Sexual Hypocrisy

November 30, 2012

So true.

Among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality … because these are improper for God’s holy people.
Ephesians 5:3

When Stacey avoids fatty foods, she’s being health conscious. When she stays away from alcohol, she’s being responsible and resisting her impulses. For all these she is endorsed for keeping long-term goals in mind instead of giving in to peer pressure and immediate gratification. But if she makes a conscious decision to delay sexual activity, she’s described as being “not sexually active”–and given no praise or endorsement.

These startlingly honest words are from the author of Unprotected: A Campus Psychiatrist Reveals How Political Correctness in Her Profession Endangers Every Student, a book ascribed to an anonymous campus physician proclaiming truth in all its common-sense starkness. The author is simply asking why a medical world so concerned about bicycle safety and tanning-bed exposure and regular exercise has so little interest in discouraging a behavior whose participants are three times more likely to be depressed or attempt suicide than those who abstain. Not until sexual activity has resulted in a sexually transmitted disease or an unwanted pregnancy, the author writes, does the university medical establishment get involved–usually by scheduling an abortion or beginning an antibiotic regimen.

It’s outrageous. It’s absurd. But honest accounts like this are helpful in reminding us that our world is indeed sexually deceived. Satan has strung together one victory after another in creating a culture with the lowest standards of purity. By devaluing marriage and family, he is deadening the hearts of a generation, turning their attentions entirely on themselves … and away from God and His design.

It’s past time for parents to reject passivity in this area and get actively involved in helping their preteens and teenagers stay as far away from danger as possible. The stakes are too high to sit quietly on the sidelines and say nothing. With prayer and God’s guidance and grace, this is a winnable war.

Discuss
Sex education is more about character than human reproduction. How do you intend to teach your children about self-control and godly obedience?

Pray
While sinking God’s Word deep into the hearts of your children, pray hard for their protection.

-Rainey

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Wasteful Thinking

November 23, 2012

Let the wasteful use of electricity commence.

Happy Thanks’taking’

November 22, 2012

Everyone says Happy Thanksgiving. This year, let’s think of it as Happy Thanks’taking’.

We could think of the holiday in either two ways:

One, we could think of it like this…we took the land from the Indians. Or think of something more recently, the gov’t is taking more from us (i.e. our money and our freedoms).

Or two, we could see it from the standpoint as creations from our Creator God, to be thankful for Thanks’taking’ because Jesus took our sin and crucified it on a cross of wood.

Thanks’taking’ is grace, God’s grace, to us.

So, how will you celebrate Thanks’taking’?

“Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!
Say also: “Save us, O God of our salvation, and gather and deliver us from among the nations, that we may give thanks to your holy name, and glory in your praise.” 1 Chronicles 16:34,35

Happy Thanks’taking, for God is good-

Marks of Manhood

November 15, 2012

The Marks of Manhood

by Dr. Albert Mohler

When does a boy become a man? The answer to this must go far beyond biology and chronological age. As defined in the Bible, manhood is a functional reality, demonstrated in a man’s fulfillment of responsibility and leadership.

With this in mind, let me suggest 13 marks of biblical manhood. The achievement of these vital qualities marks the emergence of a man who will demonstrate true biblical masculinity.

1. Spiritual maturity sufficient to lead a wife and children.

The Bible is clear about a man’s responsibility to exercise spiritual maturity and spiritual leadership. Of course, this spiritual maturity takes time to develop, and it is a gift of the Holy Spirit working within the life of the believer. The disciplines of the Christian life, including prayer and serious Bible study, are among the means God uses to mold a boy into a man and to bring spiritual maturity into the life of one who is charged to lead a wife and family.

This spiritual leadership is central to the Christian vision of marriage and family life. A man’s spiritual leadership is not a matter of dictatorial power, but of firm and credible spiritual leadership and influence. A man must be ready to lead his wife and his children in a way that will honor God, demonstrate godliness, inculcate Christian character, and lead his family to desire Christ and to seek God’s glory.

Spiritual maturity is a mark of true Christian manhood, and a spiritually immature man is, in at least this crucial sense, spiritually just a boy.

2. Personal maturity sufficient to be a responsible husband and father.

True masculinity is not a matter of exhibiting supposedly masculine characteristics devoid of the context of responsibility. In the Bible, a man is called to fulfill his role as husband and father. Unless granted the gift of celibacy for gospel service, the Christian boy is to aim for marriage and fatherhood. This is assuredly a counter-cultural assertion, but the role of husband and father is central to manhood.

Marriage is unparalleled in its effect on men, as it channels their energies and directs their responsibilities to the devoted covenant of marriage and the grace-filled civilization of the family. They must aspire to be the kind of man a Christian woman would gladly marry and children will trust, respect and obey.

3. Economic maturity sufficient to hold an adult job and handle money.

Advertisers and marketers know where to aim their messages — directly at adolescent boys and young men. This particular segment of the population is inordinately attracted to material goods, popular entertainment, sporting events and other consumer options. The portrait of young manhood made popular in the media and presented as normal through entertainment is characterized by economic carelessness, self-centeredness and laziness.

A real man knows how to hold a job, handle money with responsibility, and take care of the needs of his wife and family. A failure to develop economic maturity means that these young men often float from job to job, and take years to “find themselves” in terms of career and vocation.

Once again, an extended adolescence marks a huge segment of today’s young male population. Slothfulness, laziness and economic carelessness are marks of immaturity. A real man knows how to earn, manage and respect money. A Christian man understands the danger that comes from the love of money and fulfills his responsibility as a Christian steward.

4. Physical maturity sufficient to work and protect a family.

Unless afflicted by injury or illness, a boy should develop the physical maturity that, by stature and strength, marks recognizable manhood. Of course, men come in many sizes and demonstrate different levels of physical strength, but common to all men is a maturity, through which a man demonstrates his masculinity by movement, confidence and strength.

A man must be ready to put his physical strength on the line to protect his wife and children and to fulfill his God-assigned tasks. A boy must be taught to channel his developing strength and emerging size into a self-consciousness of responsibility, recognizing that adult strength is to be combined with adult responsibility and true maturity.

5. Sexual maturity sufficient to marry and fulfill God’s purposes.

Even as the society celebrates sex in every form and at every age, the true Christian man practices sexual integrity, avoiding pornography, fornication, all forms of sexual promiscuity and corruption. He understands the danger of lust, but rejoices in the sexual capacity and reproductive power God has put within him, committing himself to find a wife, and to earn her love, trust and admiration — and eventually to win her hand in marriage.

It’s critical that men respect this incredible gift, and to protect this gift until, within the context of holy marriage, they are able to fulfill this gift, love their wives and look to God’s gift of children. Male sexuality separated from the context and integrity of marriage is an explosive and dangerous reality. The boy must understand, even as he travels through the road of puberty and an awakened sexuality, that he is accountable to God for his stewardship of this great gift.

6. Moral maturity sufficient to lead as example of righteousness.

Stereotypical behavior on the part of young males is, in the main, marked by recklessness, irresponsibility and worse. As a boy grows into manhood, he must develop moral maturity as he aspires to righteousness, learning to think like a Christian, act like a Christian and show others how to do the same. The Christian man is to be an example to others, teaching by both precept and example.

Of course, this requires the exercise of responsible moral reasoning. True moral education begins with a clear understanding of moral standards, but must move to the higher level of moral reasoning by which a young man learns how biblical principles are translated into godly living and how the moral challenges of his day must be met with the truths revealed in God’s inerrant and infallible Word.

7. Ethical maturity sufficient to make responsible decisions.

To be a man is to make decisions. One of the most fundamental tasks of leadership is decision-making. The indecisiveness of so many contemporary males is evidence of a stunted manhood.

Of course, a man does not rush to a decision without thought, consideration or care, but a man does put himself on the line in making a decision — and making it stick. This requires an extension of moral responsibility into mature ethical decision-making that brings glory to God, is faithful to God’s Word and is open to moral scrutiny. A real man knows how to make a decision and live with its consequences — even if that means that he must later acknowledge that he has learned by making a bad decision, and then by making the appropriate correction.

8. Worldview maturity sufficient to understand what is really important.

An inversion of values marks our postmodern age, and the predicament of modern manhood is made all the more perplexing by the fact that many men lack the capacity of consistent worldview thinking. For the Christian, this is doubly tragic, for our Christian discipleship must be demonstrated in the development of a Christian mind.

The Christian man must understand how to interpret and evaluate issues across the spectrum of politics, economics, morality, entertainment, education and a seemingly endless list of other fields. The absence of consistent biblical worldview thinking is a key mark of spiritual immaturity.

A boy must learn how to translate Christian truth into genuine Christian thinking. He must learn how to defend biblical truth before his peers and in the public square, and he must acquire the ability to extend Christian thinking, based on biblical principles, to every arena of life.

9. Relational maturity sufficient to understand and respect others.

Psychologists now talk of “emotional intelligence,” or EQ, as a major factor in personal development. While the world has given much attention to IQ, EQ is just as important. Individuals who lack the ability to relate to others are destined to fail at some of life’s most significant challenges and will not fulfill some of their most important responsibilities and roles.

By nature, many boys are inwardly directed. While girls learn how to read emotional signals and connect, many boys lack the capacity to do so, and seemingly fail to understand the absence of these skills. While a man is to demonstrate emotional strength, constancy and steadfastness, he must be able to relate to his wife, his children, his peers, his colleagues and a host of others in a way that demonstrates respect, understanding and appropriate empathy. This will not be learned by entering into the privatized world experienced by many male adolescents.

10. Social maturity sufficient to make a contribution to society.

While the arena of the home is an essential and inescapable focus of a man’s responsibility, he is also called out of the home into the workplace and the larger world as a witness, and as one who will make a contribution to the common good.

God has created human beings as social creatures, and even though our ultimate citizenship is in heaven, we must also fulfill our citizenship on earth. A boy must learn to fulfill a political responsibility as a citizen, and a moral responsibility as a member of a human community. The Christian man bears a civilizational responsibility, and boys must be taught to see themselves as shapers of the society even as the church is identified by our Lord as both salt and light.

Similarly, a Christian man must learn how to relate to unbelievers, both as witness and as fellow citizens of an earthly kingdom.

11. Verbal maturity sufficient to communicate and articulate as a man.

A man must be able to speak, to be understood and to communicate in a way that will honor God and convey God’s truth to others. Beyond the context of conversation, a boy must learn how to speak before larger groups, overcoming the natural intimidation and fear that comes from looking at a crowd, opening one’s mouth and projecting words.

Though not all men will become public speakers, every man should have the ability to take his ground, frame his words, and make his case when truth is under fire and when belief and conviction must be translated into argument.

12. Character maturity sufficient to demonstrate courage under fire.

The literature of manhood is replete with stories of courage, bravery and audacity. At least, that’s the way it used to be. Now, with manhood both minimalized and marginalized by cultural elites, ideological subversion and media confusion, we must recapture a commitment to courage that is translated into the real-life challenges faced by the Christian man.

At times, this quality of courage is demonstrated when a man risks his own life in defense of others, especially his wife and children, but also anyone who is in need of rescue. More often, this courage is demonstrated in taking a stand under hostile fire, refusing to succumb to the temptation of silence and standing as a model and example to others, who will then be encouraged to stand their own ground.

In these days, biblical manhood requires great courage. The prevailing ideologies and worldviews of this age are inherently hostile to Christian truth and are corrosive to Christian faithfulness.

It takes great courage for a boy to commit himself to sexual purity and for a man to devote himself unreservedly to his wife. It takes great courage to say no to what this culture insists are the rightful pleasures and delights of the flesh. It takes courage to serve as a godly husband and father, to raise children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. It takes courage to maintain personal integrity in a world that devalues the truth, disparages God’s Word, and promises self-fulfillment and happiness only through the assertion of undiluted personal autonomy.

A man’s true confidence is rooted in the wells of courage, and courage is evidence of character. In the end, a man’s character is revealed in the crucible of everyday challenges. For most men, life will also bring moments when extraordinary courage will be required, if he is to remain faithful and true.

13. Biblical maturity sufficient to lead at some level in the church.

A close look at many churches will reveal that a central problem is the lack of biblical maturity among the men of the congregation and a lack of biblical knowledge that leaves men ill equipped and completely unprepared to exercise spiritual leadership.

Boys must know their way around the biblical text and feel at home in the study of God’s Word. They must stand ready to take their place as leaders in the local church.

While God has appointed specific officers for his church — men who are specially gifted and publicly called — every man should fulfill some leadership responsibility within the life of the congregation. For some men, this may mean a less public role of leadership than is the case with others. In any event, a man should be able to teach someone, and to lead in some ministry, translating his personal discipleship into the fulfillment of a godly call.

There is a role of leadership for every man in every church, whether that role is public or private, large or small, official or unofficial. A man should know how to pray before others, to present the Gospel and to stand in the gap where a leadership need is apparent.

Mighty Man of God

November 15, 2012

How to Become a Mighty Man of God

by Andrew Hess

When I was a young man, I was blessed to have a few godly mentors and leaders who showed me how to take my faith seriously. They challenged me to get into God’s Word, to serve others and to grow up in the faith. One of the things I noticed about all of these men was that they were readers. They regularly mentioned things they were learning or had learned from good books. By the grace of God, I slowly began to catch their hunger for learning and began to read some of those same books. I’d seen the way these books had shaped them and wanted it for myself. I owe them each a huge debt of gratitude for showing me where to find so much wisdom.

Two of the books that shaped me most were Holiness and Thoughts for Young Men by J.C. Ryle. During his life, Ryle had been a great leader, great preacher and great writer. Three days after his death, one familiar with his life said publicly, “Few men in the nineteenth century did as much for God, for truth, and for righteousness, among the English speaking race, and in the world, as our late Bishop.” Reading Ryle was like pouring gasoline on my little spark of faith. I still read and re-read him to this day.

Ryle’s short book Thoughts for Young Men significantly challenged me at a particularly vulnerable time in my life. At first, his frank, blunt style was tougher than I preferred, but by the end, he’d won me over. Through warnings and challenges, I realized he was actually caring for my soul. He was protecting me from pain and leading me toward greater happiness in God.

Many Dangers

Ryle began his book for young men describing the dangers many young men in his day faced. The first time I read this list, I wrote in the margin, “Over 100 years and as relevant as ever…” Straightforward, stern and so accurate, Ryle clearly understood young men. Here are four of the five dangers he outlines in his book.

1. Pride

Ryle first warned me against the danger of pride, or thinking I was good enough on my own. As Ryle wrote, “Pride makes us rest satisfied with ourselves, thinking we are good enough as we are, and stops our ears against advice.” Like many teenagers, I remember thinking my parents were crazy, but Ryle reminded me, “Age gives experience, and therefore deserves respect.” Even though some of their rules seemed unfair, Ryle opened me to the idea that I should respect them as wiser than myself.

I remember asking God to help me see the wisdom of my parents. A few weeks later, I wanted to use the car for something but wasn’t allowed. As they braced for another argument, I said, “I don’t agree, but I believe you are wiser than me, so I will accept this.” They were shocked. From then on, the tone — and result — of future conversations were shaped by this moment of maturity.

2. Loving Pleasure

Ryle next warns young men against the love of pleasure. There are many ways that pleasure can lead young men to sin, but Ryle drilled in specifically on sensual pleasure. He reminded me that the Christian life is often described in the Scriptures as a battle: “Abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul” (1 Peter 2:11). Ryle explained, “Youth is the time when our passions are strongest, and like unruly children, cry most loudly for indulgence.” This description of the fight led me to join an accountability group with other guys. We got together every week and prayed for the strength against temptations we were facing. We locked arms and learned to fight sin together.

3. Thoughtlessness

Ryle also warned against the danger of not thinking deeply about the important issues of life. He warned that young men can too often be silly and light-hearted, struggling to think about and discuss serious issues. He reminded that the Word of God often calls us to “consider our ways” and think carefully about the way we live and the outcome of our way of life.

Ryle offers a sobering caution here:

Not thinking is one simple reason why thousands of souls are thrown away forever into the Lake of Fire. Men will not consider, will not look ahead, will not look around them, will not reflect on the end of their present course, and the sure consequences of their present days, and wake up to find they are damned for a lack of thinking. Young men, none are in more danger of this than yourselves. You know little of the perils around you, and so you are careless how you walk. You hate the trouble of serious, quiet thinking, and so you make wrong decisions and bring upon yourselves much sorrow.

I believe it was Ryle who first gave me permission to be serious about deeper issues in life. The Christian life includes many sobering truths, and it can be easy for young men to ignore these and live for the next fun experience and good time. But Ryle taught me to include moments of sober reflections and challenge others to do the same. I will never know how many mistakes I didn’t make because I learned to think soberly and seriously about their consequences.

4. Fearing Man’s Opinion

Lastly, Ryle warns young men to think for themselves. He observed that too many young men go with the flow and never resist the beliefs of the crowd. He taught young men to learn to think for themselves and not be afraid to disagree with those who are wrong. Ryle warns, “It is terrible to observe the power which the fear of man has over most minds, and especially over the minds of the young. Few seem to have any opinions of their own, or to think for themselves. Like dead fish, they go with the stream and tide.”

I kept Ryle’s words close to me as an editor of my high school’s weekly newspaper. I occasionally wrote about my faith and was sometimes criticized for using the paper to push my views on the student body. But as Ryle taught, I tried to walk the line between compromising the truth and graciously disagreeing with others. Real men think deeply about what they believe and are not afraid to represent their views, even when others might not agree or even disapprove.

Avoiding the Dangers

Ryle also offers wise guidance to those who would keep themselves from these dangers.

1. Become Mighty in the Scriptures

Ryle describes the Bible as a merciful provision, a map for life and all that we need to make us peaceful, holy and happy. Most young men are satisfied with a relatively small knowledge of the Scriptures and, therefore, enjoy very little of the benefits it could bring into their lives. They have not learned to feed their souls on the Word of God. Ryle encourages young men to read the Bible first and most.

Young men, have you made a habit of reading God’s Word?

2. Become Mighty in Prayer

Prayer is the means through which God gives many of His precious gifts. Through prayer, saints obtain renewal, purification, sanctification, strength, happiness, encouragement, enlightenment, instruction, direction and guidance. Ryle says it well, “Young men, be sure no time is so well spent as that which a man spends on his knees.” In our day of televisions, iPhones and the Internet, nothing is more important than carving out regular, intentional time for prayer. In neglecting prayer, we deprive ourselves of great blessings God has for us.

Young men, have you made a regular habit of prayer?

3. Become Mighty in Community

Ryle stresses the importance of cultivating relationships with other faithful Christians. He warned that it is often harmful to associate with those who have no regard for God’s commands. He gives these tests for good friends:

Good friends love the Bible.
Good friends keep us from evil.
Good friends speak an appropriate word at the right time.
Good friends incline our thoughts to God.
Good friends pray for us.
Good friends encourage us.
Ryle instructs young men to think carefully about who they choose as friends. While it’s important to be courteous to all, we should be careful who we open our hearts to, namely, only those who pursue godliness.

Young men, have you made a habit of building relationships with others faithful Christians?

4. Become Mighty in Jesus

Lastly, and most importantly, Ryle encourages young men to grow in their knowledge of Jesus Christ. We must increasingly know Jesus Christ, His mercy, His grace, His power, His majesty, His wisdom, His love, His severity, His wrath and His jealousy. Ryle calls Christ “the cornerstone of Christianity,” without which our religion is as useless as a watch that does not keep time. Ryle encouraged young men to enjoy Jesus Christ as their peace, strength, life, consolation, physician, shepherd, savior and God.

Young men, have you made a habit of growing in your relationship with Jesus?

I recommend studying J.C. Ryle’s work Thoughts for Young Men in its entirety and giving copies to the young men in your life. It’s almost too good to condense. Ryle offers young men the caring advice, stern warning and godly perspective we should all look for from our spiritual mentors. His words – while intended for young men – can be beneficial to all. It’s one of the books I regularly reread.

Ryle encourages me to slow down and think carefully about my life. He has often kept me from sin, kept me in my Bible, kept me on my knees and kept me pursuing my relationship with Jesus. May he do the same for you.

3 Q’s to Ask of Your Sermon

November 14, 2012

3 Questions to Ask of Your Sermon

There has been a lot of talk in recent years about making the gospel announcement of Jesus Christ front and center in our preaching and teaching. As our society becomes increasingly post-Christian, it is critical for us to not assume lost people know who God is, what He is like, and what He has done for us. We need to be clear in what we teach, with a laser-like focus on Jesus Christ our Savior.

But how do we make sure that Jesus is center-stage in our church?

How do we keep other things from taking His place in our sermons, our Sunday School classes or our small groups?

In other words, how do we maintain Christ-centeredness when there are so many other good things vying for our attention and time?

As editor of The Gospel Project, I’ve wrestled with this question. It’s one thing to have “core values” like “Christ-centered” and “mission-driven” written on the page. It’s another thing entirely to make sure that these values are actually expressed in the lessons. To help our writers, we’ve put together three big questions we want them to ask of every lesson.

The more I’ve thought about these questions, the more I am convinced that pastors ought to ask these questions of every sermon they preach. Teachers ought to ask these questions of every lesson they prepare. The questions are a helpful guide to keeping Christ as the focus of our ministry.

1. How does this topic/passage fit into the big story of Scripture?

It’s not uncommon anymore for me to talk with lost people who have little, if any, knowledge of the Bible. Surprisingly, I even meet church-goers who know individual Bible stories and some of the morals taught in the Bible, but don’t know how they connect to the gospel. They don’t know the overarching storyline of the Bible that leads from creation, to our fall into sin, to redemption through Jesus Christ, and final restoration.

If we are to live as Christians in a fallen world, we must be shaped by the grand narrative of the Scriptures, the worldview we find in the Bible.

Asking the “big story” question will help you as a pastor or teacher to connect the dots for your people. We need to help people learn to read the Bible for themselves, to understand the flow of the narrative, how the different genres fit into that narrative, and how to apply the truths of the Bible with wisdom.

2. What is distinctively Christian about the way I am addressing the topic/passage?

Here’s the question that will lead you back to the gospel. The distinctively Christian thing about Christianity is Jesus and His grace. It’s the good news about how He died on the cross for our sins and rose from the grave on the third day.

So how do we ensure that our preaching and teaching gets to Jesus? I suggest three follow-up questions under this one.

Is there anything about my treatment of this Old Testament text that a faithful Jew could not affirm?
If we preach the story of Moses, for example, without ever pointing forward to our Passover Lamb (Jesus Christ), then we are preaching the Old Testament much like a rabbi, not like a Christian herald of the gospel. On the road to Emmaus, Jesus told His disciples that the Old Testament pointed to Him. The Baptist Faith and Message says “All Scripture is a testimony to Christ.”

So when we preach from the Old Testament, it’s imperative that we point people forward to the Messiah.

Is there anything about my treatment of this New Testament text that a Mormon could not affirm?
Ed Stetzer often says that this is one of the questions he asks of every sermon he preaches. The issue isn’t whether or not you talk about Jesus. Mormons talk about Jesus. Jehovah’s Witnesses talk about Jesus. Self-help preachers talk about Jesus.

The question here is about how we present Jesus. Is He Savior and Lord? Or is He just a helper? Is He God in the flesh? Or is He just a good teacher?

We must make sure we do not present Jesus only as a moral example, but that we present Him as the only Savior, the One who calls for repentance and faith.

Is there anything in my application that an unbeliever off the street would be uncomfortable with?
We’re not asking this question from the seeker-sensitive perspective that wants to alleviate any discomfort. We’re asking this question from the perspective of the pastor who wants to make sure that application goes beyond “be nice.”

In other words, if the application at the end of your message is “Husbands, love your wives,” we should ask: Would an unbeliever have a problem with that? Probably not. We could survey people from different religions and they’d probably agree that husbands ought to love their wives.

So how do we tighten up this application to focus on Jesus? By doing what Paul did. By saying, “Husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her.”

When we tell people to forgive, we ought to ground it in the gospel: forgiving one another, “as Christ loved and forgave you.”

When we tell people to be generous, we ought to ground it in the gospel: “for Christ, though He was rich, became poor for your sakes.”

Ground your application in the gospel.

3. How does this truth equip God’s church to live on mission?

There is no true gospel-centeredness that does not lead to mission, because the gospel is the story of a God with a missionary heart, a Father who desires that all come to repentance, a Shepherd who seeks and saves the one lost sheep.

The purpose of God’s Word is to reveal God and His plan to us, in order that we might then be empowered to fulfill His Great Commission. God’s plan is that people from every tongue, tribe and nation would bring glory to Him. When we study the Bible, we ought to see it in light of its purpose – to equip us to be God’s missionaries in our communities and around the world.

Be clear!

If there’s one thing we need to be clear about in our preaching and teaching, it’s the gospel announcement that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, lived a perfect life in our place, died on the cross for the sins of the world, rose again to launch God’s new creation, and is now exalted as Lord of the world. In response to this message, we must call people to repent and believe. And as Christians, we must continue living every day in repentant faith, witnessing to the love of our great God.

– first published in Baptist Press

Just got back from a visit and tour of the Holocaust Memorial Museum in DC. It’s scary to see how much of what just took place during that time is and has taken place during this past election (the propaganda, the brain washing of the younger generations, the “the other side will do this or wont do that, etc.)

Shame on all of you.

The best quote came from:

Martin Niemöller (1892-1984) was a prominent Protestant pastor who emerged as an outspoken public foe of Adolf Hitler and spent the last seven years of Nazi rule in concentration camps.
Niemöller is perhaps best remembered for the quotation:

“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me–and there was no one left to speak for me.”

Voting

November 14, 2012

In an open letter to black evangelicals, Michael Brown candidly asks whether they compromised their beliefs by voting for the re-election of President Barack Obama.
“Are you guilty, on any level, of blind allegiance to the Democratic party? And, on Election Day, did any of you compromise your convictions out of racial solidarity?” the radio show host and author of A Queer Thing Happened to America wrote Tuesday on Townhall.com.
“I simply do not understand how my black evangelical friends who so staunchly oppose same-sex marriage and who stand against abortion could cast their vote for the most radically pro-abortion, pro-gay-activist president in our history,” he said as a fellow evangelical.
According to exit polls from last Tuesday’s presidential election, 93 percent of African-American voters backed Obama, a slight drop from 95 percent in 2008. Still, an analysis by The New Republic concludes that black turnout or support for Obama “might have exceeded ’08 levels.” Only 6 percent voted for Mitt Romney last week.
Turnout among African-Americans remained steady at 13 percent of the electorate.
Brown said he is not attacking black voters in his open letter but that he’s simply inquiring why nearly the same percentage of black Americans who voted for Obama four years ago did so again this year.
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Black Christian leaders have expressed their disapproval of Obama’s policies while on Brown’s radio show and have even urged parishioners not to vote for the president. Brown listed Bishop Harry Jackson from the Washington, D.C., area as one of them.
But he has been disturbed to hear that some black Christians have been cut off from family, friends, churches and even pastors for opposing Obama.
The radio host, who grew up in a conservative Jewish home, made it a point to note that he has criticized white evangelicals for placing their trust in the Republican Party or for looking to Romney to advance their moral and social agenda.
“I even wrote an article in June entitled ‘Mitt Romney Is Not the Answer,’ and I often told my evangelical radio listeners that I would not argue with them if they could not vote for Romney because he was a Mormon. So, I do understand black Christian reticence towards Romney (for these reasons, among others),” he stated.
Additionally, Republicans have not done much to win the confidence of black Americans, he noted.
But he still can’t understand why most black voters backed Obama, who expressed his support for same-sex marriage in May this year.
“Was there no moral compromise involved in voting for him? Are there no issues that could disqualify him in your eyes? And must Barack Obama be elected and then reelected in order to make up for past injustices, as one black evangelical woman claimed?” he asked.
“Does it trouble you, my black evangelical friends, that the Democratic platform, not to mention the Democratic National Convention, was almost a celebration of abortion?” he continued, citing statistics showing the disproportionate number of African-American babies that are aborted compared to white babies.
“Again, I am not accusing. I am only asking.”

Politic Idol

November 12, 2012

One of the signs that an object is functioning as an idol is that fear becomes one of the chief characteristics of life. When we center our lives on the idol, we become dependent on it. If our counterfeit god is threatened in any way, our response is complete panic. We do not say, ‘What a shame, how difficult,’ but rather ‘This is the end! There’s no hope!’
This may be a reason why so many people now respond to U.S. political trends in such an extreme way. When either party wins an election, a certain percentage of the losing side talks openly about leaving the country. They become agitated and fearful for the future. They have put the kind of hope in their political leaders and policies that once was reserved for God and the work of the gospel. When their political leaders are out of power, they experience a death. They believe that iftheir policies and people are not in power, everything will fall apart. They refuse to admit how much agreement they actually have with the other party, and instead focus on the points of disagreement. The points of contention overshadow everything else, and a poisonous environment is created.
Another sign of idolatry in our politics is that opponents are not considered to be simply mistaken but to be evil. After the last presidential election, my eighty-four-year-old mother observed, ‘It used to be that whoever was elected as your president, even if he wasn’t the one you voted for, he was still your president. That doesn’t seem to be the case any longer.’ After each election, there is now a significant number of people who see the incoming president lacking moral legitimacy. The increasing political polarization and bitterness we see in U.S. politics today is a sign that we have made political activism into a form of religion. How does idolatry produce fear and demonization?
Dutch-Canadian philosopher Al Wolters taught that in the biblical view of things, the main problem in life is sin, and the only solution is God and his grace. The alternative to this view is to identify something besides sin as the main problem with the world and something besides God as the main remedy. That demonizes something that is not completely bad, and makes and idol out of something that cannot be the ultimate good.
…In political idolatry, we make a god out of having power.
– Tim Keller

A Prayer After

November 7, 2012

Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.
Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men. Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God. Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king. 1 Pet 2:11-17
Dear heavenly Father, it’s the morning after we Americans have cast our votes. A president, along with many other public officials, have been elected, or re-elected. For some of us, there is great elation and relief, for others, there is tremendous disappointment, even despair.
For all of us, there is a need to hear from you—to still our hearts and know that you alone are God; to affirm that you are no less sovereign this morning that you were before the polls closed yesterday afternoon; to remember that your purposes will stand, your kingdom will come, your glory, one Day, will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea.
Indeed, Father, our confidence is not in horses, chariots or men; nor in political parties, sitting presidents or supreme court justices; nor in the Dow Jones average, lower taxes, or bigger barns; nor in public policy or in private enterprise. Our hope and trust are in you.
In this Scripture, we hear you say, and we affirm, that you’ve called us to live good lives among our neighbors and in our culture—to be commendable citizens, not disengaged cynics; for your sake, to submit to authorities, governors and the king (president), for they are your providential servants (Rom. 13:1); to use our freedom in Christ “to silence the ignorant talk of foolish people,” not to add more godless chatter to the public conversation; to live respectfully of all people, not resentfully of any. By the power of the gospel, help us to do so.
Lastly, Father, may we fear you 1000 times more than we are either excited this morning or are quite disappointed by the outcome of the election. You alone are God; you are in the heavens and you do whatever pleases you. As your servants, may we prove the wonders of Jesus’ love this very day, and tomorrow, and the next, far as the curse is found. So very Amen we pray, in the exalted and triumphant name of Jesus.

-Scotty Smith