Tag Archives: Dennison

This is a huge issue that should be approached delicately

Warning. This is very much a current affairs issue, very much a sensitive issue, and very much an issue of which every Christian should be aware. I’ve read much, listened to posts, watched a variety of resources … and to be frank … where this is leading could be very confrontational and very much an open door of opposition to orthodox Christian belief and practice. I could write so much, but would like to share Dr. Denison’s great article that just approaches the topic. I also recommend Mohler’s briefing and other solid writers.

DOMA to now the RFMA. ……………..

Does the so-called “Respect For Marriage Act” threaten our religious liberty?

Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God (Acts 14:22).

The Senate voted this week to advance the so-called “Respect for Marriage Act” (RFMA). The legislation would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which definedmarriage for federal purposes as the union of one man and one woman. DOMA was adopted overwhelmingly by Congress in 1996 and signed into law by President Clinton.

The RFMA does just the opposite, requiring the federal government to recognize the validity of same-sex marriages in the United States. In essence, it makes the 2015 Supreme Court ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges into federal law.

In this sense, the RFMA changes nothing about the status of same-sex marriage in America. However, the legislation is raising enormous questions about First Amendment protections for those who support traditional marriage on religious grounds.

“Explicitly declaring the Bible is wrong”

On Monday, a bipartisan group of senators announced that they had crafted “commonsense language to confirm that this legislation fully respects and protects Americans’ religious liberties and diverse beliefs, while leaving intact the core mission of the legislation to protect marriage equality.” According to CBS News, the amendment “ensures nonprofit religious organizations will not be required to provide services, facilities, or goods for the celebration of a same-sex marriage, and protects religious liberty and conscience protections available under the Constitution and federal law, including the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.”

In addition, it makes clear that the bill does not authorize the federal government to recognize polygamous marriage.

However, US Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA) opposed the legislation and warned that it threatens religious liberty: “This legislation would enable activists to sue faith-based groups that provide vital services for our communities in an attempt to force them to abandon their deeply held beliefs about marriage, or close their doors.” He added, “The Respect for Marriage Act does not provide any meaningful benefit to same-sex marriages that does not already exist. It does significantly threaten religious liberty.”

Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, chairman of the Catholic bishops’ Committee for Religious Liberty, likewise warned, “The bill will be a new arrow in the quiver of those who wish to deny religious organizations’ liberty to freely exercise their religious duties, strip them of their tax exemptions, or exclude them from full participation in the public arena.”

Matt Sharp, senior counsel with the Alliance Defending Freedom, also warned that the legislation could open Christians up to lawsuits at the federal level, noting that believers running businesses and charitable organizations could be at risk. He also questioned whether some Christian nonprofits could find their tax-exempt status in peril.

Rabbi Yaakov Menken, the founder of Project Genesis and the managing director of the Coalition for Jewish Values, said in a Tuesday interview that the RFMA is the federal government “explicitly declaring the Bible is wrong.” He noted that it allows “any private actor to initiate a lawsuit if a religious school wishes to recognize only traditional marriages.” In his view, the act “means exposing our community to a host of bad actors willing to engage in litigation.”

In a day when six in ten Americans say the legalization of same-sex marriage is good for society, we should not be surprised that Congress would follow suit. And we should not be surprised when those who defend traditional marriage must pay a price for our biblical convictions.

“In the world you will have tribulation”

I’ll respond by focusing on a biblical fact that may seem surprising or even unwelcome: suffering for our faith is an indispensable part of the genuine Christian life.

Paul stated his aspiration “that I may know [Jesus] and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death” (Philippians 3:10). The apostle spent time on his first missionary journey “strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22).

If we are truly following Jesus, we must be going in the opposite direction from those who oppose Jesus. This is why our Lord warned his disciples, “In the world you will have tribulation” (John 16:33). And it is why, as Paul observed, “all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12).

I do not mean to suggest that we need to seek persecution. If we are faithful to our Lord, persecution will find us. Satan “prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). If he considers you a threat, he will attack. If he does not consider you a threat, he will leave you alone.

Which should be true for true disciples of Jesus?

“When I am weak, then I am strong”

The time to prepare for persecution is before it arises. So, decide now that you will be faithful to your Lord today. Ask his Spirit to control and empower your life (Ephesians 5:18). Pray for the strength to refuse temptation when it strikes (1 Corinthians 10:13). When you “submit yourselves therefore to God,” you can then “resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).

When your life and mind are surrendered to the Holy Spirit, you can claim Jesus’ promise: “When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you” (Matthew 10:19–20).

If you choose to pay a price to follow Jesus, you are in excellent company, for you can say with Paul, “I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10).

Will you be “strong” today?

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Again, thank you Dr. Dennison for these words.

Don’t Friend Anybody, Ever … or Not

Making friends in an online community just ain’t the same. Neither is church!

He was a person who was older than me. He shared from his heart with confidence and fervor. And he told the group point blank … never make friends there – never ever. Maybe he wasn’t so much older then me, but I know I act more childish, oops, I mean childlike. But his directness caught me off guard.

Let me give some context. I was at a recent forum with a group of pastors. They asked if pastors should have friendships in the church at which they serve. It was to this question he was adamant.

But I wonder if we create this culture of separation in so many places that prohibits us from truly reaching out and making relational connections to those right around us? It’s not a vilification, though that happens in many places (think Washington). It’s not a taking a light view of the call, though people do that as well. Could it be pride? Fear? Busyness? Or just the only way one knows?

Now I’m not a snuggly, huggly, make friends quick type of guy anyway. Growing up, I moved around a lot and did not make many long term friendships. I blame my family’s lifestyle. (Thanks dad, I guess I need therapy … jk, I’m fine. I hope I didn’t pass this on to my legacy … sorry Calvin). But I think we all need each other, we need to get along, and we need to make an effort to work together.

I once picked up a book, They Smell Like Sheep, and it was written for pastors. I thought it was going to be leadership tricks to direct, shape, and make the sheep (aka congregation) to do what you want. How to overcome the sheep’s laziness, smelliness , graziness, and messiness (and yes, I made those words up). But it was not about these things. I was ticked off. It was about me, the pastor … how I was supposed to spend so much time and abide in the lives of the sheep that … that, I begin to smell like the sheep.

Maybe we all need a Dale Carnegie class (win friends and influence people). Jim Dennison wrote a great article today. Worth the read if you want a bit more on getting along with people in today’s divided culture. (Go here). Whether this dilemma is to be seen as pastor-flock, or as any person to any person, these few points might help. So, what will it take?

– hang out with people. Not just those like you, but different beliefs, different cultures, different styles. The shepherds lived with the sheep. You don’t have to forsake friendships of like minded people, but don’t wall yourself off from those different.

– know about the people. The Good Shepherd knows His sheep. Parents, get to know your kids music, preferences, and ideology. This is not about compromise. It helps in communication so that you know where each other is coming from. It will also let them know you care. Such the next point …

– show you love and care for them. Most don’t care about what you know till they know that you care. Bless those who persecute you, treat those who might vilify you with congeniality. As one author stated, no one has ever been hated into agreement.

– think more of them, then you do of yourself. I’m getting all Biblical on ya now. A little Pauline all up in your biz. A ‘stepping on my toes preach’ moment. Philippians 2.3.

So with this I close. Let’s be better at connecting; and maybe, just maybe, others will see the message of the Gospel in the way we live and the way we make friends.

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.