Saturday, July 25, 2015
Here is a re-post from last year:
16 Lessons Learned from 16 Years of Marriage
Sixteen years ago today I covenanted with Tracey Funderburk to become one in marriage. We stood with our family and friends at the First Baptist Church in Lancaster, South Carolina, on that hot July day. In some ways it seems like it has flown. In other ways, that memory seems distant.
What lessons have I learned in sixteen years?
1. Marriage is the best thing God has got going on this earth for most people. We love being married. Marriage and family are awesome. We would do it all over again. When God created the world, He created one man and one woman for a lifetime together. Marriage makes it into the first chapter of the Bible. The family is more important than and is the building block of church, government, and society.
Tuesday, July 21, 2015
" 'It is well and good for the preacher to base his sermon on the Bible, but he better get to something relevant pretty quickly, or we start mentally to check out.' That stunningly clear sentence reflects one of the most amazing, tragic, and lamentable characteristics of contemporary Christianity: an impatience with the Word of God.
The sentence above comes from Mark Galli, senior managing editor of Christianity Today in an essay entitled, 'Yawning at the Word.' In just a few hundred words, he captures the tragedy of a church increasingly impatient with and resistant to the reading and preaching of the Bible. We may wince when we read him relate his recent experiences, but we also recognize the ring of truth.
Galli was told to cut down on the biblical references in his sermon. 'You’ll lose people,' the staff member warned. In a Bible study session on creation, the teacher was requested to come back the next Sunday prepared to take questions at the expense of reading the relevant scriptural texts on the doctrine. Cutting down on the number of Bible verses 'would save time and, it was strongly implied, would better hold people’s interest.' "
Read the entire article by Albert Mohler here.
Wednesday, July 15, 2015
Friday, July 10, 2015
There is coming a day when our house will be straight,
No legos on the den floor, no beach towels on the gate.
I won't trip over Star Wars men in the middle of the night,
And he won't ask me when I come home if we can wrestle and fight
The train table and its many parts will have long been stored away,
And we will have a clean floor and tidy house instead on that day.
The yard will no longer overflow with balls, bikes, and swings,
And I won't find in every nook, cranny, and room baby dolls, stickers, and rings.
Crayons will not be found, spills less frequent, and diapers no more,
Except for a few crayon marks penned long ago on a wall, table, or floor.
Yes, Mom and Dad, there is coming a day when your house will not be cluttered,
For the day will arrive when your child moves away, and then your heart will flutter.
And you will recall olden days of toys, games, and snacks.
The dress-up clothes will be gone, no cowboy hats on the racks.
Dad, forget the golf course! Your hobbies can wait for these oh so precious years.
Stay at home, be silly and play, and give a listening ear.
Mom, make your family number one after faith in God.
Care for them and share your love, like a shepherd's firm but gentle rod.
So please be patient in these years to remember what really matters.
Enjoy your children, embrace them now, and thank God for spilled-milk splatters!
- This poem won the third place award for unpublished poetry at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference in 2014.
- Rhett H. Wilson
Thursday, July 9, 2015
“My definition of a free society is a society where it is safe to be unpopular.” - liberal politician Adlai Stevenson in 1952
I read George Orwell’s 1984 in middle school. Big Brother’s motto: “Who controls the past, controls the present. Who controls the present controls the future.” Big government meticulously worked to remove anything offensive to its agenda.
The government’s totalitarian rule was hard for me to comprehend as an eighth-grader thirty years ago. Why work feverishly to erase history and silence dissenters?
Recent days in the USA make it easier to comprehend Orwell’s prophecy.
My best friend in seminary was a black preacher. Barry preached in three churches I served. The Latimores, a black couple we adored, were the best neighbors we ever had. I proudly sung at Lola’s funeral. And Prather’s, a soul-food restaurant owned by a black man, served the best food I ever ate in Clinton.
Last Wednesday I worshiped at Piedmont Presbyterian Church on Jefferson Davis Road in Mountville, South Carolina. My family participated in the Bethany Youth Camp involving people from several races and denominations. We canvassed our county doing service projects in nursing homes, churches, and schools. I watched children lead the evenly mixed crowd of whites, blacks, and Hispanics. They sang about Christ, spoke life (the camp theme was "Speak Life"), performed a skit, and made the congregation smile. Black and white pastors spoke. The service ended by our holding hands and praying.
This is the spirit that kept our state together in June.
With great trials come knee-jerk reactions focusing on the wrong items as quick solutions. Focusing on a flag, throwing out the model car of the General Lee my son and I worked on this winter, tossing my DVD of Gone with the Wind, renaming army bases, or desecrating or removing statues of Robert E Lee and Stonewall Jackson (or George Washington for that matter - a slave owner) will not solve societal problems. It actually creates more division and fosters a wrong focus.
Last week TV Land decided to discontinue The Dukes of Hazzard – one of the most family-friendly shows ever to be on television. The previous week Amazon declared no more Confederate merchandise. Warner Brothers announced it would no longer produce The General Lee – one of the most popular television cars in history.
Todd Starnes of Fox News called it the “cultural cleansing of the South.” Ben Jones, who played “Crazy Cooter” on the show, described it as a “wave of political correctness that is unprecedented in our nation of free speech and free expression.” Jones compared it to the burning of books by the Nazis. Though I welcome the moving of our state’s Confederate flag to a museum, it set off a chain of events that border on, to borrow Breitbart News’ words, “absurdity.”
Yet Amazon sells posters of Stalin, Mao Tse-tung, Lenin, and Adolf Hitler. Ben Stein shares in his e-article Amazon Goes Orwellian, “That is pure Orwellian mind control. . . . Where does it end?”
The Charleston spirit - no riots, no buildings burned, no National Guard - and the spirit in Piedmont church were not because people removed “anything inconvenient in the past” (Ben Stein). It was because people opened their hearts to Jesus Christ, His power, His Word, and chose to love each other and move forward together.
Peter wrote, "Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins" (1 Peter 4:8). The Bible says Jesus Christ is the Prince of Peace. Without Him, His rule, and His Word and Spirit, there is no peace - regardless of who runs Washington or whether or not we can buy Bo and Luke's Dodge Charger.
This article appeared in The Clinton Chronicle on Wednesday, July 8, 2015.
This article appeared in The Clinton Chronicle on Wednesday, July 8, 2015.
Wednesday, July 8, 2015
"Religious liberty is under attack by an unconstitutional, out-of-control Supreme Court. The next battle we face: The IRS attack on churches.
I refuse to sit silently as liberal activists use the power of the IRS and the tax code to intimidate, discriminate, and abuse churches that refuse to surrender on same-sex marriage. Activists are already demanding that churches, religious schools, and faith-based institutions that refuse to change their doctrines on marriage should be forced to pay taxes as a penalty. This is not a conspiracy, it's a real threat. In Chief Justice John Roberts’ dissent, he acknowledged that tax exemptions of some religious institutions could be jeopardized. Even President Obama's Solicitor General admitted this during oral Supreme Court arguments. Worse still, Hillary Clinton's top advisor refused to answer when she was asked whether churches should punished and lose their tax exempt status over traditional marriage.
While some cowardly politicians will wave the white flag and surrender to the false god of judicial supremacy, I refuse to light a match to our Constitution. For the sake of our children and grandchildren, we must stand our ground against judicial tyranny."
Monday, July 6, 2015
Jonathan Falwell did an excellent job from the pulpit truthfully yet compassionately addressing the SCOTUS ruling on marriage. And he addressed the fact that we all need to deal with our own sins and shortcomings.
Sunday, July 5, 2015
Although Dutch Sheets Ministries has never endorsed a candidate or political party, I did issue a warning regarding the Supreme Court during the election of 2008. While I had concerns about both major party candidates, now-President Obama's stand on abortion and other moral and legal issues led me to believe his Supreme Court appointments could cause great damage. I warned, in fact, that the true spoils of the election, regardless of who won, would be the shaping of the Supreme Court for many years to come. Sadly, this has proven to be true. Though President Obama has done much personally to take the nation in directions I disagree with and mourn over, I believe what has just happened through the Court will prove to be the most destructive part of his legacy. We have just experienced this generation's "Roe v. Wade."
In an article published by The Daily Signal, Canadian Dawn Stefanowicz gives us a shocking but eye-opening report of the true fallout, based on what occurred when Canada went down this path. Lance Wallnau of The Lance Learning Experience also points out clearly what is coming. [2, 3]
Read the entire article by Dutch Sheets here.
Saturday, July 4, 2015
Do those self-evident truths of which Jefferson wrote so eloquently in the Declaration mean anything today? Following last month's Supreme Court rulings, do any words mean anything today?
"I have never had a political idea that did not come from the Declaration of Independence," said Abraham Lincoln as he raised the American flag over Independence Hall in Philadelphia on February 22, 1861. And he added in an uncharacteristically emotional tone for him: He would rather be assassinated where he stood than surrender any portion of that great Declaration -- or a single star of that Union's flag.
Read the entire article by Bob Morrison here.
Friday, July 3, 2015
“Now, five imperious lawyers known as justices have a better idea. It is a lawless ruling that contradicts the wishes of over 50 million voters and their representatives. The US Supreme Court does not have the right to redefine something it didn’t create. The majority who issued the ruling have simply made it up out of thin air with no constitutional authority. There is no eternal or natural law that allows for marriage to be redefined. We will fully and ungrudgingly rend to Caesar’s what is Caesar’s. But under no circumstances will we render to Caesar what is God’s. It is time for Christians to awaken and allow its collective voices to be heard. We must defend their Christian beliefs in a spirit of Christian love, but with conviction that the Christian and religious liberties handed down to them and us by the Founding Fathers must not be relegated to the ash heap of history.” - Dr. James Dobson
Thursday, July 2, 2015
This is the last installment of a series looking at 7 lessons for believers who find themselves living in a type of Babylon. It is continued from Living in Babylon part three.
6. Your life fits into a bigger picture than just you and your family. Submit to the whole.
Independence is a core value of Americans. We don't want a queen or a king. We celebrate our independence as a nation and rightly so. That spirit produced countless great achievements in our country and led to American exceptionalism, a value underrated by some in our society.
However, the same quality that makes for a great citizen can make for a lousy Christian. The spirit that created a strong country may result in a weak church. While each of us is individually accountable to God, the Bible talks more about interdependence among believers than it does independence.
The apostle Paul's longest symbolic description of the church is that of a human body. We call it the body of Christ. He wrote, "Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. . . . Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it" (1 Corinthians 12:12,27).
Believers need other believers. The Bible does not call for lone ranger Christians who sit at home without real fellowship and simply watch churches or preaching online or on television. The New Testament exhorts us over and over with the "one-anothers." Pray for one another. Meet together. Serve one another. Encourage one another. Carry each other's burdens. And on and on it goes.
There is, however, a negative aspect of this interdependence.
A large group of people may experience the negative consequences of the bad choices, judgments, or sins of a smaller group of people. In the book of Joshua, the entire army suffered a significant battle loss because of the sins of one man (chapter 7). In King David's day, the entire nation suffered a plague as a punishment for David's sin (1 Samuel 24). Earlier in David's reign, a famine occurred for three years - a delayed punishment due to the sins of King Saul, David's predecessor.
History records the raw reality that life is not always fair, and at times a group of people suffer consequences because of the wrong choices of another.
God warned his people for several generations in the Old Testament that if they did not repent of their sins and return to His Word, He would judge them severely. The prophet Isaiah walked naked through Jerusalem as a picture of what was to come. More than 100 years later the prophecies were fulfilled as Babylon conquered Jerusalem and many new slaves marched naked from their homeland.
Many of these people now exiled into Babylon reaped the fruit of the sins of their forefathers. Daniel and his three friends, for example, shine as brilliant examples of godliness. Yet they experienced exile, and likely experienced the pain and shame of being made eunuchs, as a result of the punishment on their people. Those four men could have spent their life bitterly despairing, "This is not fair! This is not the life we planned." Instead, they submitted to a Sovereign God who reigned over even Nebuchadnezzar. They in essence said, "God, though I may not understand what is happening and I may not like it, I trust You to fulfill Your purpose for me."
God was not surprised by the exile, and He still had a plan for their lives.
These lessons lead us to the seventh one of trusting God in Babylon:
7. God will fulfill His promises and His Word. He will not leave you undone (10,14).
Exile did not take God by surprise. He planned it, and He planned for the day it ended. He promised, through Jeremiah, that "when seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my gracious promise to bring you back to this place" (Jeremiah 29:10).
Fulfill that promise He did, when in 538 B.C. Cyrus of Persia conquered Babylon and issued an edict allowing the Jewish people to return home.
The Lord is saying, "I will not leave you undone." As the apostle Paul wrote to the Philippian church, "He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion" (Philippians 1:6).
He who sees the end from the beginning will see his people through the exile.
This trial you currently experience, as painful and shocking as it may be to you, did not surprise your God. He knew. He saw. As you seek Him and submit to Him, trusting your days to the Omniscient One, He will see you through. Your end may not be the one you planned or of which you dreamed. But dear one, the God who knew every one of your days before even one came into being saw this season. And He planned for it. He will not leave you undone.
As American culture continues to drift further from her Judeo-Christian roots, believers can still trust God.
Dorothy said, "Toto, we're not in Kansas anymore." Nevertheless, her life seemed to still be guided by a greater force. And so is ours.
Today, God knows, and He still has a plan for His people.
Living in Babylon challenges you and me to learn to trust God in new ways.
Eugene Peterson aptly shares, All of us are given moments, days, months, years of exile. What will we do with them? Wish we were somewhere else? Complain? Escape into fantasies? Drug ourselves? Or build and plant and marry and seek the shalom of the place we inhabit and the people we are with? Exile reveals what really matters and frees us to pursue what really matters, which is to seek the Lord with all our hearts. Run with the Horses: The Quest for Life at its Best
Excellent, thoughtful article by Senator Jim Demint.
"Conservatives are reeling after two outrageous decisions last week by the Supreme Court. In one case they reinterpreted Obamacare so that 'established by the state' magically meant 'or the federal government.' In another, they redefined marriage—even though nothing in our Constitution gives the court the authority to do that.
What do we do now?
The Obamacare case is the simpler of the two when it comes to next steps. While the court refused to enforce the plain meaning of the text, Congress can still vote to repeal Obamacare and replace it with patient-focused, market-based healthcare reforms that will truly serve all Americans. Obamacare remains unworkable, unaffordable and unpopular. Congress must act to repeal it."
Read the entire article here.
Jim Demint was a Congressman from South Carolina and currently leads the organization The Heritage Foundation.
Wednesday, July 1, 2015
Dozens of prominent evangelical Christian leaders sign their name to a statement entitled Here We Stand: An Evangelical Declaration on Marriage.
"As 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."
Read the entire declaration here.
With a multitude of articles floating around the internet, I wanted to compile a list of some of the best ones I have read. I divide them into three categories: spiritual, legal, and sociological, though many of them overlap. Make sure and read the following:
Here We Stand: An Evangelical Declaration on Marriage signed by numerous Christian leaders
I will keep adding to the list.
Everything Has Changed and Nothing Has Changed — The Supreme Court Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage by Albert Mohler
Why We Oppose Same-Sex Marriage by Family Life
So-Called Same-Sex Marriage: Lamenting the New Calamity by John Piper
ERLC President Russell Moore Announces Evangelical Statement on Marriage by ERLC
40 Questions for Christians Now Waving Rainbow Flags by Kevin DeYoung
A detailed explanation of why Christians don't accept gay marriage by Dan Calabrese
Ending Tax Exemptions Means Ending Churches by Denny Burk
Franklin Graham: God Defines Marriage, Not the Supreme Court by Franklin Graham
'Outrage and Panic' Are Off-Limits, Say Evangelical Leaders on Same-Sex Marriage by Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra and Morgan Lee
Supreme Court Ruling on Same Sex Marriage by ERLC
Why the church should neither cave nor panic about the decision on gay marriage by Russell Moore
How Should You Talk to Your Children About Same-Sex Marriage? by Russell Moore
Jesus didn’t care about being nice or tolerant by Matt Walsh
Responding Biblically to Homosexuality and Same-Sex Marriage by Family Life
Responding Biblically to Homosexuality and Same-Sex Marriage by Family Life
"[The Constitution] Has Nothing to Do with It"—Dissenting Justice Roberts on Court's 5-4 Decision for Gay Marriage by Aimee Herd / American Family Association
Scalia: SCOTUS Majority is A 'Threat to American Democracy' by Newsmax Wires
Supreme Court's Marriage Ruling is Shocking Abuse of Power, Will Never Be Accepted by Family Research Council
How the Supreme Court Found a Constitutional Right to Same-Sex Marriage by Joseph Williams
Four Short Observations about Justice Kennedy’s Opinion on Same-Sex Unions by Rob Schwarzwalder
Wrong on at least three crucial levels: Moral, Constitutional, and Structural by David Barton
Constitutional Remedies to a Lawless Supreme Court by Ted Cruz
Mike Huckabee: Fight gay marriage judicial tyranny by Mike Huckabee
Judicial Activism From Supreme Court on Marriage. Here’s How to Respond by Ryan Anderson
Marriage and the Rule of Law(yers) by Tony Perkins
Protecting Your Ministry from Sexual Orientation Lawsuits by Alliance Defending Freedom
Texas Attorney General Issues Major Order to Fight Back Against Supreme Court by The Conservative Tribune
Nothing to do with the Constitution by Chief Justice Roberts
Justice Scalia's Dissent by Chief Justice Scalia
What Do We Do Now? by Jim Demint
Here We Stand: An Evangelical Declaration on Marriage from ERLC
Supreme Deception by Tony Perkins
Gay Marriage Still Doesn’t Exist, No Matter What the Supreme Court Says by Matt Walsh
The following is one of the best articles from a practical-theological level on the SCOTUS' same-sex ruling I have read the past week.
"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."
Read the entire article by Kevin DeYoung here.
Picture is used by permission from the book BC Reads: Adult Literacy Fundamental English - Reader 4