The sermon on the Sunday after the Supreme Court legalized so-called “same-sex marriage” everywhere

The following is the audio and transcript of my sermon this morning from Romans 1:18-32, given the Lord’s Day after the Supreme Court made so-called “same-sex marriage” legal in all fifty states.

Father, You know the burden upon me this morning. I pray You might guard my heart, my mind, and my mouth right now. I want my words to be Your words, my thoughts Your thoughts, my heart Your heart. Help me to speak truth, and truth only. Help me shepherd Your people by turning our hearts toward You, the Good and Perfect Shepherd and Guardian of our Souls. Where repentance is needed, may it be. Where confession is necessary, may it be. Where a shake-up of the way we think has to happen, I pray it will. Above all, though, Father, I pray You might be glorified, and as a result, Your people be strengthened. May grace and truth win the day through Your Son Jesus, in whose holy name we ask this. Amen. Continue reading “The sermon on the Sunday after the Supreme Court legalized so-called “same-sex marriage” everywhere”

Religious Liberty Is In Hospice. To Whom Will You Bow When It Dies?

Hospice.

You know the word. And you know what always comes soon after.

Death.

When the Constitutional Convention met in Philadelphia in 1788 it did not do so without controversy — either before, during, or after. As they were concluding their meeting Benjamin Franklin is famous for his response to a lady who questioned him about what the result of the Convention was. He said, “A republic. If we can keep it.”

Indeed, many leaders in the several states lamented the results of that Convention and fought hard against their respective state’s ratification thereof. Only with the guarantee there would be a Bill of Rights added to the Constitution, enumerating certain things the federal government absolutely could not do, was ratification achieved.

The freedom for people to belief as they feel compelled to, and to live in accordance with their beliefs, was considered so absolutely necessary that the very first of those rights enumerated in what came to be known as the First Amendment was that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion; or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” So inalienable a right was it, and so vital to both state and national interests, that the very next clause in the First Amendment made clear the freedom of speech (inherent in which is the freedom to express oneself).

For over two hundred years then constitutionally protected rights were considered a given, at least as it relates to matters of faith and practice. However, in the twenty-first century, and especially in the last few years, we are living in a new age (at least for us comfortable Americans). Our freedom to believe what we want and live in accordance with those beliefs is no longer a given, and I write this, in particular, for those who share my faith in the one and only God, Father of our one and only Savior, His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. I write this with respect to those who, like me, believe that God has revealed Himself through the sixty-six books of the Old and New Testaments. I write this to those who, like me, believe God has made Himself plain as it relates to matters of marriage and human sexuality. 

If you believe like me you know that God is holy, holy, holy, and that He cannot, does not, and will not tolerate any sin, at any time, for any reason whatsoever. True, God is patient toward sinners, but every sin that has ever been committed will have been judged in time. 

So then, you also believe, like me (because the Bible is God’s word and it’s not too difficult to understand), that God created man in His image, male and female He created them, and the two of them joined together as one flesh. Thus, homosexuality is sinful state of mind, homosexual acts are sinful acts, and homosexual marriage is a figment of the imagination, a byproduct of a mind hostile toward God, because God, the Creator of marriage, has already defined it (one man and one woman until death do they part, and what God has joined together let no man separate). 

Well, at least you used to be able to believe that, because on the heels of the Supreme Court ruling in the favor of Hobby Lobby in a recent case in which the government was trying to force the owners of that business to violate their religious convictions with regards to insurance coverage for certain contraceptives considered abortifacients, now the President of the United States is signing an executive order prohibiting job discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. The constitutionally of such an order can be debated at another time. Nevertheless, the order means if you are a business owner and have a government contract, you can’t decide not to hire that man, whose mother named him Chris, because he wears a dress and identifies himself as a woman named Christine. His right to be “transgender” is more important than your right to submit to the lordship of Jesus Christ and conduct your business and even hire employees who best represent the worldview you want your business (which you own) to convey.

President Barack Obama’s decision to sign this order is hardly shocking given some of his statements in the past, but the ramifications of such an order, once enforced, are chilling to the mind of us Americans who are used to being comfortable in the land of the free. And should the trajectory of our culture remain unchanged, and I see no reason to believe it will, this order is an ominous portent of things to come.

This is just my opinion, but I believe it to be one grounded in an understanding of the culture, and more importantly the Bible, but things will probably not get better. They will most likely get worse… much worse.

As American Christians we must remember first that we are Christians who happen to be Americans, not the other way around. We are citizens of two kingdoms, but our heavenly citizenship (Phil 3:20), guaranteed to all believers by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, must trump our American citizenship every time

Once that is understood, we must also remember that freedom, while codified in a human constitution, isn’t guaranteed in Scripture. Many of the believers who received Paul’s letters and Peter’s letters lived under the constant threat of persecution. The Christians in Judea were ostracized by their Jewish kinsmen to the point Paul was collecting an offering for them half a continent away. Herod had the apostle James put to death in Acts 12, to say nothing of church history which teaches us that Peter and Paul were both murdered for their faith around A.D. 67. Even today in this enlightened age to be a Christian in more parts of the world than not means to be under constant threat of some sort of persecution (even death) from a government or other religious group.

Therefore, while we might rightly say religious liberty in America has been taken to hospice, with all signs pointing to its impending death in coming years, the question for you and I becomes: To whom will you bow when it finally dies? Is our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ such that we will readily endure suffering the likes of which none reading this most likely have ever truly pondered? Will your knee remained bowed before Jesus the King? Or will you bow to the state and to the culture, thus proving your knee isn’t bowed to Jesus in reality now?

We must, by the grace of God, waste no time in setting our minds (NOW!) on things above, and not on the things of the earth (Col 3:2). Beloved, Satan has attacked us in our comfort here in free America, but the days are coming when I believe he will attack us otherwise. I pray you, I, and we all might remember that “Greater is He who is in you than He who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).

Donald Miller and one anothers

Ok. Everyone else seems to have written about this so I guess I’ll add what probably amounts to two literal cents in blogging currency…

Donald Miller, author of Blue Like Jazz, writes that he rarely goes to church anymore. So how does he interact with God?

The answer came to me recently and it was a freeing revelation. I connect with God by working. I literally feel an intimacy with God when I build my company. I know it sounds crazy, but I believe God gave me my mission and my team and I feel closest to him when I’ve got my hand on the plow.

Twelve I‘s, me‘s, or my‘s in those four sentences. No one anothers, which permeate the New Testament and are integral to church life. So if you are one who thinks you are a Christian but do not immerse yourself in a local Bible-believing, Bible-preaching, Christ-exalting church, then you are either fooling yourself or you are in disobedience to many of the Lord’s commands. And Jesus says if you love Him you will keep His commands (see PDF file).

Charlotte NBC TV affiliate on Steven Furtick and Elevation Church

My hometown NBC affiliate (WCNC) has been running an exposé on Steven Furtick and the church he pastors, Elevation, which in eight years has grown to a reported 14,000 attenders in several locations which view his sermon remotely.

Though I do not live in the Charlotte area anymore, I have great interest in this story and what is going on with this group because I personally know several who attend. Some used to go to my home church, but have left for various reasons.

This much is clear: Steven Furtick and Elevation are the flavor of the month and the last few years. What he is doing is working inasmuch as people are coming. But then again, that is not the determining factor of success in ministry. Joel Osteen draws his ten thousands as well. Continue reading “Charlotte NBC TV affiliate on Steven Furtick and Elevation Church”

Vision casting is not part of a pastor’s job description

I opened up Facebook and saw this quote from Louie Giglio, posted by Ministry Grid, a new arm of Lifeway Christian Resources, an entity of the Southern Baptist Convention:

 

I think that comes out of a passage you’ll find in 3 Timothy. Continue reading “Vision casting is not part of a pastor’s job description”

Re-entering the Dark Ages by our own volition: On the widespread access to and neglect of the word of God

Just a few short years ago the cliche was that every house in America seemed to have a Bible on the coffee table in their family room, but it was collecting dust for want of being used. Yet, as technology advances and the culture moves from a sort of respect-from-a-distance of Christianity to outright hostility for the faith, the Bible has been replaced by a remote control for each device contributing to our entertainment. Meanwhile, denominational leaders, pastors like me, and church members look out at empty pews, study membership rolls with myriad “inactives,” and wonder how the tide can be turned. We would all do better to realize how we got to this point.

Hint: One has something to do with the other.

Perhaps in previous generations this wasn’t the case, but today it can hardly be denied that a massive majority of people in America and the world at large do not have the worldview espoused by biblical Christianity. This is the necessarily result in a person who does not esteem God and His word rightly, which is where most people are. And that is ironic, because… Continue reading “Re-entering the Dark Ages by our own volition: On the widespread access to and neglect of the word of God”