I'm leaving after this election!
I decided that if the Republicans win - I'm leaving.
I decided that If the Democrats win - I'm leaving.
I'm leaving the world where it's me against them.
I'm leaving the world where it's OK to slander those who disagree with my view - rather than maybe, I don't know, maybe talk with them and try to grow in understanding one another.
I'm leaving the world where I think the worst about those who don't share my views.
I'm leaving the world where there are lines drawn that cannot be crossed - not lines of what I believe or what moral or ethical standards I live by - but lines that we can't cross to talk to each other.
I'm leaving the world where we think an election is what will change things - that new laws - new executive orders - even new Supreme Court Justices will actually change things in our country and in our lives.
I'm leaving the world where I myself, as well as all others around me, have their identity described by two labels - the "good one" I call myself - and the "bad one" the other side calls me.
I'm leaving the world where I can be manipulated by a political party to the point where I immediately characterize people (without ever getting to know them) by which party they associate with at the time.
I'm leaving because I want to rediscover Someone Who commanded me to prove I am His disciple by the way I love my brothers and sisters in Christ.
I'm leaving because I want to rediscover Someone Who said that His kingdom was not of this world.
I'm leaving because I want to rediscover Someone Who put a Zealot and a Tax Collector in His group - and they didn't wind up killing each other - or at least protesting one another.
I'm leaving because I want to rediscover how to lose my life so that I can gain it - to give my life and my rights away so others can be blessed - to consider others better than myself.
I'm leaving because I want to rediscover the One Who gave His life away - who laid down His rights as God (even though He WAS God) - Who took my sin and my sorrows - Who even paid the price of my sin - Who was despised and forsaken - misunderstood - mischaracterized - mistreated - and yet considered it all joy when He considered all those who would be blessed as a result.
I don't want Trump or Pelosi - Democrat or Republican - Conservative or Liberal - Socialist or Capitalist - or any other label or leader to be associated with my name any longer.
I'm leaving to follow Jesus. I'm leaving to live for His kingdom and His righteousness. I'm leaving because the world's mindset - the Republican's mindset - the Democrat's mindset - honestly - even my own mindset - are not the mindset by which I need to live and make my decisions. I hope to have the mind of Christ.
So . . . I'm gone. I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live - yet not I, Christ lives within me. The life I want to live, I live by faith in the Son of God - Who loved me and delivered Himself up for me. As I leave I have a prayer - May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable to You, my Rock and My Redeemer.
Why is it so difficult for a Christian to decide whom to vote for in this upcoming election? It seems that the more I talk with fellow believers about the presidential election that looms before us in the first week of November the more I hear of people who just don't know what to do. Here are a few things I hope will comfort your heart on this matter if you are one of these people.
First of all politics is not exactly the most godly arena in our culture today. We are watching a race between two people who are on the lowest end of the moral scale in our society. Mrs. Clinton has obviously broken laws in her email scandal. She has also been less than forthright about what happened in Benghazi and her role (or lack thereof). But when we look on the other side we see Donald Trump, a serial adulterer and a man who has gained much of his fortune as a result of the gambling industry. We also see someone who is a braggart and whose Twitter account and speeches are filled with far too much insulting of the other candidates involved - first in the primary and now in the general election. When we are faced with this kind of choice between candidates at the bottom of the moral barrel, it is difficult to say you are FOR either of them.
Second, we are once again choosing the lesser of two evils. I've actually heard it described this political season as a choice between the evil we know and the possible evil we hope won't materialize in the end. This is not the kind of choice we are used to as believers. Jesus told us to, "Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness . . . “ The focus in our lives is on seeking what is right, good, holy, and godly. There is not an area in our relationship with God in which we are encouraged to choose the lesser evil. We are consistently taught to strive for the right and the best. Therefore such choices as the ones we've had to make over the last couple of decades are difficult for us - if not downright odious.
There is a third reason voting is becoming more difficult for the Christian. Both parties have been far from cordial or gracious to the Christian conservative candidates who represent the kind of moral views we would like to see advanced in our Republic. To be honest - the Democrats don't even try in this area. But the way that conservative Christians and their views are being treated in the Republican primaries makes us wonder if we are even a part of that party any longer. Watching these things unfold - and being told that this is just the way that politics works - in once again something many Christians don't have a stomach for every four years. Especially when we are told after a candidate is chosen, who has had to change their views to stand for abortion from public statements they've made in the past, that we now have to come together and support them (even though we are very wary of them - because of how they've treated us just 6-10 months ago).
The fourth and final reason I'll put in this article has to do with the direction of our nation. My personal feeling is that the choices we have this fall are between watching our Republic and its Constitution being quickly dismantled by one candidate - or - seeing the same thing happen with the other - just more slowly. Neither candidate even wants to address sexual morality - or gender issues for that matter. This leaves me with the horrific choice between a fast or a slow decline and destruction in our nation. One can grasp with this (as well as the other three reasons before it) why we struggle to know whom to vote for this fall.
BUT - and please hear me in this - we live in a rare time in history where we can influence who will lead our nation. It may not be ideal. It may not involve having the perfect candidate - or maybe honestly - not even a decent one. The fact remains we need to look at biblical issues (as Christians) and decide where we can vote to advance godliness and the ability to function as Christians with as little interference as possible (see 1 Timothy 2:2-4). Our goal is to be able to, “ . . . lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth." This passage refers to us praying for our leaders - but I honestly believe it can also b taken to mean, in our culture, to pray as to WHO are leaders should be as well. I know that it is not an easy or joyful task, saints. But I believe it is one we should not abandon.
One last thing I need to say in an article like this. The choice of our national leaders often reflects the nation itself. One of the reasons why we are faced with such choices is that the church has not been the evangelical force it should be in leading people to Christ - and then seeing those believers become effective disciples. The ungodliness of our leadership choices only reflects the ungodliness of our nation - and it is with a broken and sad heart I have to say - our churches as well. Let's vote saints. Let's take the time to examine that vote in light of the Lordship of Jesus Christ. But - let's pray! If we just vote - and don't get very serious about prayer - we've made a horrific mistake. The need of our nation is revival in God's church and spiritual awakening among the lost of our nation. Without that our nation will continue to slide toward the abyss of ungodliness that we are moving toward currently. As badly as our nation needs good leaders - it is even more imperative that our nation has good churches filled with godly men and women who are laboring in the gospel to see many in it saved. May God bless us with godly leaders - but in light of our current spiritual malaise - it may be even more important that God bless our nation and His church with godly, broken, praying people.
This morning as I came to work I stopped my car at a stop sign. Now I imagine for the vast majority of you this is not earth shattering news. Some may think that our pastor may be losing it to write a comment like that (or that I am really stretching for anything to write in this article). But as per the usual – there is a method to my madness in writing that statement. Ever wonder why we just stop at these signs? To be honest, there were no other cars coming – or even there at the 4 way stop. There was no police officer to enforce the law – and for any real practical reason – there was little or no need for me to stop. Pragmatism would even argue against stopping as it would delay my arrival at work – as well as cost me more gas to decelerate and accelerate again. So . . . why did I do it? Why did I obey an octagonal red sign with the word “STOP” in the middle of it? What power does that sign have over me that I automatically stop when I come to it.
Inherent in answering that question is an understanding of a few things as we get started. The sign is there because of the law. If I go through that intersection without stopping, I am breaking the law. If I get caught doing this I will receive a ticket that will cost me money (both in a fine and in higher auto insurance rates). If I do it often enough it could even cost me my license. If I do it at the wrong time – and hit another car and injure or even kill someone, I could lose my freedom in jail. All of this is true – but it only answers why I might stop in a higher risk scenario. Why did I stop this morning? Why, when there was no risk – no danger – no real threat – did I stop all by myself – then – start back on my way?
The reason that I want to obey the law is because God, a higher authority than government, commands me to do so. He states in Romans 13 that all the governing authority on earth is there because He has allowed it. Unless a law commands me to directly disobey Him, I am to willingly and joyfully submit to it (as well as to those who make them). To do otherwise is far worse than just not obeying a stop sign. To disobey the governing authority is to act in rebellion against authority – and when I follow that line of authority – it winds up ending at the throne of God Himself. But – as I considered this further I saw even more to all this. Let me explain.
For at least 18 years I was not a believer – and yet I still stopped at STOP signs. You see, I was a product of the society in which I lived. That society has a basic understanding of the rule of law. That value was passed down to me by a succession of parents, grandparents, teachers, relatives, and neighbors. I grew up with a basic understanding that I was to honor the law, those who enforce it, and the constitution upon which it is based. Those were all givens. As a result of those givens, there was a basic order which I enjoyed as a child – a freedom – and a basic sense of security I experienced. All these were given to me because my parents, grandparents, etc. had chosen to live their lives under God.
When we obey the law – and as believers do so under God’s ultimate sovereignty – we are blessed people. We are not only blessed people – but we are blessing future generations as well. But, all is not well in our nation – or in our hearts. For decades I’ve watched as the rule of law has begun to break down. I’ve watched it in the highest echelons of our government. I’ve watched it as entertainment has glorified the bad boy mentality – and set before us anti-heros and thugs as examples and those we are told to emulate. I’ve watched as sexual immorality and perversion has been normalized and things like virginity and life-long heterosexual marriage has been increasingly viewed as strange. I’ve watched as the church has become increasingly antinomian (means without law) as a sloppy grace or no need for grace at all have been exalted in our world. Our society has disintegrated over these years and a lawlessness and moral anarchy has begun to be passed on to the next generation. I shudder at what will be given to my grandchildren as “the norm” for their generation.
All this came from stopping at a stop sign? Yes, but it came from wondering what made me stop when I was the only one there. Or was I the only one there? You see, I believe God was there – that I live before Him. I believe He sees all – and all that I am responsible to honor and glorify Him in “everything” I do. (By the way – I do not congratulate myself for stopping – and my sanctification has such a long way to go on so many other issues). Ultimately, all this is about Who is the authority in your life – and how you respond to the ultimate Authority. A STOP sign in a small thing – yet a simple test. Am I an authority unto myself – or – do I truly recognize the ultimate Authority over all things? Submission to authority (and ultimately to the Authority) is a fact of life. How I respond in this everyday realm is like taking my temperature. It is an indicator of whether I have heart-issues or not. Not stopping at a stop sign – speed limits – obeying an earthly authority – all are just indicators of where my heart is. Whether I like it (or even admit it) or not – these indicators have much to say about where I am with God. You see – by submitting joyfully to them I not only am blessed – but I am being a blessing to my family, my friends, my neighbors, and my society as well. And if I read the Bible correctly – my submission will also create a better environment in which I can share the gospel as well. So, saints of God – how are you doing at obeying STOP signs – and the One Who is ultimately The Authority behind them? Simple submission is a blessing – to you – and to far more than you. May your submission to God’s authority in all things bring you that blessing – and bring it to a generation that desperately needs a fresh example of it once again!
Last week we began looking at how words that we use have meanings. This week we will continue that study as we look at some other commonly used cuss words and how God speaks of the things we are saying when we use them. Again, this is a very difficult thing to do because it is not my intention to write in a way that is offensive to anyone’s sensibilities. But in light of the coarsening of our culture, as well as how few, if any, are saying anything about this from a Biblical standpoint, I will endeavor to do this with candor as well as caution. As we did last week, we will not look at these things from a “you can’t say this” kind of attitude. What we are doing is looking at what Scripture says about what these words actually mean - and then ask ourselves the question whether using these words is a wise or godly thing for us to do.
One of the most commonly used cuss words in our day is the one that refers to the act of sexual intercourse. This word seems to be one that is gaining popularity more every year. Again most people use it as either an adverb or an adjective. It is used even as a response to someone when you are angry with them. My guess is that even non-christians are going to be pretty shocked to hear a believer use this kind of language. Even among those who are lost, this word is referred to with its first letter and the word bomb attached to it. That is most likely because when used, it has the effect of a kind of verbal explosion. When this word is used in a setting where two people are arguing with one another - there is a fair chance a fight will break out. Again, those who use it simply state that it is a word - but even then some shrink from using it because it can cause problems when used.
How does God view sexual intercourse - or at least someone referring to it when speaking to others. If referring to sexual immorality, the Word of God is very clear about this word. According to 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8, we are to abstain from sexual immorality, learning how to possess our sexual desires in a way that honors God. In an even more strident text, we read in Ephesians the following admonition, “But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints;” (Ephesians 5:3). If God wants us to abstain from the act - and calls us not even to name immorality and impurity - one would think it is not a stretch to see that speaking such things flippantly and in anger would be unwise and would grieve God. Verses 5 and 6 of this same passage go even further stating that those involved in immorality are guilty of idolatry. Paul goes as far as to warn the Ephesians against being deceived with empty words about this - because the wrath of God would come on those who are the sons of disobedience. Colossians 3 reiterates the same thing as well. In addition to calling us not even to name such things among us - God also states in Hebrews 13:4 that the marriage bed is something holy and is to be held in honor. The writer of Hebrews warns that God will judge both fornicators (sex among unmarried people) and adulterers (sex involving someone having intercourse with someone who is not their husband or wife). This is how God views sexual intercourse itself - let alone the slang word for it regardless of whether it is in a marriage or being entered into by fornicators and adulterers.
God gave us sex. It is something that was given to married couples as a gift from God. As such, God treats it with honor and respect. He considers it something holy - and not to be spoken of without a sense of reverence for what He has given us. Unfortunately sin has taken something God intended to be holy, and made it something perverse outside of the marriage of a man and a woman. Discussion of such things should be in the context of God’s gift - in the context of marriage - and not for use as a cuss word that our culture seems to be saying every few minutes. It has degenerated into a word used to insult people and to cut them down. One aspect of this that I’ve seen again and again is that this is turning into an angry word - to be used when people are frustrated, mad, and often in the midst of a raging fit. When I get around someone who uses this word with great regularity, it is as if they have lost the concept of how to modify another word except by using this word perversely. It is also one that unfortunately has come to dominate our military. Often I’ve heard it used by those in the military and in films depicting our armed forces with a regularity that makes me cringe. The excuse that is bantered about is that this is just the way that soldiers talk. I find that sad - and an indictment against what I see as a false view of manhood. Unfortunately too many have bought into this with the result that boys who learn to cuss pick up this word and use it thinking it somehow makes them more of a man when they do. Nothing is further from the truth. A real man is one who has learned to control his anger and his language for the good of others around him. I’ll speak more of this in another article.
As I close this article I want to say that my study has led me to believe that this type of speaking is something that deeply grieves God. It is also something that because of its flippant use has cheapened what God meant to something incredibly personal as well as valuable. I’ll end this article with one last comment on the use of this cuss word. It is one that, when used, really damages the testimony of a believer. It is quite a statement when we see even the lost cringe when a believer speaks like this. They inherently know that someone who knows and loves Jesus is someone who puts away talk like this. Too bad that many in the church have so bowed to our culture that they don’t even get this any longer. May God once again teach us restraint and godliness in our speech.
Calvary Core Values – #3 – God’s Word, The Final Moral Authority
Our world is currently in a moral revolution. We’ve watched as our society has radically redefined morals in the past 50 years. It has been something to watch, and I admit that often I have watched more in horror than in approval of where our world is headed. In the 1960’s this revolution began with the sexual revolution. This is when mindsets changed concerning the sexual activity outside of marriage. Before this time it was generally held that sex outside of marriage was wrong. It is not that immorality did not exist before this time – because it did. What changed was the public attitude toward it. Before the sexual revolution this kind of choice was frowned upon by the majority of society and heterosexual immorality was seen as sinful. This was not the mindset after the 1960’s. In the 1970’s we were confronted by abortion. It was made legal in the 1973 Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court decision. Soon, this too, was generally accepted by society. The 80’s brought us the selfish “me” generation where greed became good. The 90’s introduced us to public officials like President Bill Clinton telling us that it did not matter that he was an adulterer, having sex in his office. That was his private life – and our leaders could be godless in private – but still be good leaders in public life. That divorced any discussion about a leader’s lifestyle and whether he was fit to lead or not. Toward the close of the 90’s the issue of homosexual marriage arose – first to be banned by a vote of the people – but eventually to be by courts that legislated it from the bench. Now, whether we are aware of it or not, the revolution continues as even the issue of our gender is open to debate. To say someone is male or female is now offensive as confused men call themselves female, even without a sex change operation. We are not even to critique someone who is male one month, female the next two, only to return to be male before the end of a year’s time.
This is what happens when morals become unmoored from God’s revelation of Himself and His will and purpose in the Bible. Moral truth, when relative and made subjective to the individual, sets society adrift into a moral morass. So where do we go to get clarity on these issues and hundreds of others? For the biblical Christian that question is very easy to answer. We go to God’s Word. Our third Core Value here at Calvary Chapel of Jonesboro is that we believe the Bible is the final authority when it comes to all matters of faith, morals, and practice as we walk with God in this world.
The Bible is very clear on moral matters. The 10 commandments have given a moral clarity to societies ever since they were first given to Moses on Mount Sinai. There really is no mistaking what God considers moral and immoral – godly or ungodly. That is something we hold as a core value. The morality of the Bible is not something that is up for public debate. It is not something that ebbs and flows with the general moral stance of society itself. It is something fixed by God. We can either surrender to Him and submit to His moral truth – or pay a very high price by rebelling against Him.
This means that regardless of what the Supreme Court or any other human court says, God’s Word is more authoritative in our lives. The morality of the Bible is not up for a vote – and neither does it need to be made “more relevant” to 21st century mankind. Murder is murder – whether in the 3rd century before Christ or the 2nd one after. Adultery is adultery regardless of whether you are King David over all Israel – or you are just a relatively unknown person living outside God’s will in 2014 in Northeast Arkansas.
Let me refer to the Word of God so that you get an idea of why this is a Core Value at this fellowship. I’ll begin by quoting 1 Peter in his letter to the churches.
For, "All flesh is like grass, and all its blory like the flower of grass. The grass
withers, and the flower falls off, but the Word of the Lord endures forever."
1 Peter 1:24 (NASB)
We are reminded by Peter (as he quotes from Isaiah 40) that the world around us and all its beauty will fade and be gone, but God’s Word will endure forever. His Word does not change and will stand for all time as the authority in all matters on which God speaks through it. David said this about God’s Word too as He was inspired to write,
Forever, O LORD, Your word is settled in heaven. Psalm 119:89 (NASB)
Follow my reasoning for a moment here. God tells us that His Word is forever settled in heaven. There is no debate – no opposing arguments that are of any value. He has spoken and it is settled on all issues on which He has spoken. Now grasp that judgment will not ultimately be that which is done in earthly courts by fallible human judges. The ultimate judgment will be before the throne of God.
What He has stated we believe is clear and not debatable. Sin is sin – no matter whether God is speaking to issues of sexual immorality, the words we speak, the attitudes that are in our hearts, the motives with which we do things, or even the way that we do business with others. These are all things about which God has spoken – and when He has spoken – it is final.
Some might wonder why we hold this as a “core value” at our fellowship? It is because the Bible teaches us in Romans 3:23 that, “. . . all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” If what is sin is debatable according to the current standards of society, how do we know whether anyone has sinned? If we are on the shifting sands of public opinion, how can we have any clarity on ANY matter of moral significance? We believe that the Bible speaks very clearly in regard to these matters. And where it speaks – it is authoritative – regardless of who questions it or what any human court, either governmental or societal, has to say about it. That may eventually get us in trouble in the courts of public opinion and even one day in the courts of our nation. But like the apostles before us, our stand will have to be that we choose to obey God rather than man.
Speaking According to the Word or the World?
Greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. I hope that that God will bless you today with ears that hear the Word rather than hear the world. May God give you a sensitivity to what He says, as well as a discernment to differentiate it with what you hear from the world.
We’ve been looking at the difference between the conviction of the Holy Spirit versus the religious practice of giving ourselves a beat down when we sin. Knowing the difference between these two things – between yourself and the true work of the Holy Spirit is vital to your spiritual health. Let’s look again at the passage where we are being exposed to the Holy Spirit’s convicting work.
"But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. "And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment; concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father and you no longer see Me; and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged. John 16:7-11 (NASB)
The Holy Spirit is going to make a distinction between what He says and what the world says. Note that the passage says that when the Holy Spirit comes, He will convict the world concerning some very important things. For now, though, I want to focus in on the fact that He will convict the world. This means the Holy Spirit is going to show us some things and, regardless of what the world has to say on the issue, what the Spirit says is right every time.
This is priceless to us because the world has a lot to say when it comes to the way we live and the morals we hold fast. There are a number of ways that the world can be an accessory to a beat-down. First, the world can say something is right, when it is not. The world may say it is morally OK for a woman to have an abortion when she has an unplanned pregnancy, but God’s Word does not agree. In this case, what is beat down is God’s Word. All aspects of sexual immorality play this hand, saying that it does not matter what a person does in their private life. God begs to differ, and says so numerous times in both the Old and New Testaments.
The second way the world can be an accessory to a beat down is by speaking through religious people. So often religious people – even Christian religious people - say that something is right or wrong, yet do so outside the bounds of Scripture. Over the years religious codes take on a life of their own and are used to beat down those who dare to live contrary to them. Hair lengths, hem lengths, music styles, among others have been added to religious code books, even though they are not specified in God’s Word. Some of the worst spiritual beat-downs ever come from those who use the code book to beat those who do not live by what is written in it.
Another way we see the world participating in spiritual beat-downs is by making those who hold to biblical morals feel like they are ignorant because they do. Arrogance is disguised as sophistication and education in this worldly ploy. People make fun of the Bible and its views, stating that they are old and outdated. One is left with the thought that they are some kind of spiritual and cultural bumpkin who fell off the turnip truck if they hold such views. And God forbid if anyone tries to champion biblical values publically. They are either shouted down or talked to like they are idiots. The lesson is clear – if you want to hold to such things – just realize that you will be considered an illiterate, uncultured moron by the rest of society. Even worse there are those who are called bigots, racists, fear-mongers, misogynists, and just plain evil if they hold to moral views that are contrary to closely guarded societal norms. Beat downs can even move to being physical in some circumstances.
The wise believer though, learns to hear with more than just his or her ears. They learn to filter everything with the Word of God. Thus they avoid either adding to or subtracting from what God has already revealed about Himself and His will. There is one warning you need to hear about thinking like this. What you are avoiding is spiritual beat-downs that are not of God – beat-downs that may seem helpful, but are actually hindering your relationship with God. Seeing and hearing life as God’s Word affirms may actually lead to a different kind of beat-down . . . one that is from the world and those who defend its ways. There is a different name for that kind of beat-down – Persecution. Don’t be upset if you are persecuted by the world, though. That is not a bad thing. Actually, Jesus said that we should rejoice and be glad – because that is how they treated the prophets of God.
Don’t be surprised then when the Holy Spirit rises up within you and says that those worldly actions and thoughts you are having are wrong and sinful. Learn to check that conviction with God’s Word – and – if the Word of God concurs – repent and confess those things as sin. But, if the Word and the Spirit show you that your concerns and conviction were in error, learn to let go of them no matter where you got them (either the world or even religiousness). The Holy Spirit will use God’s Word to guide you in this. Discern from the Word what is God and what is not. If the conviction is His, respond in confession and repentance. But if the conviction is NOT – know that receiving it will do nothing to bring you to peace and an intimacy with God.
These were originally shared on Facebook - and there were requests to re-publish them on the church website.
Post #1 - Thought a lot since yesterday and the drama surrounding marriage. There is a storm coming (actually, already is here). There is going to be a battle between who will have "civil rights" when this is done. That is because the Bible has always held homosexual activity to be sin - and will not change regardless of how people voted on Prop 8 in California vote or what the Supreme Court decides. Therefore if homosexuality is considered a civil right, then the Biblical view of homosexuality will be deemed illegal - in free speech rights - in the hiring of church personnel - and eventually in what is taught legally in churches. Those who think this is extreme need to remember that when abortion was first argued in the early 1970's wise people said it would one day be available up to the moment of birth and for things like sex selection - and they were considered extreme.
After a comment from a friend in my hometown about how my children would react if they were homosexuals - and that they probably would not come to me - but suffer shame and misery silently - this post was made.
Post #2 - Just to let you know, although it was not homosexuality, I've had times with my children where they were walking in some pretty serious sin (from a biblical standpoint). Rather than wait for them to come to me - my sweet wife and I lovingly, yet firmly and boldly approached them. We did so making sure or several things . . . First, that they knew we had sinned in the past (my past involved actually hating Christians and Christianity - and a great deal of sexual immorality). Second, we assured them that although we were crushed and disappointed with their current choices - we would NEVER stop loving them. We assured them that there was nothing they would ever do that would make us reject them as persons - or as our children. Our problem was with choices they were making outside of God's will. Third - we took the time to sit down with them and share the Scriptures - specifically what they were doing that was outside of God's will. We did so unapologetically and with boldness (our confidence arising from God's Word - not from any pseudo-religious standing we thought we might have as parents or me as a pastor). Afterward, we assured them of two things - we would continue to side with God's Word on the moral issue - and second that we loved them very much.
Post #3 - My original post was about the political ramifications of the current debate. I have known several people who chose a homosexual lifestyle - have loved them - shared with them - and continue to affirm my love for them personally. God does not approve of their homosexuality - even as He did not approve of my fornication before I came to Christ (and He wouldn't approve of it now either!)
There are consequences for a nation when they choose to codify a sinful choice as legal. BUT - as a pastor and disciple of Jesus Christ - my responsibility is to love the person who is sinning, tell them the truth, and let them know that as a fellow sinner - I found grace in the gospel of Jesus Christ. God gave it to me when I responded to the conviction of the Holy Spirit (Who used Scripture to show me my sin) in repentance from my heterosexual immorality (as well as breaking His Law multitudes of times in ways that blew my mind). They can receive the same grace from God as well. The one thing they will have to do, though, is see their choice (homosexuality is a choice - not a DNA driven lifestyle) as sin and be willing to respond in repentance as they turn from it, and faith in Jesus Christ as the only way to pay for their sin and be right with God.
Post #4 - Still thinking about the homosexual marriage debate . . . As Biblical Christians we have an interesting number of roles to live out in regard to these days.
First and foremost we have our relationship with God through Jesus Christ. That we walk out loving and knowing Him - and do so with humility - always grasping that He first loved us and drew us to Himself due to His immeasurable mercy and grace.
Second, we have a dual responsibility to our world which means we will walk a fine line in regard to how the world works. The first of these dual responsibilities is to proclaim the gospel of God's grace in Jesus Christ! That means that we cannot allow the political or social discourse to become so toxic that we are rejected because of our political beliefs alone. The first offense in our lives needs to be the offense of the cross and the gospel. If people are offended with us - it is because we love them enough to tell them of their condition - their true condition of falling short of the glory of God. Here is where we have to be careful that our political discourse does not make it seem like certain sins are "more sinful" that others. Sin is sin - and it all separates us from God - and requires of us repentance and faith in Jesus Christ to be forgiven and to receive Christ's righteousness as a gift so we can stand before God. In regard to sin - I am no different than the homosexual - for we both have sinned against God and we both need pure, unadulterated grace that only comes in the gospel. This ALWAYS has to be our first message to the world.
BUT, we also have a second role that comes into focus in times like these - and that is a prophetic one. Especially in a democratic republic like ours - we play a part in our governing process. Therefore when our nation begins to turn from its godly heritage (which is has been going on for probably 60-70 years now - I am not one to say that this is the big issue - we've made choices for many years now - racism and inequality for blacks from the end of the Civil War until the Civil Rights movement of the early 1960's, the free love movement of the 1960's which popularized heterosexual immorality i.e. sex outside of monogamous, heterosexual marriage, abortion in the 1970's, the love of money in the 80's and 90's, and now homosexuality from the 80's to the present) - again, when our nation turns from its godly heritage and wants to codify as law what God calls sin, it is our responsibility to prophetically speak God's Word to our society - not that we predict the future or write new Scripture (which is unscriptural) - but we speak the morality that is in the Bible - boldly and unapologetically to our society. We lovingly, yet strongly state where we are going - and where it will lead. We do so hopefully knowing that it is most likely the case that we will be rejected - mocked - and called any number of names. Yet we do this for God's glory - and for love of the people in the world - and never for any kind of vindictiveness. We remember where WE came from - and that we needed grace and truth to come to Christ too.
Finally - we do this for God's glory - knowing that Jesus made it clear that His Kingdom is not of this world. There is a strong possiblity that we will be misrepresented, cursed, spoken evil of - and maybe even arrested and put to death eventually for our stand with God's Word - and with the gospel of Jesus Christ. If I remember rightly - our Founder and Savior was cursed, mocked, arrested and eventually crucified for speaking the truth (wonder what week that happened in history? - oh, yeah, this week!)
Just one last admonition for my brothers and sisters in Christ. Hold fast to the Word of God - to the testimony of Jesus Christ - to the gospel of God's salvation - and when you do have to speak prophetically to the culture - SPEAK THE TRUTH IN LOVE! Tough to do - I know - but when we do have to speak prophetically to our culture and our government - we do not want to do so in such a way that will disqualify us from sharing the more important message of the gospel later! (Yeah - just looked at the length of this - and I am a preacher - HA! - and a long-winded one at that!) Love all of you - and especially those I have the honor of ministering to weekly at Calvary Chapel of Jonesboro!
What kind of men are we? That was the question I had to ask myself after reading a couple of things today. The first was a quote by John Stuart Mill. He wrote the following about war,
"War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degrading state of moral and patriotic
feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. A man who has nothing for which he is willing to
fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance
of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself." - John Stuart Mill -
When I read this I honestly wondered about myself. In light of what we face as a nation, can I say that I am not guilty of a certain "moral and patriotic decay" that shies away from the war for the very soul of our nation at present? There is a battle for the soul of the United States and it rages every day. Some would have us move toward being a nation that is based upon a philosophy of Socialism where the state becomes the caretaker of all within it. We are walking in that direction and fast destroying the once great nation given to us by God and our forefathers. It is said that Socialism only works until the government runs out of other people's money to spend. That is quickly coming upon us each day that we do not rise up to the moral, social, political, and spiritual battles that surround us.
Let me better define the war of which I speak. It is my hope that it will never descend into a war of weapons where the outcome is dependent upon which army destroys the other. But at present it is a war of ideas. A war that is fought with words and actions based upon those ideas. There is a greatly decayed moral state in America that must be addressed if we are going to survive as a nation. Nations fall not because of conquerors who fight from without - but because of moral decay and destruction within. We must first stand against the moral decay that is rotting us from the inside out. That means fighting the battles that rage in our flesh. It means once again valuing honesty, integrity, honor, hard work, faithfulness, and a host of other character traits which are far more often mocked by our godless society than glorified. It also means recapturing our homes as the primary place where education takes place. It is in the home where morals and godly character must be taught. More than this it is where moral character must be displayed by fathers.
Such an endeavor will mean that we have to fight and war against some things. I will list several here. Please understand that we can either realize war is what MUST take place against these things - or we will lose. We can either fight in this war - or remain one of Mill's miserable creatures who live only for their own safety, security, and comfort. If we do, we will have to rely on other, more godly and principled men to maintain our freedom. My concern is that there are not many such men left in this hour - possible not enough to stem the tide of moral decay and political tyranny.
First, we must fight and war against our own pacivity men! It is the easiest thing to start out days at the mercy of the clock. What I mean by this is that we get up so late that we do not have time to get quiet and meet with God. We must awaken early enough to spend time with Him - both in reading God's Word and in praying for ourselves, our family, and our nation. This is where is HAS to start. Men, we need to war against the moral decay in ourselves. If we do not, we will have nothing of substance to give in the war that rages all around us.
Second, we must war for our marriages and our homes. I ask a simple question men. What is the state of your relationship with your wife? Do you cherish her? Do you nourish her with the Word? Are we patterning for our children and those around us a delight in God's institution of marriage? One of the most blighting scourges that is rotting our nation from within in the state of marriage and family in our land. We can either decry it and weep on the devastated landscape around us - or - we can begin to labor to restore the ancient foundations by loving our wives and loving our children. And that being said, what is the state of your role as "father?" Do YOU inspire your children with your lifestyle - and with your regular teaching. If we do not want a "nanny-state" we must then take on the rearing of our children and not leave it to the state and to the educational system. Do you speak to your children of the morals they should embrace? Even more - do you yourself display them to your children?
Third, we must fight and war against the rule and reign of entertainment in our lives. I have nothing against entertainment - unless our devotion to it outstrips our devotion to God, our family, God's church, and our country. Too often we sit and decay simply by allowing the entertainment industry to speak to us - then for us in our homes. Think of their values men. Think of what you've seen and heard on television and in movies. Then realize that they not only reflect the moral decline in our nation - the urge it to continue to new heights.
Lastly, are you warring for godly leaders in our land. I find it disturbing that over and over again we are told that morals in a man do not matter when it comes to electing our officials. A man can stand and say that he wants to lead our nation - indeed take an oath to do so - when he has not even honored his oath and covenant to his wife! Such men should be questioned much about these things. I understand that we all need God's grace - but do we not have men among us willing to run - who have not cheated on their wives . . . while being an elected official of our land. The Democrats defend President Clinton while he commits adultery in the White House - and the Republicans now defend Newt Gingrich while he does the same in the position of Speaker of the House. We must fight for principled men to lead us. If neither party is willing to put up such men should we not so war against them with our words, our financial contributions, and our direct involvement until such men are put forward? We will not see change - godly, moral, principled change - until we demand it.
Men, I know this has been a long article - and I also know that many of us suffer from moral as well as family and patriotic failures of our past. But there truly will not be change until we passionately seek it. May we not be the pathetic, overindulged, and unwilling miserable creatures that John Stuart Mill described above. May we instead be the men who are willing to war against the culture - war against our own self-indulgence - and war for the reviving our our own hearts, marriages, families, churches, and nation. There are some things worth dying for in life. So I ask once again, "What kind of men are we?"
I wanted to take a one week break in the midst of this series of articles to ask a simple question. That question is this, "Are you fighting?" That may seem like an interesting question to ask - but it is very applicable to the battle of being a godly man. Let me quote a pamphlet with that same title, Are You Fighting? which was written by J. C. Ryle.
"There are thousands of men and women who go to churches and chapels every Sunday and call themselves Christians . . . but you never see any 'fight' about their religion! Of spiritual strife, and exertion, and conflict, and self-denial, and watching, and warring they know literally nothing at all. Such Christianity may satisfy man, and those who say anything against it may be thought very hard and uncharitable; but it certainly is not the Christianity of the Bible. It is not the religion which the Lord Jesus founded, and His apostles preached. True Christianity is a 'fight.'"
As we've walked through Psalm 101 we've seen some pretty strong language used. One might even say that this language is the language of conflict - of battle - of war. My answer to this is simple - IT IS! Our fight is perennially one against the flesh, the world, and the devil. These three are our main enemies - and if we are not engaged in a fight with them - we are most likely enslaved by them. One thing the Bible promises to us is that these enemies will not be idle. They are constantly looking for ways to make inroads in our lives. They want to set up beach heads that will serve as launching pads for further incursions into our lives morally and spiritually. What I am trying to say is that if we are not having any "fight" in our religion - we are losing a battle of which we not even aware.
Raging all around us currently is a war currently for the souls of the men of our nation. The main front of that battle is for the menl of the church. But even that front has multiple avenues where we are being attacked. Let me mention a few (and please know that in no way is this seeking to be an exhaustive list).
#1 - Guys . . . are you fighting with your eyes? I know this is a battle that seems to rage everywhere you go. From the grocery store where they put immoral magazines right at the checkout lines (and no I am not referring to Playboy, but to the women's magazines and tabloids in saying this - anyone want to argue with me biblically on this point?) to the television, to movies, to the way that women dress in our society, the battle is raging. But guys, we need to fight with our eyes - by turning them away from lust. Jesus put it this way, "if you right eye makes you stumble - rip it out and throw it from you." That sounds like a fight to me? But are we fighting? May God grant us grace to battle the lust of the eyes daily. I know that it is tough - and that at times we grow weak - but we cannot give in to the immorality of the world - the lust of our own flesh - or the lure of the devil in this. We need to FIGHT!
#2 - Guys . . . are you fighting with your mind? This is closely related to the first - but it is important. What is filling your mind? The world will offer you a smorgesboard of things to fill your mind - and none of them will draw you closer to Christ - or encourage you to walk in His ways. Our flesh will rise up and fight getting into the Word - but do it anyway. With younger men this battle rages through the world of games - both on game consoles and on the internet. The amount of time that is wasted by our young men in this pursuits is monumental. Hours upon hours are spend filling our minds with worthless quests into an electronic world that provides escape from the real world. The frightening part of all this is that these escapes are from reality - and from the real issues of manhood that should be wrestled with at this age. To bring this up, I realize, is to possibly alienate myself from a whole younger generation. But unless someone says something - we are going to either delay an entire generation from becoming real men - or - lose them altogether. We need to fight for our minds.
#3 - Guys . . . are you fighting for your morals? Here is a third area where we are being destroyed by the world, devil , and the flesh. I am speaking about pornography and gratifying our flesh. Recently I went to a sight that helps men get free from these things - and saw that they have had over 320,000 clients come to their site for help. According to their reasoning - this represents about 1 in 10 of the men in the church who struggle with these sins. If that is accurate - we have a problem in our country. There is reason to believe that somewhere in the rage of 3 million men, IN THE CHURCH, have these problems. I am not saying this to make you feel condemned, but rather to call all of us to action. If we are not free - we need to be - as soon as possible. Once we get free - we need to continue to FIGHT - not just for ourselves - but for our brothers in Christ as well.
#4 - Guys . . . are you fighting for your integrity? This goes beyond the battle in our minds - to the battle for our daily actions in our jobs, our homes, our churches, and anywhere else we walk. This is the fight to take what we learn from the Word and make it a part of our lifestyles. Here is the reason why so much is falling apart in our society - a lack of integrity. Every scandal at its core happened because someone somewhere did not maintain their integrity. When you multiply that times over 350 million Americans - you are going to have serious problems. Are you willing to fight for integrity - even when your competitor does not? Are you and I willing to trust the Lord to prosper and keep us afloat - even if we do not cut corners and "cook the books" for our benefit? The worst crisis we face as a nation is not financial. Our worst problems are not healthcare, jobs, or security. Our key crisis is one of integrity. Without men of integrity our nation will not continue to stand. Will you be one of the first to embrace God's call to integrity - and fight for it even though many other men around you will not?
These are just four areas where the battle rages - or should be raging. What is sad is that many shun the fight. They just want a comfortable life - one without difficulties or the struggles it takes to "fight the good fight of faith" the Bible presents to us. But as long as we remain on a fallen earth - filled with fallen people - who do fallen things - and who promote fallen lifestyles - there is going to be a fight. So hear me brothers as I seek to encourage you today!
Brothers in Christ . . . we are called to be MEN OF GOD! We are called out of this present darkness into His glorious light to embrace the conflict that WILL begin the moment we are saved. We are not perfect - but we are in the process where God is perfecting us! We are not sinless - but oh how we are called to both hate and battle sin in our lives. We are called to put on the armor of God - daily putting each piece on so that we can stand - and after we have fought to the last ounce of strength which God provides - to keep on standing! We cannot afford to quit! We cannot afford to be lazy and undisciplined! We fight for our families! We fight for our children - esepecially our sons, who are watching and begging us to be men they can follow! We fight for the church - the bride of our Lord - the pillar of truth - and the manifestation of God's grace - and the place where the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ should shine forth the brightest!
But in this hour, my blessed brothers, we are fighting for our lives! The devil and his world system feel they are on the brink of victory. They flex their muscles through the media and government thinking that they will win the day. We face onslaught after onslaught - attack after attack - and battle after battle. They fight us personally in our minds - relationally in our homes and churches - and morally in our national discourse. But like those who have stood in what seemed like impossible battles - we stand. Like the 300 Spartans who stood alone against the invaders who landed on their shores - we stand against hordes of those who fight against our God and against His Word. But know this, brothers, we will stand. We will stand upon the Word of God that has faced countless attacks and yet stands firm as the revelation of God. We will stand upon the grace of God in the gospel that has won millions upon millions in every generation - under every form of government - in every trial - and under every type of oppression. Finally, we will stand with our Lord Jesus Christ - Who has vanquished sin, death, and hell by His cross. Who has stood strong against the attack of every false prophet, every false philosophy, every false religion, and every falsehood the devil has thrown at Him. We will stand in Him knowing that He has won the victory - not just at the end of the age - but He has won the victory in every generation. Now is not the time for us to faint. Now is the time for us to FIGHT!
May the Lord grant you grace as you are a “man of integrity” within your own home. We continue this week in our look at the man of integrity from Psalm 101. This week we are going to focus on what a man of integrity “looks at” within his home. The Psalmist states the following about his desire to be a man of integrity—one who “gives heed to the blameless way.” He says at the beginning of verse 3, “I will set no worthless thing before my eyes.” Let’s take a look today at what it means to have the sight of the blameless way in our eyes.
The word “worthless” here is from the Hebrew word “beliyyaal” which has as its most basic meaning that of utter worthlessness. The word always has a very strong moral component to it and therefore has the idea of wickedness and something that is good for nothing at all. In the Septuagint (the Greek version of the Old Testament) this word was used as a personal name for Satan. Those who were of the most corrupt and godless character were called, “sons of beliyyaal,” and were seen as being in rebellion against God’s moral authority. Therefore the blameless man who seeks to maintain integrity in his home is careful not to put anything that is morally worthless and base before his eyes. Note also that he does this by making strong choices against it. He has a will SET in God’s direction—a will that is SET according to God’s moral compass and the Word of God. This will not be easy in our society. It requires hard choices—and choices that may seem legalistic to others around you.
How do we live this way then? How do we live as men who do not want to set any morally worthless thing before our eyes? First, we must set the Word of God before our eyes—for through His Word God will begin clearly defining what is and is not morally worthless. Here are a few. In the Old Testament we are told not to look upon the nakedness of anyone other than our wife—and that is to be done in the marriage bed as a holy thing. Well, that pretty much rules out R-rated movies (and for that matter a large number of PG-13 rated ones where the nakedness of others is paraded before us on a regular basis.) Then there is the passage in Ephesians that says, “. . . And there must be no filthiness and silly talk or coarse jesting, which are not fitting . . . “ Filthiness is defined by the Amplified Bible as obscenity or indecency.” So, all things which are in these categories are out as well. I hate to say it, but this pretty much rules out probably 90-95% of what is on television and what is in the movie theaters. Here is where we will hear the accusations of legalism come out. But those who do this miss that Scripture tells us that it is the “grace of God that teaches to say no to ungodliness.”
Let me ask a question at this point about the moral sloppiness that is based on this “non-teaching” grace of today. Where has it led us? How is it morally in the church today? Has the practice of being lenient with our eyes brought great blessing to our marriages? Has it blessed us with great moral fiber and steadfastness? The eyes are the windows into our souls. What we allow to pass through them has the ability to bless us—or torture us with temptation and unnecessary trials. A man who desires to be blameless and maintain integrity in his home will guard his eyes, and make sure that he places NOTHING worthless before them. This is part and parcel of why he continues as a blameless man.
Most of these articles are taken from the Calvary Courier, a weekly newsletter that is sent to the folks who attend Calvary Chapel Jonesboro. Due to the response to these articles, we've decided to print some of them which proved to be very helpful to God's people at the fellowship.
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