We live in the midst of a Christian cultural environment that has somehow bought the lie that we should disconnect ourselves from this world, that faith doesn’t mix with politics, and that Christians should just focus on religious stuff within the confines of the walls of our churches and homes, and ultimately leave the world to its own devices.
This is a dangerous position for Christians to be in. I don’t see this reflected anywhere in scripture. This isn’t a mindset early Christians embraced, or the Jewish people embraced in the Old Testament, and it certainly isn’t a mindset that God encouraged us to have.
Christians are quick to quote 1 Peter 2:11 and call out the fact that as Christians in a godless world we are exiles and sojourners (foreigners/travelers), therefore we are just here for a moment. Other believers lean heavily on scriptures like Philippians 3:20 that refer to Christians as “citizens of heaven” rather than “citizens of the earth”. All in an attempt to support their isolationist view of Christians in a godless world.
But in quoting these passages, they have ignored what God commanded his people (Israel) in Jeremiah 29 to do as exiles and foreigners in Babylon. If we want a better understanding of how we Christians should be engaged in this modern world as exiles and foreigners (as the people of God that we are….just as Israel was God’s people) then we need to see what God told Israel to do as exiles and foreigners in Babylon.
You see, I think a lot of Christians ignore Jeremiah 29 because they have also bought the lie that the Old Testament (OT) is not relevant to New Testament (NT) Christians, except for the fact that the Old Testament was the Bible that Jesus and the early church actually had. Jesus often referred back to the OT to make connections to what He was preaching, teaching, and demonstrating in the NT. He didn’t disconnect the two.
They work as ONE!
You cannot understand or accurately apply NT principles without understanding OT principles.
You can’t fully understand what Jesus did in the NT without understanding what happened in the OT.
You can’t fully grasp the place of grace and law if you don’t understand the place of grace and law in the OT.
We must go back to the OT. We need to see how and what God said to His people concerning their exile in the OT so we can understand how we as God’s people and as Christian “exiles” (the NT church) should function in our modern world.
Which is exactly what I want to do in the next few paragraphs. As my pastor often says, “I’m trying to help you connect some dots here.” So follow along with me as we take a brief but important look at an often overlooked chapter of the Bible…Jeremiah 29. HERE WE GO!
Specifically we are going to look at verses 4 through 7 – and remember, read this with the perspective that the exiles are Christians (God’s chosen people) and that Babylon is whatever modern context we live in:
Jeremiah 29:4-7 ESV
4 “Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5 Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. 6 Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. 7 But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.
While we are exiles as Christians in this time and place – and while we do have a citizenry in a heavenly kingdom…God has commanded us to be in this world where he has placed us….not just sitting around on our behinds, twiddling our thumbs, and waiting for him to return…but to be active in everything around us until He comes for us.
Later in verse 10 God tells his people that He is returning for them, but that it will be 70 years. 70 YEARS!! That’s no walk in the park. As Christians today, we too are awaiting His return for us. It’s definitely been more than 70 years (over 2,000 actually). And we do not know when He will return, but we know He is returning. But he isn’t returning to a Church that is sitting on it’s hands.
Let’s pick this apart:
Verse 5: Build houses, plant gardens, eat the gardens food.
TRANSLATION: Put in some roots….plan to stay a while…and provide for yourselves accordingly (shelter, food, jobs, things you need to live).
God didn’t tell the people to throw up some tents (temporary housing)…he said to BUILD houses (permanent housing). They were going to be there a while. The homes they were going to need would need to last 70 years!!! He also told them to plant gardens and eat the fruit of the garden…and any novice gardener knows that it takes time to grow a garden, and it takes time before you see the “fruit of your labors”.
In other words, God was telling his people to prepare themselves to be able to provide for their family. This wasn’t going to be accomplished if they had a mindset that they weren’t going to be there very long or that they should just disconnect from being engaged with the people and place of Babylon.
This doesn’t mean we let Babylonian systems and beliefs influence us…but rather that we should be actively influencing the Babylonian beliefs and systems. God didn’t once tell them to compromise what he had shown them to be true. But He exiled them there for a purpose, and commanded them to engage.
Verse 6: Take wives for yourselves and have children, find spouses for your children when they grow up, have grandchildren….don’t stop having children and grandchildren!
TRANSLATION: Build your family tree. Create for them an environment to be raised in. An environment that honors God.
God didn’t tell them, “Don’t have children. Don’t bring them into this world. This is only a temporary setting, and you don’t want to get too settled.”No, he said “Be fruitful and multiply…have kids and grandkids.” It seems kind of silly for God to encourage them to keep having kids and grandkids if they were only going to be there for a moment.
I’ve actually heard out of the mouths of many Christians – “I don’t want to bring any children in to this world. Besides, God could come any day for us.” That’s not what God commandd his people to do. He doesn’t want us to just stop having kids because hey….he might come back tomorrow and this world is a terrible place. No…he wants us to have kids…to populate where we are….to train them up as they should go….to see our families become the influencers in our society.
Verse 7: Work toward peace and prosperity within the city you live. Pray for peace and prosperity for that city. When the city has peace and prosperity, so will you.
TRANSLATION: Get involved with the workings of the city. Government. Relationships. Bring your biblical worldview to the city because you know that only through God and God alone will there be peace and prosperity for your city and for your family.
This is EXACTLY why Daniel didn’t turn down becoming a governor (for a lack of a better word) in the Babylonian empire. And he absolutely used his biblical worldview to impact the policies and government and society that governed his daily life. When other government officials challenged him by having the king outlaw prayer…he went back to his home and prayed in the window where all could see him. He ended up in a lions den, but in the end he was spared and the ones who rose up against him were the ones who were killed by the lions….not Daniel. And the king saw the error of his ways.
All of these things – homes, gardens, families, relationships, governments, jobs, etc….God was telling his people (Israel…US!) that they (we) need to get involved…to get engaged with the people and place He had exiled them to. Why? Because of exactly what verse 7 says:
Jeremiah 29:7 ESV
7 But seek (actively work toward) the welfare (peace/prosperity) of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare (peace/prosperity) you will find your welfare (peace/prosperity).
So church….read the whole counsel (Bible) of God with New Testament eyes. You’ll be surprised what you may discover and how it applies to our own modern context.
Do not disengage.
Do not just settle for the supposed “lesser of two evils” mindset in anything (especially politics).
God didn’t call us to settle. He called us to engage.
To be salt and light. To flavor this world. To bring light to darkness. To be the influencers of our cities and states and nations.
This won’t happen if we just sit on our hands and ignore the whole counsel of God.
So your standard for how to vote in this election is Hillary.
I get it. I really do. I used to have this same exact mindset as well.
You’re going to vote for Trump (lesser of 2 evils) because you feel that Hillary is the greater threat to our freedoms and future. You’re going to vote for Trump even if you don’t like him or think he’ll make a good president, all because you fear the idea of a Hillary presidency more than Trump as a president.
I get it…I really do.
I’m not looking down on you. I promise. In fact, I am looking at you with pity and a deep remorse for my own failures in this area over the course of several elections in the past.
So I get it….I REALLY do. I can’t say that enough.
I too have a concern for my future, my children’s future, my grandchildren’s future, and the freedoms that we have so enjoyed since our foundation as a nation.
I’m a father of 4….I’m 34 years old…and I too do not want to leave this world behind for my children that will look anything like it does today…or worse….but to suggest that somehow Trump will actually be a better option than Hillary is ignoring the facts, and certainly not applying biblical standards or principles to the thinking behind your vote.
Since I think we have effectively established what your standard in voting this year actually is…the question now becomes, what do you fear most?
Being disobedient to the word of God or a Hillary presidency?
If you fear God (in the righteous, biblical form of the word FEAR) more than you fear Hillary (in the fleshly, worrisome, dread kind of way)….then whose hands are you really placing the future of your children and grandchildren in?
If you fear Hillary more than God then you are placing the future of your children and grandchildren in the hands of someone like Trump.
I know this because you are suggesting that Trump will give you a better future than Hillary could give you because she is more evil than he is, and therefore this would somehow slow down the process of the nation going over the cliff and give us more time to correct our path.
If you fear God more than you fear Hillary, then you are placing the future of your children and grandchildren in the hands of God.
Who better to place your future and your families future in?
You are a Christian right?
You do trust God right?
You do believe that He alone is sovereign and He alone has the answer, right??
Then why are you placing your trust in Trump over God?
The scripture is clear on what we should look for in a civil leader (Exodus 18)…and our obedience to the word of God will be honored by God. In fact, according to Jesus himself, our obedience to His commands demonstrates that we actually love him.
Our disobedience demonstrates that we do not actually love him, at least not as much as we think we do.
Now hear this….I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again…this doesn’t mean God may not choose to use Trump to accomplish his purposes…
…however, that is for God to decide…
My ENTIRE role in this life is to be obedient to God….not try to help him out as if God needs my help. He just needs me to be obedient to Him and to love him.
Everything else He will handle.
This is why I don’t fear a Hillary presidency.
This is why I don’t fear for the future of my children and grandchildren. I’m training them up in the way they should go (as I was commanded in the word of God) and I’m doing my best to be obedient to His word….how this all plays out in the end is entirely in God’s hands…not mine.
But if you fear man more than God…be ready…you’re falling for a trap.
Proverbs 29:25 ESV
The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe.
I totally understand the concern for the future….I share it as well.
But the reality of it is this….the one you fear the most will determine who you place your future and your trust.
And that makes a HUGE difference to me for how I will act in this election.
Psalm 18:2 ESV
The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
When I read scriptures like this, that utilizes imagery to describe God, his character, his personality, his power, his might, his justice, etc….I often wonder how people are interpreting the meaning of the imagery.
In the case of the verse above, I can’t help but wonder how many people have interpreted “The Lord is my ROCK” to mean something like the rock that David used in his sling, or like the rocks that Elijah used to build an altar to demonstrate the power of God before the prophets of Baal.
By taking a deeper look at this verse, however, I find that these comparisons would not actually be doing the imagery justice. Do not get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with imagining God as the weapon to slay your giants…or the altar which you lay your faith on when seeking God and his power.
But you see, the word “ROCK” in this verse is actually better interpreted as a cliff, or more specifically – a mountain. A mountain is something MASSIVE and IMMOVABLE. Talk about a symbol of real strength! God is indeed immovable.
His character is immovable.
His word is immovable.
His truth is immovable.
His love is immovable.
His justice is immovable.
Have you ever tried to push against a mountain and slide it out of the way?
I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that you were probably not very successful in that attempt.
And yet, this is exactly what God’s creation…man…seems to think we can do. We apparently think that we can look at the immovable mountain of God…his character, truth, justice, word, love…and say to that mountain, “Mountain, be moved…because I, the creation…made by the hands of the almighty creator…say it must be so.”
Don’t get me wrong…we are told in the bible that if we have the faith of a mustard seed we can tell a mountain to jump into the sea and it will be so.
But that mountain is a creation of God…not God himself.
And yet…we humans seem to confuse the two WAY too often.
A member of my church recently sent me a link to a “church” here in Charleston, SC that seriously broke my heart to see when I went and explored their website. I put the word “church” in quotations because they can hardly be called a church…at least based on what I’ve seen as their fruit on display for all the world to see.
You see, the interim pastor there is a gay man who apparently has a “husband”, and lives in an open, unrepentant, pride filled, gay relationship with another man.
Yes, you read that right…the INTERIM PASTOR is an openly practicing homosexual.
He even gives us a brief snippet of his theological views in his bio on the church web page:
I consider myself theologically progressive and to the left of the religious spectrum. While I respect and honor my religious roots, I am no longer in that space.
No longer in that space?
Sir, you are not just “no longer in that space”….you are no longer in that dimension…or plane of reality or existence.
Upon doing some more research, I found that this church actually belongs to a “denomination” that was established back in the 60’s and 70’s by a practicing homosexual who was “prophesied” over that he would become the pastor of a great denomination.
They are called The Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches, and to give you an idea of where they stand on things…here is a snippet from their website:
The Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches is a Christian church founded in and reaching beyond the Gay and Lesbian community. We embody and proclaim Christian salvation and liberation, Christian inclusivity and community and Christian social action and justice. We serve among those seeking and CELEBRATING the integration of their spirituality and sexuality.
This “church”, and others in their community/fellowship, actually see it as their God-given mission to push forward homosexuality, gay marriage rights, and ultimately to have everyone embrace something that God has called evil and sin…and do it all without shame or remorse or conviction.
In other words, they are the epitome of Romans 1:28-32 and are trying to push against and move the immovable (God’s Word).
28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips,30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless.32 Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.
Now, please hear me when I say this (if you’ve made it this far), we are to embrace the homosexual community in as much as they are sinful people who need salvation…and as a community of people who were also made in the image of God, who are living in sin, and are just as fallen as we ONCE were. The homosexual community is in need of a Church willing to speak to them the truth in love so that God’s word can pierce their heart and liberate them from their deception and sin.
But what this “church”, and this denomination are doing is not love. Not in any way, shape, or form is this love.
It is not an act of love to teach sinners to embrace their sin as a good thing and encourage them to keep sinning, and to fight for their rights to publicly sin and be accepted for their sin…and to have their sin sanctioned and codified by our governments, cities, public schools, and state legislators.
I repeat…THIS IS NOT LOVE!
This is equal to giving someone a hug and a kiss, and then wishing them well as they walk off a cliff that you knew they were heading toward, but…in the spirit of political correctness and a pathetic attempt at “not offending anyone”….you avoided telling them about the cliff.
In fact, I would go so far as to suggest that what this “church” and denomination (and any other Christian who engages in this sort of “love”), that they are actually doing one of the most hateful things a person could do to another person. To know that they are in sin, and in danger of an eternity apart from God, and you would hate them so much that you simply hug and kiss them as they plunge to their eternal death.
Do you really love your neighbor by encouraging them to sin and encouraging them to celebrate their sin? Based on your actions…I can state with an affirmative NO.
You hate your neighbor.
And perhaps the thing that frightens me (and I would hope you as well) the most is that because you are doing this…because you are not only participating in the sin but encouraging others to participate in it as well…you are actually on the path to join them.
To you MCC Church…to you “Christians” who are fighting for gay rights and gay marriage and telling other Christians they are being hateful for not accepting these people simply because they don’t “love” the way we do….you are in danger of sending everyone of your souls (including your own) to hell because you choose to try and move the immovable. Because you choose to violate the immovable word of God and you choose to encourage others to do the same.
God’s word is immovable.
God’s character is immovable.
God’s truth is immovable.
God’s justice is immovable.
God’s mercy is immovable.
God’s love is immovable.
And it is time for you to recognize that you are trying to move the immovable.
Your only option at this point is to repent and turn from your evil and wicked ways, and be saved! God is indeed a merciful and loving God. His word tells us that he does not desire that any man should perish.
But this is the trajectory you are on.
You need to wake up before it is too late…even for your own soul.
Our nation, and more importantly our churches, are in shambles.
And sadly I bear part of the blame.
You see, I’ve been a Christian (at least in name) since I was 7 years old. I was “saved” on a Wednesday night during revival in a West Virginia Baptist church. I knew what to say and when to say it. I could bible drill with the best of them. All of this without the help of Google or digital bible software. After all, I was a preachers kid and the grandson and nephew of two other pastors. Being a Christian was more or less in my blood, right?
But when my faith was really put to the test in late high school I was proven to be a liar. I failed even the simplest of tests of my faith and traded it for a weak attempt at having a reputation with man rather than with God.
I was not who I thought I was but because I wore the label of Christian I also bore the responsibility of bringing shame to the one I claimed to follow because of my behavior.
I was blind…blind to the fact that my faith had no more impact or importance in my life than the French toast I had for dinner tonight.
As I said before, this nation is in shambles and our churches are in shambles because of people like me. Well, like how I was. People who never took their faith serious enough to make it a comprehensive aspect of their life and would easily trade it in for the praises of men.
But you see, I once was blind…but now I see!
At the age of 19 I had an awakening. I finally saw myself for who I was and found myself awash in my tears, on my knees, in the middle of a church parking lot, at 2AM early one Sunday morning, begging for my God to forgive me of my sins and spare my life.
And He did! Thank God he did!!
I once was blind. But now…I SEE!!
And herein lies the issue; we expect our federal, state, and local governments to behave godly when our churches are full of people whose faith means no more to them and has no more lasting impact on their lives than the French toast I ate for dinner tonight.
If we really want to see effectual change in our culture and governments at all levels then we need to start in the church. Its past time we seek revival. And I think we are on the cusp of it. But now is the time for the church to hit her knees and beg forgiveness for making a mockery of the name of Jesus and for conveniently leaving him at home as we go about our day.
Then its time to set our communities ablaze with a renewed fire for all things God.
Then and only then will our efforts with the schools, and cities, and state and federal governments really see fruit.
To say that this election season has been one wild ride is putting it mildly. It has been insane. It’s been a roller coaster ride that folks will not soon be forgetting. Part of what has made this election season so different has been the candidates presented to us as voters, and the people who are finding themselves supporting those candidates.
At this point in the game, the RNC has a presumptive nominee in Donald Trump. And in light of this presumptive nominee many people have made the proclamation of #NeverTrump as well as #NeverHillary (meaning they will vote for whoever the RNC person is…merely to keep Hillary out of the office of President).
The #NeverTrump crowd and the #NeverHillary crowd have now run into quite a philosophical quagmire.
The #NeverTrump crowd is voting (or not voting) based on principle (be it biblical or personal) while the #NeverHillary crowd is voting based on pragmatism.
The #NeverTrump crowd says, “We will never vote for Trump because he is the complete opposite of what I value, and I will not compromise my values in order to simply beat a Democrat out of the office for president.”
The #NeverHIllary crowd says, “We have values, in fact, we don’t even like Trump and agree that he doesn’t reflect our values, but if it means preventing another Clinton presidency, then we will do whatever is necessary to ensure she never sees the inside of the White House again.”
But which side is right? Principle? or Pragmatism? Are both right? Are both wrong?
In order to gain some clarity on this very pressing issue, especially as a Christian, we should use scripture as our baseline foundation (period) for understanding what the best approach to this year’s election should be.
So here we go…
To the #NeverTrump crowd…arguments have been presented to me that we can’t really use the bible to understand how we should operate in a democratic voting context because in the context of the bible, voting for government officials was not really a thing.
There is a partial truth here…the Bible doesn’t speak directly to voting in the context of a democratic voting process of government. It does, however, absolutely provide a TON of meat concerning what we as Christians should look for in a leader.
“Where’s your evidence?” – some #NeverHillary folks may ask.
How about Exodus 18 (Jethro’s advice to Moses concerning governing officials for Israel)?
“That’s the Old Testament. We are New Testament believers.” – some may say.
Yes, but the Old Testament wasn’t voided out simply because Jesus changed the repercussion of breaking the law. It still applies. But if one is insistent on finding New Testament evidence for choosing a leader…how about 1 Timothy 3, the qualifications of an elder?
“But Paul was talking about elders in the bible and their relation to the leadership of the church.” – some may also say.
Correct, but let’s examine the word elder in that passage for a moment.
The word used there is “overseership“…and it means:
“visitation (of judgment), oversight, supervision, overseership”
So, while Paul was indeed applying this directly to leaders in the church, the word itself is reflective of anyone providing oversight and supervision of something. And, in the case of civil government, a visitation of judgment (see Romans 13).
Does our civil government not provide supervision and oversight of our safety and well-being as citizens of the United States? Does the President not provide supervision and oversight of the Executive Branch of federal government? Is the government not responsible for visiting judgment on those who break the law?
If the answer is “Yes” to either of (or all of) the above questions, then, believe it or not, I think we can rightly come to the conclusion that the bible provides a sound application for Christians regarding the “overseership” found in the office of President.
There are certainly more passages in scripture that cover the qualifications of a leader. These are merely 2 examples (1 from the Old Testament, and 1 from the New Testament), that I feel speak pretty clearly to what we should look for in a leader…no matter the sphere they are leading in (church government or civil government).
Now, from the pragmatic side of the argument (the #NeverHillary crowd)…I understand what you’re saying. I really do. Hillary is definitely bad for this country. Her policies and platforms are disastrous for marriage, the unborn, religious freedom, and the economic situation in our nation. I too do not want her anywhere close to the White House or given more power than she has already accumulated for herself.
However, I have to ask the question, based on the evidence we’ve seen in Donald Trump’s life and behavior (which is very public, so one does not have to look hard to find it) and even throughout his campaign, can we rightly assume that he would actually be better than Hillary as president?
I personally answer that question with a firm no. In fact, I would support my no response with evidence found in just the 3 or 4 days following his “presumptive nomination” where he very literally flopped on 4 major campaign promises and went totally the way that Hillary would go. That’s just in days of being named “presumptive nominee”.
After examining both sides of this argument, I have to say that I have come to this conclusion concerning principle versus pragmatism from a biblical worldview, and that is:
Obedience to the Word of God in choosing a leader does not trump pragmatism in the booth in an attempt to keep the reigns of the nation out of the hands of one tyrant by giving it to another tyrant.
I’ll close with this final thought:
God is indeed a sovereign God who is in complete control of everything including politics. He may very well choose to raise up a Trump and yes…even a Hillary for this hour in order to accomplish His purposes on this earth.
However, simply because He MAY choose to raise either of those tyrants (or even another) up to the office of president, it does not in any way, shape, or form, negate or nullify our need for obedience to His word.
God’s word is clear on what our responsibility is in seeking to raise up leadership and it is clear on what we should look for in those leaders, and we are commanded to be obedient to His statutes as our King…nothing less. Jesus himself said in John 14:15 NKJV,
If you love me, keep my commandments.
If we as Christians are engaging in anything other than obedience to God’s word and then leaning on His sovereignty as some form of a support structure for our disobedience, then we are not only cheapening His sovereignty (and grace), but we are also engaging in sin.
As Christians, we shouldn’t just push a button in the voting booth in an attempt at being pragmatic and beating a Democrat and then leaning on His sovereignty and grace to cushion our disobedience. Instead, we should first be faithful to His commands and THEN lean on His sovereignty and grace for the ultimate outcome.
In the words of John Quincy Adams:
Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost.
Matthew 5:14-16 NLT
You are the light of the world–like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.
Have you ever wondered why so many who “live in the dark” don’t want the light?
I have. And I think there are a couple of reasons that this is the case:
They have become so used to being in the dark that their eyes have accepted the dark as reality. They’ve grown comfortable in the dark. Perhaps they can even see a little bit. But not very well, at least well enough to see a large object directly in front of them, but not nearly enough to see the pitfalls and snares that are under their feet and all around them.
Because they have grown accustomed to the dark, the light hurts their eyes (feelings) when it comes into their space, and therefore they reject the light because it causes them pain. Think about waking up in the middle of the night and you immediately turn on the light. You shrink back from the light, and probably in many cases turn the light back off.
What they don’t realize or understand is that the pain is only temporary. And once their eyes have grown accustomed to the light, then they will see how the light saves their life as it exposes to them the pitfalls and snares under their feet and helps them to actually avoid falling into these traps.
Ever noticed how the bulk of criminal activity takes place at night concealed in the dark? The same goes for people living in the dark (sin). They reject the light because they know the light will expose the things they have been hiding. They would rather remain in the light because in their mind it’s less painful to have their sin exposed and for them to be found out for exactly who they are.
What they don’t realize is that while yes, the light exposes the deep dark sins and secrets of our hearts, but it also brings relief from our sin. Think about the last time you held on to a secret or decided to keep lying to keep covering something up so the truth wouldn’t be found out. Even though it was painful to be found out, wasn’t there a sense of relief from the stress of holding all of that it and finally having the truth exposed?
It wasn’t fun…but it was necessary. And it brought relief from the burden.
Did Jesus not say to us:
Matthew 11:29-30 NLT
Take my yoke (burden) upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke (burden) is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.
Church, let me ask you this…do we then just not share the light, and rather hide it under a basket (Matthew 5) simply because it may hurt someone’s feelings or it may cause someone temporary pain?
By no means!
We as Christians know that while there may be pain, that the eternal ramifications of having the light come into the darkness will far outweigh that pain.
We’ve experienced it ourselves.
We don’t hide the light because we know the light sets people free.
So why then, Church, do so many in the American and European church discourage other Christians from shining their light brightly when they know the freedom that comes from the exposure of the light?
The moment they see people like me shine our light brightly, and the moment it begins to hurt the eyes (feelings) of someone that we are shining the light in front of we are instantly accused of being harsh, judgmental, unloving, un-Christlike, and all a whole slew of other terms.
If I didn’t know better, I would say these Christians were trying to encourage us to hide our light under a basket so as not to offend anyone.
I’m sorry, that’s not going to happen. That’s not what Jesus commanded. I have the light in me. The light that sets people free. Yes, it will hurt feelings. Yes, it will cause temporal pain.
But in the end, PEOPLE ARE SET FREE BY THE TRUTH!
If you as a believer were set free by the truth, why then do you encourage others to hide the freedom light from others? Why do you discourage us from doing what Jesus commanded?
I for one choose to be a city on a hill!
I for one choose to shine my light brightly!
I for one will not allow the possibility of pain (that is only temporal) dissuade me from exposing people to the light (truth) that will set their souls free!
If you are too much of a coward to do the same, that’s fine.
But my one request will be this: do not come around believers like me who aren’t afraid to shine the light into the darkest of places and accuse us of bigotry, hatred, unloving behavior, and whatever else comes out of your mouth.
You need to understand that your cowardice and shame of the gospel will not persuade people who are unashamed of the gospel to be quiet.
I don’t say this to be mean to you. Or to be heartless to you. But the reality of it is you are ashamed of the gospel and a coward before men. I will pray for you, and will do all that I can to help build up your courage. But I grow tired of your cowardice and shame being passed off on believers like me as an attempt to call us back to be more loving and Christlike when in reality is a ruse to cover up your shame and cowardice of the gospel and of Christ.
Trust me, my words are less painful than what Jesus had to say about people who are ashamed of Him and his words:
Luke 9:26 ESV
For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man (Jesus) be ashamed when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.
I for one choose to be a city on a hill and to shine brightly “this little light of mine” for all to see.
I hope you will too.
I hope you will set aside your cowardice and shame, and pick up your light and hold it out brightly and without shame.
You have the truth in you that will set the souls of men free.
That isn’t something to be ashamed of!
Perhaps you’ve seen the movie “Princess Bride”…perhaps you haven’t. If you haven’t, we can’t be friends until you do, because this is one of my all-time favorite movies. (better get a move on it!)
Anyways, in the movie The Great Vizinni keeps using the word “Inconceivable” and Inigo Montoya eventually says to him, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”
It’s a classic line and one that has been made into memes the world over for obvious reasons…it’s great! (just look at the picture for this blog post!!)
There are so many words (and phrases) in the English language these days that people use that I just don’t think they know what they actually mean. Because if they did, I don’t think the word would be getting as much air time as it currently does.
Here is my short list…
The First Amendment
But specifically, I want to talk about HATE.
Hate is what I get told that I am exhibiting a lot by my friends on the left. Especially when I speak out regarding things like love, marriage, being a Christian, being the church, religious freedom, the first amendment, etc.
They will say something like, “Oh Brad, I can’t believe how much you hate people to not want them to be with the one they love.” (marriage)
Or, “Oh Brad, I can’t believe how much you hate women because you support the abolition of abortion.” (abortion)
Or, “Oh Brad, why do you hate people so much by wanting to force your religious beliefs on everyone via laws.” (First Amendment)
I could go on…but I digress.
It really amazes me at how deeply confused these people are about the word “hate” because they primarily use it when referring to a view being expressed that is contrary to theirs. I mean I could certainly flip the script on them and say the same things about their views (and probably have to make a point), but the simple fact is…they keep using this word “hate” but I don’t think it means what they think it means.
So what exactly is hate?
Our friends at Merriam-Webster Dictionary define hate as:
1a: intense hostility and aversion usually deriving from fear, anger, or sense of injury b: extreme dislike or antipathy :loathing
2: an object of hatred
Let me summarize this for you – hate, in its simplest form, is an intense hostility and aversion to a thing, a place or a person.
Next, let’s examine two of the statements I have made in the past concerning popular hot topics of the day that have been called “hateful”…I have said things such as:
“I hate abortion and the murder of the unborn”.
My statement was specifically on the action of murdering the unborn children. And yes, I did indeed use the word “hate”, but again – with regard to the action of murdering the unborn.
However, supporters of the murder of the unborn hear this;
“I hate women and their right to govern themselves and their bodies.”
Now, at what point in my statement did I mention women, did I mention self-governance, and did I mention their ability to control their body?
Short answer; I didn’t.
How about another example…I say something like:
“I support marriage as being between one man and one woman only.”
My statement was a supportive statement concerning the natural and historical definition of marriage. However, supporters of gay marriage hear this;
“I hate gay people and do not want them to be happy or find love. In fact, I am absolutely terrified that their gayness may rub off on me and my children and they should be locked away never to be allowed to see the sun again.”
At what point in my statement did I use the word “hate” to begin with, or begin to attack gay people as people and wish to see them harmed or desire that they be unhappy the rest of their lives?
Short answer; I didn’t.
So why do you suppose, then, that there is such a disconnect from what people like me are saying, and what people are actually hearing me say?
I have 5 possible answers to this:
I’m inclined to think that #5 is the most common answer to this question. Though I’m curious about the others…there may be some merit to them….hmmm….
Anyways, back to the topic at hand.
So what’s really happening, then, is that when I speak out regarding a public and social sin in our nation – people who identify with this sin (as in they feel this is “who they are” as a person) take personal offense and think I am being hateful because in their minds I am attacking them personally, even though in reality my beef is with the sin…not the person.
My concern for the person is that they do not see the truth of what is actually happening and that they are placing themselves in danger both in the here and now and in the life thereafter. They are allowing their sin to define them, rather than compartmentalize their sin from themselves as people engaged in sin.
But I suppose when you call abortion murder, that it does imply that the one engaged in abortion is engaged in murder. Or that when you say only one type of marriage is legitimate then you are saying what another person’s idea of marriage is, is well….wrong.
The fact of the matter is, truth is exclusionary and offensive by nature. Otherwise, truth becomes relative and thus rendering truth untrue and obsolete. If you are looking for the truth or speaking the truth publicly, it has to be understood that there is no neutral in truth, and not everyone can be right.
This is not being hateful.
This is not arrogance.
This is just the truth.
Perhaps it’s not just this simple…perhaps it is. Either way, I get tired of being told that I am hateful when I am merely speaking truth.
What’s more frustrating – is that I get called this often times by fellow “believers”. But for them, I think this comes down to a completely messed up idea of the word “Love”…which I will leave for another post at another time.
I am a Christian.
More specifically I am a Christian who tends to lean toward an optimistic view of the future rather than a nihilistic view. I believe that God is a victorious God whose gospel is ever increasing in victory around the world.
And with this worldview in mind, I present to you my list of 10 things I can’t wait to say “Remember that time…” about with regards to these United States:
Man, I can’t believe we were that deceived.
Some of you may or may not be aware of this, but at my church I am both a campus pastor (we are linked with another church in Crown Point Indiana) and I am also the worship leader. So I serve in a couple of capacities every week.
On Sunday (3/20/16) – unbeknownst to most – God answered my prayer though it was not necessarily in a way I would desire for anyone as the prayer He answered was done in a way to humble me.
Before the worship service, I prayed with the praise team as we do every week, and I asked God to take control of our minds, our fingers, our hearts, and our voices and lead us…and help us to try not think more of ourselves that we should lead Him.
The first song went really well and the second song was off to a great start. And maybe some of you folks who are worship leaders as well can relate – but my mind started to wander a little during song two. You see in my mind I began to get a little haughty about how we were doing. I started swelling up with pride at how well I felt we were doing. Maybe even more so at how I was doing.
And then it happened.
Right as we got to the bridge of song two I went completely blank. I couldn’t remember the melody of the bridge. In fact, I couldn’t even remember the words even though I was very literally looking right at them on the music stand.
I froze.It felt like an eternity.
It felt like an eternity.
I just started playing one chord and desperately trying to sing to myself to find the melody.
Nothing was working. Nothing.
Finally, I realized what may be the problem and I simply prayed, “God forgive me. This is not about me but it is about you.”
And then the melody came back.
You see, God had indeed taken control of my mind and put me in my place. He heard my thoughts, he saw my heart, and He heard and acted on my prayer. After all, I had asked him to intervene and take control of our hearts and minds so we would be led by Him and not us trying to lead Him. He did exactly as I had asked him to do.
I strive for excellence in all that I do at the church. I want my best foot forward with God. And I think it’s important that we do strive for excellence. After all, God is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, does He not deserve our best?
Of course, He does!
But sometimes I (insert we) get too full of myself (insert ourselves) and God has to step in and remind me (insert us) why I’m (insert we’re) there.
It’s about Him and only Him. It has always been about him and only Him. He is the only one who is worthy of the praise and honor. We are indeed joint heirs with Jesus to the Kingdom of God, but we are still HIS creation. We are still HIS children. And we are still HIS servants. We are not, nor will we ever be greater than Him.
Thank goodness too!
I would let a LOT of people down if it were all about me.
The Lord is righteous in all his ways and faithful in all he does. The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. He fulfills the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cry and saves them. The Lord watches over all who love him, but all the wicked he will destroy. My mouth will speak in praise of the Lord. Let every creature praise his holy name for ever and ever.
I have recently been asked how do we stop the political train wreck today as we look forward with a long-term strategy past this current election. And here are my thoughts.
As for today, we must make the conscious decision to stop playing by their rules and to stop getting caught up in the lesser of 2 evils mindset. Need a political epiphany on this? Check out the following set of videos from Pastor Cary Gordon. They will open your eyes to this nonsense:
If more people did that – it would be very noticeable and have a profound impact on the political landscape even in this election. But until people actually eject from the insanity and start applying biblical principle and common sense to their political activism- we will just keep going on with business as usual…and we’ll just keep getting angrier and more unsatisfied.
As for the long-term strategy, I’m afraid we are left with few options, but they are options none the less:
1) REVIVAL– the most important but oft overlooked option. I’m talking revival in our homes, in our churches, in our communities, in our states, and on to the national level. If we as a Christian people do not become revived with a renewed fire and passion for the truth of Gods word and application of it in our lives and ALL areas (including politics) the remaining options will only serve to be band-aids.
2) CONVENTION OF THE STATES – a constitutional option that allows the states to take back control from the out of control federal government through a convention of states where laws and constitutional amendments can be presented and implemented limiting the federal government. Or rather – forcing the federal government to actually adhere to the limitations already set forth in the constitution.
3) THE ESTABLISHMENT OF A SOLID THIRD PARTY – I believe there is one in existence, The Constitution Party, but because we have bought the lie that only the RNC and DNC are options they have not been allowed to grow and flourish as they could. I would highly recommend checking them out if you haven’t already.
4) REVOLUTION– this can take place in several forms – but historically it has predominantly been either in the area of ideology or via violence. I do not desire violence. But this nation has had to do it before and it should be the last resort. So my hope would be an ideological revolution rather than a violent revolution. No blood needs to be shed in order for a revolution to be carried out.
But here’s the catch: I don’t think any of these options will be successful unless option 1 becomes a reality. And option 1 won’t be a reality unless our “Christian Homes” get in order. And our “Christian Homes” won’t be in order unless our “Christian marriages” are back in order.
You see, if we want healthy societies there must first be healthy churches. If we want healthy churches there must first be healthy homes. And if we want healthy homes there must first be healthy marriages.
Marriage is God’s picture put into action of what the Kingdom of God looks like. When the foundation of society (marriage) is in order – society will be in order.
In other words – if we want revival that will bring about actual change in our society, then we must first seek revival in our marriages, and our homes, and our churches.
I hope we wake up before it’s too late. I’d kinda like to solidify an amazing future for my children and grandchildren. But at this rate, I’m afraid we will just be handing them a used up, washed out, unprincipled, ungodly one instead.
But if you refuse to serve the LORD, then choose today who you will serve. Would you prefer the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates? Or will it be the gods of the Amorites in whose land you now live? But as for me and my family, we will serve the LORD.
The gods beyond the Euphrates and of the Amorites are many in our nation. The gods of sexual perversion and immorality, abortion, slavery, racism, selfishness, atheism, scientism, Islam, eastern religions, money, fame, cars, houses, animals….you name it…they abound in our nation.
But like Joshua, today we must make a stand as to who we will serve. Will it be the gods beyond the Euphrates and of the Amorites? Will we continue to run toward political parties who are using us for personal gain? Will we continue to worship at the altar of the lesser of 2 evils?
Or will it be the one true God…the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob…the God of the universe? The only God capable of bringing about the necessary change that will lead to a brighter future for our children and grandchildren!
I don’t know about you…
…but as for me and my family…
…WE WILL SERVE THE LORD!
At least, this is what “evangelical Christian” supporters of Trump might as well be saying. And in reality, this is more or less what they are saying when they tell us that we “have to” vote for the lesser of two evils because…you know…Trump isn’t AS evil as Hillary or Bernie.
You’ll have to excuse me while I go bang my head against a brick wall.
Seriously folks? This is your defense for voting for Trump? No mention of biblical precept? No mention of honoring God? Just that he’s not AS evil as Hillary or Bernie?
Then when these Christian folks are challenged on what in the life of Trump or in the pages of the Bible would suggest that this is remotely a good idea…those issuing the challenge are either berated, told they are voting for Hillary or Bernie by not voting for Trump, or told that we have “differing views”.
Sometimes you just have to call a spade a spade, and I’m gonna call it like I see it…this isn’t a matter of differing views….this isn’t a matter of voting for Hillary or Bernie by proxy…this is a matter of not connecting dots and of not having God’s word as your foundation for political engagement.
Please hear me when I say this…if we believe God’s word when it says that when “the righteous thrive, the people rejoice; when the wicked rule, the people groan” (Prov. 29:2), WHY on earth would you elect or put your support behind someone who you believe is probably still evil and wicked…just not AS wicked as the other person that is up for election?
It makes no sense. I can’t find a single biblical precept that supports this kind of thinking.
Why would you want to elect someone who, with his own mouth, has stated that he hasn’t done anything he feels he needs to ask God for forgiveness about, and that greed is what he desires and that he just wants “more, more, more”.
I’ve heard yet another supporter of Trump say he’s supporting Trump because he will usher in the judgment of God on this nation for all of our sins.
Is it possible that God is going to use Trump to exact judgment on this nation for our negligence in several areas God has deemed evil? Perhaps. But, why would we not be more like Abraham when God said He would destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, that he pleaded with God to spare them and stay His hand?
Instead, anyone who speaks this way sounds more like Jonah who pronounced judgment on Nineveh and sat outside the city walls waiting for God to bring fire from heaven. Don’t get me wrong, Jonah did exactly what God told Jonah to do (after being corrected of course), but as we read in the book of Jonah, he wasn’t so keen on actually giving this message to the Ninevites..not because He believed God would destroy them…but because he knew God was a most gracious and forgiving God and would redeem them if they sought forgiveness.
So in reality, Jonah’s desire wasn’t for the redemption of the people of Ninevah, but their destruction under the weight of God’s judgment. It was a sick desire for death and destruction and was an outpouring of hate rather than love. This doesn’t sound very Christ-like.
Were not some of us like the very people we call down the judgment of heaven upon?
I for one, while I may judge something to be unrighteous in accordance with God’s word, desire to see redemption. I have children growing up in this atmosphere, and I in no way, shape, or form, desire to see my kids fall under the judgment of God. I wish to spare them the full weight of His hand if at all possible and introduce them to the redemptive side of God instead.
So I can’t help but ask the question of why evangelicals wish to hand the keys of our nation over to the enemy without at least putting up a fight to restore and redeem our nation in the sight of God?
Why do we have a Jonah spirit and not an Abraham spirit?
Are we really that bloodthirsty of a church that we’d rather do everything we can to supposedly usher in the judgment of God?
How much do we have to hate our fellow American’s to keep maintaining this “lesser of 2 evils” mindset that perpetuates the evil we are living in the midst of, rather than seeking to bring in a “ruler” (if you will) that will honor God in how he leads our nation?
God awaken your bride.
My first year in WordPress. Not bad. Keep it coming in 2016!!
Here’s an excerpt:
A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,700 times in 2015. If it were a cable car, it would take about 28 trips to carry that many people.
Not because they hate Christmas or because they have necessarily lost sight of the purpose and reason for the season. But rather it is because this time of year can often dredge up reminders of the things and people they have lost.
Sure, it’s easy to say that people should be joyful in spite of their life’s situations because the Bible commands us to be joyous in all things (1 Thess. 5:16-18), and while this is an absolutely true and trustworthy statement (especially since it’s found in the Word of God) the reality is those situations still exist and those losses are still real and the emotions are still there.
We all know someone who is experiencing this season through these kinds of eyes. In fact, YOU may very well be one of those people. They (or you) may have lost a loved one (or ones) to death and this season reminds you of the Christmases past you spent with them. Perhaps they (or you) have experienced a different kind of loss in that you have experienced the loss of a relationship
….either way…a person who was very close to you and you no longer are experiencing their presence in this season as you had over many Christmases before.
Perhaps they (or you) haven’t lost someone, but they (or you) have lost something. Perhaps it’s a pet that was REALLY loved. Perhaps it was a house due to a natural disaster and with the house went the memories and possessions that have been accumulated over the years. Perhaps a thief has stolen something of great value, or maybe it didn’t hold a great value but it was simply the feeling of being violated by a thief.
Either way, there are several people that surround us every day (perhaps even ourselves) that have experienced loss and thus, Christmas becomes a time of great sorrow, depression, angst, anger, frustration…you name it…all of the emotions you can think of has become wrapped up in Christmas and dredged up once a year as people who seem to be enjoying themselves around you remind you that joy is hard to come by right now.
So, what do we do with these people (or with ourselves) when we find it hard to have joy in spite of our situations and especially in light of a holiday where everyone seems to be so much happier than we are?
I’m glad you asked.
I believe there are 3 practical things (notice I didn’t say they were easy) that we can do to help combat seasonal depression and our lack of joy when we find ourselves in this place.
1) DON’T DWELL ON THE THINGS OR PEOPLE YOU DON’T HAVE, BUT FIND THE BLESSINGS IN THE THINGS AND PEOPLE YOU DO HAVE.
This may be easier said than done, especially when the things or people you don’t have were things and people that were especially near and dear to your heart.
Yes, you have lost someone or something, and yes they were important and should absolutely never be forgotten…but think of all the things and people that are still in your life. They haven’t gone anywhere.
They are still right here. They are still waiting to be enjoyed.
They are still waiting to be with you.
2) DON’T ISOLATE YOURSELF FROM THOSE WHO ARE STILL HERE AND THAT LOVE YOU. INSTEAD, SURROUND YOURSELF WITH THESE PEOPLE AND ENJOY THEIR COMPANY.
You have not been completely abandoned. Sure, you may have lost someone that you really love…but there are still LOTS of people left that love you and want to be near you. They exist in the forms of both family and friends.
Yes, it is true, you can’t have the person with you that you lost and it is a very hard thing to handle. It is OK to acknowledge that. And it is absolutely OK to mourn over that.
However, the people that are still here are just an arms length away.
Don’t isolate yourself from them.
They want to be with you.
They want to make you smile.
They want to hug you.
They want to love you.
3) REMEMBER THAT GOD HAS NOT ABANDONED YOU.
God made a promise to you.
Actually, He made several. But here are just a few:
He promised that He has plans for you and that these plans are to give you a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11).
He promised that He would give the weary peace and rest. You are emotionally weary so yes, this includes you (Matthew 11:28-29)!
He promised to give you power and strength when you are weak (Isaiah 40:29-31).
He promised that He would take care of all of your needs. Yes, this includes your need to be comforted in a time of loss and pain (Philippians 4:19).
He promised to give you victory. Yes, even victory over depression and loss, and that nothing would separate you from His love (Romans 8:37-39).
He promised to give you peace of mind and heart, something the world cannot give to you (John 14:27).
So, wherever you find yourself this Christmas, please bear in mind that there are those out there right now who are hurting (or maybe it’s you) and are struggling to find peace, happiness, joy, and comfort in a season that should exemplify those things.
Keep them in your prayers, reach out to them, and most importantly surround them with the love of God.
Merry Christmas everyone!
There is no feeling quite like getting the call that a loved one has died.
It’s heart breaking.
It’s EXTREMELY difficult to describe unless you’ve experienced it yourself.
Interestingly, divorce has a similar impact. And it doesn’t matter how old you are….when you get the news that your parents are either getting divorced or have finalized their divorce….it’s almost like getting that call that a loved one has died.
It’s heart breaking.
It’s EXTREMELY difficult to describe unless you’ve experienced it yourself.
But here I am…age 33, married with three beautiful children and a fourth child awaiting to make his debut in April of 2016, and my parents are officially divorced.
Today, when the judge slammed down his gavel for the last time…it marked the death of my parents marriage and a new reality both of my parents are going to have to face and live with until their dying day.
I won’t go into the details of why this divorce came about but we’ll just say that the Lifetime Channel probably couldn’t craft a story quite as complex as this one. Nor could they do it justice to capture the emotion, and devastating impact it has brought upon my family as a whole. And I will be perfectly blunt…this is not directed at both of my parents as both parents were not equally responsible for this situation. They both shared in the journey to get here…but only one refused to seek restoration and redemption.
I’ve waited a while to write this post….though it’s been probably several years in the making. But I felt I needed to at least get this out on paper.
But let me get straight to the point here…divorce is an act of murder.
In the Bible, the act of marriage is literally seen as two persons becoming one flesh:
Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. So they are no longer two but one flesh. | Mark 10:7-8 ESV
So when a divorce occurs, it is literally destroying the one flesh that has been brought together in the sight of God and witnesses…and it’s being done intentionally.
It is an act of murder.
And it doesn’t just kill your marriage though.
It kills your character. You are effectively made into a liar. You demonstrate, through divorce, that your word doesn’t actually mean anything. You took vows on your wedding day before God and witnesses and can apparently walk away from them without issue. So your character is defiled…it is effectively killed.
It kills your family. No, I’m sorry….You don’t just get to sit there and say that this is between the two of you. It is not. I’m 33 years old, and I have kids….your grandchildren…and I have to explain to them why you are a liar and cannot keep your word…and why you are walking away from nearly 40 years of marriage. And I’m not the only one in this family. It extends to your other adult children and their families….to nephews, nieces, in-laws, and family friends. They are all looking on, and they are all impacted at varying levels.
It kills your relationships. Things will never be as they were before. We will never likely be as close as we once were. You will not be as involved with my children as you once were, especially if you continue on the path that you have chosen. The same goes for all the other relationships you once had.
It kills special events (birthdays, holidays, anniversaries, etc.). Now we are in an awkward position. Do we invite you to birthday parties? Where will we spend the holidays? Do we want you at other special events in our lives? You’ve taken what should be joyous moments in our families history and turned it into some of the most awkward and painful moments of our families history.
It kills your testimony. I was raised in a Christian home as a pastors kid. Do not think for one moment that this doesn’t call into question the years of ministry and counsel that has been provided. Maybe not for all, or even most, but some will. And understandably so.
Divorce, next to abortion, is the second most common act of murder in this nation. And both are widely accepted and acted upon as easily as how we wake up and decide what clothes to wear.
I had hoped to live out my days proud to say that I came from a whole home. That we were untouched by the defilement of divorce. But I can’t say that now. My home is now broken. And we have a long road ahead of us.
But there have been positives in this.
My mother has grown closer to God in a way that she has never before experienced in her lifetime. She has come into her own and found her identity in Christ.
It has strengthened my resolve to honor my word to my wife and to God, and to strive to be an example to my children as to what a whole and healthy home looks like.
It has given me a new footing in ministry for people from broken homes as I can now relate at a new level. I can speak to the heartache. I can speak to the difficult decisions that come after divorce. I can speak to people at a deeper level of understanding than I would have otherwise had before.
And in spite of it all…I don’t blame God one bit. This wasn’t His doing. He is not to blame. He showed us what marriage was to look like. He was there on the day those vows were given. And He was there on the day those vows were broken.
And He is a God of redemption and restoration. And this story isn’t over. Like I said…we have a long road ahead of us….but I’m believing that God is a God who keeps His word when he says:
And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them. | Romans 8:28 NLT
I could probably go all day if I really wanted to.
And sadly all churches have them. Traditional and contemporary. Young and old. Baptist to Catholic. And everything in between.
Most deny their existence. But they are there. Creating unnecessary frustrations and becoming massive hindrances to effective ministry.
It is past time that we prepare the fatted calf and slaughter these sacred cows.
Fact is most, if not all, sacred cows are simply personal preferences that have been elevated to the level of God. And whether or not we like to admit it, we have made our preferences into idols that have replaced the whole reason we gather as a church to begin with.
I firmly believe that if we as a church could move past our sacred cows and begin to focus solely on honoring God in all that we do that the effectiveness of the churches ministry would grow exponentially.
So….who is ready for a BBQ?!
2015 has been a tumultuous year with regards to race, gun violence, marriage, family, education, and the free exercise of the Christian faith. And sadly, we’re not even done with the year yet.
And in nearly every single instance the automatic response from people has been that we need to have more education and more laws to get these things under control. And in nearly every single instance the automatic knee jerk reaction is to place the blame on someone or something rather than placing the responsibility on those who actually have the ability to make this right.
I’m sick of hearing it.
So I’m here to tell you….
…No! we don’t actually need more education and more laws for our society to be a better place.
Every single human being in this nation has ample opportunity to get an education. Not only do we have public schools, private schools, community colleges, universities, trade schools, etc….but with the advent of the internet education is now merely a click away, and with libraries offering free internet and computer use, not a single person has an excuse for not being able to tap into that amazing resource for education called “The Interwebs”.
So no….MORE education isn’t the solution.
Did you know that there are around 20,000 laws governing the use and ownership of guns alone or that we have about 5,000 federal criminal laws on the books with 10,000-30,000 regulations that can be enforced criminally.
Did you also know that on average, Congress passes about 125 new laws annually?
Guess what….none of these stats I just gave include state and city laws, ordinances, and regulations.
So no….MORE laws really isn’t the solution either.
So what, then, is the solution?
The solution begins in the home.
The solution begins with parents being…parents.
It begins with the parents actually training their children in the way they should go (Proverbs 22:6).
It begins with parents actually being consistent with the discipline of their children (Proverbs 13:24).
It begins with parents actually loving their children enough to not be their “best friends” while they are in these crucial formative years, but rather their parents.
NOTE: Friendship can happen later, when they are adults and out on their own. Right now, they need a parent.
Fortunately for you and I, the Bible is chock full with advice for raising children. And guess what, you don’t even have to be a “Christian” for these principles to benefit you and your home, and ultimately society.
So what are some of these nuggets of parenting gold?
I can’t obviously list everything or this post would be miles long. But, I am more than happy to give you just a sampling of the richness of God’s word when it comes to raising children. So here it goes.
TEACH CONSISTENT DISCIPLINE
Proverbs 29:15 ESV
The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.
I mentioned it above, but consistent discipline works wonders for a child’s behavior. It is amazing what can happen when a child is given a consequence for his or her behavior, and when that consequence is actually carried out each time they exhibit the wrong behavior, how quickly they will begin to learn – “Hey, perhaps this isn’t something I should keep doing. It hurts.” and actually stop doing it. This requires consistently fulfilling the promise of the consequence when pronounced to the child. Otherwise, saying “You’ll get a spanking the next time you do that” and yet the next time they do that all you do is say “You’ll get a spanking the next time you do that” is going to accomplish nothing except pushing out the inevitable consequence.
It is also important to note that the consistency of discipline should be carried out consistently between both parents (the mother and the father). In other words, if the father says “this is what will happen if you do that” and the child does it and the father carries out the consequence…but then the same action is carried out in front of the mother who refuses to carry out the consequence…the child will then learn only one thing – who will let them off for certain behaviors.
It is extremely important for a child to understand that mommy and daddy are on the exact same page and that no matter which one they are with that the consequence is going to be the exact same.
It should also be noted that discipline shouldn’t be carried out in anger. I don’t know how many times I have disciplined my kids while angry and every time I had to go back and apologize for acting the way I did. I did not, however, apologize for disciplining their bad behavior, but I think it’s important that we as parents are transparent about our own faults even if our faults occur while disciplining our children for theirs.
The purpose of discipline is to bring a person to repentance. So our attitude behind discipline should be with that end goal in mind. It is also training them about the way God operates. His discipline of humans was always intended as a way to bring us back to repentance and back to Him.
Luke 16:10 NLT
If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities.
As I mentioned above, our culture has for some unknown reason taught our children the act of denying responsibility. This is why abortion is so rampant, and why kids are not receiving the education they need, and why authority figures are being demonized over the behavior of a child.
Jesus said that if people are faithful with small things, they will be faithful with larger things. As a parent it is important to train your child up in responsibility. Teach them how to handle the small things, and watch how they grow into adults being able to handle larger things.
Teach them to care for property that is theirs AND others and you will likely not have to worry about them intentionally destroying someone else’s property.
Teach them to take responsibility for their own faults. I just mentioned how I will apologize to my children for acting out in anger when disciplining them even though the discipline was still necessary for their actions. This is teaching my children to take ownership of their actions when they mess up. And to be honest, it has been wonderful to see my children begin to own their mistakes.
Children need to be taught to be responsible around the home.
To be responsible with finances.
To be responsible with relationships.
To be responsible with words.
And the list could go on.
Children must be shown and taught responsibility. This will be difficult no doubt because culture is teaching a counter ideal which is that responsibility lies with someone or something else rather than with the person who committed the wrong.
But when we teach them responsibility, and demonstrate responsibility with our own lives, they will grow into adults who….you guessed it….take responsibility.
Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.
I don’t know how many times I’ve seen children smarting off to their parents, or to teachers, or to police officers, or to their bosses. And guess what, I did it too. I’m not free of guilt in this area. But my behavior wasn’t because my parents didn’t teach me to respect these people, but because I was rebellious in my heart. I have since repented of these things, and even attempted to mend the wrongs with some of those authority figures.
Fact is, we are inundated on the TV, and on the radio, and on the internet with examples of people encouraging disrespect. As I mentioned earlier, 2015 has been a tumultuous year and it was exacerbated by people calling for the outright disrespect of people of different races, of peoples history, of authorities, of parents, etc.
I recall a video that circulated around the time of the Baltimore riots…and it was of a mother who caught her son trashing the city and she proceeded to smack the crap out of him and tell him to go home. Many parents cheered for her taking up the responsibility to control her child, while many many MANY others condemned her for being an abusive parent.
I for one applauded her, but I also questioned what is going on in the home for this boy to put himself in this situation to begin with. Why was it the mother snatching him out of the streets and not his father?
Folks – this is what we’re battling in our culture, and as parents we must model respect for others and teach our children to have respect for others if we are going to ever see a society that actually respects one another again.
So there you have it. Just a few samples from God’s word that if we simply engaged as Christians and unbelievers alike, I think we would see a society that would be radically different than what we have now.
And I guess in looking back….perhaps we do need more education and more laws…IN THE HOME. Because if we don’t start this in the home, we will never see the society turn around. We’ll just keep creeping down the same road we’ve been going down since we outlawed spanking in public schools.
Parents – YOU are the educator for your child to be a productive citizen. YOU are the law giver for your child to know how to act and behave. So why not start now?
TEACH them CONSISTENT DISCIPLINE
TEACH them RESPONSIBILITY
TEACH them RESPECT
And just watch how far your child will go!
Proverbs 14:13 | Laughter can conceal a heavy heart, but when the laughter ends, the grief remains.
Have you ever witnessed someone you know is in the midst of living a wretched life, or is experiencing untold amounts of pain in their life, but whenever you see them, speak to them, or read their social media posts they always fill it with light hearted jesting, comments about how good life is, or seem to be living in constant denial of their situation and how bad things really are?
I’m watching it right now as I speak, with someone I love dearly.
And it’s hard to watch.
It’s hard to watch these people and the delusion they have bought into when they have clearly violated God’s word and continue to press further and deeper into their sin than ever before. When they continue to tell themselves and others that they couldn’t be happier, that life is going great, that God is blessing them daily, and that they just wish others could be as happy as they are.
But just as Proverbs 14:13 states, behind their “laughter”…their light hearted posts….their comments about how great things are…the grief remains. It hasn’t actually gone anywhere. They’re just masking the truth with superficial statements and a hollow smile.
I’ve heard the “super spiritual” folks (you know who I’m talking about…the ooky spooky folks) try and justify this behavior by saying they are “speaking positive things into being”. And while I agree that we need to speak positively and absolutely advocate that we maintain a positive posture in life, that doesn’t mean we should live in denial of our sin or our present situation. That doesn’t mean that we go around and tell everyone that we’re doing fine when in reality we’re dying inside.
In reality, what they are trying to do is justify in their mind their behavior so they can somehow make themselves feel better about what it is they are doing and about the sin they want to hold on to.
In reality, pride has set in and they’d rather live in a delusional state of being than admit that perhaps they have made one of the biggest errors of their life.
In reality, they are drowning inside. Their soul is dying a slow and painful death, and perhaps, they think, this delusion will help numb the pain and keep reality from setting in.
But, as Proverbs 14:13 says, eventually that delusion goes away and the reality is still there…the pain is still there…their sin is still there, left completely unchecked and it is now festering like a cancerous sore that has grown multiple times over.
Some people have turned this ability to live in a delusion into an art form. They have literally got others living in the delusion with them and congratulating them on how well they are doing. Patting them on the back and saying, “Good job, life can only get better for you from here!”
And in my personal opinion, either these people are just saying things to appear nice and supportive, or they are literally as delusional as the person who is telling them they are OK…either way they are not helping the situation at all. If anything, they are facilitating the delusion, especially if they are aware of the reality this person is living with.
Like I said, I’m watching this happen right now in the life of someone I love dearly. I do not speak of these things lightly or without understanding or compassion for those in this situation – I speak of it because it pains me to watch. It pains me to see someone I know that is drowning in their own sin, and yet choose to remain in denial that anything is wrong…that they are wrong…that what they are doing is sin and destroying lives around them.
1 John 1:8-10 says,
If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
This is the reality for someone denying there is sin in their life. This is the reality for someone who deludes themselves into believing that they are not in the wrong and attempt to justify their sin. The fact is the truth is not in them…and not only that but they make God a liar and His word…the truth….is not in them.
But here is my call to you who continue to deceive yourselves into believing that there is nothing wrong.
It comes from James 4:8-10,
Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.
In other words – repent…stop deluding yourself and others into believing that your life is happy even though we know that you are living in the midst of great transgression. Stop hiding behind your laughter and your deluded social media posts and admit to God that you have sinned….turn that laughter to mourning over the havoc you have wreaked in your life and in the lives of others…humble yourself before God and will draw near to you and he will restore you and will exalt you and repair your heart and the holes that you have created through your sin.
This is the promise of God, that you should be free and made whole…but you must first quit denying reality and own your sin and bring it before God and repent of it.
Quit living the sin delusion.
14 years have come and gone and it almost feels like yesterday that it happened.
On this day, September 11, 2001 – terrorists hijacked 3 planes with the intention of bringing mass destruction and horror to our nation. As a result over 3,000 lives were lost as we watched 2 planes fly directly into the World Trade Center towers in New York City and then watched in horror as the buildings collapsed with thousands inside.
We watched as people on the streets began to flee as debris and smoke filled the air around them.
We watched in horror as we actually watched live on our local news stations people leaping out of windows of the World Trade Center, choosing to fall to their deaths, rather than being crushed under the weight of the building as it collapsed to the ground.
We watched for days as firemen and rescue crews sifted through the rubble to find survivors and to find confirmation of exactly how big the death toll was going to be.
It was a nightmare.
It was a nightmare that I sat and watched from the cafeteria of my college as hundreds of students around me stared in disbelief at the TV because it almost seemed surreal.
How could this happen?
Did I know anyone in those buildings?
Did I know anyone who had family or friends in those buildings?
And not the least of which, I remember how people flooded the doors of the local churches.
For a moment it almost seemed that perhaps the United States was going to experience revival. And for about 2 or 3 weeks we did. But after that we were right back to “business as usual”.
Yes – 9/11 was a tragedy. It will forever been burned into my memory.
But the real tragedy goes deeper than the 3,000+ lives that were lost that day. It goes deeper than the city of New York being rocked to its core. It goes deeper than a nation that mourned openly and started a new war against “terrorism”. It goes much much deeper than that.
Folks – this was a wake up call from God. A warning. A call to repentance as a nation for what we have done to each other, to the unborn, to other nations. It was a call that went unanswered I’m afraid. It was a call that went ignored and those who dared to call it a “wake up call from God” were marginalized and told to shut up and let a people mourn.
So what has become of this nation since 9/11?
We have continued the murder of the unborn by the millions.
We have continued the eradication of the Christian from the public square through litigation and incarceration.
We have defiled the marriage bed further by not only accepting divorce as an everyday acceptable practice, but have legalized same sex marriage through an unconstitutional process through 5 activist judges.
We have revived the racial divide and hatred of each other that wreaks of ages past.
We have fallen hard in 14 years and our descent is not yet over. We ignored the call of God to turn back to him and spit in His face. King Solomon once wrote in Proverbs 16:18 (ESV)
Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.
This indeed is the case for the United States. Rather than repenting and turning back to God as our only response to a great warning as the one we saw on 9/11….we puffed up our chest….beat on it…and declared that we alone are in charge of our fate and we alone will make our own paths straight.
So this year…..this 9/11….let us not forget that yes we experienced a great tragedy those 14 years ago. But do not forget that the greatest tragedy was our response to God’s warning and call. Let us turn back to God now. He is a very patient God….but His patience is not eternal.
Do you smoke?
That was the question I was asked last night by a fairly young woman carrying a tan purse, sporting a surprisingly clean KFC uniform, who was standing out in front of a Spinx gas station just down the road from my house.
I was only there to pick up a late night snack for my wife and I, and while I’ve not been asked this question in a long time it’s not necessarily an unusual request. People you run into outside of gas stations (and other places of course) ask this kind of question all the time. Many times they either want you to light their cigarette or they’re wanting to bum a cigarette off of you.
So, what she was asking was not unusual, however it was what she did after that which I’ll have to say…I’ve not personally seen and thought that perhaps this was a bit….unusual. You see, when I responded, “No, sorry I don’t” the young lady turned to the ash tray which was behind her by the trash can and grabbed the most “unfinished” cigarette she could find, picked it up, stuck it in her mouth, and lit it.
If you know me at all, you know that I’m a bit of a germaphobe. I won’t even drink after or take a bite of food after my wife or my kids, so that right there kind of caused my skin to crawl and my stomach to turn a little as the thoughts flooded my mind of “That lady has no idea where that cigarette has been or the diseases being carried by the person who last smoked that.”
I’ll be honest, and please don’t take this the wrong way, but it was an action I would half expect a homeless person to do rather than a woman cleanly dressed in her work uniform standing outside of a gas station either waiting for a ride to work or home from work.
When I got home, and had some time to think about it…the thought came to my mind about how the entire exchange was a sad testament to the condition of our nation regarding sex.
I know…quite the leap huh? But it was the image that first came to my head. Stick with me though.
In our nation today, people are so desperate to “feed their addiction” of sex….that they are literally willing to turn to the trash heaps….or the ash piles….to find even the smallest scrap of sexual gratification. And when they find it they willingly thrust it to their mouths to quench their hunger for it. They thrust these scraps of sexuality….these tainted forms of sex to their mouths not even remotely considering the consequences of what may happen when they do.
The Ashley Madison debacle…
same sex marriage…
the oversexualization of Miley Cyrus and pretty much everything you see on TV…
the plethora of pastors falling to sexual immorality or coming out in support of things clearly spelled out in scripture as EVIL…
…ALL of these things are the byproducts of people who are addicted to self gratification and seeking to quench their hunger for sex in whatever place they can find it.
In all of these things people, pastors, church members…no one seems to be exempt from this in our nation…people are looking to the trash heaps and ash piles for sex. They are looking in unclean and disgusting places to fulfill their sexual desires.
Instead they should be looking for their satisfaction in Christ and in Christ alone because if they sought after Him and Him alone, not only would they find these things fade into the night and their hunger for these things begin to diminish…but they would find that they would be led to a better place concerning the appropriate way that sex should be approached.
Psalm 107:9 says:
For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things.
And Psalm 37:4
Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
And Proverbs 19:23
The fear of the Lord leads to life, and whoever has it rests satisfied; he will not be visited by harm.
You see that? I could go on and on and on throughout the Word of God and point out to you how God wants to satisfy the longing and hungry soul and fill it with good things. Why then do people turn to the trash bins and the ash trays to find sexual gratification?
And yet people do.
The Bible isn’t silent about sexual immorality. In fact the Bible has a lot to say about sexuality.
1 Corinthians 6:18-20 (ESV) says:
Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. 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, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
What is Paul saying?
He’s saying that the sin of sexual immorality is against one’s own body. Much like the woman who is looking for cigarettes in trash cans, the damage she is doing to herself far outweighs the damage she is doing to others. And so the same goes for sexual immorality. The same goes for believers and unbelievers alike.
This isn’t to say that there is no damage being done to others. But generally speaking, the damage is self inflicted.
If you are a believer, however, then you must know that your body is a temple of God…it is a temple for the Holy Spirit who dwells within you. Your body is no longer yours. Christ purchased at a great price….with His life. He exchanged His life so that you might live. And when you live…live to glorify God in all things…including your body. And sexual immorality defiles that temple. Sexual immorality spits in the face of the sacrifice and price Jesus paid for your freedom.
Church folks and pastors and church leaders who are living in sexual sin…Paul had this to say in 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5 (ESV):
For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God;
That’s right….it’s not God suggesting to you that you stay away from sexual immorality…it’s His WILL that you learn to have self control with your body and live in holiness and honor rather than to live like the world when it comes to sex (or well…anything).
“It happened in the spring of the year, at the time when kings go out to battle, that David sent Joab and his servants with him, and all Israel; and they destroyed the people of Ammon and besieged Rabbah. But David remained at Jerusalem.” | II Samuel 11:1 NKJV
I recently attended a specially called meeting in Dallas, TX. by Tony Perkins and the Family Research Council in response to the SCOTUS decision on same-sex marriage and its effect on religious liberty. I have always appreciated FRC and their Watchmen on the Wall briefings and heart to help get pastors engaged in the challenges of our culture. They provide a needed voice for Christian values in the civil arena.
This meeting was different than previous briefings. I was pleasantly surprised to see that more pastors were speaking than para-church and political leaders. There was a different tone, in my opinion, from the shepherds. A needed tone. It was the sound of an impending war. Not a war of carnal agendas and weapons, but rather a war of worldviews and direction. It’s not that those in attendance were not aware that cultural battles had been raging for decades in our nation. It was an epiphany that every battle from this point forward may be the one to determine the outcome of the greater war and the question that was asked was…Will you run to the battle?
The text preceding this article is one concerning David. You remember David don’t you? The man it was said was “after God’s heart”. So many accolades could be ascribed to King David. He led Israel to it’s zenith as a nation. He was at the apex of his influence and leadership. The kingdom was operating seamlessly and “hitting on all cylinders”. God was good and the good times were rolling.
But suddenly the season changed. It became a season of war. David either didn’t “get it” or didn’t like it. He decided to hold the fort in Jerusalem rather than run to the battle which was God’s design and purpose for leaders and kings. It is the introduction of a painful chapter in both David’s life and the nation of Israel.
Seasons have changed in America. The previous season was a time of great favor for the Church. The landscape testifies to it with mega-churches on seemingly every corner. We saw influential pastors arise and rub shoulders with celebrities and the upper-crust of the culture. Christians invaded television and media. Politicians sought our influence and advocated for our values. Our churches operated as seamlessly as Fortune 500 companies and our size and scope appeared to be without boundary.
But the season changed.
The adversaries of the Lord have gathered for war. Their eyes, much like the Philistines, are on capturing the nation.
The question is, “Will our leaders run to the battle -or- hold the fort?” Will we simply tend to our “Jerusalems” or will we face the adversaries? Are we content with well-oiled palaces or are we passionate about God’s purposes for a nation?
It’s now the time when leaders, dare I say pastors, go to battle. It’s a time when pastors must step out of the comfort of their kingdoms to step into battles for God’s purposes in their communities and nation.
It is not optional.
It is divine order.
Yes…that is a legitimate interpretation and application of the above text. In fact, there are FIVE important points we can derive from that text for pastors engaging the cultural battles we are facing:
What more has to be said or done to reveal that there is an ever increasing hostility towards the Christian faith happening nationally and globally? I understand that the Scripture clearly teaches that these things will always be so, but there is no teaching that as Christians we passively accept that adversity. In fact, there is ample reference to Kingdom virtues such as “courage”, “boldness”, and, as Paul said in Ephesians 6:12, “standing”. This is the season we are in and it is the time for pastors to get to the battlefields of worldviews and engage our opponents. David, apparently, missed the shift in seasons and found himself lounging in his palace rather than leading on the battlefield.
David fell into the trap of the “CEO-King”. He either missed some important lessons in leadership or he was choosing to ignore them. Leadership has it’s perks. No one would argue that point. Visibility and celebrity brings adoration and resource. However, visibility and leadership also entail responsibility. There are moments the leader has to shift from reading pie-graphs, charts, and profit/loss sheets to suiting up and showing the people how a battle is to be waged. Pastors need to understand that this season demands their leadership and visibility on the field of contest as well as in the pulpit. Teaching God’s precepts is vital. Demonstrating the courage on what that looks like in the civil arena of challenge is critical. Just as prophets had need to enter throne rooms and address kings on the issues that were facing the nation so it is time for pastors to enter the halls of legislatures and address the rulers of our communities, state, and nation as to what the Lord is saying.
Great leaders delegate. Great leaders also know when not to delegate. David sent Joab his trusted servant to the battlefield. No doubt that Joab was a great fighter, maybe even better than David, but that is not the point. There are some things that simply demand the leaders presence. Why are movies like Braveheart, Patton, Selma, and silly summer movies like Independence Day popular? It’s because the leader is leading into battle. The people need to see their leaders on the front lines occasionally. Everyone understands that pastors have a myriad of responsibilities which demand their attention; but some things need to be modeled. Some things need the shepherds voice. Some things need a visible demonstration of courage. You cannot delegate boldness on the field.
David didn’t lose the kingdom the day he decided to skip the battle, however, a case could be made that a trajectory was put in place that ultimately divided the kingdom and eventually lost it. Passivity never wins wars. Years ago I was on a potential state championship high school baseball team. We had phenomenal talent but had entered into a protracted losing streak. As a team we would score numerous runs in the early innings but ultimately lose the game in the late innings. The coach pulled us aside after a number of losses and in his most exercised and aggravated voice began yelling at us. (You could do that in those days and parents didn’t care.) He said these profound words…”You boys are great ball players. You have all the tools and skills to be state champions. Your problem is that instead of playing to win, you play NOT TO LOSE.” That encapsulates the American Church. We are too busy trying to be liked rather than trying to fulfill God’s purposes. Many pastors believe that accommodating the cultural trends will somehow cause the Church to be more relevant and enlarged when in fact the exact opposite is true. When we scramble to play defense and simply minimize our losses we are losing our influence by installment.
Avoiding battlefields can produce ancillary problems. David would have never seen Bathsheba had he been in the battle rather than sunning on his roof. I wonder how many of the 400+ Christian leaders who resigned after the Ashley Madison security breach would still have their ministries if they simply would have engaged the culture on the battlefield of worldviews instead of surfing the internet?
At this exact moment there is a clerk in Rowan County, Kentucky, who is making a stand by not issuing same-sex marriage licenses. Today, she was invaded by people from all over the state who descended upon her office with media close behind to intimidate her with regards to her religious conscience. Perhaps she had some support on site, but from the raw video I cannot say that I saw any. There should have been 500 pastors on site who ran to the battle and simply said, “We support this woman”. I want to encourage all who may read this to ask yourself a question, “Would your pastor run to the battle? Would he run to YOUR battle?” Or would he would be in the palace making sure the kingdom was running at optimum efficiency?
A.W. Tozer once said, “God is hiding His heroes and the day will arrive when they will appear and the world will wonder where they came from.”
Dr. Kevin Baird is the Lead Pastor of Legacy Church in Charleston, SC and the Executive Director of the South Carolina Pastors Alliance, an alliance of over 500+ pastors seeking to influence public policy in matters pertaining to faith, family and freedom. Dr. Baird has over 35 years of pastoral and ministry experience as a lead pastor, college professor, academic dean, and conference speaker. In recent years, he has been a frequent speaker for various faith, family and freedom civic groups. Dr. Baird has been a cultural analyst and spokesperson for conservative, evangelical Christian concerns on radio, television, and print media in both local and national arenas. He is currently working at establishing the National Association of Pastors Alliances which will network state pastors alliances in order to bring national influence for the clergy. Dr. Baird has been married 33 years to his wife, Tracie, who has been an incredible partner in ministry as well as mother to three wonderful children and daughter-in-love who are all participating in the ministry.
I realize that the old song “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” is referring to the loss of loved ones, especially in the body of Christ and ultimately seeing them one day in heaven. And I also realize that the song is most specifically referring to this loss from the perspective of death.
But what about the unity in the body of Christ among the living on Earth?
Are we truly unified like a circle with no beginning and no end?
Do we find ourselves united behind Christ?
And what happens when that circle of unity is broken? Because let’s face it church…people break the circle of unity in the Body of Christ pretty much every day and it never gets easier.
I could probably write a book that simply lists off the things that break unity amongst the Church, but ultimately they all find their foundation in one word – OFFENSE!
I know, I know….you’re not offended.
I know, I know….you’ve got thick skin.
But let me ask you this…is that really true, or are you just allowing your pride to cloud your self evaluation of your heart?
Right now the small groups at my church are going through a book called “The Bait of Satan” by John Bevere. And I’ll tell you…if you haven’t read it, you need to read it…because if you think you aren’t someone who is “offended”, I think you’re going to find that he pretty much covers everyone in the body of Christ in this book, and you’ll find yourself staring back at you in this mirror.
But seriously folks….how do we respond when the circle is broken?
Do we simply run to the next church and take our offense with us?
If so, you’re just putting a brick in the wall of your offense and taking a spirit of anger and offense to another congregation where….guess what….you’ll get offended again and will just add another brick of offense to your wall.
Do you stay where you are at and start whispering in the ears of other members of the congregation trying to drum up support for your offense and drive a wedge between other folks and whoever you are offended at?
If so, you’re no better than Absalom when it came to his father David. And if you’re not sure if this is you…might I recommend another book…a really short book….but a very impactful book….“A Tale of Three Kings” by Gene Edwards.
Do you stay and just harbor the offense, allowing it to simmer and stew, waiting for another offense to pile on top before you make a public spectacle of yourself?
If you do, you aren’t doing yourself, or your church any favors. You’re just becoming a volcano building up to a huge explosion and yes….as you explode you will leave a path of destruction behind you.
Do you leave the church but try to find a way to take as many of the people with you?
Did I mention a book called “A Tale of Three Kings” and some guy named Absalom? Yeah….this might just be you.
I’m sure there are many other responses to offense that occur. And unless this is addressed biblically, then it is all wrong and will only end in the circle becoming broken and hearts shattered.
The Apostle Paul had to address this even at the infancy of the Church. In 1 Corinthians 1:10 Paul wrote these words:
I appeal to you, dear brothers and sisters, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, to live in harmony with each other. Let there be no divisions in the church. Rather, be of one mind, united in thought and purpose.
You see, it’s not a matter of “if” an offense will come….it’s a matter of when and how you will choose to respond to it. And I think the Bible gives us a clear directive that we need to remain unified in our thought and in our purpose. I actually preached on this a few months back, and here are the 5 ways I believe the bible teaches for restoring unity in the body of Christ:
If you are struggling with offense….if you are seeing the circle becoming broken…let me leave you with the prayer that our Lord, Jesus Christ, prayed for us:
John 17:20-23 (NLT)
“I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me. I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one. I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me.”
“You felt secure in your wickedness. ‘No one sees me,’ you said. But your ‘wisdom’ and ‘knowledge’ have led you astray, and you said, ‘I am the only one, and there is no other.’ So disaster will overtake you, and you won’t be able to charm it away. Calamity will fall upon you, and you won’t be able to buy your way out. A catastrophe will strike you suddenly, one for which you are not prepared.”
The thought of someone engaging in an act behind closed doors, with someone who is not their significant other, isn’t something I thought I would ever have to witness in my own life with people I know personally. It’s hard enough to witness it in someone else’s life. It’s hard enough to watch another person who you have ZERO connection to make decisions and engage in acts that you know will destroy their lives forever.
But it is an entirely different feeling when that person is someone close to you. Someone you least expect.
It is entirely different when that person is someone who you have watched give Godly and biblical counsel to others to stay away from the very thing they are engaging in.
It is entirely different when that person is a leader in your church, be it a pastor, Sunday school teacher, elder, staff pastor, deacon…..whoever.
So today…my heart aches.
Today my heart aches because I have witnessed too many men of God falling publicly into sexual sin over the last several months and weeks. Most specifically these men were caught in the act of having an affair. And some of these very men have been close to me. Even members of my own family.
My heart aches today because I just read an article by Ed Stetzer stating that after speaking with numerous leaders across numerous Christian denominations in the US and Canada, he is estimating that at the very least 400 Christian leaders (pastors, elders, deacons, staff pastors, etc.) will be resigning this Sunday from their ministry in their church.
Yes you read that right. AT LEAST 400 Christian leaders will be resigning this Sunday.
And why? Because their name was on the list of users on the Ashley Madison website. Because…..plain and simple….they got caught. A catastrophe came suddenly upon them that they did not expect (or at the very least that they suspected would never come because they were too “crafty” to get caught).
[see HERE for information on why Ashley Madison is in the news…and no, it’s not a person, it’s a website]
These 400 Christian leaders probably assumed, like every other user on the Ashley Madison website, that there was absolutely no way to get caught. I mean after all, they can create this account to set up secret rendezvous’ with people and their spouses and family members will never have to know.
At least that’s what they had hoped for until hackers stole the list of users for this website and released it to the public.
Among the fallen have been folks like Joshua Duggar, and apparently hundreds of other Christian leaders.
Church, this is a devastating blow to an already teetering and anemic American Church. We have lost so much ground through this embarrassing episode. What culture in their right mind is going to listen to a Church scream and rail against same sex marriage when you have 400 of the Church’s leaders being caught in the act of adultery?
But don’t think it’s just Christian leaders in churches getting busted on a website designed specifically to have secret meetings with another person looking to cheat on their spouse.
It pains me to say that today the former president of North Greenville University was outed via a YouTube video for having an affair with another woman who works at NGU. You see North Greenville University is a Southern Baptist Christian University right here in the state of South Carolina….right here in the heart of the Bible Belt. And sadly, this video, while released today, was shot back in October of last year merely 2-3 months prior to the former president “retiring” mid-year. Coincidence? Not likely.
Church – what has happened to our sense of respect for marriage as the institution ordained by God at the very beginning and foundation of creation?
Do we no longer hold marriage in a place of honor? Does it really mean so little to us that we can just toss it away for a brief moment of instant gratification on a website, or with a secretary, or with a co-worker?
Are we such hypocrites that we will secretly defile our own wedding bed while publicly crying foul against homosexuals for their own sexual immorality?
Do not misunderstand me. I am in no way, shape, or form in favor of same sex marriage…it is a sin…but you have to call a spade a spade. Sexual sin is sexual sin whether it is perpetuated by a homosexual or a heterosexual. And if we ever hope to regain our credibility as a Church we have to stop living these double lives.
Hebrews 13:4 says
Let marriage be held in HONOR among ALL, and let the marriage bed be UNDEFILED, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.
So unless my eyes deceive me, adulterous people are on the same footing as homosexuals when it comes to defiled sexuality.
If only this blog were wired for sound you could hear me scream WAKE UP!
Is it any wonder we are laughed at, scoffed at, and taken lightly when the leaders of the Church are speaking out of both sides of their mouths when it comes to sexual immorality?
I’m sick to my stomach.
I know people personally who were Christian leaders….people VERY close to me, who would rather forsake their entire family, ministry, calling, and spouse for a temporary fling with another person who apparently has just as much contempt for God’s idea of marriage as they do.
Today is a day of mourning. Mourning for the Church.
But today needs to also be a wake up call. Today needs to be the moment where the Church of America looks in the mirror and says, “Enough is enough!” It is the day the Church of America needs to seek out forgiveness from God on high for the evil we have allowed to take place in our own four walls, and start to realign ourselves with God’s word.
Or do we simply just not know what God has to say about sexual immorality?
1 Corinthians 6:18
Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.
Healing can happen in our land. This doesn’t have to be the final nail in the coffin of the American Church. It doesn’t have to end like this. So tonight, I simply leave you with this to chew on:
2 Chronicles 7:14
If MY people who are called by MY name humble themselves, and pray and seek MY face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.
No this isn’t a review or spoiler for some upcoming Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd movie where Marty finds himself trying to prevent his daughter from becoming the next major guest on the Jerry Springer show. So, I’m sorry for the sudden leap of joy you may have experienced in your chest when reading the title.
But I did stay in a Holiday Inn Express last night. OK, no I didn’t, but I figured I needed some credibility here.
Anywho…while this is not a review of the latest remake or revamp of an 80’s classic, I was daydreaming a little on my way into work since I have so much time to sit in traffic and stare at the bumper in front of me (don’t worry–I stayed on the road). And it was there that I began to think about a strange scenario playing out in true Hollywood fashion where Marty McFly who has become an uber progressive professor in a government funded public university decides, along with the quirky Doc Brown, to go back in time to the founding of our nation to attempt to rewrite our history books and erase all evidence that this nation was founded by men who were Christian and religious [NOTE: who allowed those things to influence the way they constructed our founding documents and laws].
And just as Marty and Doc load up in the Delorean, Doc looks at Marty and says, “Facts? Where we’re going we don’t need any facts!”
I know! I know! Marty already went in to the future in Part 2 and we learned that he was a businessman who gets fired and is NOT a professor in a college, who also has a lame son and is married to his high school sweetheart….blah blah blah. I get it. But just dream with me a little. Flex those creative muscles in your brain. Stretch the imagination. Come with me on a journey.
It sounds absurd. Who would want to travel back in time and try to remove facts about our founding fathers and founding documents to try and paint for us a whole different, albeit falsified, picture of how our nation got its start?
Fact is, we have professors, politicians, students, and a huge array of others that exist in our culture today who would love nothing more than to travel back in time and erase or change the history books as they were being written to make it seem like our nation is nothing more than just some secular nation who was established to create an atmosphere where people get to just do what they want whenever they want with whoever they want.
This group of people would love nothing more than to get their hands on Doc Brown’s Delorean and make this a reality.
Fortunately, they do not have a cool time traveling Delorean that fuels itself via trash that can make this a dream come true. But, my friends, don’t think this has put a stop to their plans and prevented them from already saturating our public school systems and public universities with falsified histories depicting our founding fathers as deists (at best) and secularists whose sole mission was to create a secular utopia free from religious oppression (and by oppression I mean Christians proselytizing non-believers publicly and through public policy-law).
And the sad part is–people are buying it.
I don’t know how many conversations I’ve had on social media outlets and even in person with people who literally believe that the majority of our founding fathers were not Christian at all. Which is interesting, and I’m not sure where they get that information, especially when one takes a moment to review the history of each of those founding fathers and finds that actually the MAJORITY of them were actively involved in a Christian denomination and openly professing CHRISTIANS!
So, while I’m not going to take this blog space up to debunk all of the false statements out there concerning our founding fathers and the founding of this nation, I did want to provide some resources to help guide us to the truth and understanding of the historical FACTS surrounding our birth as a nation.
What I’m also not going to do is create an apologetic for the things that our founding fathers participated in (i.e. slavery) which would absolutely put them in direct conflict with scripture. That is another blog for another time. But I do want to say that those things are by no means justifiable. But those things also do not refute our historical beginnings, and it does not refute the biblical framework that influenced our founding fathers when creating our nation’s governing documents.
That said, I would like to toss some awesome resources your direction that helped me understand better how our nation came together and the biblical influences that surrounded our founding. So here they are…4 resources I’ve personally used that I would recommend as a great foundational start:
I hope after reading through these resources you have a “Great Scott!” moment (in your best Doc Brown voice) and are inspired to continue studying and researching the real history of this nation, and the founding father’s intent when they helped to establish this nation. And ultimately take this to your friends who have bought into the revisionist historians falsified history and perhaps they too will have a “Great Scott!” moment.
If you know of some other resources you’d like to share, don’t hesitate to leave them in the comments below. I would love to check those out as well.
Now….to infinity….and BEYOND! Oh wait….wrong movie….
It is now August 24th, in the year of our Lord, 2015…and today I am the father of three unique, beautiful, and amazing children. At the time of writing this I have two amazing daughters and one off the chain son. All of my kids are currently under the age of 8, and I figured I had some time before I had to have those hard and extremely awkward conversations with my children regarding the opposite sex.
The naive father in me wanted to believe that boys and girls would hold to the truths of cooties until they are at the very least 30, at which point I would then be fully prepared for any kind of talk about having crushes on a member of the opposite sex. Unfortunately, last night my dream world was invaded by my now 7 year old daughter wanting to “talk to me about something”.
I don’t care how old you are, or how old the person is coming to you – but when the phrase “I need to talk to you about something” is uttered – it strikes fear in even the strongest of hearts. I bet even Chuck Norris tasted his first sip of fear when his own children uttered those words to him. Well, maybe not…maybe he just told them to look into his beard for the answer and then roundhouse kicked them in the head causing them to have short term amnesia and to instantly forget what it was they came to tell him. At least, that’s how I imagine it probably went.
As I was saying, my oldest daughter came to me to tell me something. She had a crush. On a boy. On a boy who is 10 years older than her.
Immediately my heart seized up. Immediately my hands became sweaty, and my throat tightened. I was lacking oxygen to the brain. I had to come up with a response and fast! So I did what any good father would do and told her that boys are icky, and have cooties, and that if she kisses a boy it will cause her internal organs to rot away from the inside out as if she had just had a drink of acid.
OK, I didn’t say that. But, it was my initial instinct. You know the whole…lie to your daughter and run and hide in the bathroom until she turns 25 instinct.
Instead, I spoke to her about age gaps (10 years folks!), and relationships (doesn’t need to be something she invests her time in right now), and how I as her daddy will be there to help guide her through her relationships and help lead her toward good relationships with boys….when she’s 35. Ok…not 35….but definitely will be helping her through that whole “dating” thing.
I explained how when the time comes for her to date (which will be determined by her mother and I) that I will be the one who makes the decision if she has a boyfriend or not.
Before I move on, let me have a quick heart to heart with you boys on this point.
You see boys….her heart belongs to her father right now (that’s me). And as her father I have been entrusted to protect that heart. And to mold that heart into a heart for God. And no boy in his right mind (that’s you) had better get any crazy ideas that he’s gonna be my little girls boyfriend unless I’ve given that stamp of approval. Which in order to get that stamp will require a lie detector test, a 15 mile/50lb pack running course, a bible quiz, blood test, swim test, breathalyzer, background check, and any other test I can find that will tell me if he’s the right guy for one of my greatest treasures on this earth…my daughter.
Alright…I probably won’t go through all of that but, you will have to go through me to get to her. That is absolute. No budging on this one my friend.
I went on to explain how I love her, and care for her, and want to make sure that she knows when the time is right that I will be right there to walk her through it all.
The conversation ended well, with a hug and a kiss and “I love you daddy!” before she skipped off to bed to probably to dream about boys. [I sure hope not]
And as she walked away my wife looked at me and said I handled it well.
WHEW! What a relief.
Thank God (literally) for our wives…because honestly…I needed that affirming word because I was feeling like I just bombed. Because the last thing I want to do is scar my daughters heart for life and lead her into a place of fear with me. At least an inappropriate level of fear. She should definitely fear me….but for the right reasons….kind of like how I fear God.
Speaking of God….I tell you this tale because I think parenting in our nation has become a very hands off ordeal and has practically taken God out of the equation. Sadly, children are being raised to just go with their “feelings” without any real guidance, or instruction from their parents…and for reasons that I just can’t get my head around….reasons like a fear that they may “squash creativity” in their child or cause their child to develop into an awkward adult.
The irony in that? They are personally causing their children to grow into an awkward adult with a dark future because they refuse to provide discipline, direction, and truth into their children’s lives. They live by the whole “they will figure it out” mantra, and they are sending their children out into the world only to be crushed by the waves of our culture.
Adults…we have a duty, according to God’s word, to train our children in the way they should go.
It says in Proverbs 22:6:
Train up a child in the way they should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.
I’m not a strict father.
I’m a loving father.
I’m not a harsh father.
I’m a father who loves my children enough to give them the truth, and direct them in the paths of righteousness before the Lord….so that one day they can stand before men and have a witness and testimony to the awesome works of God.
So church – perhaps it’s time to start rethinking how you’re raising your kids. Are you directing them in the right direction? Through God’s word? Teaching them to be men and women of God? Or are you holding back and just letting them “figure it out” because you fear you might inherit the label of “strict” or “harsh”?
If the latter is where you’re at, let me just remind you….the people putting that label on you are NOT the ones who are ultimately responsible to raise your children and they are NOT the ones who will be held accountable by God for how YOU brought them up. These responsibilities belong to you and to you alone. So wear those labels…because they are probably coming from parents who have kids that no one wants to be around.
Now I’m just going to spend the rest of the day praying that the next “talk” will happen about….oh…..20 years from now.
By now you are probably already singing that unforgettable Scorpions tune “Wind of Change” (and if you can whistle – doing the iconic whistle and annoying your dog). I’m literally sitting here listening to it as I write this. Not sure what Gonky Park is….or is it Gorky Park? Anyways….I digress.
I’m sure when the Scorpions wrote this song that they didn’t realize just how philosophical and true their words would be. Or perhaps they did which is why they inserted the always appropriate whistle of reflection (as I would now like to call it)…you know, the one you do or attempt to do when you are by yourself….walking through Gonky (sorry Gorky) Park – wherever that is.
But it is true. Change often comes upon us quickly and silently like a small breeze, perhaps providing some relief to a heated situation, or a calming sensation when things are getting tough. Other times change sweeps in like a category 8 hurricane (if such a one exists) and completely interrupts our life, throwing our home and life into pure chaos.
I am not sure what wind of change you are currently feeling…but I want to just say…you are not alone in this. We are all going through changes, some BIG…some small…but change none-the-less and change isn’t always easy. And we are not alone. Especially we as believers. We have a God who has left us His Spirit…His Spirit who is the Holy Spirit…who interestingly is often visualized as a wind (or breath – John 20:22).
So you see, sometimes that Wind of Change you may be feeling….may actually be the Holy Spirit moving you and guiding you into a new season…into a new place of ministry. So I say this….test the spirits…and if you find that what you are experiencing is indeed the Holy Spirit moving you…then do not resist the Wind of Change. Embrace Him. Follow him toward the destiny and place He is leading you to.
It may not be easy. But in the end it will be worth it.
And as a word of encouragement…just think on this….the apostles in the upper room in Acts 2:2 had a Wind of Change that came upon them in that room…and rather than resisting Him they embraced Him….and immediately they took to the streets and turned their world upside down (or upside right rather).
So with that I leave you this video. Enjoy!
Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act. [Dietrich Bonhoeffer]