BALANCING GRACE AND TRUTH

The majority of the churches in America, but not only America, are seeking to please the masses rather than convict. Judgement is never mentioned; repentance is rarely sought and sin is often excused. We want to build a church rather than break a heart, be politically correct rather than biblically correct, coddle and comfort rather than stir and convict. This leaves people confused and deceived because we teach and live a form of Christianity void of repentance … void of truth.

The church and our nation desperately need to hear “the voice of one crying in the wilderness” to awaken, convict and restore. It was not so long ago that we were concerned about the fall of America. America cannot fall because she has already fallen. We are now picking up the pieces of a broken nation reflected in our laws, our personal lives, our families and our children. America’s moral heartbeat has ceased because we cut off the source of life. We need resuscitation, renewal and revival of the truth. Biblical truth.

When people, groups, denominations or movements depart from absolute truth and thus quench and grieve the Spirit of God, they become mechanical in their approach to Christianity and lose the ability to guide. The Word of God is not in their hearts “as a burning fire” (Jeremiah 20:9), but relative, powerless and debatable. This is what we see today.

The “moral” laws in the Old Testament such as killing, stealing, lying, adultery, sexual immorality and so on are all valid today. Jesus referred often to the Old Testament, and said that He didn’t come to abolish it, but to fulfil it. For example, Leviticus 20:13a states, “If a man lies with another man as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination.” To suggest that this verse is invalid today is to advocate the dangerous practice of redefining or deleting what God has said. Not to mention other stories in the Old Testament that highlight the dangers of homosexuality and all sexual sin.

Jesus condemned “all” sexual activity outside of marriage between a man and woman when He said, “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, sexual immorality, thefts, false witness, and blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man” (Matt. 15:19-20). Jesus was implying that all sexual activity outside of marriage between a man and a woman is harmful and immoral. The word “fornication” in the Greek is porneia, where the word “pornography” comes from. We cannot say, “But I was born this way.” I was born to lie, cheat, lust and deceive, but this doesn’t make it right. It makes me sinful and in need of a Saviour.

The consequences of wrong actions may have changed, but the moral implications remain the same. For instance, even though we no longer stone to death those who commit adultery, this does not mean that adultery is acceptable or any less dangerous. Adultery is wrong even though there aren’t legal consequences. The laws of a nation should reflect God’s Word, but they are never above it!

Romans 1:18-32 and 1 Corinthians 6:1-20 tells us that when mankind does not see fit to acknowledge God, and they suppress the truth; God will give them over to a depraved mind—to do those things that are not proper. This should put the fear of God into us all. Homosexual behaviour, and sexual sin in general, is comparable with dishonouring the body and turning from God. John Piper said, “The sexual disordering of the human race is a judgement of God for exchanging Him for the creature.”

Jesus said that since the beginning of creation, God created them male and female in order that they would be joined together and become one flesh. He adds, “What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder” (Mark 10:9). Marriage between a man and a woman is God’s plan since creation. No matter how many laws are passed in favour of gay marriage, it will not change God’s mind.

Jesus would often speak out against sin, but His love and mercy also reached out to those who regretted and hated their condition. Forgiveness is a mark of genuine faith. We should have compassion for those who struggle with same-sex attraction because we all struggle with sin, but at the same time, we should not condone or excuse this type of sin any more than we condone or excuse any other sin.

Taken from an article “Is Being Gay “God’s Greatest Gift to Us”? in Charisma News by Shane Idleman founder and lead pastor of Westside Christian Fellowship just north of Los Angeles

 

BE BOLD AND COURAGEOUS IN SHARING YOUR FAITH

A Christian, Pratt is clearly not shy about his faith, and is unafraid to call us all to a higher standard – that’s exactly what he did at the MTV “Generation Award” in June. The actor brought down the house with a poignant speech, providing the next generation with “9 Rules” for living. The “Jurassic World” star cleverly interspersed words of profound wisdom with a series of hilarious life tips.

“I’m going to cut to the chase, and I am going to speak to you, the next generation,” Pratt bellowed as he took to the podium. “I accept the responsibility as your elder. So, listen up.”

CHOOSE TODAY WHO YOU WILL SERVE

God is in control of our circumstances but He left us in charge of our choices. In these “last days” our daily life choices are crucial so that we live our lives by the grace of God, in His strength and to His glory. Tomorrows regrets are today’s wrong choices. These thirty Biblically based life principles provided by Peter Rahme (Inner West Baptist Church, Chullorah) will help you choose wisely and well, so you wholeheartedly serve our deserving Lord.

It is crucial you let the indwelling Holy Spirit play His role as your counsellor, comforter and teacher concerning all thirty of these Biblical principles. Let Him direct your choices and you will be able to do all thirty, without Him you will do nothing pleasing to the Lord.

  1. Today I choose to experience Forgiveness from God (and others) and express it freely to othersrather than hold on to bitterness.
  2.  Today I choose to be Grateful to God (and others) for His amazing grace, rather than be angry at Him (and others) for almost everything that seems to go wrong in my life.
  3.  Today I choose to extend Love and Grace to my family and friends rather than being critical of them.
  4.  Today I choose to exercise Mercy towards my family and friends rather than being condemning of them.
  5.  Today I choose to experience Peace with my family and friends rather than being contentious with them.
  6.  Today I choose to make Restitution with others, rather than take revenge on them.
  7.  Today I choose to be set Free, serving God and othersrather than be under the bondage of the spirit of ententitlement.
  8.  Today I choose to learn from and let go of the pastrather than being held back by it.
  9.  Today I choose to live in the presentrather than miss out on it.
  10.  Today I look forward to the future rather than worry about it.
  11. Today I choose to accept responsibility for my own action and behaviour, rather than blame others for theirs.
  12. Today I choose to come clean with my painful memories, rather than camouflage them with a fake smile.
  13. Today I choose to be Humble and Reasonable in the way I treat others, rather than be proud and arrogant in the way I mistreat them.
  14. Today I choose to be careful not to re-offend and be much better at understanding, rather than be easily offended at the slightest misunderstanding.
  15. Today I choose to be comfortable in my own imperfectionrather than look to find faults in others.
  16. Today I choose to lift people up and have fun, rather than put people down and making fun of them.
  17. Today I choose to be able and willing rather than stubborn and unwilling.
  18. Today I choose to be positive, exploring ALL the options available to me rather than negative opposing ANY opportunities presented to others around me.
  19. Today I choose to be proactive in going forward rather than reactive and getting nowhere.
  20. Today I choose to be productive getting things done rather than busy doing things and getting nothing done.
  21. Today I choose to be a User Friendly person rather than a person who is User of Friends.
  22. Today I choose to function according to my design rather than exist in a dysfunctional state of failure.
  23. Today I choose to function at an Interdependent level rather than a Co- dependent one.
  24. Today I choose to focus on the Us and What Is rather than ME and What if.
  25. Today I choose to focus my effort, energy and emotion on doing my best rather than being the best.
  26. Today I choose to make my priority in my business is to serve the people rather than sell a product.
  27. Today I choose to do life for the betterment of all rather than the detriment to any.
  28. Today I choose to connect and contribute rather than control and be contentious.
  29. Today I choose to take the necessary action to do my life goals rather than talk needlessly about doing them.
  30. Today I choose to give and receive rather than grab and run.

ENGAGING THE TRANSGENDER DEBATE WITH TRUTH AND GRACE

Christians in Western culture today have to deal with subjects that even 20 years ago would have been almost unthinkable to most. And the issues of gender and sexuality are among the toughest that confront Christians today—recently, the Nashville statement was released as one attempt to define the Christian view of sex and gender.

The important question is: how do we maintain a biblical worldview when simply believing that there are two biological sexes, readily identifiable in humans and determined by genetics, is now considered by many to be hate speech?

Image result

Andrew T. Walker’s book God and the Transgender Debate seeks to help Christians walk through some of the complicated issues surrounding the discussion of transgender individuals.

One of the most helpful aspects of Walker’s book is that before he addresses the facts, he addresses the attitude with which we as Christians should come to the debate. He points to the compassion that Jesus showed to hurting people, even when he was correcting their unbiblical practices and ideas:

Jesus loved people. That’s important for me to remember as I write a book with the word “debate” in its title. And it’s good for you to remember as you read a book with the word “transgender” in its title. Because at its heart, this debate isn’t about a debate. It’s about people: precious people made in the image of God who are hurting, who are confused, who are angry, who are scared, who may have been told by their family that they are unwelcome. It’s about some people who are delighted with how culture has shifted when it comes to gender identity, and other people who are concerned about how culture has shifted (p. 14).

However, the grace Walker calls for in responding to transgender individuals does not exclude the truth taught in Scripture regarding what it means to be a man or a woman.

How we got here

To properly respond to the transgender issue, we have to understand how culture got to the place where we can be confused about such foundational truths regarding human identity. He points to various elements including the loss of Christianity’s influence in key areas of the culture and the rise of radical individualism.

The Christian’s foundation

In a context where fundamental definitions of human identity seem up for grabs, it’s necessary to return to the foundations of where the Christian worldview comes from. Walker identifies God, the Creator, as the authority. Furthermore, the Gospel shows that God is good and wants what is best for us. “A crucified Creator is a God who has the authority to tell us what to do, who has the wisdom to know what is best for us, and who has proved that he can be trusted to tell us what is best for us” (p. 44).

Furthermore, God has designed mankind as male and female. “Maleness isn’t only anatomy, but anatomy shows that there is maleness. And femaleness isn’t only anatomy, but anatomy shows that there is femaleness. Men and women are more than just their anatomy, but they are not less” (p. 54). And because this is such a foundational designed aspect of humanity, rebelling against this part of our identity “can never result in happiness, flourishing, and joy, whatever it promises” (p. 55).

However, this does not mean that the church should fall into the trap of enforcing stereotypical expressions of maleness and femaleness. Walker cites examples such as a boy preferring to play with dolls or a girl who prefers to watch football as examples where someone may mistakenly try to enforce stereotypes of what is considered acceptable for boys or girls, even though there is nothing inherently sinful about a boy playing with a doll or a girl watching football (p. 55).

Part of the reality of living in a sinful world is that we are all marred by sin, but the Gospel offers hope for restoration, and Walker beautifully expresses this truth.

Engaging the culture like Christ did

Walker helpfully gives specific advice about how to engage the issue without neglecting either truth or love, including how the church might respond to the conversion of transgender people and advice for talking with children about transgenderism, including children who feel like they might be transgender. One chapter is devoted to answer 12 ‘tough questions’ people have about practical issues related to the transgender debate.

As Christians, we are called to be prepared to engage the culture with biblical truth and the love of Christ. If we hope to share the Gospel with people who are confused regarding gender, we need to be educated about the biblical issues involved. And Walker’s book gives a good introduction to how Christians can think about this issue and engage the culture.

2016: Another prophecy that resonates with all I am hearing from our Lord.

At the foot of the Cross

Recognize this prophecy is directed at the church in America, but its core message is relevant to us all. It is an abbreviated version of a prophecy given by Clay Nash. It appeared in the latest edition of Charisma Magazine. Clay serves on the team of Network Ekklesia International along with Dutch Sheets and Ken Malone as well as Global Spheres with Chuck Pierce and C. Peter Wagner.

“Many are asking what this year will bring. I want to seek to communicate some things God is revealing to me and how they will mesh together this year.

The first word I am hearing out of His heart and Spirit is “surrender.” Jesus in His humanity asked His Father to let His cup pass from Him, only to surrender by stating, “Not My will, but Your will be done.”

The Lord spoke to me, “Those who surrender to My will are going to reap where they have not sown this year.” Surrendering is not just a decision but a process.

The second word I have heard is “to sharpen our focus.” I have determined that, this year, I will be as “intensely intentional” as I can possibly manage. I am not just sharpening my focus to do things right, but intentionally sharpening my focus to do “right things.” The airways are so full of sounds, and the sounds are distracting, to say the least. It is time we clear our slate and press in to recognize His voice.

The Scriptures state in John 10: “My sheep hear my voice” and the voice of a stranger they will not follow. It is not about not hearing the other sounds that fill the airways; it is about allowing the authority of His sound alone to have any influence.

The third word I hear is “harvest.” The harvest that is at hand will be unprecedented in nature. This will prove to be an authentic harvest, producing disciples and not just converts.

Now I want to address a word that God has been building in me for over a year now. This word is a word of caution and direction to the church and the leaders in our nation. A word that I pray can be heard by leaders far and wide and those with greater influence and those with significant but smaller sphere of influence.

This final word I have heard is, “Will you continue to pursue your Rachel as your desire or will you focus on the Leah of your life and produce a legacy of inheritance?” Joel 3:14 says, “Multitudes, multitudes, in the valley of decision! For the day of the Lord is near in the valley of the decision.”

God began to speak to me about His church in our nation (USA): “Will you, My chosen, continue in your performance and preferences or will you surrender to a stance of submission, to obedience? Will you seek to impress the Ancient of Days in how well you look, how well you perform, and how well you speak or will you discern your heart and see that what is done is to impress those you desire to lead? Will you continue to make your worship so that it is the centre of your focus rather than My Presence and manifested presence?

I desire your obedience to emanate from your love for Me.

I have set before you a time to make wise decisions based on My will and a way that is not convenient. Will you seek to allow your preference to guide you, or will you yield, and allow My conviction to speak deeply to you and bring your heart to a place of surrendered passion?

“Will you choose Rachel—she who is beautiful, fancy and dignified—as the desire of your heart? Will you allow her beauty, the convenience of her attention and her dignified ways to influence your preference? I would desire that you shift in your attention and choose Leah—she who is plain, simple, undignified and uncomely, even dimmed eyed. For Leah, the ministry I have set before you, is surely not that which is attractive or convenient. For Leah will not attract the masses and give a look of success, but it will be the significance of your choice of Leah that can shift this nation from seven hard years of increased warfare and produce “deliverers” for this nation.

“It can be that even as from Jacob and Leah came forth a descendant, Moses, My deliverer, so it can be again. I desire to birth deliverers who can bring awakening that will establish reformation. It can be, says the Lord, as you choose Leah, out of obedience, over Rachel, no longer seeking to excel in the performance of how you look, but bringing forth an obedience that will produce fruit that will remain. From your obedience, I will birth a line of successors as strong as Moses and David. So choose to do My will and do not allow your desire to override My will.”

I ask us all to search our hearts and answer these following questions as we apply Matt. 6:6 (Message) “Here’s what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense His grace.”

Will we turn from that which impresses and engage the grace which produces?
Will we turn from the relocation of sheep from one holding pen to another?
Will we allow God back into our worship with simplicity?
Will we allow the Holy Spirit to be Lord once again, bringing God’s liberty to our services?
Will we turn from the fear of man and allow the Holy Spirit to do whatever He wills even if it offends church attendees?
Will we turn from needing the mass in attendance to finance our man-designed programs?
Will we realize that it is time to properly position ourselves by empowering the saints to move forward and do the works of God?
Will we remove the Rachel of ministry and no longer trust it as “eye candy” that draws attention to us and our ministry?
I pray this word pierces hearts to the point that services are called off and ministries are suspended until a fresh word from heaven penetrates hearts and causes not only a shift but also a tipping point in our nation.”

The church is the USA needs to repent of not listening to God and not doing His will. Sadly the church in Australia is in a similar position to the church in the USA.