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This blog post is going to be sort of an encyclopedia of information for how to deal with homosexuality and LGBT issues from an orthodox, biblical perspective. I would encourage you to consider bookmarking this post and you can use it now and in the days to come. Why? Because these issues aren’t going away. And we’ve got decisions to make.

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We are at a crossroads as a nation and the Church must give a reason for our hope in gentleness and respect. Therefore, I’m going to share with you insights from well-known, revered evangelicals such as: J.D. Greear, Al Mohler, Focus on the Family’s Jim Daly, Tim Keller, Franklin Graham, Russell Moore and Kevin DeYoung. Their biblical insight to this critical issue is invaluable.

The reason I share this information (all together) is because we all need clear, loving, forthright, gracious ways to counsel people on LGBT issues. As a pastor, I’m getting asked more about these issues than anything else right now. People want answers and they need Biblical answers.

Now I want to say this. Today in our culture, there are people who will give you “biblical answers” but these answers are so off-base and so non-orthodox in their theology that they can hardly be called “biblical.”

At our church I have taught what I’m getting read to share with you several times. In fact, I’m going to be teaching it again on Sunday, June 28th as a part of the series I’m teaching about “Overcoming Temptation.” It’s about how to interpret Scripture (the Bible).

Today, Satan is employing a process of interpreting the Bible that is known as Eisegesis. This is a fancy word for people who choose to interpret the Bible for how it bests suits their needs or their particular worldview. People who Eisegete Scripture are those who read into the Bible what they want it to mean, versus taking out of the Bible what the original writers (inspired by God) intended it to really mean. Eisegesis is an improper handling of Scripture. For Scripture (or any writing of antiquity for that matter) to be interpreted properly it must be “exegetes.” In other words, the we must let the text speak for itself. Let me show you the difference.

Eisegesis asks: What idea do I want to present by finding a passage of Scripture that seems to fit with my idea? In eisegesis, there is no examination of the words of the text or their relationship to each other, no cross-referencing with related passages, and no real desire to understand the actual meaning. With eisegesis, Scripture serves only as a prop and a crutch to the interpreter’s ideas. This is SO dangerous!

Milton S. Terry (1840-1914), Professor of Hebrew and Old Testament exegesis and Theology said: “A fundamental principle in biblical hermeneutics is that the words and sentences can have but one significance in one and the same connection. The moment we neglect this principle we drift out upon a sea of uncertainty and conjecture.”

Let’s review:

Exegesis: Extracting the meaning FROM the text. (What does it mean?)

Eisegesis: Projection of reader bias INTO the text. (What does it mean to me?)

Exegesis and Eisegesis is part of what is called: “hermeneutics,” which is the branch of knowledge that deals with the proper interpretation of literary texts. Take a look at this definition.

Biblical Hermeneutics: is the science of properly interpreting the meaning and application of the Bible. The goal is to point to the correct interpretation, which the Holy Spirit has already inspired into the text. The aim is to discover the meaning of the passage as the original author intended and to protect us from improperly applying a Scripture to a particular situation.

We know God will not contradict His Word and that Scripture interprets Scripture. Therefore, we can use the Bible to help us interpret other parts of the Bible. This will keep us from “proof-texting.” Proof-texting is isolating one verse of Scripture from the rest of the Bible and building your theology or worldview around it.

The reason I share this is because one of the grossest forms of eisegesis being used today is by the LGBT community when it comes to sound biblical hermeneutics. Today we have people from this community who say that Paul said (in Romans 1 and 1 Corinthians 6) that homosexuality was okay as long as the partners were monogamous. Are you serious??? There is no way that a clear reading of those two lengthy passages could possibly construe such a meaning. It’s preposterous to say the least. Yet, this is our culture and this is our world and people are drinking this Kool-Aid as fast as it can be poured.

I’m linking below to the newest Tylenol ad that will show the need for this post. It’s 30-seconds long and you’ll see the need for having good information to share with your children and for the “break room talk” at work.

http://money.cnn.com/2015/06/12/news/companies/tylenol-gay-family/

So, shouldn’t people be allowed to love who they want? Well, Focus on the Family president Jim Daly tackles that critical question here.

http://jimdaly.focusonthefamily.com/shouldnt-people-be-allowed-to-love-who-they-want/?utm_source=nl_dalyfocus&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=280701&refcd=280701&crmlink=content-keep-reading

Daly says:

People who are same-sex attracted are indeed “allowed” to love who they want to love. In other words, it’s not illegal for homosexually identified men and women to love each other or even live together. Therefore, the issue at stake in this country isn’t about two men or two women “being allowed” to love each other: it’s about if we, as a nation, should redefine the millennia-old understanding of marriage as the lifelong union of one man and one woman.

Carrie Earll, heads up the Thriving Values/policy efforts at Focus on the family and says this:

“Like other social issues that deviate from God’s design, same-sex marriage impacts more than the two people who want to get married.  For instance, while abortion and pornography may not impact you directly, the legalization and practice affects the culture you live in by lessening the value of human life and sexuality. It also fosters confusion about what it means to be a boy or girl, man or woman.

“Same-sex marriage hurts children who, according to research do best when raised in a home with their married mother and father, are denied either a dad or a mom. It negatively impacts faith-based adoption agencies that are forced to close their doors when faced with the choice of violating religious tenets or placing children in homes with same-sex parents. Photographers, bakers, inn keepers, florists and others who politely decline to use their talents and businesses to participate in same-sex ceremonies experience harassment, legal challenges and crippling fines. Parents who want a say in what their young children are taught in school about homosexuality find legalized same-sex marriage is a trump card that overrides their parental rights.

“Proponents of same-sex marriage will continue to claim no one is hurt. There’s ample evidence that’s not true, and the track record for protecting children’s rights, religious freedom, free speech and parental rights on this topic does not bode well for the future.”

Well, what about this… What if someone in your family makes the decision to choose the gay-lifestye and they ask you to come to their wedding with their same-sex partner? What do you do? Here’s Kevin DeYoung’s take on that question. This video is about 2 1/2 minutes long.

R. C. Sproul Jr summarizes by saying:

“It is true enough that there are plenty of reasons why Christians are called to object to some heterosexual marriages. Those unbiblically divorced are not in fact free to marry, and Christians should not attend such weddings either, for the same reasons. The argument isn’t that both parties are sinners, and therefore we shouldn’t go. All those who marry are sinners. The question is, is the wedding itself biblical? … there is no such thing as homosexual weddings. You can no more witness a homosexual wedding than you could draw a square circle. Weddings are between men and women. That said, those participating in these events believe they are participating in a wedding. Our attendance, no matter how well intentioned, encourages them in their delusion. Which is one key reason why they so object to our not attending their weddings, or our not beautifying them with cakes and flowers. If we won’t admit that the naked emperor is dressed to the nines, the state will be called and we will be ruined.”

But what about those who have same-sex attraction? What do we do to help folks who have this attraction? How do we show love and kindness for their struggle?

J.D. Greear, pastor, author and theologian from Summit Church in Raleigh shares here:

http://www.jdgreear.com/my_weblog/2015/06/is-same-sex-attraction-wrong-if-so-why.html

Here’s the upshot:

There are six passages in Scripture that address homosexual behavior directly. And every mention is negative, either prohibiting or condemning such behavior. First Corinthians 6:9–11, for instance, refers to “men who have sex with men” as a vice that would prevent a person from entering the kingdom of God. The two Greek terms he used, malakoi and arsenokoitai, were the common terms of the day to refer to a broad range of homosexual relationships.

Many today object to this reading, insisting that what Paul had in mind was not the same as homosexuality as we know it today. He was, they argue, thinking of male prostitution, rape, or pedophilia. Committed same-sex relationships didn’t exist in Paul’s day, so Paul’s words don’t apply.

This is, simply put, not true. Historian Thomas Hubbard (not a Christian), wrote an exhaustive (and exhaustively long, nearly 600 pages) work on homosexuality in the ancient world, entitled Homosexuality in Greece and RomeHe demonstrates that homosexuality existed in a wide variety of forms, much like today. And that included committed, lifelong, same-sex partners. Had Paul wanted to distinguish between valid and invalid forms of homosexuality, he could have done so.

Or consider Romans 1, in which Paul talks about humanity’s rejection of God’s authority. Because we rejected God’s authority, “God gave them [that is, us] up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another” (Romans 1:26–27). As Richard Hays says concerning this passage, Paul depicts gay and lesbian activity as an outward epitome of the inward posture of sin—rejection of the Creator’s design.

I agree with Geear as a pastor when he says this:

It doesn’t delight me to have to keep revisiting this question. Talking about homosexuality is not a way to grow a church, and I’d love nothing more than to abstain from the conversation. But as a church, we can’t simply remain silent. Jesus rebuked the church in Thyatira for tolerating someone whose teaching led people into sexual sin (Rev 2:20). Jesus is not only opposed to false teachers, but to those who allow their falsehood to go unchecked.

In the end, we’re going to have to offend someone on this issue—either the world or Jesus. And I choose to offend the world. Ours is not the first generation to be offended by the teachings of Jesus. It won’t be the last. And while the specifics of what offends the culture changes from age to age, every generation has to choose whether our allegiance is to culture or to our Savior. I pray that we may all stand firm.

Amen Brother!

Well, what about those who want help to come out of the homosexual lifestyle? Can reparative therapy help them? Dr. Russell Moore is the President of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission and he discusses in this short 3 1/2 minute video.

http://www.churchleaders.com/pastors/videos-for-pastors/177069-russell-moore-on-reparative-therapy.html?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=cl_topvideos&utm_content=CL+TodaysVideo+-+20150616+6/13/2015+12:19:36+AM

The upshot is this. Yes, there is healing and help for any sinner. There is help for me in that I struggle with anger and lust at times. There is help for the drunk and drug addict and for the porn addict. There is help for the adulterer and there is help for the homosexual. But, the answer is not making them heterosexual. The answer is helping them to identify with Jesus and not their sin. They may struggle the rest of their life with same-sex attraction, just as I know that I will be tempted by the lady in the Hardee’s commercial in a bathing suit eating a hamburger. I will fight against my flesh and seek the Lord Jesus just as a person with same-sex attraction can CHOOSE to resist and fight against their inclinations and temptations.

We are all sinners and we all need help. We all need the love, mercy and grace of Jesus Christ. Yes, some people can be totally delivered from homosexuality and never look back when they come to Christ. I’ve known men who were alcoholics who came to Christ and they never desired another drink again. Yet, I’ve known others who continue to this day to fight the temptation to drink. Therefore, they choose not to go to bars. They don’t put themselves in a position to act on the temptation or sin. It’s the same for me when I travel and I’m in an empty hotel room by myself with a TV with all kinds of garbage on it. I CHOOSE, with the help of Jesus, to never even turn the TV on (and I don’t when I travel alone). In fact, I unplug it from the wall and I read instead. It’s a choice.

Tim Keller, pastor and theologian has perhaps one of the best articles about homosexuality and the Bible I’ve read to date.

http://www.redeemer.com/redeemer-report/article/the_bible_and_same_sex_relationships_a_review_article

Here’s an excerpt…

In Genesis 1 you see pairs of different but complementary things made to work together: heaven and earth, sea and land, even God and humanity. It is part of the brilliance of God’s creation that diverse, unlike things are made to unite and create dynamic wholes which generate more and more life and beauty through their relationships. As N.T. Wright points out, the creation and uniting of male and female at the end of Genesis 2 is the climax of all this. 

That means that male and female have unique, non-interchangeable glories — they each see and do things that the other cannot. Sex was created by God to be a way to mingle these strengths and glories within a life-long covenant of marriage. Marriage is the most intense (though not the only) place where this reunion of male and female takes place in human life. Male and female reshape, learn from, and work together. 

Therefore, in one of the great ironies of late modern times, when we celebrate diversity in so many other cultural sectors, we have truncated the ultimate unity-in-diversity: inter-gendered marriage. 

Without understanding this vision, the sexual prohibitions in the Bible make no sense. Homosexuality does not honor the need for this rich diversity of perspective and gendered humanity in sexual relationships. Same-sex relationships not only cannot provide this for each spouse, they can’t provide children with a deep connection to each half of humanity through a parent of each gender. 

So, you and I have a single choice to make. Will we stand on 200o years of orthodox teaching of God’s Word on the matter of sexuality or will we chuck it all for a 1960’s forward view of sex? Al Mohler, President of Southern Seminary in Louisville, KY says this:

http://www.albertmohler.com/2015/06/10/which-way-evangelicals-there-is-nowhere-to-hide/

This is a moment of decision, and every evangelical believer, congregation, denomination, and institution will have to answer. There will be no place to hide. The forces driving this revolution in morality will not allow evasion or equivocation. Every pastor, every church, and every Christian organization will soon be forced to declare an allegiance to the Scriptures and to the Bible’s teachings on marriage and sexual morality, or to affirm loyalty to the sexual revolution. That revolution did not start with same-sex marriage, and it will not end there. But marriage is the most urgent issue of the day, and the moment of decision has arrived.

In this season of testing, Christians committed to the gospel of Christ are called upon to muster the greatest display of compassion and conviction of our lives. But true compassion will never lead to an abandonment of biblical authority or a redefinition of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I was contacted yesterday by Sarah Pulliam Bailey of The Washington Post. She asked about these very developments. As I told her, this issue will eventually break relationships — personally, congregationally, and institutionally. This is the sad reality and there is simply no way around it. No one, especially in a position of leadership, will be able to fly under the radar on this issue.

The last two days have been very revealing. The present moment is very demanding. The issues before us are compelling and urgent. The Bible is clear. Are you ready to give an answer?

That’s the entire reason I’ve written this lengthy post. I want us all to have Biblical answers and not be afraid to stand on the authority of God’s Word. God is not dumb. He stands outside of time as the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. His Word and His principles are just as applicable today as when they were written thousands of years ago. Why? Again…God is not dumb! What He breathed into 40 men will stand forever. Not one jot and not one tittle will pass away.

So, time keeps marching forward and as you have probably heard by now, at the end of this month, the Supreme Court is likely to offer a ruling on so-called “Same-Sex Marriage.” I like what Jim Daly of Focus on the Family said about this earlier today:

As the Church we need to recognize that, no matter what happens, God is still in charge. Therefore, if the Supreme Court doesn’t rule as we hope it will, we must not lose hope. Our marriage mandate will continue to compel us to promote and advocate for God’s design, and to seek to model it well in our lives.

Even if the Court rules in our favor, we can’t take a moment’s rest. We have to realize that the nation is deeply divided on this issue and there is much we can do to show our fellow citizens – especially the younger generation – that one man, one woman marriage is not only God’s design, but it’s also a model that simply makes sense.

Whatever the case, let’s not forget real lives are touched by whatever the Supreme Court decides. One of the primary reasons we care so deeply about the outcome is because we care so deeply about the welfare of the people personally impacted by bad law.

We grieve for the child who won’t have both a father and a mother.

We empathize with the woman whose husband divorces her in order to pursue “marriage” with another man.

Our hearts break for the florist who sits on the verge of bankruptcy because she refuses to provide a bouquet for a same-sex “wedding.”

We ache for the conflicted same-sex-attracted individual who won’t find peace in his heart because of this ruling.

To be sure, there are those who misinterpret our stand for marriage and ascribe false motives to our beliefs. They may hurl the “hate” and “bigot” epithets for political gain or to silence debate.  Likewise, I must admit, some claiming the Christian label have been cruel and harsh toward the homosexual community and that is equally wrong.

So as we prepare for this historic decision, it’s good to remember to speak with words seasoned with salt. Let us “live a life worthy of the calling we have received” (Ephesians 4:1) and serve as humble, loving witnesses to our Lord Jesus Christ and His truth. Remember, it’s “God’s kindness that leads us to repentance” (Romans 2:4), so let us show that loving kindness as we engage the culture on this important issue.

I think Franklin Graham sums it up best and I’ll close our “encyclopedia” with his words, (taken from a recent Facebook post):

“…while I believe millions of Americans share my views on this matter and my beliefs about same-sex marriage, I also realize, based on polls and trends (and the pending Supreme Court decision), I might soon find myself in the minority. Even so, my position is not based upon polls or trends, political winds or Supreme Court wisdom. It is based upon God’s word, the Holy Bible, written more than 2000 years ago, and that document is not subject to amendment or revision.” 

Friends, if we truly love people, then we will tell the truth. That’s what the Church of Jesus Christ does. We’ll bear the truth bearers. We’ll administer the truth. If we don’t, then we can’t really say that we love at all. People need Jesus. We all need Jesus. Jesus + nothing. He is the truth, the way and the life and no one comes to God except through Him (John 14:6).

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“Delayed, but not denied.”

That is the sentence I would use to describe the winter weather this year. And it appears we aren’t done. More snow is forecasted for tomorrow night into Thursday morning.

My favorite weather forecaster is Van Denton from FOX-8. Here’s his forecast.

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Hall family down in Cary, NC…get ready! It’s your turn! Dr. Black up in Nelson, Va., (above Oxford) you too sir! If the forecasts verifies, you’ll be in the thick of it!

Yes…it looked like this winter was going to be a dude for winter weather fans, but the Lord had a different plan. He controls the weather and it’s at His hand that all things move, breath, and have their being.

Clara and I took a ride this morning and she caught the worst of it in our 3+” of snow. Can you tell…

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She got “snow-sprayed” all the way down the hill!

By the way…I saw the coldest temperatures in my lifetime last Friday morning. Just before I left the house at 7:32 am it was -4 degrees.

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Initially I thought it said 4 degrees. But, I looked closer and there was the little minus (-) in front of the four (-4)! Holy Cow!! That’s cold!! I remember in 1985 when it was zero, but beyond that, I don’t remember it being below zero. What a winter!

Here’s something else you’ve never seen before. I, unfortunately, presided over my great uncle’s funeral last Friday and my great Aunt (his wife), dug up this picture of my family.

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Hey…check out my dad’s white belt. You know… if you keep something long enough, it’ll come back in style. He looks like he could be on the PGA Golf Tour. White belts are everywhere on the tour!

That picture was taken in Miami beach. Weren’t we a cute family! 🙂

I think I’m going to end here (a bit earlier than normal) because this video really got to me. It was wonderful and it sums up Christianity in so many ways. No remember, I’ve stopped about five minutes earlier than normal, so you can watch this video…and finish the last little thought after the video, so don’t short-change yourself. 🙂

It says, “For Pastors,” but I promise you that it’s for all!

http://www.churchleaders.com/pastors/videos-for-pastors/248552-transformed-life-5-minute-video-will-encourage-pastor.html

Wasn’t that touching?

Now…this stats go right along with that video. See if you agree…

This is a poll done by Thom Rainer of LifeWay.

The Poll

I conducted an unscientific Twitter poll recently to see what church leaders and church members thought of this trend, My specific question was: “Why do you think many churches aren’t as evangelistic as they once were?”

The responses arrived quickly and in great numbers, both in public tweets and in direct messages to me. Indeed, I was still receiving responses four days after I sent my Twitter question.

The Results

The response was highly informative for me. Here are the top fifteen responses listed in order of frequency:

  1. Christians have no sense of urgency to reach lost people.
  2. Many Christians and church members do not befriend and spend time with lost persons.
  3. Many Christians and church members are lazy and apathetic.
  4. We are more known for what we are against than what we are for.
  5. Our churches have an ineffective evangelistic strategy of “you come” rather than “we go.”
  6. Many church members think that evangelism is the role of the pastor and paid staff.
  7. Church membership today is more about getting my needs met rather than reaching the lost.
  8. Church members are in a retreat mode as culture becomes more worldly and unbiblical.
  9. Many church members don’t really believe that Christ is the only way of salvation.
  10. Our churches are no longer houses of prayer equipped to reach the lost.
  11. Churches have lost their focus on making disciples who will thus be equipped and motivated to reach the lost.
  12. Christians do not want to share the truth of the gospel for fear they will offend others. Political correctness is too commonplace even among Christians.
  13. Most churches have unregenerate members who have not received Christ themselves.
  14. Some churches have theological systems that do not encourage evangelism.
  15. Our churches have too many activities; they are too busy to do the things that don’t really matter.

Rainer is right, oh that we will care to reach the lost…just like the young lady in the video. God help us all to care deeply about reaching the lost and take advantage of the opportunities before us every day.

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Here We Go…

Here we go…

It’s come to this. These 9 folks will decide if gay marriage is to be legal in all 50 states by the end of June.

Supreme_Court_US_2010

The US Supreme Court has said they will hear the case in April and decide by June. Can I make a prognostication? They will say: “Gay is Okay.” Expect to see that as the headlines in the newspapers by early July. Why do I think this way? Simple. Because of the makeup of the court. Look above. First row…going left to right.

Justice Thomas will vote against gay marriage, so will Scalia, and Roberts. Kennedy will vote for gay marriage (he’s the swing vote) and so will Ginsburg. Back row. Sotomayor and Breyer will vote for it, while Alito votes no, with Kagan rounding out the yes votes. So that’s 5 to 4 FOR Gay Marriage.

Let me tell you why I believe Kennedy will be the deciding “yes” vote for gay marriage. First of all, the four conservative justices aren’t going to budge and the four liberal judges aren’t going to budge. They are dyed in the wool. Done deal. Kennedy has bounced around through the years as the one “moderate.” Yet, it’s different when it comes to this issue. Here’s why.

Now there are just 14 states in which same-sex couples cannot wed. The court’s decision to get involved is another marker of the rapid change that has redefined societal norms in the space of a generation.

The court will be weighing in on major gay rights issues for the fourth time in 27 years. In the first of those, in 1986, the court upheld Georgia’s anti-sodomy law in a devastating defeat for gay rights advocates. But the three subsequent rulings, all written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, were major victories for gay men and lesbians. Thus, in its most recent case in 2013, the court struck down part of a federal anti-gay marriage law in a decision that has paved the way for a wave of lower court rulings across the country in favor of same-sex marriage rights.

The way has been paved by what you just read in bold above. Kennedy will go with the liberals on this one. It shouldn’t surprise you that Attorney General Eric Holder said the Obama administration would urge the court “to make marriage equality a reality for all Americans.”

Here we go! By mid-summer gay marriage will be considered a civil right for all Americans and if you are on the opposite end of that stance, you will be labeled a hate-monger and bigot. So be ready and be prepared to lovingly give a reason for your hope.

Let me give you some reasons (contrary to what the Supreme Court will say).

Check out this site: http://suchweresomeofyou.org

It’s excellent. Read the accounts of folks who have been delivered from the homosexual lifestyle by the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Bible records in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11.

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

Did you see the word “were” over and over in verse 11. Homosexuals CAN be delivered by the power of Jesus Christ just like the idolater, adulterer, thief, greedy person, and drunk. There IS deliverance or the word of God is a lie and so is God.

At the website listed above you will find a documentary that was inspired by the above passage of Scripture that declares that in Jesus’ day there was a population who had been so transformed by their relationship with Him that they were no longer “same-sex attracted” or at the very least, actively homosexual. They had found such a measure of healing from the brokenness and strongholds associated with what we now call homosexuality that they no longer considered themselves homosexual, nor did they act in that way.

“Such Were Some of You” features interviews with a “cloud of present-day witnesses” who testify to the same life-transforming power of Jesus Christ. They describe the development of their same-sex attractions, what the gay lifestyle was like, what their conversion process was like, and the various ways that Jesus has brought healing to their broken places. “Such Were Some of You” lays out the facts about healing homosexual confusion and rejoices in the reality that Jesus Christ can heal anyone from anything while providing grace for the journey.

But, as I said earlier, if you ascribe to the truth of God’s word that there is deliverance from the gay lifestyle, you will be blasted. If you don’t believe me, check out this 2 1/2 minute video clip from Richmond, Virginia.

http://www.fox8live.com/clip/10934328/billboard-in-richmond-claims-nobody-is-born-gay

Did you see how stunned the people were? Even the news reporter seemed stunned that anyone could possibly say there is deliverance from homosexuality. You see, when the Supreme Court is done this summer, it will be “Katy bar the door, trouble is in store.”

Folks I’m with Peter Mead, who wrote an article about the Word of God and preaching titled: “Great Preaching Leads to Godly Change. See article here: http://www.churchleaders.com/pastors/preaching-teaching/243224-great-preaching-leads-godly-change.html?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=clpastors_newsletter&utm_content=12/4/2014+10:20:50+AM

He says this:

Call it heart, call it values, call it appetites, whatever. The gospel transforms a life from the inside-out, from the heart outward. It takes the Spirit to plant an appetite (a relish) for Christ in the affections of someone. This is where I feel relieved of the pressure to bring about transformation, but also the incredible privilege of my position as preacher. I don’t twist arms to conform to behavioral standards for the sake of church conformity. I do present Christ and the Gospel in all its wonder and majesty and sweetness, and I do so absolutely dependent on God to bring about transformation.

Biblical preaching transforms lives, but it occurs from the inside out. Anything more superficial will tempt me into acting like a mini-god pressuring mini-gods into self-moved determination, and that just smacks of a fallen world perspective on the whole thing. God’s Word invites us to trust Him, we should do the same.

Amen Brother! You hit the nail on the head. We want to see people changed. We want to see people delivered from their sin, not be excused of it. I don’t want a drunk to stay drunk by saying everything is okay with how they are living anymore than I would want a man to continue to commit adultery against his wife and me say, “It’s okay…you were born an adulterer, you can’t help yourself, so go ahead.” Oh how that is a smack in the face of the life-giving and life-changing power of the Gospel (Good News) of Jesus Christ.

At some point people have to seek their identity in Christ. They don’t define themselves by saying, “I’m gay.” They define themselves by saying, “I’m a follower of Jesus. ” It’s all about identity. If you seek to continue to identify yourself by your sin, (no matter what it is), then you have likely not been regenerated and born again in Christ.

Oh, I pray that we, as believers, will not cave in to the culture, the Supreme Court, or even a friend or loved one who says they were born gay. I pray we will give them the life-altering Gospel of Jesus and watch the transformation.

11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

Before I go…I’ve got to share couple of things that happened last week.

First, we lost a family pet. A wonderful, lively, out-going cat named Oreo. It just about crushed the kids, but the Lord used it to help us rejoice in the time we had together. Do you remember losing a family pet when you were a kid? It can be gut-wrenching. He was so sick…

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This is Kandace and Clara at the vet. Andrew, Pam and I were behind them. We had to say goodbye. He was only two years old and was eaten up with lymphoma. Thank you Lord for blessing us with such a wonderful, loving, cuddly, crazy, rambunctious cat. We’ll miss him, but in the “missing,” we’ll be grateful for the time we had with him.

Now for some lighter news. Just a few quick Papa and Charlotte pictures from the past weekend. Josh and Katy were in town. Check out this precious little girl…

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I love this next one. It shows why I am convinced the Scriptures teach that the meeting or gathering (we call it worship service) should include children.

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She is watching me on the screen above her head. Josh is holding her and Pam said, she kept craning her head to see me and she just stared and stared at me on the screen. Jesus said, “Suffer the little children to come unto me.” I’m so thankful MPBC sees the undeniable truth of the entire body (family) being together in the meeting/gathering/worship.

One last one. This was up at mom’s, where we had lunch in her dining room. Isn’t she just adorable?

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I know, I know… I’m a doting grandfather… But, I just can’t help myself.

For the winter-weather fans out there, the pattern is finally changing. Haven’t seen it yet? 66 degrees today? Well, it’s coming. By next week at this time you’ll be shivering and don’t be surprised if there is a bit of the white stuff on the ground. 🙂

 

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I’m typing a blog, so I’m obviously using technology and social media. Therefore, you would expect me to say that the use of technology and social media is “A-okay.” Truth is, I’m guarded in my response. I know how much I depend on my computer and my cell phone to do my job as a pastor, so I want to carefully tread as I speak to the subject of social media and technology.

Without question social media and all of our technology are here to stay. There is no denying this fact or getting around it. This stuff is no more going away than we’d stop using microwave ovens and return to cooking over an open fire.

Hey, do some of you remember these?

ROTARY-PHONE

The ole rotary phone! Would you want to return to that? It took forever to even dial a phone number. Ha!

Here’s my point. We’re not going back, so what do we do with all this technology, social media? We’ve got I-phones, I-pads, MacBooks, Androids, Galaxies, Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, etc., etc. I read a study a couple of weeks ago that said the average teenager had their cell phone in their hand or on their body (in a pocket) for 7 1/2 hours per day. Yikes! But, I got thinking about it. So do I! I would probably would be considered “addicted” because, I almost fall apart if I can’t find my phone. So, please here me…I’m not going to be the “pot calling the kettle black.”

Yes, I’m the “chief of sinners” when it comes to using technology and social media. Again, I couldn’t do my job without my computer and phone. There is no way I’m going back to trying to do everything by “snail mail.” It would be impossible to communicate and coordinate with people and yes…even spread the Gospel in the ways I seek to do through blogs, Daily Devotions and Facebook updates without social media and the technology available to me.

I am so connected to the net that it’s hard for me to remember being without a smart phone. You see, when you are driven like me, it’s hard to put the phone down. I’ll go one step further and really be brutally honest. Here’s the truth. I’m often tempted to text while I’m driving. Are you? It’s so hard to wait isn’t it? But, I make myself not to text while driving, because I don’t want to ask Kandace, my 16-year-old, to do something I’m not willing to do. But, I’m being honest here. It’s tempting, because I want to get things done. I’m a worker, right? I want to make things happen. I want people to think that “I’m on it” and for them to think, “Boy, that sure is a hard-working pastor.” But, that’s pride. Nothing but awful pride. Lord, forgive me. So, I force myself to wait. That’s called self-control and it’s the fruit of the Spirit. But, I’ll say it again…it ain’t easy!

We all know what texting and driving can do. Look at what this Hong Kong movie theater did. They asked their patrons to leave their cell phones on as they entered the theater. Then watch what happened during a Volkswagen ad before the start of the movie.

Did you watch? If you did, you would have seen what distractions can do while driving. So, if you are tempted like me, be warned. We’ve got to wait. Nothing is that important!
So, let’s assume that you have kids with phones or i-pads, droids, you name the gadget. What are your guidelines? Do you have rules for when they can be used? For instance, are they allowed in their room alone? That’s dangerous for a teenage boy (on the net alone). Do you allow cell phones at the dinner table? We don’t at my house. Surely, we can eat a meal without those things going off! Surely, we can look at one another and have a conversation without being interrupted.
Here’s the deal. If you call me while my family is eating, I’ll know nothing about it. I take my phone off and put it on my dresser or kitchen counter during meals and on Saturdays (my only official “day off”). If it buzzes during dinner…forget it. My kids will even sometimes say, “Your phone is buzzing dad!” I tell them, “If it’s that important, they’ll call the house.” They know that our family time is that important. It’s got to be folks! It’s got to be or our relationships in our homes will suffer. If I don’t teach and train my children then I’m not qualified to be an Elder. It’s that simple!
Do you eat meals together at a table? If you don’t, why? Are you at home enough to have two or three meals a week at a table or are you too busy? Let’s say that you do eat dinner at home. Do you have to be in front of a TV? Do you allow the cell phones on the table? Why? Is it that important? Are you afraid of your kids? Don’t be. They need you to be their parents. They’ve got enough pals at school.
Hear me well. I’m not saying do away with the gadgets anymore than I’m saying I want to go back to carrying one of these…
Bag phone

I’m just saying we’ve got to have a handle on it and understand what we are allowing it to do to us. We’ve got to control the technology and social media, or they will control us. Let’s make sure the dog is wagging the tail and not the tail wagging the dog.

So, let’s talk a bit about the use of the technology in the specifics of how we’re going to use it. I like what Thom Rainer says about it. He chronicles a few trends with Social Media and the Church. I’m listing five of the eight he lists:

  1. More church members use social media to encourage others in their churches. These words of encouragement are typically directed toward pastors and church staff. The good news is that these tweets and posts seem to be more frequent and pervasive.
  2. Church members increasingly use social media to point others to interesting articles related to Christianity and church life. Indeed, I am encouraged to see many such visits to my blog and to other sites that include information on faith and church life.
  3. Though in the minority, an increasing number of church members use social media to attack and criticize church leaders. I recently read a scathing attack on a pastor. It was filled with venom and vitriol.
  4. A number of church members are using social media wisely to share the gospel. I have been greatly encouraged to read many tweets and posts that point readers to articulate and loving presentations of the gospel. May their numbers increase!
  5. Church members are using social media with increasing frequency to share prayer requests. On more than one occasion, I have seen a prayer request spread virally. It is very encouraging to see the power of prayer on this modern medium.

To read more: http://thomrainer.com/2014/10/15/eight-trends-church-members-social-media-2/

I think I’ll end my foray on the net tonight and talk to my bride before bedtime and offer you this thought-provoking music video. We used it tonight as part of our devotion time after supper. Clara and Andrew liked it so much that we watched it twice. It’s called: “Can We Auto-correct Life.”

watch

🙂

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Wow! What a firestorm that has been created across the nation because President and CEO of Chick-Fil-A, Dan Cathy says he supports traditional, Biblical marriage.

He’s had death threats. Can you believe that? Amazing!

I really, really have sooooo much to say about this. I sometimes just shake my head and say, “Lord, why do you continue to put up with us. Why don’t you send Jesus back and just burn this place. Why do you tolerate us?” Well, eventually this earth will be burned and a new earth will replace it and because of God’s love and mercy He delays His judgment. And that is what so many people have been saying to me about all of this Chick-Fil-A talk. “God is a God of love and mercy and He loves everybody and He doesn’t hate. He’s all inclusive…all loving… etc., etc., etc.” And I respond, “Yes, yes, yes, yes, but…”

But what? But, God in His love does not and will not tolerate sin. But, some say, “Oh…that’s the Old Testament, hateful and mean God. The God of the New Testament is loving and tender and all-inclusive.” But, the Bible says, “God is the same yesterday, today and forever,” right? Sure He is. He is a God of love and a God of mercy, but He is a God of justice and He unequivocally hates sin. He hates sin so much that He allowed His Son to be slaughtered to pay for our sin…all sin.

Think with me about Jesus. What does Jesus tell people to do? Think about Jesus talking to the woman at the well. He told her after their long conversation to do what?? What did He tell her to do? Did He say, “I know you are trying hard ma’am, just go and do the best you can. I love you and you’ll be ok.” Did Jesus say, “You are a good person and I know that you will step up in the future. Bless your heart…” Think about Jesus talking to the woman caught in adultery. Did He tell her “Just keep living like you are, I still love you.” What did He say?

“Go and sin no more.”

Yikes! Oh no Jesus! Don’t say that! It’s not loving! It’s not accepting of her lifestyle. But, that’s exactly what He said, “Go and SIN NO MORE.” Why did He say that? Surely the woman who had five husbands and was living with a man and the woman caught in adultery said to Jesus: “Sorry, you see, I was born this way. I can’t help but be a person who is a fornicator. So, don’t you judge me. Don’t you tell me to go ‘sin no more.’ Who do you think you are?” Is that what these women said? You know, if they lived in our culture today they might would be guilty of saying such things.

I mean come on Jesus! Show some tolerance! Show some love! Telling the woman caught in adultery to “Go and sin no more,” man, that’s so closed-minded, Jesus. You need to be more inclusive and loving and tolerant. After all Jesus,  she said she was “born this way.” She can’t help herself, Jesus. It’s genetic. You ought to know…you created her this way in her mother’s womb. Don’t you know Jesus…I think they’ve found a gene that explains that it’s all in our DNA!

Ok…enough already… Let’s look at what Jesus really said over and over again to His true followers. He said….

“Deny yourself…take up your cross and follow me.”

Deny yourself?

No…you are supposed to understand the way I am…

No…deny yourself…take up your cross…follow me. Give up your life to gain it.

What does this mean? Does that mean we really have to give in to our inclinations and our predispositions to anger and alcohol and porn? Just a couple more examples…

Can you hear the guy in the courtroom telling a judge, “Hey Dude, don’t you judge me. I don’t know why Wal-Mart is mad at me because I stole a $750 flat screen TV. I was born a thief…it’s genetic. Don’t judge me.” Or “Hey Judge, don’t you judge me… I can’t help myself when I get angry. When I get angry I just shoot people. I was born this way…you’ve got to accept me the way I am. Don’t you ask me to change.” Now these are ridiculous examples aren’t they? Or are they?

Isn’t that what we have been hearing in all this Chick-Fil-A hullabaloo from the gay community. Please hear me and understand that I love gay people. I love murderers and thieves and drunks and liars and adulterers. But, just like God, I hate the sin. I hate the sin in my own life. And understand this…we don’t have to stay in our sin.

Read this carefully.

Jesus died to deliver us from sin.

All sin…

Is the power of Jesus Christ via the Holy Spirit, (the same Spirit that raised Him from the DEAD), not able to deliver mankind from ANY and ALL sin? You see homosexuality is no worse a sin than a businessman committing adultery on his wife in a faraway city or the man in Colorado who kills 12 people and injures 58 more or me, a man who in my anger has spoken mean words to my family that were unloving and un-Christlike. Sin is sin and Jesus died to pay for all of it. And He didn’t die for it so that we would have to stay in it or tolerate ANY of it.

Truth is…

We were all born sinful. We all were BORN sinful. We all have the ability to sin. We can kill, steal, covet, lie, you name it. Why? Because we are all cursed from the womb with sin. Yet, thanks be to God that we can be delivered from our sin. Don’t believe it? Take a look…

9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived:  neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such WERE (my emphasis) some of you. But  you were washed,  you were sanctified,  you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. 1 Corinthians 6:9-11

Did you see that word “were” in verse 11 that I emphasized? Do you see that we can be delivered. The word “were” means the past tense. It means that any of those listed in verses 9 and 10 can be delivered from their sin in Christ. Isn’t that wonderful!!! It’s the power of Jesus Christ and deliverance through Him! But in order to be delivered, we must give up our pride in our sin saying, “It’s the way I am and you just have to accept me.”

C.S. Lewis in his classic book, Mere Christianity says:

“We must not think Pride is something God forbids because He is offended at it, or that Humility is something He demands as due His own dignity–as if God Himself was proud. He is not the least worried about His dignity. The point is, He wants you to know Him: wants to give you Himself. And He and you are two things of such a kind that if you really get into any kind of touch with Him you will, in fact, be humble–delightfully humble, feeling the infinite relief of having for once got rid of all the silly nonsense about your own dignity which has made you restless and unhappy all your life.”

When we give up pride in our sin and being “right” in our sin…then we will be free.

Yet, Christian friend…we must understand, when we stand on the Word of God, we are going to be called all kinds of names: bigots, close-minded, hate mongers, intolerant and even evil. Understand this nation has changed from 50 years ago. You see, in American you can be anything you want to be and you can believe anything you want to believe EXCEPT for those who believe in the Bible and stand on the principles of Scripture as espoused by Jesus Christ. So, be ready to be called names and ostracized. It’s ok. We must return love for hate.

So, Jesus said, “Go and sin no more.” And what we (sinners) ought to say regarding our sin…

“Guilty as charged,” and then run to Christ.

In closing may I humbly say to you as you go to lunch or dinner tomorrow:

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As a pastor, I do a lot of counseling and I often say, “The best way forward might be backwards.” What do I mean by that. Well if you are standing in front of a cliff that leads to an abyss, the best thing to do is, what?

Turn around, right?

Yes…turn around…please!

C.S. Lewis said, “Life is long obedience in the same direction.” He also said, “Your dreams do not determine your destiny, your decisions do.”

Many people are making wrong decisions over and over again and they are ruining their lives. As I counsel, weekly, I see people who continue to struggle because they simply refuse to make the right decisions. Do you know why? Because the right decisions are usually the hardest ones to make.

Can I ask you a question?

What kinds of decisions are you making right now? Are they good ones? Are you making good decisions about your family? How about work? How about in your finances? How about spiritually? How’s your health? Are you making good choices and wise decisions about what you eat? How is your self-discipline. You know self-control is number 9 in the list of the fruit of the Spirit. Most of the questions I just asked could be answered in the affirmative and positively if we have self-control. Do you? Can you tell yourself, “No.”

That’s where most problems begin. Think about it. You can’t tell yourself, “No.” A drunk can’t say, “N0” to that drink. A shop-o-holic can’t tell herself, “No” and stay out of the department store. The thief can’t tell himself “No” at the convenience store. The porn addict can’t tell himself, “No” and not click on that porn site. Can you tell yourself, “N0?” Are you making wise decisions?

If not, then I tell you what I tell myself: REPENT.

REPENT

One word. Just one word…but, it can change your life. It can change anyone’s life.

What does it mean to repent? It means to “turn around.” If you are at a cliff, turn around. If you see sin coming…turn around. Repent. How do you know if you repented? Well, if you can get away with it and you know you’ll probably do it again, then you haven’t repented. I you have truly repented, then most likely you won’t do it again.

We must see ourselves and God sees us. He sees the real “you” and the real “me.” The REAL person. He sees into our souls. He sees past the mask we wear for everyone else.

If we truly see our sin, and we truly see the horror of what it does to the Father, then we will stop it. We will repent and we will turn around. But we will only be able to walk away in the power of Jesus Christ. We can’t will ourselves to walk away, to stop drinking, stop spending, stop stealing, stop lying, stop looking at porn, stop smoking, stop overeating. We must do it in His strength. We surrender and repent. We say two words, “I quit.”

Do you get that?

I quit!

When we say those two words…that’s what surrender looks like and that’s the first step to repentance and healing. You see we are all bent toward “self-deception.” We think we are really better than we are. Sin makes us dumb and foolish, did you know that? We will always rationalize why our behavior is right. We will justify it and find people who will justify it with us and run from those who won’t.

Are you living in lock-step with Jesus or with the world? If you are living in lock-step with Jesus, then this is what it looks like…

Being in “lock-step” is like a two-legged sack race. Who’s leg is in the sack with you? The Lord Jesus or Satan? It’s one or the other.

Two last questions.

Who are you accountable to?

Who has the license to ask you anything in your life?

The anwer to those two questions will determine if you are accountable or if you are free-birding in this life. If you aren’t accountable to someone, then you WILL struggle. Count on it. For instance I have a computer program on my computer called: X3Pro. It keeps me accountable. A report is generated and sent to my wife every Sunday regarding everywhere I’ve been on my computer. Some of you men reading this need that kind of accountability. It’s $7 per month. Here’s the site: http://www.x3watch.com/

But, most won’t check into it, because they simply don’t want to be accountable. That means that you are OWNED by your habit, sir. Sorry to be so blunt, but you are a slave. Yet, it can stop…you can turn around…repent…get accountable.

I love the lyrics to Matt Maher’s song entitled “Turn Around.” Take a look…

Young man on the side of the road, lost indeed and don’t know where to go.

Smells like a hangover from days ago. He does what he can to survive.

Single mom with a deadend job, 90 hour week just to keep what she’s got.

The bills add up and now she’s caught.  She does what she can to survive.

Well, let me say that love won’t take away the pain. But don’t be afraid, cause it will never walk away.

(Chorus) If you’re scared that you don’t matter, if you’re lost and need to be found, if you’re looking for a Savior, all you gotta do is turn around.

Some turn to a bottle, some turn to a drug, some turn to another’s arms, but it seems like it’s never enough.

Well, I won’t say that you will never fail again, but there is grace to wash away your every sin.

(Chorus) No one listens to you anymore, and your heart has broken down.  You don’t need to move, love has come to you, all you gotta do is turn around. All you gotta do is turn around.  Turn around!

You don’t have to take the broken road. You can turn around and come back home.

It’s a great song. You can watch Matt perform it live at a church in Arizona, here.

So…life is long obedience in the same direction which comes after you turn around, repent and say, “I quit.”

Will you?

Will you quit?

This is what that looks like…

That’s it. Just look to the Father and say, “I quit” and then turn around…

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What is more addictive than cigarettes or alcohol? Social media. Facebook and Twitter are dominating many lives. I read an article recently that really put into perspective where we are today in regards to our beloved gadgets and gizmos.

Person on phone

Take a look…

A new study suggests that social networking services such as Facebook and Twitter are more  difficult to resist than cigarettes or alcohol.

A team from the University of Chicago’s  Booth School of Business recently conducted an experiment involving 205 people  in Wurtzburg, Germany  to analyze the addictive properties of social media and other vices.

Participants in the week-long study were polled via BlackBerrysmartphones  seven times per day and asked to report when they experienced a desire within  the past 30 minutes, and whether or not the succumbed to that desire. They were  also asked to gauge each desire on a scale from mild to “irresistible.”

In total, 10,558 responses were recorded and a total of 7,827 “desire  episodes” were reported by participants. The results of the team’s study will  soon be published in the Psychological Science journal, however preliminary data  provided to The Guardian suggests the highest rate of “self-control failures” were tied to social media services.

“Modern life is a welter of assorted desires marked by frequent conflict and  resistance, the latter with uneven success,” said Wilhelm Hofmann, the leader of  team conducting the study. Hofmann suggests people may fail to resist social  media so much because there is no obvious or immediate downside to checking  services like Twitter or Facebook. He does warn that these services can  ultimately be a huge drain on users’ time, however.

“Desires for media may be comparatively harder to resist because of their  high availability and also because it feels like it does not ‘cost much’ to  engage in these activities, even though one wants to resist,” Hofmann said.

”With cigarettes and alcohol there are more costs – long-term as well as  monetary – and the opportunity may not always be the right one. So, even though  giving in to media desires is certainly less consequential, the frequent use may  still ‘steal’ a lot of people’s time.”

Amazing. That last statement… Did you catch it? “Stealing people’s time.” How much time do you spend on the computer, cell phone, tablet? How much do I? Probably too much. I see people walking into walls and into people all the time because they’re checking the latest tweet or status.

But, here’s the real concern I have. Yes, I know some adults that are totally addicted to social media, no question…but it’s the young people that I’m concerned about. Teenagers particularly. Why? Because it’s hard to tell themselves, “No.” They have access to their gadget 24/7. Kids are texting in bed under their covers at night.

How much time are they spending on social media? Dad/Mom…do you know? Do I? My kids have access to social media and we discuss and monitor their time on it. But, this issue is going to be with us forever. There is no escaping our phones, computers, tablets, and technology in general. So, we must “manage” it. We must guard our time.

Do you know what really concerns me? It’s that time drain. Many kids as young as 8 and 9 years old have cell phones. Is it too much too fast?

It’s an older study…but, check out these statistics in an 11.8.07—Fox News Article, the NEA—National Endowment for the Arts: “To Read or Not to Read”

  • 72% Percent of high school graduates are deemed by employers as “deficient” in reading and writing.
  • Less than 50% of 9 year olds read more than 5 books per year just for the enjoyment of it.  Less than 20% of high-schoolers.
  • The study says, the lack of reading is the most important socio-economic issue in the United States

Pretty sobering statistics if you ask me.

Mom and Dad…we must be intentional about what goes on in our home. My wife tells me that often. “We’ve got to be intentional, Kevin.” She’s right! We must make sure that we are teaching and training and that the important things get done. Does this mean a teen can’t be on Facebook? No. I think that would be overboard. But, how much should they be updating their status. Well, that’s something we need to discuss as families.

How do we want them spending their time. Christian parents…shouldn’t we want and desire to teach them the things of God? We’ve got to make the time. We must carefully and intentionally direct our children and yes, ourselves.

To see the full article, click here.

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