I fall short in many ways. I’m sure I’m not a great pastor nor a good church manager, but I have regained my focus this past week.
As was John the Baptist, I am a man “sent by Christ” to be “a witness.” The Lord renewed this calling and assignment on Christmas morning–36 years ago to the date that I first received the truth about my sin and the Lord’s grace. During an early morning study time on Christmas morning last week, the Lord pointed me to Acts 20.24 as my verse for 2014.
“But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” (Acts 20:24, ESV)
I am a witness of the love of Jesus for the lost, abandoned, fatherless, and those who have been discarded by the world. I am a witness of how weak ones–conceived and steeped in sin–are nonetheless loved by a gracious Father and treasured by a compassionate Savior. That’s why Jesus is Lord of my life. It is His doing, all by His grace. Of that, I am a witness and a sign. And I am healed of rejection and a broken heart. For I who was nothing am a son of the Living God (Rom. 8.14, 16).
Well, David . . . how do we know you can be trusted as a witness? Because Jesus gave the criteria for trustworthiness: John 7:18.
“The one who speaks on his own authority seeks his own glory; but the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and in him there is no falsehood.” (John 7:18, ESV)
The Lord knows and so do those who know me best and have watched my life for many years.
It’s so good to KNOW whose we are, where we’re headed, and what our assignment is.
[DISCLAIMER: This post was written and published in Oct. 2013, PRIOR to Phil Robertson’s name being in the news for his views on homosexuality. Nor do I agree with the crude way he chose to express those views. Though I do support Scripture that was quoted verbatim and his right to express those views. “Duck Dynasty” was off my radar scope until it became the center of controversy over freedom of speech and the intolerance of Gay tolerance. Now I have viewed an episode and decided it will remain off my radar scope.
The following post is being republished given the importance of the content. It is in no way intended to disparage or hurt sensitive, loving people who care deeply for people and God. Nor is it a rebuke to those who, through no fault of their own other than ignorance, biblical illiteracy, or listening to the wrong voices, have embraced a lie and a lifestyle of hedonism. Rather, it is intended to bring truth and light to bear upon a subject that is covered in lies, innuendos, false accusations, and misinformation. Today, no one may speak about homosexuality without their speech being labeled as “hate” by those who disrespect and dismiss God, his people, morality, his truth and his children. The intolerant advocates and voices of the homosexual agenda champion their debauchery over the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Their inspiration is demonic (whether they are still healthy enough to know it or not). The Holy Spirit spoke of them when He warned that in the end times many would be led astray by “doctrines of demons” and inaugurate a delusion for even weak and nominal Christians to believe. My goal is threefold: First, to be the Lord’s witness to followers of Jesus who are parents. Second, to warn homosexual advocates to turn to God from their sin, before they have abandoned the possibility of eternal life. Third, to pluck the confused and misled from the mire.]
Last month I attended a conference in Idaho. The conference focused on twelve amazing, strategic, national and global trends which are dramatically transforming our world. One of the speakers said something that really grabbed my attention with regard to the relationship between God and Americans who practice and advocate homosexuality.
He took issue with the way Christians and their leaders assume that God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah as a result of their rampant homosexuality. The speaker made the point that their homosexual behavior did not draw God’s wrath or judgment. Their sodomy was the RESULT, not the cause of God’s wrath and ultimate annihilation of the entire population of those two cities. God destroyed every last one of them for a greater sin than homosexuality.
Let’s look more closely at the relevant texts beginning with what he said regarding Sodom and Gomorrah’s end. Here the subject is Israel, but they are being compared to Sodom & Gomorrah:
“Ah, sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, offspring of evildoers, children who deal corruptly! They have forsaken the Lord, they have despised the Holy One of Israel, they are utterly estranged.” (Isaiah 1:4, ESV)
“If the Lord of hosts had not left us a few survivors, we should have been like Sodom, and become like Gomorrah.” (Isaiah 1:9, ESV)
“But rebels and sinners shall be broken together, and those who forsake the Lord shall be consumed.” (Isaiah 1:28, ESV)
THEIR REAL SIN
The great sin of the people of Sodom and Gomorrah was that they had forsaken the Lord God—their Creator. They had exchanged the One true God–Yahweh–for a lie: that they as “enlightened” humans were the top of the evolutionary ladder. The Apostle Paul spells it out clearly in the Letter to the Romans—whose values closely match those of the current population of extreme liberalism in our nation today:
“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.
For this reason God gave them 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, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.” (Romans 1:18–32, ESV)
All the other sins which the Sodomites committed—including their homosexual relationships—were the RESULT of the abandonment wrath of God. He “gave them over” to their already debased minds. Because many ancients rejected their Creator, His values, His people, His Kingdom, and His love, God removed the restraints of sanity. That removal resulted in men exchanging natural relations for those that the Holy Spirit labels “contrary to nature” (human nature that is). The Spirit through Paul calls them “shameless acts.” According to the Holy Spirit, these people are consumed with unnatural passion for their same sex. For all the centuries of human history from that time to the late twentieth century, human beings understood that homosexual behavior was abhorrent and a mental aberration. Only recently did the homosexual lobby ply its influence on the psychological community so that they took homosexuality out of the DSM–their diagnostic bible of mental disorders. The more recent editions normalized what had been a previously abnormal mental condition. It took our so-called highly evolved sensibilities of the fallen 21st century American and European cultures to abandon God and embrace the worship of science, technology, and men and women as gods and goddesses. They’ve returned to pagan culture and jettisoned centuries of human understanding and Godly counsel. Now the inmates are running the asylum.
And it doesn’t stop here. Once the Creator is rejected, so is His doctrine of Creation. Those who reject God (not just homosexuals, atheists included) do not see themselves as created beings. Since Darwin, fallen minds have decided that man is not special. Educated and “enlightened” influences now claim humanity crawled out of the soup and swamps as animals and “evolved” from lower life forms. Life came about, according to one so-called scholar, “on the backs of crystals.” This man is actually a paid faculty member a a prestigious university. These and other influences in our social and educational institutions have influenced societies to worship nature (the sciences) and creatures (themselves) instead of God. Although science, nature, and creatures are all good things, they have been raised to the place of idols in our culture. They are worshiped though its proponents would not call it that.
Those who have abandoned the Creator embrace a deception because they no longer recognize Truth and Reality. They have lost that FACT that they were created to have dignity, to be sons and daughters of God himself. Atheists have no God and no future. According to the Holy Spirit, they have abandoned sanity because they deny the ultimate Reality.
Can it go any lower? Can it get any darker? Oh, yes. Strap on your seat-belt .
Today the proponents (not all homosexuals, but the advocates and most vocal and vicious) of the darkness have become so emboldened by their sin that they have moved beyond a lifestyle choice. They realize that in order to make their choices acceptable for the future, they must “reeducate” the children. They have co-opted public school curricula to make disciples after themselves. Sin is not solitary; it infects everyone and everything. It always looks for someone else to justify it or participate in it. Where are the parents? Are they just standing by and allowing their children to be seduced? YES!!! Even believers drop their kids at “school” hoping to educate and expose their children to reading, writing, and arithmetic. However, they expose them to the worst of secularism and abandon them to the high-priests of unbelief. Well-meaning parents think that over supper they can undue the damage of six hours a day of indoctrination by the state, homosexual interest groups, and indoctrinated peers (if this family still sits down together to have an evening meal).
[IMPORTANT: Parents, get the facts on GLSEN and Kevin Jennings, (Obama’s Czar* of school “safety”) in the war they’re winning over the hearts and minds of your kids. Read this Focus On the Family Brief]
Otherwise sane and moral citizens are afraid to confront spiritually bankrupt, sexual totalitarianism, even though it is bent upon corrupting the nation’s children and forcing darkness upon the youth of America. I have not heard one voice among the homosexual lobby/advocates that will say that though an adolescent has a homosexual temptation or loves someone of the same sex, that this does not demand a sexual encounter. Sexual attraction is simply a temptation like any other temptation. Every such thought must be made captive to the mind of Christ. He is Lord. He can save and deliver from those things we’re tempted to give ourselves over to. [P.S. – Temptation is not sin. Even Christ was tempted in all ways as we were. BUT . . . He was without sin. He therefore is the ONLY one who can save. He is the one who will deliver from a debased mind. Sexuality was designed to be beautiful in its lawful context. Outside of God’s intent, sexuality becomes bondage.]
Homosexual advocates will not succeed, because God has already judged them. He has seen their dark exchanges. Their abandonment of the truth, of sanity, and of acknowledgement of the Creator has been overthrown. He will not stand by and allow them to continue to pervert a generation unchallenged. So he has begun their judgment by giving them over to the ultimate end of their sexual perversion—transgenderism.
As Scripture predicted, they already are self-destructing. One writer reports:
Transgenderism (or transsexualism) is not normal. In fact, it’s so abnormal and unnatural that a staggeringly tragic 41 percent of all transgender individuals living in the United States have attempted to commit suicide, according to a 2010 study.**
Remember what the Holy Spirit said in Romans 1—they are “receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.” Sadly, they are willing to face Aids, STD’s, suicide, depression and phobias to embrace the outcome of their darkened minds. I find this very sad, when God’s original purpose for their lives was one of compassion, love, dignity, and a legacy of righteousness.
Their madness increases. They now are no longer satisfied with a growing public acceptance of their “lifestyle,” they want to enlist the children. They want no other “choice” made available to our kids. And if we try to bring truth to light or lovingly confront their madness, they label it hate. Truth is not hate, it’s truth! God’s truth.
But Jesus said that they will reject us because those bent on sin rejected him. Remember what Jesus said? We are not the haters. They have projected their own hatred onto us just as they did to Jesus because his righteous life condemned them:
“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. Whoever hates me hates my Father also. If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.’” (John 15:18–25, ESV)
It is my personal conviction that the downward spiral of our culture and the rampant lawlessness and hatred toward the truly righteous followers of Jesus (even on the part of nominal “Christians”) is rapidly moving American followers of Jesus toward the persecution that Jesus prophesied for all who would choose to live godly lives in Christ Jesus. Even so-called “Christians” (church goers) will be deceived into thinking that those who do not accept alternate sexual orientations are overly prudish, judgmental and perhaps deserving of the suffering and persecution they will undergo as they continue to be witnesses of God’s truth and Christ’s compassion. Nominal Christians stood by as the leaders of the Third Reich dragged the Jews off to camps. They also stood by when the Nazis dragged believing disciples of Jesus who tried to house, protect, and save the Jews off to death camps. Nominal Christians are religious, but they don’t know Jesus or His Father. The wheat and tares grow together until the final angelic harvest.
Our response should not be to condemn those who walk in the darkness of their fallen mindset—though we thoroughly reject their behavior. Be warned, if you do not reject their abandonment of God as Creator and their fallen sexuality, then you will be judged with them according to the Scriptures (Rom. 1:32, above).
We need to pray for mercy, that God will relent from his “abandonment-wrath” and grant them mercy and and light to transform their darkened hearts and minds by the love of Jesus. Pray for clarity regarding the rejection of God’s intent for their lives. Ask the Father to give them godly sorrow and a real picture of what Jesus did to purchase their wholeness.
IMPORTANT: There is NO EXCUSE for violence or mean-spiritedness toward those of the homosexual community. We must not return what they dish out to us. Jesus told us to love those who speak out against us. We are to return good for evil. We must simply be true to the testimony of Jesus and the Word of God so that they hear the truth spoken in love, and are without excuse. Hopefully, some will hear and allow their hearts to be turned. Then they will be transformed to Know Christ and make Him known.
*For definitions: Google the terms “Czar” and “autocrat” (which is part of the description of a Czar/Tsar
** David Kupelian, “Transgender Madness: How Psychiatrists are Bullied into ‘Normalizing’ Sexual Derangement,” 22:10 Whistleblower, Oct. 2013, p. 10.
©2013 David C Alves
We’re in the very first stages of a transition. New Life Fellowship of Concord, NH was a traditional church that transitioned to a cell church. After ten years as a cell church, we just sold our building in town and are moving and morphing into a house church. We are not doing this intentionally. We’re simply following the Lord. The way we’re meeting has changed as much as the venue is now changing. We’re informal and relational.
Actually, the transition began with the way we worshiped. We added a period of silent waiting upon the Lord immediately following our music worship. And from there, we felt that the Lord wanted us to be less ordered and open up for more involvement by the people. As we invited folks to share what they sensed the Lord doing, we began to see that He was changing our focus.
Now we are hoping that we don’t just fall back on our earlier worship format. We don’t want to become–as one author wrote–“a church service captured by a living room.” We want to explore more fully anything that will draw us closer to our Father and to one another without compromising the Gospel or abandoning worship. But we sense our worship will change. And so will our outreach.
I’m not sure how we will meet without a plan, but the Lord knows; and we’re willing to let Him lead. He is the Head of the church.
We all agree that we’re teetering on the brink of the ministry of Jesus. People who need healing and deliverance are coming to us. We have always desired to have them see Jesus– “To Know Him and To Make Him Known.” We also know that in our age and culture, the only way to lead people to Jesus by demonstrating that He cares about their needs, their hurts, and pains.
I had a seminary professor, J. Christy Wilson. He had been a missionary to the Muslims in Afghanistan for fifteen years. He said once in answer to a question I posed: “You will never win a Muslim with an argument. You will lose every time. But the way they come to Christ is when they see Him heal their children or loved ones. They are won through the manifest compassion of God. Allah cannot heal. Allah does not heal.” Only a power encounter or revelation of Christ will bring Muslims to Christ. I believe that’s true of not only that group but of many modern people groups who have abandoned what they consider dead religion. Unfortunately, they threw out the baby with the bathwater.
Anyhow, I look forward to our first house church meeting this coming Sunday. Yes, we still meet every other Sunday and on off weeks, we meet on Saturday at barbecues to which we invite our friends and family who do not yet know Jesus. One week of outreach followed by one week of worship and prayer for those we love. That seems to be the pattern.
We do not feel that we have the exclusive corner on how to do church right and everyone else is doing it wrong. We feel that every church has a ministry if they want one. They fulfill a purpose that is specifically theirs. We simply believe that this is where God is leading us. And because we love Jesus, we can do nothing better than to follow. Unless of course, we’d rather be a museum than a ministry. Not us. We’re in this for life . . . all the way.
QUESTION: Wonder what God has for us as we abandon our old wineskin for a new one?