This next week is a big week in our part of the world. It may not seem big. In fact, for many, it would not even be a ripple on the water. But it's bigger than many may realize. Our great church is hosting a conference regarding the sanctity of marriage. See the information in this flyer:
I can't tell you how important the timing of the conference is. On April 28th the Supreme Court of the United States, will hear oral arguments regarding same-sex marriage. America has had 20 years of bombardment of television and movies, not to mention the push by main stream media pundits, all of which have tried to paint this normal view of the same sex lifestyle. An entire generation has been conditioned to see such lifestyles as normal. Are they? What does the Bible say about these and other lifestyles that have surfaced since then?
If in or near Hattiesburg, MS, come find out. Otherwise, sometime after the conference you will be able to watch the recorded sessions on our website: 38thavenuebaptist.org.
I wonder if Houston knew what they were getting into when they decided to show America how tolerant they were by electing this woman to be their mayor? I wonder if Houston ever dreamed they would be in the national news for such a tyrannical act as has been perpetrated by this woman and her disdain for the Christian church?
Americans have so long ignored the dirty fingers pulling at the threads of the garments of freedom that they have been caught by surprise by this woman's actions. So many have warned America that her foundational principles of freedom were being systematically attacked. If it is not free speech, then it is the right to keep and bear arms. If it is not the right to keep and bear arms, then it is the protection from illegal search and seizure. If this group or the other espouse conservative doctrine, count on an audit from the IRS.
I hope that Mayor Annise Parker has awakened this nation to the tyranny of an unchecked government. I hope that she has lit the match that creates a fire of freedom from the tyranny of this government--one that burns from coast to coast. If so, thank you Madam Mayor. Your foolish threats against Houston's pulpits has awakened many.
Wake up, America! You may still be able to wrest away from the purveyors of perversion the powers that now rests in their hands. Perhaps, God willing, it is not too late.
I could not state more eloquently the results of today's news from SCOTUS than did Dr. Al Mohler in his latest op ed. Still, something more must be said than has been said.
For more than 60 years there has been in the United States a systematic attack on the most essential component of a nation and its society: the family. Those who think this is simply societal evolution at work are blind to the truth. I am about to step in it big time; but if I go down, I am going down swinging.
First, the standard model of the family unit (not perfect by any stretch of the imagination) changed when the breadwinner of the family changed from singular to plural. I want us to get our minds onto the same page, so we need to think sociologically and (more importantly) spiritually, and not economically. Fewer and fewer children had a parent at home when they finished school for the day. More and more children went home to an empty house. More and more children began to be supervised in after-care programs and by the new rage in media, the television.
Second, a closet organization working for same-sex rights began to quietly place into motion one of the most sinister plans to hit these United States. The second piece moved in this game of spiritual chess was the one designated as equal rights. Long before the equal rights amendment was debated in the public forum, the concept of lack of equal rights was talked up in small, but influential circles. Soon it became the mantra of angry, hormone-laden young people of the '60's. That's right, ladies; some of you were used to further Satan's agenda to destroy this nation (not to say we men were not!).
Third, there needed to be an expected right to privacy. America wanted to bow down before the false god of Molech, just as they had already begun to bow before Baal and would soon bow before Ashtoreth. They needed to be convinced to sacrifice their babies. Why? Was it just to exterminate babies through the most heinous act of infanticide in the history of the world? Or was something else at work, as well? Yes, something more was at work.
The small, but influential group of homosexual activists began their work on societal mores. They had to remove the stigma of homosexuality; the right to privacy was just one piece of that. These purveyors of perversion knew they did not have the voice of the churches, or of mainstream America. But if they could achieve a backdoor coup and convince the "scientific community" (I use that phrase loosely) to make some changes, then America would eventually follow. Their target? The psychiatrists and psychologists. Get them to declare same-sex attraction to be normal and we will be well on our way. And, as we all know, they succeeded. The genie was out of the bottle. Those preachers who claimed that same-sex attraction was a deviation from God's norm and God's standard now stood against the finest minds of the 20th Century.
Fourth, they had to convince the nation to strike down sodomy laws. One by one states dropped those laws; after all, there is a constitutionally protected reasonable right to privacy, right? Wrong! Wrong! and Wrong again! The logic of such is ridiculously flawed. That will have to be a discussion for another time.
This is the time that equal rights needed to resurface. America has been softened to the shock of sinful behavior. After all, divorce is now so commonplace that most homes do not resemble the once beautiful family unit. Television and Hollywood have conditioned us to see positive role models of same-sex couples. And, if that were not enough, the now small and very powerful same-sex community has purchased enough votes and frightened enough politicians to have their people in high places in government; these same cowards appointed and approved pro-same-sex judges, who are hard at work. Now we need to speak about same-sex equality.
If the same-sex communities can find enough people to challenge marriage laws, they would now have enough judges to make asinine rulings and legislate from the bench the right to same-sex marriage. They found them and the judges, while fondling their fleeting power, made the rulings they were hoped to make. Today's decision by SCOTUS to not hear the cases was an act of cowardice and a perpetration of treason against the family unit and maybe even this nation.
Get ready, people. It won't be long before every state has to follow suit. Ready yourselves, pastors. It won't be long before you will be tested. Be ready, churches. You are about to be challenged in court to try to require you to accept same-sex couples, allowing them the use of your facilities for their marriages. Write into your statements of faith your convictions about that subject. And be inclusive in your language. Describe a man as a man born a man, and a woman as a woman born a woman.
Weep, America. The Supreme Court of the United States just drove a same-sex nail into your coffin.
Mississippi is in the news. Not like Missouri is at the moment; but we are in the news. We are on a Showtime documentary, L Mississippi: Hate the Sin. I have not seen their work, but I know about it. I was one of the "sin haters" that was filmed. The final product that appeared on Showtime was not what we were led to believe would be produced--not that any of us are surprised. The final product appears to be far less objective than the named director claims. And I am not surprised.
In this post that will be read by a few, I want to reiterate the truth of God's word and hold that truth up to the supposed facts that L Mississippi: Hate the Sin claims to be true. I also want to explain my purpose in this post, as opposed to something a little more current (like Ferguson, MO): my research did not turn up one positive pro-Christian post about this subject. Christians, thus far, have been largely silent. So let me share my perspective.
First, the feature pastor, Randy Cofield, is given a bad name in the trailer for this documentary, when the film editors skillfully edited his comments to make him look like a madman. Just watch the trailer in the link above and you will see what I mean. Pastor Cofield has a great burden to penetrate lostness--all lostness--with the gospel of Jesus Christ. He is a man of great compassion, but one whose biblical standards do not waiver. So, for Pastor Cofield (and many, many more of us), right is right and wrong is wrong. Please let me go into depth on that premise.
The foundational truth on which I base this premise is found in the Old Testament book of the Psalms. Ps. 119:89 says, "Forever, O Lord, is your word settled in heaven." In case you need that stated in other words, consider this: whatever God says in the Bible stands as permanently established truth. Jesus himself said that not one single stroke of the Law would pass away until all is fulfilled (Mt. 5:18). What God says stands.
So what exactly has God said about sin? He tells those who love the Lord to hate evil (Ps. 97:10). He tells us that our love should be without hypocrisy; that we should abhor that which is evil and cling to that which is good (Ro. 12:9). Guess who gets to decide what is good and what is evil? You go it! God does. Not I; not you; not my preferences, my lifestyle choices; not my wishes and wants; God, the Sovereign, the Most Holy, the Righteous One, gets to determine what is good and evil.
When Pastor Cofield and others (such as I) take a stand against sin and for righteousness, you should not be surprised. And when those who delight in sin and take a stand against righteousness, the Christian community should neither cower in the corner, nor be surprised that they have followed their nature. It is, after all, the nature of the unregenerate heart of man and woman to oppose godly standards. The flesh wars against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh (Gal. 5:17).
If you watch L Mississippi: Hate the Sinyou need to consider that it was produced from the standpoint of those who hate God's righteous standards, no matter what they may pretend to claim in the documentary. You should also be warned that it is advertised as rated TV MA for language and adult themes.
It's day 7 of a fast week of ministry in Southern Peru. The city of Arequipa has been my favorite place in all of Peru and all of the years we lived here. Somewhere in this city they have buried my heart, because it was ripped out when I left here many years ago. God has been good and allowed me to return more than once. This is the first time, though, in five years. Things changed in the past five years, too.
First, for some unknown and strange reason, there seems to be much less oxygen to breathe! The first day I trudged up the stairs to my third-floor room I was sucking in a lot of oxygen-deprived air, hoping for some relief for my aching lungs. That's okay; it's normal. Then came days two, three, and four. Hmm..., I thought I would be acclimated by now. The other days have come and gone, including today. The air is still as rarefied as it ever was! Could that have something to do with age?? Surely not I!
Faces have changed. There were still plenty of the same faces in many of the places I went. But there were also very many new faces among the churches I visited. That's a good thing. New faces mean churches are being the church. New faces mean new opportunities to create new friendships. It was an exciting change to experience.
Some of the streets have changed. The city government has revitalized areas once owned by drug lords. I walked down peaceful, lovely, quiet streets that even seven years ago people would not have dared enter. It made for a beautiful experience.
The gospel has spread all across the city. That would also account for changes in the city. People who know Christ are more peaceful and joyful, as a rule. To be sure, there are scores of churchless communities that have cropped up; Arequipa continues to grow at a fast pace. I was glad to see and hear firsthand of the plans to penetrate these unreached communities.
Now I am just a few hours away from my final night of teaching. This last session will be followed by a race to the airport to catch my flights out of Peru. I will miss it again. But I will be more than happy to be back in the field God has given me to work in these days of my life.
After all, that's what drives me. That is what I live for: to please Him.
I'm cutting into my study time to write this short post. Perhaps it will speak to someone who wrestles with the same truth.
It's VBS time in southern America. If you are not of the typical church culture, that stands for Vacation Bible School, which is a 5-day opportunity churches take to teach children of all ages truths from the Bible. Our church is particularly adept at creative ways of teaching. I admire how our teachers can do so much with so little.
Day 4 of the typical VBS week is evangelism day. Someone, often the pastor, sits down with the older children and shares the truth of the gospel, which has been emphasized all week long in the classroom teaching. The evangelist is there to reap a harvest brought on by all the seed-sowing efforts of those great teachers.
This is where I wrestle. This is where I have always wrestled. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” So we know we can guide these little ones to him. And we can conclude (not assume) that a child can believe. But how do we present the gospel in a clear and meaningful way? How do we avoid making "churchians" versus Christians?
First, I am grateful for the Holy Spirit. It is His work to convict of sin and righteousness and judgment. It is not mine. It is His work to show the children their lostness and illuminate their hearts to understand the gospel, which is the power of God unto salvation.
That being said, I still tremble at the task of child evangelism. I know many, many people who have "believed" as a child, only to repent and truly believe later.
Today I had the help of two great workers. We acted out the gospel message, using as our main prop Evangecube's "Big Cube." It's a great tool, when used right. I quizzed the children at the close to see how many got the message right. Their answers were on target. Their readiness? I'm reluctant to declare them "saved."
I'm persuaded that some who listened today have already come to Jesus. I am equally persuaded that others will come to Jesus in time. But I did not and cannot be so persuasive as to coerce them into the church culture without the inward change that only Christ Jesus brings through the regenerative work of the Holy Spirit.
Some say never evangelize children. I think we need to leave that up to the Holy Spirit--especially in light of Jesus' command mentioned above.
When John the Baptist saw Jesus as he walked, he looked and exclaimed, "Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!" John watched Jesus as he walked. For three more years Jesus walked. He walked north and he walked south. He walked into cities and walked out of them. Jesus walked away from some disingenuous people, but walked up to many more. One day, after about 3 years of healing the ill, giving sight to the blind, opening deaf ears, strengthening weak limbs, and raising the dead, Jesus walked up to the gates of Jerusalem. There a crowd awaited him. There, in the presence of those who should know better than anyone else, Jesus fulfilled yet another prophecy: Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; He is just and endowed with salvation, Humble, and mounted on a donkey, Even on a colt, the foal of a donkey.-- Zech. 9:9 They should have known, those religious leaders of Israel. Those scholars of the Law and the Prophets. Those men of great importance. They should have seen. But they were blind, both by choice and by the god of this world. Just a few days later we find Jesus walking once more. He walks up the stairs to an upper room that has been made ready for the last Passover the Lord Jesus will celebrate with his disciples until his return. He teaches, admonishes, warns, and prepares his disciples for the inconceivable. And after a few hours together, hours that puzzled his small band of disciples, Jesus walked down the stairs, out the door, and on to Gethsemane. Gethsemane, the garden with the prophetic name: oil, or olive, press. It was there that the weight of the agony of taking away the sin of the world weighed hard on the Lord Jesus. As the press began its work, Jesus sweat great drops of blood. His soul was pressed. His heart pounded like a hammer squeezing every drop of oil from the olives beneath its head. Back and forth Jesus walked from his place of agonizing prayer to the place of the three unfeeling disciples, all bound with ropes of sleep. Not an encouraging word would be found from his three closest friends. Not one look of compassion showed on their faces, limp with the sleep of the hour. From there, late into the night, Jesus walked to trial after trial, stopping only to be questioned, mocked, beaten, and whipped. Surely those legs must be tired by now. Jesus has walked so many miles. He has not gone the second mile, though that is all he has asked of us. He has gone so much farther. One more walk and for three days his walking will be done. With a cross as heavy as a large man of his day, Jesus began his walk outside of the gates of Jerusalem. He walked on as far as his legs would carry him. The soldiers compelled another to walk with him. Simon of Cyrene, carry that cross! Jesus, fall in behind him! Onward they walked, the legs of Jesus now heavy with both pain and grief. The cacophony of the crowd is almost indistinguishable. Some are laughing, some are crying. Some are begging for mercy, some are braying like stupid donkeys. At a place shaped like a skull the procession ends. Jesus won't walk anymore--not for the next 3 days. In fact, those feet that carried Jesus so many miles are now carefully arranged and fastened to the vertical beam of the cross with such ferocity that no man with half a heart could look on. His hands are equally impaled and Jesus is raised up from the earth. In his mind he has to have thought, "I was born for this. This is my destiny." We know one thing he thought: who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame... (Heb. 12:2) In a way that remains a mystery to the human mind, Jesus became sin on that cross, so that we might become the righteousness of God in him. We can throw around the big words: imputed, propitiation, expiation, etc.; we can throw them around, but the mystery will remain in the same darkness that surrounded the cross for 3 hours. When Jesus finally came down from the cross, he came down as a corpse. He was dead. No man took his life; he laid it down. He had become the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. God saw the travail of his soul. And God was satisfied. The perfect sacrifice had finally been made for the sin of the world. Joseph, Nicodemus, and a handful of women hastily prepared the body and buried our Lord Jesus in the tomb of the rich. Don't worry, Joseph! He's just going to borrow it for a few days. On the first day of the week, early in the morning, an angel of God rolled away the stone. We like to say that the angel rolled the stone away so we could walk in, not so Jesus could walk out; but does it really matter? He has defeated death and if the King of kings wants to walk out, I think it's his prerogative. He doesn't need to, that's for sure. But we beheld him for three years as he walked from place to place. Maybe he wanted to stretch his legs one more time before presenting himself to his father in heaven. Behold the Lamb! He was the Lamb who willingly walked to his death so you would be able to walk into life everlasting.