As Jesus’ followers, it is imperative that we keep the gospel central in all we say and do. Sadly the gospel could so easily get lost in the discussion surrounding same sex marriage. The most important question is: do you believe that Jesus is who said and showed he was? Do you believe that Jesus is Lord? Jesus’ lordship rules over all of our orientations and lifestyles and marriages and gender and sexuality. Therefore, what one believes about Jesus is far more important than one thinks about homosexuality. We must remember and communicate that Jesus saves and transforms all sorts of sinners. We must remember that Jesus zealously opposes our sins of lust and greed and porn and anger and self-righteousness and pride and impatience and (you get the point).
So, I encourage you to equip yourself with some thoughtful, biblical instruction.
Tim Keller on How to Treat Homosexuals
Host: So how do you reconcile the command to love all people with a position on homosexuality that some would say is radically intolerant?
Pastor: (smiling) If you think my position on homosexuality is radical, just wait until you hear what else I believe! I believe that a teenage guy and girl who have sex in the backseat of a pick-up are sinning. The unmarried heterosexual couple living down the street from me is sinning. In fact, any sexual activity that takes place outside of the marriage covenant between a husband and wife is sinful. What’s more, Jesus takes this sexual ethic a step further and goes to the heart of the matter. That means that any time I even lust after someone else, I am sinning. Jesus’ radical view of sexuality shows all of us up as sexual sinners, and that’s why He came to die. Jesus died to save lustful, homo- and heterosexual sinners and transform our hearts and minds and behavior. Because He died for me, I owe Him my all. And as a follower of Jesus, I’m bound to what He says about sex and morality.
Look no further for our culture’s confessional statement in three points:
- God made me this way.
- He wouldn’t deny my natural desires.
- And I don’t have to explain myself to you or anyone else.
You won’t understand the challenge facing Christians regarding homosexuality until you see how these three points permeate our culture. On the surface, we appear to be locked in a battle of rights we can’t win. Christians declare our right to speak out and legislate according to religious conviction in defense of traditional institutions. Gays pursue their right to life, liberty, happiness with regard to their sexuality. But homosexuality fronts a much bigger challenge that threatens us all.
Same-sex marriage makes sense if you assume that the individual is the center of the universe, that God—if he exists—is there to make us happy, and that our choices are not grounded in a nature created by God but in arbitrary self-construction. To the extent that this sort of “moralistic-therapeutic-deism” prevails in our churches, can we expect the world to think any differently? If we treat God as a product we sell to consumers for their self-improvement programs and make personal choice the trigger of salvation itself, then it may come as a big surprise (even contradiction) to the world when we tell them that truth (the way things are) trumps feelings and personal choice (what we want to make things to be).
Courageous the Movie opens in theaters September 30. The tag line says it all–“Honor Begins At Home.” Hollywood’s not putting out too many movies with that message these days! Personally I’m intrigued to see how they encourage fathers to be biblically courageous in leading their homes. I need that, don’t you ?! That’s a hard task to do–to avoid a simple, moralistic “be courageous!” What we need is gospel encouragement–“You can’t be courageous on your own. You need the grace and power of God through Jesus!”
Though I haven’t seen it yet, I’ve seen some great reviews that say the movie actually pulls it off. I highly recommend you read Andy Naselli’s review. And if you’re going to see the movie, try to make it opening weekend. That will help show the movie people that there’s a real demand for movies like this.
Supposedly 7 out of 10 kids abandon the church by the time they’re 23 years old. Tim Challies reminds us that the gospel is more powerful than the pollsters are alarming. Read the whole thing. You’ll be blessed and encouraged. Let’s keep the gospel “of first importance” at WBC…for the eternal joy of our children.
I wonder how many of those 7 out of 10 kids who abandon the church, how many of the 94 percent, how many of the 6 of 10—however you want to interpret the numbers—I wonder how many of them have ever truly encountered the true gospel. I wonder how many have heard that gospel and then seen it consistently lived out in the lives of parents and friends’ parents and pastors and young people and old people. I have no doubt that 60 or 70 percent of young people do, indeed, abandon church. But I have no doubt that far, far fewer than this abandon the church when they have been raised in homes and churches that treasure and model and celebrate the gospel.
I am convinced that the reason so many young people abandon the church is that they have seen far more hypocrisy than gospel; they have had their emotions stirred but never their souls.
Christmas! We celebrate it every year! So of course we know what it’s all about, right? But what do you first think of when you hear the word Christmas? Maybe…
- “Man I’ve still got some shopping to do!”
- Presents, Christmas trees, family dinner, presents, eggnog, Santa, reindeer, White Christmas, presents…
Christmas is supposed to be the “Most Wonderful Time of the Year”! But many of us are stressed out and worn out. “Will they like my present?” “Am I going to get the present I really, really want?”
Have you begun to wonder that “Maybe Christmas…doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more”?
Let’s slow down a bit and remember–Christmas was God’s idea. So…we shouldn’t be tyrannized by the false expectations and distractions of “The Holiday Season.” Christmas is a call back to reality–God’s reality–that “all the hopes and fears of all our years” are met in the birth of Jesus. That first Christmas changed the world and our lives forever! If Christmas is true then we have cause to celebrate 24/7, 365 days a year!
As we prepare to celebrate Christmas Day, let’s remember why we celebrate Christmas. Over the next week, we’ll consider three reasons why we need to celebrate Christmas from the gospel of Luke, chapter 2.
- To remind each other that our lives really are part of God’s Story—God has not forgotten us!
- To remind each other that God has met our greatest need—God sent us a Savior, Jesus!
- To remind each other that He will set this world to rights—God really will bring peace on earth!
To kick things off, won’t you take some time to read the Christmas Story?
I just finished reading a fantastic book called Gospel-Powered Parenting by William P. Farley. It’s a must read! Do you really believe that the gospel provides all the tools necessary to raise children, target their hearts and show them how to follow Jesus? This book is relentless in encouraging and equipping you to parent from the power of the gospel.
Here’s a small taste of how the gospel is the classroom that teaches us everything we need to know to become effective Christian parents.
- The gospel teaches Christian parents to fear God. God promises to bless parents who fear him.
- The gospel motivates parents to lead by example. God wants to our children to see his faithful and the beauty of the gospel in our marriage.
- The gospel centers families in their male servant leaders. God holds fathers responsible to teach and train their children. We look to Christ for the example of true masculinity and leadership.
- The gospel teaches and motivates parents to discipline their children. Biblical discipline reveals the horror of sin and the hope of forgiveness.
- The gospel motivates parents to teach their children. The primary teachers of children are not schoolteachers, Sunday-school teachers, youth pastors, TV/Internet, …but parents.
- The gospel motivates parents to lavish their children with love and affection. The gospel defines what love looks like. Christ’s love must be our love–sacrificial.
- The gospel is the solution for inadequate parents. Parents often feel the weight of their (our!!!) own failures and inadequacies. The gospel is our solution. Our hope.
And here’s a helpful review of the book and also a helpful interview with the author.
Words of wisdom for young moms to find freedom in seeing their children as their primary ministry. A post by Jani Ortlund at The Resurgence.
Young mother, it seems like everyone wants something from you. And you’re probably already giving way more than you ever thought you could give. But even with all your giving, you might struggle with guilt—lingering, joy-drenching, energy-sapping guilt—that you should be doing more, giving more, accomplishing more.
Don’t waste that guilt. Pay attention to it. Use it. Take it out of the shadows and examine it in light of Scripture. Is this a godly grief that leads to repentance or a worldly grief that produces death (2 Cor. 7:10)? Is it life-giving or life-depleting? Ask yourself, does this bring fresh joy and peace to those nearest me, or does it add unnecessary stress and strain to my home?
Mother: You have a mission field
Our first and primary mission field is our children. God values our children. Jesus became indignant when the disciples didn’t embrace the worth of children in God’s expanding kingdom (Mark 10:13-16). God tells us that children are his blessing to us (Ps. 127:3). And he places great importance on our teaching our children to love and serve him (Deut. 6:7-9).
Don’t feel guilty over making your children your primary ministry investment in their early years. Continue reading
A soul-searching, hope-renewing post by Doug Wolter at Life Together.
God is parenting me as I parent my kids. He’s showing me that if I still struggle with control, why do I get so angry when my 8 year old daughter struggles with it? Why am I so impatient with her when God is so patient with me? If you’re a parent that struggles with this let me share with you a book that has helped me. It’s called, Grace Based Parenting by Tim Kimmel. Here’s one quote worth meditating on:
I’m urging you to raise your children the way God raises His. The primary word that defines how God deals with His children is grace. Grace does not exclude obedience, respect, boundaries, or discipline, but it does determine the climate in which these important parts of parenting are carried out (p. 20).
Read the whole thing.
On Sunday morning in gathered worship we spoke these words to one another:
Our hope for a new creation is not tied
to what humans can do,
for we believe that one day
every challenge to God’s rule
will be crushed.
His kingdom will fully come,
and the Lord will rule.
Come, Lord Jesus, come.
–Our World Belongs to God, 55
On Sunday evening with the monumental passing of the Health Care Reform Bill, we were given a clear opportunity to live out those words and re-believe the gospel. Is our hope found in national health care? Is our hope dashed by national health care?
“No!” and “No!”
We need to think and act like Jesus’ followers. Let us not give in to false hopes or fear.
We all would do well to consider this timely word from Russell Moore:
Is it a problem that some of us who are tranquil as still water about biblical doctrine and ecclesial mission are red-faced about Nancy Pelosi and the talking heads on MSNBC?
Is it a problem that some who haven’t shared the gospel with their neighbors in months or years are motivated to vent to strangers on the street about how scary national health care will be?
If we were half as outraged by our own sin and self-deception as we are by the follies of our political opponents, what would be the result?
If we rejoiced as much that our names are written in heaven as we do about such trivialities as basketball brackets, what would be the result?
So if what you’re afraid of is a politician or a policy or a culture or the future of Western civilization, don’t give up the conviction but give up the fear.
Work for justice.
But do it so that your opponents will see not fear but trust, optimism, and affection.
Read the whole thing, and pass it along.
HT Justin Taylor
This morning I was changing Mathew (our 5 month-old) and putting his little overalls on him while he yawned, smiled and cooed away. There’s something about the little moments like this, or when we wake him up in the morning and the first thing on his face is a huge smile, that invigorates my soul. It makes me happy. Other things tend to become minor in that moment. It’s been a somewhat challenging week for us. As is common with us all, Life (not a typo) had dealt us a series of challenges and little sleep. As I was getting Matthew ready for daycare I began to think about this power he had over me…
We named him Matthew to remind ourselves that He is a gift from God; that’s what “Matthew” means. So in that moment, when Matthew caused me to forget myself and the week’s difficulties, I thought, “Thank you God, for the gift of this child.” Now we can talk until we’re all blue in the face about what challenges will come with a child, and what we’ve all experienced while raising the fruit of our loins to “adulthood”, but that wouldn’t get us far. God stopped me in this moment to show me how he uses my son as an instrument of redemption in my life.
After thanking Him for the gift of my son, I couldn’t help but think, “God wants me to revel in the Glory of Jesus right now.” If I am thankful to Him for my son, how much more should I be thankful to Him for HIS SON- the one who completely wipes away my sin and redeems me fully. Jesus is so much more valuable and worthy of worship than my problems. And I can trust that He will be the eternal source of satisfaction and joy for my soul. I could end up worshiping myself, a quiet evening at home, or even my son in my pursuit to satisfy my idols of comfort during a hard week. But Jesus is the only one worth my adoration, and God used my son to point me to that! When he grows older I’ll be able to tell him that he has been a living parable of the beauty of Jesus in my life!
Remember to pray for the Irish’s during their time visiting Enoch and Moise in Haiti. Pray for physical and (Holy) Spiritual strength for them as they patiently endure the adoption process. And as you think about adoption thank our Heavenly Father for adopting us (Ephesians 1:5) into his Family through our elder Brother, Jesus (Hebrews 2:11-13). How beautiful is it when God’s children overflow in love for others, how striking it is when God’s children overflow in love for the orphan!
If you’re interested in finding out more about how the gospel might lead others to adopt please check out these amazing ministries…
And here’s a wonderful quote from Dan Cruver, writing for the Together for Adoption website:
Everybody has dreams.
One of my dreams is that when Christians hear the word “adoption,” they will first think about their adoption by God. As it stands right now, most of us first think of families adopting children.
My dream, then, is that whenever the word “adoption” is spoken, our thoughts will move vertically (e.g., “God has adopted us”) before they move horizontally (e.g., “Our church has many families that are adopting”).
(Read the rest here …)