It is always amazing to me how the Lord providentially puts us in a text that fits perfectly with issues in our world. That was certainly true this past Sunday. The plan was to look at what it means for us, as God’s children, to represent Him in this world. And then January 6th happened…more on that in a moment. But throughout last year, there was a genuine concern of our elder board that we, as Christians, need to be reminded of what it means to represent Jesus in this world. And that’s why 2 Corinthians 5 is such a great place to go to talk about that. And…we just so happened to land on that this past Sunday, right after a tumultuous week.
Thoughts on Sunday:
First, it was really good to see many in the 1st service who had not been at church since last March. I was thrilled with the fact that many who regularly went to 1st service, masked up for others and some from 2nd service, came to 1st. So, thank you to all of you who made sure that people were welcomed. The attendance for that service was wonderful.
Second, the 2nd service singing was so loud that our sound guys couldn’t hear what the sound system was putting out in their head phones! It was that loud and it was amazing. And, I don’t know about you, but “Holy, Holy, Holy” at the end of the worship set was a great song to end on.
Third, our church’s receptivity to God’s word continues to amaze me. I am incredibly challenged by our church to preach sound doctrine and to study “to rightly handle the Word of Truth.” And, I’m incredibly encouraged by the words of appreciation from those in our church. Yesterday was a good example. It was a challenging word. The text demanded exhortation and the times require us to seriously challenge ourselves from this text. Yet, several folks spoke to me or texted me afterward about how much they appreciated the sermon.
Finally, I say this with all humility and desire to serve you. If you’re listening to a sermon and you disagree with something (especially on cultural issues), please do not hesitate (after Sunday), to shoot me an email or ask to talk about it. I realize that I’m opening myself up a little but, but I realize that there are so many disagreements and cultural challenges right now, that I’d rather us talk about it than assume where one stands or possibly misinterpret where one stands.
Thoughts on last week:
I very rarely write here about what concerns that I have about what’s transpiring in our world and nation. But today, I think I need to clarify my comments from Sunday and express more fully my challenge.
First, I want to say this clearly…I am incredibly grateful for being born in the USA. I am a proud American. I love my country and am the man I am today because of the grace of God and the freedoms that I’ve experienced in this nation. And I don’t think there is anything wrong with being proudly American (or Australian, Russian, Korean, no matter where your “homeland” is). I actually believe we see this attitude in Paul. In Romans 9:3, he speaks of his love for his “kinsman”, his “brothers” “in the flesh” and his desire for them to come to faith in Christ. Paul spoke of being “of the people of Israel” in Philippians 3:4 and there doesn’t seem to be any shame for him being of an Israelite. Nor do I think we should be ashamed to be American. And I think we should have the same passion to see our fellow countrymen (and women) come to faith in Christ and the same passion to see our nation repent of her sins (abortion tops my list). So, I want that to be clear.
But I also want to say that what I’m most concerned with is Christians, in America, taking things farther than God has called us to do to represent Him in this world. In loving America, it is critically important that we realize that this earthly place, is not our “true” home. It’s not the city that “has foundations whose designer and builder is God” (Hebrews 11:10). I’m seeing some Christians, literally lay down the call of Christ of representing Him well and share the hope of the gospel and its implications with others with gentleness and respect, and instead pick up the world’s methods/weapons trying to do what they think is “God’s” work.
And this concerns me for us, at CLF, not because our folks do this, but because of how confusing it is. I am incredibly proud of the way our church has navigated through this trying time. For the most part, the majority of our folks have looked to Christ, treated others graciously, and have represented the gospel well. So, these concerns are more broad based and are not aimed at anyone in particular. These are just thoughts of what I’m seeing in the culture and I’m hoping will be used to equip you, at CLF, to serve your friends and neighbors.
So, with that in mind, January 6, 2021, in my opinion, will go down as one of the black marks in US history. I don’t understand why people did what they did on that day, but it was a day that happened and we all need to adjust ourselves to that fact. It was the first breach on the Capitol since 1814. There was a bombing of the Senate building in 1983, but not under the weight of history that January 6 had on it. January 6, 2021 was an attempt, by militants, to stop or slow down the electoral college count And to be honest, it doesn’t matter if who you think infiltrated the building, the issue of storming the Capitol should concern us deeply.
With January 6th in the backdrop, here are some concerns I have, in no particular order:
- I’m concerned about the hypocrisy on both sides of the aisle. Those who claim to be on the left, called this a riot, but didn’t call the happenings this past summer by the same term. And those who claim to be on the right, called for law and order in the summer, yet disobeyed law and order on January 6th. It seems that if violence fits within your narrative, it’s ok but if it doesn’t, then it’s a riot. Well, as Christians, we must call sin, sin, no matter who or what agrees with our political position. Political affiliations are less important that our standards as Christians.
- I am deeply concerned about the rise in violence, the attitude of ‘might means right’, or of mob rule, that’s happening in our nation. The cultural weapons currently are: canceling, storming federal buildings, violence, and loud screaming/cursing/condemning. We’ve lost something in our nation. At the foundation of our republic is the ability to calmly and willingly to hear other positions with respect. I believe that’s an idea and principle founded in God’s Word. And to be honest, this is what I’m concerned about for the Christian community right now…the power of the gospel, spoken and lived; the quiet/peaceful/loving lifestyles of Christians; the respect/gentle leadership of showing people how to dialogue and disagree, all seem to be the way God does His work. It’s through the constant, delicate, gentle “nudging of the rudder”, that God moves societies and cultures. Our republic is based on this principle: the way mature people deal with injustice, is to make our case in the market place of ideas, fight in the judicial system, and if all of that fails, re-gather ourselves for the next fight…because the next one is coming.
- I think John MacArthur’s caution to that White House staffer in the early 2000’s is really critical. We cannot turn the mission field into the enemy. I think we’re on the verge of doing that. Right now, if you sit down with someone and declare who you voted for (on either side) or what you think of current events, there is an immediate reaction. This is sin leading the way and the enemy of our souls working to divide us. We, as Christians, must lead the way in making sure that the mission field is not turned into the enemy. We can disagree with grace and if possible with us, we should try be at peace with everyone. It takes work; it takes getting out from behind our phones, computers, and devices and looking people in the eye; it takes serving, sacrificing, and showing Christ’s love to our neighbors.
- This is why I’ve been appealing to you, CLF, to stop ranting on social media, if you are. I’m concerned that Christians are creating enemies of the mission field. So, here’s an idea or tip: if you’ve got information that you want to share that you know is out of the norm or controversial, share it with friends via email or a text, not on the cesspool of social media. But, if you’ve got an encouraging word, a funny story, or want to share a family memory, do that on social media. Personally, and this is just me, I don’t want lots of people knowing what I’m doing or even what I think is funny. I’d rather share that with those closest to me. And, if I get information that is outside the normal narratives, I like to send that to people who are smarter than me to check the sources and push back on the opinions of that information because I find that it helps to sharpen me. Now, I realize that we need to work to “redeem” all aspects of the culture and social media is one of those areas But if we’re going to do that, I think we should be more gracious, respectful, and kind in our comments online, especially since tone, volume, facial expressions, and other things cannot be seen/heard through written forms.
- I want to say this with lots of care…please be careful what you’re filling your minds with right now. The news cycle is addicting and as mentioned, the news is not always very factual or clear. But, compare lots of news side-by-side to get a more clear perspective. My friend, Bill Heard, said it’s critical to compare it with 5-7 other sources. And then, you’ve got to work on being objective. As an example: if several different sources mention something different than what you believe, you need to take time to think your position through more thoroughly.
- Finally, I’ve wondered quite a bit over the past few months what it was like when there was no TV, radio, or social media. People lived quieter, calmer, more peace-filled lives. And that doesn’t mean that there weren’t problems in the world. What all the sources of media have done to us is make us more informed and social media has now given all of us the opportunity to share our opinions. And to be honest, I don’t think it’s been good for us. I wonder if we should become more local, more family oriented, serve those close to us, love a few people deeply, be faithful/responsible, and not be so loud about it or be as concerned/worried/fearful of what we see going on globally (even though that will effect us locally). It’s just a thought and something I’ve been working on in my own heart and life.
News Review-2 Ladies in our Church!
Hey, take a look at these articles, written by 2 ladies in our church. Congrats Lacey & Aurora!!
Coming up next:
This coming Sunday, we will look at Romans 6:5-14, and God’s call on us, as His children, to die to our old nature and live for Him.
From the Cheap Seats:
- Doug Petersen…gone. Wow! I guess when you pull your starting QB in a competitive NFL game you lose the locker room. Gotta admit…anything that makes the Eagles squirm, I’m good with:).
- So, there’s already talk about canceling the NBA season…but here’s the deal…COVID-19 has its ups and its downs. Other sports have navigated through it and I personally, think the NBA should as well.
- With that said…MLB, starting on time, with fans in the stands…makes my heart sing!
- I’m really good with the Cowboys firing our D-coordinator and hiring Dan Quinn. Although, we don’t have Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas in his prime or Cam Chancellor. I think it willl be a great hire…but I also thought Mike McCarthy was a great hire and only time will tell if 6-10 is an anomaly.
- Fernando Tatis deserves the extension & DeShaun Watson to the Patriots would be crazy!
- 2020 Alabama vs. 2019 LSU would’ve been a great National Championship Game.
Enjoy your week! I pray that it’s filled with grace, joy, and hope. Praying for you.
To watch or listen to the sermon described in this post, please click here.