, where do you go? Are you being taught the truth? Growing in the knowledge and love of Christ is essential for our life.

May the Lord use this challenge in my life to cause you to seek out a church that teaches sound doctrine. May you grow in Christ. May He deepen your trust in Him and confirm the hope that He gives to His own.