What’s the Greatest Commandment Today?

April 9, 2016

And one of the scribes (lawyers) came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” (Mark 12:28)

Have you ever been questioned about the word of God? Has someone who has a vague idea of the God of the bible challenged you? There are numerous groups in the bible who challenged Jesus and his authority. And Jesus always had the right answer. Just as Jesus has defended the faith, you and I are called to defend him with truth and love (Ephesians 4:15). Scripture is always the final authority, not opinion, not position, nor does anyone in the church have the final authority when it comes to faith.

Don’t expect to stand with Jesus and NOT suffer. Jesus said some hard things but always in love. He had to correct religious people often. In their minds, Jesus was a threat to their status and careers. The name of Jesus will divide people. To stand with the King of Kings means you are willing to be hated.

In Mark 12 Jesus is challenged by the religious leaders of Israel. They met together to eliminate the voice of God. Often times two opposing groups will come together IF the same opposition is the greater threat. Just look at the politics in our nation today

In this situation in Mark 12, the leaders used a lawyer. I heard of a lawyer who one time defended a preacher. It didn’t go well for either party. The lawyer lost all credibility and the preacher lost a large portion of his flock. It’s important when standing for the Lord we represent him well.

Jesus uses this occasion to teach man the greatest provision and duty of human life: love. Love will provide for every need man has; therefore, love is the greatest duty of man.

Apparently the lawyers heart had been touched by Jesus. How do we know that? First, Mark tells us that the man was present when Jesus was “reasoning together” with the Sadducees (Mark 12:28) and he understood “that [Christ] had answered them well. He was listening and people will listen when you say the name Jesus. They may not acknowledge you but they will bend an ear.

Second, at the conclusion of his own discussion, Jesus said to the man, “You are not far from the kingdom of God” Mark 12:34. Many are so close yet so far from God. They take in the word of God UNTIL it challenges them to stand alone.

Jesus pricked this man’s heart. The man was being put forward by the leaders to challenge Jesus. But personally there was something about Jesus as he answered the Sadducees—the spirit, the wisdom, the self-confidence, the authority—that had stirred the lawyer’s heart to desire and to want to learn more about this man named Jesus.

Unfortunately, many are like the person in the book of James who hears the word of God and by the time they walk out of the church they have forgotten what was being taught is to be applied.

The question the lawyer asks is “Which is the first, most important commandment of all?” Through the years Jewish teachers had set up six hundred commandments. So the question was often discussed: which commandments must be absolutely obeyed? Which ones are important and which ones are not? If one fails to obey some of the law will it be condoned or not? Jesus reminds them that the great commandment involves loving God and then loving man. Without loving God first, we will ONLY love man in our own strength.

When we are inspired and draw from God and his word we can love in supernatural ways. Recently I was reading in the word of God early in the morning, and within the hour I was challenged to put into practice what was being taught IN the word of God within our community. The irony is that I found great joy in obedience. It was not cumbersome, but satisfying.

Here, the Pharisees were trying to trick Jesus? They hoped that by stating His opinion, Jesus would disturb the people who held a position different from His. He would thereby lose their following. There was the strong possibility that a man giving his judgment would seem to be lessening the weight of other very important commandments.

Notice that Jesus answers with all the authority of God. Know that “the Lord our God is one Lord (Mark 12:29).” He is the Lord, Jehovah, Yahweh. There is no other. Monotheism (one God) is the true belief. Polytheism (many gods) is a false belief.

Second, he is our God. This is a personal relationship between a worshipper and his God. It is a daily experience that we desire. We are related to Him; we are His people, the sheep of His pasture. Now we can worship him properly.

Third he is one Lord. He takes preeminence in our life, our attention, worship, love, and praise. There is no reason, no reason that other things should distract us. He is the One Lord.

The Lord our God is to be loved. A true loving relationship involves commitment and loyalty. True love does not allow selfish behavior to reign. True love does not covet and does not provide for others to be taken advantage of. We stand for the poor, orphan and widow. And we are motivated by HIS grace.

When the scriptures say. “You shall have no other gods”, we must be willing to examine if we put anything before God.

When we love God first he puts everything else in order. Will you examine your heart and ask God if you have replaced him with something or someone else?



The Gospel Creates New Friends

                                                             

I had two common but rewarding conversations this week. Both were with children.  One was in a hospital room with a new friend of mine named Nelly.  Many of you know her.  I shared with her and her Dad from the book of Psalms.  The Psalms deal with the cries of God’s people.  She has cancer and I wanted to remind her that God hears our cries.  We are praying daily for God to heal her. Her family has been coming to our church.

I had another conversation….very brief, but it was with a young boy around 6 years old.  I was walking into the Police station and he was walking to school with his Dad and sister. He saw me first, waved and then said in a soft sweet voice “Hi Pastor Tom.  I was able to reciprocate with him and his family a good day and we both continued our day.  Our church went to Griffin Park this past summer and made this connection with this young boy. BOTH relationships are centered on one person: Jesus Christ.

After the second conversation, the Holy Spirit of God stopped me in my thoughts and reminded me that if it wasn’t for the gospel, I would NOT know either person. This was the reality that was sown in my heart by the Lord.  That the gospel creates new community.  It creates new friendships, and it creates new burdens. Three and one half years ago, the Lord burdened me to start a church in the heart of Fall River, and God has raised up a people who love Jesus and are creating new community. 

Our most important message is that “Jesus died for you”.  That without the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus none of us would have hope. My first question to you today is where is your hope?  Is it in Jesus alone or is it in anything other than Jesus. If you’re trusting in anything else, than you truly aren’t saved.

One of my greatest desires as a Pastor is to build a community and friendships around the gospel.  Jamie Dunlop in his recent book The Compelling Community speaks of two opposing communities in the church today. It’s a great reminder to you and I about what should be happening in the local church when God’s people meet.

In one type of community, which he calls a “gospel plus” community “nearly every relationship is built and founded on the gospel PLUS something else”. For example, Joe and Jay are friends because they go to church PLUS they both played high school football and both like to hunt. They are encouraged by the church to gather together because of similar interests. Unfortunately barely little gets discussed about Jesus in this community. In reality people are deceived because they are really in relationships for what they can GET rather than give.

In the other type of relationship “gospel revealing” community, many if not most of the relationships would not be in existence EXCEPT for the power and sake of the gospel.  IE- the gospel has radically changed their view of God, people, and their function in the local church. They are willing to spend time and learn and live with others UNLIKE them. How do you choose friends in the church today? Are they built on natural affinities alone, or is the gospel in your relationship?  Is the word of God spoken during Sunday afternoon football?  Do you share life with your friend and give him biblical encouragement (words from the bible) when you are out hunting?

I’ve seen over and over these natural affinity groups, built around Jesus plus, permeate the local church and the byproduct is the loss of evangelistic zeal, and the loss of discipleship. It makes the church weak rather than strong. The Corinthians church was struggling because of factions within (1 Corinthians 1:10-12).The result is that the mission gets turned in rather than focusing out. In churches like this the building and programs becomes more important than the people.

 Jesus during the great judgment will send some to hell because of their lack of concern for those who were perceived “less” than they were (Matthew 25:44-46).  Many today in the church live in comfort and ease and only care to be around those who can give them something from others in the church whether it is happiness, safety, or assurance.

In healthy gospel centered churches, the leaders compel others out of their comfort zones toward building gospel centered relationships that would not be possible “apart from the supernatural”. They look to give rather than take, and share the word of God intentionally.  They help others to live in community and go out into the world and share the glorious gospel of Jesus with others.

In communities that focused on the “gospel alone” changing lives, there is the element of forgiveness and love. We forgive one another because we have been forgiven much. We can call one another to repentance and restore the confessing sinner because we too have been forgiven and restored.

We can love supernaturally because we never forget the expression of God’s love in the person and work of Jesus Christ for us. We don’t pick our allies based on strength but out of Gods concern for the least of these.

Today we get to again love our city.  For the fourth year we are doing our “Hayride in the Hood” at Ruggles Park from 12-3:30 pm.  Free hot dogs, drinks, face painting, popcorn and hayride for all and we will give away a $100 holiday gift card. Come join us. We want to make new friends who love Jesus.



One Plan- Make Disciples

                                             ONE PLAN- MAKE DISCIPLES

I was blessed to get away with my family on April vacation. Vacation is often a time to refresh your body, and spend quality time with your loved ones. I’ve also found that in my Christian times of rest, it is especially fruitful to be able to hear more clearly from God.  The hustle and bustle and fast pace of American lifestyle often keep us from planning the future. We must intentionally take the time to be still and listen for God to speak to us through his word.

Over and over during this time of refreshment, I heard these words in the still small voice that God speaks to us in, (No, it was not audible) – MAKE DISCIPLES.  Not build a church, BUT make disciples. Remember, the church is not a building as much as it is the people that show up to worship God.  Rule number one in life is that people are more important than stuff (buildings). Always!! The church does NOT need an elaborate place of worship to honor God.

The greatest challenge I have had as a Pastor is to get people together OUTSIDE the Sunday meeting. Jesus, just before he left the earth commanded his friends in Matthew 28:19 to “go and make disciples”; the assumption is we would go and share Jesus, and in doing so we would find our disciples through evangelism. There is NOT a second plan. This is it.  Not more programs, but fully devoted followers of Jesus. What does that look like in your life? Have you ever been discipled by someone OUTSIDE church? Is your church providing discipleship for its people? Bible study is NOT discipleship, prayer is not discipleship, evangelism is not discipleship, feeding the poor is not discipleship.

When Jesus started his public ministry he immediately called men to himself. Jesus said to Andrew and Peter, in Matthew 4:19 1-“follow me” and I will make you fishers of men.  The decision to follow Jesus is an intellectual one. A mental choice. To follow Jesus means he leads and you follow.  You aren’t shown the exact route, but you are willing to give up all if necessary to please him. Peter and Andrew were willing to follow. His word became their authority. A disciple is no longer self-ruled but Christ-ruled. In essence we start denying ourselves (Matthew 16:24) of selfish rights because God and people become more important.

Second Jesus said “I will MAKE you” fishers of men.  In other words HE will transform us (make us) if we are truly allowing him to lead. Jesus not only changes our minds but our hearts. We don’t clean ourselves up, but he cleans us up as we allow him to remold us. We become sensitive to the word of God. We start to love the things of God and start to detest sin.  Yes we still sin, but we no longer enjoy it.  Why?  Because God’s living presence (the Holy Spirit) lives in us. Jesus took men who were regular guys with struggles and reshaped them into his image. A Christian is not someone who is perfected, but someone who is allowing Jesus to change them. They continue to abide IN him (John 15:1-2).

Third Jesus he would make his disciples “fishers of men”. Here there is a response. What God does in our head and hearts is expressed in what our hands do. Jesus saves us for a new purpose.  Remember Peter and Andrew had been fishermen for all their lives and Jesus tells them on the spot that he would now turn them from fishermen into “fishers of men”.  To fish for men means that you share the entire gospel of Jesus Christ with those who don’t know it and eventually care for those who respond. Do you know the “gospel (1 Peter 3:15)?

A doctor learns his trade not only by sitting in the classroom, but entering into an apprenticeship with others who ply their craft well. Therefore discipleship entails spending intentional time with someone outside the educational setting (church) helping someone to know who God is accurately according to Gods word, supporting someone in fighting against old sinful patterns, answering hard questions about faith and life, praying for one another, confessing sins to one another and even holding one another accountable to promises made. The best discipleship is done in pairs and groups of people OUTSIDE the church building.

Fall River has been labeled by the American Bible Society and the evangelical Christian research group Barna as the least biblically literate metropolitan area in the country. Fall River and the suburbs need churches that make disciples. We need to get back to the basics. People need biblical relationships that extend beyond the four walls of the church!

We have initiated a program in our church where those who want to invest in an ongoing biblical relationship with someone else.  Lives are being changed.  A young man Aaron recently said this about his discipleship relationship with his friend Arty—“ I believe that the process of Discipleship, a purposeful life based Christian friendship is important in my own life, because it involves not only sharing the love of Christ with one another, but also accountability.  Worshipping the Lord and purposeful fellowship shouldn’t be reserved just for Sundays”.

This Sunday I’ll be teaching on the stages of discipleship from infancy to parenthood.  If you’re looking for a new start with Jesus, come join us at Redemption Fellowship on 385 Pleasant Street, across from the Hyundai dealership for service beginning at 10:15.



America’s New Religion

February 12, 2014  UncategorizedNo comments

sports and religion

What a letdown!!  Superbowl forty eight was promising, based on statistics, to be one of the best games in recent years. The result was that Seattle Seahawks blew out the Denver Broncos this past Sunday 43-8.

I was glad to see the Broncos go down.  Any team that beats my team in the playoffs becomes my temporary enemy. I'm a true blue Boston sports fan and have been as far back as I can remember.  What is more troubling to me than any opponent is the reality that a new religion has overtaken America. Sports!!

A religion has in its framework an organized system of beliefs, ceremonies, and rules used to worship. It's usually done on a consistent basis.  See the connection

The Super Bowl telecast this weekend attracted a record 111.5 million viewers, making it the most-watched television event of all-time. The reality is that this number will probably be eclipsed by the next Super Bowl, and the increasing numbers show no signs of decreasing. Americans takes sports seriously, and football to most Americans has become a religion.

Albert Mohler a Southern Baptist preacher and President of Southern Seminary recently said this “In a real sense, big-time sports represent America's new civic religion, and football is its central sacrament”.

There has always been a connection between sports and religion.  At one time, sports were a supplementary means and conduit to fulfillment.  One could learn what character looked like in the pew, and then go out and develop and emulate what it looked like on the field/court to the glory of God and the joy of the saint.

In reality the roles have reversed. The glory of God in recent years has demonstrably taken a back seat to the joy and happiness that “supposedly” comes from sports. Growth and involvement in sports has overtaken growth and involvement in the local church.

Solomon the royal philosopher, and King of Israel, wrote in the book of Ecclesiastes “I applied my heart to seek and to search out by wisdom all that is done under heaven. It is an unhappy business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with I have seen everything that is done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a striving after wind. (Ecclesiastes1:13-14). In other words any pursuit that does not focus on pleasing God will never satisfy you.

I grew up with Sports as my God. Living in Somerset, I had Jerry Remy and Greg Gagne to emulate in the baseball arena.  Every young baseball player from Somerset aspired to follow in their tracks.  If they could make it, why couldn't we. I gave everything to being successful at baseball. Sports was my God. And it never satisfied me.

I remember Tom Brady in a 60 minutes interview in 2005 with Steve Kroft answering a question regarding the upward trajectory of winning 3 Super Bowls in 4 years. He said “Why do I have three Super Bowl rings, and still think there's something greater out there for me? I mean, maybe a lot of people would say, “Hey man, this is what is.” I reached my goal, my dream, my life. Me, I think: God, it's gotta be more than this. I mean this can't be what it's all cracked up to be. I mean I've done it. I'm 27. And what else is there for me”?

Tom Brady has had far more success than most of us ever will, but found even those successes “vanity”. What is it today that you are pursuing that fails to put God at the forefront.

Please don't misinterpret me.  I'm not saying you can't play sports or that sports can't be played on Sunday or that winning isn't a goal to pursue. What I am talking about is prioritizing.

I've found in my time as a Christian, that you can find satisfaction in winning and losing when God is at the center. The goal in sports for me changed when I became a Christian. Since then, I have never stepped on the field or court with the desire to lose, but my greater desire has become pleasing my Lord and Savior. It is no longer winning, but pleasing.

The book of Second Corinthians clearly defines what new life looks like “we make it our aim to please him”. (2Co 5:9) If our desire in sports is to please God with our thoughts and actions then there can be satisfaction in victory and defeat. It does mean that when I lose I can hold my head up high because my goal was met in pleasing God.

In the late 1990's the late John Cardinal O'Connor, who was the  Roman Catholic Archbishop of New York, was frustrated at the  fact that Little League Baseball was taking his altar boys away on Sundays. He said “Why is it religion that must always accommodate? Why must Little League and soccer league games be scheduled on Sunday mornings? Why create that conflict for kids or for their parents? Sports are generally considered good for kids. Church is good for kids.”

Can you imagine what could happen in 2014 if revival hit Fall River and the secular took a back seat to the religious? Peace, joy, and satisfaction is only found when a person repents of their life apart for Jesus Christ trusting alone in his perfect life and sacrificial death. Will you call on Jesus? Who do people know you more by, your God or your team?



What Is Sin

January 3, 2014  UncategorizedNo comments

SinWhy are terms so important?

It's because if we are using words with different meanings we will never  understand each other. Take for example the term sin. To one person it means dishonoring, God, while to another it is just a synonym for boo boo, or mistake. We apologize while God has called us to go beyond and be reconciled! Today I'd like to take a look at what the bible calls sin.

Alvin Plantinga offered one of the best, simple definitions. He describes it as, “Sin is a sort of madness of the will, a condition in which we love and hate the wrong things . Instead of loving God above all and our neighbor as ourselves, we tend to love ourselves above all, God and our neighbor coming in at best a very distant second. We tend to hate our neighbor because we see him or her as in competition with us and hate God because we see him interfering with our projects and autonomy” .

Of all the allegiances we must gain freedom from it is the dangerous allegiance that sin claims over our hearts and lives. Let's examine two key biblical words from the Old Testament that will help us to identify sin's power and control over every person.

First, sin is described by the Hebrew word avah. This word is often translated “iniquity” (Ps 51: 2a). It's meaning is to be twisted out of shape. With regard to sin it means willful and culpable failure to hit the mark. Just as when a bone is dislocated from its socket it causes great pain and damage, so a heart not centered on God is filled with deeply distorted beliefs about self, God and others. These drives are inordinate , enslaving and misplaced.

The Apostle Paul said it this way, “At one time we too were foolish , disobedient, deceived, and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures… hated and hating” (Titus 3:3). Therefore, sin as inherited from Adam has left all of his descendants after him in utter ruin, aka, totally depraved. Because of this, it is natural and normal for the person apart from Christ to give their heart's allegiances to all of the wrong things believing it is right.

Second, sin is described by another Hebrew word chatha. It is often translated by our English word “sin” (Ps 51: 2b) which means being careless by missing the mark .

Have you ever heard the story of the chief and his warriors in a competition of skill? Many warriors assembled to show their skill to the chief and shot their bow with all their might toward the sun; yet, no matter how hard they tried the arrows never reached their target. Then one warrior saw in the distance the  sun's reflection in a pond. Quickly he shot his arrow at the reflection and struck the reflection of the sun.  The Chief declared him the winner since he struck the sun or minimally its reflection in the pond. Was he really the winner?

In reality both the chief and the warrior are deceived if they think he actually hit the mark of the sun. This is what sin does inside of every single person:

  • on the one hand no matter how hard we try we can never hit the mark and
  • on the other hand it deceives you into believing that you actually hit the real mark when in fact you were never close.

Sin as chatha is the failure to live as God wants — in relationship to him, others, and the world. We sin in omission and commission. When we fail to love and care we omit God's love to others and when we go against against God's prohibition of lying, stealing, etc we commit. It is as Paul said that, ”All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Rom 3: 23).  The reality is that “ther e are none righteous no not one” (Romans 3:10).Sin is a dangerous and deceptive allegiance to our own abilities because we miss the the mark to live for God's glory and instead live for our own glory believing all the while we are hitting the true mark.

This is why the need for Jesus Christ is so great and has been so distorted. The devil would love for you to omit your love to God. Jesus is not just an example, nor is only a distant  helper, but most importantly, he is a Savior who rescues desperate people who recognize that they have twisted distorted lives that cannot hit God's standard of perfection.  Only desperate people can find a living Savior.

To deny God his high calling of holiness, is to deny God his status and role in the world today. To reject Jesus is to say you can do it.  To add Jesus is to say he is only a helper.  But to fall to your knees and cry out “God me merciful to me a sinner (Luke 18:13), is the plea of someone who has seen his sin and Savior in right relation.  Would you cry out to Jesus and start a new path in a new year!!



Persecution

December 31, 2013  CommentaryHerald NewsNo comments

PERSECUTION-2Persecution is not a term that most Christians embrace.

The beatitudes in the gospel of Matthew have a purpose.  To reveal what Kingdom life should look like in the here and now as disciples of Jesus Christ. It is the first of 5 discourses in this gospel and are pronouncements to the crowds and leaders as to how the Christian should and can live.

There is hope in Christ. Jesus came to rescue fallen humanity, but also to be a leader of leaders.  To come and suffer so that others may reap. Today as followers of Jesus we have the presence of the Holy Spirit indwelling us and empowering us to fight against sin, and live for God's glory.  The moral: it's possible.

At the end of the discourse we see a common word in the last three verses: persecution. 10“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

 Contrary to the Jewish view at the time, that suffering was the result of sin, Jesus claims we as his followers would suffer for following him. The question one must ask is “if you never suffer for Jesus, ARE you of him?

I was talking to a Pastor friend yesterday and we were discussing Christianity in the United States and how we as evangelicals use Jesus as a means to attaining success rather than identifying that with Jesus we already are successes. Some are using Jesus for THEIR glory, rather than wanting to be used BY him for HIS glory. Very subtle but very true.

It leads to two different lifestyles. It leads to two people coming into church on Sunday worshipping the same God and from Monday to Saturday living two different lifestyles.  One group is willing to stand with Jesus and be mocked and ridiculed for his namesake, while the other group only mentions Jesus in light of any apparent blessing or for the sake of advantage.

My simple challenge this year is to “stand for Jesus”. The beatitudes assumes yowl be persecuted for being a follower of Christ. In verse 10 it says blessed are those who are persecuted (receive suffering) and it is because of being “righteous”.  They do what God calls them to do.  They consider God, his Kingdom and his word as authoritative in their lives. We have in seed form the Kingdom, but some day we will have all of God and his Kingdom.

In verse 11 it says we are blessed (have deep and exuberant joy) when others revile and persecute us.  When others say bad things and cause us to suffer, we can look up and be reminded that we are of God.

Finally, Matthew tells us in verse 12 that great is the reward for those who suffer with Jesus. The Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians says we can't even imagine what life with God in the new heaven and earth will be like 9 But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”–10 these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. (1Co 2:9-10 ESV).

There is one book I would encourage you to read.  It's called Heaven, by Randy Alcorn.  It's a long book, but really wets your appetite for the future with God.

As we finish up 2013, I pray that in 2014 many more Christians would stand with God and be willing to suffer for him and find the great joy that is often missing in life.  I pray many more would come back to church in 2014 AND be willing to stand with Jesus. It is in the standing that we find the greatest joy!

Alcorn says “We aren't individual brides of Christ; we are collectively the bride of Christ. Christ is not a polygamist. He will be married to one bride, not millions. We belong to each other and need each other. We should guard not only our own purity, but each other's. We are our brother's keeper. . . . Because we will be part of a community of saints that constitutes the bride of Christ for eternity, and because we will worship and serve him together, to prepare properly for Heaven we must be part of a church now”.

Happy New Year.  See ya soon!!!



My Take On Duck Dynasty

December 30, 2013  CultureHerald NewsOne comment

Phil RobertsonHappy New Year everyone! I pray everyone was able to reflect on the birth and coming of Jesus this past month. I'd like to weigh in on the recent controversial comments made by Phil Robertson, the patriarch of the TV reality show “Duck Dynasty.” Controversial, because they are offensive to homosexuals. We need to talk Christian.

The Christian community has not always responded well to this issue. At one end of the spectrum are churches with preachers who mock and ridicule those who struggle with homosexuality (not cool). They quote Leviticus 18 and Romans 1 and beat their chests in apparent victory. They stand over the word in pride rather than behind the word in humility and grace.

Arrogance never leaves a good flavor in the mouth of those who disagree. I believe that truth spoken graciously and seasoned with salt (Colossians 4:6) can win the day. The Bible tells us God's children are most handsome when grace pours forth from their lips (Psalm 45:2).

God always honors his word when his people speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). Tertullian, a church Father, said that even persecution advances the Kingdom of God “the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.”

There are Christians who celebrate/condone the gay lifestyle, assuming its God's progressive means for the church to embrace. Let's be clear. Nowhere in the scripture does God celebrate any other marriage than that between one man and one woman (Genesis 2:24: Matthew 19:4-6).

Social media has chimed in on the controversy. How can we dialogue?

Camille Paglia is a professor at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia and a brilliant liberal philosopher. She says, “I think that this intolerance by gay activists toward the full spectrum of human beliefs is a sign of immaturity, juvenility. This is not the mark of a true intellectual life. This is why there is no cultural life now in the U.S. Why nothing is of interest coming from the major media in terms of cultural criticism.”

She goes on to say, “Why the graduates of the Ivy League with their A, A, A+ grades are complete cultural illiterates, etc., is because they are not being educated in any way to give respect to opposing viewpoints. There is a dialogue going on human civilization, for heaven sakes. It's not just this monologue coming from fanatics who have displaced the religious beliefs of their parents into a political movement. And that is what happened to feminism, and that is what happened to gay activism, a fanaticism.”

Therefore, I would like to start some dialogue. Would my friends and even my opponents be willing to talk? For this to happen, we must find common ground.

Can we agree on three basic principles? First, humanity is all created in the image of God (Genesis 1:28). That means, minimally, every human being has significance. This includes both homosexual and heterosexual. We are of value to the creator. Second, we are broken vessels. There is something wrong that humanity just can't fix. Third, we all need help.

Conservative Christians would say that the problem is inward, the heart (Jeremiah 17:9). We say, don't follow your heart, it is wicked! Those who reject conservative Christian values would find blame with the human condition “outside” the individual: environment, relationships, role modeling, sexual encounters at an early age, molestation …

Listen, Christians, loving homosexuals and declaring homosexuality sinful is not irreconcilable. We can speak truth without being hateful.

The Bible not only declares homosexuality sinful, it also declares all other types of sexual acts outside of the marriage covenant between one man and woman (Genesis 2:24) as sinful.

Jesus takes the sexual ethic even further, declaring that lust is sin “that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:28). All are on equal ground: sinners. I've lusted this year and so have you. Christian, stay humble and recognize you, too, struggle with your sexuality.

Jesus gave the cure, stating “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:15). Jesus IS the gospel. We must be willing to practice repentance (saving and sanctifying repentance). We need to say “we need help with our sexuality.”

How can we dialogue without maligning each other? Phil Robertson was called bigoted because he quoted the bible (1 Corinthians 6:9-11 and Romans 1:21-32). Read it for yourself. The Bible is offensive to all of us.

It declares us sinful and in need of a Savior.

Our church, Redemption Fellowship of Fall River, declares all sinful, all desperate and all in need of redemption. Everyone is welcome, including the homosexual and proud, arrogant heterosexual. We say, come as you are, but don't stay as you are. That Jesus can change your heart and make a proud, arrogant heterosexual sinner a lover of all types of people. Jesus can give homosexuals new hearts and help them fight against sinful inclinations.

Jesus chose not to condemn the woman found in adultery, but he also said, “Go and sin no more.” Luke 2:14 says “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those WITH WHOM HE IS PLEASED.” Whom is God pleased with? Those who repent and TRUST in what Jesus did 2,000 years ago! Happy New Year!



Ity’s All About Me

December 15, 2013  UncategorizedNo comments

all about meI read this devotional today from a devotional book called “Heart of the Matter:Daily Devotionals for Changing Hearts”. It was so good I wanted to re-print it in it's entirety.

There are two reasons You don't turn to God. One, you believe he will take away something you need— something you trust in. Two, you don't believe you are good enough to come to God.

The truth is, all you have to do is turn to him and speak honestly, and he will meet you. God meets the hurt with compassion (Psalm 147: 3). God meets the angry and promises justice (Romans 12: 19). God meets the self-loathing by taking their shame on himself. “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” And, “anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame” (Romans 8: 1; 10: 11).

You expected judgment and a deaf ear; you get the God who loves you and hears you. If you want a relationship with God, respond to him in the same way you respond to someone who loves you, someone you have been avoiding.

Tell God that you have been wrong. Confess your sins. Confess that your world is about you rather than him. Confess that you are living as if you know better than God. Confess that you are trying to save your own life rather than lose it (Matthew 10: 39). Confess that you are trying to make life work apart from Jesus-Ed Welch

Would you humble yourself and acknowledge you are needy and desperate?



Community Thanksgiving Wrap Up

December 3, 2013  EventsNewsNo comments

Praise the Lord. What a great time we had this past Wednesday night sharing the love of Jesus and serving our friends and neighbors in the community.

Check out the slide show above. Or click here for our Flickr album.