Jesus and Homosexuality

The following link will take you to a paper published on the Village Church website, that is an excellent rebuttal of the idea that, since Jesus never taught about homosexuality, it was not an issue of concern. I recommend it to you.

Click here to go to the article.

Published in: on October 26, 2010 at 3:23 pm  Leave a Comment  

Why A Pastor and Church Burning the Quran is a Sin

On my other blog, I have a post on my take concerining the plans of a pastor and church to burn Qurans on September 11th.  You can visit and see what I think, although the title probably gives it away.

The CyberParsonage: Why A Pastor and Church Burning the Quran is a Sin.

By the way, the reason I have maintained 2 blogs is that there are some times when I have opinions or views I would like to write about but am not sure it would be best to do so speaking as a pastor here at Grace.  Maybe that is a silly distinction, but I try to keep my opinions on economic, political, or societal issues on the personal blog, while addressing church related issues here.  If you have any opinion as to the wisdom of this, I’d be glad to hear it.  I do have trouble even keeping up with one blog, let alone two!

Published in: on September 8, 2010 at 10:31 am  Leave a Comment  

Parchment and Pen » Beware of “Professional Weaker Brethren”

This is an excellent article on the subject of what constitutes “weakness” and when it is a front for seeking to bend others to our own will instead of the Scripture.  I’ve preached on this before, but this says it well.  Enjoy by clicking on the link below:

Parchment and Pen » Beware of “Professional Weaker Brethren”.

Published in: on September 1, 2010 at 11:43 am  Leave a Comment  

Should Christians Sue Christian Organizations?

Many of us were informed recently that a former professor at Cedarville is suing the University over his termination.  He has also named at least one individual in the lawsuit as well, a university employee.  The situation surrounding the termination has been one filled with controversy for over a year, and has been the subject of news reports, blogs, etc.

[This follows the actions of a Wheaton College tenured professor, who quit rather than share the reasons for his divorce from his wife with the school’s authorities, as their community standards covenant would require.  He has gone to the media to air his grievances and is questioning the ethics and legality of such inquiries, giving Wheaton a sharp public rebuke in the process.  People are wondering if legal action will follow.] 

I will not comment on the termination’s merits or procedure.  As a teaching moment, however, let me take this sad occasion to remind all of our flock here at Grace that it is never appropriate for Christians to sue fellow Christians.  Further, I believe it would be a “legal fiction” to try and say that suing a Christian-owned non-profit corporation is allowable because it is a corporation, not an individual.

The most pertinent scripture to guide us is found in 1 Corinthians 6:1-11, where Paul rebukes believers for taking their grievances before “the unrighteous” rather than believers.  He says that this action brings shame on those who pursue it.  He says that Christians should be able to solve their disagreements within the Christian community–the church.  I know that this would be the local church initially, but what if the problem affects more than a local congregation?  The pattern of the council of Jerusalem might suggest that in such a dispute a number of affected and concerned churches or a group of neutral believers could be called together, to function in some ways as the council in Acts 15 did–weighing issues and offering a solution.  

To my knowledge, the Bible-believing churches or associations that have been directly or indirectly affected have not been asked to mediate in this situation, and I am unaware if any of the national Christian reconciliation ministries have been consulted either.  These would be means available to uphold the spirit and letter of our text in the present difficulty.

Further, Paul tells the Corinthians that it would be better to be wronged than to take brothers and sisters to court to get one’s rights.   Our belief that God is in control of all things, including evil done to us (see Genesis 50:20) allows us to suffer wrong as our Lord modeled while entrusting ourselves to the care of a loving and sovereign God.  While I recognize that when sued we may be required to defend ourselves, the Scriptures do not justify taking legal action against a brother.

What about the issue of suing Christian owned and operated corporations?  The text still applies, since the corporation is, in fact, a collection of Christians in its governors, its employees, and its constiuents–all of whom are negatively impacted by the action.  This really becomes a distinction without a difference.  If the courts render a punitive judgment against a Christian corporation, it is the Christians who own it, who work for it, and who make use of it that will suffer the consequences.  So the person suing winds up injuring lots of people, not just one or two. 

This is a sad case, and not one where, as I have said before, fault and wrong rests only on one side.  However, biblical principles must govern the actions of Christians, even when those principles mean that we will suffer a wrong done by another Christian that is unjust, unfair, and would certainly be overturned by a court if we sued.  We should seek reconciliation, mediation, and if agreeable, arbitration by believers.  We should submit ourselves, individually or corporately, to such avenues if we are wronged or someone believes we have wronged them.  If that is not available to us, however, we stand close to our Savior, who experienced far worse and sets the example for us.  We should never give those in the world the excuse that believers can’t really live out the call of the gospel as a reason to mock our Lord or His teaching. 

Let’s pray that this particular matter can be resolved biblically, outside of the legal system, to glory of the Savior who grieves over wrongs done to any of His children in any situation.

Published in: on July 7, 2008 at 3:29 pm  Comments (3)  

Acknowledging the Elephant in the Room.

Preaching through Mark has been an eye opening exercise for me, as I face familiar texts and learn so much more than I anticipated.  As I let the text speak to me (and then, prayerfully, to all of us), I find Jesus such a desirable and yet convicting King. 

Over the last few Sunday mornings, as I have shared my sadness over instances of God’s people not treating each other as family (the way Jesus viewed His followers and views us), or about the danger of professed faith without fruit, I know that some may have thought about the university controversies that currently surround us.  Some even asked if I was addressing the conflict generally or one of the “sides” more directly.  It seems like the difficulties have become the “elephant in the room” here in Cedarville that either we avoid talking about, or we can’t stop talking about. 

I want to make a few points clear.  First, in my preaching and in my ministry here, I am not trying to “take sides” in a dispute over words such as truth, certainty, and assurance.  When I use one of these words, I’m not trumpeting a position.  I’ve made my understandings of these words clear when asked in the past, and I do not want to join arguments over what seem to be nuances related to whether we use these words in their “common language” meaning, within philosophical speech, or as part of the vocabulary of an epistemological school of thought.  Here is my position, in case you have not heard me state it in other venues.  Truth exists–objectively, outside our perception.  It is an attribute of God, and because he is a communicating God, He has made us able to receive and know truth.  Our finiteness means we never comprehend the truth of God exhaustively.  Our fallenness in sin means our perceptions of truth are sometimes twisted and prone to error.  By His Spirit, God allows all sinners some comprehension of truth (within common grace), and He gives redeemed sinners sufficient comprehension through the Spirit of spiritual truth (through special, saving grace).  He has spoken through the Word, and we, as redeemed people with new natures and the indwelling Spirit, can achieve and have assurance, certainty, trust, confidence, and any other such word you want to use in its message.  In my conversations with various parties, no one disagrees with the heart of what I have said, even if they might choose different words to express it.

Second, I am not trying to tell people how to administer a ministry over which God has given them oversight (after all, it is God who raises up and takes down, who appoints and removes, according to numerous Scriptures).  I am the Pastor of Grace, and that is more than enough leadership responsibility for me.  My understanding of Scripture leads me to the conclusion that constituted authority is to be submitted to joyfully, as Paul did to Nero, and as he urged slaves to do to masters who may or may not be kind.  I need not be in agreement with my leaders, but I do need to recognize and submit to their authority.  In a democracy, I carry the dual role of citizen and authority (as a voter).  In the church, we submit to the authorities God places over us, and in the world of business and organizations, we submit to those over us and lead in godly fashion those under us.  Trying to undermine our bosses, stirring discord among peers,  and mistreating our subordinates are equally sinful behaviors.

It is my conviction that Christians can and will disagree (Paul and Barnabas), and sometimes be wronged by other believers (Paul, by those in Philippi who sought his harm–Phil. 1:15-17), but our responses must reflect the values of a Christian family–we do not return evil for evil, we do not let one side’s actions determine our reactions, and we do not use worldly weaponry to accomplish spiritual goals.  If we disagree, we must talk, then talk some more, taking witnesses and mediators, and do everything we can to arrive at clarity about the issues and then seek resolution that honors God.  His honor is more important than our own, and he is most definitely NOT honored by the use of the media, the internet, and publicly released statements that escalate conflict, cast aspersions on people’s character or motives, broaden the circles involved in private disputes, and take these issues far beyond their proper spheres.  Paul’s clear words to Christians at Corinth who thought about suing fellow Christians was, “why not rather be wronged” than create the kind of spectacle that is already a defeat for us all? 

I have seen and heard enough during these past months (and years) to become convinced that no one side can rightfully claim the moral or spiritual high ground for itself.  While I can understand, and sometimes sympathize with, concerns of both sides (if there are only two), I do not think that either side has always acted and spoken in ways that honor Christ and show Christian charity toward those who disagree.

I am praying that we will see the current conflicts resolved and peace restored.  In the meantime, I ask the people of Grace to do all we can to be peacemakers, forebearing with one another, forgiving one another, speaking gracious words to one another, slow to take offense and quick to deal with any hurt that we have caused.  As we listen to Jesus through Mark, let’s take it to heart.  And let’s be careful that we don’t hear His words and find ourselves most concerned that someone else listen.  The hearing that pleases Jesus is the hearing that applies to ourselves. Perhaps if each of us can apply His words to our own hearts and actions first, we can keep from degenerating into camps with separate agendas, begin and maintain reconciliation between family members, and show elephants in the room the extra large exit door.

Published in: on May 22, 2008 at 3:00 pm  Leave a Comment