How the Supreme Court Decision Will Strengthen the Church


It has been a week since the Supreme Court’s slim decision to legalize “gay marriage” here in America. Proponents are claiming a monumental victory and others are grieved over the direction our country is heading. The blogosphere has lit up and social media is fully engaged – nearly everyone has an opinion on this emotionally-charged subject.

From what I’ve seen, the Christian response has primarily centered around two topics: redefining our biblical position and second, how to prepare for a potential tsunami of attacks. Overall, the material has been solid and I applaud my brothers and sisters who are standing firm on the truth and desire to respond to others in love.

With that said, let me add my ingredients to the mixing bowl as we consider this issue from another direction. While I am not pleased with the high court’s verdict for a variety of reasons, I do believe that their decision will strengthen a presently weak American church and show itself to be a greater blessing in disguise. The potential for such strengthening is outlined in the following four points.

1. Greater Gospel Opportunity

One day after the court’s ruling, I was eating pizza with my son at a local restaurant. Moments after we sat down, I couldn’t help hearing four adults speaking about this issue (we talk loudly here in NJ!) and expressing their curiosity as it pertained to the Bible’s teaching. Immediately I felt compelled to introduce myself and enter their conversation. We talked about the biblical perspective of homosexuality and the conversation easily transitioned into a Gospel presentation.

Despite the headlines, Christians aren’t “haters”. Hating goes against everything our Savior taught us! We love all people including our enemies, right? And what is love? According to 1 Corinthians 13:6, “[Love does] not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth.” We “speak the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15). And the truth of Scripture is clear: taking their place among many other unrepentant sinners, “homosexuals…will [not] inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Cor. 6:9, 10). Simply put, to give unqualified approval for homosexuality is to keep people from heaven! Can it get more unloving than that?

Praise God that people are talking about eternal realities. May we rise to the occasion with the message of God’s grace and forgiveness and transformation! Remember, “Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God” (1 Cor. 6:11).

2. Greater Boldness

In the past week, I have never seen more believers take a bold stance for their faith. Conversations at work, social media posts and discussions with friends – those who oppose “same-sex marriage” can no longer be quiet. We have been forced to get off our tails and study the issue. Then we can’t in good conscience sit back and watch God’s clear intentions for marriage maligned, the Word of God misinterpreted and the perspectives of fellow believers misunderstood. Sure, we were pushed into this corner, but remaining silent is no longer an option. God has given His children the red carpet to share what they believe. And despite knowing in advance we will be attacked for our beliefs, countless Christians have still boldly decided to clearly express their convictions.

While many would assume that fear drives away boldness, quite the contrary is true when one is empowered by the Holy Spirit. Persecution is often the necessary ingredient when coupled with God’s grace that makes a believer bold. Take for example the Apostles. Despite the “threats” they received (Ac. 4:29), “they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness” (Ac. 4:31). The Apostle Paul, when confined in prison as a result of his biblical beliefs, remarked, “[In] all boldness, Christ will even now, as always, be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death” (Phil. 1:20). To the Thessalonians he said, “But after we had already suffered and been mistreated in Philippi, as you know, we had the boldness in our God to speak to you the Gospel of God amid much opposition” (1 Thes. 2:2). Let’s keep asking God “that utterance may be given to [us] in the opening of [our] mouth[s], to make known with boldness the mystery of the Gospel” (Eph. 6:19).

3. Greater Clarification of True Believers

Throughout church history, one of the greatest problems the church in this world has faced is keeping the world out of the church. Unsaved people are welcome in our churches, but unsaved people (especially when they think they are saved) can easily dilute the church’s purity in her commitment to Christ. When society makes it peaceful or popular to be a Christian, the church is often at its weakest. Everybody is joining the ranks. Yet when it costs something to be a Christian, the phony believers are quick to jump ship. Oftentimes the church (the unsinkable ship) is then only left with a small remnant of true sailors sold-out for the cause.

In the early church it was sacrificing to the patron gods of their respective trade guilds or bowing down to Caesar as lord. The false believers compromised. True believers stood firm and paid for it dearly. Though to a lesser degree, I believe this issue, unlike any other in our generation, has served as a dividing line between true and false believers. The sides have been clearly delineated. Neutrality is no longer an option. Jesus told us to “consider the cost” before following Him (Lk. 14:28). Genuine believers are now learning what that means.

A powerful current has rapidly swept through our country. It has seized many in its deadly waters who have been pulled from their Christian moorings. My prayer is that the Lord will cause them to “wake up” and “remember what [they] have received and heard; and keep it, and repent” (Rev. 3:2, 3). May they emerge from the undercurrent of superficial talking points. May they detect the rising tide they entered when polygamists and pedophiles say “my turn” (which they are!). May the persecution of believers allow them to fill their lungs with fresh Christ-adoring and church-loving oxygen. May they remember that the ultimate lifesaving liberation is found only through Jesus Christ.

4. Greater Unity

Lastly, I believe this recent issue will galvanize the universal church community. Christians are created by Christ to be warriors. Sadly, we have not done too well in the spiritual battle over sin (Eph. 6:12). Additionally, since the inception of our nation, society has been rather accepting of us. Sure, we’ve fought, but the majority of our fighting has been against one another. We have publicly aired our contentions with other believers over the airwaves of a watching world ready to pounce on our disunity. Even worse, we have shot our own, watching fellow believers within our ranks drop off from the friendly-fire of the unfriendly bullets named discrimination, judgmentalism and unforgiveness.

Christians are rapidly becoming a minority. We need to bond together like never before. Let’s remember that it is not only our individual churches, but also the universal church of God that is one in Christ, knit together in love.

As a dear brother recently said, “This is not a time to flight, fear or fold.” Both the Bible and history teach us that the bride of Christ has always shined her brightest when experiencing persecution. True love has already won when our heavenly Husband defeated death, the devil and sin at Calvary. By God’s grace, may we make the most of this opportunity by welcoming others to enjoy this divine marriage!

God is Love, but What Kind of Love?


God is love, but what kind of Love?

Few would disagree. Apart from the staunch atheist, most Americans, regardless of their spiritual commitment and diverse religious beliefs, would affirm the common tenant that “God is love.” Deep down I believe most want to believe there is a God and that He is a good God. Hey, great news, the Bible clearly affirms this of the true God – “God is love” (1 John 4:8). Few disagreements or objections – that was the easy part!

Now we need to probe a little deeper and ask the question, “What is love?” Here is where we run into trouble. Ask people that question and you’ll get a multitude of explanations. Love means different things to different people. So if we as humans can’t agree on a common definition of love, how can we expect to understand the kind of love that characterizes the Almighty?

Deep breath.

Perhaps the problem is imposing our changing and finite definitions on the Creator, rather than allowing the Creator to describe for the created who He is and how He defines love. After all, if we do believe the Bible that God is love, can’t we believe God’s Word would also explain God’s definition of love?

Thankfully it does!

Far from a grandfatherly type of emotional sentimentalism or a cultural relativity that “evolves” with current thought or a flimsy affection that is guided by majority consensus, the Bible teaches that God’s love is a holy love. God’s love is grounded in and flows from His dominant attribute: holiness.

The love of God is poured out, according to Romans 5:5, through the Holy Spirit. In 2 Corinthians 6:6 the “Holy Spirit” is paired with “genuine love.” God saves people in love in order that we might become holy like Him (Eph. 1:4). In the chapter that defines love better than anywhere in the Bible we read, “[Love] does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth” (1 Cor. 13:6). And that truth is the holy nature of God as He has revealed Himself in the Holy Bible!

At our core I believe we too can agree that true love is a righteous love. Is it more loving to warn your children about the dangers of drugs or simply let them abuse substances without your oversight? Is it more loving to maintain fidelity to your spouse or chase after your passions outside of marriage? Is it more loving to discipline a child for cheating on a test or allow him to go through life without learning for himself?

Love establishes rules for the sake of the beloved and then love enforces them!

Likewise, God has established wise rules based upon His perfect character, and because of His love has passed these expectations down to His creation. As a matter of fact, God loves us so much, He has given us these guidelines not as suggestions, but as commands. I personally can’t think of any command from God outlined in the New Testament that will not further bless my life. It is not our job to change God’s righteous commands (or challenge them as if we knew better), but rather to receive them, cherish them and follow them.

Contrary to God’s holy love, disobedience to God (sin) destroys both our vertical relationship with God and our horizontal relationships with others. Sin also eats away like a hidden cancer at the very inner core of who we are. That’s why God hates sin and why we are commanded to hate (not the sinner, but) sin as well (Rom. 12:9). As Jesus wept for rebellious Jerusalem (Lk. 19:41), King David said, “My eyes shed streams of water, because they do not keep Your law” (Psm. 119:136).

So in love God has revealed Himself to us. We demonstrate our respect for His character and love for Him when we do as He has commanded. Remember Jesus? “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” (Jn. 14:15). And therefore love for others is proclaiming His truth as we “[speak] the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15) to not reinvent, but present a God of love who loves in righteousness.

To be continued (maybe)…

So Why Did God Create Marriage?


The Bible provides a lot of warnings as to how people will distort, twist, marginalize and outright reject the Word of God. Fulfillment of these actions is seen all around us today. Perhaps they are nowhere better witnessed than in common attitudes regarding the institution of marriage.

Without the Bible there would be no marriage and within the Bible we see the expectations from God governing marriage. Many ignore these imperatives. Others find them outdated. Some follow them but only as a “religious obligation” in fear of a greater consequence.

I submit that the commands regarding marriage come from God for a definitive reason and once we understand that specific reason we will have greater confidence that these commands do in fact come from God. Let me explain.

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Do You Believe – Movie Review

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Christian movies appear to be making a bigger splash at the box office. The message is stronger, the acting is better and the budgets have been more generous. Even unbelievers are viewing these films. Who would have guessed that God’s Not Dead (2014), which was produced with 2 million dollars, would gross over 62 million dollars worldwide?

Pure Flix Entertainment has recently released their follow-up to the aforementioned blockbuster. It is another faith-based movie entitled, Do You Believe. This week I took my youngest daughter to an evening showing.

Please keep in mind that I am not an avid moviegoer and my intentions in going were primarily for entertainment. I did not approach the picture with an overly critical mind. Yet when I arrived home, I thought it would be profitable to pass along my general thoughts for the consideration of others possibly interested.

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A Code for Church Unity


As we conclude our fifteen-month study of 2 Corinthians this weekend, we’ll be examining Paul’s closing comments in verses 11-14 of chapter 13. More than just a customary ending, a careful study of Paul’s epistles reveal that he often uses his concluding comments to summarize the main theme of his letters. And what do we see here in verses 11-14? What theme could be more obvious for 2 Corinthians than the need for church unity?

So using the biblical concepts stressed in those four verses, I have drafted a code of conduct for our church regarding unity. When we each assume these responsibilities individually, collectively we will have an environment that best represents Christ, serves as a blessing to those within and makes the church attractive to those without.

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