Three Low-Priority Causes Christians Should Avoid

May 21, 2015

Title: Three Low-Priority Causes Christians Should Avoid
Text: Malachi 2:16, Micah 6:8, Revelation 7:9
Time: May 17th, 2015

I’m amazed at how evangelical Christians these days seem incapable of thinking biblical and Christianly about how determine what is and what isn’t important today. Are there no priorities anymore in the Christian church? Is every cause of equal importance? From the looks of things that appears to be the case. If you look, for example, on the campus of the typical Christian college, you’ll find all kinds of causes and movements that seemingly have no relationship to any hierarchy of priorities based on biblical teachings. It’s the same in evangelical churches too. Look inside the typical church and you’ll find a hodge-podge of causes and movements that vary from church to church in seemingly no discernable pattern. I’ve been arguing for years and years that the cause against abortion must rank if not at the top, somewhere near the top in priority. Yet in many churches abortion isn’t even mentioned, ever, from the pulpit or in announcements or Christian education classes or small groups. It’s as if it didn’t exist. But in many of these same churches you’ll hear all kinds of messages about the environment, recycling, and other secular causes, as if these were most important. We live in a nation where the blood of millions of unborn babies cry out from the grave and in many evangelical churches you’ll never hear anything about it. It’s as if the pro-life cause wasn’t very important, or that millions of babies killed though abortion each year, as far as the church is concerned, is a non-issue. Yet, like I said before, other, lesser, causes are promoted with great zeal, giving the impression that these are “do or die” issues, when a real “do or die” issue is neglected or ignored. What’s the problem? There’s a massive lack of discernment involved as Christians and church neglect the true priority causes while at the same time investing large quantities of time, money and energy in essentially false or marginal causes. Many of these lesser causes are to a degree perhaps important, but compared to the really important causes, as biblically determined, they hardly bear mention. So this morning I’d like to talk about a few causes that seem to be taking the evangelical world by storm, but when looked upon in light of the really priority causes that exist – for example, opposition to the attempted redefinition of marriage by the secular world and the need to defend biblical marriage – they are trivial and petty. As Christians we need to let God set our agenda through his Word, not the world set our agenda. I’m afraid too often we are letting the sinful world set our agenda, and we need to repent of it. So here are a few causes that need to be seen for what they are – low priority. Read the rest of this entry »

Beware of the Some of the Dangers of Social Media

May 21, 2015

Title: Beware of Some of the Dangers of Social Media
Text: Numbers 30:3-5, Ephesians 4:14-15, Matthew 10:32-33
Time: May 16th, 2015

Here’s a headline I read a few months ago in the newspapers that caught my attention –

“Study: Social Media Users Shy Away From Opinions. People who use Facebook and Twitter are less likely than others to share their opinions on hot-button issues, even when they are offline, according to a surprising new survey by the Pew Research Center. The study, done in conjunction with Rutgers University in New Jersey, challenges the view of social media as a vehicle for debate by suggesting that sites like Facebook and Twitter might actually encourage self-censorship. Researchers said they detect what they call the ‘Spiral of silence’ phenomenon – unless people know their audience agrees, they are likely to shy away from discussing anything controversial. In other words, most of us are more comfortable with ice-bucket challenges than political banter. ‘People do not tend to be using social media for this type of important political discussion. And if anything, it may actually be removing conversation from the public sphere,’ said Keith Hampton, a communications professor at Rutgers University who helped conduct the study.’”

This study confirms what I’ve been observing over the last few years, especially among Christians, that controversial subject shouldn’t be talked about because they might cause hard feelings, alienate people and divide the body of Christ. So consequently, important and needed conversations that should be taking place, don’t happen due to an overemphasis on peace, love and harmony within the church. The irony is, in the absence of serious Christian conversations about important social and moral issues, the secular, pagan, worldly position is largely unopposed in the public square. Take for instance the strange, bizarre and kooky two hour interview given by ex-Olympian Bruce Jenner to Diane Sawyer of ABC’s 20/20 where the ex-athlete told seventeen million viewers worldwide, “Yes,” to the question put to him, “Are you a woman?” Social media lit up with positive endorsements to this ridiculous assertion by Jenner. Where were any negative or critical comments? Virtually none to be found, anywhere. Did that really mean everyone was on board with Jenner’s transgenderism? No. It rather meant that nobody was comfortable in sharing their opposing views on the subject out of fear of giving offense. What good is freedom of speech if everyone is too afraid to use it? Evidently social media work against freedom of speech on many issues today. I’m concerned about how Christians are remaining silent on issues when they should be speaking. I’m concerned about how the Christian church is failing to teach God’s truth out of fear of offense – or worse, fear of possible negative consequences, like punishment visited upon Christians by opponents. But now is the time for courage, not cowardice. Now is the time, a teachable moment, to explain God’s truth, even if it might be controversial or offensive to some. Now is the time for Christians to speak boldly, not remain silent or avoid commenting. If social media encourages Christians to remain silent when they should speak, then this temptation must be resisted and overcome. When must look to God for our agenda, not the secular world. Let me explain a few important points related to this problem. Read the rest of this entry »

What is Biblical Counseling?

May 21, 2015

Title: What is Biblical Counseling?
Text: Matthew 4:4, Psalm 119:105, Psalm 1:1-3
Time: May 14th, 2015

A few weeks ago I criticized state laws that exist in such states as California, New Jersey, and so forth, that ban so-called repairative therapy for persons with homosexual tendencies. I said it’s no business of the state what a person or a minor’s parents in conjunction with their child want to do as far as counseling is concerned. From a Christian perspective homosexuality is a disorder that needs to be treated, not accepted as morally acceptable. I’m against all laws that would ban Christian counseling for homosexuals seeking corrective help. A little while later I criticized transsexual Bruce Jenner for promoting so-called “gender reassignment surgery” – that is the mutilating or mutating of the body in order to conform it to the mental disorder of transgenderism that convinces someone they are a “man trapped in a women’s body” or a “woman trapped in a man’s body” and therefore need to rearrange themselves to “transition” from one sex to another. Instead, I advocated Christian counseling in order to get their thinking in line with the body God Almighty gave them at birth. I would suggest that Bruce Jenner concentrate on bringing his mind in line with God’s assigned sex, the sex given to him at birth, rather than attempt to rebel against God’s created order and transmutate himself into something else through cut and paste surgery and altering his body chemistry. It’s obviously more rational to work on the mind than the body, since it’s the mind that is disordered not the body. If Bruce Jenner were to take my pastoral advice and seek Christian counseling to correct his conflicted and divided mind, what would that actually mean? How would such counseling take place? Well to be honest, it would involve nothing different, in essence, than working on any other counseling situation – only it might involve more time and effort. But isn’t that part of the Christian life anyway? “Through many dangers, toils and snares I have already come. Tis grace that brought me safe thus far and grace will lead me home,” Amazing Great, classic Christian hymn. It would involve a simple process of examining God’s Word, divine revelation from heaven to mankind, and finding out what it says about any particular problem. Then it would involve seriously reflecting upon the truths found in God’s Word in relation to the particular human problem. Finally, it involves applying God’s Word, after having integrated it with a particular life problem, into an action plan that would involve time and effort, but would yield progress and ultimately success or improvement in the person’s specific condition or problem. In respect to Bruce Jenner, it would mean his thinking and feelings would begin to reflect the sex and gender that he is, male, and his mind would begin to come into align with his body, thus bringing health and healing. Let me explain further. Read the rest of this entry »

Should Personal Experience Trump Divine Revelation in Morality?

May 21, 2015

Title: Should Personal Experience Trump Divine Revelation in Morality?
Text: 2 Timothy 3:16, Proverbs 14:12, Matthew 22:36-40, Luke 14:26-27
Time: May 13th, 2015

A conservative Christian senator from Ohio opposes gay marriage until his son comes out as gay, then flip-flops and advocates it. A conservative Christian theologian for decades defends the biblical and traditional Christian teaching that homosexuality is a sin, then suddenly changes because someone in his family comes out as gay; now he’s in favor of gay marriage and teaches the compatibility of homosexuality and Christianity. Gay activists playbook strategy explains the importance of getting American citizens acquainted with LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) people in order to demonstrate to them that they are normal persons just like everyone else. The thinking is that if everyone can get to know members of the LGBT community, they’ll be more accepting and affirming of their lifestyles. The strategy appears to be working. But is this methodology legit? Does the experience of meeting and liking someone from the LGBT community make their sinful practices okay? Is homosexuality justified morally because homosexuals seem to be okay? Should we change basic and essential moral categories of right and wrong because someone in our family or someone in our friendship circle comes out as gay? Should this have any ethical or moral relevance? For a growing number of people, including many Christians, apparently discovering that some very nice well-known people, or even members of their own family, a relative or a friend are gay inclines them to change their moral understanding of homosexuality. But does this make any sense? Or is this allowing personal biases and emotionalism to overwhelm clear, sane moral reasoning? I’d like to deal with this subject today because I believe it’s going to become more and more important in the days and years ahead, especially in the Christian church community. What is the basis for morality? What determines an ethical right or wrong? Is it intuition, emotion or feelings? Is it reason and logic? Or is it divine revelation as expressed in the Bible? As a Christian I would assume that all Christians would be on the same page ethically and morally on these questions, but sadly today, due to a vast ignorance of even basic biblical teachings, many Christians and those who attend churches don’t know what they believe as Christians, and of those who do know what they believe, many of these don’t know why they believe what they believe. This contributes to the confusion. So in order to address this moral confusion I’d like to talk about why morality should not be based on human experience but instead of divine revelation. If we try to ground our moral understanding of right and wrong on changing human experience we’ll be confused, we’ll fall into error. Only by basing our moral values on what God has revealed will we have a sure foundation for knowing what’s right and wrong. Let me explain further. Read the rest of this entry »

Is Sexual Self-Identification Enough?

May 21, 2015

Title: Is Sexual Self-Identification Enough?
Text: Deuteronomy 22:5, 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22, James 3:1, Matthew 18:5-6
Time: May 11th, 2015

I recently heard on the news that presidential candidate Rick Santorum recently stated, “If Bruce Jenner says he’s a woman, then he’s a woman,” in response to a question posed to him. I did a double-take when I heard it because Santorum is usually a solid conservative Christian voice in the midst of a secular and morally relativistic culture, so I was shocked and a little disappointed when I heard his reply. He went on to say in the same comment that we should learn to love and respect people, and that there’s a difference between judging a person’s actions and judging a person for who they are. We can judge a person’s behavior right or wrong, but not the person. Like I said, Santorum is usually counted on to speak moral clarity in a chaotic world of immoral confusion, but in this instance he’s got it totally wrong. I guess if you are running for president you have to be careful how you answer and lean on the side of cultural acceptability – and there’s no question that our culture is rapidly accepting of homosexuality and now apparently transgenderism too. So we can understand why any presidential candidate would answer in such a tolerance-based way in light of the growing acceptance to all kinds of deviant sexuality in society. But I thought Santorum was running for president as an alternative Christian voice in opposition to the mainstream conservative compromising on social issues such as gay marriage, and so forth? But his reply is anything like an alternative Christian voice, but instead it sounds pretty mainstream from where I’m standing. Now some secular news commentators explain Santorum’s flip-flop or waffle on this question on the basis of money, pure and simple. They claim that he has some wealthy donors that care a lot more about economic issues than social issues, and even some who might be gay or transgendered, so he’s trying hard not to totally offend those who are sympathetic to Bruce Jenner and the likes. For all we know, as a former world-class athlete to another athlete, Santorum might even know Bruce Jenner and doesn’t want to alienate himself from him. It’s hard to say what the motivation is for candidate Santorum for answering in such a compromising way. Maybe he just hadn’t enough time to think it through enough, like in the case of another conservative presidential candidate Marco Rubio who recently stated that he’d have no problem attending a gay wedding of a friend or family member. These two men are wrong in their response because they aren’t answering from a consistent Christian perspective. And if they were to think through the issues they’d realize they are wrong. But why are they wrong? That’s what I’d like to explain this morning. As Christians we need to know why we believe what we believe. We need to know how to think through in a consistent Christian way answers to these issues that we’re confronted with on a daily basis. How would or how should a mature Christian think about such issues? Let me explain. Read the rest of this entry »

Beware of Subtle Forms of Denying Christ

May 21, 2015

Title: Beware of Subtle Forms of Denying Christ
Text: Acts 17:16, Matthew 10:32-33, Matthew 5:10-12, 14-16
Time: May 11th, 2015

Natalie Grant is a Christian contemporary singer who has sung many top praise and worship hits over the course of her career. A couple of years ago she was nominated by the Grammy Awards and so she was invited to attend the annual ceremony and celebration that is televised nationally and internationally by network television. During the course of the Grammy Awards ceremony at a certain point Natalie left early and sent out a tweet (a brief message on Twitter) stating she left early but didn’t say exactly why. Immediately fans started guessing that it was because she was offended as a Christian because of Katy Perry’s satanic witch performance. Or maybe it was because of the pro-homosexual song by a popular rap artist during a mock gay wedding ceremony led by actress Queen Latifa. In other words, there were a number of highly offensive segments of the 2014 Grammy Awards that could have provoked her to walk out. Who could blame her for leaving early under such circumstances? Who could simply sit there and watch as Katy Perry, a former contemporary Christian music artist, performs a satanic ritual on stage in front of millions worldwide. Who could blame her for walking out of a highly offensive live gay marriage that promoted sodomy before millions and millions of people? These are all anti-Christian themes and we totally understand why Natalie Grant might up and leave instead of sitting there and watching such garbage. Ok, so far so good. But then things get a little strange, even weird. After the controversy that starts to brew because of criticism for her leaving early by non-Christians and gay activists such as Perez Hilton, Natalie then back tracks and states, “I never said why I left or singled out any one thing that caused me to leave. At the time I had thoughts in my head that are better left unsaid then and now. I’m just happy to be singing for Jesus.” What’s strange is that she seems to have been provoked enough to up and leave the Grammy’s because of offensive content, yet she doesn’t seem to have enough courage of her convictions to actually explain why she left. Or maybe she thought about the consequences for her musical career in the recording industry or feared she might get blacklisted if she said anything negative against the “powers-that-be.” We don’t really know why she wouldn’t explain why she left early, although it does clearly appear that she was afraid to say what she really thought, saying, “There are thoughts inside my head that had better stay there.” Now my question, our question, is, “Is this the right approach we as Christians should take in respect to sin and culture?” Should we “keep our thoughts to ourselves” out of fear we might get into trouble? Or should we be bold and speak the truth in love without fear of the consequences, trusting God to be our guide and protector? Let’s look at this issue closer, because we may not find ourselves in exactly the same spot as Natalie Grant, but we’ll probably find ourselves in something similar in some way at some time. How will we respond? Let’s think it through now so we’ll respond correctly. Read the rest of this entry »

Financial Survival For Christians: “Go In The Strength You Have”

May 21, 2015

Title: Financial Survival For Christians: Go In The Strength You Have
Text: Judges 6:14
Time: May 10th, 2015

A few years back I started a sermon series called “Financial Survival for Christians” which has proven to be extremely popular; if fact, it’s the most popular sermon series I’ve ever produced based on views and feedback. Now I’m not exactly excited about the fact that a sermon series on money is my most famous series but be that as it may I’m happy that people are finding it helpful. Obviously people are looking for answers in the area finances, so I’m glad they are looking to God’s Word for help. Today I’d like to talk about how to pay your bills when you don’t see how you have enough money to pay them. In other words, you look at all the bills that are coming due, then you look at the available money to pay those bills, or even look ahead to the income you expect to receive, and the sinking feeling hits you that even then there still won’t be enough to pay them all. What do you do when you simply don’t have enough money to pay all your bills for the month? – I’m assuming you tackle your bills on a monthly basis because that’s usually when bills are due, each month. What do you do when you don’t have enough to pay them all? You have to do something. You can’t just pay them when you don’t have the money. Of course, you could try to pay them by writing out checks and sending them in, but that will only compound the problems when the checks bounce! I only recommend writing a check when the funds aren’t there presently only, and I do mean only, when you are absolutely, totally, 100% certain that the funds will be there by the time the check clears. Otherwise, you will create, like I said, a bigger mess for yourself when the checks bounce. Not a good idea. So what do you do when you don’t have enough money to pay your bills that are due? I was facing this situation one day when I happened to be reading my daily reading of the One Year Bible – which I highly recommend, by the way, to anyone looking for a way to read the Bible on a daily basis because it organizes the readings in manageable portions each day so that you can read the Bible in one year. I came across the passage in Judges 6:14 where the angel of the Lord is talking to Gideon and telling him to attack the Midianites. Gideon objects because he can’t see how he can lead the Jews to victory against the enemy, and here’s what the angel of the Lord says, “The Lord turned to him and said, ‘Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?” How is this related to paying bills? Let me explain. Read the rest of this entry »

The Creator Made Them Male and Female

May 15, 2015

Title: The Creator Made Them Male and Female
Text: Matthew 19:4-6, Deuteronomy 22:5, Romans 1:28, 32
Time: April 23rd, 2015

I just finished watching a television video clip of an interview between journalist Diane Sawyer and gold medal Olympian Bruce Jenner – and I have to say I’m shocked by what I saw and heard. Evidently former decathlon athlete Jenner, formerly known as the greatest male athlete in the world after his Olympic victory, is “transitioning” from male to female through drugs and surgical sex-change operations. And from all indication Sawyer thought this was something to encourage, affirm and celebrate! During the whole interview there was not even a hint that it indeed might be wrong. Although the Bible was discussed and its prohibition against a male wearing female clothes and vice versa, these teachings were casually dismissed and ignored. Diane Sawyer actually quoted from Deuteronomy 22:5, “A woman must not wear men’s clothing, nor a man wear women’s clothing, for the Lord your God detests anyone who does this.” And Jenner himself was familiar with the passage, since as he claims, he is a religious person. But nothing more is said to affirm or deny the passage; it’s just passed over. He talked about God perhaps giving him a beautiful life but then also throwing him a twist by giving him the mind of a woman in the body of a man. Now it’s really difficult to sit and watch such nonsense because here is a man who once embodied the greatest symbol of masculinity – winning the Olympic decathlon event, which is widely seen as the determining standard for the world’s greatest athlete – and now we hear he’s really “a woman trapped in a man’s body.” His solution, and the subject of the interview, is he’s gradually transitioning into a woman so that eventually at some point he’ll actually look more like a woman and then supposedly he’ll feel for the first time like a whole person. And this prime time television interview was aired and watched by millions and millions of people all around the world. It saddens me to think of how many young, impressionable minds will hear this foolishness and start to think maybe they too need to “transition” from male to female or female to male. So what are we to think about such things as Christians? It appears that the culture at large is accepting and even approving of such transitioning. The media seems to be totally on board with the idea of “a woman trapped in a man’s body” and desiring to “transition” into a different body. President Obama and many or most politicians today seem to be okay with the idea. Academia and education are going along with it. And it seems to be gaining wide acceptance in more and more areas of society. But as Christians we need to ask, “What does God think?” Or more importantly, “What does God command in his Word?” To help sort all this out, let’s review a number of biblical passages that help us response to what strange things we’re witnessing today. Read the rest of this entry »

Should Christians Attend a So-Called Gay Wedding?

May 15, 2015

Title: Should Christians Attend a So-Called Gay Wedding?
Text: Matthew 19: 4-6, Genesis 18:20, 2 Corinthians 6:14-17, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11
Time: April 22nd, 2015

Last week Florida Senator Marco Rubio announced he’s running for President in the 2016 election. Shortly afterwards he was asked about so-called gay marriage and about whether he would attend a so-called same-sex wedding if invited. He replied he would, since if he cared about somebody close then he’d want to be there for them for the special moments in their life. He said he wouldn’t let a disagreement about the nature of marriage separate family or friends for such a special moment. And although Rubio is against the redefinition of marriage he seems to be perfectly willing to participate by attending a so-called gay wedding. He says he’s a Christian and feels that would be the loving thing to do. Is he correct? Can Christians attend so-called gay weddings of loved ones and friends? Is that perfectly consistent with a profession of faith in Christ? If not, what would be wrong with attending such weddings? When I first heard the question raised by news reporters I knew immediately they were trying to stir up controversy and trouble by asking the leading Republican candidates for president. Of course, reporters love to cause trouble because that causes controversy and therefore it draws people into the debate and increases television news ratings as more and more people tune in to hear the latest development. But I also knew that it would so seeds of division among Christians because generally speaking believers don’t think very deeply about such topics, nor do they work very hard trying to live consistent Christian lives in the midst of an increasingly secular and godless society. I knew that some Christians would think of the question as posing no real problem – “Of course I’d attend a gay wedding of a close friend or family member. It’s the loving thing to do,” they’d say. While others would instinctively react negatively and object, say, “Of course I wouldn’t attend a so-called gay wedding; that would be the same as endorsing what God calls sin. I wouldn’t do it, not for a friend, not even for a family member. I will not be a party to sin by attending.” And then of course there will be Christians who are caught in the middle who honestly don’t know what they’d do. That’s the position Senator Ted Cruz of Texas took when asked by trouble-making news reporters about the issue. He said, “I don’t know, I’ve never been asked to attend a gay wedding.” That’s the safe and easy response. And maybe he was wise in taking it, especially if he hasn’t really thought through the question. But someday, at some time, he’s going to have to answer the question. All Christians at some point will have to answer the question. We all will. What will you say? Let’s talk about it this morning. Let me present what I’m convinced is a consistent Christian answer to the question. Read the rest of this entry »

The Importance of the Resurrection

April 15, 2015

Title: The Importance of the Resurrection
Text: 1 Corinthians 15:3-4
Time: April 10th, 2015

Every year the Easter season comes and goes, and while it is celebrated around the world, I often get the feeling that people don’t really get the point and purpose of it, even though they know it has some profound meaning. There really is confusion today, perhaps more so than at any other time in church history, as to the basic meaning of such important things like the death of Christ on the cross, his burial and finally the resurrection. What do these things mean? What did they mean and what do they mean today? We know in fact that these things had a profound effect on the people of the first century because of the rapid growth of the Christian church. And we know historically they had a great effect on the development of the Western World, including all of Europe and also our own nation the United States. So there is no question that the life of Jesus, and in particular his death, burial and resurrection changed the course of world history. But why don’t these profound and earth shacking events have much of a powerful influence today? Yes, they do have some impact on people today, but it doesn’t seem that they grip the human soul the way they used to thousands of years ago, or even hundreds of years ago. It seems like in modern times their impact has lessened to the point that our culture celebrates Easter more out of historical remembrance than profound personal experience. How many people attending an Easter church service are truly gripped with the reality of the risen Christ today? I would guess that a majority is not; maybe even a vast majority is not. Why not? How can things that meant so much in earlier times mean so little to people today? One of the contributing factors is that people are largely ignorant of the true and profound meaning of the Easter events as they occurred two thousand years ago. They just haven’t been taught properly from the pulpits. Pastors and church leaders over the last twenty or thirty years have so emphasized “practical” Christianity – having the proper positive mental attitude, teaching principals of “success” from the Bible, and generally appealing to the practicality of Christianity over the theological or doctrine or moral aspects of the faith. The result is that most people today, even those who attend church regularly, don’t know the basic and essential theological teachings of the church, and if they do, they often don’t know them very profoundly. This must be corrected before it’s too late. So let me delve into some of the important theological reasons why Christ rose from the dead, and why the resurrection is so important for – or should be important for us – today. I’ll use as my text, “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,” 1 Corinthians 15:3-4. Read the rest of this entry »


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