Hey Friendship People,
Many of you will be receiving this letter from me, via snail mail, in the next day or two with your year end giving statement for your taxes. However, I wanted to share it with everyone that calls Friendship home. I believe God has great things in store for 2013 and I’m looking forward to what God wants to do with you and through you. Here’s to the year of MORE!
I believe that the hope that comes from knowing Jesus Christ is the seed, the beginning of every good thing in our lives. This hope gives birth to a new way of living. It always believes for the best, even in the face of the worst circumstances. As we look at our nation, our government, and our economy there are a not a lot of things that we can take hope in, but you can have hope today, no matter what surrounds you, because you serve a mighty God who cares, who knows you by name (Isaiah 45:3), who understands the desires of your heart (1 Chronicles 28:9), who knew you even before you were formed in your mother’s womb (Jeremiah 1:5)!
Let me encourage you to look up and keep hope alive in your life for 2013! If you are facing setbacks that seem overwhelming, you can have hope! God is for you, not against you. His resources are endless, His love knows no bounds, and no matter what is happening in your life, there is nothing that can ever separate you from Christ (Romans 8:35-39)!
This hope we have cannot be bought or sold, it can only be given away, and each and every weekend that is exactly what we do. We “give away” the message of hope in Christ to those who need it the most, free of charge! Your partnership with Friendship through volunteering, participation, prayer, bringing your friends, and financial giving has built a tremendous foundation from which we proclaim the life-giving message of Jesus Christ! Because of you, and other like you, 2012 was the best year in the life of Friendship Church…THANK YOU, I’m so glad you’re here!
I believe that 2013 will be the year of “More” for Friendship!
I believe God will give us more salvations, more people to minister to, more volunteers, more space, more baptisms, more resources, and more of His overall blessing! I also believe that God wants to do “More” in your life too, so I’ve enclosed an index card for you (you can pick one up at Traci’s counter). Please share with me a situation in your life that seems hopeless, where you want “More” of God’s intervention in your life. You see, I believe that through prayer, God can take any circumstance and transform it for His glory, and I’d like to pray specifically for that to take place in your life in 2013. So, first thing every Monday in 2013, I’m going to take every card that I’ve received and pray through each one of them individually and specifically. As God moves I’d love to hear from you through e-mail, a note, a card, you can even Facebook message me if you like! You can turn in these cards in one of three ways: give it directly to me, drop it in the box marked “prayer cards” on Traci’s counter, or you can simply place it in the offering plate. Please make sure to write clearly and to put your name on the bottom so I know who I’m praying for.
As I close, I’d like to ask you to do something this year as well. Every Monday I send out the Monday Morning Quarterback, when you see it sitting in your inbox would you pause for just a moment and pray for Friendship? It can be something as simple as, “Lord, please bless Friendship Church!”, or you could pray specifically about the message series or some event coming up. I believe in the power of prayer, and if all of us are praying for Friendship each and every week, I have no doubt that 2013 will be the year of “More”!
A very proud senior pastor!
One of Friendship Church’s elders has just started a blog…or at least I just found it, one or the other! In any sense this is a great post and you should read it! Laziness.
I am, the same as you, disappointed at how this election turned out on a national level. I understand your frustration, and I understand your concerns. But, those concerns are only temporary. The Apostle Peter was beaten, imprisoned, tortured, and eventually crucified, yet when he thought about all those things in comparison to all that he had gained in Christ he called them “…light and momentary troubles.”
If tomorrow morning we wake up and a dictator has taken absolute control of America, would God still be God? Is somehow God’s power less effective today because of the result on Tuesday? Of course, his sovereignty and divinity are not decided by minuscule elections of mankind. And, I don’t mean to shock you here, but America isn’t promised anything in Scripture, don’t put your hopes in the USA, put them in Christ!
Finally, I want to challenge you on some things I’ve seen or heard. Where in Scripture does it say that a person’s political affiliation will determine their eternal destiny? Who gave you the authority to question a fellow believers love for Christ based upon who they voted for? Question them as to why, sure! Walk them through why you voted how you did, absolutely! But, to take it to such lengths as I’ve heard and seen on Facebook is shameful. You should look up those fellow Christians you attacked in such a manner and ask for their forgiveness, then you should go to God and ask him to forgive you for attacking one of his children. We are told by Paul to not look out only for our interests but also the interests of others and to consider others as better than ourselves. I fear that many on the right may have violated that very important principle from God.
NOW, let’s work towards seeing more people enter into the Kingdom…Shall We?!
I am thankful first of all that this election is over, and I hope that the man that you believe in will do all that you had hoped he would do. I do not mean this sarcastically in any way, shape or form, for I know YOUR heart. I know that you truly do want what is best for this country, you believe that your candidate will make things better for the people who call this great nation home, or you would have never voted for him. Even though our votes were not cast for the same candidate, our desire to see our country prosper is identical.
I want to express my deep love for you as a brother and/or sister in Christ. Our differences in this political realm are absolutely minimal in comparison to what we share in Christ. I also ask for you to notice that I have at no time from the pulpit or via social media or un-social media for that matter bashed your candidate. Certainly I disagree with him on a great number of issues that I feel are deeply rooted in Scriptural truth and principle, but he is not your candidate anymore, he is OUR President. I commit myself for praying for him and his family’s well-being, for God’s wisdom to rest upon his shoulders, and for God to correct him whenever he may stray from the path of God’s choosing for him.
Finally, my friends, I ask you to consider this as we move forward. I have heard several of you cast aside the question of abortion as if it wasn’t a significant issue. Even some of you have said that it will never change, so why make it an issue? Did you know that the same thing was said regarding slavery, women’s rights to vote, race equality, and many other issues? Did you also know that it was the church that caused all of these issues to become a reality? Don’t be so quick to abandon such a clear mandate from Scripture simply because to our feeble and finite human eye it looks to be impossible. I believe that Jesus Christ said it most clearly when he said, “With man it is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” If you believe in the economic, foreign, and immigration policy of our President, that is most certainly your right. However, if you are a child of God, where God has clearly spoken, you no longer have ‘rights’. Our sovereign King has declared murder and the abuse of the innocent as evil in his sight, and we as citizens of his kingdom must fight against it with all of our might, whether we see it as a winning battle or not!
Stay tuned for: An Open Letter To My Right-Leaning Friends!
Ha, fooled ya! I really hope that after reading my blog, listening to my messages, and talking with me that you know by now I’m not going to tell you who you should vote for. I will however give you a Biblical filter through which you can look at the candidates, decipher which one most closely resembles it, spend time praying and listening, go cast your vote, then thank God that you live in a country where your vote still matters!
Some of these I’ve not touched on previously so I will spend more time and flesh them out, others those I’ve given significant time to or even several blog posts to and I’ll just state them outright and allow you to go back and look at what I’ve previously written.
You should vote for whichever candidate..
- Holds most closely to (publicly and privately) the morality taught in Scripture.
- Gives our nation the best chance to be prosperous. I know that this may sound non-spiritual but listen to this: “Seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” ~ Jeremiah 29:7
- Teaches and exemplifies personal responsibility and accountability. No one else will have to give an account of your life, but you!
- Has a biblical view of government. This was to be a blog post all by itself, but I just ran out of time. Essentially, here is what the Bible says governments role is:
To protect it’s citizens and wage war if necessary Romans 13:1-7; Proverbs 21:15
To establish just and fair laws Proverbs 8:15-16
To punish the guilty Romans 13:4
To reward the righteous 1 Peter 2:14
To allow us to live peaceable and quiet lives 2 Timothy 2:2
To administer unbiased justice Jeremiah 12:12; Leviticus 19:15
To uphold God-given rights of all mankind Genesis 1:26
- Has by their actions, not just words, given of themselves and spoken for those who cannot speak for themselves. (Unborn, poverty stricken, destitute). “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” ~ Proverbs 31:8-9
Folks, your vote matters. Don’t waste it by voting for someone who does not line up with what the Bible teaches, don’t waste it by voting uninformed, and don’t waste it by not voting at all.
To get the ball rolling I’m not going to talk about whether or not Gay Marriage should be legal, illegal, banned, or supported. This series of posts is written from a Biblical not political standpoint. The one and only thing I’ll say in that regard is this; you cannot legislate morality, at the same time you should not legalize immorality…I’m sure that everyone will read into that whatever they like!
So, biblically is Gay Marriage something that a Christian can support? Since homosexuality is clearly laid out as a sin (see last post) then a homosexual union of any kind is not something that a Christian can support and still be biblically authentic. Now, before you print this off and start taking victory laps around your living room, consider this. Sex and sexual promiscuity before marriage is also a sin and something that a biblically authentic/consistent Christian cannot support; as is an affair, as is pornagraphy (yes, “Magic Mike” and “Fifty Shades” would fit here), as is a marriage where the husband doesn’t love his wife and the wife doesn’t respect her husband. God’s plan for marriage (as laid out in Creation through Adam and Eve) is one man, one woman, for life in a meaningful, fulfilled relationship. God’s plan for sex, and when it is best and most thoroughly enjoyed is within the context of marriage where the husband and wife are completely vulnerable and open to one another and are more interested in fulfilling each other’s needs than their own.
How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye. – Matthew 7:4-5 NLT
Jesus makes an unbelievably powerful statement here! He is saying, if you look at other people with judgment you will always see their problems and end up ignoring your own, this is to your and their detriment. Instead, look at yourself first, make sure that you are on the right track, and then come along side those who are hurting or blinded and assist them in seeing. For far too long Christians have been focusing on the sins of the world around them and not focusing on their own sins. Do you want to change the world, change our political landscape, change the cultural decay, increase the spiritual temperature, free people from bondage? Then the church needs to do 2 things.
- Be consistent in our application of Biblical truth. The world around us sees our inconsistencies, you see they have a hard time believing in biblical marriage when even in the church it doesn’t “seem to be working”!
- Be Christ-like in your relationships. Do you remember what Jesus did with the woman who was caught in adultery (John 8:1-11)? Did Jesus, who by the way was perfect, condemn and attack her? Did he vilify her and belittle her? Did he scream in her face and tell her she was going to Hell? No, in fact, he defended her from those who would do that. Then he gently instructed, after she accepted him, to go and sin no more.
Listen friends, Jesus says that he is the “Light of the world” and that when he is lifted up he will “draw all men to himself”. Instead of proclaiming your political agenda, proclaim Christ. Politics cannot and will not fix the cultural decay that we see in America, but Christ can. No, CNN, MSNBC, and Fox news probably won’t cover it, but he is imminently more powerful and influential than any political party, piece of legislation, or candidate.
Okay, I’m certain I’ll get a little hate mail on this one, but at least read through the whole thing before you jump to a conclusion one way or the other.
This is a topic that is highly volatile and charged with emotion. There are some “Christians” (I put it in quotes because that is what they term themselves, but their actions reveal otherwise) who picket the funerals of openly homosexual men/women with signs such as “Burn In Hell Homo”…yeah I’m pretty sure that is not Christlike in any way shape or form, enough said!
On the other end there are some “Christians” (in quotes because they refuse to accept the Bible as authoritative) who make their decisions based upon emotions and what feels right or easy. They don’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings and in doing so reject God’s Word. This group is a little trickier. Often, their arguments sound compelling, are dripping with good intentions, and often relate to a person very close to them who struggles with homosexuality. The most recent example is that of Brian McLaren. At one time McLaren was a solid, evangelical pastor who believed in and preached the truth and reliability of the Bible. Today, Mr. McLaren questions the veracity of almost all evangelical doctrine and theology (Heaven, Hell, Salvation, Christ alone for salvation, etc…). He recently performed his son’s gay marriage and in the article (McLaren and same-sex marriage) regarding the event he made this very telling statement:
“I was a good kid, I believed what I’d been told. And as a pastor, I started having gay people come out to me and what became clearer and clearer to me is that their experience was not explained by the theology I inherited. And that it would be unjust to continue to uphold what I’d been taught. Maybe I could say it like this: My call to love God and love my neighbor was in conflict with what I’d been taught the Bible required me to say and do.” – Brian McLaren
McLaren says that when his or others experience or feelings didn’t line up with Scripture then it must be Scripture that changes, or at least the application of Scripture. When in truth the point of Scripture is to show US where WE are wrong and guide us in the right path:
All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work. – 2 Timothy 3:16-17 NLT
I’m going to wrap Part 1 up this way, If you begin to select the sins you see as “damndable” you will never select any sins that you struggle with, only those you see in others. This violates the the very underpinnings of how Christ commands we are to deal with sin, “…first take the beam out of your own eye…”, “…let he who is without sin cast the first stone…”. If, in constrast, you begin to select the sins you see as “acceptable” where and when do you draw the line? You begin to develop theology and practice based upon what is palatable and easy instead of what is true. This violates Jesus clear teaching on following him, “…take up your cross and follow me…”, “…deny yourself and follow me…”. Jesus Christ has neither called us to be judgmental nor comfortable.