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Message Monday: Handling Conflict God’s Way – Does it Matter What Bathrooms Christians Use?

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I delivered this message to our congregation yesterday May 15, 2016. As you read it, pray for school administrators, teachers, parents and students. Pray for those who struggle with gender confusion and those in their families. Pray that our nation would remember the importance of a person’s religious identity even as they recognize the importance of every person’s unique sexual identity.

Intro:

  • On Friday our government chose to advise every school in the United States that they must accommodate the desire of a student to use the bathroom or locker room of the gender they identify with most.
  • This move of course came to the lament of Christians who see this kind of action as a overreach into an area of privacy and modesty that Christians are commanded to protect and share with their spouse.

Hook:

  • Some Christians reacted immediately to say that they were going to pull their children out of public schools.
  • To be honest most of us probably had that knee jerk reaction.
  • The question for us today is how God wants us to respond to this situation and to the number of situations that occur as our government makes decisions that conflict with our faith.
  • Even though our county’s First Amendment ensures that we have right to freely exercise our religion, such a right has no power if we cannot practically live out that right.
  • Our passage today shows us how Abraham dealt with a similar situation in which he was given an expansive right from the king of his land.
  • From this passage we will learn four strategies Abraham uses to sojourn in the land of a foreign king.

Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on May 16, 2016 in Ministry of the Word

 

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Worldview Wednesday: Praying for the Nation

Worldview Wednesday: Praying for the Nation

There can be not doubt about it, erotic liberty is here to stay no matter how much believers might bemoan it. Whether it is the now year old Supreme Court decision for same sex couples to pursue marriage, or the push now to have transgender bathrooms, or the emerging call for polygamy and other alternative sexual lifestyles to be recognized; the momentum of the government to protect public expressions of erotic liberty has increased.

At the same time, the willingness of the government to protect religious liberty has eroded. In essence believers in all religions, but especially Christianity have been told that their religious liberty only extends so far as the door of their homes and houses of worship. Public persecution in the form of legal action against believers for expressing any public dimension to their faith has increased.

With that in mind, I began to consider the National Day of prayer that happened around a week ago asking, “For what did those who gathered pray?” Were they praying against persecution? Did they pray for a return to the more Christian America? Did some even pray for God to smite the leaders of these movements towards erotic liberty? Were they praying that God would just send the right political Savior to rescue us?

I found myself thinking about the current tension and wondered how a Baptist pastor should pray, knowing our traditional views about religious liberty as well as church and state. Over the next few weeks I want to share a little more about my thoughts on Baptist prayers for the nation, but here is a preview:

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Read more about John Leland, a Baptist pastor at the Founding of our nation.

  • Should We Pray for More Preaching or More Political Involvement?
  • Should We Pray for Liberty to Express Both Our Religious Identity & Our Sexual Identity?
  • Should We Pray for Tolerance or Transparency?
  • Should We Pray for the Government Separation or Sanction?

I look forward to sharing why I prayed this way in the next few weeks.

 
 

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Message Monday: If Mama Ain’t Happy, Can Anybody be Happy?

Message Monday: If Mama Ain’t Happy, Can Anybody be Happy?

Admittedly this post is a little late, but I thought it would be wise to share with those in the church family the rest of my message from mother’s day. This is not a full manuscript, but my bullet points.

Intro:

  • We have all heard the phrase I titled the message after. If this kind of broken relationship were the only brokenness to worry about, life would be much simpler.
  • Today we live in a world of brokenness. Carle Zimmerman in 1947 listed five characteristics of societies that fail. (Family & Civilization)
    • Marriage is devalued.
    • Husbands and Wives do not seek to complement and cooperate to build a home & family.
    • Children disrespect and defy parents and authority.
    • Sexual Promiscuity is celebrated.
    • People tolerate formerly aberrant activities.
  • A foolish mistake or intentional sin may have led to the brokenness in a person’s life; however, God gives the grace of children, relationships, churches and ultimately Christ to mend our brokenness. The only problem is that most of the time we ignore God’s gracious gifts.
  • Billy Graham said “When the morals of society are upset, the family is the first to suffer. The home is the basic unit of our society and a nation is only as strong as her homes. The breaking up of. Home does not often make headlines, but it eats like termites at the structure of the nation.” (World Aflame, 1965, 20)
  • Before we think that we have no chance of experiencing the kind of brokenness that these families endure; perhaps we need to hear this quote from biblical counselor Bob Kelleman:
  • Any one of us can experience brokenness just as Sarah, Abraham, and Hagar did in today’s passage.
  • Brokenness described by Kelleman again is,  “the result of being sinned against and the result of facing suffering ‘brokenness.'”

Hook: Since brokenness comes into all of our lives, the question for us today is how does  a Christian respond to brokenness. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on May 11, 2016 in Ministry of the Word

 

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When Forever Doesn’t Seem So Good…

When Forever Doesn’t Seem So Good…

Often in preaching we hear the pastor talk about living forever as if the best thing about Jesus saving us is that we get to live forever. Can we as biblical believers really understand “forever” or “everlasting” automatically as something good?

Think for example of Ecclesiastes 3:11 which testifies that God makes everything beautiful in its time. Then Solomon connects this testimony of God’s good work with the reality of the nature with which he created us. God put eternity in man’s heart. Finally Solomon contrasts the eternity set in man with the temporary apprehension man has of God’s work. In other words eternity is not good since fallen men cannot discover the fullness of God’s good work. Similarly, Is. 57:15-16 makes clear that while the Lord inhabits eternity, currently he and man seem to be at odds. The passage then testifies that He is the one who will cease the contending between Himself and men.

Eternity by itself is not good and yet we all know that Jesus promises us everlasting life. Is. 45:17 makes it clear that Israel is saved by the Lord with an everlasting salvation, not to be shamed to all eternity. Romans 6:23 tells us that God gives us eternal life through Jesus our Lord. What we must never forget is that eternal life is good only if it is eternal life with God. For instance, 2 Peter 3:18 reminds believers to grow in the grace of the Lord Jesus. Then Peter points out that God deserves glory both now and through eternity. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on May 20, 2015 in Shepherding

 

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Perry Noble’s 10 Promises Matter Because…

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Does it Matter that Perry Noble Believes They Are the 10 Promises?

 

 
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Posted by on January 14, 2015 in Shepherding

 

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Does it Matter that Perry Noble Believes They Are the 10 Promises?

TenCommandmentsThrough the past week, several members of my church approached me and wanted me to respond to the message Perry Noble preached at New Spring on Christmas Eve. For most the three concerns they expressed revolved around 1) changing the word commandment to promise, 2) rewriting the commandments as promises, and 3) Noble’s attitude concerning those who see these as commandments. So let me answer these one at a time after a few opening comments.

 

By his own admission Noble says that he believes that Scripture is “infallible and inerrant, that all Scripture is God breathed” and later he states that Scripture is true. He also believes that “God’s Word is living and active” presumably referring to how God the Holy Spirit illumines specific Scriptures at the right times for them to impact our living. I bring this up, because even if God’s Word is living and active as Noble says, illumination does not change interpretation. The reason that Noble’s view of commandments as promises matters has everything to do with interpreting the Bible.

 

interpretationEach Bible text only has one right INTERPRETATION, inspired by the Holy Spirit and affirmed by those whom the Spirit converts. A text may have several IMPLICATIONS, or statements that must be true if the text is true. For instance when Noble talks about God’s Word being living and active, would be that God wants to use words to communicate with his creatures. Finally illumination really speaks to the concept of APPLICATION. For some of us at certain times, a Bible text can in Noble’s words “slam us to the ground” because it applies so directly to us. The same text, with the same interpretation may not “slam others to the ground” because it does not apply in the same way to their lives. Think of a parenting passage like Ephesians 6:4. It will apply most powerfully to a father who knows he has provoked his children to wrath.

 

So to our congregation’s concerns, Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on January 14, 2015 in Christian Worldview

 

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Understanding: A Response to the Stroller Column “Ignorance”

A member of our church asked for my thoughts on the column “Ignorance” in the Spartanburg newspaper.

As a pastor, I frequently hear believers cite the four points against same-sex relationships mentioned in the article. I cringe when I hear believers utilize these arguments, but not for the same reasons the article points out.

First, let’s talk about convictions and our country. The founders of our nation understood that any rational person’s religious convictions would naturally influence all his decisions. They also believed that a person’s religious convictions should not be forcibly coerced or corrupted by any outside influence – especially from a government. Thus, they created a system which guaranteed that every man’s personal convictions could guide his decision-making, but that no one conviction could be officially sanctioned. That’s what the establishment clause is all about – no laws to establish a religion AND no laws to prohibit the free exercise of religion.

I stress this point because it means that in our country we need to try to understand a man’s convictions rather than belittle the man. The column “Ignorance” does not help Christians understand the central convictions of people living in same-sex relationships or living with same-sex attraction. The column also does not help others understand the deep religious convictions that motivate a Christian to promote traditional marriage or singleness above all other potential sexual relationships. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on January 1, 2015 in Shepherding

 

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