Faithandthelaw's Blog

The law as it relates to Christians and their free exercise of religion

What Has Happened to Christianity?

Posted by goodnessofgod2010 on August 30, 2015

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Times are changing around the world and Christians are being persecuted more now than at any time in history.  Christianity is losing its influence in culture, education and politics. Recently while reading a book my wife bought by Erwin Lutzer The Cross in the Shadow of the Crescent made me think on the waning influence of Christianity in the modern world and why this is so. No greater illustration of this than what has happened in Turkey. Turkey (Asia Minor) was at one time the epicenter of the explosion of Christianity with the Apostle Paul and the school of Tyrannus in Acts 19 where in the space of 2 years and three months every person in Asia Minor heard the word of the Lord Jesus and the Word of God grew mightily and prevailed.

Listen to the record of the power and influence of Christianity in which is now modern day Turkey:

Acts 19:8ff: And he went into the synagogue, and spake boldly for the space of three months, disputing and persuading the things concerning the kingdom of God.But when divers were hardened, and believed not, but spake evil of that way before the multitude, he departed from them, and separated the disciples, disputing daily in the school of one Tyrannus.10 And this continued by the space of two years; so that all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks.11 And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul:12 So that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them.13 Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth.14 And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, and chief of the priests, which did so.15 And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye?16 And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.17 And this was known to all the Jews and Greeks also dwelling at Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified.18 And many that believed came, and confessed, and shewed their deeds.19 Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver.20 So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed.

“Prevailed” in the Greek means to exercise force, to wield power and to have the strength to overcome. The Word of God grew to the point it wielded power in the lives of the Christians, those that heard and even the culture. It had the power to overcome all the occult powers, evil spirits, religious arguments and physical ailments of the age. Look at the power of God over the forces of darkness. The Word of God first must grow and prevail in our lives before it can exercise power in our neighborhood, cities and nation. Is the Word of God prevailing today or has it been corrupted and water-downed. 2 Corinthians 2:17: For we are not, like so many, [like hucksters making a trade of] peddling God’s Word [shortchanging and adulterating the divine message]; but like [men] of sincerity and the purest motive, as [commissioned and sent] by God, we speak [His message] in Christ (the Messiah), in the [very] sight and presence of God. The word in the Greek for peddling means to be a retailer that would adulterate or water down their commodities to make a gain; to make money by selling anything and the merchandising of God’s Word for sordid gain. Have you ever turned on Christian television lately? Much of it is peddling the gospel to make a gain. Selling the Word of God to make money for luxurious mansions, cars, jewelry, jets and material gain. We have too many spiritual hucksters trying to sell the blessing of God for seed money. Doesn’t this sound like the indulgences of the Dark Ages when the Roman Catholic Church would sell salvation and other blessings for a price? This is a major reason that the Church is hurting and straying from its calling. We do not sell the Word of God like a commodity on the stock market. You cannot buy God or a blessing. Peter rebuked Simon the sorcerer for this and said “May your silver rot with you! Because you thought you obtain the gift of God by money.” Acts 8:20. The Word of God says such thinking is of those who are “depraved in mind and depraved of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain.” I Timothy 6:5. These “desires plunge people into ruin and destruction and cause people to wander from the faith.” I Timothy 6:9,10.  Unfortunately many that preach these modern day indulgences are pastors and spiritual leaders in the Church and it is wreaking havoc on the witness of Christianity.

Not to get sidetracked: Paul and Barnabas also taught the gospel for a whole year in Antioch and the believers were first called Christians in Antioch which is in modern Turkey:

Acts 11:19ff: 19 Now those who were scattered because of the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch, speaking the word to no one except Jews. 20 But there were some of them, men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who on coming to Antioch spoke to the Hellenists also, preaching the Lord Jesus. 21 And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number who believed turned to the Lord. 22 The report of this came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. 23 When he came and saw the grace of God, he was glad, and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose, 24 for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord. 25 So Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, 26 and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year they met with the church and taught a great many people. And in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians.

Yet today Christianity is almost non-existent in Turkey as it is 99.8% Muslim and .2% Christian. What happened that Christianity has little influence in this region? Much of what we call the Islamic world today was once Christian. Islam is spreading rapidly in Western Europe with churches closing and being bought and turned into mosques and a rising anti-Christian sentiment in the public square and all walks of life. This is especially surprising given the violent nature of many in Islam and their increasing brutality and terrorism around the globe. Yet Christianity is becoming the hated “religion.”

Why do we not see the church in Acts in Christianity anymore? Where is the power? Where is the deliverance? Where is the passion? We have more passion for our football or basketball teams than we have for Jesus Christ. Where are the miracles? Where are the healings? This is supposed to be a daily occurrence in Christianity as God backs up His word and confirms it with signs, miracles and wonders. Do we just go through the motions but Christ is not a living reality in our hearts?

Mark 16:15-20  And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.17 And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;18 They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.19 So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God.20 And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.

When the Lord works, there are signs, miracles and wonders. This type of power manifested did not go out with the Apostles of the First Century. It is available today and should be the norm in Christianity.

Look at the commission of Jesus’s own disciples:

Matthew 10:8: Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.

Luke 10:17ff:  The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” 18 And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. 19 Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. 20 Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

As Christians we have been given the authority of the name of Jesus Christ. We have full power of attorney rights. Satan is not falling like lightening because we are not walking in that authority. We are instead still in bondage to the Prince of the Power of the Air and the course of this world. We have been given power over the entire kingdom of darkness. Nothing can hurt us when we stand in that authority. Devil spirits will flee, sickness and infirmity will vanish and the power of God will explode on the scene by our faith in our Faithful God.

Do you believe this promise?

John 14:12-14: “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. 13 Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.

We are to God in the authority and power of our Lord Jesus Christ. In Him we are unstoppable, immovable, unconquerable and a force to be reckoned with in this world. God needs laborers to go forth into the harvest in the valley of human need and to be witnesses to Him in the power of the Spirit.

Matthew 28:18,19a: 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations,

Immeasurable power is released when we believe. All things are under our feet and we are filled with the fullness of Christ:

Ephesians 1:18ff: Having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.

Acts 5:12ff:  Now many signs and wonders were regularly done among the people by the hands of the apostles. And they were all together in Solomon’s Portico. 13 None of the rest dared join them, but the people held them in high esteem. 14 And more than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women, 15 so that they even carried out the sick into the streets and laid them on cots and mats, that as Peter came by at least his shadow might fall on some of them. 16 The people also gathered from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing the sick and those afflicted with unclean spirits, and they were all healed.

This type of power is absent in the church today. Signs and wonders were the norm. Even Peter’s shadow falling on the sick would heal them. Today many churches do not even believe in healing or claim sickness is the will of God. Even though God’s name is Yahweh Rapha, the Lord who heals. All those afflicted with unclean spirits or sicknesses were healed. Why don’t we this in the church today?

There is no political solution to the problems of America or the world. There is no economic solution for the problems of America or the world. It is much deeper. It is spiritual. Jesus Christ is the solution to every problem and ill and malaise of this world. Anything else is built on sinking sand. It is not a Republic or Democrat solution, a Russian or USA solution, a liberal or conservative solution for if you think so you are being deceived. The Body of Christ is to represent Jesus Christ to the world. Yet most of us have manifested more of what Jesus is not than what he is in our lives. Why is this so?

In thinking about what has gone wrong with modern Christianity I am not an expert or claim to have all the answers. I am not pointing fingers but am humbling thinking about what can be done to reverse this disturbing trend. I am going to bring up a few points that God has laid on my heart, but ultimately it has to be a God solution, not a man solution. It has to be a Bible solution and not a human reasoning or self-focused solution. Here are some genuine things to think about to restore the majesty and impact of Christianity in our times.

  1. We have failed to shine as the lights of the world and failed to be the salt of the earth becoming bland like the world.

Matthew 5:14,15:  “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

You (humeis) is emphatic meaning “you yourselves”.

Genuine faith in Christ turns a man from darkness to marvelous light, and transforms him into “light in the Lord”; his aims and objects, his desires, his speech, his actions, become full of divine light, which illuminates all the chambers of his soul, and then pours forth from the windows so as to be seen of men. 

Your light – If you are a believer you are a supernatural “light”. And you are responsible for letting your light shine forth.

Let…shine – Jesus does not make a suggestion but as discussed below issues a command “Since you are light, then shine!” Shining is not optional for believers.

Let…shine (lampo) means to radiate brilliantly or beam forth.  Jesus gives His a command to do this right now and do it effectively (aorist imperative – conveys the idea of urgency). This is a permissive imperative which means to permit your light to shine. Don’t do anything that will cover it, hide it or snuff it out. To shine is not optional! If we fail to obey our Lord’s command we will fail to fulfill His purpose for us in His glorious plan.

What Jesus intends is for believers to live out the Christ life which is in them (Col 1:27), a way and quality of life that is so different from that of the world (including the religious world) and so distinctive that it shines light into the darkness. Let the character of Jesus shine forth. The Puritan writer Thomas Brooks wrote that…A Christian’s life should be nothing but a visible representation of Christ. Has anyone mistaken you for Jesus lately? Am I truly living a life different from unbelievers? Is there anything about my life which one might recognize as supernatural? Am I giving a proper opinion of my Father by the way I live? The logic is clear and direct – just as the function of a household lamp is to give light in the house, so too believers are to provide illumination to all they encounter in this spiritually dark world.

Philippians 2:13-16: For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.14 Do all things without grumbling or disputing, 15 that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.

The word used for lights is the same as is used in the creation record of the lights (sun and moon) which God set in the dome of the heavens to give light upon the earth. Paul is saying the saints at Philippi and by way of application believers of all ages are to shine out in stark contrast to the darkness of this godless society shining forth as “heavenly bodies of light” (lights powered from heaven) stationed upon the earth enshrouded in the darkness of sin. We are now “light in the Lord” and are to reflect the glory of the Lord in the middle of this present darkness. The darker the night, the brighter the light appears. Christians are lights or light-bearers. They cannot create any light, but they can reflect the glory of the Lord so that others may see Jesus in them.

Matthew 5:13: “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.

We are supposed to be the salt of the Earth, as something that gives flavor to make a meal taste good. But when we are not attracting the lost, but rather repelling them, then our salt has lost its savor. What makes it even worse is that we are even repelling the saved.

I Peter 2:9 (NIV) But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a dedicated nation, [God’s] own purchased, special peoplethat you may set forth the wonderful deeds and display the virtues and perfections of Him Who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.

 

Ephesians 5:8-16 (NIV):For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light 9(for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) 10and find out what pleases the Lord. 11Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. 12For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. 13But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, 14for it is light that makes everything visible. This is why it is said:
“Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”

 15Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.

  1. We have forgotten about the gift of holy spirit received at the new birth and it lies dormant and ineffectual in our daily living.

Acts 1:8: But you will receive (lambano-into manifestation) power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.

Acts 2:38: And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

II Timothy 1:6: Fan into flame the gift of God which is in you.

I Corinthians 12:7:  But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.

A born again believer received the gift of holy spirit at the time of the new birth conversion. It is power, a comforter, a teacher, an enlightener and a fruit producer. God has given us none manifestations to operate in I Corinthians 12 and we must begin to walk by the Spirit, fanning into a flame that burns the chaff in our lives and sets our hearts on fire for God.

  1. We have failed to live sanctified from the world:

2 Timothy is Paul’s last book. All Asia had turned away from Him. Principal keys for the Christian, for leaders and for the church how not to fall into apostasy.

2 Timothy 2:20-22: But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor. 21 Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work. 22 Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.

John 17:14-19:  I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.

What do you desire for your life as a Christian? Do you long for a heart that is aflame for God or extinguished by the world? Romans 12:2: Do not be conformed to the passions of this world. We love Jesus being our Savior but hold back in making Him our Lord in everything. We still want to sit on the throne of our heart and run our own life. We want to get our ticket to heaven and return to living the way we were before. We will make no impact for the gospel of Jesus Christ with this thinking.

Skip Moen in Spiritual Restoration: Sanctification is not about becoming perfect. It is about becoming perfectly His. It is about giving more and more of my life over to God for His possession. When God met Moses at the burning bush, he took off his sandals to show he had no ownership of the ground he stood on. It belonged to God. That’s what we must do-transfer ownership to Him, give up our claims and consecrate ourselves to His purposes. God is not asking for the perfect life. He is asking to set aside the life we have entirely for Him.

  1. Oh Ye of Little Faith:  We have so little faith as Christians today as there is a great need for a revival of faith in the church. Our entire culture is designed to build fear and unbelief in the promises of God and doubt as to God’s true character and His enduring faithfulness. We have more faith in the devil to afflict and oppress us than in the power of God to deliver us, change us, empower us, and demonstrate His mighty nature in and through us.

. We have made God too small; our vision of God is mundane and tiny; we do not see or understand the character of God and just who He is, and thus our faith is miniscule, weak and shipwrecked on the island of doubt, worry and fear. Faith must once again come alive with a holy vibrancy rooted in the unchangeable truth that our God cannot lie and the promises of His Word are awaiting to be ignited in our heart by our audacious faith that God is who He says He is and can do what He says He can do. True Faith has absolute confidence that our God is able and willing to bring about the impossible, the miraculous, the supernatural and the extraordinary in our lives. How many times did Jesus chide his disciples and followers saying “O ye of little faith!”? We must elevate our faith in Him to the mountaintop where it belongs and, if we are ever to live the audacious, vibrant, bold and world-changing Christian life, we must have faith that moves mountains.

Eric Ludy: Do we know the power and grandeur of God in our day? Does our generation comprehend that the God of the Bible is without “shadow of turning” and that He is “the same yesterday, today, and forever.” There is a vast shortage of believers who simply believe with childlike faith that God will do what He says He will do and is worthy of our trust and is always faithful to His Word. Romans 4:19-21 (KJV)- 19And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah’s womb:20He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God;21And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform. 

There’s nothing our world needs more desperately today – in individuals, families, businesses, churches, and communities – than God’s saving, supernatural acts. And he’s ready to act if we will be bold enough to ask, not just for a good day or a better life, but for the impossible. Then step forward to act in audacious faith.

Each of us is called to be a Joshua—each in our own way, in our own circumstances, with our own God-given personality. As you’ll see in the pages ahead, you and I are called not just to have faith, but also to regularly activate our faith by asking God for giant outcomes, taking giant steps. If we have the audacity to ask, God has the ability to perform. That’s how God turns His amazing promises into everyday reality in every generation—for Joshua’s and for ours.You and I may not see the same miracles Joshua did, but we serve the same God. His nature never changes. The same power that stopped the sun and raised Christ from the grave lives in every believer. God still demonstrates His power and supplies His provision in direct proportion to the faith of his children.

Mark 11:22-24 (NIV):

22 “Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. 23 “Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. 24Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

“Have the faith of God” (Young’s Literal Translation)

Do you have the faith of God? Or do you have the doubt of the world? Do you believe that God can move mountains through your faith? Or are you consumed with the avalanche of fear and anxiety and not confident that our God can and will move mountains with this God-inspired faith and child-like trust in Him and Him alone? Would you ask God for the sun to stand still? Or is that just too big and too impossible for your faith? God has not changed. He still loves and passionately desires to do the impossible. He is waiting for one person to energize His faith and move out with audacious faith that there is a God in heaven with unlimited power and ability who loves to move and rule in the affairs of men and women.

  1. We Love the World and the things of the world more than we love God.

Jesus life-changing question to Peter: “Do you love me more than these?”

I John 2:16,17: 15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. 17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

2 Timothy 2:3,4:  Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.

James 4:1ff: (Voice): Where do you think your fighting and endless conflict come from? Don’t you think that they originate in the constant pursuit of gratification that rages inside each of you like an uncontrolled militia? You crave something that you do not possess, so you murder to get it. You desire the things you cannot earn, so you sue others and fight for what you want. You do not have because you have chosen not to ask. And when you do ask, you still do not get what you want because your motives are all wrong—because you continually focus on self-indulgence. You are adulterers. Don’t you know that making friends with this corrupt world order is open aggression toward God? So anyone who aligns with this bogus world system is declaring war against the one true God. Do you think it is empty rhetoric when the Scriptures say, “The spirit that lives in us is addicted to envy and jealousy”? You may think that the situation is hopeless, but God gives us more grace when we turn away from our own interests. That’s why Scripture says, God opposes the proud,  but He pours out grace on the humble.So submit yourselves to the one true God and fight against the devil and his schemes. If you do, he will run away in failure. Come close to the one true God, and He will draw close to you. Wash your hands; you have dirtied them in sin. Cleanse your heart, because your mind is split down the middle, your love for God on one side and selfish pursuits on the other.

Quote from my upcoming book The Heart: The Key to Everything in the Christian Life:

The world will never love you like God loves you. He will never leave or forsake you, and He will always lead you in the path of true righteousness. Isn’t He worthy of owning ALL your heart and not just part of it? Why give away even the smallest part of your heart to the world? The world will never satisfy like God satisfies. It will only betray you in the long run like an unfaithful lover and lead you down a path of destruction.

Has your hearing become so dull, our eyes so blind, that you are giving leftovers of your heart to God? Francis Chan, in Crazy Love, says:

God wants our best, deserves our best, and demands our best. . . . [Yet] God gets a scrap or two only because we feel guilty for giving Him nothing. A mumbled three-minute prayer at the end of the day, when we are already half asleep. Two crumbled-up dollar bills thrown as an afterthought into the church’s fund for the poor. . . . We say to the Creator of all this magnitude and majesty, “Well, I’m not sure You are worth it. You see, I really like my car or my little sin habit or my money, and I am really not sure I want to give them up.” . . . How can we think for even a second that anything on this puny little earth compares to the Creator and Sustainer and Savior of it all?

This is the great deception of the kosmos, that God is not worthy of our best love, our first love, our greatest love. We give God only leftover scraps from the table of our hearts and forget His majesty and grandeur and how much how much our hearts need Him. Jesus declares to the church at Ephesus, “I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first” (Revelation 2:4). Does God really satisfy you? Are you consumed with God? Is God your first love? Carter Conlan, in The 180 Degree Christian; Serving Jesus in a Culture of Excess, says:

What I believe grieves God most is we have robbed Him of our hearts. It is as if He would say to us, “You have robbed Me of the full heart of surrender that I was looking for that would have allowed Me to fill you from the crown of your head to the soles of your feet. If only you would have turned to Me! I would have caused you to live such a profound life that you would have stood out as a light shining in a darkened world.”

6: We don’t want to give up our idols:

 Kyle Idleman in Gods at War: Defeating the Idols that Battle for Your Heart says:

Idolatry is the number one issue in the Bible…Idolatry comes into every book…What if I told you that every sin you are struggling with, every discouragement you are dealing with, even the lack of purpose you’re living with are because of idolatry?…Idolatry isn’t just one of many sins; rather it’s the one great sin that all others come from. So if you start scratching at whatever struggle you’re dealing with, eventually you’ll find that underneath it is a false god. Until that god is dethroned, and the Lord God takes His rightful place, you will not have victory. Idolatry isn’t an issue; it is the issue. All roads lead to the dusty, overlooked concept of false gods. Deal with life on the glossy outer layers and you might never see it; scratch a little beneath the surface, and you will begin to see that it is always there, under some coat of paint. There are a hundred million different symptoms, but the issue is always  idolatry.

I John 5:21: Little children, keep yourselves from idols. I Corinthians 10:14: Flee from idolatry.

An idol is anything that is more valued, loved, sought after, desired and honored than God. An idol is worshipped in place of God and becomes the obsession, passion and craving of the heart above all else. Timothy Keller in, Counterfeit Gods, says:

What is an idol? It is anything more important to you than God. It is anything that absorbs your heart and imagination more than God, anything you seek to give you what only God can give. A counterfeit god is anything so central and essential to your life that, should you lose it, your life would feel hardly worth living. An idol has such a controlling position in your heart that you can spend most of your passion and energy, your emotional and financial resources, on it without a second thought. It can be family and children, or career and making money, or achievement and critical acclaim, or saving “face” and social standing. It can be romantic relationship; peer approval, competence and skill, secure and comfortable circumstances, your beauty or your brain, a great political or social cause, your morality or virtue, or even success in the Christian ministry…An idol is whatever you look at and say, in your heart of hearts, “If I have that, then I’ll feel my life has meaning, then I’ll know I have value, then I’ll feel significant and secure”…If anything becomes more fundamental than God to your happiness, meaning in life, and identity, then it is an idol.

Timothy Keller, Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex and Power, and the Only Hope that Matters (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 2010), 5.

Do you have an idol that has captured your heart?  What are you most devoted to? What occupies almost all your time? What commands your attention? What do you think about constantly? What makes you happy above all other things? What gives your life value and meaning? What absorbs you on a daily basis and controls your life? What consumes you? What can you not live without? What drives you on a daily basis? These questions are a litmus test to determine what idols you may have in your heart. These are mountaintop questions meant to reveal what has climbed to the peak of your heart. Martin Luther said, “Whatever your heart clings to and relies upon is your God; trust and faith of the heart alone make both God and idol.”

At the root of all idolatry is a misplaced trust in some person, object, idea or image above God. We trust the idol to make us whole and give us value. We have faith in the idol to fulfill its promises. We believe the idol more than we believe God. We lean on our idol in times of trouble. The idol has captured the gaze of our eyes. The idol becomes the voice we listen to. The idol energizes us to action.

We must tear down the altars to other idols in our hearts and worship the on true God always.

7: Christians have failed miserably to walk in unity but instead criticize, judge and destroy one another with their words, attitudes and actions.

Can you imagine that there are 41,000 Christian denominations and organizations? Are we missing something? Isn’t this another reason why Christianity has lost its effectiveness? Look at church history and it is not a pretty picture. Wars, inquisitions, bitter strife and schisms, persecutions, killings and hatred. How can the Body of Christ accomplish anything on earth when all of its members are warring against each other and pointing the finger of judgment? Nothing makes a mockery of Christianity more than disunity among believers. The Devil does everything in his power to keep the church divided as disunity has become a major obstacle in reaching the world with a life-changing gospel.

Look at the example of the First Century Church:

Acts 4:32-34a: Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. 33 And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. 34 There was not a needy person among them…

Acts 2:42-47: The community continually committed themselves to learning what the apostles taught them, gathering for fellowship, breaking bread, and praying.43 Everyone felt a sense of awe because the apostles were doing many signs and wonders among them. 44 There was an intense sense of togetherness among all who believed; they shared all their material possessions in need. 45 They sold any possessions and goods that did not benefit the community and used the money to help everyone in need. They were unified as they worshiped at the temple day after day. In homes, they broke bread and shared meals with glad and generous hearts. 47 The new disciples praised God, and they enjoyed the goodwill of all the people of the city. Day after day the Lord added to their number everyone who was experiencing liberation.

It takes humility, gentleness, patience and love to walk in unity as Christians. Are you eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace or eager to cause division and strife in the church by your judgmental attitude and critical words?

Ephesians 4:1-7: I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift.

There are to be NO divisions in the church but we are supposed to be united in the same mind and judgment. But instead we say oh I follow Calvin, oh I follow Luther, oh I follow the Pope, oh I follow the prosperity gospel and on and on and on. We quarrel over everything and bring mockery to the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We have emptied the cross of Christ of its power in modern day Christianity by our divisive actions.

I Corinthians 1:10ff: I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. 11 For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers. 12 What I mean is that each one of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ.” 13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? 14 I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 so that no one may say that you were baptized in my name. 16 (I did baptize also the household of Stephanas. Beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized anyone else.) 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.

We remain infants in Christ, never growing into maturity because there is jealousy, strife and division among us as we walk according to the flesh and not the spirit.

I Corinthians 3:1ff: But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way? For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not being merely human?What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building.

Colossians sets for the standard, the measuring rod for every Christian.

Colossians 3:12ff:  Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.

There are to be no divisions by race, culture, geography, gender or denomination.

Galatians 3:28: There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 

I Corinthians 12:12ff:  For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.14 For the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? 18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19 If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, 24 which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, 25 that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26 If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.

We must stop the hatred, the division, the slander and the finger pointing among different Christian groups and denominations. Everyone thinks they are right and the other group is wrong. Remember we are all members of the Body of Christ and are supposed to be one in Christ Jesus. We will never be effective in the gospel until we put aside our petty squabbles and begin to walk in unity and love among each other. Romans 12 says in honor we are to prefer one another above ourselves. It is sad commentary in my over 40 years as a Christian when I have been persecuted, put down, criticized, slander and hated, 99% of the time it is coming from other Christians. Christians trying to destroy other Christians’ lives and ministries is far too common in modern day Christianity. The Devil is called the accuser of God’s brethren (Revelation 12:10) Why should we become his evangelists and spokepersons when we slander and judge our very own Christian brothers and sisters. The Bible says in Ephesians that NO corrupt communication is to come our mouths about anyone or anything but our words are to edify and minister grace to the hearers (Ephesians 4:29. What a change that would be. The Bible says we are to be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you (Ephesians 4:32). Where has the kindness and forgiveness gone in churches today. Why do we backbite and gossip and judge so much? Maybe we have forgotten what we were forgiven for. At every opportunity, we are to do good to everyone especially those who are of the household of faith (Galatians 6:10). Do you know much impact a kind word has, a tender touch and a helping has? Or are we like the priest and Levite who walk to the other side of the street when they see someone in need? Where is the compassion? Where is the love? Where is the empathy? We are supposed to walk and think Jesus Christ! (Philippians 2:5, I John 2:6, I Peter 2:24). How we have fallen short! We must watch out as Galatians wars that we do not bite and devour and are consumed by one another instead of spreading the gospel in word and deed (Galatians 5:15).

Let us heed Jesus’s prayer: John 17:20-23:  “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.

8: Failure to Love: Waxed cold on love and waxed hot on gossiping, tearing down, criticism and judgment.

The Bible speaks eloquently to these issues. Now is the time to hear and obey it.

Matthew 24:12 And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will wax cold.

John 2:3-11:  And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment that you had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word that you have heard. At the same time, it is a new commandment that I am writing to you, which is true in him and in you, because[a] the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining. Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. 10 Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him[b] there is no cause for stumbling. 11 But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.

John 13:35: By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.  

Ephesians 5:2a: And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us…

Colossians 3:12ff:  Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.

  1. Not Rendering Sin Unemployed:

Romans 6:4-6.11-13 (Amplified):

We were buried therefore with Him by the baptism into death, so that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, so we too might habitually live and behave in newness of life. For if we have become one with Him by sharing a death like His, we shall also be one with Him in sharing His resurrection by a new life lived for God. We know that our old unrenewed self was nailed to the cross with Him in order that our body which is the instrument of sin might be made ineffective and inactive for evil, that we might no longer be the slaves of sin. Even so consider yourselves also dead to sin and your relation to it broken, but alive to God, living in unbroken fellowship with Him, in Christ Jesus. Let not sin therefore rule as king in your mortal, short-lived, perishable bodies, to make you yield to its cravings and be subject to its lusts and evil passions. Do not continue offering or yielding your bodily members and faculties to sin as instruments tools of wickedness. But offer and yield yourselves to God as though you have been raised from the dead to perpetual life, and your bodily members and faculties to God, presenting them as implements of righteousness. For sin shall not any longer exert dominion over you, since now you are not under Law as slaves, but under grace as subjects of God’s favor and mercy.

Colossians 3:5(a) Amplified:

So kill, deaden, deprive of power the evil desire (lust) lurking in your members [those animal impulses and all that is earthly in you that is employed in sin]…

Galatians 5:24, 25 (KJV):

And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.

If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

Phillips:

Those who belong to Christ have crucified their old nature with all that it loved and lusted for.

If our lives are centered in the Spirit, let us be guided by the Spirit.

We yield our hands, feet, mouth, eyes, ears and heart as tools of righteousness to our God, and never allow our body to be an instrument of sin.

  1. Silenced as to the gospel. Most Christians are ashamed to speak the gospel of Christ in the public arena. We have become passive in witnessing and sharing of the truths of God’s Word. We fear man more than we fear God. We are fearful of what people may think, fearful of being labeled a religious nut, fearful of rejection and ridicule, fearful of not being accepted and liked by our friends, neighbors and culture that we are silenced. We refuse to open our mouths and witness to the greatest message ever in the history of the world. We forget that Jesus was despised and rejected of men, hated by the religious established, mocked by the winds of culture. Romans 10:8-17: But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach;That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.12 For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?15 And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? 17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

You have been sent to preach this word of faith, the gospel, to every living person. No one can believe unless they hear and no one can hear without a preacher, someone holding it forth to them. We are all commissioned preachers of the gospel. We preach in two ways: By our words and by our lives. We are living epistles known and read of all people. (2 Corinthians 3:2). Our lives are preaching 24 hours a day which may turn many off from our words of sharing the truth of God’s Word. If we preach love, but judge, gossip and hate others our message has lost its power. If we preach Lordship but are sold out to the lusts of our flesh and our own selfishness than our message has little impact. If we preach compassion but refuse to give to meet the needs of others than our message becomes hypocritical. Our love must not be hypocritical or two-faced as Romans 12:9 declares. We cannot play the part when it comes to love. We do not become an actor when it comes to loving others. Putting on a show but really not caring much.

2 Corinthians 5:17-20: Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.

We have the ministry of reconciling men, women and children back to God and the word of reconciliation to accomplish this as ambassadors of the Lord Jesus Christ. You are an ambassador of Jesus Christ! Are you a silent ambassador with the ministry of reconciliation closing its doors in your life? Are people not hearing the gospel because you have chosen to remain silent?

We should hold forth the Word of life with boldness mixed with tenderness, grace, mercy and love in the power of the Holy Spirit. We should be like Stephen that people could not resist the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking (Acts 6:10).

Colossians 3:5,6: Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time. Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.

11. Lack of Devotion to Pray and Study and Meditation of the Word

 O how we have underestimated the power of prayer!!God has provided us a defense and power that will enable us to stand against the schemes and flaming arrows of our enemy-the Prayer of faith. Eric Ludy-Prayer is not some bb gun that God has given us to try to shoo away raccoons in the night. Prayer is nuclear power, world renovating in its epic strength. When used according to the pattern of Scripture, prayer alters history, alters the natural world, and alters the human soul. The Sword of the Spirit is too heavy for a mere man to carry, but prayer enables us to lift it, swing it, and transform the world around us with it. Prayer is the catalyst behind everything Godly taking place in the earth.

A. W. Tozer portrayed a praying Christian as a constant threat to the stability of Satan’s government writing that…

The Christian is a holy rebel loose in the world with access to the throne of God. Since prayer is detrimental to the evil one’s purposes, Satan and his minions do their utmost to interfere when we pray especially opposing us when we try to take time for prayer because the enemy knows better than most Christian’s the power of persistent prayer! In any posture, in any attire, at any time, in any place, and under any circumstance prayer is appropriate. Prayer is to be a total way of life, an open and constant communion with God.

Bona fide, heaven-inspired prayer-the kind that moves mountains and calms storms-is not something the modern church is use to. Prayer in our modern day has been diminished, and as a direct result, the power of the church of Jesus Christ has seemingly vanished. We are not a triumphant lot anymore, but rather a weak, sin-stained, defeated one. We lost our strength, our confidence, our absolute assurance that God is with us in battle. So many amongst our ranks are literally scared to fight because they honestly don’t know if they are going to win if they do. Lion-hearted prayer warriors are rare these days. Men and women with wild and holy abandon are so few nowadays as to be confused with being non-existent. Could it be you are the stuff of prayer legends and God is saying to you right now, “Its time my son or daughter. Rise up and live this life like you mean it!!” Will you be a part of a legendary generation of prayer heroes? Do you want a greater cause, a greater purpose, a greater destiny to fill your life? Then become a lionhearted prayer warrior for God.

EM Bounds- Our praying needs to be pressed and pursued with an energy that never tires, a persistency which will not be denied and a courage that never fails.

Colossians 4:2 (NASB)-Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving; I Thessalonians 5:17 (NASB)-Pray without ceasing. Phillips-Never stop praying. Romans 12:12 (NIV) Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 

AW Tozer-The man who would know God must spend time with Him. True prayer demands more of our lives than most are willing to give and therefore few ever taste of its power and delights. You need to be radical in your prayer life.

2 Timothy 2:15: Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

John 5:39a; Search the Scriptures

Psalm 1:1-3 Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
 nor sits in the seat of scoffers;but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither.In all that he does, he prospers. 

We should be spending at least an hour a day in prayer and the Scriptures. We must make time for God in our busy lives. He must be number one priority. We must train our minds to think about Scripture during the day and meditate upon God’s promises. There is nothing better to think about. One hour a day can transform you, your family and the church in amazing ways. You will begin to reflect the image of Christ more and think like Jeus instead of like the world.

These 11 points are not a comprehensive list by any means but they will help the Body of Christ get back on track as shine as a bright light in this crooked world.

Tim Rowe

Goodness of God Ministries http://www.thegoodnessofgod.net

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Thomas More Law Center Continues Fight Against Common Core; Files Brief to Uphold Missouri Ruling That Testing is Illegal

Posted by faithandthelaw on July 27, 2015

rotten-to-the-common-core

Continuing its national battle against the federal government’s attempted takeover of public education, the Thomas More Law Center, last week, filed a friend of the court brief in the Missouri Court of Appeals supporting a lower court decision that held the State’s participation and membership in the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (“SBAC”) is illegal and SBAC itself is an “unlawful interstate compact … whose existence and operation violate[s] the Compact Clause of the U.S. Constitution.”

The lower court ruling which stopped Missouri from paying over $4 million in membership fees to SBAC, is being appealed by Missouri state officials, including Governor Jay Nixon.

The original lawsuit was filed by D. John Sauer of the St. Louis, Missouri, firm Clark & Sauer, LLC in September 2014 on behalf of concerned Missouri residents and taxpayers.

The Thomas More Law Center (TMLC), a national public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, joined with Mr. Sauer in filing a similar lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of SBAC in North Dakota. A North Dakota District Judge will hear arguments next week on whether he should stop North Dakota from participating in SBAC.

The TMLC first became involved in the fight to stop Common Core in response to concerns of parents and teachers over the federal government’s control of curriculum nationwide and the standards themselves. As a result, the TMLC previously developed a Test Refusal and Student Privacy Protection Form and aCommon Core Resource Page as a general reference and guide for concerned parents and individuals.

Both SBAC and the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (“PARCC”) were created in response to a federal Department of Education grant program designed to create academic assessments aligned to the Common Core State Standards. The assessments leave local schools little choice but to align their curriculum to the standards and assessment, allowing the federal Department of Education to effectively control public education.

SBAC’s state membership agreements, executed by officials in Missouri, North Dakota, and several other states, have raised concerns that state officials are handing over local educational decisions to SBAC, and by extension the federal government which violates federal statutes prohibiting the federal government—and, in particular, the federal Department of Education—from controlling educational policy, including curriculum decisions and educational-assessment programs in elementary and secondary education.

The new wave of testing ushered in by SBAC and PARCC sparked a national opt-out movement as students, teachers and administrators grapple with the heavy burden created by these assessments. The looming threat from the Department of Education of the loss of federal funding helped drive the controversy between parents and school administrators over parental opt-outs and test refusal. As a result of these parental opt outs, students across the country were  formally disciplines and subjected to “sit-and-stare” policies; refused admittance to the classroom; lost honors, class trips, and athletic participation; and were even suspended.

 Click here to read the Law Center’s friend of the Court Brief

Courtesy of https://www.thomasmore.org/

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Planned Parenthood: How Much Longer?

Posted by goodnessofgod2010 on July 18, 2015

full_planned-parenthood-how-much-longerIn one sense, there are really just two types of people when it comes to the topic of abortion: those who think it is okay to kill unborn babies, and those who think it’s wrong. If you don’t think you’re in one of these categories, you still are; you’re just confused.

Confusion, though, isn’t the most terrible thing. It means there is still hope, and in fact, this hopeful condition likely characterizes the general public of the United States. Most people don’t have a deep conviction about unborn babies. Most people don’t even think about unborn babies unless it’s an election year or the news runs a story. Even most who support abortion could only repeat the rhetoric they’ve heard from devotees.

And therefore, if confusion is what’s really popular, the question becomes:

What will it take for abortion activists to convince the general public that their position is a psychotic threat to humanity?

When will the rhetoric about women’s health and women’s rights be exposed for what it truly is (since, of course, by women’s “health” and women’s “rights” they must not mean the near 28 million girls aborted since 1973)? What will it take? Where is the tipping point when the truth of Planned Parenthood can no longer be ignored by the popular conscience?

Abortion’s Self-Destruction

Mind-changing momentum is beginning to build, and to our surprise, it’s not so much from the direct work of pro-life advocates, but from the unmasked mishaps of abortion activists themselves. Yes, that’s right. They’ve ironically stumbled into a suicide mission.

What if, counter-conventional as it might seem, the greatest felt gains for unborn humans will come by the abortion industry’s self-destruction?

Last year there was the Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains reportedly awarded for exceeding their abortion quota. That is to say, in addition to other reports of such quotas, there was a certain number of abortions that the clinic was prescribed to perform and when they surpassed that number they were honored, all of which backfires against the language of abortions as safe, legal, and rare.

But that is really nothing compared to the recent video that exposes Planned Parenthood for selling the body parts of infant corpses. If the thought of abortionists high-fiving each other over surpassing their abortion quotas doesn’t unsettle you, just watch the video of Deborah Nucatola chomp her food and sip her wine as she talks about selling aborted baby heads. You can watchthe full two hours and forty minutes of conversation.

Apparently, according to Nucatola, Planned Parenthood’s Senior Director of Medical Services, not only is abortion “safe, legal, and rare,” but it’s a pretty big money-maker if you can keep those heads and livers intact as you extract the baby feet first.

How Much Longer, America?

Once again, we’re not supposed to know about this industry. Planned Parenthood doesn’t want us to know, especially since it’s illegal. But we do know. And if we open our eyes, we’ll never think the same way again about their organization and their little tagline, “Care. No matter what.” Care? They receive millions of taxpayer dollars, and our president tells them to keep up “the good work” — to butcher babies and sell their body parts? Care?

Sooner or later, Planned Parenthood, the conviction-less masses are going to start scratching their heads. Please, just keep talking. Just keep doing what you do. The lights are coming on, and you’ve got nowhere to hide.

The question for the rest of us is how long it is before we feel the cumulative effect. How much time will we give the abortion industry before they self-destruct? How much longer, America? How long are we going to let this go on?How many more conversations need to leak? How much more blood must be spilt? How many more body parts must be dismembered, packaged, and sold before we realize this whole thing is a nightmare? God, may it end soon.

Jonathan Parnell

http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/planned-parenthood-how-much-longer

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How Wide the Divide: Sexuality at the Forefront, Culture at the Crossroads

Posted by goodnessofgod2010 on July 17, 2015

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A century ago these times were imagined and they are now here. How do we live as Christians in such times?

My mother-in-law is ninety-five years old. She has lived through several wars and numerous other cataclysmic events in her life. Nothing has her more perplexed, shocked, and almost emotionally stunned as the culture wars that have been waged and have changed our world. I see her sitting in church when I am visiting her, obviously wondering why all of her past memories have been lost in the present format of worship. She is not at home either in the world or in her church and eagerly awaits the day when she can be in the City of God, her eternal home. ‎ ‎

What has changed? How did we get here? As Nietzsche would say, “Is there any up or down left? Who gave us a sponge to wipe away the horizon? Will lanterns have to be lit in the morning hours? What sacred games will we need to invent?” Yes, a century ago these times were imagined and they are now here. While the secular world has invented its secular games, many churches have invented their own “sacred” games.

The most daunting question for us today is how do we live as Christians in such times? The decision of the Supreme Court of the United States sent tremors around the globe and I have received scores of messages asking whether we, at RZIM, are going to say anything in response. What more is there to say? The spectrum of views that were immediately expressed said all there was to say. When the law passed, the first thought that came to my mind was Chesterton’s prophetic comment more than half a century ago: “For under the smooth legal surface of our society there are already moving very lawless things. We are always near the breaking-point when we care only for what is legal and nothing for what is lawful. Unless we have a moral principle about such delicate matters as marriage and murder, the whole world will become a welter of exceptions with no rules. There will be so many hard cases that everything will go soft.”

That breaking point is here.   ‎

After hours of pondering and praying, I would like to say something to my fellow believers and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. Naturally, some who disagree with my views will probably be reading this as well so I have to expand the justification a bit. I am keenly aware that on this subject winning the approval of all is not only impossible but if done, would be at the risk of substance. I shall try to walk through this minefield.‎

As Christians, we often look outside of ourselves and wonder why the world is so different from us. We seldom pause and ask how the Church of today has become so different from what it was and so indifferent to the world around us. Liberalism is not just a political term. What has happened in our world was foreseen a few decades ago. Changes were underway then and we were taken by a storm from within. Culture at large moved unabashedly towards the mockery of the Christian worldview; Eastern religions were spared that, either because of the cowardice of the Western critic or simply to not be seen as attacking another ethnic group. But the Church is really where the titanic shifts in the culture started. As the liberal church swung to the extreme of religion without absolutes, the evangelical church flirted with emotionalism without intellect, while some of the mass distributors of spirituality peddled a cosmetic version of truth that was hollow and hairstyles became more important than what was going on in the head itself.

Of course, there are exceptions to these generalities. Some of the most thriving churches today are those that have a deep allegiance to the gospel message. I am honored to often be in their midst and I have hope because of them. But for now, let me just talk about how wide is the divide between secular society and the Church, and why it is. ‎ ‎

There are three starting points that separate the historic Christian view from those who called for the legalizing of gay marriage that is now the law of the land, albeit by one vote.

One, we come from two different definitions of what it means to be human. For the Christian, life is in the soul. The body is the temporal home. George MacDonald said it well: “You do not ‘have’ a soul; you ‘are’ a soul, and ‘have’ a body.” For the one living with a secular worldview there is no such thing as the soul. To be sure, that is not true of all in that disposition. I know many who would not deny the essential spirituality of human life and will admit to a deep struggle between their attractions and their cautions. Strangely, there has also arisen a strained view that seeks to justify the marital bond between any two consenting adults as biblically permissible. I shall not wander into an apologetic countering that. But there are those within their own ranks who seriously challenge such distortion. Fine theologians have argued and demonstrated the cracks in their foundations.‎ ‎

For the most part, in secular terms NOW is all we have and NOW is the moment to enjoy whatever one pleases. A soul-less existence makes the body the sole means of fulfillment. When one starts that way, sexuality is a thing to be restricted only by parameters that are materially referenced. As the songwriter said, “In the dark it is easy to pretend that the truth is what it ought to be.” Touch becomes defined by feel and taste, nothing more than that. “I feel I enjoy it so please stay out of my way.”

‎The contrast here between the Christian worldview and the secular is a big one. For the Christian, not only is life in the soul, but the body, in Jesus’s words, is the temple of God. That is the highest locus of communion between a human being and God. For the one who recognizes no such thing as the sacred, the body is the playing field of life and pleasure sets the rules. This is a significant difference as a starting point.

Two, the Christian believes in absolutes. For the secular person, moral relativism is the only absolute. No one ever really says what something is relative to, but the implication here is that there is no boundary for behavior. Even the economic destruction of those with whom they disagree can become the water-boarding and the slow kill of the secular armory. For the relativist, no decision is determined by a transcendent definition of life, and where there are no absolutes, there had dare not be any prohibition by anyone else. The banner of the atheistic society in England during Christmas two years ago said it all: “There probably is no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.” Relativism is the open door to fun, absolutes the closed door that destroys fun. That is the way it is seen.

Three, the defender of sexual freedom sees a parallel between what is seen as anti-gay prejudice today and racial prejudice as it was practiced at its lowest point decades ago. Here, a word game has entered the vocabulary. Relativist convictions are supposedly prejudice-free, while absolute convictions are branded as phobias. Any stigma can lick a good dogma, it is said. With that verbal deconstruction of a worldview, all questioning of sexual freedom is castigated as a phobia. Quite amazing that atheists are not called “theophobes” or that those against Christians are not called “christophobes.” Pejoratively, the counter positions have been appended with phobias till we may have a whole new polyphobic dictionary.

But that is the lesser problem. I contend that equating race with sexuality is actually a false premise and an unfortunate analogy.‎ In the matter of race it simply doesn’t matter how I feel about it; my ethnicity transcends my preferences or inclinations. In the Hindi language there is a mildly mocking expression to describe one who acts different to his or her essence in race: “Desi murghi pardesi chal” … “this is a local bird with a foreign walk.” As was recently established, a person may feel like one race, associate primarily with that race and think like that race, but that doesn’t change who she really is. Why is this analogy unfortunate? Because it moves the debate from what is right to what are one’s rights. Ironically, the political party now most aligned with arguing for rights was once the same party that argued against the emancipation of slaves because of the slave-owners’ “rights.” In that case, those rights were overruled by what was right. Interesting that a new word wasn’t coined then to describe those who made moral arguments against the slave-owners’ rights as “slaveophobes.” Thankfully, essential human worth and moral reason trumped existential and pragmatic preferences and by God’s grace, what was right was deemed to be right and the slave was freed.

There are absolutes. To the Christian, every person is made in the image of God and is loved by God. He sent his Son for the whole world, not just for those of a particular race or sexual proclivity. Sex is a sacred trust with deliberate boundaries. It is at once one of the greatest gifts and one of the greatest struggles. The 5000-year-old struggle in the Middle East has its roots in polygamy when two half-brothers shared a father but not the same mother.

‎The violation of race is a violation of the sacred and for the Christian, the violation of sex is seen the same way. The secularist does not see the latter as a violation where there is consent, but this is simply not so for the Christian. Desacralization is an emptying of essential purpose and meaning and leads to the loss of essential purpose in life itself. This is why it is vacuous to say that if two people love each other they may express it in any way they choose. Love is not defined in a way that is self-referencing. It ultimately hangs on the peg of God’s love and how He defines love.‎ ‎

But here a caution is critical. All violation of the sacred, not just sex, is ultimately in need of God’s grace and forgiveness. That is the Christian view. That is why the good news is that God’s gift of salvation and redemption is offered to all. That is why what is right has to win the day over what we may see as rights. As hard as this may seem to some, it is the only hope to avoid the misuse of reason for other attractions. Can we not, on the same argument presently used—adult consent—someday justify a multitude of proclivities? Even more, what is to keep Sharia Law from being brought into the culture to respect the rights of a particular group only to have it one day used by extremists to overrule our present laws? After all, extremists have ways of dictating for all. Isn’t that what we witness time and again? This is not a slippery slope. This is an irrational, runaway train driven in the name of rights and tendentious reasoning. It can happen. I suspect it will happen. The cultural plausibility can shift. Not everything that is fatal is immediate.‎

With these three chasms, the heart sinks and exclaims, how wide is the divide‎!

This, then, brings me as a follower of Jesus Christ to the three most important bridges between all of us, regardless of our views on this issue. The gay community rightly cries out for identity and intimacy. These are, after all, the longings of the mind and heart of every human being, regardless of our position on this issue. This is where the gospel enters as the only way to bring us together.‎ Indeed, the first bridge of the gospel is that my identity is found in Jesus Christ because of whom I must tame my passions. My identity dictates my behavior. Before I committed my life to Jesus Christ, my identity within my culture was dictated by the status of my family: who my father was, how I did in school, what my grades were, how much money I had access to. All these were and are systemically woven into my culture. I had no choice. This is how I was viewed. Take a look at the matrimonial section in India’s newspaper today. Color, caste, education, wealth, beauty all are repeatedly mentioned as parents seek what they consider the best partners for their children. It’s so clearly discriminatory. When my sister married a Hindu convert to Jesus Christ, the challenge for his parents was huge. But amazingly, their understanding of what Jesus Christ had done for their son changed everything. This is the only bridge I know of that can change the human heart.

It is because of this relationship that we change our behavior from what attracts us to what we act upon. This connection is crucial. If I know what it is to be a man, I know how sexual attraction works. Over time you learn that giving in simply does not bring lasting happiness or purpose. It is only in the keeping of the body as the temple that the sacred is upheld and the grace of God brings conviction and restraint. The Bible says we are not to place our offerings on every altar. One psychologist describes indulgence as “short term fleeting relationships with long term bitter disappointments.” This is true of all behavior and of all sexual expression that runs afoul of God’s design. He has built this law into the human fabric. Deep inside we know this. Temporal allurements are ultimately unfulfilling without a spiritual bonding and binding. It is the eternal that must guide the temporal. ‎ ‎

The second bridge the gospel brings is intimacy. We all long for touch. This is true even in the most senior years of one’s life. I have talked to people working in homes for the aged and they have remarked on how much the elderly miss a physical touch and embrace. This is how we are made. Carrying that concept into sexuality, consummation is the all-embracing act of intimacy. Being as consummate as it is it demands exclusivity, otherwise it is rendered profane and common place. Experience tells us this repeatedly. Cultures that totally desacralize sexuality are non-existent. Even the polygamous guard the numbers. Even the unclad have boundaries. There are laws that govern against rapacious acts.

The biblical description of marriage is for one man and one woman in sacred commitment. So profound is this union that the relationship of God to the Church bears that comparison. He is the bridegroom; the Church is the bride.

Is this so abstract that it doesn’t come down to where we are in our individual yearning for intimacy? Not in the least. According to the gospel, God offers us his indwelling presence where spirit touches spirit and the deepest, truest intimacy results. I am fully aware that to one who has never tasted intimacy with God this seems absurd. But it is here that I think we as Christians need to awaken to the unpleasant reality that we have not taught and proclaimed God’s Word faithfully and demonstrated true holiness.

How can my mind be transformed so that intellectually I understand perspectives and counter-perspectives? How do I so embrace God’s truth that it transforms my heart and my inclinations, or at least gives me the ability to control my inclinations? I have a colleague who confessed to having same sex-attractions. He went on to say that on a given day he thought and thought about the Christian message and finally and wholeheartedly surrendered himself to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. In his words, he “sensed a presence of being overcome from the top of my head to the soles of my feet…I have tasted a glimpse of heaven; why would I stoop to what is below?” Are there days of struggle for him? Is there a certainty of his new affections in Christ? “Yes,” he says to both questions. I have a huge respect for him and his sacrifice.

For the Christian, the question is this: How do I so walk with God that ALL my affections are brought under Jesus’s Lordship, whether my inclinations be same-sex or opposite sex or any other struggle? How may I love those with whom I disagree on these serious matters? The bridges will always be the identity and intimacy offered in the heart commitment to the Savior, first lived out then lovingly taught. ‎ ‎

Also, for the Christian we must remember that we cannot make this realm the eternal order. Our earthly cities are not what eternity alone will bring. Augustine’s two most memorable masterpieces are his Confessions and his City of God. As he lay dying in his home city, barbarians were already scaling the walls of Rome. Even as many churches were being destroyed, the main ones he had planted withstood the carnage. Incredibly, even though his mortal frame was breaking down, people continued coming to him so that he could pray for them. That is a glorious picture. His body was meeting its end. But his soul was not. He had confessed his need for his Savior and he looked to a city whose builder and maker was God. All earthly cities will at some time crumble and fall, as will our mortal bodies. Our eternal place of abiding is in God’s presence, no longer merely in a counter culture but in a place prepared for us. Augustine’s life enfleshed all those truths.‎ ‎

The third and final bridge of the gospel is that of community: the love of God working through us as a Church where worship brings together all our inclinations, surrendered to God’s sacred call for all of us. That is worked out in love and grace. Our worship will have to have theological integrity, not just in form but in substance; worship that is not just moments of exhilaration but is co-extensive with life itself and sermons that are not merely heard but are also seen. The outreach of love will then be embodied and not be mere talk. The Church must not be a fortress guarded by a constabulary but a home where the Father ever awaits the return of each of us who is in the far country. ‎ ‎

For those who follow Jesus Christ, our message to the world must be clear. God transforms the heart and mind and we become his children and his ambassadors. Let us so live that we will never be accused of hate or indifference. But let us also know that compromising the truth is a serious blunder and ends up celebrating that which is not in the will of our Father. This is a painful tension for a believer. To be seen as rejecting a belief or a behavior is not the same as rejecting the person. But God helps us to carry that burden.

By contrast, when Truth is lived out in love and grace, it will always make the faith attractive and even the one who opposes us will recognize the fearful symmetry of a conviction for the sacred that will swim against the tide and a commitment to the person that will find a bridge of hope. We must so live the gospel that men and women will call upon God’s name and make this body his home until we reach our Eternal City bought with the precious sacrifice of Jesus Christ. His body was broken for us so that ours might be mended for Him. ‎ ‎

Ravi Zacharias‎

http://rzim.org/global-blog/how-wide-the-divide-sexuality-at-the-forefront-culture-at-the-crossroads‎

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The West, the Family, and the Big Picture: Which Side of History is the Us On?

Posted by goodnessofgod2010 on July 16, 2015

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If you feel like believing in Christian morality makes you a weirdo these days, maybe it’s time to look at the bigger — even global — picture.

The world is leaving us and our values behind. If we don’t get with the times, we may soon find ourselves isolated and irrelevant. If you think I’m talking about Christians and the recent Supreme Court decision on same-sex “marriage,” think again.

Of course, if you don’t read international and Christian news sources, you probably didn’t know that last week the UN Human Rights Council passed The Protection of the Family resolution. Not surprisingly, the mainstream U. S. media ignored the story.

The resolution, approved by a vote of 27 to 14, urges member states to adopt laws and policies that support the family—yes, the family—definite article. It calls the family, “the natural environment for the growth and well-being of all its members and particularly children.”

It goes on to insist that while governments have a place in protecting the human rights of all, “the family has primary responsibility for the nurturing and protection of children.”

While our country was splashing rainbows on government buildings to celebrate our un-defining of marriage and family, the global community was reaffirming God’s created definition.  It’s an important moment that shows why, in the long run, federal judges cannot change the truth.

Speaking with LifeSite News, Sharon Slater of Family Watch International called the vote an “unprecedented,” “tremendous victory for the family.”  And not surprisingly, progressive and pro-LGBT organizations wasted no time in condemning it. One group known as the Sexual Rights Initiative bizarrely warned that recognizing the natural family would “perpetuate patriarchal oppression, traditions, and harmful practices…”

But sad to say it was the 14 dissenting nations—including most of Western Europe and the United States—that really pulled out the stops to defeat this resolution.

“[T]he United States lobbied [against it] with great energy,” says Slater, noting that pushing the LGBT agenda abroad has become a “primary objective of our nation’s foreign policy.” She even reports that our delegation threatened to withhold foreign aid to developing nations if they affirmed the natural family.

Writing at “Touchstone,” Allan Carlson notes how under the Obama Administration, “threats, bribes, and extortion” aimed at “vulnerable lands in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and Eastern Europe” have become regular strategies in our quest to export the sexual revolution.

Were it not for the enthusiastic support of China and Russia—major powers that spent the latter half of the last century trying to eradicate the natural family—this resolution may have failed. China and Russia learned the hard way how destructive anti-family policies are. And maybe it’s just a coincidence, but both countries have seen a rapid growth of Christianity in recent years.

Folks, if there’s a wrong side of history, the United States of America is on it right now—at least when it comes to this issue. Thank God that despite bribery, bullying, and blackmail from the West, 27 nations voted to protect the family.

Even as I tremble for my country, it encourages me to realize that, as Allan Carlson writes, same-sex “marriage” is not only a recent problem—it’s a regional one. Debates over sexuality and gender, he explains, are “merely the current enthusiasm of a relatively small number of deracinated, secularized, mostly childless, and largely white elites.”

It’s easy to feel outnumbered and outgunned right now. I get it. But if we want to see God at work, taking a global perspective makes a world of difference.

Eric Metaxas

Breakpoint

http://www.breakpoint.org/bpcommentaries/entry/13/27810

Posted in Attack on Christianity, Faith Issues in Our Times, Religious Freedom, Tim's Blog | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

40 Questions for Christians Now Waving Rainbow Flags

Posted by faithandthelaw on July 9, 2015

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Kevin DeYoung, Gospel Coalition

For evangelicals who lament last Friday’s Supreme Court decision, it’s been a hard few days. We aren’t asking for emotional pity, nor do I suspect many people are eager to give us any. Our pain is not sacred. Making legal and theological decisions based on what makes people feel better is part of what got us into this mess in the first place. Nevertheless, it still hurts.

There are many reasons for our lamentation, from fear that religious liberties will be taken away to worries about social ostracism and cultural marginalization. But of all the things that grieve us, perhaps what’s been most difficult is seeing some of our friends, some of our family members, and some of the folks we’ve sat next to in church giving their hearty “Amen” to a practice we still think is a sin and a decision we think is bad for our country. It’s one thing for the whole nation to throw a party we can’t in good conscience attend. It’s quite another to look around for friendly faces to remind us we’re not alone and then find that they are out there jamming on the dance floor. We thought the rainbow was God’s sign (Gen. 9:8-17).

If you consider yourself a Bible-believing Christian, a follower of Jesus whose chief aim is to glorify God and enjoy him forever, there are important questions I hope you will consider before picking up your flag and cheering on the sexual revolution. These questions aren’t meant to be snarky or merely rhetorical. They are sincere, if pointed, questions that I hope will cause my brothers and sisters with the new rainbow themed avatars to slow down and think about the flag you’re flying.

1. How long have you believed that gay marriage is something to be celebrated?

2. What Bible verses led you to change your mind?

3. How would you make a positive case from Scripture that sexual activity between two persons of the same sex is a blessing to be celebrated?

4. What verses would you use to show that a marriage between two persons of the same sex can adequately depict Christ and the church?

5. Do you think Jesus would have been okay with homosexual behavior between consenting adults in a committed relationship?

6. If so, why did he reassert the Genesis definition of marriage as being one man and one woman?

7. When Jesus spoke against porneia what sins do you think he was forbidding?

8. If some homosexual behavior is acceptable, how do you understand the sinful “exchange” Paul highlights in Romans 1?

9. Do you believe that passages like 1 Corinthians 6:9 and Revelation 21:8 teach that sexual immorality can keep you out of heaven?

10. What sexual sins do you think they were referring to?

11. As you think about the long history of the church and the near universal disapproval of same-sex sexual activity, what do you think you understand about the Bible that Augustine, Aquinas, Calvin, and Luther failed to grasp?

12. What arguments would you use to explain to Christians in Africa, Asia, and South America  that their understanding of homosexuality is biblically incorrect and your new understanding of homosexuality is not culturally conditioned?

13. Do you think Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were motivated by personal animus and bigotry when they, for almost all of their lives, defined marriage as a covenant relationship between one man and one woman?

14. Do you think children do best with a mother and a father?

15. If not, what research would you point to in support of that conclusion?

16. If yes, does the church or the state have any role to play in promoting or privileging the arrangements that puts children with a mom and a dad?

17. Does the end and purpose of marriage point to something more than an adult’s emotional and sexual fulfillment?

18. How would you define marriage?

19. Do you think close family members should be allowed to get married?

20. Should marriage be limited to only two people?

21. On what basis, if any, would you prevent consenting adults of any relation and of any number from getting married?

22. Should there be an age requirement in this country for obtaining a marriage license?

23. Does equality entail that anyone wanting to be married should be able to have any meaningful relationship defined as marriage?

24. If not, why not?

25. Should your brothers and sisters in Christ who disagree with homosexual practice be allowed to exercise their religious beliefs without fear of punishment, retribution, or coercion?

26. Will you speak up for your fellow Christians when their jobs, their accreditation, their reputation, and their freedoms are threatened because of this issue?

27. Will you speak out against shaming and bullying of all kinds, whether against gays and lesbians or against Evangelicals and Catholics?

28. Since the evangelical church has often failed to take unbiblical divorces and other sexual sins seriously, what steps will you take to ensure that gay marriages are healthy and accord with Scriptural principles?

29. Should gay couples in open relationships be subject to church discipline?

30. Is it a sin for LGBT persons to engage in sexual activity outside of marriage?

31. What will open and affirming churches do to speak prophetically against divorce, fornication, pornography, and adultery wherever they are found?

32. If “love wins,” how would you define love?

33. What verses would you use to establish that definition?

34. How should obedience to God’s commands shape our understanding of love?

35. Do you believe it is possible to love someone and disagree with important decisions they make?

36. If supporting gay marriage is a change for you, has anything else changed in your understanding of faith?

37. As an evangelical, how has your support for gay marriage helped you become more passionate about traditional evangelical distinctives like a focus on being born again, the substitutionary sacrifice of Christ on the cross, the total trustworthiness of the Bible, and the urgent need to evangelize the lost?

38. What open and affirming churches would you point to where people are being converted to orthodox Christianity, sinners are being warned of judgment and called to repentance, and missionaries are being sent out to plant churches among unreached peoples?

39. Do you hope to be more committed to the church, more committed to Christ, and more committed to the Scriptures in the years ahead?

40. When Paul at the end of Romans 1 rebukes “those who practice such things” and those who “give approval to those who practice them,” what sins do you think he has in mind?

Food for thought, I hope. At the very least, something to chew on before swallowing everything the world and Facebook put on our plate.

http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/kevindeyoung/2015/07/01/40-questions-for-christians-now-waving-rainbow-flags/

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Oregon Christian Bakers Ordered to Pay $135K After Refusing to Work Gay Wedding; Told to Stop Speaking About ‘Obeying God, Not Man’

Posted by goodnessofgod2010 on July 4, 2015

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The Oregon Christian bakery owners who refused to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding on the grounds that it would violate their religious convictions have been ordered to pay $135,000 in emotional damages, and have also been prohibited from speaking about standing up for their Christian beliefs.

On Thursday, Oregon Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian issued his final order in the case against Aaron and Melissa Klein, the owners of the Sweet Cakes by Melissa bakery in Gresham, who were found guilty of discrimination in January for declining to bake a cake for a lesbian couple’s wedding in 2013. Avakian ordered the Kleins to pay complainant Rachel Bowman-Cryer $75,000 for damages and $60,000 to her partner Laurel Bowman-Cryer.

“Respondents’ claim they are not denying service because of complainants’ sexual orientation but rather because they do not wish to participate in their same-sex wedding ceremony. The forum has already found there to be no distinction between the two,” Avakian wrote in his order. “Further, to allow respondents, a for-profit business, to deny any services to people because of their protected class, would be tantamount to allowing legal separation of people based on their sexual orientation from at least some portion of the public marketplace.”
In defending the amount in which he ordered the Kleins to pay, Avakian, the head of the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries, claimed that the denial of service caused both women to go through emotional distress and added that Rachel Bowman-Cryer laid depressed in bed for days after she was told that Sweet Cakes does not service same-sex weddings.

“There is ample evidence in the record of specific, identifiable types of emotional suffering both complainants experienced because of this denial of service,” the commissioner wrote. “The proposal for LBC is less because she was not present at the denial and the ALJ found her testimony about the extent and severity of her emotional suffering to be exaggerated in some respects.”

The Kleins, who said last year that they were forced to close their shop in 2013 because harassment from LGBT advocates caused so much strain on their business, have also been told to “cease and desist” from speaking publicly about how they plan to continue to stand for their Christian faith and refuse to participate in same-sex weddings, as they now operate their business from their home.

“… Aaron has been charged with advertising. (Basically talking about not wanting to participate in a same-sex weddings). This effectively strips us of all our First Amendment rights,” the Kleins posted on the Sweet Cakes By Melissa Facebook page. “According to the state of Oregon we neither have freedom of religion or freedom of speech. We will NOT give up this fight, and we will NOT be silenced.

“We stand for God’s truth, God’s Word and freedom for ALL americans,” the post continued. “We are here to obey God, not man, and we will not conform to this world. If we were to lose everything it would be totally worth it for our Lord who gave his one and only son, Jesus, for us! God will win this fight!”

According to The Daily Signal, the “cease and desist” order is a result of an interview the Kleins did with the Family Research Council, in which Aaron Klein reportedly said “This fight is not over. We will continue to stand strong.”

The Bowman-Cryers’ lawyer argued that the Kleins violated a state law that bans people from speaking or acting on behalf of a place of public accommodation to promote discriminating against any of the state’s protected social classes.

Although the lawyer’s cease and desist argument was thrown out by administrative law Judge Alan McCullough in a proposed order in April, Avakian reversed McCullough’s decision.

Aaron Klein told Fox News that they plan to appeal the decision and that they will not comply.

“This man has no power over me. He seems to think he can tell me to be quiet. That doesn’t sit well with me and I refuse to comply,” Klein said. “When my constitutional freedoms have been violated by the state, I’m going to speak out. That’s the way it is.”

The Kleins’ lawyer, Anna Harmon, told The Daily Signal that Avakian’s cease and desist order is further proof that the state is trying to force businesses that they don’t politically agree with to conform.

“Brad Avakian has been outspoken throughout this case about his intent to ‘rehabilitate’ those whose beliefs do not conform to the state’s ideas,” Harmon said. “Now he has ruled that the Kleins’ simple statement of personal resolve to be true to their faith is unlawful. This is a brazen attack on every American’s right to freely speak and imposes government orthodoxy on those who do not agree with government sanctioned ideas.”

Hans von Spakovsky, a senior legal fellow at The Heritage Foundation, said Avakian’s decision is a “fundamental violation” of freedom of speech and went as far as to label Avakian as no better than a bureaucrat in communist China.

“It is exactly this kind of oppressive persecution by government officials that led the pilgrims to America. And Commissioner Avakian’s order that the Kleins stop speaking about this case is even more outrageous — and also a fundamental violation of their right to free speech under the First Amendment,” Spakovsky said. “Avakian would have fit right in as a bureaucrat in the Soviet Union or Red China. Oregon should be ashamed that such an unprincipled, scurrilous individual is a government official in the state.”
Read more at http://www.christianpost.com/news/oregon-christian-bakers-ordered-to-pay-135k-after-refusing-to-work-gay-wedding-told-to-stop-speaking-about-obeying-god-not-man-141137/#dePfLTicTUvdWkRC.99

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Here We Stand: An Evangelical Declaration on Marriage

Posted by goodnessofgod2010 on July 3, 2015

marriageAs evangelical Christians, we dissent from the court’s ruling that redefines marriage. The state did not create the family, and should not try to recreate the family in its own image. We will not capitulate on marriage because biblical authority requires that we cannot. The outcome of the Supreme Court’s ruling to redefine marriage represents what seems like the result of a half-century of witnessing marriage’s decline through divorce, cohabitation, and a worldview of almost limitless sexual freedom. The Supreme Court’s actions pose incalculable risks to an already volatile social fabric by alienating those whose beliefs about marriage are motivated by deep biblical convictions and concern for the common good.

The Bible clearly teaches the enduring truth that marriage consists of one man and one woman. From Genesis to Revelation, the authority of Scripture witnesses to the nature of biblical marriage as uniquely bound to the complementarity of man and woman. This truth is not negotiable. The Lord Jesus himself said that marriage is from the beginning (Matt. 19:4-6), so no human institution has the authority to redefine marriage any more than a human institution has the authority to redefine the gospel, which marriage mysteriously reflects (Eph. 5:32). The Supreme Court’s ruling to redefine marriage demonstrates mistaken judgment by disregarding what history and countless civilizations have passed on to us, but it also represents an aftermath that evangelicals themselves, sadly, are not guiltless in contributing to. Too often, professing evangelicals have failed to model the ideals we so dearly cherish and believe are central to gospel proclamation.

Evangelical churches must be faithful to the biblical witness on marriage regardless of the cultural shift. Evangelical churches in America now find themselves in a new moral landscape that calls us to minister in a context growing more hostile to a biblical sexual ethic. This is not new in the history of the church. From its earliest beginnings, whether on the margins of society or in a place of influence, the church is defined by the gospel. We insist that the gospel brings good news to all people, regardless of whether the culture considers the news good or not.

The gospel must inform our approach to public witness. As evangelicals animated by the good news that God offers reconciliation through the life, death, and resurrection of His Son, Jesus, we commit to:

  • Respect and pray for our governing authorities even as we work through the democratic process to rebuild a culture of marriage (Rom. 13:1-7);
  • the truth about biblical marriage in a way that brings healing to a sexually broken culture;
  • affirm the biblical mandate that all persons, including LGBT persons, are created in the image of God and deserve dignity and respect;
  • love our neighbors regardless of whatever disagreements arise as a result of conflicting beliefs about marriage;
  • live respectfully and civilly alongside those who may disagree with us for the sake of the common good;
  • cultivate a common culture of religious liberty that allows the freedom to live and believe differently to prosper.

The redefinition of marriage should not entail the erosion of religious liberty. In the coming years, evangelical institutions could be pressed to sacrifice their sacred beliefs about marriage and sexuality in order to accommodate whatever demands the culture and law require. We do not have the option to meet those demands without violating our consciences and surrendering the gospel. We will not allow the government to coerce or infringe upon the rights of institutions to live by the sacred belief that only men and women can enter into marriage.

The gospel of Jesus Christ determines the shape and tone of our ministry. Christian theology considers its teachings about marriage both timeless and unchanging, and therefore we must stand firm in this belief. Outrage and panic are not the responses of those confident in the promises of a reigning Christ Jesus. While we believe the Supreme Court has erred in its ruling, we pledge to stand steadfastly, faithfully witnessing to the biblical teaching that marriage is the chief cornerstone of society, designed to unite men, women, and children. We promise to proclaim and live this truth at all costs, with convictions that are communicated with kindness and love.

Signatories:

Russell Moore, President, Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission
Jim Daly, President, Focus on the Family
R. Albert Mohler, Jr., President, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Jeff Iorg, President, Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary
David Platt, President, International Mission Board
Ronnie Floyd, President, Southern Baptist Convention | Senior Pastor, Cross Church
Frank Page, President and CEO of the SBC Executive Committee
Danny Akin, President, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
Paige Patterson, President, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
David S. Dockery, President, Trinity International University/Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
Jack Graham, Pastor, Prestonwood Baptist Church
Tony Evans, Senior Pastor, Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship
Thom Rainer, President, LifeWay Christian Resources
O. S. Hawkins, President, Guidestone Financial Resources
Robert Sloan, President, Houston Baptist University
Mark Bailey, President, Dallas Theological Seminary
Barrett Duke, Vice President for Public Policy and Research, Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission
Matt Chandler, Lead Teaching Pastor, The Village Church
John Huffman, Board Chair Christianity Today and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary
Jose Abella, Pastor, Providence Road Church, Miami
Raudel Hernandez, Pastor, Summit Español Raleigh, N.C.
Felix Cabrera, Pastor, Iglesia Bautista Central, Oklahoma City
Edgar Aponte, Director of Hispanic Leadership Development, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
Samuel Rodriguez, President, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference
Jason Duesing, Provost, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
Jeffrey K. Jue, Provost, Westminster Theological Seminary
Roland C. Warren, President & CEO, Care Net
Kevin Smith, Teaching Pastor, Highview Baptist Church
Paul David Tripp, Pastor, Author, and International Conference Speaker
Dean Inserra, Lead Pastor, City Church, Tallahassee
John Stonestreet, Speaker and Fellow, The Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Ramon Osorio, Hispanic National Church Mobilizer, North American Mission Board
Jimmy Scroggins, Lead Pastor, Family Church, West Palm Beach
Jackie Hill Perry, Writer, Speaker, Artist
Greg Laurie, Senior Pastor, Harvest Christian Fellowship
Trip Lee, Rapper, singer, poet and author
Denny Burk, Professor of Biblical Studies, Boyce College
Paul Chitwood, Executive Director, Kentucky Baptist Convention
J. Ligon Duncan III, Chancellor & CEO, John E. Richards Professor of Systematic and Historical Theology, Reformed Theological Seminary
H.B. Charles Jr., Pastor-Teacher, Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church
D. A. Carson, Research Professor of New Testament, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
David E. Prince, Assistant Professor of Christian Preaching, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
A.B Vines, Senior Pastor, New Seasons Church
John Woodbridge, Research Professor of Church History and Christian Thought, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
Mike Cosper, Pastor of Worship and Arts, Sojourn Community Church
Nathan Lino, Lead Pastor, Northeast Houston Baptist Church
Heath Lambert, Executive Director, Association of Certified Biblical Counselors
Tony Merida, Pastor for Preaching, Imago Dei Church
Clint Pressley, Pastor, Hickory Grove Baptist Church
Vance Pitman, Senior Pastor, Hope Church, Las Vegas
Bruce Riley Ashford, Provost, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
Phillip Bethancourt, Executive Vice President, Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission
Jonathan Leeman, Editorial Director, 9Marks
Thomas White, President, Cedarville University
Karen Swallow Prior, Professor of English, Liberty University
Jason Allen, President, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
Rosaria Butterfield, Author and Speaker
J.D. Greear, Pastor, The Summit Church
Collin Hansen, Editorial Director, The Gospel Coalition
Eric M. Mason, Lead Pastor, Epiphany Fellowship Church
Eric Teetsel, Executive Director, Manhattan Declaration
Andrew T. Walker, Director of Policy Studies, Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission
Daniel Patterson, Chief of Staff, The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission
Daniel Darling, Vice-President of Communications, The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission
Trillia Newbell, Director of Community Outreach, Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission
David French, National Review
Paul Nyquist, President and CEO, Moody Bible Institute
Kevin Ezell, President, North American Mission Board
Roger Spradlin, Senior Pastor, Valley Baptist Church, Bakersfield, Calif.
Carmen Fowler LaBerge, President, Presbyterian Lay Committee
Tommy Nelson, Senior Pastor, Denton Bible Church
J. P. Moreland, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy, Biola University
Bryant Wright, Senior Pastor, Johnson Ferry Baptist Church
Matthew Lee Anderson, Lead Writer, Mere Orthodoxy
Gabriel Salguero, President, National Latino Evangelical Coalition
Bruce Frank, Senior Pastor, Biltmore Baptist Church
Afshin Ziafat, Lead Pastor, Providence Church, Frisco, Texas
David Jeremiah, Senior Pastor, Shadow Mountain Community Church
Christine Hoover, Author
Jim Baucom, Senior Pastor, Columbia Baptist Church
Samuel W. “Dub” Oliver, President, Union University
James MacDonald, Senior Pastor, Harvest Bible Chapel
Juan R. Sanchez, Jr., Senior Pastor, High Pointe Baptist Church, Austin, Texas
David Uth, Senior Pastor, First Baptist Orlando
Timothy George, Dean and Professor of Divinity, Beeson Divinity School
Alistair Begg, Senior Pastor, Parkside Church
Naghmeh Abedini
Steve Gaines, Pastor, Bellevue Baptist Church
Richard Mouw, Professor of Faith and Public Life, Fuller Seminary
Ron Sider, Senior Distinguished Professor of Theology, Holistic Ministry and Public Policy, Palmer Seminary at Eastern University
Randy Alcorn, Director, Eternal Perspectives Ministries
Kevin DeYoung, Senior Pastor, University Reformed Church
Justin Taylor, Author and Blogger
Dennis Rainey, President, FamilyLife Today
Nancy Leigh DeMoss, Revive our Hearts
Ray Ortlund, Lead Pastor, Immanuel Nashville, Tenn.
John Bradosky, Presiding Bishop, North American Lutheran Church
Matt Carter, Pastor of Preaching and Vision, The Austin Stone Community Church
Andy Naselli, Assistant Professor of New Testament and Biblical Theology, Bethlehem College & Seminary
Owen Strachan, President, The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood
Richard D. Land, President, Southern Evangelical Seminary
Sam Storms, Lead Pastor for Preaching and Vision, Bridgeway Church
Bart Barber, Pastor, First Baptist Church of Farmersville
Hunter Baker, Associate Professor of Political Science and Dean of Instruction, Union University
Bryan Chapell, Senior Pastor, Grace Presbyterian Church
J.I. Packer, Board of Governors’ Professor, Theology Regent College
Erwin W. Lutzer, Senior Pastor, The Moody Church
D.A. Horton, Director of ReachLife Ministries, National Coordinator for Urban Student Missions
Mark Dever, Senior Pastor, Capitol Hill Baptist Church
Fred Luter, Pastor, Franklin Avenue Baptist Church
Bryan Loritts, Pastor of Preaching and Mission, Trinity Grace Church, Kainos Movement
Mike Glenn, Senior Pastor, Brentwood Baptist Church
Johnny Hunt, Pastor, First Baptist Church of Woodstock
Ken Whitten, Senior Pastor, Idlewild Baptist Church
Marvin Olasky, Editor-in-chief, WORLD Magazine
Todd Wagner, Senior Pastor, Watermark Church
Christopher Yuan, Speaker, Author, Bible teacher
Tory Baucum, Rector, Truro Anglican Church
Bryan Carter, Pastor, Concord Church
Ron Johnson, Senior Pastor, Village Bible Church
Mac Brunson, Pastor, First Baptist Church Jacksonville
Trey Brunson, First Baptist Church Jacksonville
Ray Pritchard, President, Keep Believing Ministries
Erik Reed, Pastor, Journey Church
Michael Youssef, Pastor, The Church of The Apostles Atlanta, Ga.
Rob Peters, Senior Pastor, Calvary Baptist Church Winston-Salem, N.C.
Gregg Matte, Pastor, Houston’s First Baptist Church
Collin Garbarino, Assistant Professor of History, Houston Baptist University
Christian George, Assistant Professor of Historical Theology, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
Daniel LaBry, CEO, ABBA Fund
Evan Lenow, Assistant Professor of Ethics, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
Lydia Brownback, Author and Speaker
Dannah Gresh, Author and Speaker, Secret Keeper Girl
John Huffman, Board Chair, Christianity Today & Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary
Edwin Schneider, Campus Crusade for Christ Global Prayer Chief of Staff, Campus Crusade for Christ
Jon Bloom, Chair & Co-Founder, Desiring God
Jared Wilson, Content Director, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
Graham Cole, Dean, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
Nathan Finn, Dean of the School of Theology and Missions, Union University
Michael Duduit, Dean, Anderson University, Clamp Divinity School and College of Christian Studies
Bob Kauflin, Director, Sovereign Grace Music
Trevin Wax, Director of Author and Editorial Development, LifeWay Christian Resources
Briana Stensrud, Director, Sanctity of Life & Community Care, Focus on the Family
Tim Lubinus, Executive Director, Baptist Convention of Iowa
Timothy C. Patterson, Executive Director, Baptist State Convention of Michigan
Anne Paulk, Executive Director, Restored Hope Network
Brian Autry, Executive Director, SBC of Virginia
Jim Richards, Executive Director, Southern Baptists of Texas Convention
Cecil Seagle, Executive Director, State Convention of Baptists in Indiana
Grant Castleberry, Executive Director, The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood
Ben Peays, Executive Director, The Gospel Coalition
Rob Lee, Executive Director, Utah-Idaho Southern Baptist Convention
Paige Comstock Cunningham, Executive Director, The Center for Bioethics & Human Dignity
John L. Yeats, Executive Director, Missouri Baptist Convention
Anthony Jordan, Executive Director and Treasurer, Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma
Christopher Martin, Executive Director and Treasurer, Hawaii Pacific Baptist Convention
Craig Blaising, Executive Vice President and Provost, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
Ryan Hutchinson, Executive VP, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
Derrick Lynch, Lead Pastor, Blue Valley Baptist Church – Overland Park, Kan.
James Merritt, Lead Pastor, Cross Pointe Church
Leonce B. Crump Jr., Lead Pastor, Renovation Church
Kevin Peck, Lead Pastor, The Austin Stone Community Church
Bill Kynes, Pastor,Cornerstone Evangelical Free Church
Buddy Gray, Pastor, Hunter Street Baptist Church
Ron Edmondson, Pastor, Immanuel Baptist Church
Al Jackson, Pastor, Lakeview Baptist Church
Greg Belser, Pastor, Morrison Heights Baptist Church
Chip Henderson, Pastor, Pinelake Church
Hance Dilbeck, Pastor,Quail Springs Baptist Church Oklahoma City
Ryan Kelly, Pastor for Preaching, Desert Springs Church
Sam Allberry, Pastor, Author, LivingOut.org; St Mary’s Church, Maidenhead, UK
Donna Gaines, Pastor’s wife, Bible Teacher, Bellevue Baptist Church
Kathy Ferguson Litton, Pastor’s Wife, Consultant for Ministry for Pastors’ Wives, NAMB
Cathi Herrod, President, Center for Arizona Policy
Barry Creamer, President, Criswell College
Anthony Allen, President, Hannibal-LaGrange University
Mark Tooley, President, Institute on Religion and Democracy
Herbie Newell, President, Lifeline Children’s Services, Inc.
Rick Brewer, President, Louisiana College
K Marshall Williams Sr., President, National African American Fellowship, SBC
Dan Cruver, President, Together for Adoptiont
Matthew Pinson, President, Welch College
Jerry A. Johnson, President & CEO, National Religious Broadcasters
Randy Davis, President-Executive Director, Tennessee Baptist Convention Executive Board
Bruce A. Ware, Professor of Christian Theology, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Thomas Schreiner, Professor of New Testament, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Randy Stinson, Provost, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Gene Fant, Provost and Chief Academic Officer, Palm Beach Atlantic University
C. Ben Mitchell, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, Union University
Stan Norman, Provost, Executive VP for Campus Life, Oklahoma Baptist University
John Woodbridge, Research Professor of Church History and Christian Thought, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
Jordan Lorence, Senior Counsel, Alliance Defending Freedom
Casey Mattox, Senior Counsel, Alliance Defending Freedom
Richard Phillips, Senior Minister, Second Presbyterian Church, Greenville, S.C.
Sandy Willson, Senior Minister, Second Presbyterian Church, Memphis, Tenn.
Charles Fowler, Senior Pastor, Germantown Baptist Church
Bob Roberts, Senior Pastor, NorthWood Church
Daniel Dumas, Senior Vice President of Institutional Administration, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Derek W H Thomas, The Robert Strong Professor of Systematic and Pastoral Theology, Reformed Theological Seminary
Eric Geiger, Vice President, LifeWay Christian Resources
Roger Oldham, VP Convention Communications and Relations, SBC Executive Committee
Charles Smith, VP for Institutional Relations, Midwestern Seminary

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Christians Must Stand Their Ground, ‘Disobey’ Unjust Laws Limiting Religious Freedom, Says Matt Staver in Kick-Off to 4-Day Future Conference

Posted by goodnessofgod2010 on June 15, 2015

Supreme Court

As the Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage decision looms this month, Liberty Counsel Chairman Matt Staver and subpoenaed Houston pastor Steven Riggle asserted Sunday that Christians and churches across the country need to unite, stand their ground and defy “unjust” laws that restrict religious freedoms.

While speaking on the opening night of the four-day Future Conference hosted at the Skyline Church in San Diego, which is headed by pastor Jim Garlow, Staver told the audience in a video speech that the pending Supreme Court ruling could lead to the constitutionalization of same-sex marriage and would also be an “unprecedented threat” to American history and religious freedoms.

Staver, whose Liberty Institute advocates for numerous Christians persecuted by the government for upholding their faith, further explained that if same-sex marriage is ruled constitutional, it will not be something that Christians will simply be able to ignore.

Staver argued that civil authorities will force people and businesses to choose between “compromising” their biblical convictions of marriage being between one man and one woman or having to face the prosecutorial wrath of civil authorities.

The Supreme Court has historically made a few bad rulings that time and justice have been able to realize and overcome, and a ruling in favor of same-sex marriage would be yet another biasly-flawed Supreme Court ruling, Staver contended.

Despite the fact that multiple cases across the nation have arisen where Christian business owners have been prosecuted, threatened and fined for refusing to service same-sex weddings, Staver said Christians should not be coerced into folding their biblical beliefs in order to comply with the rule of law, especially when such a law contradicts God’s natural rule of a “higher law.”

“Martin Luther King Jr., in his letter from the Birmingham Jail, said there are two different kinds of laws. There is a just law and an unjust law,” Staver explained. “An unjust law is an earthly law that is in direct collision and conflict with the higher law. [MLK] said that we must disobey them. We can not give them the respect of the rule of law because our highest respect for the rule of law requires that we not give respect to a lawless decision.”

Staver stressed that people must take a stand for their religious freedoms because judges and lawmakers are trying to stomp on them.

“We have policies at Liberty Counsel as a baseline for churches to adopt. But understand that these are not full proof. There are ideologues, whether on the bench or in legislative bodies, that really don’t care about your religious freedom, the First Amendment and these inalienable rights of conscience and they will override those liberties with this radical agenda,” Staver said.

“What should a pastor, what should people do?” Starver asked. “I believe we shouldn’t be intimidated. I believe that we should not change a single thing that we do. I believe we need to stand the ground on which God has given us. Stand your ground is my message to you. Don’t be intimidated by what’s coming.”

Staver also advised that Christians across the country need to unite on the same cause and speak out any time one of their brothers and sisters is persecuted by the government simply because they acted in accordance with their faith. Staver detailed his point by adapting a famous quote by anti-Nazi theologen Martin Niemӧller to modern-day society.

“First they came for the adoption ministry but I did not speak out because I did not do adoptions. Then, they came for the wedding photographer but I did not speak up because I did not do photographic weddings. Then, they came for the baker and I did not speak up because I was not a baker. Then, they came for the florist but I said nothing because I was not a florist. Then, they came for me and there was no one left to speak for me,” Staver said.

“This is not a call for lone believers to fall on their swords,” staver continued. “It is a call for us to speak for each other and stand together and even to suffer together. Like Esther facing the unjust laws of the Persian Empire, we must pray, then we must stiffen our spines. May God help us remain faithful, whatever the cost.”

iggle, who was one of five Houston-area pastors whose sermons were subpoenaed by Houston’s lesbian mayor, Annise Parker, last fall because of his opposition to the city’s transgender bathroom ordinance, told the conference that it’s imperative for each individual evangelical movement across the country to unite as one super movement against the attack on religious freedom.

“It seems to me that we better find a way to take all of the voices and merge them together instead of a shout coming from here and here and over there,” Riggle, who pastors Houston’s Grace Community Church, stated. “I have been asked to sign three letters in one week all with them going here and going there. What would happen if 100 million people signed one letter. When are we going to figure this out?”

Although there has been no shortage of petitions and joint letters signed by evangelical leaders against same-sex marriage, Riggle compared those individual letters and petitions to the equivalent of a group of people trying to take down one bear by using nothing but small sticks and switches, instead of one giant stick to knock the bear out.

“I think we need to walk softly and carry a big stick,” Riggle asserted. “What I mean by that is until we unite our forces, we will continue to lose because it seems to me like we have whole lot of people walking around carrying switches.”

“Can you imagine 30 people surrounding the bear and everyone of them having a switch and all of them switching the bear and he may eat you if you do that,” Riggle continued. “If you figure that if all of you put your forces together and you get a big stick … and you put everybody together and you go out after the bear with [the big stick] and on your stick is ‘the lord is my strength.’ Walk softly and carry a big stick.”

Riggle also advised Christians not to back down in the face of government coercion. He insists that Christians need to be prepared to “run to the battle,” just as David did in his battle against Goliath.

“When you hear the threats and intimidation, don’t hide. Like David, run to the battle, don’t disappear. … When the giant shouts, shout back. … How do you shout back, shout back in the voting booth … shout back by running for office.”

Staver concluded by saying that a pro-gay Supreme Court ruling will create “impossible odds” for Christians that will force God to intervene, just as He did when he protected Daniel from the lions’ den.

“This could be the best, most magnificent time for the church because moments like this when there is an unprecedented clash, there is impossible odds that God will intervene for his people,” Staver said.
Read more at http://www.christianpost.com/news/christians-must-stand-their-ground-disobey-unjust-laws-limiting-religious-freedom-says-matt-staver-in-kick-off-to-3-day-future-conference-140381/#kDfSPVUV2iI8RkA6.99

Posted in Attack on Christianity, Faith Issues in Our Times, Religious Freedom, Tim's Blog | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Pro-life, Religious Groups Resist Illegal DC bills; ADF Ready to Defend Those affected

Posted by goodnessofgod2010 on May 4, 2015

Baby-with-TearWASHINGTON – Alliance Defending Freedom and other pro-life organizations released a joint statement Monday as a District of Columbia law is set to go into effect that could force such groups to operate contrary to their missions and beliefs.

Partly due to the agreement of many people, including the former D.C. mayor, that the law raises serious concerns under the First Amendment and federal law, the D.C. Council retreated from its original purpose for the law and passed a temporary measure stating that it will not require any employer in the District to provide insurance coverage for abortion, contraceptives, or any other “reproductive health decision.” The temporary measure will expire in 225 days, however, and therefore leaves pro-life employers open to unconstitutional treatment by the government.

“Pro-life organizations in our nation’s capital should not be forced to pay for abortions or hire those who oppose their pro-life beliefs,” said ADF Senior Counsel Casey Mattox. “While the D.C. Council has retreated from this law’s original goal, which was to force pro-life organizations to pay for abortions in violation of their conscience, RHNDA remains an unnecessary and illegal attack on pro-life conscience that Congress must stop and that we will fight, if necessary, in the courts.”

In addition to ADF, the signers of the joint statement include representatives from the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, Americans United for Life, Americans United for Life Action, March for Life, Concerned Women for America, Susan B. Anthony List, Family Research Council, and the Association of Christian Schools International.

The Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Amendment Act of 2014 still prohibits even pro-life and religious organizations from “discriminating” against employees and potential employees for any “reproductive health” decision, including elective abortions. If the District does not make its temporary amendment to the law permanent, it could also force employers to provide health insurance for elective abortions regardless of the organization’s religious beliefs or pro-life mission.

“That the House of Representatives took the extraordinary step of formally disapproving this bill demonstrates just how unprecedented and illegal RHNDA is. We will continue to resist, and encourage Congress to address, the District’s egregious violation of the First Amendment and federal law…,” the joint statement says. “We are nonsectarian pro-life organizations and religious ministries that make the nation’s capital our home. Despite the enactment of this unjust law, we will continue to hire employees who share our commitment to the dignity of every member of the human family. We will not abandon the purpose of our organizations in order to comply with this illegal and unjust law. We will vigorously resist any effort under RHNDA to violate our constitutionally protected fundamental rights.”

The District’s Human Rights Amendment Act of 2014 is also set to go into effect. HRAA overturns decades-old law and requires faith-based educational institutions to endorse and to provide school resources to individuals and groups who oppose the schools’ religious teachings on human sexuality. ADF attorneys say that both laws violate constitutionally protected freedoms and federal law, including the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and that ADF will be available to legally represent organizations that are negatively impacted by either law.

“ADF stands ready to protect the freedom that schools have not to support student groups whose objectives clearly contradict the schools’ religious values,” said ADF Senior Counsel Gregory S. Baylor. “The government should not be in the business of forcing people to act contrary to their beliefs when it has no compelling reason for doing so. Federal law and numerous court decisions support that point.”

As a federal district, D.C. laws are subject to review by Congress before they go into effect. Some members of Congress introduced resolutions to disapprove the bills, but they failed to pass. President Obama threatened to veto the resolutions if Congress passed them.

Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.

Posted in Faith Issues in Our Times, Hot Legal News | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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