Saturday Stuff, July 4, 2015

SaturdayStuff_socialmediaJust in case you have some free time before the big fireworks display, here are a few things that caught my eye for this week’s Saturday Stuff:

*Check out these new pictures from Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice in Entertainment Weekly’s feature on next year’s movie.

*Netflix’s series based on Marvel’s Daredevil has been a critical and commercial success.  It’s the first of 5 new series based on the “street level” heroes of Marvel’s world.  Here’s an update on the development on the 4th hero, Iron Fist.

*Yesterday was the 30th anniversary of the release of Back to the Future.  Here’s 15 things you (probably) didn’t know about the movie.

*Finally, here are two trailers for upcoming movies.  The first is the final trailer for Marvel’s Ant-Man.  And the next trailer is Rocky spin-off Creed.

6-String Salvo, July 3, 2014

bigstock-Guitar-9506791. My friend Mark Moore shares 6 observations concerning Christianity in a same-sex marriage society.

2. Another friend, Aaron Earls, gives some wise counsel for talking to your kids about gay marriage.

3. With July 4 tomorrow, Jon Bloom shares how we can love and celebrate our defective nation.

4. I like Peyton Hill’s take on the frequency of taking the Lord’s Supper.

5. Here is a collection of 3 dozen posts concerning the SCOTUS’ decision to legalize same-sex marriage from the Biblical Counseling Coalition.

6. And here are 50 resources for equipping the church on homosexuality and same-sex marriage from the Gospel Coalition.

And here’s Toto with Hold the Line

Looking Inside at the Warm & Squishy Morality

Just for me personally, I think I see two things going on with all that’s happening around us in our culture.  First, I see people who want to only look inside them for their true selves thus barring the gates so that no outside force can tell them who they are.  Second, I see that when what’s inside them doesn’t satisfy them, they don’t go running looking outside themselves for a better truth, they yell at those outside themselves because they don’t want to admit that slavery to one’s emotions and internal lies isn’t the best source of happiness.  So let me flesh this out a little.

In the first matter, the sins of Adam and Eve continue to be foundational sins of all people: prideful assumption of the role of God in their own lives.  If I look outside myself, even as far as to look at the general genital area, I might have to admit that yes, my parts have certain gender-identifying markers that distinguish me as male or female.  And short of some type of barbarism, this is how I was born.  And since I didn’t get to decide with which gender-identifying markers I was born, there must be someone, or Someone, who was at work.  That means I have to look to who made me and ask for what purpose I was made.  Hello clay, meet your Potter.  But then if I admit that there is Someone outside of me who determined my gender, and if I admit there was purpose in that determination, then I have to admit that I’m not my own boss, He is.  And out goes the door my warm and squishy morality that was so comforting because I was the moral center of my universe.  Now I discover that there is only one moral center of the universe, and oh by the way, it’s His universe!

So now I’m left with the second problem.  Because I’m unhappy with who I am, or how I was born, and I know Someone outside made me this way, I want to shake my fist at Him.  It’s His fault He didn’t make me a different way.  It’s His fault that what I want to become, or what I believe is hidden inside of me I can’t become, so I’ll just plain rebel.  I’ll tell You to stick it, take my stuff and go home justified in my anger.  But I still won’t yield.  I still won’t admit I’m wrong.  I’m just a poor victim of circumstances beyond my control.

So where does this leave us?  For Christians, it leaves us praying over 2 Corinthians 4:3-6 for our neighbors…

2 Corinthians 4:3-6 (HCSB) 3  But if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4  In their case, the god of this age has blinded the minds of the unbelievers so they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5  For we are not proclaiming ourselves but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your slaves because of Jesus. 6  For God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of God’s glory in the face of Jesus Christ.

And it reminds us that there but for the grace of God go I.  And it reminds us that if God shone His light in our hearts, He can certainly do it in the hearts of all those who don’t want to even admit that there’s a God who can speak light into existence.  It’s a God-thing to topple gods wherever they are found.  And thankfully, He’s still doing His thing!

 

Don’t Be Afraid to Say It’s Wrong

When did our culture determine that opposition to a viewpoint is hate speech?  When did our culture declare those who disagree with their opinions are intolerant?  When did people, who 30 years ago preached tolerance for opposing views, begin to practice intolerance towards those who are in disagreement with them?  I understand that to the victor goes the spoils, but doesn’t this behavior seem to be a scorched earth policy?

What’s amazing to me is that those who now seem to have the “power” in our culture were able to win some of that power in an environment that protected their right to speak out against their opposition.  While Christians may be opposed to today’s current climate, and truly believe that many of the behaviors being endorsed are wrong, we’ve never said that people couldn’t hold their beliefs.  The very fact that those in power now were once dissenters proves that their dissent was never shut down.  Voices of dissent were allowed.  And at least for now, those voices have won the day in our culture.

One of the great joys of citizenship within this country has been principled debate, and sometimes principled dissent.  Our freedoms of speech and religion have been the marvel of so many nations and have given hope to those who have fought oppression in those nations.  But now it seems that disagreement on any grounds will not be tolerated.  In fact, all means necessary to silence disagreement must be taken.

Which makes one wonder, are the current ideas which seem to have won the day so fragile, so built on the current winds of culture and not the rock of moral absolutes, that those who hold these ideas are afraid their ruse might be discovered?  Could it be that the emperor really is naked, that the emperor’s minions know this, and they will do anything to silence that truth?

One thing we must not let happen.  We must never allow fear or oppression to silence us in our opposition.  It’s not “hate” speech to call sin immoral, it is love.  And so while we understand that many will try to shout us down, we have chosen to fear God and love man.  So don’t be afraid to say it’s wrong.

How I Encouraged My Church on Sunday

With last week’s Supreme Court 5-4 decision to legalize same-sex marriage in all 50 states, conservative Christians can feel as though our voices are being systematically silenced in the wake of unprecedented attacks against our convictions.  As the pastor, I felt it appropriate to speak to our congregation about this decision and how we as a church and as individual Christians should live in this cultural climate.

1. Never forget that God is in control. Nations rise and fall according to the will of our heavenly Father. Even when godless decisions are made, they are made with His permission, sometimes as a consequence of a nation’s turning away from Him.  God hasn’t been caught off guard and we should trust Him that He will bring about all things for His glory.

2. As long as I’m the pastor, we will never permit a same-sex marriage nor will I or any of our pastors officiate a same-sex marriage. Should legal and/or financial pressure be put on us to comply, we will obey the Lord and face whatever persecution/consequences the culture may bring.

3. Homosexuals and those who affirm any kind of sinful behavior are not our enemies. Every single Christian was once blinded to the reality of his/her own sin. We were enemies of God because the god of this age had blinded us.  And God, rich in mercy and grace, shined His light into our hearts so that we could see our Lord Jesus Christ as the greatest treasure, see our rebellion against Him for what it was, and so that we would repent of our sins and by faith trust in the finished work of Jesus alone for our salvation.  We are to love our neighbor as ourselves which means instead of shouting at those in bondage to sin, we must befriend them with a genuine love spilling over from our joy in the Lord and our hope in the gospel.  Jesus was a friend of sinners and we must be their friends, too.

4. We’ve operated too long thinking that we’re the moral majority when we’re in reality the minority. We’ve assumed that the nation is like us as we pined away for days gone by. The reality is that those days are gone.  We are exiles in Babylon.  Christianity has always been most effective when we see the fields white unto harvest and go out into those fields as workers taking the gospel to the people.  We can’t just open our doors and say, “Y’all come!”  We’ve got to see ourselves as culturally out-of-step with the times.  But Christianity flourishes in that environment as the Lord blesses His people and empowers them by His Spirit.

5. We’ve got to see the church, not as a location, but as God’s people in relationship with Him and one another on mission for His glory. We don’t stop being the church when we say amen at noon on Sunday. We’re the church at work, at school, in our neighborhoods, and in all of life.  Living the Christian life must become who we are, not just something we do at appointed times during the week.  The lost and unchurched are out there.  We are out there, too.  It’s time to live on mission all the time.

6. We’ve got to show our culture what a biblical, gospel-focused, Christ-exalting, one man one woman until death parts us looks like.  Divorce is a terrible disease that continues to erode the moral high ground we think we have when we speak about marriage.  As long as we tolerate and/or overlook divorce in our churches, we’ll lose much of our right to point fingers at same-sex marriages.  And here I’m talking about divorces of convenience, not divorces with biblical grounds.  Divorce isn’t the unpardonable sin.  But divorce, especially when children are involved, steals, kills, and destroys.  Churches need to take seriously the call to model Christ’s love for His bride, the church, by helping to strengthen biblical marriage to the glory of God.

7. We must continue to pray. We’ve got to pray corporately and individually. We must pray for our churches, for our families, for our friends, for our leaders, for our nation, for a movement of God in power, for the lost we know, etc.  We may have darker days ahead of us.  There’s much for us to pray about.  We are grateful to know that God answers prayer.

This is how I encouraged 3BC on Sunday.  May history show that in this day and time of resistance to God’s Word and ways, Christians in the US did not shrink back from the challenge of our times and boldly stood as humble but courageous people who loved the Lord, loved their neighbors, and did not love their own lives, no matter the consequences.

Mt. Moriah: Our God Provides…The Notes

GOTM_mtmoriah_twitterI started my new sermon series yesterday Ain’t No Mountain High Enough with a sermon from Genesis 22:1-19 entitled Mt. Moriah: Our God Provides.  You can listen to the sermon here.  The notes are below…

1. Our faith in God is meant to be lived out.

James 2:20-23 (HCSB) 20  Foolish man! Are you willing to learn that faith without works is useless? 21  Wasn’t Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? 22  You see that faith was active together with his works, and by works, faith was perfected. 23  So the Scripture was fulfilled that says, Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him for righteousness, and he was called God’s friend.

2. Don’t be surprised when God asks you to put your treasures on the altar.

3. When we live out our faith withholding nothing from Him, we see God do amazing things in us and for us.

Hebrews 11:17-19 (HCSB) 17  By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac. He received the promises and he was offering his unique son, 18  the one it had been said about, Your seed will be traced through Isaac. 19  He considered God to be able even to raise someone from the dead, and as an illustration, he received him back.

4. God provided His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, for us so that we lack nothing we need to be pleasing to Him.

Mt. Moriah: Our God Provides

GOTM_mtmoriah_twitterI’m starting a 6-week series today on mountains in the Bible.  Today will think about God’s provision as we go up Mt. Moriah with Abraham and Isaac.  Our passage today is Genesis 22:1-19…

Genesis 22:1-19 (HCSB) 1 After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” “Here I am,” he answered. 2 “Take your son,” He said, “your only ⌊son⌋ Isaac, whom you love, go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.”

3 So Abraham got up early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took with him two of his young men and his son Isaac. He split wood for a burnt offering and set out to go to the place God had told him about. 4 On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. 5 Then Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey. The boy and I will go over there to worship; then we’ll come back to you.” 6 Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and laid it on his son Isaac. In his hand he took the fire and the sacrificial knife, and the two of them walked on together.

7 Then Isaac spoke to his father Abraham and said, “My father.” And he replied, “Here I am, my son.” Isaac said, “The fire and the wood are here, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” 8 Abraham answered, “God Himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” Then the two of them walked on together.

9 When they arrived at the place that God had told him about, Abraham built the altar there and arranged the wood. He bound his son Isaac and placed him on the altar on top of the wood. 10 Then Abraham reached out and took the knife to slaughter his son.

11 But the Angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” He replied, “Here I am.” 12 Then He said, “Do not lay a hand on the boy or do anything to him. For now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your only son from Me.” 13 Abraham looked up and saw a ram caught in the thicket by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram and offered it as a burnt offering in place of his son. 14 And Abraham named that place The Lord Will Provide, so today it is said: “It will be provided on the Lord’s mountain.”

15 Then the Angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time from heaven 16 and said, “By Myself I have sworn,” ⌊this is⌋ the Lord’s declaration: “Because you have done this thing and have not withheld your only son, 17 I will indeed bless you and make your offspring as numerous as the stars of the sky and the sand on the seashore. Your offspring will possess the gates of their enemies. 18 And all the nations of the earth will be blessed by your offspring because you have obeyed My command.” 19 Abraham went back to his young men, and they got up and went together to Beer-sheba. And Abraham settled in Beer-sheba.