Re You Tube: SNL Presidential Debate

I needed some humor today! Enjoy!

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Reblog: What Pastors Can Do about the Gender Neutral Bathroom Controversy

by SamRainer.com

Last Thursday the New York Times broke a story that the Obama administration would issue a directive for every public school in the nation allowing bathroom access based on self-identity of gender. It’s a huge story with sweeping consequences.

I don’t often weigh in on political issues. One reason is the purpose of this blog, which is helping leaders in established churches, not bantering on politics. As a pastor, I have people in my congregation with various political views. I’m not afraid to preach issues, but I try not to stir up needless political controversy in my church. However, on this issue, I must speak.

When I was in high school, I played basketball. I identified as a superior player, perhaps six foot eight inches with a slam dunk similar to Vince Carter. In reality, I’m six inches shorter, and my rare dunks looked more like an albatross taking off.

Identity can be detached from reality.

What if a rich person identified as poor and claimed she no longer needed to pay taxes? You might say, “That’s a financial reality. She can’t do that.” But what is the philosophical difference between a financial reality and a biological one?

What if a white person wanted to identify as a black person in order to claim the black experience? It’s already happened, and there was uproar. Rightly so. But what is the philosophical difference between an ethnic reality and a biological one?

What if a young teen wanted to identify as a senior citizen and claim the right to vote prematurely? What’s the philosophical difference between a geriatric reality and a biological one?

What if a dying person wanted to identify as healthy and gain access to life insurance shortly before passing? What’s the philosophical difference between a reality of physical fitness and a biological one of gender?

This identity madness must stop. You don’t get to choose who you are. God made you exactly the way He wants you. And you are beautiful as God made you. You can no more choose your gender identity than you can choose your wealth, ethnicity, age, or health.

So what is a pastor to do? Let me offer some recommendations.

  • Don’t ignore the issue. It’s not going away. Most of your people are paying attention to this issue. It affects everyone. I addressed it from the pulpit on Sunday. Why? It’s a major cultural issue that’s at the front of everyone’s mind. Pastors are called by God to teach their congregations. All churches deserve an answer from their pastors on this issue.
  • Teach with clarity, not nuance. Go right to the heart of the issue and address it biblically and clearly. Don’t hide behind big words or fuzzy nuances. Tell your people exactly what you expect them to believe on this issue. If news reports contain more facts about gender identity than your sermon, then you’re not preaching. You’re dancing.
  • Display a genuine concern for people who identify as transgender. Jesus loves them, and so should you. Crude jokes and snarky sermon soundbites won’t solve the problem. We should care for anyone struggling with gender identity issues. You can put a stake in the ground on this issue while at the same time exhibiting love for hurting and confused people. Truth and love are two sides of the same coin. God’s truth compels us to love others. And to love others, you don’t have to compromise the truth.
  • Give practical advice. The theological foundation is important, but your people likely want to know what to do. I’ve counseled transgender people, as well as their family members. I’m sure I will have many questions from church members if public schools in our community abide by the Obama administration’s directives. Both truth and love require action. You need to help people take practical next steps.
  • Don’t make unnecessary enemies. Stay focused on the gospel. We’re not fighting against flesh and blood. Your neighbor is not your enemy, even the transgender one.

Our culture is changing at an incredibly fast pace. Like a machine running at full capacity 24/7, we can’t keep moving this fast without lots of things breaking. And by “things,” I mean actual people. Broken people need the gospel. We’ve got work to do. The mission of God doesn’t advance by bellyaching.

Re Blog: 9 Perspectives on Trump, Clinton, and the Evangelical Christian Voter

by R P Ministries

Most evangelical Christians in America see involvement in the electoral process as a moral/spiritual obligation. So, what is an American Christian to do when presented with a choice between two prominent presidential candidates where choosing either is morally problematic?

Many of us have been prayerfully asking ourselves that question. And we’ve been seeking wise counsel. In today’s post, I’ve collated online counsel that can be helpful to us as we seek to address the issue of Trump, Clinton, and the Evangelical Christian Voter.

1. Should Christians Vote for the Lesser of Two Evils? 

In a widely-read Christianity Today article, Russell Moore asks and answers the question, Should Christians Vote for the Lesser of Two Evils? Moore begins with these prophetic words:

For years, I have urged Christians to take seriously their obligations as citizens, starting with exercising the right to vote. In the public square and at the ballot box, we must be more engaged, not less. But what happens in a race where Christians are faced with two morally problematic choices? Should voters cast a ballot for the lesser of two evils?

After a well-reasoned presentation, Moore concludes:

Given these moral convictions, there have been times when I’ve faced two candidates, both of whom were morally disqualified. In one case, one candidate was pro-life but a race-baiter, running against a candidate who was pro-choice. I could not in good conscience put my name on either candidate. I wrote in the name of another leader. Other times, I’ve voted for a minor party candidate. In the cases when I’ve voted for an independent or written in a candidate, I didn’t necessarily expect that candidate to win—my main objective was to participate in the process without endorsing moral evil. As Christians, we are not responsible for the reality of our two-party system or for the way others exercise their citizenship, but we will give an account for how we delegate our authority.

Our primary concern is not the election night victory party, but the Judgment Seat of Christ.

When Christians face two clearly immoral options, we cannot rationalize a vote for immorality or injustice just because we deem the alternative to be worse. The Bible tells us we will be held accountable not only for the evil deeds we do but also when we “give approval to those who practice them” (Rom. 1:32). This side of the New Jerusalem, we will never have a perfect candidate. But we cannot vote for evil, even if it’s our only option.

2. Trump, Clinton, or Neither: How Evangelicals Are Expected to Vote 

Christianity Today highlights the issue: with the two major parties likely running candidates that many Evangelicals could not endorse, what does the Evangelical Christian do? According to CT:

Half of the 81 “evangelical insiders” surveyed by World magazine in March said that if faced with a Clinton/Trump ballot in November, they would vote for a third-party candidate even if that candidate had no chance to win (51%). More than a quarter more said they’d vote for a viable third-party candidate (29%). 

Read the entire CT article here: Trump, Clinton, or Neither: How Evangelicals Are Expected to Vote.

3. Crisis in American Democracy 

After a broad-based reflection on the state of democracy in the US, Al Mohler refuses to mince words:

To put the matter bluntly, we are now confronted with the reality that, in November, Hillary Clinton will likely be the Democratic nominee and Donald Trump the Republican nominee. This poses a significant problem for many Christians who believe they cannot, in good conscience, vote for either candidate. As a result, Christians are going to need a lot of careful political reflection in order to steward their vote and their political responsibility in this election cycle.

Read Dr. Mohler’s entire post here: Crisis in American Democracy. 

Read the other points here.

Re: Blog: Confronting the Current Church Leadership Crisis

by Tim Challies of Informing the Reforming

All leaders want to be successful. Success has its perks, but it also has its downside—and being highly successful can have a highly dangerous downside. A leader can become domineering and dictatorial, resulting in devastated lives, decimated churches and demise of ministries. Church leaders without sufficient accountability can fall into destructive leadership styles, immoral behavior or questionable ethical activities. Leadership can isolate and overwhelm a person with demands on their time and energy, making him easy fodder for the enemy of his soul. Burn out, fall out and space out is all too common. The worst part of all? God’s reputation takes a hit.

The solo or CEO style leadership model common in popular Christianity today may be the culprit, when it fails to mobilize and utilize the full breadth of spiritual gifting within the church. Many churches are moving toward a return to:

Leadership by a plurality of biblically qualified, pastoral elders.

Notice the key words of this statement. “Plurality” speaks of shared leadership, which includes accountability among equals. When the apostle Paul and Barnabas established churches, “they had appointed elders for them in every church, having prayed with fasting, [and] they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed” (Acts 14:23). The contrast between “elders” (plural) and “every church” (singular) suggests a leadership team in each church, with no mention of one individual appointed to having more or independent authority. Accountability would be inherent in such a team. Today, just as in the early church, accountability inherent in team leadership is needed more than ever. The beloved apostle John warns about Diotrophes, “who loves to be first among them [and] does not accept what we say” (3 John 9). Leadership in the church helps stem the Diotrophes syndrome which all leaders struggle with, the tendency to resist accountability to others.

“Biblically qualified” refers to the character traits laid out in key biblical passages (1 Tim 3:1-7, Titus 1:5-9, 1 Peter 5:1-4, Acts 20:28). We must not water down these qualifications or descriptors to an “acceptable” level. The highest standards must be maintained at all levels of church leaders, especially among the elders. “Pastoral” captures the idea of elders who actually shepherd the people of God, not just sit as a decision-making board. Peter wrote to the elders among the scattered believers, “[S]hepherd the flock of God among you …” (1 Peter 5:2).

read the rest here.

Reblog: John Piper’s Saturday Night Special

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by Douglas Wilson

In my response to John Piper’s post on guns, I alluded to some of the paradigmatic issues underlying the differences we have concerning what we should do with our guns — whether we should have them in the first place, and what direction we get to point them. One of the paradigmatic differences I mentioned was the alternative ways of interpreting the Old Testament now that Christ has come — but this is just part of a larger picture.Celebrate Diversity Guns

Now when you get to the end of all the discussion, you have a very practical situation on your hands. So there is an intruder threatening your family, and you have to decide what you are willing to do in order to defend them.

So in order to make this decision in a coherent way, we do need to go upstream a ways, farther upstream than the relationship of the Old Testament to the New, although that is also included. What we are actually debating is the relationship between the Christian as saint and the Christian as citizen. This cannot be discussed without also discussing the relationship of church and state, which in our day immediately brings up the issue of “the two kingdoms.”

Let’s start with what Wikipedia calls disambiguation. The separation of church and state — a fine and noble endeavor — is a separation of two governments in the world. Civil government is one thing and church government is another.

The separation is actually supposed to be a financial one, meaning that tithe money should not be collected by the civil magistrate in order to be dispensed to established churches with nitwit bishops. It should also mean, if we had our thoughts gathered about us, that ministers of the gospel ought not be allowed to hold civil office unless they first dimitted their office as ministers. Separation of church and state, historically understood, is a separation-of-powers doctrine, and not a let’s-exile-the-church doctrine.

Read the rest here.