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How to Respond after the Supreme Court Decision on Gay Marriage

Now is not the time to sulk.

We lost the big one. We as Christians have made the case that traditional marriage as God has designed it, is embodied by a man and a woman joining together. However our culture is not convinced. Much to our dismay, it is now the law of the land to permit other forms of “marriage.”

We as Christians, we have this temptation is to go off and sulk in our holy corner, or we dig in our heels and try to fight harder. We could also lash out in anger. Not only can We can do better, but we must do better. 
How do we start? I believe it is by taking to heart the Beatitudes:


Rejoice
. Not in the decision, obviously, but as Paul say in Matthew 5 “Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say rejoice.” And elsewhere, “Give thanks to God in all circumstances.” And this paraphrase: “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you, or prevail against you in the public square because of me. Rejoice and be glad…” (Matt. 5:11).

So what exactly do we rejoice in? Start with the big things: That our God has not gone anywhere. That Christ’s death and resurrection remains and will always be the power of salvation for all. That the gospel still goes forth daily. That the gates of the Supreme Court or Congress or anyone else cannot prevail against Christ’s church. That there is nothing that can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. That his kingdom will come—and that there remains a great deal of important work for us to do in the church and in society until that day.

Repent. Another temptation we have now is to point our finger at all of the forces—political, social, philosophical, spiritual—aligned against the church and its moral teaching. Without denying the reality of “principalities and powers” (Eph. 6:12), we do well to ponder this: What actions and attitudes have we embodied that have contributed to our culture’s dismissing our ethics? Our homophobia has revealed our fear and prejudice. Biblical inconsistency—our passion to root out sexual sins while relatively indifferent to racism, gluttony, and other sins—opens us to the charge of hypocrisy. 

Before we spend too much more time trying to straighten out the American neighborhood, we might get our own house in order.”Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.” (Matt 7:5)

“Blessed are the poor in spirit who mourn their sins”(Matt. 5:3-4).

Rethink. This certainly means thinking afresh about what we will and will not do when, for example, a gay married couple, seeking to draw closer to God, shows up in church and wants to get involved. It nearly goes without saying that we will welcome them unconditionally as we would anyone who walks in the door. But what does love look like in this instance? What do we encourage before we ask them to adopt the Christian sexual ethic? This depends on a church’s tradition and its beliefs about baptism, church membership, eldership, and so forth. But many evangelical churches do not have a denominatonal tradition to lean on and will need to think through these matters with fresh urgency.

One issue that demands special attention is divorce and remarriage. The Bible has much to say about marriage (as much or more than it does on homosexuality), and yet the evangelical church has become lax about honoring the marriage vow. We use the word grace as a cheap way to avoid the awkward tough love of church discipline. Such inconsistency has been a major stumbling block for those outside the church. This does not mean we forbid all divorce, nor all remarriage. It does mean we evangelicals have to come to an agreement about what constitutes legitimate biblical grounds for divorce and for remarriage, and maybe even create a covenant amongst ourselves that will help us on this matter.

No matter the specific issue, we do well to remember that those who hunger and thirst for righteousness in such matters are blessed and will be filled (Matt. 5:6).

Re-engage. There is talk today that the church has been removed from its place in society. We are said to now live “in exile” and “at the margins.” To some degree, yes, but then there is this:

 In other countries, such as Burma, Christians are restricted from building churches and schools. The social and political hostility of peoples faith has became so oppressive, many have fled their homelands,That’s exile. We in the US are far from living at the margins. We still live in a society that protects free speech and free assembly, that supports our religious freedom, that permits all its citizens to participate in governing at all levels. To be sure, we see serious challenges to these rights and liberties, challenges that require vigilance and hard work in the days ahead. But as it stands, these rights and liberties prevail here as unlike anywhere else in the world. Let’s make use of them for the common good—becoming peacemakers (Matt. 5:9) as best we can as we re-engage at all levels of politics.

Reach out. Now that the issue of gay marriage has been decided, we may find that we have a greater opportunity than ever to build fruitful relationships with those in the LGBT community who have been hostile to all things Christian. Up to this point, we’ve been seen as a threat to their political agenda. Now that we have lost on the issue of gay marriage, that threat is removed and it may not be long before we see more willingness to engage us as fellow human beings. We should welcome and even initiate those moments as opportunities to share—in mercy (Matt. 5:7)—the good and beautiful news of the gospel like never before.

Rejoice. Again with Paul we say, rejoice. In particular, we can rejoice because of God’s call to us at this critical juncture of history. Just as the 4th-century church was given the responsibility to think through the nature of Christ, and the 16th-century church had the task of pondering the relationship of faith and works, now this is our time to think through and respond to a host of issues surrounding human sexuality. What we teach and what we do in this moment, will shape the church’s thought and life for generations to come.

This is not just as calling of national or church leaders, but of each and every Christian household. Whether we’re lobbying in the halls of Congress to check the spread of sexual trafficking or teaching our children about the precious gift of sex, we are reinforcing and shaping the church’s teaching on sexuality. We have been given a great responsibility from God and we should have great gratitude for being entrusted with such a vital task.

And so, we walk into this uncharted future not with a nervous heart but with humility (“Blessed are the meek…”) and confidence (“… for they shall inherit the earth” Matt. 5:5). Christ still remains Lord and is still leading his church. Blessed are those who know this, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

 
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Posted by on June 30, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Lessons from Humpty Dumpty

The other day during my commute home from work, I was listening to the

song, “Broken” by Lecrae. The lyrics below made me think;

Doing that Humpty dance

Forget the king’s horses

Forget the king’s men

The King is coming to put us back together again

Who remembers this poem?

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall

Humpty Dumpty had a great fall

All the kings horses and all the kings men

Couldn’t put Humpty Dumpty together again

Kind of a dreary picture isn’t it.  One time or another, everybody falls.  Whether it is

finances, a moral failure, a relationship breakdown or any other personal issues, the

question isn’t IF you will fall, it is a question of WHEN you will fall. I have been there

too; I quickly discovered that even though I desired to get back up again, under my

own power I couldn’t put myself back together.  I wanted to stand, but could only

make it to my knees.  It was from that position that I found hope. It was from my

knees, I saw that God’s grace made it possible for me to be whole again.

I can hear you say it now.  “It was after I knew Jesus that I fell!”  Well, you are not

alone.  So many people feel like Humpty Dumpty when they have sinned against

God.  They try with all their might to “put it back together again.”  They enlist the

help of friends and others and still feel broken.

Then, all of a sudden I realize that this is just like God and His creation except for

one difference. God had a plan for repairing His “egg” before He even let it on the

wall. God didn’t worry about the fall of man because He being “THE KING,” knew He

could put it back together again. Plus, He could do it over-and-over as many times as

needed.

When God created the wall (Eden) and Humpty Dumpty (Man), He allowed man

to sit (Genesis 2:16-17) on the wall. By doing so, God set into motion the potential of

a fall. If God’s plan was for man to not fall, why would God have created such a

dangerous place for him? This concept is a concern of many seekers and non-

believers as well as some believers. “Why would a loving God allow suffering and

pain,” they ask?

My answer is, “He had to because He loves us.” Because God gave us a choice, He

gave us so much more than suffering and pain, He gave us the ability to put a value

on what is good.

We all have to admit that there are days when you and I feel a lot like Humpty

Dumpty. The broken pieces of life seem hopelessly shattered, and for the life of us we don’t

have a clue about how to put them back together again.

So, what do we do when life has us in pieces at the bottom of the wall? Read and

embrace the truth of Psalm 13 1:6!

David realized that if he knew the “who” in his situation, he didn’t have to

understand the “why.” In fact, he didn’t have to have answers about the “how” of the

situation, such as: How was he going to get out of it? How God would put him back

together again? His Father would take care of him and somehow, even in his

brokenness, he could rest in that.

When your life is splattered at the bottom of the wall, turn your heart to Him and

you will see that we have a King who knows how to put broken lives back together

again. With the assurance of God’s unfailing love for us, regardless of our

circumstances, we can rest assured that He will do for us what no one could do for

poor Humpty Dumpty

Don’t let your life be a yoke. The King can use all the pieces of a broken life to make

you more whole then before the fall.

Here’s my updated version of the poem;

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall.

Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.

All the kings horses and all the kings men

couldn’t put Humpty Dumpty together again.

But along came God and touched Humpty’s soul.

Only the one true King could make Humpty whole.

What do you do when you stumble and fall?

Enlist the Kings horses and all the Kings men.

But only God can heal you again.

Rejoice Humpty Dumpty there’s reason to sing

God loves broken people, Go to the true King.

Questions

  1. Are you experiencing, or have you experienced, a season of feeling broken and
    shattered?
  2. How do those seasons impact your relationship with God?
  3. Are you able to be honest
    and transparent in your prayers, even if that means pouring out your frustration
    and grief to Him?
  4. How does it encourage you to know that God’s love—no matter what—is unfailing
    and constant?
 
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Posted by on April 15, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Beauty of God’s Creation

There are a lot of incredible things on this earth that God has given us to enjoy. We live in a beautiful world full of gorgeous trees, breathtaking mountains, immense oceans, fabulous sunsets, and so on. Nature is beautiful. Bright, sunny mornings, with the birds singing; and dew sparkling on the grass; are truly a gift from God. It is when we look at the world through the eyes of God that we come to appreciate just how fantastic it is.

“The heavens are telling the glory of God …” Psalm 19:1

We’ve all heard the saying “Stop and smell the flowers., yet we pass by so many glimpses of God’s creation without pausing, even for a moment. We not only miss the opportunity to smell the roses, but we also fail to take in the beauty surrounding us. What if you could fully notice the summer’s green, the winter’s white, and the fall’s array of colors? I also suspect we fail to hear the birds and other wildlife moving about. And what about feeling God’s gentle breeze on our cheek? Instead of enjoying the colorful leaves on the ground, we rake them up as soon as they fall.

I love to walk during my lunch at work and sometimes I walk slowly just to soak anything and everything around me including the movement of my own legs and feet. I remember one walk on my lunch break well. It has just finished raining about an hour before my break and the sky had just cleared up. As I was walking, I happened to look up at the sky and I found myself stopped in my footsteps, mouth wide open, in awe of the majesty of the scenery. The sky seemed like it was the most vibrant blue and it contained the brightest rainbow. I have never seen or experienced anything like that in my life. Turn after turn,  I was amazed by God’s ridiculous creativity and His ability to form so much beauty. I can’t even begin to imagine what it must have looked like before the fall. The beauty took away the pain of my rheumatoid as I was walking. I just couldn’t get enough.

Ecclesiastes 3:11 states:  He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. (ESV)

I remember another time as we were completing our trip home from a family vacation and were nearing our own neighborhood, exhausted and longing for my very own pillow, the sun was setting near my home.  And, I almost missed God’s beauty.  In what seemed like an instant, I went from soaking up the scenes all around me to longing to simply be home and almost missing a grand sunset. A beautiful God scene that’s possibly a mile from my own house.  A scene that has God’s grandeur and beauty yet in a neighborhood I’ve lived in for 15 years. This site I see often was breathtaking and I almost took it for granted.  God’s beauty really is all around us, we don’t have to travel across the country or across the globe to see it.

I then was brought back to Genesis 1:25 where God says that the result of the first 5 days of creation was “good.” He didn’t say creation was “very good” until man was created. This verse struck me in a whole new way. The creation of me is “very good” over even the majesty, unbelievable beauty of the world? God said it. It is true. It hit me that my beauty was “very good.”

I must be extraordinarily beautiful in order for God to see me in that way. My desire is to see the beauty of His glory that I display in the way that God sees me. I know that I am missing out. If only I could see the fullness of beauty in myself and in those around me, then I could begin to imagine and start to wrap my head around the beauty of God.

God’s beauty is everywhere; it is in our neighborhoods, in our families, in our work, in our commute, in our churches, in scripture, in you.

 
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Posted by on December 15, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Ragamuffin

Many believers feel like our Christian growth has become stunted or we feel like we have hit a roadblock . We beat ourselves up over our failures and, in the process, we pull away from God because we subconsciously see him as a scorekeeper who records our failures and successes on a score sheet. We believe that while God tallies our defects, he hangs his head in disappointment.

Christianity is unique in that God’s mercy is shown through his justice. There is no setting aside of justice to make room for mercy. The Bible states that sin and injustice were punished at the cross of Christ, and that only because the penalty of sin was satisfied through Christ’s sacrifice does God extend His mercy to undeserving sinners.

The lyrics of Amazing Grace say it all:

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,

    that saved a wretch like me.

What does grace sound like? It’s the sound of Jesus saying, “Your sins are forgiven!”

I truly feel that we believe in God’s grace—in theory, however we have lost the ability to apply it in our daily lives. God gives us His grace, willingly, no matter what we’ve done. Jesus wants to come to him as we are. We come to Him as ragamuffins—dirty and beat-up. And when we sit at His feet, He smiles upon us, and calls us to his with a love that burns brightly and constantly. It is only when we truly embrace God’s grace, that we can bask in the joy of a gospel that enfolds the most needy of His flock—the “ragamuffins.”

Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners and to call them to repent. He came for the beat-up, and burnt-out,” the marginalized folks to whom Jesus ministered: the children, the ill, the tax collectors, the women. In other words, the ragamuffins.

While the powerful and religious elite challenged him, Jesus embraced and healed and fed the needs of the ragamuffins. Jesus delivered love, healing, and, most of all, grace.

What is Grace you ask? Grace is defined as “the freely given and unmerited favor and love of God.” We have “twisted the gospel of grace into religious bondage and distorted the image of God into an eternal scorekeeper.” In reality, the grace God offers us is immeasurable.

While Christ did indeed die for sinners, He also died as a demonstration of God’s righteousness, to showcase His justice. This is exactly what the apostle Paul says: “All are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith.

In other words, God didn’t immediately punish sin before the time of Christ; rather, extended mercy. The end result is that, by the sacrificial death of Jesus, everyone who trusts in Him is saved from God’s wrath and instead experiences His grace and mercy (Romans 8:1).

I’m not saying that we are to just do whatever we want. God will judge us when our time is through. A couple of illustrations of that are:

1 Peter 4:5

    but they will give account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.

2 Peter 2:4

For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment.

“If we are to evangelize a person, then we must say to him or her: “You are loved by God in the Lord Jesus. He loves you for who you are, not for what you are”

I love this quote by Brennan Manning, author of The Ragamuffin Gospel, “I found deep comfort in realizing that Jesus loves even me, a ragamuffin, just as I am.”

 
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Posted by on November 3, 2014 in Uncategorized

 
Link

I have recently started studying the book of Psalms. I ran across a piece of scripture; Psalm 55:21 that made me think.

His speech was smooth as butter, yet war was in his heart; his words were softer than oil, yet they were drawn swords. (‭Psalm‬ 55‬:‭21‬ ESV)

This verse made me think about how the enemy goes after our young people today. He goes after them when they are young before their faith has formed its roots. I feel this verse goes along with that because, he uses peer pressure to tempt our youth.

Think about it for a minute. Our youth are tempted to sin by friends and classmates to sin. As our kids get into middle school and junior high, they are tempted by the following statements or similar ones:

“Come on, just one hit, it won’t hurt anything. Everyone is doing it” or
“Just one sip of beer won’t kill you”

When our girls get in high school, they are tempted to give up their virginity with assurances that the guy will love them more, when all that really happens and while the guy feels like a king who conquered an army, the girls are left with feelings of regret and guilt.

How do we help them you ask. First off,pray for them and that they will make wise decisions, in spite of the temptations in the world today. Second, let them know it is safe to come to you or another adult with questions
and/or worries.

 
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Posted by on October 4, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Honesty

1 As a deer pants for flowing streams,
so pants my soul for you, O God.
2 My soul thirsts for God,
for the living God.
When shall I come and appear before God?

3 My tears have been my food
day and night,
while they say to me all the day long,
“Where is your God?”

4 These things I remember,
as I pour out my soul:
how I would go with the throng
and lead them in procession to the house of God
with glad shouts and songs of praise,
a multitude keeping festival.

5 Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my salvation — Psalm 42:1-5 (ESV)

I often wonder if I am doing enough as a father to inspire my children to seek a relationship with God. Do I set an example of depending on God day after day? Have I shown them that sometimes the only way to truly appreciate a cool drink is to know what it is like to be really thirsty? Honestly I have to admit that I don’t know. While I am certainly working on moving closer to Christ, I can’t give a measurement of the distance I have to go.

That isn’t necessarily a bad place to be, I guess. Maybe it is okay for my girls to see that I’m not perfect and that I am still working on what it is to follow Jesus. Or maybe it is okay for me to be okay with them seeing my imperfection. Honesty is one of the most notable characteristics of the Psalms. Yet that honesty is always tempered with truth. It is why the discouraged put their hope in God.

So I will live imperfectly with my children, transparent and honest about my life with God, but always rooted in the truth. This sounds like a good way to instill a thirst for God in all of us.

 
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Posted by on September 13, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

What Does Evangelism mean?

What does it mean to be an evangelist? The word evangelist is derived from the Greek Word “euaggelistes” when means “one who declares good news. Jesus did so much during his earthly ministry to give us examples in what it means to be an evangelist. 

After washing the disciples feet, he actually told them it was an example and they were to do the same.  He was calling the disciples to humble themselves and to serve one another. We are commanded to imitate Christ by doing the things he did. It goes without saying that in order to model our actions after Jesus, then we must study his words and actions so that we can.

Jesus was not just a preacher.  He was not tied to a pulpit, nor was he just an itinerant evangelist.  Jesus ministered to the needs of people by going out among the people.  Matthew 5, 6 and 7 is well known as the Sermon on the Mount. 

These chapters contain many examples of how Jesus challenged people to change the way they think.  Then immediately in chapters 8 and 9, Jesus went out and changed people’s lives.  He cleansed the lepers, healed the sick and raised the dead.  He wasn’t sitting in an office somewhere blogging about helping people; he was on the front lines, in the trenches so to speak, getting his hands dirty.  He changed people’s thoughts and he changed their lives. 

Jesus ministry was about showing people God.  Colossians 1 describes him as the “image of the invisible God.”  In John 14, Jesus told his disciples that if they had seen him they had seen God.  Jesus wasn’t just making God visible; he was illustrating what God is like.  The Pharisees had kept the letter of the Law, but in doing so, they missed the spirit.  Jesus was on earth to remind us what the heart of God is like.  

The story of the Prodigal Son shows us a father that is merciful toward a son that does not deserve mercy.  Jesus told dozens of these stories.  The message he delivered and the lessons he taught were not his own; he shared what the Father had taught him.  We can listen to Jesus and still hear the Word of God today. 

This is a 3-point message:

1) Jesus changed people’s lives. 

2) Jesus showed people God. 

3) He wants us to do the same. 

In John 14, Jesus plainly instructs his followers to go on doing the things he did.  Some he said would do even greater things.  Now consider if you will these two scriptures, both the words of Jesus:

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”  -John 8:12

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.  -Matt 5:12

Jesus said, “I am the light of the world.”  But he also said “You are the light of the world.”  During his ministry, Jesus himself showed people what God was like.  He shined the Gospel light into a dark world.  And now… it is all of us who carry the light.  We possess Jesus Christ in our hearts, and the knowledge of salvation.  The Gospel has been entrusted to us, and we must carry it to every corner of the globe. 

I discussed this matter with a friend to come up with opportunities to spread God’s word and here’s what we came up with:

  1. Look at the people we work with, we spend more time with them then our families, so there is an area we could be reaching.
  2. Many people reserve the weekends for family time, an idea would be find an area where your whole family could serve, such as a food pantry/soup kitchen.
  3. It can be as simple as being thankful and gracious in conversation.  
  4. In addition to serving together, I think inviting people to dinner is a great way to share the gospel too.  What better way to exemplify the giving/serving nature of Jesus than to invite someone into your home and feed their bellies? 

Ministry is more than preaching in the pulpit or teaching a Sunday school class.  We must do the things that Jesus did.  The Jesus that ate with sinners and touched sick people.

 
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Posted by on July 30, 2014 in Uncategorized

 
 
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