Hope for troubled times

Have you watched the news lately? I can’t say that I blame you if you haven’t. There really is nothing but bad news these days. Whether it’s ISIS or North Korea, it seems like civilization stands on the brink of devastation. The pro-choice lobby is stronger than ever. The euthanasia debate has even come back to the fray in recent years. The faces of hopelessness have become even more real.

Is there a better time than now for the Church to rise up and declare the hope we have?

In Colossians 1, the Apostle Paul begins to reveal his ministry to the church at Colosse. Paul wrote the letter from prison after hearing that the Colosse church had begun to believe a mixture of false doctrines. Among those beliefs was the heresy of Gnosticism.

The Gnostic belief that reduced the role of Jesus from Saviour to just another source of knowledge, had quickly distracted believers in Colosse.

To this attitude, Paul asserted that God was using him to make known the full message of Christ–a message that was hidden in mystery to the Colossians because of their mostly Gentile background and their drift back into heresy.

Paul said the key to the mystery is “Christ in you, the hope of glory (Col. 1:27).”

What we have then in Colosse is a church in which Jesus had become a lesser thing. Christ was now just another means of knowledge unto salvation, rather than the hope of all the world.

It was a church that had become just like its surrounding culture.

Sound familiar?

Could it be that the world is hopeless because much of the church has become hopeless in our day?

Is the Church in America merely an empty shell in today’s culture?

The Church, with Jesus Christ as it’s head is still the hope of the world.
Where Jesus is still the central theme, there’s still hope. Where His Lordship is still celebrated, there’s still hope.

Pastor, if Jesus has become a lesser thing in your sermons, your worship, and your everyday walk, please put Him back where he belongs.

The hopeless world cannot afford to have a hopeless church in this day.

 

This is an updated post that originally appeared on j31.org in 2014. 

When a Muslim Attacks a Gay Nightclub

When a Muslim attacks a gay nightclub, you might expect there to be plenty of hot takes from Christians. Immediately following the worst mass shooting in America’s history at Orlando, Floridas hottest gay bar The Pulse, early Sunday morning, the takes were hotter than any event the club could have ever boasted.
From President Obamas failure to mention radical Islam to the rampant speculation that the democrats are going to come after our guns, the politics of the moment quickly became the primary focus while investigators were still identifying bodies and notifying the next of kin.
People died. 50 precious souls that Jesus died to save, dropped into eternity in a matter of minutes.
Our hearts should break for those who identify as LGBT community that has been shunned by many of us for the most part.
In this moment of unspeakable tragedy, love the sinner, hate the sin just doesn’t cut it. Our love for the sinner should have us on our faces crying out to God for spiritual awakening in the LGBT community rather than prefacing every conversation about this massacre with that pithy little quote.
What about the Muslim community? We get so mad at President Obama and our federal government because they won’t use that extra adjective to describe this type of terrorism and we lash out at all Muslims.
Our hearts should break for the Muslim community yet another people group that is completely blind to the Gospel. Given all the bloodshed at the hands of radical jihadists in recent years, many of us might just be inclined to let them all go to Hell. Judging by Facebook reactions, this seems to be the case more often than not.
We’ve allowed both groups to become demonized and untouchable.
The rhetoric following the massacre has been all too predictable. Barely 48 hours after the attack and were all just yelling again. I believe it’s past time, in fact, to stop yelling, stop fearing, and for heaven’s sake stop taking your talking points from political candidates and actually be Jesus to the people who need Him most.
We must do better.

Dear Unbeliever, Donald Trump does not appeal to all evangelicals

It’s risky to wade into evangelical political waters—especially when those waters are teeming with fellow Christians who have a different opinion than your own. But I’ve come to the conclusion that you, Mr. or Mrs. Unbeliever, are worth the risk.
Donald J. Trump has caught the imagination of many on the political right. And, as you probably already know, my fellow evangelicals are known for voting republican more often than not. So naturally, Mr. Trump is experiencing some real momentum among values voters lately. But I want you to know, there are many of us evangelicals who will never support Mr. Trump.
We evangelicals are also known for using the Bible as the source of all godly wisdom and knowledge. Going to that source, I can find many reasons not to support Mr. Trump. There are multiple verses in Proverbs that seem to speak right to the situation. “Do you see a man who is hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him” – Proverbs 29:20. Also, “A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back” – Proverbs 29:11.
Then we go to the words of Jesus in Luke 6:45. “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bears what is good, and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bears what is evil. For of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”
In Matthew’s gospel, Jesus is recorded as saying that His people should be salt and light. He wasn’t saying we should pour salt into open wounds while blinding people with a spotlight. What He is clearly talking about in that passage (Matthew 5:13-16) is the flavorful attractiveness that salt brings to the dish. And the light was a reference to shining a positive light in a dark place. There’s no way for me to bring attractiveness to the kingdom of salt and light while also supporting Donald Trump. His recklessness of speech is the antithesis of salt and light.
In Colossians 4:5-6, the Apostle Paul (whose writings comprise one-third of the entire New Testament) wrote, “walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, wisely using the opportunity. Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you should answer everyone.” Quite honestly, I cannot hold to that scripure passage while simultaneously supporting a man whose rhetoric has insulted and inflamed many of you.
I can’t vote for Donald Trump because I care about what the Bible says and because I care about what you think of the Gospel that I represent. We evangelicals have not always represented the sacred words of Scripture with the love and care that those words require. For that, I am sorry.
Obviously, Mr. Trump has touched a chord with many people. Maybe you are considering voting for him. And that’s your choice. But just in case you are part of the majority who finds many of his words and deeds reprehensible, I want you to know you that are not alone in that sentiment. There are still plenty of us evangelicals who find his rhetoric inconsistent with the Gospel we proclaim. I’m sorry if the growing evangelical support for Mr. Trump’s campaign has left a bad taste in your mouth. It’s not supposed to be that way.

Five Disadvantages of Ministering in the Most Bible-Minded City in America

In case you missed it, Chattanooga, Tennessee has again been named the “Most Bible-Minded City in America” by Barna and the American Bible Society. Chattanooga owned the title three straight years from 2012-2014 before slipping to No. 2 behind Birmingham/Anniston/Tuscaloosa, Alabama in 2015.

You may be thinking this makes life easy for ministers in across the city. Maybe you believe it’s easy to evangelize in this modern-day Constantinople.

Well, you’d be wrong. Ministry is never easy. In fact, I believe evangelizing the lost in our fine city is more difficult in some ways than many pre- or post-Christian cities–or as Barna puts it the “Least Bible-Minded Cities in America.” Here are five reasons I’ve come to that conclusion.

1. Everybody has religion

Okay, so we don’t have a large Atheist community as some cities in post-Christian regions do, but we do have a largely religiously inoculated base we are trying to reach. Many have just enough religion to deem themselves good enough. They may not cuss, chew, or hang with those who do, but in many cases they don’t actively follow Jesus either. There’s no relationship, just religion. They don’t go to church at all. Many blame it on a distaste for organized religion, but they don’t realize all they have is disorganized religion. It’s a dangerous place to be spiritually.

2. Churchianity is still big

Statistics show cultural Christianity is dying quickly across our nation. Those who would identify as “Christian” in the past because of family background and cultural environment, are declaring themselves “nones.” While that may be true nationally, it’s not as true in Chattanooga. Belonging to a church body still offers societal advantages in the scenic city. Whether or not they’ve actually trusted Jesus for salvation is secondary to appearances. Churchianity never saved anyone.

3. False doctrine is pervasive

This is true anywhere. But in Chattanooga, it’s at epidemic proportions. As a part of a ministerial team in the inner-city of Chattanooga, I can personally attest to the fact that some of the biggest alcoholics & drug dealers/addicts in the city are, in fact, “saved.” It’s not my intention to make light of the situation, but evangelizing some of these folks is like beating your head against a wall. They were “once-saved, always saved” as children but haven’t repented or actively followed Jesus in many, many years. And no matter how messy their lives may be, it’s extremely difficult to help them realize that the problem is their ongoing sinful lifestyles.

4. Legalist attitudes have turned many sinners off to the Gospel

Look, all it takes to be saved is turning from sin to Jesus. That’s it. Following Him is the supernatural progression that should take place afterward. But many churches have decided that behavior modification equals or is greater than the Gospel. Placing behavioral change before the Gospel is legalism. Many sinners believe they’ll never be good enough because of this approach. While it’s true that none of us are or ever will be good enough to deserve God’s grace, we must continually reach out as imperfect people pointing other imperfect people to a perfect Saviour.

5. Church-hurt is a major issue

Church-hurt is one of the worst kinds of hurt. It really stings when a minister or fellow-Christian purposely hurts you. Many have sworn off the entire church because of one bad experience. While it’s true that not all church-hurt is intentional, the worst kind usually is. I’ve heard stories of manipulation, lies, and just downright meanness on the part of some ministers and lay-people. From folks being called out from behind a pulpit to secret meetings and cliques, it’s unfortunate that some have chosen to conduct themselves in such a way that brings hurt to people’s lives. And many times it’s much harder to reach someone with deep church-hurt.

I love Chattanooga, Tennessee. I love to minister in our fine city. But we need just as much prayer as the least Bible-minded city in America. Our city is anything but totally redeemed. There are hurting people, sinful lifestyles, and religious walls throughout Chattanooga. Don’t let the “Most Bible-minded city in America” title fool you. We still need Jesus.

Chattanooga: Strong in the Lord

“Finally, my brothers, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For our fight is not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, and against spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” – Ephesians 6:10-13
Mere words cannot accurately portray what I felt Thursday as the news began to present a clearer picture of exactly what happened just a few miles down the road from my place of employment. The words “Chattanooga” and “terrorist attack” just don’t go together. Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined my city undergoing such an horrific event.
Chattanooga, the city that I’ve called home my entire life (even though I’ve lived on the tip of northwest Georgia about a mile from Chattanooga for most of my 33 years), is not supposed to experience this type of thing. A cocktail of emotions like shock, grief, pain, fear, and anger was suddenly thrust upon the city that I love. 
As I sit here still trying to process the reality of what took place in my hometown, nearly 24 hours after the cowardly attack that killed four U.S. Marine soldiers, my mind turns to the scripture at the opening of this blog post. 
We’re going to hear plenty of flesh & blood reactions in the coming hours and days. The investigation will likely reveal more things that make us cringe. There will likely be a massive politicization of the events that took place on 7/16/15. Folks will blame everything from gun laws to Obama to all Muslims. But I will never forget the response of the Church in my city on this day. 
I’ve never been prouder to be a part of the body of Christ in Chattanooga, Tennessee. There were prayer vigils, old fashioned pentecostal prayer meetings, and worship services across the city just hours after the gunman opened fire in two separate parts of our fine city. 
The Church rallied together and said “not in our city.” And really, that’s the biggest story of the day for me. I’ve been a part of the Church in Chattanooga my whole life. I know many Church leaders in our fine city who lead strong, vibrant churches. There are countless men and women who I have always counted on to get a hold of God. Chattanooga is home to many prayer warrirors. So it’s with that background that I understand Thursday’s attack as more than simply a terrorist attack by what appears to be a young Islamic radical. 
Thursday’s attack was not just a strike on our military. It was an attack on a city with a thriving body of Christ. It was an attack on a city that was recently named as one of the most bible conscious cities in America for the second straight year (Barna Group). And we, the Church in Chattanooga, will not take it lying down. 
The Church, one writer of Scripture called it “the pillar and foundation of the truth”. The Church, strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. The Church, this army of prayer warriors who go to battle not with weapons and ammunition, but who fight on our knees pushing back against the evil forces that influence those who pull the trigger. The Church, this triumphant band of men and women who take a stand in this evil day. The Church, this entity that will not allow our citizens to be overrun with fear and intimidation. 
We grieve with those who grieve. We mourn the loss of these incredible soldiers and we pray for the continued recovery of the injured like Chattanooga Police Sergeant Dennis Pedigo who’s heroic actions on Thursday likely saved many more lives.
The Church of Jesus Christ is activated and ready for a fight. The enemy will not take Chattanooga. His cohorts will not cause fear and terror to reign in our streets. Chattanooga belongs to Jesus and we, the Church, will go to battle on our knees to ensure it stays that way.

Planned Parenthood Video: Grieved but not Hopeless

I’m not really sure what to say about the undercover video of a Planned Parenthood senior director discussing the selling of body parts and tissues from aborted babies in between bites of salad and sips of wine.

The only thing that comes to the surface after watching that horrific video is grief. 
I’m grieved that a human being would utter these words in such a nonchalant manner. I’m grieved that our President has lauded the efforts of such a barbaric organization in the past. I am grieved over the U.S. national media’s non-existent response to the story nearly 24 hours after the video surfaced. 
I’m grieved that there are still some Christians, ministers even, who will not speak out about this issue. I’m grieved that there are still some who believe this is more of a political problem rather than a spiritual problem. 

I’m grieved that taxpayer dollars support an organization whose founder, Margaret Sanger, once wrote, “We should hire three or four colored ministers, preferably with social-service backgrounds, and with engaging personalities. The most successful educational approach to the Negro is through a religious appeal. We don’t want the word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population, and the minister is the man who can straighten out that idea if it ever occurs to any of their more rebellious members.”

I’m grieved that anyone with a working brain would defend the barbaric practice of selling any body part or organ of an aborted child for profit. 
I’m grieved that this culture has so quickly fallen into such wicked and selfish behavior. I am grieved over the fact that some still believe electing a Republican for president in 2016 will suddenly fix everything that ills this once great nation. 
I am grieved over the lack of revival in our churches. I am grieved that church attendance has been reduced to 45 minutes to an hour, once a week for many American congregations. 
I am grieved that this wake-up call may only last a few days before we go back to business as usual. 
Yes, I am grieved. But I’m not hopeless. 
Even in my grief, I see the hand of God moving. Even in my grief, I still expect a mighty outpouring of the Spirit on my generation. Even in my grief, I see God raising up prophetic voices to proclaim His name among the heathen. 
Even in my grief over the lostness of humanity, I still believe awakening is coming.  

Same-Sex Marriage: Five Takeaways for the Church from the Supreme Court Decision


With the expected, yet somewhat surprising Supreme Court decision allowing for same-sex marriages in all 50 states, the normal “news dump” Friday turned into a headline-making free-for-all.

Opinions flowed like milk and honey. Some were good. Some were bad. Some were just flat out mean. And I’ll admit, I had to hit the delete button a couple of times myself. It’s real easy to get in the flesh over matters such as this one.
For me, the immediate reaction was that of shock. I really thought, based on Justice Kennedy’s remarks during testimony a few weeks ago, that the court would not rule this way. After the shock gave way, a mood of semi-despair settled in.

After I had some time to reflect on the landmark decision, however, my shock and near despair turned into hope. As I began to read the scriptures and seek the face of God, one word kept coming to mind “opportunity.” With the Holy Spirit’s guidance, I quickly penned down some takeaways that the American Church can utilize going forward.

1. We can stop being surprised at the sheer blindness of humanity

Maybe I’m the only one that seems surprised that rational human beings, even in their lostness, can be so wrong about a subject like uniting two people of the same sex in “holy matrimony.” It’s as if the definition of up was changed to down and left was changed to right seemingly overnight. In my study of Jonah today, I read where God told the prophet, “should I not be concerned about Ninevah, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 people who don’t know their right hand from their left?” (Jonah 4:10)

There are way more than 120,000 people in America who fit that description. If God was concerned, rather than surprised at the wickedness of the city of Ninevah, the Church should focus on the lostness of sinful humanity rather than try to reason with the unreasonable.

2. We can finally come to grips with the fact that America is a pagan nation

This is a hard pill to swallow. The good old U.S. of A. was founded as a Christian nation. America has long been at the top of the list of missionary-sending countries in the world. We have the Bible-belt. Not to mention the substantial Christian-right political machine that has been responsible for getting Republicans elected for decades now.

With this decision, we American Christians should be free to forget the idea that the restoration of America will come via some evangelo-political solution. We are now free take on a similar posture to that of the early Church who “turned the world upside” amidst a hostile, hedonistic culture.

3. It’s time to stand on Kingdom principles rather than place any hope in the Constitution

In case you haven’t noticed, our government no longer regards the singular document upon which this nation was to be ruled. The Supreme Court no longer interprets the law, rather it has become a legislative force that even the finest of legal minds cannot contend with.

If you are looking to the Constitution for hope or help, forget it. Stand on the God’s Word. Nothing more. Nothing less.

4. The light shines better when the darkness is pervasive

“The light shines in darkness, but has not overcome it.” – John 1:5 MEV

It’s dark. Really dark. But we have the light. In fact, we are the light. As the body of Christ, our light can not be overcome by the dark. It’s impossible.

In other words, opportunity is everywhere! We Christians are about to stick out like a sore thumb. In light of that fact, now is the time to understand what a decision of this magnitude means. Now is the time to understand the Kingdom principles I mentioned in point No. 3. Now is the time to allow God to break your heart for the very same people who spent Friday, June 26 celebrating.

“Always be ready to give an answer to every man who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you, with gentleness and fear.” – 1 Peter 3:15 MEV

5. If you have no sense of urgency right now, wake up

The days of “business as usual” are long gone. We can no longer conduct ourselves in a manner that would indicate all is well. All is not well. The leaders of our nation have crossed a line. Judgment is not coming to America. Judgment is already here.

It’s time for the Church to stand up. The house is on fire and millions of Americans are oblivious to the raging inferno in their own living room. It’s only right for us to yell “FIRE!!!!”

Get in the Word. Get into the presence of God. Seek His face. Pray. Plant that church. Start that bible study. Talk to those people God has laid on your heart for weeks.

And do it quickly! It’s not the time to measure that cave for curtains. Don’t hide. For goodness sakes, your church’s tax-exempt status doesn’t matter.

Yes, God has everything under control. But He allows these things to happen to give his people a sense of urgency.

“Blow the ram’s horn in Zion, sound the alarm on My holy mountain! All the inhabitants of the earth will tremble, because the day of the Lord has come, because it is near.” – Joel 2:1 MEV

Opportunity is here!

Hey Church, Let’s talk about Sexual Ethics

The old mantra, “sex sells” has proven true once again. Over Valentine’s Day weekend, “50 Shades of Grey”, the film adaptation of a highly successful erotic novel, netted over $90 Million at the box office. That makes it the second highest opening weekend of any February movie release. Dubbed “mommy porn” by some critics, 50 Shades has been roundly condemned by church leaders across America for its portrayal of an adulterous affair highlighted by sadomasochistic elements that crosses into domestic abuse territory.

Coincidentally, there were two highly publicized reports of sexual exhibitionism across the country over the same weekend that the film opened.

In one story, a man and woman who had just met on a trolley began making out in a very public area of a strip mall in Chula Vista, California. The couple reportedly rolled around on the ground kissing and caressing each other in full view of many people before things got really crazy and well, you can read the rest here.

In another story from the weekend, a couple snuck into a football stadium in Knoxville, Tennessee and reportedly took pictures of their rendezvous, posting them to multiple social media platforms.

What in the world is going on?

I can’t point to the release of 50 Shades and directly link the film’s opening to these acts of indecency, but I can absolutely point to the fact that there’s a spirit of sexual degradation loose in this country.

While there are multiple movements aimed at ending sexual slavery & trafficking, millions support a film portraying and even celebrating the reality of such sexual behavior.

Sadly, many “Christians” helped drive the box office totals for the movie.

Combine all of that with what’s happening with a homosexual agenda that has organizations spending millions on “equality” projects, and you see there’s an all-out war on Biblical sexual ethics.

Seeing the spirit of this age move in such drastic measures to promote deviant sexual behavior, don’t you think it’s time for the church of the living God to lovingly raise its voice on issues of sexuality?

I recently listened to a series on love, marriage, & relationships by a prominent mega-church pastor. He touched on a lot of things, but sadly adultery, fornication, homosexuality, cohabitation, divorce and pornography were not among his chosen topics. Those things didn’t even come up during the course of the weeks-long teaching.

This man has 5,000 or more people on a regular weekly basis in a major metropolitan area of the United States. He’s not the only one either. Others have skirted around the homosexual issue for years. It seems as if skating around the topic of sexual ethics has become a norm in the mega-church setting.

I’m not saying these ministers should stand up and blast homosexuals or those addicted to porn or cohabiting couples, but if the subjects are never even broached in the church setting, how are congregants going to deal with these real-life issues?

Honestly, if a regular attendee is living an immoral lifestyle and hasn’t been confronted with his or her sin through the normal course of Biblical teaching, something is wrong. Just ask the Corinthian church how that ends up.

The church has the key to moral sexuality. God did not gloss over the subject of sex in His word. In fact, God created sex. And with that wonderful gift to humankind, He laid out a set of guidelines and instructions to use it properly. So, it only makes sense that His people, the Church, would talk about sex in the proper context.

No, I’m not talking about being crude in discussing every last detail in a mixed setting, but the Word of God is great at outlining the sexual ethic without having to venture into terribly uncomfortable, explicit detail (even though Leviticus doesn’t spare the minutest detail).

In this ever-increasing sexually immoral society, it’s time for God’s people to speak up and gracefully teach on Biblical sexuality. Pop culture isn’t afraid to teach the masses a distorted message on sexuality. We have God’s answers. The creator of one of the greatest expressions of human love and relationships gave us an owner’s manual on the subject. Shouldn’t we consult it from time to time?

Is the Church ready for the LGBT community?

In recent months, I have searched out every resource I can find to help me better articulate what I believe. I read books and commentaries from the greatest of theological minds. As a lifelong student of the Word, I feel like I can answer just about anyone.

Boy, was I wrong.

I came to that realization when I came across a tweet that floored me, recently. I re-tweeted it and added my own commentary on the subject.

Here, it’s self-explanatory.

This is where I found out just how ready I was to give an answer on a subject that many in the Christian community wish would just go away.

I quickly found myself in multiple debates about everything from the gender non-conformity of a four year old child to LGBT equality.

It was probably my subsequent tweet that lit the fire.

I make no bones about the fact that I believe 100-percent what the Word of God says about homosexual practice. I can fully articulate what and why I believe that, but how in the world do you respond to this?

Before long I found myself in conversations with dozens of LGBT supporting “Christians.” Even the mother of the four year child from the interview conversed with me via Twitter.

I was called out by the writer of the article.

And the mother was quick to try and clarify her point.

I still don’t understand how a rationally thinking human being can say that a boy playing with girls toys and wearing princess garb is an LGBT issue (the story was published on the writer’s blog titled Faithfully LGBT).

I have seen many little boys clog around the church in his mother’s high heels. Does that make an innocent child predisposed to gender non-conformity or a homosexual lifestyle? Of course not.

While part of me wants to lash out and go all Romans 1 on everyone involved, that would do very little to actually address the issue. These folks know the scriptures. Many in the LGBT “Christian” community have learned to twist or dismiss every scripture regarding homosexuality in the Word.

Yet, they’re still a people who God wants us to love. They are still a people for whom Christ died.

We cannot simply leave it at “that’s an abomination” or even my preferred response “that’s a demonic spirit.” We can’t just leave it there and actually reach the people.

For at least four hours over two days, I found myself simultaneously defending God’s Word and attempting to reach out with love and understanding to a handful of people from the LGBT community via Twitter.

The writer of the article later tweeted something that brought a sobering reality to light.

These are real people with real issues and real emotions. It’s more than a simple problem with no feelings attached. Believe it or not, the struggle these folks face isn’t just about sex and lust–as many in the evangelical world have believed for decades.

Kids and adults alike are confused. Some are conflicted with their feelings and emotions. Most feel like complete outcasts, especially when it comes to the Church. Many have taken their own lives.

It’s true that Jesus accepted everyone, but I cannot find one story where anyone left His presence the same way the came. And, I believe, therein lies the answer.

Are we allowing gay people to even come to Jesus? Are we more defensive in our posture toward the homosexual than say the drunkard who can’t seem to keep the victory over the bottle for more than two weeks at a time?

Is there enough room for the Spirit to move within our churches that makes deliverance possible for those who are seeking it? Is there enough grace within our community of believers to make change possible?

Make no mistake, nothing about this issue is easy. From the virulence that exists in the so-called “gay agenda” to the massive amount of hurt and fear that many homosexuals have experienced at the hands of hateful “Christians”, there’s a lot of baggage to work through.

Thankfully, we have a Savior who said,  “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavily burdened, and I will give you rest.“ (Matthew 11:28, MEV)

It’s time we allow God to break our hearts for the gay community. Beyond that, it’s time we allow the Holy Spirit to truly move in our congregations in such a way that the most bound and blind among us can experience lasting freedom.

Note: For more on LGBT and the church, please check out the ministry of Dr. Michael Brown. Dr. Brown faces these issues head-on on his national radio program, In the Line of Fire. He has also written books like A queer thing happened to America and Can you be gay and Christian that serve as real life references for how to handle questions from the gay community while showing love and grace toward them.

The Christmas Story: To Be Continued

He wasn’t coerced, manipulated, bribed, or threatened to leave his lofty throne and live among a bunch of peasants.

This wasn’t some slapdash, haphazard, last minute plan to save humanity. There was no plan B, no alternate ending.

Our Immanuel was not the victim of some cosmic bait & switch in which He would unwittingly become a reluctant sacrifice for all sin. Nor was He some shrewd operator who was promised Universal Kinghood in exchange for His blood.

He was not a Heavenly escapee who would eventually be executed by a vengeful God for His crime.

Israel’s Messiah was not some imitator whose lofty words & claims couldn’t be substantiated.

He didn’t shed His Godhood as a prerequisite for His demotion to earth.

There was nothing spectacular about His earthly parents, His place of birth, or His upbringing.

There was no person, palace, or playground worthy of His presence.

Yet, He came.

In His Heavenly role, there were no restrictions of time and space. On earth, a suit of flesh physically limited His comings and goings.

He was the embodiment of the Word of God¬ spoken from eternity past–ageless, pre-existent, eternal in nature.

He was present at creation.

He walked with Adam, spoke face-to-face with Abraham, wrestled with Jacob, and had conversations with Moses.

He encouraged Joshua; spoke to Job out of a whirlwind, and walked in the midst of a fiery furnace with three Hebrew boys.

However, it was His ministry as the God-man that changed the course of human history.

That was the plan all along.

An angelic host, a handful of shepherds, and some wise men from a far country lauded his incarnation. His very presence threatened governments, religion, and evil.

His adolescence and early adult life are never spoken of, but the world could not contain the amount of books chronicling every event of His final three years of life.

Many celebrated his death, but His resurrection over 2,000 years ago is still the hope of the entire world.

The story didn’t start in a manger. And it didn’t end with an empty tomb.

This Saviour-Messiah’s story is far from finished.

Just as they waited for His first appearance, so we wait with bated breath for the encore.

The next time around, He won’t come to a stable. He won’t be an adorable baby lying in a feeding trough. It won’t take angels, shepherds, or wise men to publicize the event.

The first time He came as Immanuel. The next time we see Him, He’ll be King.

This Christmas, keep Him central. Tell His story. Celebrate His first coming.

But don’t forget, this story is to-be-continued.