Prepare to Sever Ties

It is time for Christian organizations to be prepared to sever ties with the government – especially all sources of government funding.

Case #1:

Gordon College, a Christian college located near Boston, has for many years maintained a policy requiring students and faculty to refrain from sex outside of marriage. This policy is of course in accordance with sound Biblical principles and solidly embraced by most evangelical churches up until the last decade.

In 2013 President Obama issued an Executive Order prohibiting employment discrimination for sexual orientation and gender identity in the federal government and for federal contractors. Many colleges, hospitals and other non-profit organizations receive federal funds which make them “federal contractors.”  Earlier this year (2014) Michael Lindsay, the president of Gordon College, signed a letter, along with several other religious organization, requesting an exemption from the executive order.

The negative consequences to Gordon College amounts to a war cry against the righteous. The cities of Salem and Lynn Massachusetts – cities located near the college — rushed to sever all ties to the school including contracts issued by the cities. The New England Association of Schools and Colleges began questioning the college’s accreditation and later gave the school one year to re-examine its policy. There is the very real possibility that Gordon and other Christian schools may lose their secular accreditation if they hold firm to Biblical standards.

Perhaps the day is rapidly approaching in which Christian schools may have to look more to Christian accreditation agencies and give up the more attractive and lucrative accreditation by regional accrediting bodies. It is becoming more difficult to be in the world and not part of the world, but choices must be made. The result will undoubtedly be smaller and more focused Christian colleges and universities.

Case #2:

Earlier this year (2014) a group of pastors in Houston Texas spoke out against a proposed ordinance involving gay and lesbian issues. Annise Parker, the mayor of Houston, responded by issuing a subpoena for copies of the minister’s sermons – supposedly to verify if their sermons violated any laws. The subpoenas were later withdrawn after nationwide protests from many other pastors and religious organizations.

The pastors are of course protected by the “Freedom of Speech Clause” of the First Amendment.  However, IRS regulations prohibit non-profit religious organization who have requested tax emption from taking part in certain types of political activities. The key is the tax emption issue. Pastors can preach anything they wish as long as they don’t care about tax exemption. I can’t imagine any of the Biblical prophets from avoiding any issue because their tax emption status might be affected. I can understand that some churches may feel their finances might be impacted by the loss of tax exempt status, but we should be willing to say “thus saith the Lord” regardless of the tax implication. Let Caesar have his due.

 

Case #3:

In 2009 the American Psychological Association passed a resolution in which they state

Therefore be it resolved that the American Psychological Association affirms that same-sex sexual and romantic attractions, feelings, and behaviors are normal and positive variations of human sexuality regardless of sexual orientation identity.

Be it further resolved that the American Psychological Association advises parents, guardians, young people, and their families to avoid sexual orientation change efforts that portray homosexuality as a mental illness or developmental disorder and to seek psychotherapy, social support and educational services that provide accurate information on sexual orientation and sexuality, increase family and school support, and reduce rejection of sexual minority youth.

http://www.apa.org/about/policy/sexual-orientation.aspx

With support from the APA resolution, the states of California and New Jersey have each passed laws restricting licensed counselors from conducting any type of sexual orientation change therapy for clients who are under the age of 18.  Parents have no say in the issue, even if a parent requests the counseling for their child.

Pastors and other non-licensed counselors are not restricted by the law, but any licensed counselor may lose their license and face fines and other criminal penalties. Non-licensed counselors are free to provide Biblical counseling without a license as long as they do not advertise themselves to be a licensed counselor and they do not charge fees.

Here is the difficult part for many counselors. Most make their living from the fees charged, the majority of which are paid by insurance companies. Counselors cannot charge fees unless they are licensed.  The best solution seems to be church-based counseling programs which provide counseling services free as a ministry of the church.

Conclusion

These cases shown are just examples of the increasing tension between government regulations and our faith based values. While it may be good stewardship to accept government funds as long as acceptance doesn’t interfere with our religious beliefs, the tension between faith and government funds is already pushing many religious organizations beyond the boundaries of Scripture.

Will we surrender our beliefs in order to make peace with Caesar, or will we pare down the organizational structures and focus on what is truly important?

Posted in Devotional Readings, God Speaks Today, Politics & Faith | Leave a comment

60,000 Children That No One Wants

The government estimates that nearly 60,000 children, mostly teenagers but some younger, have been apprehended at the U.S boarder. Nearly 20,000 are currently detained by the government in temporary facilities while the courts figure out what to do with them.  They are housed in military facilities, warehouses, and any other location the government can find to stick them.  In nearly every community where facilities have been identified as a potential location to house these children, the community leaders have responded – “Don’t bring them here, we don’t want to be burdened with them. Send them someplace else.” Maybe we should stop playing selfish politics and start loving our neighbors.

 

Posted in Politics & Faith | Leave a comment

Observing God at Work

God is in control. Observe carefully what He is doing at saying.

Posted in Devotional Readings, God Speaks Today | Leave a comment

The Thief Comes to Steal – Jesus Comes to Bless

“I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:9-10 NIV)

Spiritual warfare is not a rare occurrence – it goes on every day. Satan is at work every day doing just what Jesus said about him: he seeks to steal and destroy.  He steals the blessings of God that are rightfully yours. When you pray and the prayer is not answered, there are several possible reasons. Perhaps God is say “no” to your request; or, wait – not now; or maybe God just doesn’t answer prayers the way he did in the past.  Or, is it possible that satan has blocked the path to the prayer being answered?

Is it possible for satan to hinder the prayer request of a Christian?

  • “Therefore we wanted to come to you—even I, Paul, time and again—but Satan hindered us”  (I Thessalonians 2:18)
  • “Then he said to me, “Do not fear, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard; and I have come because of your words.  But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days; and behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left alone there with the kings of Persia.”  (Daniel 10:12-13)

But there are two parts to John 10:10- it isn’t all negative. We also learn that Jesus came to give us life more abundantly!

  • I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.  (New King James)
  • But I came to bring them life, and far more life than before. (J.B. Phillips)
  • But I came to give life—life in all its fullness. (New Century Version)
  • I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of. (The Message)

We don’t want to dwell on the negative, but we can easily see that there are two opposite forces at work, and satan is sometimes successful. If your prayers are being hindered and your blessings are being stolen, you can take a stand against the evil one, rebuke him and claim what is yours.

I want to encourage you to find a small group of prayer partners who understand spiritual warfare and are bold enough to help you pray in faith. Don’t try to fight the battle alone; call on your prayer warriors to stand with you in faith.

Posted in Devotional Readings, Holy Spirit, Jesus | Leave a comment

Cross Roads Seminary

A group of believers are prayerfully considering a new seminary to be opened in Northern VA. Unlike traditional seminaries that focus on academic theory, Cross Roads will focus more on getting the student involved in ministry projects. For each hour the student spends in the classroom he or she must spend the same amount of time in a ministry project. The schools says: “Our  classrooms include street corners, homeless shelters, and hospitals. Our  students should expect to get their hands dirty and their hearts broken.”

Learn more at Http://www.CorssRoads-seminary.org

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Worshipping In The Spirit

“Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth”.   John 4:23-24

Jesus spoke these words to the Woman at the Well – the woman from Samaria. Most of the Jews would not speak to people for Samaria because the Samaritans had compromised their faith and worshipped false gods. But Jesus could see that this woman was seeking truth, and Jesus always has time for those who want to know the truth. 

God seeks people who will worship him in the Spirit. God goes out of his way to find people who are willing to abandon themselves to allow the Holy Spirit to immerse them in worship.  The Father seeks people to worship him in the Spirit because not everyone is willing to worship in this way. The religious leaders of Jesus day wanted to hold on to their religious traditions, and this prevented their total involvement in Spirit-filled worship. You cannot put new wine into old wineskins.

We do not begin true worship until we are in the Spirit. The mind of the flesh can go through religious exercises but unless we are under the influence of the Holy Spirit it is not true worship.

The woman from Samaria asked Jesus if it was okay to worship God in Samaria, or if a person needed to go to the Temple in Jerusalem in order to worship. Jesus said the location is not important; what’s important is that we become moved by the Holy Spirit as we worship.

God designed the human spirit to respond to music. Spirit-filled music can speak to the human spirit in ways that words alone cannot. Music should be evaluated in terms of its impact on leading people into the Spirit of worship – not its entertainment value. Sometimes we sit in church and get entertained by wonderful music, but we are no closer to God.

Worship is like dancing; you must let the Holy Spirit lead and you follow.  “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit” (Galatians 5:25).

Posted in Devotional Readings, Holy Spirit, Jesus | Leave a comment

God Is On Your Side

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose”. Romans 8:28 (NIV)

Bad things sometimes happen to good people! Christians are protected and blessed – but not totally immune from the evil of the world. The scripture does not teach that every circumstance will turn out in our favor. Christians sometimes suffer from the evil done by others, and sometimes from our own mistakes and failures.

God does not promise that every day will be sunshine and prosperity. What he promises is that He will be at work on our behalf in every circumstance of life.

In May of 2008 the well-known singer and songwriter Steven Curtis Chapman suffered a severe tragedy when his son accidently ran over their 5 year old daughter in the drive way of their home. There is no way to put a positive spin on that story and erase the pain this family goes through every time they think about the event that changed their lives.

Every week I minister to Christians suffering from divorce, financial ruin, sickness and depression. Some of it may be our own failures, and some of it is the result of the wrong-doing of others. God does not promise to shelter you from every dark day, but he promises to be there for you, working on your behalf.

Posted in Devotional Readings | Leave a comment

The Power of Confession

“Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” [James 5:13-16]

Growing up I was taught that confessing our sins to a human person is a Catholic tradition and not Biblical; but James 5:16 says, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.”

As I began to study divine healing I discovered a strong connection between physical illness and mental, emotional, and spiritual illness. The Holy Spirit is the best psychologist in the world; He understands human nature better than anyone. He also understands the connection between our spiritual health and our physical health. If your mind and spirit are sick your body will become sick as well.

When a person has a physical injury and it gets infected, the doctor will open the wound and drain the infection so it can heal. The same is true with emotional and spiritual infection. The infection has to be removed before healing can take place. Infections grow worse over time if they are not removed, and eventually the infection spreads to the whole person – spirit, mind and body.

There is often a connection (not always, but often) between spiritual illness and physical illness. Confession is part of the healing process that allows the infection to be drained so the healing can take place. Confessing our sins privately to God will bring God’s forgiveness, but confessing our sins to one another helps to bring healing to the mind and body.

A New Testament church should include appointed elders who are trained and gifted to bring spiritual, emotional and physical healing through the laying on of hands, counseling, and prayer. Some people tell me they do not have anyone in their church they can trust to tell their innermost secrets, so they go to a professional counselor. The church is missing out on a very important role if we do not facilitate and encourage people to confess their sins for purpose of receiving forgiveness and healing. God forgives, but we must learn to forgive ourselves and each other as well.

Confession has the power to set you free from spiritual, emotional and physical bondage. “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed” [James 5:16].

Posted in Devotional Readings, Holy Spirit | 1 Comment

Mental Junk Food

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. “ [Philippians 4:8]

You are what you eat. If you eat a lot of fatty junk foods, your body develops high cholesterol, heart disease, and fat! The same is true of the brain. If your mind dwells on mental junk food – negative thoughts, pornography, hate and anger – those seeds take root and grow in your mind.

Negative thoughts are like poison – they decay your mind and destroy everything healthy. After a while you become blind to everything good, and you will see only negative in people and the world around you. You develop mental and spiritual myopia so that you only see the bad and are blind to the good that God is doing in the lives of others.

Negative thoughts also become addictive. A negative person will seek out more negative information to feed their addiction.

Philippians chapter 4 tells us to “Rejoice in the Lord always” and “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

Doubt and skepticism cause spiritual cataracts to dim the spiritual vision and we cannot see the miracles of God. We have to train our minds to seek out and actually see the good around us.

Posted in Devotional Readings | Leave a comment

Happy Birthday U.S.A

If we hosted a 235th birthday party for America and Jesus was the keynote speaker, what would he say to the nation?

In 2 Chronicles chapter 7 Israel was at the height of their glory. Their army was strong, they had defeated most of their enemies, and they were prospering economically. More importantly, they were walking in obedience to God and God was blessing them. God chose Israel to be his witnesses to the other nations of the world.

It was God’s intent was that Israel would set the example and the rest of the nations of the world would observe what it means to be the people of God.

God wanted the nations around them to see what it would be like to be the favored people of God. He wanted the other nations to learn how Israel worshipped God, and to learn what it means to love God with all of your heart, mind and soul; and to love your neighbor as yourself.

America has enjoyed God’s blessings as much as any nation on earth. However, along with blessings come responsibilities. God told Israel that although they were his favored people, if they disobeyed him he would reject them and take away the blessings.

If Jesus were giving the keynote address at our 235th birthday party I think he would tell the nation:

“You have been blessed more than any other nation in modern history. You military is the strongest on earth. You enjoy economic prosperity, and a higher standard of living than most other nations of the world. In fact, you have become gluttons while others starve.

Along with your prosperity, you have great responsibility. You have a great amount of influence over other nations because of your military and economic strength. You must use your power for justice and peace.

You have become a secular nation; declaring that God has no place in government or in public schools. You fail to realize that your blessings come from the God of heaven, whose Son Jesus Christ is the only savior of mankind. Instead, the name of “Jesus” has become a word of ridicule and scorn. God told Israel that although they were his favored people, he would withdraw his favor if they turned away from him.”

I believe Jesus would also give a message to the church:

“The church is God people on the earth. Not the President or the Congress or the Supreme Court — the church. The church is called to be salt and light in the world. The church today – as Israel did in prior centuries – represents God as his witnesses on the earth.
The future of the nation depends on the church; God’s blessings on the nation will rise and fall on the faithfulness of the church.

A small amount of leaven can leaven the whole lump. A small amount of light can light an entire house. If the church is faithful, the people of God can turn the nation. You have been entrusted with the truth, do not compromise, you cannot be light and darkness at the same time.”

Happy Birthday U.S.A.!

Posted in Devotional Readings, God Speaks Today, Politics & Faith | Leave a comment