A Proper Burial

Let me tell you where Mayor Pete Buttigieg is not today.

He is not at the burial ceremony for 2,411 aborted babies.  That ceremony is being held in his city, South Bend, IN.  But I feel sure he’s not planning to attend.  His radical pro-choice agenda simply could not stand up to the actual reality of tiny babies with faces, arms, fingers, ears, toes, brains, legs, hearts.  Many of them dismembered and disfigured.  Stored in a late abortion doctor’s garage like they were nothing more than cobwebs or roofing nails.  You can read more about it here:

https://www.lifenews.com/2020/02/10/2411-aborted-babies-abortionist-hoarded-will-be-buried-wednesday-finally-given-proper-burial/

America must decide if this callousness towards life is going to continue to define her.  If we decide wrongly, sinfully, and continue to tolerate the murder of babies, then God will no doubt keep giving us leaders we deserve.  Socialists.  Marxists.  Godless agnostics or those claiming religion, even Christianity, while pushing an agenda that is Satanic.

But I, and many thousands of others, are praying and crying out to God to have mercy on us!  To give us leaders with the moral spine to finally end this scourge.  If slavery is a stain on America, and it surely is, then abortion is more so.  To forcefully enslave another human, made in God’s image, is to denigrate his very personhood and limit his potential.  To slaughter another human in the womb, is to permanently destroy his personhood and potential.

When will we finally demand an end to this butcher shop?

 

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If You Are Thinking of Leaving a Church . . .

God is adding to our church family.  We are seeing new faces and families every week.  We are regularly celebrating new members who covenant with us to make Christ known in the world.

Hallelujah!  The “word of the year” for CBC is Multiply.  

We are praying for God to multiply us.  For God to use us to multiply disciples.  To multiply pastors and teachers and missionaries.  To multiply life groups and Bible study friendships.  To multiply children by births and adoptions.  Maybe even to multiply churches!  Most of all, we are asking God to multiply His glory in the gospel of Christ in and through us this year.

But we also know we will inevitably have to say some goodbyes.  Some due to deaths or more accurately “home goings.”  Some due to members moving away.  Some due to members deciding for any number of reasons (whether we agree with those reasons or not) that they should find another church home.  So, at the beginning of 2020, it is a good time for us to think on the subject of leaving well.  To help us in this task, I want to paste a recent blog, which is actually an excerpt from a book, from Mark Dever.  He says it about as well as it can be said.

Editor’s note: The following is from page 57 of Mark Dever’s What Is A Healthy Church?

BEFORE YOU DECIDE TO LEAVE

1. Pray.

2. Let your current pastor know about your thinking before you move to another church or make your decision to relocate to another city. Ask for his counsel.

3. Weigh your motives. Is your desire to leave because of sinful, personal conflict or disappointment? If it’s because of doctrinal reasons, are these doctrinal issues significant?

4. Do everything within your power to reconcile any broken relationships.

5. Be sure to consider all the “evidences of grace” you’ve seen in the church’s life—places where God’s work is evident. If you cannot see any evidences of God’s grace, you might want to examine your own heart once more (Matthew 7:3-5).

6. Be humble. Recognize you don’t have all the facts and assess people and circumstances charitably (give them the benefit of the doubt).

​IF YOU GO . . .

1. Don’t divide the body.

2. Take the utmost care not to sow discontent even among your closest friends. Remember, you don’t want anything to hinder their growth in grace in this church. Deny any desire to gossip (sometimes referred to as “venting” or “saying how you feel”).

3. Pray for and bless the congregation and its leadership. Look for ways of doing this practically. If there has been hurt, then forgive—even as you have been forgiven.

 

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Reflect and Refocus

Well, I slept through yet another New Year.

Hit the sack about 11 p.m.  TV off.  Spent the last hours of 2019 reading the last few chapters of Revelation with my family.  Answered questions as best I could regarding all the wild symbolism of that Blessed Book of the Bible.  Reminded ourselves of the main thing – Jesus wins!  He reigns forever and ever and those who have been saved by His grace will reign with Him and enjoy Him forever.  And His enemies will be judged forever.

So we must soldier on.  So we must carry His name to neighbors and nations.  So we must not lose heart.

New Year’s is a time for Resolutions.  At least in our culture.  But it’s also a time for Reflection and Refocusing.

I have reflected this week on 2019.  Although the Lord gave me so many unmerited blessings, the big theme of this past year for me has been pain.

Debbie Downer.  I know.  That’s me!  But stick with me.

Pain is real.  Hurt hurts.  Sin has wrecked this world and trashed our hearts.  I attended 6 funerals in 2019.  Preached four of them.  Stood over the dead bodies of three beloved saints whom I had the immense privilege to pastor.  I loved them fiercely, and wish I could have, would have, shepherded them more faithfully and more effectively.  But by God’s grace I did my best, and now I miss them horribly.  The congregation of CBC misses Daryl, Jay, and Martha.  Holes in our hearts now.

I also preached the funeral for my wife’s step mom.  We miss her sorely.

Members in our church have had to bury their grandchildren and young siblings this year.  So much pain.

Hurts and breaks in relationships have also marked my 2019.  Friends lost.  Sometimes despite efforts at restoration.  My own sins and shortcomings highlighted.  Reasons for the losses, however, ultimately not known.  Perhaps never will be understood.  At least not in this life.  My family and I have hurt deeply, and we know our former friends have also hurt.  We are sorry for it all.  We minimize none of this pain.  We grieve not just for ourselves, but for others too.

Preaching through Hosea this past Fall has been just what Doctor Jesus ordered.  I cannot begin to tell you the impact Hosea 6:1 has had upon me as I reflect on 2019.

Come let us return to the Lord!  For He has torn us, that He might heal us; He has wounded us, and He will bind up our wounds.

Truth is, 2019 has simply made me long ever-more deeply for the return of Christ Jesus.  God has refocused me on eternity.  Given a gospel-driven ache to my soul for all things to be made new.  Fixed my eyes on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of faith.  Reminded me of the light momentary afflictions that will, some grand day, produce an eternal weight of glory!

While I aim by God’s sanctifying Spirit to strive for more holiness, more peace, more restoration in 2020, the pain of 2019 prods me not to live for this world.  Not to expect my best life now.  To know sin is not yet eradicated in my heart, nor in the hearts of those around me.

Pain is merited by me.  By you.  By everyone.  Except Jesus.

Unspeakably, Christ came as “a man of sorrows acquainted with grief” and was “pierced for our transgressions.” And in Christ Jesus our Lord, all things are reconciled and restored (Col 1:20).  Jesus even redeems our pain.  “By His wounds we are healed.”  And yes, He even redeems it sometimes in the here and now, but one day perfectly in the new heaven and earth.  Singer / songwriter Laura Story has so aptly called us to account in this matter:

 ‘Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
And what if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near

What if my greatest disappointments or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy
And what if trials of this life-
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are Your mercies in disguise

Well, amen!  “Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life” (Psalm 123).  Pain will not get the final word.  Jesus is too great a Savior to allow it.  And Jesus is so great He turns hurt into healing, gangrene into glory.  O, that in 2020 I might have the vision to see it.

As I refocus now for the New Year ahead, I pray with Susanna Wesley:

Help me, O Lord, to make a true use of all disappointments and calamities in this life, in such wise that they may unite my heart more closely with Thee.  Cause them to separate my affections from worldly things and inspire my soul with more vigour in the pursuit of true happiness.

Amen.  Happy New Year!

P.S.  As I write this, I battle the pain of shingles.  “Even so, Lord Jesus, come quickly!”

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The Christian Chicken is . . . Chicken?

By now the dust is somewhat settling on Chick-Fil-A’s decision to stop donating to the Salvation Army and Fellowship of Christian Athletes.  This was, apparently, due to certain corporate leaders’ desire to pander more to the PC demographic regarding so-called Gay Marriage.  This is no longer Truett Cathy’s Chick-Fil-A.

But I assure every Christian in America, this “dust” simply is not going to ever really settle.  Not until Jesus returns and makes His enemies His footstool and renews His creation.

It is intriguing to me as a pastor of a local church to watch prominent Christian leaders all start picking sides, drawing lines, making conclusions, and bickering back-and-forth when a large corporation makes a very public decision that is obviously slanted towards the secular / cultural morality and away from biblical morality.  To read up on just such a debate, check out this blog:

Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver Responds To Franklin Graham: Chick-fil-A Betrayed Us “To Save Its Own Corporate Skin”

Now, to be sure, I was very disappointed by Chick-Fil-A’s decision.  Disappointed because of who they claimed to be.  Because of the values they purported to hold.

Disappointed.  But not surprised.

This issue, what has been called the “gay agenda” or the LGBTQ agenda, is a machine that will come knocking on the door of every single organization in North America that claims to be Christian in any sort of way.  Dr. Albert Mohler has been warning the evangelical world of this for a decade plus.  There simply is no place to hide.  A decision will have to be made by every Christian leader, by every church.  Will we say what God has said about marriage, about sexual sin, about redemption for sinners who by grace repent and trust Christ alone?  Or will we accommodate to the growing power of the LGBTQ lobby.  Will we cave to so-called “hate speech” legislation, being too blind to see beyond its cloak of deception?  Ask churches in Canada about the real impact of “hate speech” laws.  These laws are, ironically, a product of hatred for Jesus Christ and His Holy Word.

Regardless of our decision, it will not come without a cost.

I suspect Chick-Fil-A counted the cost before announcing their shift.  Now we wait.  We watch.  For consequences.  Surely some believers will boycott.  Some will simply not frequent the Christian chicken as often as before.  Some won’t change anything.  And others in our society will applaud this newly “enlightened” stance and will go eat a sandwich with waffle fries to salute what they perceive as “courage.”

For me, the verdict is still out.  I probably will just stop going to Chick-Fil-A for a while.  That chicken may put a bad taste in my mouth, at least until the dust settles.  It is almost to the point now where a Christian cannot live in our society without violating his or her conscience at some level.  Nearly every single company donates to organizations committed to promoting evil, like Planned Parenthood.  We pay taxes.  And our government uses our money to do evil, and to export evil around the globe.  Corruption has waxed so deep and strong that is can really depress a follower of Christ who is determined not to ever give money to sinful causes.  Don’t take my word for it.  Let 2nd Vote do the work for you:

Home

O, but don’t despair too long, dear saints.  Let’s not hang our heads in defeat.  The Christian worldview and the true church of Christ may have lost the “culture war” in America, as Dr. Russell Moore claims in his book Onward.  But Jesus wins in the end.

The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever (Rev 11:15).

Amen, Come Lord Jesus!  (Rev 22:20)

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Pastor Appreciation Month is Not Working!

Yes, it feels really weird to be writing this blog post.

After all, I am a pastor.

But I am convinced this post, and others like it, are critically important for churches today.  Rather than try and say all I want to say, I think I will simply let well-known pastor, Thabiti Anyabwile, say it for me (Don’t Make Your Pastor a Statistic).

And my conclusion is that for all the hub-bub about Pastor Appreciation Month, it isn’t working.  O sure, it might be raking in thousands of dollars for Christian bookstores / retailers, but it is doing nothing to actually solve the crisis (and yes, it’s a crisis, read the post below please), happening among pastors and churches today.

Two of my close pastor friends, both faithful preachers of the Word who loved Christ and people, have recently been ousted (fired, in business language) by ungodly, unbiblical processes (a coup, in political language).  Behind the back meetings.  Behind the back gossip and false accusations.  Behind the back coalition building and grumbling.  It makes me sick.  And if my Bible is true, it makes God sick too.

The only solution is humble submission to the inerrant Word of God by those in churches claiming to be followers of Jesus.  A return of Holy Spirit-empowered obedient faith is the answer.  Churches must once again have the spiritual spine to structure themselves and order themselves and relate to one another according to the New Testament.  Period.  By this, Christ is highly exalted, and pastors and members flourish under the Spirit-filled good reign of God the Father.

 

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