Archive for May 26, 2012
Tags: Baptist, Bible, God, North Carolina, Sean Harris, Southern Baptist Convention, Worley, YouTube
A strategist for the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) issued a statement this week condemning the recent comments made by two pastors, both of North Carolina, regarding homosexuality.
Bob Stith, Southern Baptist Convention’s national strategist for gender issues, clearly identified the pastors as belonging to independent Baptist churches which are unaffiliated with the SBC in his Wednesday statement, published by the SBC’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.
“From the video clips it would appear that both men lead fairly large churches. I wonder how many people in those congregations were gripped with the fear that their personal struggle might be discovered,” Stith wrote.
“And how many have loved ones involved in homosexuality? I wonder about the loneliness and isolation they must have experienced, knowing they could never share those burdens,” he added.
Stith is referring to two separate incidences, the first occurring from an early May sermon by Pastor Sean Harris of Berean Baptist Church in Fayetteville, N.C., and the second from a more recent sermon from Charles Worley, pastor of Providence Road Baptist Church in Maiden, N.C.
In a sermon leading up to North Carolina’s mid-May vote on same-sex marriage, Harris told congregants that if their sons start acting effeminate, they should use physical force to adjust their behavior.
“The second you see your son dropping the limp wrist, you walk over there and crack that wrist,” Harris said in the sermon, as posted in a viral video on YouTube. “Man up! Give him a good punch, OK? ‘You’re not going to act like that. You were made by God to be a male and you are going to be a male,’” he added, advising fathers on what they should say to their sons.
Harris apologized shortly after his sermon went viral online, saying that although he did not choose the best words, he was trying to convey the ultimate message that homosexuality is not what God intended for mankind.
“Those were not the best choice of words. If I had to do it over again I would not choose those words. I was using hyperbole in an effort to communicate the importance of the gender distinctions that God created,” he said.
“I would offer an apology to anyone I have offended. I don’t make an apology for those gender distinctions that are the Word of God,” he added.
In his sermon on May 13, Charles Worley said that homosexuals should be rounded up into an electric fence and left eventually to die.
“Build a great big large fence 50 or 100 miles long,” Worley said, according to the viral YouTube video of his sermon.
“Put all the lesbians in there. Fly over and drop some food. Do the same thing with the queers and the homosexuals. Have that fence electrified so they can’t get out. You know what, in a few years, they’ll die out. You know why? They can’t reproduce,” he added.
Worley has not apologized for his comments, and many of his congregants have come forward in support of his controversial statements.
“He had every right to say what he said about putting them in a pen and giving them food,” congregant Geneva Sims, told WCNC.com, adding, “The Bible says they are worthy of death. He is preaching God’s Word.”
Sims added that she has been listening to Worley’s sermons since the 1970s. In a 1978 sermon, Worley referenced lynching when speaking on homosexuals, as the New York Daily News reported the sermon’s audio clip.
Stith, who has been head of the SBC’s gender issues department since 2007, noted the irony in Worley’s remarks.
“Ironically, one pastor seemed to be arguing for a genetic causation. How else to explain his statement that the death of all homosexuals in one generation would eliminate future struggles with homosexuality? Even the American Psychological Association no longer argues for strict genetic causation. The sad truth is that the attitudes reflected in these comments are far more likely to exacerbate problems than to help them.”
Ultimately, the SBC leader said, the extremeness of these pastors’ comments “stand as reminders to us – not only pastors, but all believers – that above all else we must represent the heart of Christ.”
His goal is to help Christians “develop compassionate hearts for those who struggle and their families.”
Stith also seeks to remind pastors that in this digital age, all they say in church may end up going viral on the Internet “within minutes.”
“Paul says, ‘Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt’ (Colossians 4:6). Will your words meet that standard? Will they hold out hope to anyone in bondage? Will they bring honor to Christ?” Stith concluded.
The SBC holds the position that “homosexuality is not a ‘valid alternative lifestyle.’ The Bible condemns it as sin. It is not, however, unforgivable sin. The same redemption available to all sinners is available to homosexuals. They, too, may become new creations in Christ.”
Tags: Bible, First Epistle to the Corinthians, God, Jesus, Paul, race, Timothy, United States
“Run in such a way as to get the prize” 1 Corinthians 9:24
The month of June brings many sure signs of summer: the sweet smell of cut grass, soft breezes, picnics, fireflies, thunderstorms—and runners. This unique breed of humanity, forced to run circles in cramped indoor quarters during the North American winter, emerges with the first hint of spring and spends the summer dashing through neighborhoods and parks.
I have nothing against runners. Some of my best friends are addicted runners. Though I have never seen a runner smiling, apparently there is something fulfilling about it. I even tried it once, waiting for that surge of ecstasy that my friends told me I would experience, only to find that the ecstasy came when I stopped running!
So, whatever you think about running, it’s important to note that the Bible often speaks of living the Christian life as if it we were running a race. Following Jesus is clearly more than a leisurely stroll in the park! And the issue is not whether you will run the race. When you became His follower, you were put in the race. The question is not will you run, but how will you run?
So, here are three keys to running well.
First, stay in shape! I like Paul’s perspective in 1 Corinthians 9:24: “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.” In other words, you need to be in it to win, and, like any race, winning requires discipline. As spiritual runners, we must discipline ourselves in the exercise and dietary habits of prayer and reading God’s Word. Drinking at the fountain of prayer and digesting the food of God’s Word gives us strength and motivation to run and win.
Secondly, obey the rules! Like all races, running to win means staying in the boundaries. Paul committed himself to living his life by God’s rules. He did not want to be “disqualified for the prize” (1 Corinthians 9:27). As good runners, we embrace the rules and gladly submit to them.
Thirdly, run light! As Hebrews 12:1 instructs us, we are to lay aside every hindering weight and the sin that so easily besets us. What is it that distracts you and what is the sin that slows you down? Take them off and run light!
And finally, a couple more tips. Hebrews 12:1 also tells us to be willing to persevere. Our race is more than a few laps around the track—it’s a long-distance marathon. And let’s face it, this marathon can be stressful. Sometimes it’s the wind of life blowing against us—or mud kicked in our face from the runner in front of us. But whatever the case, runners that win never give up!
And keep your eyes on the finish line. Jesus is there! When you run for the honor and glory of His name, He reaches out with the victor’s crown and says, “Well done, good and faithful servant!”
In my book, that’s worth running for!
- Read 1 Corinthians 9:24-27. Would you say that you are running “aimlessly,” or are you competing for the “crown that will last forever”?
- Read Hebrews 12:1-3. What things hinder and entangle you, and how do you intend to throw them off? What does Paul say to do so that you will not “grow weary and lose heart”?
- In Paul’s parting words to Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:7-8, he says that he is not the only one who will be awarded by the Lord. How does that encourage you to keep running for the prize?
Pray without ceasing . . . —1 Thessalonians 5:17
Jesus never mentioned unanswered prayer. He had the unlimited certainty of knowing that prayer is always answered. Do we have through the Spirit of God that inexpressible certainty that Jesus had about prayer, or do we think of the times when it seemed that God did not answer our prayer? Jesus said, “. . . everyone who asks receives . . .” (Matthew 7:8). Yet we say, “But . . . , but . . . .” God answers prayer in the best way— not just sometimes, but every time. However, the evidence of the answer in the area we want it may not always immediately follow. Do we expect God to answer prayer?
The danger we have is that we want to water down what Jesus said to make it mean something that aligns with our common sense. But if it were only common sense, what He said would not even be worthwhile. The things Jesus taught about prayer are supernatural truths He reveals to us.
“Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God” (Phil. iv. 6).Posted: May 26, 2012 in O Christian.com
Tags: Anxiety, Christianity, First Epistle of Peter, God, Israel, Jesu, Psalms, Worry
Commit means to hand over, to trust wholly to another. So, if we give our trials to Him, He will carry them. If we walk in righteousness He will carry us through.
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God that He may exalt you in due time.” There are two hands there–God’s hand pressing us down, humbling us, and then God’s hand lifting us up. Cast all your care on Him, then His hand will lift you up, exalt you in due time.
There are two cares in this verse–your care and His care. They are different in the original. One means anxious care, the other means Almighty care. Cast your anxious care on Him and take His Almighty care instead.
Make no account of trouble any more, but believe He is able to sustain you through it. The government is on His shoulder. Believe that, if you trust and obey Him, and meet His will, He will look after your interests.
Simply exchange burdens. Take His yoke upon you, and let Him care for you.
Tags: Christ, Egypt, Egyptian Army, God, Israelite, Lord, Moses, Red Sea
The Israelites were trapped. Soon after leaving slavery and Egypt behind, they looked up and saw a distressing sight. A cloud of dust was moving their way, and in that dust was a massive army. Pharaoh’s “disease” had returned—hardening of the heart (Ex. 14:8). As a result, he sent his chariots after Moses and his people.
Both of them responded with instructions. Moses said, “Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord. ” (14:13). And God told them, “Go forward” (v.15). While that may seem to be contradictory advice, both commands were from God and right. First, the people had to “stand still” or “firm” long enough to get instructions from God. What if they had rushed headlong into the Red Sea without consulting the Lord? But in standing still, they heard God’s instructions, which included both what they were to do—move on, and what Moses was to do—stretch out his hand over the sea in obedience and God would part the waters.
Do circumstances have you trapped? Stand still. Take time to consult God and His Word. Then, using His instructions, move ahead and let God guide you.
Tags: Christ, Christian, Christianity, Church, God, holyspirit, Human body, Religion and Spirituality
In the World But Not of It
The Church lives in a hostile world. Within and around her are enemies that not only could destroy her, but are meant to and will unless she resists force with yet greater force. The Christian would collapse from sheer external pressure were there not within him a counterpressure sufficiently great to prevent it. The power of the Holy Spirit is, therefore, not optional but necessary. Without it the children of God simply cannot live the life of heaven on earth. The hindrances are too many and too effective. A Church is a living organism and is subject to attack from such enemies as prey on living things. Yet the figure of the human body to stand for the Church is not adequate, for the life of the body is nonintelligent, whereas the Church is composed of moral beings having intelligence to recognize their enemies and a will to enable them to resist. The human body can fight its enemies even while it is asleep, but the Church cannot. She must be awake and determined or she cannot win.
Tags: David, God, Hebrew language, Lord, O Lord, Psalm, Soul music, Weaning
When I was a young child, I suffered from terrible nightmares. Every couple of months, I’d start crying out in my sleep. My parents would rush in to comfort me, but they’d have a difficult time waking me up. Finally, their efforts would be successful, and I’d begin to calm down. Usually, at this point, my dad would return to bed and my mother would rock me to sleep. I can vividly remember the feeling of being safe in her arms, protected from the terrors that had filled my sleep.
Psalm 131 uses such an image to convey what it’s like to have a calm and quiet soul. David, who wrote this psalm, learned not to concern himself with matters that were too great for him to grasp. Rather, he humbled himself as a child in a mother’s lap: “I have calmed and quieted myself, like a weaned child who no longer cries for its mother’s milk” (131:2). The original Hebrew of this passage reads, more literally, “I have calmed and quieted my soul like a weaned child upon his mother.” The image conveys, not a solitary child making himself feel better, but rather a young child who is comforted and reassured in the lap of his mother.
How tempting it is for us to concern ourselves with matters that are too great for us, with needs and problems that exceed our grasp. We can try to run the world, or at least our part of it, as if we had the authority and ability to do so. The result of such presumption is a sense of worry and frustration. How much better if we learned from David how to humble ourselves and find rest in the lap of our God who comforts us like a loving mother with her young child. From that place of security, we will find the strength and wisdom to do our part in the world, serving the only One who has the power and right to run the world.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: When are you tempted to concern yourself with matters that are too great for you? What helps you to be humble and quiet in the “lap” of God?
PRAYER: O Lord, you know how easy it is for me to have a proud heart, to feel as if I need to take charge for that which is not my responsibility. I do have a tendency to take upon myself that which is rightly yours, as if it were my job. Forgive me for my arrogance and folly.
Help me, dear Lord, to humble myself as a young child, to know the safety of your embrace, even as I once experienced the safety of my mother’s lap. May I trust you, release myself to you, lean back into your loving strength.
Thank you, gracious God, for being so present to me, so faithful, so strong when I need you. Amen.