Lake Atitlan

Lake Atitlan

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

God on Trial in Newtown

God on trial in Newtown is an excellent article by Jim Denison. I seeks to respond to the question, "Where was God and why did He let this happen?"

Monday, December 17, 2012

Helping Children Deal with Grief

The tragedy in Connecticut has touched our nation deeply. It is hard enough for adults to comprehend. It can be overwhelming for children. As you have opportunity with your children, the following article might prove helpful in visiting with them about the recent tragedy or other losses in life.

(See the article)

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Newsweek vs. The New Testament

Newsweek put Jesus on their cover this week. It is another predictable attack on biblical Christianity from the news magazine. Al Mohler responds to the article in detail in his blog. I really liked his last paragraph (though you should read the whole article).

It says: "So, in the waning days of Newsweek as a print magazine, the editors decided to take on the New Testament. Readers should note carefully that it is Newsweek, and not the New Testament, that is going out of print."


'White Elephant' Gifts Distract Us from Serving God

In this season of Christmas parties, I came across this story (and a nice application) regarding the background to the "white elephant" gift.

'White Elephant' Gifts Distract Us from Serving God

Gordon MacDonald shares the following story:

In ancient days when the king of Siam had an enemy he wanted to torment and destroy, he would send that enemy a unique gift, a white elephant, a live, albino elephant. These animals were considered sacred in the culture of that day. So the recipient of that elephant had no choice but to intentionally care for the gift. This elephant would take an inordinate amount of the enemy's time, resources, energy, emotions, and finances. Over time the enemy would destroy himself because of the extremely burdensome process of caring for the gift.
Our spiritual enemy uses the same strategy on us. Let's say you buy season tickets to [your favorite sports team], but because you still have a lot of games to go to, you no longer have time to serve in some area of ministry. Or let's say you buy a summer cottage, but now you miss most weekend worship services between the beginning of May and the end of September. Or let's say you buy a health club membership to get in shape. You used to get up early in the morning to read your Bible and pray, but now you don't have time because you're working out before you go to work. Or let's say you buy a spot for one of your kids on a traveling sports team, and now you're too busy to join our community impact ministry as we serve the poor.

Are there white elephants in your life? Are you spending money on things that take your time away from God? The money isn't the problem; the activities aren't necessarily the problem; the problem is a white elephant "gift" that has pulled you away from God-honoring pursuits.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Where Did our Christmas Customs Originate?

A good summary article from Lifeway:

The Christmas season abounds with holiday customs and traditions, but most of us probably never stop to wonder about their origins. We decorate our homes inside and out with lights, candles, and greenery. We stuff stockings and send Christmas cards to family and friends. But why do we do these things year after year? Of course, we're celebrating the birth of Jesus, but did you know that many of our modern-day Christmas traditions have their roots in ancient cultures and practices, some of which actually predate Christ? Let's take a closer look at a few holiday customs.

Monday, December 3, 2012

HOW TO MAKE THE MOST OF CHRISTMAS

(This article is an adaptation of an article from a church in Great Britain).

HOW TO MAKE THE MOST OF CHRISTMAS
In case you haven't noticed, there is less than one month to go until Christmas! Regardless of how we feel about the Christmas season, one thing we as Christians can be excited about is the opportunity we have to use the special Christmas events like Christmas Celebration and Christmas Eve Services as a means to share the gospel with our friends.

Most of us know that these special Christmas events are good opportunities to invite friends and neighbors to church, but we often find it hard to do. So how can we make the most of Christmas?

Motivation
Before thinking about how to invite friends, it is worth examining our hearts and think about why we inviting people at Christmas is a great idea. Some ways that people suggested to motivate themselves were:
1. Remind yourself of the gospel ‘if I don't remind myself of the gospel I find that I hold back because of fears that me speaking about Jesus or inviting people to events will impact my popularity or what friends think of me. When I remind myself of the gospel I remember that their standing before God is much more important that my standing before people and what they think of me.'
2. Remembering the joy that we have in Christ
3. Recognizing that ‘the fields are white for harvest' John 4:35 (ESV)

Preparation
Often the friends who do come in response to our invitations are the ones with whom we've developed a good relationship with, spend time with and genuinely care about. If we invite people to other activities (lunch, coffee, gym classes) with us then inviting to a Christmas Service won't seem so out of the blue. If we aren't doing so already, it might be worth spending time with friends outside of a purely social capacity.

Prayer
We tend to know that we need to pray as we look to invite people, but often we forget or neglect to do it or we are just not sure what to pray. Some ideas that people suggested include:
1. Pray before we invite friends
2. Pray specifically for friends that we are planning to invite
3. Pray for God to work in the hearts of those who do come
4. Pray for the service itself, that the gospel would be clearly proclaimed

Invitations
This is what most of us find hardest doing - actually inviting our friends. Don't feel down about finding it hard, you won't be the only one! Some things to note when it comes to inviting:
1. It is worth sending a mass email invitation out, but try to follow that up with conversations with individuals
2. Be prepared for people to say no
3. Giving an invite can really be as simple as 'Hey I wonder whether you'd like to come to a Christmas event next week at my church? Then give them the printed invites.
4. Arrange to go for lunch, dinner or drinks after one of the services

Follow-up
Getting people to come along to a Christmas service or event might be just the start of our friends' journey to faith in the Lord Jesus. Helping people to keep thinking about the gospel and about Jesus is difficult but here are some things you could do:
1. Plan ahead to have a coffee after the service
2. Listen carefully to the talk and maybe pick up one idea to keep talking about with your friends
3. Be ready to invite friends to further lunchtime talks or maybe a regular church service in January.

Entitlement and Thanksgiving

This from Thom Rainer in an article titled Entitlement and Thanksgiving.

If I feel entitled, I complain about my job.
If I am thankful, I am grateful to have a job.
If feel entitled, I complain about the meal I’m eating.
If I am thankful, I am grateful to have food on the table.
If I feel entitled, I complain that the government does not do enough for me.
If I am thankful, I ask what I can first do for others.
If I feel entitled, I complain about my spouse.
If am thankful, I express gratitude that someone has put up with me all these years.
If I feel entitled, I complain about living paycheck to paycheck.
If I am thankful, I am grateful simply to have a paycheck.
If I feel entitled, I complain about what’s wrong with my church.
If I am thankful, I am ever grateful for the freedom to worship.
If I feel entitled, I complain about the deficiencies of different family members.
If am thankful, I am grateful that I have a family that loves and cares for me.
If I feel entitled, I complain about the lousy weather we’re having.
If I am thankful, I am grateful to be a free person regardless of the weather.
If I feel entitled, I complain to God about why He is treating me so unfairly.
If I am thankful, I know that I deserve nothing good, that all gifts are an act of grace.
Dear Lord, forgive me for my sense of entitlement. Remind me to rejoice in all things, and in all things to be thankful. Remind me to count my blessings. And remind me when my heart begins to stray from thanksgiving to entitlement.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

The People Have Spoken-- What Should Christians Do Now?

Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research, concluded after the election that Christians "may be on the losing side of the culture war."  But he reminds us that "when our King returns, He won't be riding a donkey or elephant."  In fact, he will ride a white horse of victory and wear the name, "King of Kings and Lord of Lords" (Revelation 19:16).

See the full article here...

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Lessons from the 2012 Elections

Lessons from the Election - There are tens of thousands of articles wrapping up the results of last night’s election. A good place to start will be with Al Mohler’s “Aftermath: Lessons from the 2012 Election.” You may also want to listen to this morning’s episode of The Briefing.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

25 Marks of a Backslidden Christian

Backsliding was a hot topic in the church in past decades. But as our culture has grown more post-Christian, it has seemingly disappeared from church discussion. This list can serve as a litmus test for your continued spiritual growth. See the article by Joe Thorn...

Christianity and the Dark Side — What About Halloween?

Al Mohler writes an essay for the season. How should Christians respond to Halloween?

Monday, October 29, 2012

Pastor Tony Evans on Pulpit and Politics

Tony Evans speaks well and with wisdom to the presidential election this year. He differentiates between telling people hwo to vote for and telling people how to vote:
As nearly 1,500 pastors nationwide participated in Alliance Defending Freedom's annual Pulpit Freedom Sunday by preaching biblical truth on the positions of electoral candidates, Texas megachurch Pastor Tony Evans says in an interview that politics is a central issue in the Bible.
"The Bible is pregnant with politics," Evans, the African-American pastor of megachurch Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas, Texas, says in an interview published in World Magazine. "You cannot read the Bible from Genesis through Revelation and go through too many chapters that are not involving politics. So it is not a minor issue or a marginal issue. It is a central issue."

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Of Babies and Beans? A Frightening Denial of Human Dignity

Al Mohler comments on a New Yorker article concerning the Vice Presidential debate about faith and public life. His observtions are worth reading. (See article)

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Jim Denison writes a daily discourse on a variety of topics and makes great applications for followers of Jesus. Today's article is worth sharing. It begins:

Prince Charles has announced that he plans to change his title if and when he becomes King of England.  His mother was crowned in 1953 as "Defender of the Faith." Charles prefers the title, "Defender of Faith" or "Defender of the Faiths."  If so designated, he would be the first British monarch not to be the standard-bearer for Protestantism in his country since Henry VIII broke from Rome in 1530.

Why does Charles want to make such an historic change?  Because Christianity has declined in the UK to 69 percent of the population, while those with no religion now make up 22 percent of the population. 

Friday, September 28, 2012

The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife? When Sensationalism Masquerades as Scholarship

The news media tried to make much of the unvieling of an old manuscript recently, declaring it showed  that Jesus was married. There are multiple issues to talk about and Al Mohler adresses it well.

Dr. Mohler on Jesus’s wife: “This is sensationalism masquerading as scholarship. One British newspaper noted that the claims about a married Jesus seemed more worthy of fans of Dan Brown’s fictional work, The Da Vinci Code than ‘real-life Harvard professors.’ If the fragment is authenticated, the existence of this little document will be of interest to historians of the era, but it is insanity to make the claims now running through the media.” (See article)

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

2012 Election Prayer Guide

This prayer guide, from the 40 Days of Prayer website is very well done and useful in praying for our nation and the upcoming elections. (See Prayer Guide)

Good Things Start in the Wilderness


The Judean Wilderness

I wanted to pass on this encouraging devotional thought from Ken Adams:


Rarely do we consider being in the wilderness a good thing. In fact, most of the time we dread the wilderness. We hate the wilderness. We will do just about anything we can to avoid the wilderness times of life. Sometimes, however, we need to be reminded that good things can come from our times in the wilderness. (See Full Article)

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Seven Common Comments Non-Christians Make about Christians

Thom Rainer writes: "One of my greatest joys in research is talking to and listening to those who clearly identify themselves as non-Christians. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not celebrating their absence of faith in Christ. My joy comes from listening to those who don’t believe as I do, so that I might be better equipped to witness to them.

Over the past several years, my research teams and I have interviewed thousands of unchurched non-Christians. Among the more interesting insights I gleaned were those where the interviewees shared with me their perspectives of Christians.

In this article, I group the seven most common types of comments in order of frequency. I then follow that representative statement with a direct quote from a non-Christian. Read these comments and see if you learn some of the lessons I learned." (See Full Article)

Activity Overload: Which Activities are Right for Your Child?

We live in a world of stressed-out, overscheduled children. The question is often asked by parents of young children, "How do we decide what is right for our child?" While this artice doesn't answer all the questions and address all the issues, it does provide a starting place.

(See Full Article)

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Faith of the Candidates

This well-documented article by James Denison provides excellent information on the spiritual backgrounds and faith systems of the two presidential candidates. The link  is to a PDF and may take a moment to load.

Denison seeks to address the questions:
Is Barack Obama a Muslim?
Can a Christian vote for a Mormon?

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Gospel and the Discipline of Stewardship


The Gospel and the Discipline of Stewardship

Donald S. Whitney writes, "Stewardship is the care and management of that which belongs to another. And while we often speak of things as "ours," the reality is that all that we have and all we are belongs to another - God. As the Apostle Paul put it, "What do you have that you did not receive?" (1 Corinthians 4:7). So it is from God that we have received our lives and everything in them for which we are responsible. Temporarily - until God requires them from us - we are stewards of these gifts." (See the full article).

Friday, August 10, 2012

Sharing the Biblical Gospel with Mormons

How to Witness to Mormons - The author tells how and how not to witness to Mormons. The article begins:

There are basically two ways Christians witness to Mormons. One is to demolish Mormonism in an apologetic way, the other is to expose Mormonism in a theological way. The former deals with Mormon history, false prophecies, archaeology, DNA, etc. The latter deals with sin, repentance, atonement, the gospel, etc.

Most people take the first approach, but we, the Oasis ministry in Utah, take the second. The first may make many ex-Mormons, but it doesn't necessarily make believers. Actually, it can be counter-productive. (See article here)

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Back-to-School Prayer for Your Teen

As a new school year begins, teens jump back into the school scene: clubs, band, football, after-school activities, friends, new classes, new teachers, and homework.

The best way to prepare yourself and your teens for the challenging days of a new school year is to start out on your knees in prayer. Praying for your teen is a monumental task, but it makes a difference in your teen's life and in yours. Where do you begin?

Take a look at these 10 areas that relate to your teens' everyday lives and put them on your prayer list. Decide now to spend time together as parents praying for your teens regularly this year. What a difference your prayers will make in the lives of your teens; and you, too, will experience greater wisdom and peace for the parenting challenge. (see full article)

Monday, July 30, 2012

A Good Word on Giving From Jack Graham

Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

2 Corinthians 9:7
 

There was a man who was telling a deacon of his church one day, “The church just costs too much! We have these nice facilities, a pastoral staff, and are always doing things for the community. Why do we have to spend so much money?”

So the deacon said to him, “Let me tell you a little story. A number of years ago, a little boy was born into our home, and that child began to cost us. There were diapers, food, and all of the costs that come with a little baby. And as he grew, there were sports fees and activity fees. When he became a teenager, he began to eat us out of house and home. Then he decided he wanted to go to college, and we were poor for four more years.”

But he said, “His senior year at college, our son was killed in an automobile crash. And since then, he hasn’t cost us a dime.”

The deacon’s point was this: Anything that is alive will cost. And if the Church is to be a living and viable influence in the world, it must have the resources it needs to do so. So support your local church financially as a living, breathing organism, so that it can make a real impact in the world!

CONTRIBUTE FINANCIALLY TO YOUR LOCAL CHURCH AND HELP IT MAKE A LIVING IMPACT FOR JESUS CHRIST!
 

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Getting Ready for a New School Year

The summer break is coming to an end soon. The month of August is a time for getting in last minute vacations and gearing up for the beginning of a new school year. Regular routines and Friday night football are just around the corner. It is a time of beginning again. January provides opportunity to set new goals and establish new patterns. I have found that the beginning of a new school year in August does the same.

My challenge to you is to take time in these weeks to do some evaluating. Ask yourself diagnostic questions that will help you to discern God’s will for the days ahead. Write down your impressions from God and make them a matter of daily prayer for yourself. Visit with another believer who knows you well to receive their spiritual counsel and encouragement. Determine what God would have you do next. Make sure you do something. Good intentions do not result in spiritual growth. Commitments and obedience will yield growth. Perhaps the following questions will help you get started:

  • What does God want to accomplish in my heart and life in the next year?
  • What does the Lord want to develop in my character?
  • What faith steps will I take this year for the first time?
  • Where will obedience to the will and ways of God lead me in the next several months?
  • Am I spending time reading the Bible each day?
  • Is my prayer life meaningful and am I connecting with God?
  • Am I consistent and obedient and Christ-honoring in giving my tithes and offerings?
  • Have I shared my faith with anyone in the last year?
  • What would God have me do in ministry beyond myself?
  • Have I found a meaningful place of service and ministry in my church?
  • Do I share God’s heart for the world? Is God leading me to be a part of an international mission trip this year?
  • Am I connected and committed to a small group of believers through a Bible Fellowship Group?
  • Have I ever lead someone else to make a commitment to Jesus Christ?
  • What have I done in the last year to improve my skills as a Christian parent?
  • Have I taken any tangible steps to enrich my marriage recently?
  • Does my attendance in worship services and my Bible Fellowship Group give testimony to a consistent Christian walk with God?
  • Would my neighbors and work associates say that I am a committed follower of Christ?
  • Would Christ introduce me as one of His committed followers?

Have a blessed spiritual journey! God has great things for you as you seek and obey Him.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Serving Communion to Former Cannibals


This is a fascinating story of missionary John G. Paton's ministry to a former cannibal tribe in Aniwa. Paton's story is a testament to the greatness of the grace of God and His ability to save.

The Temple Mount in Jesus' Day



This video provides a reconstruction of the temple at the time of Jesus.

Inspiration

Sometimes I just need some inspiration. I found it here today...

Monday, July 2, 2012

Your Pastor Is Not Your Political Activist

In a presidential election year church members often want their pastor to shift all priority toward being their political activist. John Piper speaks well to this.

This excerpt from John Piper begins as the 43:44 mark of his most recent sermon.

Here's the transcript:
Don’t press the organization of the church or her pastors into political activism. Pray that the church and her ministers would feed the flock of God with the word of God centered on the gospel of Christ crucified and risen. Expect from your shepherds not that they would rally you behind political candidates or legislative initiatives, but they would point you over and over again to God and to his word, and to the cross.
Please try to understand this concluding point. When I warn you against politicizing me, or politicizing the institution called Bethlehem, or the church in general, I do so not to diminish her power but to increase it. The impact of the church for the glory of Christ and the good of the world does not increase when she shifts her priorities from the worship of God and the winning of souls and the nurturing of faith and raising up of new generations of disciples. It doesn't. It feels in the moment that it does. "Look at how many people showed up for the rally!" Or "Look how many signatures in that church they got!" Or "Look how that committee is functioning!" It feels powerful, but give it a generation. And little by little, that vaunted power bleeds away the very nature of the church and its power.
If the whole counsel of God is preached with power week in and week out, Christians who are citizens of heaven and citizens of this democratic order will be energized as they ought to speak and act for the common good. It's your job, not mine. Don't look to me to wave the flag for your vote. Or wave the flag for your candidate.
Let me read you from this week's WORLD magazine the editorial by Marvin Olasky. Many of you are familiar with WORLD. WORLD is a very political magazine, and it ought to be. I just love the Marvin Olasky and the team at WORLD. I'm glad they're doing what they're doing. This is what he said in the article, pleading with churches not to be politicized:
Wise pastors prompt [Christians] to form associations outside the church, and leave the church to its central task from which so many blessings flow. That pattern in the 18th and 19th centuries worked exceptionally well. New England pastors in colonial times preached and taught what the Bible said about liberty, and the Sons of Liberty — not a subset of any particular church — eventually sponsored a tea party in Boston harbor. Pastors through America during those centuries preached about biblical poverty-fighting, and in city after city Christians formed organizations such as (in New York) the Association for Improving the Condition of the Poor. (WORLD, June 16, 2012, 108)
My job is to feed the saints with such meals that they go out strengthened and robust and able to do the study and do the courage and do the action needed as salt and light in this world. And that will go away if you insist on the church and the ministry being the political leaders. It will and we can point to many where it has.

How Would You Like to Wear Your Joy?

A great devotional thought from John Piper on Isaiah 35:10:
“Everlasting joy shall be upon their heads.

Ten Tips for Ministering to Ministers and Their Families

This article from Lifeway Christian Resources recognizes the unique challenges faced by ministry families. How can we better minister to ministers? The suggestions here are simple and practical.

Seven Characteristics of Advancing Leaders

Many of these traits would be true in any leadership setting but they are particularly true in all areas of church leadership from vocational to volunteer.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Christianity 101 for Journalists

from Justin Taylor

Tim Keller:
I find it frustrating when I read or hear columnists, pundits, or journalists dismiss Christians as inconsistent because “they pick and choose which of the rules in the Bible to obey.” What I hear most often is “Christians ignore lots of Old Testament texts—about not eating raw meat or pork or shellfish, not executing people for breaking the Sabbath, not wearing garments woven with two kinds of material and so on. Then they condemn homosexuality. Aren’t you just picking and choosing what they want to believe from the Bible?”

It is not that I expect everyone to have the capability of understanding that the whole Bible is about Jesus and God’s plan to redeem his people, but I vainly hope that one day someone will access their common sense (or at least talk to an informed theological advisor) before leveling the charge of inconsistency.
Read the whole thing here.

Redemptive History in Classical Art

This Is the Gospel Project - This is a great little look at redemptive history via classical art.

Toward Better Short-Term Missions

Toward Short-Term Missions - Darren Carlson continues his look at short-term missions. “In the first article I laid out the history of short-term missions and some of the opportunities it has provided. The second article pointed to some of the problems that surround the enterprise. Now I want to offer a way forward.”

It was encouraging to find our current direction follows his recommendations closely. Our missions training wiill pick up in the Fall with a new ministry we are launching for that purpose.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Why You Should Consider Cancelling Your Short-Term Mission Trips

This article summarizes the challenges and frequent shortfalls of short-term mission trips...and the things we seek to address and avoid in our efforts.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Sharing Your Spiritual Journey Story

A Christian's personal testimony is their most powerful tool for sharing the Good News of Jesus with spiritually lost friends and family. My Sunday message on June 17 communicates why a testimony is important and key elements in that testimony. For further help in developing your own spiritual journey story, the following brief article by Rick Warren will be helpful. See article....

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Six Ways of Minimizing Sin

Six Ways of Minimizing Sin - This article is helpful in seeing ways we play with sin rather than overcome sin. Take a moment and examine your fight against sin, the ways you are prone to minimize sin.

Is the Bible Reliable?

Is the Bible Reliable? - Here is some helpful counsel on how to answer when someone says that the Bible is not reliable. This is a simple response to what may seem to you to be a complex question.

Ten Tips for Going to Church

Going to Church - Christine Jensen writes down some of her top tips on going to church as a family. Her list will help to make the day count and make it count for more than just the day.

20 Things Every Pastoral Counselor Hears

20 Things - Here are twenty things that every counselor hears from the people he speaks with. Do you know how to answer these things?

Tim Keller's Top-Ten Evangelism Tips

Tim Challies shares - Tim Keller’s Top-Ten Evangelism Tips - “A while ago on our elder retreat we listened to a talk Tim Keller gave at Lausanne. As part of that talk he gave 10 tips to help our lay folk in their evangelism. They were so helpful I wanted to put them down somewhere, so here they are…”

Stay at Home Moms - You Need to Know...

What Every Husband Needs to Know - Gloria Furman tells us what every husband needs to know about stay at home moms. (Here’s another article on a similar subject)

“Getting Ready to Go to Church…”

This article by Shawn Lovejoy is a helpful guide to spiritual preparation to meet with God at His house on Sundays.

“How lovely is your dwelling place, LORD Almighty! My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.” (Psalm 84:1–2 NIV) “Getting ready to go to church.” What emotions does that phrase evoke in your family? In your heart? Your mind? The psalmist yearned for the next … [Read more...]

25 Insightful Quotes About Fatherhood from All Pro Dad

All Pro Dad: Seven Essentials to Be a Hero to Your Kids is an excellent playbook for fatherhood. This article leads to a review of the book but here lists twenty-five pearls of wisdom on fatherhood.

1. Leading a family is the hardest job a man can ever have. –Dave Ramsey
2. Our job as dads is to stay the course and to persevere when trouble comes our way, even during the darkest and most difficult hours of our children’s lives.
3. People think love is soft and weak, but it is really a sign of strength. –James “JB” Brown
4. Love is not a feeling; it is a decision. Love is an act of the will to be patient, kind, gentle, humble, sincere, compassionate, giving faithful, trusting, forgiving, uniting, and persevering.
5. Hail Mary passes don’t work in fatherhood. Fathering is all about a dad moving the ball forward in his relationship with his child, one yard at a time, day in and day out. (See the complete list here)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Gay Marriage Response - Interview with Al Mohler

Responding to the Gay Marriage Debate


In the current national discussion of gay marriage the questions raised by supporters of such (like the President who attempts to justify his choices with his oddly edited Bible) tend to follow the same script. The response to these for Bible-believing Christians is not difficult and being prepared to answer these questions is important for Christ-followers.

The CNN website carried the following article. In it, Dr. Al Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary responds to the tired attacks of of the supporters of gay marriage. He is not mean-spirited and serves as an effective spokesman for Bible-believing Christians. Rather than just noting the CNN link, I have chosen to include the entire article in the event CNN takes it down.

Editor's Note: R. Albert Mohler Jr. is president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, the flagship school of the Southern Baptist Convention and one of the largest seminaries in the world.
By R. Albert Mohler Jr., Special to CNN

Are conservative Christians hypocritical and selective when it comes to the Bible’s condemnation of homosexuality? With all that the Bible condemns, why the focus on gay sex and same-sex marriage?
Given the heated nature of our current debates, it’s a question conservative Christians have learned to expect. “Look,” we are told, “the Bible condemns eating shellfish, wearing mixed fabrics and any number of other things. Why do you ignore those things and insist that the Bible must be obeyed when it comes to sex?”

On its face, it’s a fair question. But it can be posed in two very different ways.
First, the question can be asked to suggest that the Bible’s clear condemnation of sexual sins can simply be set aside. The other way of posing the question represents a genuine attempt to understand how the Bible is to be rightly applied to life today.

In truth, those asking the question the first way really don’t want an answer.

An honest consideration of the Bible reveals that most of the biblical laws people point to in asking this question, such as laws against eating shellfish or wearing mixed fabrics, are part of the holiness code assigned to Israel in the Old Testament. That code was to set Israel, God’s covenant people, apart from all other nations on everything from morality to diet.

As the Book of Acts makes clear, Christians are not obligated to follow this holiness code. This is made clear in Peter’s vision in Acts 10:15. Peter is told, “What God has made clean, do not call common.”
In other words, there is no kosher code for Christians. Christians are not concerned with eating kosher foods and avoiding all others. That part of the law is no longer binding, and Christians can enjoy shrimp and pork with no injury to conscience.

The Bible’s commands on sexual behavior, on the other hand, are continued in the New Testament. When it comes to homosexuality, the Bible’s teaching is consistent, pervasive, uniform and set within a larger context of law and Gospel.

The Old Testament clearly condemns male homosexuality along with adultery, bestiality, incest and any sex outside the covenant of marriage. The New Testament does not lessen this concern but amplifies it.
The New Testament condemns both male and female homosexual behavior. The Apostle Paul, for example, points specifically to homosexuality as evidence of human sinfulness. His point is not merely that homosexuals are sinners but that all humanity has sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.

The New Testament condemns a full range of sexual sins, and homosexuality is specified among these sins. In Romans, Paul refers to homosexuality in terms of “dishonorable passions,” “contrary to nature” and “shameless.” As New Testament scholar Robert Gagnon has stated, the Bible’s indictment “encompasses every and any form of homosexual behavior.”

Some people then ask, “What about slavery and polygamy?” In the first place, the New Testament never commands slavery, and it prizes freedom and human dignity. For this reason, the abolitionist movement was largely led by Christians, armed with Christian conviction.

The Old Testament did allow for polygamy, though it normalizes heterosexual monogamy. In the New Testament, Jesus made clear that marriage was always meant to be one man and one woman.

“Have you not read that He who created them made them male and female?” Jesus asked in Matthew. "Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” For this reason, Christians have opposed polygamy on biblical grounds.

Why are Christians so concerned with homosexuality? In the first place, that question is answered by the simple fact that it is the most pressing moral question of our times. Christians must be concerned about adultery, pornography, injustice, dishonesty and everything the Bible names as sin. But when my phone rings with a call from a reporter these days, the question I am asked is never adultery or pornography. It is about homosexuality.

Christians who are seriously committed to the authority of the Bible have no choice but to affirm all that the Bible teaches, including its condemnation of homosexuality. At the same time, our confidence is that God condemns those things that will bring his human creatures harm and commands those things that will lead to true human happiness and flourishing.

In other words, we understand that the Bible condemns all forms of sin because our Creator knows what is best for us. The Bible names sins specifically so that each of us will recognize our own sinfulness and look to Christ for salvation and the forgiveness of our sins.

Christian love requires that we believe and teach what the Bible teaches and that we do so with both strong conviction and humble hearts. The Church must repent of our failures in both of these tasks, but we must not be silent where the Bible speaks.

Are Christians hypocrites in insisting that homosexual behavior is sin? We, too, are sinners, and hypocrisy and inconsistency are perpetual dangers.

The church failed miserably in the face of the challenge of divorce. This requires an honest admission and strong corrective.

At the same time, this painful failure must remind us that we must not fail to answer rightly when asked what the Bible teaches about homosexuality. Love requires us to tell the truth.


Thursday, May 10, 2012

The President's Endorsement of Gay Marriage

President Obama yesterday declared his support for gay marriage. I suppose it shouldn't come as a suprise at this point in his administration. His rationale that his "Christian" faith led him to this decision is offensive but not a suprise. His worldview has never been strongly biblical.

Jim Denison writes a daily essay about the world in which we live. He speaks well and concisely to the president's gay marriage position. See his essay here.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Cross and the Crescent

The Cross and the Crescent - Michael Horton: “Newsweek’s current cover-story is ‘The Global War on Christians in the Muslim World,’ by Ayann Hirsi Ali, who fled her native Somalia and served in the Dutch Parliament before taking a position at the American Enterprise Institute. As the article points out, widespread anti-Christian violence is exploding even in countries with Muslim minorities. How do we respond wisely as Christians to this growing threat?” Michael Horton shares some good words.

The President, the Pill, and Religious Liberty in Peril

In this article, Al Mohloer addresses President Obama's order that religious institutions provide insurance coverage for employees that must include contraceptives, including those that may induce an abortion. It is a severe violation of religious liberty in our nation.

In 1808, President Thomas Jefferson stated the matter bluntly: “I consider the government of the United States as interdicted by the Constitution from intermeddling with religious institutions, their doctrines, discipline, or exercises.” (see article)