Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘church’

crown of thorns with crossJesus Christ welcomes sinners.  He wants us to acknowledge and repent of our sins, but He does not identify us by our sinful desires and inclinations.

It is for this reason that I, a confessional Lutheran, am appreciative of the documentary produced by Blackstone Films to help the Catholic Church share its view on homosexuality.  The film is entitled The Third WayMercatorNet notes that even though it is “not perfect” and features “stereotypical religious” settings, the film is powerfully compelling because of the “authentic, convincing and coherent” voices of seven men and women who live with same-sex attraction.  These men and women  do not deny their personality nor do they argue that same-sex attraction must lead to same-sex lifestyle and same-sex “marriage”.  They confess that homosexuality is a sin even as they confess the struggle to live self-controlled and pure lives.  In the struggle, however, comes joy.  Joy comes when we relinquish our own identity and, in Jesus Christ, see ourselves the way God sees us.

The Word tells us to remember Whose we are and to live accordingly.  In Baptism, Jesus assures our true identity as sons and daughters of God through His sacrificial and redemptive work.  What does this mean?  It means that we are daily called to resist the devil, the world, and our own sinful nature.  It means that we are not common for use by anyone, but uncommon for use in the hands of the holy God.

I am especially appreciative of The Third Way because, for many years, I have been moved by the stories of men and women who were caught in a lifestyle shaped by the lie of a homosexual identity.  Their life experiences and encouragement of the Holy Spirit motivate me to speak Truth on their behalf.  Forgiven of every sin, the repentant sinner stands at the foot of the Cross where we hear Jesus say: Come!  Deny yourself!  Take up your cross and follow Me!  Lose your life and in Me you will find it.  (Matthew 16:24-25).

Please.  Take the time to watch this film.  Its message is for all who are deceived by mistaken identity.

Linda Bartlett is the author of
The Failure of Sex Education in the Church:
Mistaken Identity, Compromised Purity (Amazon)

Read Full Post »

The following post was written by Rebecca Mayes
and posted on He Remembers the Barren~

One of the aspects of barrenness that is so awkward is the fact that the “success” of your marital relations (more modernly called your “sex life”) with your spouse is often scrutinized by those around you, either privately in their own minds, or quite publicly to your face. The joining of two fleshes into one in the bonds of holy matrimony used to be treated with such modesty and respect. No one would dare ask you whether you’re “doing it” right or if you’ve tried such-and-such a method. But the sexual revolution changed all that, and in numerous Christian publications we read that the act is a beautiful, natural part of marriage and there’s nothing to be embarrassed about. We should celebrate our gift of sexuality and teach the children in our Church all they need to know to be prepared for utilizing this gift. But is this what the Bible says? When we blush at the questions about what’s wrong with our reproductive organs, is that for a  good reason, or are we just prudes?

Linda's bookLinda Bartlett, former national president of Lutherans for Life, has just published The Failure of Sex Education in the Church: Mistaken Identity, Compromised Purity, which exposes the myths that our generation, as well as our parents’ and grandparents’ generations, have been taught to believe about what children should know to be prepared for marriage, the marital act, and procreation.

Bartlett begins by giving the necessary history of how the Church,  during the mid-20th century, put too much trust in “experts” instead of the inspired Word of God and willingly traded in our biblical understanding of manhood, womanhood, procreation, parenting, and purity for a more “scientific” approach to teaching children about the intimacies of marriage. Falsified, inaccurate, and even perverted studies on the “sexuality” of the human male and female conducted by Alfred Kinsey were presented to universities, medical associations, and church bodies as facts which could not be ignored by enlightened academics. Christianized versions of the sexual revolution’s message were then (and still are) passed down to schools and parents to share with children.

And just what are some of these myths?

  • Children are sexual from birth.
  • Children should be taught about sex, and with the proper terminologies, beginning in early elementary school.
  • If children are not taught about sex early on, their naiveté could make them prey to sexual predators.
  • Parents aren’t trained to properly teach their children about sex. The schools are the best environments for this to take place.
  • Boys and girls should be taught about puberty and sexuality while in the same classroom, since there’s nothing to be embarrassed about.
  • Sex education will help prevent unplanned pregnancies, STD’s, and abortions.

The Church was naive in its promotion of sex education in the parochial schools, Bartlett points out, but not malicious. We were deceived into believing that we are “sexual from birth,” and this brainwashing had the complete opposite effect on our Church members as what was intended. It cleared the way for the acceptance of fornication, homosexuality, birth control, and even abortion as a normal part of life for those who are simply expressing their sexuality – being who they thought they were created to be.

But that’s not how we were created, Bartlett reminds us. The solution to the mess we are in now is our Baptism. This is where we received our true identities as children of the Heavenly Father, not sexual beings created to express our sexuality, but holy beings, created to live holy (not sexual) lives. “It is important,” Bartlett says, “for the Body of Christ to see each member as fully human as opposed to sexual and, therefore, an instrument for God’s purpose and glory whether a child or adult, single or married, in this circumstance or that,” (pg. 108).

Because Bartlett presents such shocking evidence of our deception, she presents her case in the form of a patient dialogue between herself and her readers, including over 100 questions and then answering almost every objection one could think of to the notion that there is anything wrong with the way the Church has been educating her children. Her love and concern for her Church family flow through each section as she gently reminds us all that, “Even well-intentioned sex education in the Church leans the wrong way if built on the wrong foundation,” (pg. 129).

If you have children, if you teach children, if you are related to children, or if you once were a child, this book is for you.

Read Full Post »

students walking to schoolThere is a lot of concern today about bullying.  I remember being bullied when I was in elementary and middle school.  Most of my friends were bullied in one way or another, too.

But bullying has become a political buzzword used by people with a view of children, marriage, family, education, law, and society that opposes God.

In Minnesota, pastors are rallying to speak against a potential “anti-bullying” bill currently under consideration. A close friend of mine is part of this group of men who not only stand upon the wall but, after sounding the alarm, come down to enter the fray.  My friend is a former missionary to Brazil.  He recognizes spiritual warfare.  He serves today as a missionary to former Soviet-occupied countries in Eastern Europe and Russia.  He is aware of manipulative tactics.  My friend knows how societies can collapse upon themselves when evil is not resisted.

What follows is a portion of the letter being sent to pastors in Minnesota.  Would you please take a moment to read it?  I know it matters to me.  Why?  Because my younger son and daughter live in Minnesota with their young family.  Because many young friends of mine have children in the Minnesota public schools.  And because the state now facing an “anti-bullying” law is neither the first nor the last.  Here’s the letter:

We are accustomed to a culture that has historically supported morality and ethics that have flowed out of our Judeo-Christian heritage.  As we are painfully aware these values are crumbling fast. Perhaps out of some discomfort or habit or fear of upsetting some of our members we have remained silent regarding these issues.  Our silence is now being construed as condoning these issues and of having our young students indoctrinated with yet another destructive immorality.

On the morning of January 30, 2014, a group of pastors will gather to become more educated about the “anti-bullying” bill that will come before our legislators in February of 2014. This educational opportunity is designed for our clergy to get first hand knowledge about a proposed law that will directly and profoundly affect our church members as well as our teachers and administrators in both public and private schools.

Many of us were bullied when we were in grade school, middle school and high school. It really didn’t matter if you were tall or short, fat or skinny. Whether you did or did not wear glasses or braces it really didn’t matter. If you were shy or nerdy, pimple faced or buck teethed you were a target for the bully. Most everyone growing up, for one of these reasons or another, was occasionally harassed, intimidated and in other words bullied.

Today, the word bully is the newest political buzzword. Daily, our teachers and school administrators are bombarded with a barrage of a variety of bulling accusations. A new “anti-bullying” bill has already been written and will most likely be brought before our legislators in February of 2014. However, this bill is NOT about stopping bullying. In this legislation it intentionally excludes traditional bullying and only protects those students who are LGBT (an initialism that stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender). This proposed “anti-bullying” legislation does little to address the universal problem of bullying. Rather, it is disguised as a protection for your child but in reality is just more pressure from the homosexual community pushing their agenda on our culture. You can go to this website and watch a video that will help you better understand what this bill is really about. http://mnchildprotectionleague.com/activist-central/

I have seen the pictures and held the book, It’s Perfectly Normal, by Robbie H. Harris and Michael Emberley, proposed as a part of a curriculum for K-12. You can find it on amazon.com. It has cartoon pictures of grade school children masturbating, naked pictures of young boys and girls, a couple having sex. Why should a 3rd grade boy or girl be exposed to this pornographic material? A pastor would be dismissed if this material were found on his computer.  Yet, Governor Mark Dayton has already agreed to sign House File 826 (HF 826), the proposed “anti-bullying” legislation. Why? Could it be that his real intention is to redefine bullying and to “transform” our educational system? 

Minnesota law already requires schools to implement anti-bullying policies and we have several laws in place to protect every child in our schools. Teachers do not need    another law to follow. Our teachers already have enough to do in the classroom. This bill will only serve to handcuff teachers more and to pit our parents and students against our teachers. What’s more frightening is that this is all done in secret as the parents are not to be informed when their child has been pulled out of the classroom and disciplined for bulling another student. Can this really be true? Yes. I read the proposed bill and that is exactly what it says.

I’m not a citizen of Minnesota.  I suppose I could say that what happens in Minnesota stays in Minnesota.  But I know better, don’t you?

So, I am speaking up… not against people but against ungodly ideas.  Followers of Christ are not called to change the world, but we are called to resist evil and choose life.  The impact is generational.

Read Full Post »

praying womanEzerwoman has sadly neglected her blog this year.  Two years ago, she began a project that had, in reality, been taking shape for twenty years or more.  Ezerwoman prays that the work will soon be completed.  If God so blesses the effort, then Ezerwoman will share the news with you.

An ezer is a helper.  This ezer strives to help and encourage men and women, but also the Church.  Would you please pray that this helper receives the help of the Holy Spirit?  Truly, the Holy Spirit is The Helper, Encourager, and Counselor.

As for all the rest of you ezerwomen — you helpers of husbands, children, parents, siblings, friends and neighbors — may God grant you wisdom, desire for holiness, and strength to shine light into the dark places of this world.  Sons and daughters of God in Jesus Christ anticipate His return for us but, while we wait, we affect the culture one life at a time.

See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ (COLOSSIANS 2:8).

Read Full Post »

John StonestreetIn my vocation of helper, I sometimes have to do difficult things.  It’s not easy for me as a Christian to point out that the Church has failed the culture, but it has.  Keith Getty’s song “In Christ Alone” and Rachel Held Evans’ blog on why the millennials are leaving the church were already added to my Facebook page.  John Stonestreet’s commentary reminds us that Jesus — as He defines Himself and what He has done for us — is all that matters.  Thank you, sir!  As for the rest of you, tell me.  Do you agree with John who writes:

Recently, the Presbyterian Church (USA) dropped the hugely popular hymn, “In Christ Alone,” from its hymnal after its authors, Keith Getty and Stuart Townend, refused to omit a reference to Jesus satisfying the wrath of God.

In a powerful response over at First Things, which we’ll link to at BreakPoint.org, Colson Center chairman Timothy George quotes Richard Niebuhr who, back in the 1930s, described this kind of revisionist Protestantism as a religion in which “A God without wrath brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a cross.”

The response from the PCUSA, that their problem was not with God’s wrath but with the idea that Christ’s death satisfied God’s wrath, doesn’t change the fundamental problem of what George calls “squishy” theology. Theology is supposed to be true, not palatable.

Along these lines, maybe you’ve seen the recent viral opinion piece on CNN by my friend, Christian blogger and author Rachel Held Evans. In it, Evans offers her answers to the truly important question, “why are millennials leaving the Church?”

To counter the exodus of young people from American churches, Evans says it’s time to own up to our shortcomings and give millennials what they really want—not a change in style but a change in substance. The answer to attracting millennials, she writes, is NOT “hipper worship bands” or handing out “lattés,” but actually helping them find Jesus.

Amen. I couldn’t agree more.

Then she goes on, “[the Church is] too political, old-fashioned, unconcerned with social justice and hostile to [LGBT] people.” Well, okay—anytime political programs co-opt our faith, or we ignore the needy and fail to love those with whom we disagree, we do the Gospel of Christ great harm.

But when she writes that attracting millennials to Jesus involves “an end to the culture wars,” “a truce between science and faith,” being less “exclusive” with less emphasis on sex, without “predetermined answers” to life’s questions, now I want to ask–are we still talking about the Jesus of biblical Christianity?

The attempt to re-make Jesus to be more palatable to modern scientific and especially sexual sensibilities has been tried before. In fact, it’s the reason Niebuhr said that brilliant line that I quoted earlier.

He watched as the redefining “Jesus Project” gave us mainline Protestantism, which promotes virtually everything on Evans’ list for millennials. The acceptance of homosexuality, a passion for the environment, prioritizing so-called “social justice” over transformational truth are all embodied in denominations like the United Methodist Church, the Episcopal Church and the Presbyterian Church (USA).

But religious millennials aren’t flocking to mainline Protestant congregations. Mainline churches as a whole have suffered withering declines in the last few decades—especially among the young. What gives?

Well, in an another essay which appeared in First Things over twenty years ago, a trio of Christian researchers offered their theory on what’s behind the long, slow hemorrhage of mainline Protestant churches:

“In our study,” they wrote, “the single best predictor of church participation turned out Newsletter_Gen_180x180_B to be belief—orthodox Christian belief, and especially the teaching that a person can be saved only through Jesus Christ.” This, said the researchers, was not (and I add, is still not) a teaching of mainline Protestantism. As a dwindling denomination rejects a hymn which proclaims salvation “in Christ alone,” this research sounds prophetic.

Evans is right that evangelical Christianity is responsible in many ways for the exodus of millennials. But ditching the Church’s unpalatable “old-fashioned” beliefs to become more “relevant” to the young won’t bring them back.

Read Full Post »

“It’s hard to imagine two stranger organizational bedfellows,” writes Marvin Olasky, Editor in Chief of WORLD magazine (WORLD exclusive, July 14, 2012).  Olasky is referring to the partnership between the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) and the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.  The partnership is not only “strange” but unnatural because it attempts to blend two opposing worldviews.

Founded in 1942, the NAE is a pro-life, Christian organization of more than 40 denominations whose motto is: “Cooperation Without Compromise.”  The Campaign, founded in 1996, is a secular organization devoted to promoting contraceptive use by the unmarried.  “The National Campaign is zealous,” writes Olasky.  “When conservatives this year tried to reduce funding for Planned Parenthood and similar groups, the lead story on the Campaign’s newsletter began, ‘The U.S. House of Representatives recently voted to increase teen and unplanned pregnancy.’”

Before Olasky’s article entitled “Strange Bedfellows” was published, I was aware that he was investigating a multi-year $1 million grant given by the Campaign to the NAE in 2008.  The Campaign itself, notes Olasky, has received grants from abortion advocates and contraception pushers.  For more details, I encourage you to read Olasky’s articles in WORLD (7-14-12, pp. 9-11, 88).

So, what’s going on here?  Why would pro-life Christians accept help from people who seek to promote contraceptive use by unmarried people?  Who advocate abortion?  I think it is because Christians have been deceived.  We have been deceived by one question: “Did God really say . . . ?”  (Do you hear that hissing sound?)  Did God really say that male and female are set apart for holy purpose?  That sex is not just something two people are going to participate in – married or not – because they can’t help it?

Once deceived, we believe the lie.  What is the lie?  That we are “sexual from birth.”

Olasky’s article exposes a problem.  Something goes awry whenever Christians accept help from those with an opposing worldview.  We become “strange bedfellows” with non-believing neighbors in the land whenever we “evolve” away from God’s Word.  In this case, the NAE is doing the very thing it says it will not do.  It is compromising Biblical faith in the area of sexuality, I think, for two reasons.

It appears that the NAE has determined for itself what is right and wrong.  It has aligned itself with false teachers.  When approached in the Garden by the serpent, a flattered Eve not only spoke for God, she added words of her own to His.  Putting ourselves in God’s place is dangerous.

Secondly, it appears that the NAE, having been deceived, now thinks itself wise.  Wisdom, however, does not come from the world, but through fear of God.  False wisdom believes the lie that we are “sexual from birth.”   Clinging to such “wisdom,” sexual promiscuity – with all of its consequences – increases.  Since we can’t help being the “sexual” beings we are, we’ll just have to rely on the corner drug store.  Deception leads us to rationalize.  Tempted to think that unmarried people will naturally exercise their sexuality, Christians are deceived into justifying provision for the “lesser of two evils.”  NAE President Leith Anderson responded to Olasky, saying, “The Church is understandably reluctant to recommend contraception for unmarried sexual partners, given that it cannot condone extramarital sex.  However, it is even more tragic when unmarried individuals compound one sin by conceiving and then destroying the precious gift of life.”  Many of us may agree with Anderson.

Are we trapped between a rock and a hard place?  What can we do?  I propose that we stop listening to false teachers.  We are not, first and foremost, sexual beings.  We are human beings called to live out our lives as male or female.  Although fallen from God’s perfect image, we are still created with His attributes, not the attributes of animals.  This is what our children need to hear.

The Christian community will better serve a modern culture by remembering how revolutionary we really are.  “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” by His will, not through sexual behavior.  This was a radical worldview for all the neighbors of the Israelites.  This is still a radical worldview in today’s society.  Historically, the Judeo-Christian view of human life, marriage, and procreative sex was a revolutionary idea that de-sexualized God and religion.  “I Am” stood in contrast to “gods” who engaged in sex with other gods and humans.  Judeo-Christianity introduced the concept of holiness.  It contrasted a life of purity with a life captive to sensuality.   It sanctified the procreative act of sex and connected men to wives, home and generational faithfulness.  “The sexual genie,” writes Dennis Prager, “was forced into the marital bottle.”

God’s own people have always been given opportunity to affect the culture.  But, considering ourselves wiser than God, we become foolish.  Foolish into captivity.  The Israelites were captive in Babylon for so long that generations forgot the Truth and became comfortable with their environment.  When the Israelites were told they could return to their homeland where they could rebuild Jerusalem, very few wanted to go back to “old ways.”  I fear we, too, have grown comfortable with our environment.  Deceived, we believe the lie… and cling to wrong identity

How many times have we told that we are “sexual” beings?  When does God define us that way?   He doesn’t.  Instead, God sets us apart as a people all His own.  We struggle with the “old man” in us, but our Baptism in Christ makes us new every morning. We are not bound by passions of ignorance, but called to reflect our Creator.  God is holy (not sexy) (1 Peter 1:14-16).  We are “His own possession” equipped to “proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you” (1 Peter 2:9).  We are strengthened to “abstain from the passions of the flesh which wage war against our souls” here on earth (2:11).  God warns us away from sensuality, but never does God tell His people to stop living their lives as male and female.

We want to make abortion unthinkable.  But, abortion – and new definitions of marriage and family — will always be thinkable for people who see themselves as “sexual from birth.”  Such deception brings us dangerously close to idolatry.  Exchanging the Truth for a lie, we worship the creature rather than the Creator.  At that moment, we are vulnerable to Satan, the world, and our own sensual flesh.

Sex does not have to dominate society.  God-ordained institutions of marriage and family can build a vibrant civilization.  The innocence of children can be guarded.  Men and women can complement one another.  It begins with fear of God rather than trust in fickle hearts and weak flesh.  Even in marriage, husbands and wives are called to more than a sexual relationship, but a partnership as good stewards over all that God has entrusted to them and a life that anticipates Jesus’ return.  Anticipating Jesus, men and women – married or not — do best to see themselves as God sees them.  To be distinctively different from the world.  To be vessels for honorable use.

Our purpose in this world flows from our identity as God’s holy people.  So, let us avoid “strange bedfellows” and affect the culture with true wisdom (1 Corinthians 2:5).

Read Full Post »

The Manhattan Declaration is a historic proclamation promoting the sanctity of human life, traditional marriage, and religious liberty.  Within a short time after it was released in November of 2009, 500,000 Christians from multiple denominations signed the document.  I am among those Christians.  Co-authors of this document include Charles Colson.  He writes,

“Christianity is more than a religion.  And it is more than a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  Christianity is an all-encompassing worldview that shapes how we think and how we live in the world.  It could not be otherwise.”

Colson continues, quoting from God’s Word in John: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.  Word,” writes Colson, “is the English translation of the Greek Logos.  And as a translation, Word falls far short of the richness and totality of Logos.  For Greek speakers (like St. John) all the way back to Plato and beyond, Logos meant ultimate reality, all that was known or could be known, the glue that holds the universe together.

“Jesus Christ,” confesses Colson, “is more than a founder of a religion.  He is more than my personal savior (and I thank God every day that He is).  He is the Logos . . .  If Christ cries out ‘Mine’ about every aspect of life – medicine, music, literature, science, family, law, politics, and so on – then we, the Church when we look at every aspect of life, must cry out ‘HIS’!”

The faithful Christian has both the duty and privilege of bringing Christ’s truth to bear on every aspect of life.  And, says Colson and the authors of The Manhattan Declaration, right now “is a vitally important time to do so.”  Why?  Because we are witnessing a “titanic struggle between two antithetical worldviews: secular naturalism and Christianity.  The one side holds there is no God, that we humans are nothing but . . . glorified germs whose ancestors arose from the primordial soup.  The other holds that God created the universe, that His physical and moral laws are observable and knowable, and that He created man in His image – endowing man with a sacred dignity . . ..”

Colson notes that “we see the struggle all around us: in the classroom, in the courtroom, and on Capitol Hill.  If man is nothing special, then why not abortion?  Why not cloning?  Why not experiment with human embryos?  If there is no moral law, no ultimate truth, why not ‘same-sex marriage’?  Why not enshrine individual preference as the ultimate arbiter of human conduct?  Why not borrow money you cannot repay – and who really cares how that might impact others?”

The Manhattan Declaration is grounded in Scripture and the creeds all Christians confess.  It is a “wake-up call to the Church.”  It focuses on three issues: the sanctity of human life, marriage, and religious freedom.  Why not other pressing issues such as social justice or the environment?  Because, explains Colson, “these three issues are so foundational, so critical, that every other Christian concern – indeed, every human concern – flows out of them.”

Colson explains, “It is the belief in the sacredness of human life that led the early Church to fight the Roman practice of infanticide and abortion; it is this belief that put Christians in the forefront of fighting slavery; it is this belief that led Christians to lead in the promotion of civil rights.  And, today, it is this belief that has charged Christians to fight human trafficking all around the globe.  The sanctity of human life is the foundation of true social justice.”

The Manhattan Declaration proclaims, “Marriage — is the first institution of human society – indeed, it is the institution upon which all other human institutions have their foundation.”  Colson notes, “It is the bedrock institution that no society can survive without.”

The third foundational issue is religious freedom, or freedom of conscience.  It is under assault every day.  It might be the Methodist camp losing its tax-exempt status because it refused to allow a “same-sex marriage” ceremony or the Catholic adoption agency threatened from its ministry because it wouldn’t place orphaned children with same-sex couples.  It might be the steadfast refusal of Congress to protect the religious freedom of medical providers in the current debate of health care “reform” legislation.  “More is coming,” writes Colson.  “These are not political issues.  These are profoundly moral issues that affect the common good.”

How can we love God and serve our neighbor by sitting idly by?  As human dignity, marriage, and religious freedom are under increasing assault, will you visit The Manhattan Declaration to read, prayerfully sign, and then share with others?

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »