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Now that we Christians have had a few days to cool our jets a bit, we can reposition and recalibrate ourselves. Events like those transpiring last Friday provide opportune times of reminder for God’s people of our mission. When some of the more powerful human courts in the world express their fallenness, and the grandstands of culture erupt in praise, Christians are handed an occasion to be reminded of what we’re doing here on earth.

Humanity is still fallen. Jesus is still risen. Christians are still commissioned.

Being bestowed with every spiritual blessing from heaven means we have a responsibility to be a blessing on earth. One helpful place to go for biblical instruction on the matter is the Apostle Paul’s exhortation to the Colossian church. These believers lived in a culture which clashed with the biblical worldview. Things like homosexuality and unfriendly political stances were the norm. So, how did God, through the pen of the Apostle, shepherd his people to respond?

“Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person” (Col. 4:5-6).

Overall, the idea is that when lost people do what lost people do, God keeps his church in their midst, as fellow-sinners (who have been saved by Christ), in order to wisely and humbly interact for his glory and their salvation.

Here are a few reminders to help us respond wisely as we live among the lost:

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I’ve been checking my Facebook newsfeed more in the past few days than I have in the last couple months combined, and I’m filled with sadness over the response of some people I thought were Christians, but have obviously departed from the Gospel. I’m super thankful for my old pastor and his thoughts, as well as my current pastor and his video. But I’ve also been concerned about the response of other Christians.

As I was watching people’s responses and examining my own angry thoughts about the SCOTUS decision, I couldn’t help but think what is the purpose in what we are posting and saying? What is our goal? Are we trying to avoid persecution? Are we trying to convince people that we are being mistreated? Are we trying to evangelize? Can anyone come to faith by our giving crafty arguments against same-sex marriage?  Continue Reading…

flagWhat the Supreme Court of the United States did last week was simply play catch-up with the many other countries that were ahead of it in the headlong pursuit of institutionalized ungodliness. South Africa’s constitution, for one sad example, protects not only same-sex marriage but also polygamy and late-term abortion.

Many other “enlightened” nations have come full circle. Having previously embraced Christian morality, and enjoyed centuries of resultant civil, educational, and legal progress, they have now begun to pine for the leeks and onions of their Egyptian slave masters who at least didn’t tell them who they could marry.

Denmark, the Netherlands, and other post-reformation societies have shrugged off the fuddy-duddy conservatisms of their puritanical forefathers and have lapped up regurgitated libertarianism artificially flavored as avant-garde progressiveness.

The USA is like a body guard of the Church. The problem is that when America shows up at the party, that means there is no one left outside to guard the door.

I can’t improve on the insight of John Piper’s jeremiad when he laments,

My sense is that we do not realize what a calamity is happening around us. The new thing — new for America, and new for history — is not homosexuality. … What’s new is not even the celebration and approval of homosexual sin. Homosexual behavior has been exploited, and revelled in, and celebrated in art, for millennia. What’s new is normalization and institutionalization. This is the new calamity.”

It isn’t easy for Christians to identify a silver lining to Friday’s ruling that is worth celebration; unless you’re a premillennialist.

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Michael S. Williamson—The Washington Post/Getty Images http://time.com/3938935/white-house-rainbow-gay-marriage-decision/

For many decades the LGBT movement has worked tirelessly in effort to fundamentally transform America’s conscience with regards to sexuality and gender.  This has been achieved, in large part, with direct assistance from Hollywood.  In a Hollywood Reporter article from 9/25/14 Natalie Jarvey wrote, “Gay couples? Gay kisses? Yawn. New sexual boundaries are being broken as Amazon’s ‘Transparent’ is the latest to tackle a once-taboo topic.”  Long before Bruce Jenner decided to go public with his transgender decision the path had already been paved for him.  In my judgment, a ‘team effort’ strategy during a sweeping “moral revolution” is what helped advance the LGBT cause so rapidly.

Our LGBT friends need to remember that not too long ago many/most “Liberal/Progressive” politicians actually campaigned in favor of traditional marriage (take Bill and Hillary Clinton for example).  The night before his presidential election victory in 2008, then candidate Obama said, “Marriage is between a man and a woman.” I do not support same sex same weddings though I do oppose California Proposition 8.  Much has changed in seven short years (and much has not).

If I were to summarize the LGBT strategy I would highlight six simple words: Desensitize, Normalize, Demonize, Legalize, Idolizeand for some, Victimize (or you could say Penalize)!  It is remarkable in some ways that less than 4% of the population has effectively influenced the Supreme Court into changing the “legal definition” of marriage (ultimately no human court has the authority to redefine what God designed).

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Photo credit: Annie Leibovitz: Vanity Fair

Now before you dismiss this article outright as coming from one of those “angry Baptist preachers” I would encourage you to at least consider the real life examples that are listed below.

The goal of this post is not to call on Christians everywhere to boycott Hollywood and Starbucks.  Every Spirit-filled believer has to make their own Biblically informed decisions as to what they are going to watch, listen to, and read.  Unlike some pastors, I do not believe that Christian liberty should not be taken away from believers just because it is regularly abused (for more on what the Bible teaches concerning grey area decisions consider this, this, and this). I for one take my wife to a restaurant owned by a gay chief, have gay friends, still enjoy Starbucks, hope to take my children to Disneyland one day, and occasionally go to the movie theater- but now I digress.

How did we get here?  Contrary to popular opinion, TV shows and movies are almost never “agenda-less” entertainment.  People write books and movie scripts with a certain worldview and with specific goals in mind.  My blog is no different.  I have a Christian worldview.  As such I believe that the Bible is the final authority in all matters of faith and practice.  I try and convince my small “audience” to follow the clear teachings of Scripture as an expression of love for Christ (John 14:15).

Back to the widespread influence of Hollywood.  Neal Postman observed correctly long ago that many Americans are simply “amusing themselves to death.”  This means that most church kids know far more about the entertainment world then the world of the Bible.  They know the lyrics of secular songs far better then they know lyrics of most sacred songs. They spend more time watching TV/movies then just about anything else.  In view of this, as my Greek professor often said, “We need to be aware so we can beware.”

Suffice it to say, the amount of TV shows that promote the LGBT agenda are too numerous to count.  Here is a VERY small sampling: Continue Reading…

scotus_marriage-blog480In a historic, Romans 1-esque move today, the United States Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that the 14th Amendment requires all 50 states to issue marriage licenses for same-sex couples and recognize those marriages performed in other states.

Among professing Christendom, there has been everything from shock, outrage, fear, and indifference. Whatever our response, surprise must not be one of them and anchoring in God’s word must be all of them. In addition to what the Cripplegate has previously said on this issue, here are a few things for us to keep in mind in light of the Supreme Court’s ruling:

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AtonementThroughout church history, there have been various views and theories that conceptualize the nature of Christ’s work on the cross. Because the atonement runs to the very heart of the Gospel, it’s important for us to know how people throughout the history of the church have understood the work of Christ, and to be able to test each by Scripture. Today, I want to briefly survey and evaluate some of the main theories of the atonement.

The Ransom Theory

First, there is what is known as the ransom, or classic, theory of the atonement. Also termed Christus Victor, this theory regards Christ’s atonement as accomplishing a victory over the cosmic forces of sin, death, evil, and Satan. Proponents of the ransom view believe that in the cosmic struggle between good and evil and between God and Satan, Satan had held humanity captive to sin. Therefore, in order to rescue humanity, God had to ransom them from the power of Satan by delivering Jesus over to him as an exchange for the souls held captive. Proponents of the ransom theory often appeal to Jesus’ statement that He came to give His life as a ransom for many (Matt 20:28; Mark 10:45).

Though Christ did give His life as a ransom for many, and though His death did indeed disarm the powers of darkness (Col 2:15), rendering powerless the devil who had the power of death (Heb 2:14), this view of the atonement affords more power to Satan than he actually has. Satan has never been in any position to make demands of God. Instead of this, Scripture makes it clear that Jesus paid the price on behalf of sinners to ransom them from the just punishment of God’s holy wrath (Rom 5:9). In the deepest sense, Jesus saved us from God, not merely the power of sin and Satan.

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Yesterday I looked at how the New Testament describes the office of a deacon. Today I want to argue this point: the Bible describes women as holding this office, and the church should follow the New Testament’s example in similarly recognizing women who are exceptional servants by identifying them as deacons.

The qualifications for deacons are listed in 1 Timothy 3:8-13. The key verse for this discussion is right in the middle: verse 11 says, “Women must likewise be dignified, not malicious gossips, but temperate, faithful in all things.”

There are four different views on this verse, and I want to explain why I don’t find the first three interpretations convincing before defending what I think is the biblical view.   Continue Reading…

There are three offices described in the New Testament for a local church: elders, deacons, and members. While most evangelical churches agree on the identification of elders and members, there remains much confusion about deacons.

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In some smaller churches, the pastor is considered the elder, and the plurality of godly male leaders who work with the pastor are called deacons. In this sense, the word deacon is used almost synonymously with elder. In other churches, deacons are considered elders-in-training. Future elders are drawn from the deacons, and deacons exercise leadership, just not quite at an elder level. In this context, deacons are like elders-lite. Both of these approaches really miss the biblical model for deacons. Continue Reading…

Any time a pastor falls my heart sinks. It is gut wrenching. Especially when it is someone that is loved by many people I admire. I can’t tell you how many hours I’ve spent listening to people write onwrite on, or preach on the new-antinomianism debate. While I bet the temptation is strong for some people to say I told you so, (and I think it might be helpful for us to go back and listen to their warnings) whenever things like these happen, it is always a huge reminder about my own sinfulness and my need to re-examine my own qualifications for ministry. In Scripture, we are taught that when elders fall that they should be rebuked publicly for all to learn from and while I do not want to rebuke Tullian publicly (nor should I), I do take situations like this to examine my own heart and to remind myself that I am capable of incredible evil. This is a reminder that when I went to seminary, I decided to do something that is dangerous. To be preachers of God’s word is the greatest calling on earth but it is also dangerous. So here are ten personal lessons/reminders from this incredibly sad situation.

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Augustus GloopOliver Twist could hardly be accused of gluttony when he voiced his politely audacious request, “Please sir, I want some more.” But an identical demand from the overstuffed mouth of young Augustus Gloop, the obese candy addict in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, would elicit a call for temperance from any dietician worth her salt.

Gluttony is not that peckish sensation of wanting seconds when you haven’t had enough food to satisfy your hunger; it’s the sin of unrestrained overconsumption. Gluttony is thus the kissing cousin of drunkenness.

Proverbs 23:20-21 Be not among drunkards or among gluttonous eaters of meat, for the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty, and slumber will clothe them with rags.

A temperate enjoyment of food and fermented beverage is heartily commended in Scripture (see Deut 14:26; Eccl 9:7; 1 Tim 4:3-4). However, Scripture decries dissolute overindulgence of any sort as a sub-Christian, feckless deficiency in self-control (Eph 5:18; 1 Tim 3:8; Titus 1:12).

What makes gluttony such a difficult topic to fit into our theology, is that identifying the sin is not as obvious as one might expect. It seems axiomatic that the corpulence of a person’s waistline is inversely proportional to their self-control—the less you can curb your appetite the more holes on your belt you’ll need to bypass. And it likewise seems as plain as a pikestaff that a thin person must possess unwavering gastronomic discipline. But this rudimentary “eyeballing it” assessment can actually prove quite misleading.

A metabolically fortunate individual may imbibe calories like a vacuum cleaner, while a person endowed with the metabolism of a hibernating bear turns asparagus into cellulite without breaking a sweat. Thyroid malfunction is another common cause of unavoidable weight gain, while myriad diseases incite unwanted weight loss. There simply is no universal visible indicator of the sin of overindulgence. Or you might say, there is no test that’s one-size-fits-all.

A glutton could be thin, and a nil-per-mouth could be portly. The people of Jesus’ day understood this. The Pharisees accused him of being a glutton and a drunkard (Matt 11:19), presumably despite his physical appearance, not because of it. It is highly doubtful that Jesus was a man of girth—it would have taken a long while to simply recover from his emaciating forty day fast, especially in light of his exceedingly ambulant itinerary.

That said, there is also a hefty probability that many Christians in our churches are succumbing to the temptation of intemperance in their eating habits. Pastor Rick Warren recently admitted that the idea for his enormously popular dieting program, The Daniel Diet, came to him while baptizing an exhaustingly long line of inordinately corpulent congregants. (We’ll overlook that Daniel’s diet made him fatter, not thinner. See Dan 1:15).

The sin of gluttony is invisible in our churches in that we intentionally ignore it.

Here are five possible reasons why:

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