Sin Celebration

images-2The pain in my soul is unspeakable. The promotion of damnation just hurts me deeply. I see it more and more each day. Millennials who have grown up in the body of our Lord, who have been to Bible classes multiple times weekly, attended our Christian camps and Christian universities—-those young people…OUR young people—boasting about their acceptance of homosexuality and encouraging their friends who are coming out of the closet. Some attend Sunday denominational services, on occasion, rather than meeting with the saints, to hear a message from an old friend, who once was a Christian and now is a gay “priest”. They quote scriptures about love as if love is a magical umbrella that erases sin. Sin, you know, is the very reason for the greatest act of love ever accomplished, the death of the Son of God at Calvary. If we believe the New Testament at all, we know that every one of these precious souls is lost; influenced by the culture to sacrifice eternal life for the protection and approval of what the scriptures call “vile affections”. The plain truth is “…though they know God’s decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.” (Romans 1:32)

That part “…though they know God’s decree” really is painful. That puts young people who have heard the reading of Romans 1 and I Corinthians 6 all of their lives squarely in this verse. They know. The sinfulness of homosexuality is not an old wives’ tale that has nothing to do with truth. I do not know how God would have made it more clear than he did. These millennials know what He said. They’re just proudly and defiantly rejecting Him.

That part, “God’s decree” is scary, too. The condemnation of homosexuality is not a nuance in scripture—Old Testament or New. It is a strong “decree.” There are some passages that are shrouded in symbolism or must be read in context for clear meaning. These about homosexuality are not among them.

That part “deserve to die” grabs my broken heart, too. Jesus did NOT deserve to die. But He did it for me, a sinner—the one who did deserve to die. He did it so that I could escape the corruption of sin. How can young people (or old) who know the truth of His Word, proudly say “Bring on the sin!” ? And the young people of which I write tonight are the ones who DID escape. Most had parents who taught them how to escape. They knew the Lord. They knew the way of righteousness. That means the end of sin, for them, is worse than the beginning.

For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them. (II Peter 2:20, 21)

And finally that part about “giving approval” is the most sobering to me. Most of the millennials I know who are speaking out in boastful tones about this sin are not practicing it. Most of them are not even tempted by it. Most of them are just on the bandwagon of “approval.” They are, in a sense, according to this verse, sacrificing their eternal souls for a sin that they do not even want to commit. They are lashing out at faithful young people who would dare to try and convert a homosexual from that sinful lifestyle. They are, in a big way showing “approval”. They reserve the word “sinner,” in fact, to describe those who would condemn, as God did, the sin of homosexuality.

The rhetoric of these “free-thinking” millennials is full of “Let Him who is without sin cast the first stone.”  Let’s examine that briefly.

It’s important to remember in that context of John 8:7, Jesus was talking literally about whether or not to stone a woman…to death. When people, on Facebook, caustically caution each other about casting the first stone, they are generally not speaking about picking up a rock and throwing it. (None of the young people I know who are still calling homosexuality a “sin” are literally picking up stones.) It is even more important to remember that our Lord said to the woman caught in adultery “…go and sin no more.” He identified the behavior as sin and commanded her to stop sinning. People who believe the Word and love souls today will still do the same.

I want the people of God to refrain from committing the sin of homosexuality, because those who commit it and fail to repent cannot have heaven (I Corinthian 6: 9-11) But, if I’m trying to reach a soul for heaven, I think my chances are better with a person who is practicing homosexuality while admitting that it is sin and being ashamed of that sin than with a person who is not practicing the sin, but is applauding those who do. Both are lost according to the text in Romans. Both are worthy of death. But one recognizes that God’s Word is truth while the other either rejects the very plain teachings of the Word or defies them. One is troubled because of sin. The other celebrates it. The Prodigal Son was not in the mood for coming home while the celebration and riot were happening in the far country. Neither are the celebrants today…these mostly millennials who are shouting their words of encouragement to friends who are “coming out”. They are enjoying the celebration.

But mark it down. Celebrations of sin never end well. Romans 1 is clear about that, too:

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth (vs. 18).

Life is short and all the people I love who are suppressing God’s truth about homosexuality will die one day and stand before the King. The thought of those who “knew his decree” standing before Him having openly praised those who committed and promoted the sin of homosexuality or any other sin, makes me shudder. Such a waste of knowledge! Such a squandering of influence and opportunity. Such a blight on the body of Christ. Such a deliberate rejection of the Father’s will. Again, the words of Romans 1 come to mind: “without excuse.” To be without excuse before a fellow human being—my husband or my employer—is not fun. But to be without excuse before God on the day when he divides the sheep and the goats…?  I can hardly bear to think about it.

 

Sister to Sister: Finishing February

10422956_10153120542101322_775683428250343547_n-1As I type this, I’m traveling back from an encouraging seminar in Angels Camp, California. I’m trying to decide what the most encouraging thing about it was and I believe that, hands down, it was the travelers. There were people who traveled to this sleepy little town that boomed way back in the gold mining days and rented a room in the local hotel for three nights so that they could attend all of the seminar. I asked them if they were taking the time to do some fun things while there. One sweet sister answered me; “Well yes. Every night at 6:30 we are taking the time to go and be with the family of God and hear the Word.” I loved that answer! There were visitors who traveled eight hours (four coming and four going) in one day to be at the meeting. This is just something we do not see in Alabama and it makes me want to be better. Many thanks to our brethren in that beautiful part of the country (a part that has some big trees, by the way….That’s me, sitting on a root…) for letting California lights shine for Him!

It’s just a few hours till it’s March! That means several things. One is that our brand new Digging Deep study begins. I am excited about this study of the prayers of two great prophets. I hope you are on it. It will be a good study.

February brought many disturbing things to my inboxes. I’m sad to say that, despite many efforts of good people, homosexual marriages were performed in Alabama for the first time. I hope you are joining me in vigilant prayer for the attorneys in our state who are continuing to fight the sinful homosexual agenda. I have hopes that we might still be able to preserve marriage, as God defines it, in our great state.

February also brought several messages to my inbox that thrilled my soul…like news of the sweet little widow’s Valentine luncheon hosted by five-year-old Genesis Hanna on Grand Bahama. It makes me happy that the Mama’s K.I.S.S. service ideas for kids are benefitting children and widows outside the United States as well as here at home. Here are some pictures:IMG_4166[1] IMG_4176[1] IMG_4185[1]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And then there is this sweet little two year old who is singing Proverbs 28:1 from Hannah’s Hundred. If you can’t tell, the words coming from this back seat are: “The wicked flee when no man pursues, but the righteous are as bold as a lion.” It doesn’t take a lot to put the word into the heart a two-year-old; just a mom or dad who can pop a cd into the player beside the crib or in the mini-van. Here you go!

I’m glad for all the good news, but I’m a little glad February’s behind us, too. That time Glenn had to speak 9 times in one weekend and woke up with the wicked stomach flu in a hotel room on Valentines Day in the Smokies was not romantic. And finding my father on the floor after the room started spinning for him and he fell off the bed during his second bout with that virus this winter was even more scary. I hope you’ve escaped it or, if you’ve done battle, too, that you are back on your game and that it’s a meek March for you. The month, at least in Alabama, is coming in a bit like a lamb, though. It could be that the lion is still coming again, weather-wise! I say, keep your sweaters out. If you are reading in Honolulu or the Bahamas or South Florida or Southern California, remember love is not boastful!

Happy March!

Alabama: So Proud and So Ashamed

images-14I’m proud of what’s been happening in Alabama this week. Judges, for the past three days, have been refusing to issue marriage licenses to homosexual couples after Federal Judge Callie V.S. Granade of Federal District Court in Mobile declared Alabama’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. Monday was the effective date of her ruling. On Sunday night, Alabama’s Chief Justice Roy Moore, instructed Alabama’s probate judges to refuse to honor the order of Judge Granade and refrain from issuing the marriage licenses to same-sex couples. It is difficult to take a moral stand in opposition to the ruling of a federal justice and the judges who have made that decision deserve the support of Christians. They have acted in Daniel fashion and may face some of the lion’s-den consequences that come with standing against such an edict.

I’m ashamed of what’s been happening in Alabama. More specifically, I am ashamed of what’s happened in my home district of Madison County where sixty marriage licenses were issued on Monday alone to same-sex couples. By the end of that day, 42 same-sex ceremonies had been conducted at Huntsville’s Big Spring Park alone.  I doubt there’s been a Monday in recent history when so many “marriages” have taken place. I’m ashamed of Madison County’s Probate Judge Tommy Ragland, who commented “We’re issuing them. It’s just another day to me.” (All of this in a state in which 80% of voters recently voted to ban same sex marriage.)

It was not, in reality, just another day. It was a day for God’s people to mourn; a day when a segment of society fraudulently  took something that does not belong to them. God is the creator and owner of marriage. He created its constituents (male and female), defined it (Genesis 2:24) and performed the first marriage ceremony in the Garden of Eden. It is not a light matter to mock God as was publicly and blatantly done in Big Spring Park on Monday. In fact, it is not successfully done in the long run. (Galatians 6:7). There will be negative consequences, sorrowful ones…some in this life, and unthinkable ones in the life to come. Sometimes, in my spiritual immaturity, I wish that people could get a temporary foretaste now—just a little sample—of eternal punishment, so they could, knowing the stored-up wrath of God, repent of their evil deeds before it is too late. The experience would be an awakening. Listen to the context surrounding the discussion of the sin of homosexuality from Romans 1.

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hinder the truth in unrighteousness; because that which is known of God is manifest in them; for God manifested it unto them…Wherefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts unto uncleanness, that their bodies should be dishonored among themselves: for that they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. For this cause God gave them up unto vile passions: for their women changed the natural use into that which is against nature: and likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another, men with men working unseemliness, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was due. And even as they refused to have God in their knowledge, God gave them up unto a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malignity; whisperers, backbiters, hateful to God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, without understanding, covenant-breakers, without natural affection, unmerciful: who, knowing the ordinance of God, that they that practice such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but also consent with them that practice them.

This is still the very clear word on the subject of homosexuality from the Creator of marriage. It is un-get-around-able for people who believe in the veracity of the Scriptures at all. No matter how politically correct we become, no matter how many television shows glorify the sin, no matter how many times the “heroes” of our culture tell us that  “sexual orientation” is not a choice, no matter how many churches ordain homosexual priests, the God of this universe still describes homosexuality as “vile affection,” a sin “worthy of death.”  The celebrations in Big Spring Park and elsewhere around the state on Monday were jubilant parties centered around a sin that takes people to hell. I Corinthians 6:9 places the centerpiece of those celebrations squarely in a list of sins  which, without the washing and justification of penitence and baptism, keep people from inheriting the kingdom of God. I understand that “sin” is an old-fashioned word. But sin and it’s ramifications for our eternity will, on one final day, be startlingly relevant.

I have known and loved people whose lives have been ruined or lost in consequence of the sin. My husband and I have counseled with young people who have been tempted by or participated in the sin.  Our hearts have been broken as we have seen the hurt that has accompanied it. But just because we are touched by the plights of those who’ve been overtaken in this sin, does not mean we can stop calling it sin. When we stop calling it sin, we stop helping people resign it.  Love demands that we do all within our power to help those involved find a space of repentance and forgiveness (even if the culture hates us for doing so.) We do not love those who commit sin when we fail to warn them of its consequences. Because of the price our God paid at Calvary to atone for sin, we must realize its blackness, humbly work in our own lives to overcome it   and do  all we can to enable others to defeat sin of all kinds. We cannot, as Christians, support same-sex marriage. To do so is to take liberties with something that does not belong to us.

It’s late. Who would have thought, even one year ago that in 2015 there would come a day in Huntsville, AL in which 60 marriage licenses would be issued to same-sex couples? Not I. Some have warned that this judge’s ruling  will open the front door for our ministers to face lawsuits due to their refusals to perform wedding ceremonies for same-sex couples. We must pray, vote and speak out responsibly at this critical juncture. I believe that front door is only a few steps away. In fact, we are already on the porch.

 

 

 

Not the “Same Love” as I Corinthians 13…

love fireIn a late night dinner conversation last night, my son and I were talking about blogs. We were doing that because he is having fun right now designing his own upcoming blog. I’m excited about his little drop in the blog ocean because it’s going to fill a niche that, as I look, I believe is currently empty. Now, that’s saying a lot, I know, but I don’t think it will be just another blog.

As we were talking, though, he said something I probably need to think about more. In essence, he said that you can’t just keep saying over and over in a blog how bad the world is. You have to acknowledge that things in America are really in a deplorable moral state and then you have to move on to some solutions and even some other topics. He said that your message will get stale if that’s all it ever is and, further, he said, “Who wants to just feast (in his mind) on depressing depravity day after day?” He’s right. We can’t live like that. Besides, there are just too many good people and too many exciting possibilities to be tethered to hopelessness.

So next time, something positive, I promise. Today, though, if you are a mom of teens, you need to know that the following song has made it this week to the number 11 spot on the Billboard charts in America. It does not surprise me that it’s been written and, although sad, it does not surprise me that it’s getting lots of airtime. But I am surprised that it can become one of the eleven most popular songs, across the board, in our country. It saddens me that its popularity has placed it on the playlist that will, most certainly, reach your children’s ears if they turn on any pop or top 40’s type radio station today. Lots of lyric “pundits” think it will top out at number one. Sad day.

I find it all the more dangerous because it uses (misuses) Scripture, the very words of the Holy Spirit of God, in the effort to normalize, even glorify the sin. If you are sanctified, it will make your heart sick to hear the Word thus inserted.

I just think you should know. Perhaps you can discuss these lyrics and the fallacies inherent with your teens at Family Bible Time. Maybe you can use this as a catalyst to discuss entertainment choices and the optional nature of entertainment, itself. Maybe you can discuss the ability Satan has to slowly erode the holiness of God’s people and how he uses the media to do that. Maybe you could talk about the homosexual agenda in America today and even discuss the impending probability that preaching from our pulpits from Romans One will soon be characterized as illegal “hate speech.” At least, I hope you can control the devices within your home to keep trash like this song from putting its not-so-subtle-anymore message of moral tolerance into the hearts of your teens and preteens.

It’s just a blatant reminder to Christian parents that we have to be extremely aware and persistent in Christian parenting. It’s the application of the word “diligently” in Deuteronomy 6:7. Never has there been a time in America when parents more desperately need to take any blinders off and be committed to giving our kids the tools needed to do battle with the devil. Here are the lyrics:

“Same Love”
(with Ryan Lewis)
(feat. Mary Lambert)

When I was in the third grade I thought that I was gay,
‘Cause I could draw, my uncle was, and I kept my room straight.
I told my mom, tears rushing down my face
She’s like “Ben you’ve loved girls since before pre-k, trippin’ ”
Yeah, I guess she had a point, didn’t she?
Bunch of stereotypes all in my head.
I remember doing the math like, “Yeah, I’m good at little league”
A preconceived idea of what it all meant
For those that liked the same sex
Had the characteristics
The right wing conservatives think it’s a decision
And you can be cured with some treatment and religion
Man-made rewiring of a predisposition
Playing God, aw nah here we go
America the brave still fears what we don’t know
And God loves all his children, is somehow forgotten
But we paraphrase a book written thirty-five-hundred years ago
I don’t know

And I can’t change
Even if I tried
Even if I wanted to
And I can’t change
Even if I tried
Even if I wanted to
My love
My love
My love
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm

If I was gay, I would think hip-hop hates me
Have you read the YouTube comments lately?
“Man, that’s gay” gets dropped on the daily
We become so numb to what we’re saying
A culture founded from oppression
Yet we don’t have acceptance for ’em
Call each other faggots behind the keys of a message board
A word rooted in hate, yet our genre still ignores it
Gay is synonymous with the lesser
It’s the same hate that’s caused wars from religion
Gender to skin color, the complexion of your pigment
The same fight that led people to walk outs and sit ins
It’s human rights for everybody, there is no difference!
Live on and be yourself
When I was at church they taught me something else
If you preach hate at the service those words aren’t anointed
That holy water that you soak in has been poisoned
When everyone else is more comfortable remaining voiceless
Rather than fighting for humans that have had their rights stolen
I might not be the same, but that’s not important
No freedom till we’re equal, d— right I support it

(I don’t know)

And I can’t change
Even if I tried
Even if I wanted to
My love
My love
My love
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm

We press play, don’t press pause
Progress, march on
With the veil over our eyes
We turn our back on the cause
Till the day that my uncles can be united by law
When kids are walking ’round the hallway plagued by pain in their heart
A world so hateful some would rather die than be who they are
And a certificate on paper isn’t gonna solve it all
But it’s a d— good place to start
No law is gonna change us
We have to change us
Whatever God you believe in
We come from the same one
Strip away the fear
Underneath it’s all the same love
About time that we raised up

And I can’t change
Even if I tried
Even if I wanted to
And I can’t change
Even if I try
Even if I wanted to
My love
My love
My love
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm

Love is patient
Love is kind
Love is patient
Love is kind
(not crying on Sundays)
Love is patient
(not crying on Sundays)
Love is kind
(I’m not crying on Sundays)
Love is patient
(not crying on Sundays)
Love is kind
(I’m not crying on Sundays)
Love is patient
(not crying on Sundays)
Love is kind
(I’m not crying on Sundays)
Love is patient
Love is kind

The Room Is Getting Smaller (and the elephant, larger)

What the Supreme Court did in striking down a significant portion of the Defense of Marriage Act and declaring Proposition 8 to be unconstitutional is egregious. It’s appalling to me that the country has so quickly moved from tolerating the sin of homosexuality to embracing it to celebrating it. Conviction about the sinfulness of homosexuality makes me loathe the ruling. But much more is at stake than the ruling about the legality of homosexuality in California.

What’s alarming about the ruling is that the Supreme Court has usurped the rights of states to continue to legally define marriage in the way that it has been defined by virtually all societies in all periods of history. All it takes now is for one determined homosexual couple in each state to sue said state for marriage “rights.” The precedent has been set and, thus, every state legislature and every lower court can already see the writing on the wall. In fact, it can already see the writing on the marriage certificate of any homosexual couple that pushes the envelope. It’s a sad day for people who hold to Biblical moral values. We live in a land in which the Supreme Court ruled, not only against the majority vote of the state of California, but, in ruling against DOMA overturned the law duly enacted by her sister branches in the federal government: the United States House of Representatives, the United States Congress and the Presidency of the United States. As Justice Scalia noted in his scathing dissenting opinion:

“Laying such a charge against them (the legislative and executive branches of U.S. government cc) should require the most extraordinary evidence, and I would have thought that every attempt would be made to indulge a more anodyne explanation for the statute.”

We should brace ourselves. Homosexual marriage is now coming to all states. Further, without some unforeseen change in the make-up of the high court, we should get used to the fact that the power of our state legislatures and courts has been stripped by five of those nine justices in Washington. Of course, this has not happened overnight, but, in my judgement, this is the most blatant power grab to date. The U.S. system of checks and balances simply does not work if the judicial branch takes upon itself the authority to “interpret” the Constitution with motives other than justice. The majority this weekend had another motive. In the words of Scalia, “the only motive for this act was the bare . . . desire to harm a politically unpopular group.” That group, sadly, would be those of us who define marriage as a union between a man and a woman. We have been codified by the majority in the Supreme Court as “enemies of the human race.”

The elephant in the room, of course, is the fact that, if homosexual marriage had been the “norm” all along…if that’s what people had done throughout the centuries in virtually all societies rather than procreation between husbands and wives…I say, if that’s what people had done, there would be no human race. But then it’s not popular to notice elephants in rooms. It’s not popular to talk about them. But elephants don’t just stand around in rooms. Pretty soon they wreak havoc and soon the room is not fit for human cohabitation. Christians should stop tip-toeing around the elephant. He’s already beginning to smell pretty bad.

Scalia, one more time, on the great lengths to which the majority went to push a social agenda:

“All that, simply for supporting an act that did no more than codify an aspect of marriage that had been unquestioned in our society for most of its existence — indeed, had been unquestioned in virtually all societies for virtually all of human history. It is one thing for a society to elect change; it is another for a court of law to impose change by adjudging those who oppose it hostes humanigeneris, enemies of the human race.”

Homosexuality: A Culture of Courage?

Jason-CollinsThe thing that bothers me most about the recent “coming out” of NBA player Jason Collins is what is being inferred without being said. Every time he is called courageous, someone is being called a persecutor. That someone is me. It’s you. It’s any Christian.

Courage, according to the New Oxford Dictionary, is the ability to do something that frightens one. Of whom, if anyone, should Collins be frightened? Not the civil authorities. The highest civil authority in our nation, Barack Obama, has applauded his decision and commended his “courage.” Should he be afraid of the culture in which we live? Absolutely not. Our culture bends over backwards to exhibit tolerance (which has come to mean approval) to homosexuals. He knew Hollywood and CNN would have nothing but praise for Him before he spoke. So, for what situation, if any, would Collins need courage?

It is only those who are convicted of the truth of passages like Romans 1: 26-28, who will still speak against the sin of homosexuality. Barack Obama, media liberals and Hollywood icons would turn us into the villains, those to fear. Hear God on the subject:

For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature;
and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.
And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.

It is not courageous to stand against God and be coddled by a wicked society. The result of Collins’ announcement was not shame. It was fame! It was not persecution. It was prestige.

Mark my words. The oppressed ones today are not those who come out of the closet. The persecution is now beginning for those who cling to the cross. When it becomes “hate speech” to read from Romans 1 in a public assembly, gospel preaching will shortly become illegal. The hostility toward Christians will have begun in earnest and, like the three Hebrews in Daniel 3, we will be forced to choose between conveniently melting into the culture and being persecuted for Him. The Romans 1 gladiator culture was not pretty, but it is quite possibly coming our way. May the truly courageous be in prayer and preparation for the upcoming trials. They have a way of helping us “wait on the Lord,” learning dependence and perseverance. May He be with us.

Be strong, and let your heart take courage,
all you who wait for the LORD! Psalm 31:24