Christians – It’s Time to Stand

white houseLast Thursday Seattle, Mayor Ed Murray unveiled new rainbow crosswalks at several Capitol Hill intersections costing $66,000. The crosswalks are expected to last three to five years, but the city said it plans to maintain them for years to come.

On Friday in a long sought out victory for the gay rights movement the SCOTUS ruled that what God sees as an abomination the Constitution guarantees as a right. That evening the White House of the United States was illuminated in rainbow colors as an offense and cost to tax payers across the country.

Over the weekend businesses across the nation begin to show support for the LBGT community on social media. The Department of Education changes their picture to reflect their long time agenda.

Monday local judges and clerks across the nation stood and said they will not go against their deep-rooted conviction and conscience by issuing marriage licenses to gay couples. Some have resigned. Others brace for persecution.

On Tuesday the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled that a Ten Commandments monument (paid for by private money) placed on State Capitol grounds must be removed because the Oklahoma Constitution bans the use of state property for the benefit of a religion.

Today….

What is happening in our country?

Let me submit that it is the same thing that has been happening for decades just now at an accelerated pace. Monday night I attended with many others from our community to an event to hear David Barton speak out on these issues. Below (posted with permission) is a summary of the event from two of my dear friends. Please take the time to read this. If the gay rights activists have not yet bombarded your local government they will. Christians need to be informed and prepared. It’s time to stand!

David Barton Encourages Fayetteville Activists – a Summary of Last Nights Meeting. Written by Angela Lathrum

David Barton, internationally known public speaker, author and historian, visited Fayetteville last night to encourage the grassroots effort to combat the effects of the radical sexual revolution on our local government.  Barton is the president of Wallbuilders, a pro-family organization, which holds a large private collection of original source American historical documents.  In the fall of 2014, Barton and others in Wallbuilders worked with activists in Fayetteville to repeal Ordinance 119, a dangerous law that forced business to allow members of either sex to enter both men and women’s bathrooms and locker rooms.  Now a new, but frustratingly similar, ordinance is on the September 8 ballot in Fayetteville.  Motivated to see a similar victory over Ordinance 5781, several hundred citizens gathered last night to hear what Barton had to say.

Many of those in attendance were encouraged to see such a prominent figure engage with citizens over a local issue.  The shift in culture, and the hijacking of Americans’ ethics, is impacting every level of society: our nation, our communities, and our individual consciences.  So, a call to action on the local level is crucial for a stand on a national level.  The Wallbuilders team aimed to rally support for the counter-initiative in local communities.

Barton drew some interesting parallels between the Genesis account of Lot’s confrontation with the culture of Sodom and today’s confrontation with the radical sexual revolution. Evil is not content with the position of “live and let live”.  It demands that we come and participate with it, just as the Sodomites sought Lot’s consent and participation in their assault on the visiting angels.  Barton presented nearly a dozen examples of cases around the country in which courts ruled that an individual did not have a right to act according to his own conscience, by not participating in objectionable activities.  Evil will have us participate, or seek to destroy us.

Just as Lot offered his virgin daughters to appease the Sodomites, Christians will often offer a compromise to appease those pushing their “progressive” cultural shift.  Churches have accommodated, families have looked the other way, schools have indoctrinated our youth in an effort to make them more “tolerant”.  Our compromises, have only strengthened the opposition.  Our middle ground is crumbling.

Evil is unappeased with compromise.  False accusations follow, usually without merit.  Lot was falsely accused of judging the men of Sodom.  “Bigot” and “discrimination” have been spewed at Christians who have tried to reserve their right to refuse service when it violated their conscience.  But radical sexual revolutionaries insist that love means tolerance and even affirmation.  God’s holy Word says otherwise.

False accusations will usually turn to meanness.  Similarly, Lot was nearly overtaken by the men of Sodom with whom he was trying to reason.  Undeniable, The Survey of Hostility to Religion in America documents acts of aggression and intolerance toward Christians each year.  It recounts many cases in which Christians are accused of persecution and bigotry, while the same and far worse is perpetrated against us.  Threats, coerciveness and down-right meanness are the arsenal of Evil.

Barton continued by quoting Charles Finney.  “God will bless or curse this nation according to the course Christians take in politics.”  Proverbs tells us that “A wise man scales the city of the mighty and brings down the trusted stronghold.” (21:22)  As a historian, Barton likened the strategies of successful battles to the strategies that Christians need to use today in fighting the encroaching evil that would lay siege to our society and capture the minds of our children.   Christian political leaders must focus on the national strategy, and local leaders must engaged in the battle specifics, on the ground, in our local communities.  Defense is not a battle strategy, it is a time to pull back, regroup and prepare for the next offensive move.  And at every level, Christians need to be proactive, watching and seeking out faithful, tested, and humble leaders in our local businesses, churches and communities.

Wallbuilders made a clear call for religious leaders to take an active role in encouraging Christians to participate in the political process.  Pastors and ministry leaders can learn more about this strategy through the revitalized organization, National Black Robe Regiment, at  www.nationalblackroberegiment.com.

David Barton’s message was a clear message to stand.  We have turned over our country to immoral extremists, simply because they are louder.  Passivity has been our weakness.  Instead, Christians must be proactive and organized.  Satan has used lies and confusion to incite the lost.   Clearly, anyone who believes that there are 82 different sexual identities and orientations is deceived, confused, and lost.   Christians’ greatest weapon is faithfulness to truth and love.

Above all, the movement to restore America to its Christian heritage must be covered in prayer and carried out in love.  What the lost, confused and deceived members of our culture need most of all, is Jesus!  Thankfully, we know love does win in the end through the sacrificial blood of the cross.

To learn more about the Fayetteville ordinance that strips business owners of their right to act in accordance with their own conscience and how you can get involved in its repeal visit  www.repeal119.com.

In response my friend Deedra Branscum writes:

It was encouraging to see so many pastors and community leaders attending last night. I am always so encouraged as many of them are homeschool families/parents and I am so glad to be part of this community.  Another interesting and true perspective Barton gave was that Christians are too quick to give up a compromise and giving away things we should not -like Lot offering his virgin daughter-when we should not compromise and give things up at all. Lot was attempting to not go as far as they wanted to in having homosexual acts by giving his daughter but he shouldn’t have ever offered a compromise in the first place and we should not either.  The evil men Lot dealt with wanted forced participation and not ” live and let live ” and that is the same group we are facing in this battle today. They want to force Christians to participate by baking then a cake for their event etc.

David Barton and other speakers also referred to the Bentonville school policy issue we have been discussing and actively opposing. It is another piece to the puzzle in this culture war. Thanks for all the encouragement and support of friends in this community. It has been a time consuming and at times seemingly endless battle but we know who has the final word in the end.!! I pray God is pleased in all we do and say despite what naysayers may say from the peanut gallery. It has been a great group to work with and we have seen Christ shared and I believe God would be pleased at how this group had handled it.

There are also some encouraging stories of people who have turned from this lifestyle, repented and are now right were God wants them to be.  Those sweet testimonies encourage us too. There are several dimensions to this culture war. There are those that are militant to complete their agenda and silence Christians and further persecute them for disagreeing wanting to force participation in their activities and then there are those who are not militant about it.  Here is a link to the testimony of a man we have become friends with during this battle.   https://flames2fire.wordpress.com/jasons-testimony/ He has spoken at several of the board meetings. He lived a gay life with a partner 11 years and then turned his life over to Christ. He has an awesome testimony and now has a sweet wife and several children and they are expecting a baby soon!!

Keep praying and doing what you can because it will take prayer and action, not silence, to stop the indoctrination of children and encourage people towards Christ.  Love and Godspeed in all your endeavors for Christ!!

Friends, Now is the time to stand. In the words of Paul be followers of God, as dear children.  “And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour. But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks. For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. Be not ye therefore partakers with them. For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret. But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light. Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” (Eph 5:1-16) It’ time to stand!

The LGBT Agenda and our Public Schools

gayAs a good friend pointed out the other day, we do not have to travel across the ocean to fight wars; they are in our own backyard. Last night was a prime example. My husband and I attended our local school board meeting where they were to vote on a proposed change to the EOE policy to include the LGBT community and the term “sexual orientation and gender identity”.

Doors opened before 5 pm and there was a high attendance. After well over 50 speeches from the community the board postponed the vote until the next board meeting stating that they were not allowed to make executive decisions past midnight. The next meeting will be June 1st. Both sides spoke to the issue.

Pastors and evangelicals talked about the nature and consequences of the homosexual lifestyle in general and how it goes against God’s standards clearly defined in Scripture. Concerned citizens talked about how this policy would constitute endorsement of sexual lifestyles and behaviors that most of the people in our community do not condone. Local parents addressed the concern that the school would be putting children at risk while ignoring the overwhelming evidence that proves the dangers of such policies. Many spoke to the confusing nature of this issue on the minds of our children.

The LGBT community was represented by business men and women, young students and teachers. Some articulated their message in a respectful manner wishing for understanding and compassion. The majority spoke of fear, hatred, bigotry, judgment and hypocrisy.  I truly wished I had counted the number of times that these key phrases were used during the evening. Other phrases heard were “it takes a village after all” and “no one has a monopoly on truth”. This issue was time and again equated to civil rights. One lady went so far as to compare this perceived discrimination as to what happened to the Jews in Germany.

The most shocking testimony was from an ex-homosexual who testified of his deliverance from this sinful lifestyle. I thank God for that man’s testimony for the Lord. The most disturbing testimony was from a local pastor who defended this lifestyle.  My heart aches for the confusion and blindness of so many in the LBGT lifestyle. I pray that the Lord will open their hearts to the truth of His word. However, this man willing deceived the hearers last night. Claiming to be a student of the Word, he ignored God’s perfect design for marriage as one man and one woman. God’s standard is that any sexual activity outside of a one man/one woman marriage is unrighteous.

 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. (1Co 6:9-10)

He down played scripture like Romans chapter one as “cultural issues” where it is clear that this is a moral and spiritual issue. “Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves,” (Rom 1:24). (See also Jude 7.)

He devalued the words written by Paul and other passages saying that Jesus never spoke on the issue of homosexuality. Did he forget that,All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness”(2Ti 3:16)?   Or that Jesus is The Word of God (John 1:1, Rev 19:13)?

He compared Christians who speak out against the sin of homosexuality to the Pharisees of old. A true understanding of the Pharisees reveals that they were on the ones who in the name of religion twisted God’s original Word to their own liking and traditions of men. Read the Sermon on the Mount. Over and over Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said by them of old time…….But I say unto you………….”

  • We’re okay because we haven’t murdered. But Jesus said if you have hatred in your heart that you are in danger of hell fire.
  • We’re okay because we haven’t committed adultery. But Jesus said if you look with lust you have committed adultery in your heart.
  • We’re okay because we divorced according to the law. But Jesus said your unjustified divorce is leading to adultery.

And so on, all through Chapter 5 of Matthew. God’s standard is that holy. God’s judgment is that pure. In fact, Jesus said, “That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.”(Mat 5:20)

Today it sounds like this:

  •  We’re okay because we are tolerant and nonjudgmental. But Jesus said, “Judge righteous judgment” (John 7:24).
  • We’re okay because we love Jesus. But Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15).
  • We’re okay because God accepts us just the way we are. But Jesus said, “Why call me Lord, Lord and do not the things I say?” (Luke 6:46).

God is not okay with sin in any fashion. To say that God is okay with sexual sin is quite deceptive.

Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: For which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience: Col 3:5-6.

I saddened for those who willingly lead people astray.  Scripture warns them. Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; (Isa 5:20). Thus saith the Lord GOD; Woe unto the foolish prophets, that follow their own spirit, and have seen nothing! (Eze 13:3)

The goal of the gay agenda is to force our society to fully accept their lifestyle as morally, socially, and religiously equivalent to the heterosexual lifestyle. These attempts at policy changes and others across the nation is just a stepping stone. If we allow this, where will we draw the line? Will we draw the line at giving special rights to pedophiles or those who think they were born with a natural desire for animals?  God’s Word speaks to that as well.

Last night, over and over again, it was said that those who oppose this are being judgmental and hateful.  Can I just tell you that when I speak God’s truth that I am no more judgmental than a doctor who judges the seriousness of a patient dying with cancer. Out of love for mankind and a sense of professional obligation a good, noble doctor must offer the cure no matter how painful.  There is a cure for sin and eternal death, although it is often painful to hear.

I do not stand in judgment because the judgment has already been made by God. To warn those who will one day be judged for their sins is the most loving and compassionate thing anyone can do. To those who are blinded by their sins against God this, of course, will sound like hate. Truth always sounds like hate to those who hate truth.

 Let me say that again, Truth always sounds like hate to those who hate truth.

Christian parents, this issue is not going away.   The youth in the public schools are being indoctrinated with this liberal propaganda every day.  Pay attention, it starts in kindergarten and continues year after year. On this topic Dr. Ken Ham wrote, “It is also important to note that the public education system has by and large thrown out God’s Word and raised generations of children to believe they are just animals who evolved by natural processes. In that worldview, who determines right and wrong? And who determines what marriage should or should not be? In fact, why should there be any such thing as marriage any way? Why shouldn’t people do what they want with anyone, even any animal? Why shouldn’t they do what is right in their own eyes if they can get away with it? Why not? If there’s no absolute authority, what right does anyone have to tell anyone else what they should or should not do?”[i]

My advice is to get your children out now. Homeschool them or send them to a good private Christian school. Make the necessary sacrifices. Otherwise, do not be surprised when they come home after being taught by the village stating that absolute truth does not exist.

[i] http://blogs.answersingenesis.org/blogs/ken-ham/2012/07/31/why-are-they-intolerant-of-the-only-true-marriage/

The Eden Concept

cover 4My niece is getting married in a few months. Her wedding invitation is posted on our fridge. There is excitement in the air and talk of dresses, cakes, receptions, decorations, and flowers. She will be a beautiful bride.

Don’t you just love weddings! I usually cry through the whole ceremony, but my favorite part is the moment when the bride walks through the door. Everyone turns and stands in awe. All eyes are upon the beautiful and radiant young women dressed in white. Music is playing and the groom waits anxiously to take his bride as his own. It is almost surreal.

But sadly, within our culture the sacredness of marriage itself is almost gone. For decades now it has been under attack and at its core the institution of marriage seems to be weakening. More and more we hear of marriages ripped apart.

Ripped apart by sin.
Ripped apart by selfishness.
Ripped apart by worldly influences.

Then there are those who want to throw the whole ideology of marriage away. It’s not that they want to “redefine marriage” as some would declare. No, they want to destroy it, erase it from existence. God instituted marriage. He is the author of it. He defines it. Therefore, marriage as God designed it is a constant reminder of His authority over His creation. And people who love their sin do not want to be reminded of their Creator and Judge.

A little over a year ago my husband and I started working together on a book called The Eden Concept. We are living in a time where biblical marriage needs to be lifted up, lived out, and taught to others. This is why I’m excited to announce that we are finally moving forward with this project. The outline is complete. Here is a sampling of the introduction:

A correct worldview of origins is foundational to a correct view of marriage. Established in Genesis, we see the doctrine of marriage as ordained by God of one man and one woman. But, an inaccurate view of origins led mankind down a path of narcissistic ideology – the idea that mankind should do what is “right in our own eyes.” On this topic Dr. Ham wrote, “It is also important to note that the public education system has by and large thrown out God’s Word and raised generations of children to believe they are just animals who evolved by natural processes. In that worldview, who determines right and wrong? And who determines what marriage should or should not be? In fact, why should there be any such thing as marriage any way? Why shouldn’t people do what they want with anyone, even any animal? Why shouldn’t they do what is right in their own eyes if they can get away with it? Why not? If there’s no absolute authority, what right does anyone have to tell anyone else what they should or should not do?”

To look at marriage in any other fashion than through God’s Word is futile. The Eden Concept dismisses man’s ideas about marriage and sees it as God – The Absolute Authority – designed it. The Eden Concept throws out man’s happiness and self-gratification as the standard for marriage. Instead, it lifts up God’s Holy Word as the design for a thriving marriage. Journey with us through each page; we start at “the beginning” and then witness the devastation that sin brought to Eden. We ascertain the perfect design for Eden and how to re-establish it. We address cultivating the marriage and raising our children, the tender plants of Eden. We examine the ruin caused by the cultural weevils in Eden and learn how to fight against them. We will see marriage just as God intended – The Eden Concept – and how we, as God’s children, are to respond.

Will you keep us in your prayers as we continue this work? Pray for protection for our marriage and family and for wisdom and discernment as we press on. Many blessings to you!

Am I Good Enough?

parentGod has entrusted the discipleship of our children to us. What an awesome responsibility! When we consider the high calling and standards that is placed on Christian parents, it can be overwhelming. I know this from experience. There are times that I feel as though I have outright failed as a parent. I haven’t taught them enough. I haven’t been consistent enough. I’ve missed teaching opportunities ….and so on.  Am I good enough?

The truth is that we are the ones God has chosen to parent our children. You see, it doesn’t take long to recognize the source of discouragement and despair. It is the enemy that wants us to lose heart. So when I feel this way, I run to God’s Word and let the light of His truth shine bright.

Have you ever been discouraged? It takes a lot to bring up children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Let me remind you that God is on your side!  No one has a more vested interest in your children than the Lord. Be encouraged! Turn to Him. Trust in His leading and be pointed to His Holy Word.

Do you want to learn more about discipleship? Join me over at The Homeschool Leadercast as I talk about:

  • Discipleship in the home

  • Why home discipleship is so important

  • What home discipleship should look like

  • If we don’t disciple our children, they are going to learn from others

  • The biblical mandate to disciple our children

  • The foundation for Home Discipleship

  • Marriage as the framework for home discipleship

Image courtesy of stockimages / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The American Bible Challenge

“If you have a show that encourages people to open this book (the Bible) and delve into it, and learn not only what God says about Himself but what He says about you – that’s a win, win!” Jeff Foxworthy

The American Bible Challenge, hosted by Jeff Foxworthy, premiered on the GAME SHOW NETWORK last night.  Did you see it?  I believe that the Bible is the holy, inspired, infallible, all sufficient, precious Word of God and should not be treated any less.  So I was somewhat apprehensive when I first heard about this new game show.  Would it turn out to be offensive?  Or, make light of God’s Word?  Or, could it possibly be a show that glorifies God and His Word?  Would people be encouraged to study the Bible and learn more of it by watching this?   I must say that after watching The Making of the American Bible Challenge (you can watch it here) and catching the last few minutes of last night’s show, I believe that The American Bible Challenge does appear to be a “win-win”.

What impressed me most with The Making of the American Bible Challenge was the heart behind the producers to magnify God’s Word in a very respectful way.  Also, I learned a lot about Jeff Foxworthy that I didn’t know.  Truthfully, all I knew about him was his redneck jokes.  However, I learned that he is indeed a believer.  He grew up with a mother who is a mighty prayer warrior.  He teaches the Bible to a group of homeless men each Tuesday, and has an accountability group that he has met with each Thursday for the past 15 years.  In reference to the Bible he said, “It exactly applies to me.  It applies to my life right now.”

Jeff closed the show with, “If you don’t know your Bible – You don’t have a prayer!”  I couldn’t agree more and will add that if you don’t know the God of the Bible and His Son, you certainly don’t have a prayer!

My prayer is that this show will be successful and that many people will be pointed to God and His Word through it.  If you haven’t seen it yet, check out the below sites.

Website: http://gsntv.com/shows/the-american-bible-challenge/

Trailer: http://gsntv.com/shows/the-american-bible-challenge/videos/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/theamericanbiblechallenge

By the way, I have my own Bible Challenge for you. 

 What book in the Bible tells us that hell has enlarged herself?

 *****The first person to comment and correctly answer this question will be sent a Zondervan Quest Bible and The American Bible Challenge T-Shirt.

Happy searching!

 

Disclosure:  I received the give-a-way product mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention this on my blog.

Water, Wind, and Waves

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The beach was rather refreshing.  One day a small girl, with the help of her mother, diligently worked on a sand castle.  A young couple entered the water together, laughing and enjoying life.  A group of boys played volleyball.  A few surfers ventured out to catch a wave or two.  Several people relished in the warmth of the sun and simply relaxed.  The waters announced its grandeur with each consistent roar.  You could almost hear the waves, in a near boastful tone calling out with authority, “You are here to see me.  I am the reason you have come.”

What is it about the beach that draws people?  Is it the cool breeze from the ocean?  Is it the sound of the waves rushing against the shore?  Perhaps it is simply the ability to sit and rest without great expectation.  I sat and reflected this past week with my feet buried deep into the warmth of the sand.  How can man look at the vastness of the ocean and not be drawn to our Creator?  The Psalms declare, “The voice of the Lord is upon the waters: The Lord of glory thundereth: the Lord is upon many waters,” Psalm 29:3.  If we will open our eyes, we can see the Lord’s hand in all of creation.  If we will listen, we can hear the Lord speaking through his creation.  If we will allow it, we can be drawn closer to the Lord through His creation.

One particular morning the waves were exceptionally boisterous and the undercurrent rather strong.  The children and I enjoyed the waves but stayed close to the shore.  Dana kept a watchful eye at the edge of the water.  He never moved.  After a few minutes we would look toward the beach and notice that we have drifted far in one direction.  It took an intentional effort on our part to stay in the area in front of my husband.  Every now and then Aaron, watching out for his little sister and brother, would remind them to come closer.  If not careful, the waves would easily carry us miles away.

As we were moved about by the strength of the water, wind, and waves I could not help but think about the passage in Ephesians about being, “tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine.”  Oh, how easy it is to be tossed about in our spiritual life.  It takes a strong anchor of faith to not waver these days.  (For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed,” James 1:6.)  Not only do we need a strong faith in God and His Word, but we need desperately need the church.  The church? You might ask; What does that have to do with this passage in Ephesians about being “tossed to and fro”?    Let’s look at it in context.

And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; (Eph 4:11-14)

 Notice the gifts Christ gave for the provision and edification of His church.  Are you blessed to be a part of a local, Bible teaching, New Testament church?  It is easy to see the necessity of the church in correlation to the perfecting of the saints, work of the ministry, and edifying of the body of Christ –without it we can easily be “tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine.”  Just as the children and I needed to look to the spot my husband stood to keep us from drifting too far, so do we need to keep our eyes fixed upon Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.  And just as we depended upon each other while we were in the waters for safety, God’s children in like manner needs the local church.   “Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching,” Hebrews 10:23-25.

Exercises in Generalizations

There is something remarkably precious about the love and fellowship shared between brothers and sisters in Christ. Last night, our family was standing in the parking lot of our church talking with one of the men on our executive leadership team and his sweet wife.  We were doing some work around the church building, visiting, laughing, and enjoying each other’s company.   Then, as usual, we started talking about the church and doctrine.  In our church, doctrine is often discussed.  We love it, teach it, and hold to it.  My husband often reminds the congregation that we not only need to know what we believe, but why we believe it.  Yet, when you talk to a lot of Christian people today, doctrine seems to be irrelevant. Really, is it that important?   I will submit that of course it is; that is unless we want to be “children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine,” Eph 4:14.  And yet, it seems like that is just the case.  People are carried about with every (and I mean every) wind of doctrine.

“I’ll believe this, this week.”

“That sounds good for next week.”

“Teach me something new under the sun, I’ll believe it too!”

My husband explains it like this.  Many pastors’ sermons are simply exercises in generalizations.  They do not know the Bible; therefore, they do not teach it to their flock.  Due to this, people are biblically illiterate.  Consequently, they will believe anything (or in some cases nothing at all).  So as a result, people will often shy away from sound doctrine, because it has gotten to the point of sounding foreign to the “average” church-goer.  Could it be that we have reached the time where “they will not endure sound doctrine,” 2 Timothy 4:3?

I am so thankful for all the pastors who hold fast to the faithful words that they, “may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers,” Titus 1:9.     And for the men of God that “speak thou the things which become sound doctrine,” Titus 2:1.  Keep it up!   The Lord is pleased.  There are many out there who are doing just this.  I am, of course, partial to one in particular.  I really love my husband’s preaching.  I have learned so much by the expository, verse by verse, teaching of God’s Word.  And, I’m thankful for the churches that have ears to hear and that truly want to follow God’s precious Word.  Our church is an example of one.   I love our church.  Each and every one of them!  Our people have a heart’s desire to know the Word of God and obey it.  We not only have unity, but our unity is built on the truth (sound doctrine) of God’s Word.

Biblical Discernment in a World of False Teaching – Part Five

Cultural Relevance

There is a lot of talk about the cultural relevant church, but just what does this mean?  I have heard it said that we must be culturally relevant if we want to reach the world and I have heard others oppose the notion.  I believe our biggest problem is taking terminology that is outside the Scriptures (cultural relevant) to describe mandates derived from the Scriptures. People get confused when this happens and the message becomes unclear.  So, let’s look at the definitions of cultural and relevant.

Cultural – relating to a culture or civilization

Relevant – having social significance, some bearing on or importance for real-world issues, present-day events, or the current state of society

One writer said, “It’s about being relevant and engaging culture. The church must be relevant and understand that we live in an ever-changing and ever evolving culture, if we want to reach people for Christ. The methods must change, but the message ‘the Word’ never changes.”

I can agree with most of this statement.  We most certainly live in an ever-changing culture and certain methods should change.  I do not know of any circuit riding preacher who is still traveling around on horseback preaching the gospel.  I like our current mode of transportation, thank you!  I’m also rather thankful for the internet.  Our church can broadcast the gospel all over the world with a few clicks of a button. To disregard our modern technology simply relates to loss opportunity in reaching out to the lost with the gospel.  So what is the problem and where is all the confusion?

It is interesting to note that those that promote cultural relevance always states that “the Word never changes.”  I have, however, found this to be untrue in some cases.  In an effort to have social significance some will cast off the Word for a more palatable substitute.  Sitting around talking about real life issues is not the same as teaching God’s Word and preaching the gospel of Christ.

Another problem arises when we confuse the function of the church with personal evangelism.  My husband often reminds us that the church is a people, not a place.  The Greek word for church is ekklesia which means a called assembly. The local church is a called out assembly of baptized believers who have coveted together to carry out the great commission.  Therefore, church is for the saved.  Let me say that again because I believe very few truly understand this.  Church is for the saved not the unregenerate world.  When we come together in the assembly, it is to worship God.  The lost cannot or will not do this.   When we come together in the assembly, it is to learn from God’s Word.  The lost do not even understand God’s Word.  “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” 1 Corinthians 2:14.    When we come together in the assembly, it is to love, exhort, and edify one another.  Without God’s love the lost cannot grasp the meaning of loving the brethren and all it encompasses.  And when we come together in the assembly it is to equip us for the work of the ministry. “For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ,” Ephesians 4:12.

This is, however, not to say that the lost are unwelcome within the assembly.  We should make them feel welcome, but the function of the church is not to bring into the assembly as many lost people as we can find in hopes that they might get saved at the church.  If they come in, the purpose should be that they will watch true believers worship the True God, hear the preaching and teaching of the Word, and witness the love for the brethren within the church.  Should God draw them and stir their hearts so they get saved within the assembly, praise God.  But the churches function is not to be seeker sensitive.  We should not adapt the preaching and teaching to their pleasure.  (In fact, Jesus preached and taught counter-culturally and was crucified for it.  Why would we expect any less from the world?)  And while we desire to make them feel comfortable, the truth is that an unsaved man or woman will not be comfortable when the truth of God’s Word is proclaimed.  What we need to be sensitive to is God’s desires and His will for His church.  The church comes together to worship, learn from God’s Word, and love one another.  It is then that we go out into the world to reach and evangelize our neighbors and loved ones.  This is done on a personal level, one by one. Once the lost are saved, we should seek to bring them into the assembly so they too can worship God, learn from His Word, and love the brethren.

If the churches focus is always on being culturally relevant, the true “ministry of reconciliation” that we are given will quickly grow irrelevant.  When the center of attention is on the culture, often the purity of the church and the sanctification of believers are de-emphasized.  The problem with being cultural relevant is that too much attention is being given to making sinners feel comfortable, being seeker sensitive, and fitting in with the world.  Therefore, too little attention is given to repentance from sin, being sensitive to God’s Word, and confronting the culture.

The church is to be different from the world.  We are not to look like, act like, or live like the world.  We are to be holy, set apart, and peculiar.  I find that a focus on cultural relevance often ignores these truths.  Eric Davis states it plainly, “Christ was so relevant, not because he was methodologically trained in missional living, but because he was so holy. The most effective missional living is not crafting the most culturally relevant outreach technique, but in transformed people who are actually salt and light. Spiritual maturity through sanctification best equips God’s people for evangelism over cultural methodology.” [i]

“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” Romans 12:2

Biblical Discernment in a World of False Teaching – Part One

“Discernment is not simply a matter of telling the difference between what is right and wrong; rather it is the difference between right and almost right.” Charles Spurgeon

In this world there is certainly a lot of “almost right” out there.  But as I have said before, the most dangerous lie is the one closest to the truth.  Therefore, for the Christian, biblical discernment is imperative.  I’ve been thinking about all of the false teaching out there today.  Certainly, false teaching is nothing new.  Practically every one of the New Testament epistles deals with recognizing and exposing false teachers.

Jesus dealt with it.  “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves,” Matthew 7:15.  The apostles dealt with it.   “As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed,” Galatians 1:9.
The first century church dealt with it.  “For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them,” Act 20:29-30.
And if we love the truth, we will deal with it and do our best to expose it. “I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars,”  Revelation 2:2.

(See also Matthew 24:4-5, Matthew 24:23-24, Luke 21:8, Romans 16:18, 2 Corinthians 11:13, Ephesians 4:14, Philippians 3:18-19, I Timothy 4:1, 2 Timothy 2:17-18, Titus 1:10-11, 2 Peter 2:1, 2 John 1:7, 10, Jude 1:4)

The Apostle John tells us, “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world,” 1 John 4:1.

Not every spirit is of God. The Bible speaks of evil, unclean, dumb, foul, and deaf spirits.  It tells of the spirit of infirmity, spirit of divination, spirit of bondage, spirit of the world, spirit that “worketh in the children of disobedience,” spirit of antichrist, and the spirit of error.  Not every teaching is correct.  A false spirit produces false teachers that fabricate false doctrine. many false prophets are gone out into the world.”   This is why biblical discernment is so important.  I believe there are truly many Christian men and women who want to teach the truth to others.  They are sincere.  Perhaps their motives are pure.  But, they have not filtered all of their teaching through God’s Word.  To try the spirits means to test or prove them.  “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good,” 1 Thessalonians 5:21. 

 There are two ways to test a spirit.  The first is by the Word of God.  The believers in Berea were nobler than the ones in Thessalonica because they “searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so,” Act 17:11. If a doctrine does not line up with Scripture it is wrong.  The Spirit of God will never contradict the Word of God.  It will never supersede the written word.  Just as Christ came to do the will of the Father and glorify Him, the Spirit will point people to Christ and glorify Him.  John 1:1 tells us that Jesus is the Word of God.  Revelations 19:13 tells us that “The Word of God” is His very name.  We also know that “all scripture is given by inspiration of God,” 2 Timothy 3:16.  To say that the Spirit would lead us or teach us something contrary to Jesus Christ (The Word) is untrue.

The second way to test the spirits is by their fruits.  Jesus said in Matthew 7:20 “by their fruits ye shall know them.” You cannot separate a man’s personal life from his ministry.  Does his life line up with what he is teaching?  Be careful to accept every teaching as truth.  You need to make sure that what is taught is first biblical and second that those teaching have a life that demonstrates good works.  “Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom,” James 3:13.

If the Spirit of God dwells in us, by knowing the Word of God and examining fruits we can test the spirits to see if they are of God. “God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.” 1 Corinthians 2:10.

Like I said, I am concerned about all the good sounding, “almost right”, man-centered ideas that are ever constantly being proclaimed about God and His Word.  I am not saying that those who teaching such things are “false prophets” but I do believe many are misguided.  And if we are not careful, we will let their teaching influence our beliefs.  Over the next few days I will be address some of these fallacies that are prevalent today.

  • Gospel Message without Repentance
  • Ecumenical Movement
  • Labels & Doctrines of Men
  • Cultural Relevance
  • Pragmatism

New Website!

Most of you know that I have been working diligently to finish up my fourth book (and 3rd in the Living Out the Word series).  Lord willing, LOVE: a verse by verse study for women through the epistles of John will be completed by March 2012.  Please keep me in your prayers as I strive to meet this goal. 

The new website, www.livingouttheword.net,  is devoted just to the Living Out the Word series.  I would love for you to stop by and check it out!

Blessings,

Kimberly