Thursday, April 30, 2015

Quotation of the Day

Most Christians lead a treadmill life - a life in which they can predict almost everything that will come their way  But the souls that God leads into unpredictable and special situations are isolated by Him.  All they know is that God is holding them and that He is dealing in their lives.  Then their expectations come from Him alone.  - L. B. Cowman

How the ‘Right to Love’ Is Creating Hate

While we are contending for our own liberty, we should be very cautious not to violate the rights of conscience in others, ever considering that God alone is the judge of the hearts of men, and to him only in this case they are answerable.  — George Washington, letter to Benedict Arnold, Sept. 14, 1775

"Washington’s words and wisdom could certainly be applied to the situation America finds itself in today with the whole debate over the definition of marriage.

The Supreme Court heard arguments on the matter Tuesday and will hand down its decision sometime in June.

To get a better sense of how this issue is both similar and different from other cases involving religious liberty, and what is ultimately at stake, I spoke with an attorney who has worked on domestic and international religious freedom for over a decade defending the rights of people from a wide variety of faith backgrounds."

Read the entire article "How the 'Right to Love' is Creating Hate" by Genevieve Wood here.  

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Religious Liberty in the Crosshairs

" 'It is … it is going to be an issue.' With those words, spoken yesterday before the Supreme Court of the Unites States, the Solicitor General of the United States announced that religious liberty is directly threatened by the legalization of same-sex marriage. Donald Verrili, representing the Obama Administration as the nation’s highest court considered again the issue of same-sex marriage, was responding to a question from Justice Samuel Alito. His answer confirms with candor the threat we have long seen coming.

Back in 2005, long before the movement to legalize same-sex marriage had gained cultural momentum, the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty held a forum on the question of gay marriage and religious freedom. The forum included major legal theorists on both sides of the marriage issue. What united most of the legal experts was the consensus that same-sex marriage would present a clear and present danger to the rights of those who would oppose gay marriage on religious grounds.

Marc D. Stern, then representing the American Jewish Congress, put the matter directly:"

Read the entire article by Albert Mohler, "It is Going to Be an Issue” — Supreme Court Argument on Same-Sex Marriage Puts Religious Liberty in the Crosshairs.

Bruce Jenner is Not a Woman

Our society continues to amaze me.  Truth, decency, morality, and plain old common sense continue to slip away.  How sad and amazing that the country is captivated by Bruce Jenner's story.  How sick that we applaud yet another example of something twisted and perverted.

My mother spoke the plainest truth about this story that I have heard.  Earlier this week, she told me, "If Bruce Jenner doesn't know what gender he is, then he needs to go into the bathroom, take off his clothes, and look in the mirror."

Matt Walsh hits the nail on the head in his article "Bruce Jenner Is Not A Woman. He Is A Sick And Delusional Man."

"On Friday night, a mentally ill crossdresser named Bruce Jenner was interviewed for two hours during prime time about his plan to gruesomely mutilate his genitals in a macabre pseduo-medical ritual often erronsously described as a “sex change.” He detailed his decision to Diane Sawyer, calmly declaring: “For all intents and purposes, I am a woman.”

He concluded that the next best course of action is to castrate himself and live the rest of his life pretending to be a girl. He’s already undergone extensive cosmetic surgery, including shaving down his trachea (which is a thing that doctors will actually do, apparently) in pursuit of some perverse, bastardized notion of synthetic femininity.

In response, our depraved and insane country has hailed him as something approaching a god, with millions of people flooding social media to heap unrestrained praise and adulation."

Read the entire article by Matt Walsh here.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

"We Will Not Obey" Christian Leaders Tell the Supreme Court

I have been joining hosts of other Christians today in praying continually for the hearings going on in the Supreme Court.  This is a time for fervent, consistent, and sacrificial prayer from believing Christians.
Today about 30 "big-name" Christian leaders sent a document to the Supreme Court that vowed in unmistakable terms - "We will not obey" if the Supreme Court changes the definition of marriage, "we and millions of Christians will practice civil disobedience," and "we will go to jail before we will submit to an unjust ruling."
James Dobson was one of the authors of the document.  The document is signed by leaders such as Governor Mike Huckabee, Senator Rick Santorum, Pastor John Hagee, and Franklin Graham.  Also signing the document is Matt Staver, founding Dean of The School of Law at Liberty University.  Staver has appeared before the Supreme Court several times making arguments in recent years.
James Dobson has said recently that, in light of this constitutional crisis, he believes if the Supreme Court rules in favor of same-sex marriage that it will potentially lead to a second civil war in America and begin the end of Western civilization.
Read the article by Todd Starnes here.  These are times that demand our prayers, faithfulness, and courage!

Citizens, Not Judges, Should Determine Future of Marriage

"As the U.S. Supreme Court hears oral arguments about gay marriage Tuesday, it’s important to realize what the justices are actually being asked to settle.

Here’s the bottom line: Whatever people may think about marriage as a policy matter, everyone should be able to recognize the U.S. Constitution does not settle this question. Unelected judges shouldn’t insert their own policy preferences about marriage and then say the Constitution requires them everywhere.

There simply is nothing in the Constitution that requires all 50 states to redefine marriage."

Read the entire article by Ryan Anderson here.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Does the Bible Tell Christians to Judge Not?

Ken Ham and others share excellent answers to this question that is often wrongly answered . . .

"Many people conclude that making judgments on anyone (especially coming from Christians) is wrong because the Bible says 'judge not' (Matthew 7:1).

We live in a world that increasingly strives to (supposedly) promote the idea of tolerance, but actually becomes intolerant of Christian absolutes as it does so. Whether it involves religion, behavior, or human sexuality, there is a growing anti-Christian sentiment in America and other Western nations. Ultimately, built into this 'tolerance' is the concept that truth is determined by each individual, not by God. This has led many people to conclude that making judgments on anyone (especially coming from Christians) is wrong because the Bible says 'judge not'(Matthew 7:1). Interestingly enough, those who reject the notion of God or the credibility of the Bible often attempt to use God’s Word (e.g., by quoting verses out of context) to excuse their actions when they are presented with the gospel and the plight of sinners for rejecting it.

The Authority on Judging

Scripture makes it very clear that there is one supreme Judge of all—the Lord God—and that He alone has the authority to determine right and wrong motives and behaviors."

Read the entire article here.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Should a Christian Bake a Cake for a Gay Wedding?

The unbelievable recent events where bakery owners and florists are sued, harassed, and persecuted because they refuse to serve gay weddings has caused many people to ask new questions.  In addition to the issue of the government wrongly violating religious freedoms, folks are asking, "So should a Christian bake a cake for a gay wedding?"

This question and ones like it fall in the area of “disputable matters” for believers.  They involve issues about which the Bible does not specifically speak.

Paul had a lot to say about such matters in Romans 14.  Then the issue was, “Should a Christian eat meat that has been sacrificed to idols?”  Animals were sacrificed to many false gods in Paul’s day.  Leftover meat was often sold in the local market.  Some Christians objected to purchasing such meat, fearing the meat was “demonized” and cursed.  Other Christians saw no harm and said, “It is only meat.” 

Debates and opinions raged, dividing believers.  Paul explains that in areas of preferences and personal convictions, we need not to impose ours on each other.  However, in matters of revealed truth, we must submit to God’s Word.   

The matter of the definition of marriage is one of revealed truth.  The Bible teaches - all the way back to its first chapter - that marriage is between one man and one woman.  Whether a Christian baker bakes a cake for a gay wedding, on the other hand, is one of personal conviction.  Some Christians will see it as a way to show love and perhaps gain an opportunity to share Christ.  Others will say, “No way, I can’t do that.  Allowing my art to be used for a gay religious wedding violates my conscience because of my religious beliefs. ” 

For me, I believe I would bake the cake, try to show love and ask God for an opportunity to talk to the people about Christ.  But, I also respect my brother's right to have his convictions and not bake a cake.  And I will speak up and fight for his (or a Jew, Muslim, Mormon, or Jehovah's Witness) right to stick to his convictions when it comes to baking a cake or selling one.  I'm a grown-up, and if they deny me based on their convictions, I can deal with it without suing them.

Speaking to Christians about baking cakes, Paul would say – “Don’t tell your brother what conviction to have there.  Don't look down on them if they bake the cake or if they don't.  Practice your conviction unto the Lord, and love your brother for whom Christ died.” 

Speaking to the person who says that a man marrying a man or a woman marrying a woman is an acceptable form of marriage, I believe Paul would say, "You are wrong, and you are loved."

Jonathan Parnell says it so well:

"The current debate is plagued by this binary lens. Those on the left try to lump everyone who disagrees with them into that right side.
If you don’t support, you hate.

Meanwhile, those on the right see compromise and spinelessness in anyone who doesn’t get red-faced and militant.
If you don’t hate, you support.

But true followers of Christ will walk neither path. We have something to say that no one else is saying, or can say. . . .  You are wrong, and you are loved."

This weekend I've been reading Mike Huckabee's excellent book God, Guns, Grits, and Gravy.  In his chapter on the definition of marriage, he writes, "I believe we live in a God-centered world and that all the definitions of success, fulfillment morality, value, family, and life are His to give and ours to follow.  They provide a roadmap for us.  They also are immutable, meaning unchangeable."

Ain't it the truth, Mike? 

Huckabee writes that if a member of a mostly gay church owned a T-shirt shop and someone came in to buy a custom T-shirt that said “Pray the Gay Away,” would the shop owner be taken to court for advising the customer that he should try another T-shirt shop?  I'll add to that illustration.  What if our local Baptist Association had a "Stand for Marriage Day" and wanted 1000 t-shirts made with the phrase "Marriage is Between One Man and One Woman?" 

Should the courts force a gay business owner to print such a shirt?  And would the gay community say, “Oh yeah, we’re fine with it.  He should have to make that shirt so that he is not a bigot?”  Of course not.  They should not be made to - any more than I should be made to perform a gay wedding or else be severely fined by the government.  I offer services to marry people.  But I can’t, according to my biblical, religoius conviction, offer those services for same-sex unions.  I could have them over to my house for supper, go to a ballgame with them, invite them to attend our church, build a relationship with them, love and care for them, but I could not perform a marriage ceremony for them.

These days we are wise to remember that there is no truth without love, and there is no love without truth.

But today, some courts wrongly believe it is their business - not the individual's - to dictate to bakers when and for what reason to bake cakes. 

Click here to see an excellent video interviewing some of these bakers and florists.

Religious Freedom at Risk

Friday, April 24, 2015

Thursday, April 23, 2015

7 Traits of Remarkable Writers

Henry McLaughlin shares practical observations about the characteristics he sees in successful authors . . .

"Over the course of my writing time, over ten years now, I’ve met many writers, read many books, and studied authors. And I studied more than how they applied the craft to their stories. I studied how they applied themselves to their writing.
The truly remarkable writers I’ve met all seem to have character or personality traits that make them stand out. And this doesn’t apply to only published authors. Many aspiring writers display these same traits as they continue to write and pursue publication.

Remarkable writers are diligent. Another word might be discipline. They write, most of them, every day. Others, with family or work obligations, diligently plan their schedules to free up as much writing time as possible. They are dedicated to writing and to improving their craft."

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Simple Gifts

"Daddy, come outside and see my piñata,” my nine-year old exclaimed on Sunday afternoon. After a long, full morning at church on Easter Sunday we then spent several hours with my mother who was recovering from knee surgery. Finally home, it was nice to just crash for a while.

Dawson led me outside to see his latest creation. My creative boy had drilled holes into four of his remaining Easter eggs and strung them together with yarn.

Read my article "Simple Gifts" on the Just 18 Summers site here.

Perseverance and God's Timing

"How much longer will you keep trying? The Bible is full of examples of men and women who kept trying, who hung in there when things were hard. Do you think Hannah was disappointed time and time again when she didn't get pregnant? How many times did Moses have to return to Pharaoh? How long did Joseph wait for fulfillment of his dream? How many times was Paul beaten and chained? Hannah and Moses and Joseph and Paul were rejected. And yet God chose each of these people for a very specific role."

Vonda Skelton shares lessons about God's sovereignty and our perseverance in her article "A Positive Rejection."  Read it here.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Developing a Listening Ear

Michelle Medlock Adams shares about an important spiritual practice - developing the listening ear in our hearts . . .

I will listen to what God the Lord will say. (Psalm 85:8, NIV)

It’s time for spring cleaning, right?

Recently as I was cleaning up my office and going through old journals, I came across a quote from one of my favorite Bible teachers, Billye Brim. One sentence seemed to jump off my journal’s pages. Billye said, “There’s an ‘ear’ in the middle of your heart.”

That’s good, isn’t it?  

Read the entire article "There's an Ear in Your Heart" on Guideposts here.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

4 Reminders of Simple Gifts

“Daddy, come outside and see my piñata,” my nine-year old exclaimed Sunday afternoon.  After a long, full morning at church on Easter Sunday we then spent several hours with my mother who was recovering from knee surgery.  Finally home, it was nice to just crash for a while.
Dawson led me outside to see his latest creation.  My creative boy had drilled holes into four of his remaining Easter eggs and strung them together with yarn. 
“Help me find a place to hang these in the woods and we can have a piñata!”
We searched together through the woods and decided upon the tree that is attached to our tree house.  After securing the yarn, we instantly had a bright and colorful yard game.  Dawson grabbed a long PVC pipe, and I snatched one of my long-sleeve shirts.
After wrapping his head in my shirt, Daws was ready to rumble.  It did not take him long until he smacked the eggs and egg-stuff went everywhere. 
“Woo-hooh, Daddy, that was cool!” 
My son keeps teaching me valuable lessons.  Joy can be found in the simple things in life.
The Bible exhorts us to choose to have joy: Rejoice in the Lord always.  I will say it again: Rejoice!  Let your gentleness be evident to all.  The Lord is near. (Philippians 4:4-5)
Dawson’s experiment with the eggs gave me four reminders of simple gifts:

1.  Simple gifts can often be found in those things we already have – not just in the things we don’t. 

Our children don’t always need yet another video game, action figure, or toy.  Dads and moms, we don’t always need another purchase to make us temporarily feel good. 

Instead, at times we can ask, “What can I do with what I already have?” 

Pull out a board game for an hour of fun.  Recycle those books that we read five years ago.  This week my children had several hours of fun going through our cedar chest and looking at photos, baby clothes, and old letters.

2.     Creativity goes a long way. 
       We don’t always have to purchase the biggest, newest, and best.   The advance of technology has created a consumerism in our culture that trains us to think we have to have “the newest big thing.”  
On Black Friday last year we purchased a flat-screen tv at a good price.  For a couple of months we shopped for entertainment centers but did not want to pay full price.  My wife began searching at consignment stores.  She found an old wooden dresser, which we purchased for about $100.00.  She spray-painted the entire dresser and it became a fabulous entertainment center.
I love to read.  As an avid reader, I have discovered that a good used book that cost me $2.00 at Goodwill reads just as well as a brand new one that has a cover sticker of $23.99.
3.      The pleasures of life are often best enjoyed when we share them with someone. 
My wife enjoys coffee and I drink Pepsi.  How nice it is to enjoy such treats sitting on our deck together, watching our children play in the back yard.  We can take a walk with our children.  Ride bikes together.  Explore a creek.
4.     Many of the joys of life do not require electricity. 
Richard Swenson, author of the book In Search of Balance, challenges families to have “Little House on the Prairie” nights when, within reason, we do not use anything electronic for entertainment.  Read together.  Play games.  Talk to each other.  Sing and make music together.  Enjoy the simple pleasures that people did for thousands of years before the advent of electricity.
We are wise to remember the words of the Shaker hymn “Simple Gifts”: ‘Tis the gift to be simple, ‘tis the gift to be free, ‘tis the gift to come down where we ought to be.



Discipleship Tuesday: Don't Miss Out on the Blessing

Has God ever challenged you to do something that scared you?  Michelle Cox shares insights this morning and trusting Him and moving out in faith.

"Are you missing out on a blessing because God’s called you to do something, and you’re hesitant to do it? Are fear or circumstances holding you back?

Why is it that when God asks us to do something for Him that we always start our part of the conversation with the reasons why we can’t do those things?

I was thinking about that this morning during my devotions as I read in Exodus (chapters 3 and 4) about Moses. Let me set the stage for the story…"

Read the entire article here.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Never Give Up

Terry Burns reminds us why it is important to never give up . . .

"I was asked the one piece of advice that I would give new writers who want to publish, and I responded, 'Never give up!'

As a nation, we've gotten to the point where we want it all, and we want it right now. This same attitude is a real problem in those who are trying to get their first work published. Getting published is like assembling a puzzle, all of the pieces have to be in place or the puzzle can’t be completed. As I said above, there are so many things that have to be there for a submission to be successful.

The hard news is that 85% of all manuscripts are rejected because all of the puzzle pieces are not there. It probably has nothing to do with the quality of the writing, though that is one of the puzzle pieces, and it surely isn’t a personal rejection because they don’t know us well enough for it to be personal. Yet too many do take it personally, get their feelings hurt, and quit trying."

Read the entire article, "My Advice," here.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

My Girls at Easter

This is How Religious Liberty Dies — The New Rules of the Secular Left

The vast high-velocity moral revolution that is reshaping modern cultures at warp speed is leaving almost no aspect of the culture untouched and untransformed. The advocates of same-sex marriage and the more comprehensive goals of the LGBT movement assured the nation that nothing would be fundamentally changed if people of the same gender were allowed to marry one another. We knew that could not be true, and now the entire nation knows.

The latest Ground Zero for the moral revolution is the state of Indiana, where legislators passed a state version of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which Gov. Mike Pence then signed into law. The controversy that followed was a free-for-all of misrepresentation and political posturing. Within days, the governor capitulated to the controversy by calling for a revision of the law — a revision that may well make the RFRA a force for weakening religious liberty in Indiana, rather than for strengthening it.

Business, political, and civic leaders piled on in a mass act of political posturing. The federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act became law in 1993 in a mass act of bipartisan cooperation. The Act passed unanimously in the House of Representatives and with 97 affirmative votes in the Senate. President Bill Clinton signed the bill into law, celebrating the Act as a much needed protection of religious liberty. Clinton called religious liberty the nation’s “first freedom” and went on to state: “We believe strongly that we can never, we can never be too vigilant in this work.”

Read the entire article by Albert Mohler here.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Easter Memories

Easter offers wonderful opportunities, whatever your practices, to talk with your children about the essence of the Christian message - that God loved a sinful world so much that He sent His Son Jesus to die on the cross so that our sins could be forgiven and we could have a forever-relationship with Him.

Read my entire article "Easter Memories" here.