Allie High School GraduationEvery May, since I became a pastor over 20 years ago, I review what I want to say to graduating students on one page. I prayerfully refine it every year. This year I have consolidated points that were previously separate and I have added points #5 and #6. I welcome your interaction . . . you may talk me into changing what I say before I pass this out to graduating seniors in May.*   

Dear Graduate:

Congratulations on your accomplishment! We are so thankful for you.

For over 20 years I have thought about what I would tell graduates on one page.  Each year it is my goal to prayerfully refine this letter even as I refine our philosophy of youth ministry. Here is the 2015 version.

  1. Know that following Christ is both right and best. Believing in Jesus is right because Jesus is the One true God. He deserves all glory. Putting our faith and trust in Jesus is best because Jesus came that we might have life more abundantly (John 10:9-10). If you have not done so already, give your life to the King. On the Cross, he paid the penalty for His people so that we could spend eternity together on the New Earth in his presence. This is the Gospel (or the Good News of Christ) and it should shape every area of life. The alternative to believing in Jesus is unthinkable (John 3:36).
  2. Be warned and be sure. First, be warned: the way of the sinner is hard. As someone has said, “choose to sin, choose to suffer.” Don’t buy the lie that you can make wrong choices and not reap the consequences (Galatians 6:7-8). Do not choose to suffer by dating unbelievers! Hate, hate, hate pornography and other potentially addictive behaviors. Second, be sure. Be sure you really are a Christian (2 Cor 13:5, James 2:17). Many think they are Christians and they are not. The worst words that will ever be heard will be when many stand before Christ thinking they are Christians and find out that they will spend eternity in hell (Matt 7:21-23). The thought that some in our flock may be in that group is what scares me most as a pastor. Talk to someone soon if you have any questions!
  3. Remember that God makes bricks with a building in mind. The Apostle Peter compared individual Christians to living stones so that he could make the point that Christians should be mortared together in local churches (1 Peter 2:5). Gifted and empowered by the Holy Spirit to serve together, local churches are called to be salt –subtly seasoning and preserving every bit of our communities – – and light – – boldly proclaiming the truth to light the darkness. Be baptized and join. You need a church as much as Noah needed the ark. Don’t put church on hold for the next few years. During that time, you will make decisions that affect the trajectory of your life. Be aimed in the right direction. If you move, or go to college, make it your first priority to find a church and Christian fellowship. This is especially critical the first three weeks of college.
  4. Sharpen your wisdom saw with the Word (Philippians 1:9-11, Romans 12:1-2). Wisdom is skill for living.  It is the saw we use to cut our way through life. We need a sharp saw to make quality decisions. We sharpen our wisdom saws by memorizing and reading the Word and by hearing it preached. Be Word-centered! Rinse in Scripture. It is more precious than gold and sweeter than honey (Psalm 19:7-11).
  5. Envision a beautiful bride walking down the aisle in a Christ-centered wedding. Most of you will marry. God’s plan for sex and marriage is breathtakingly beautiful. All of us, even those who remain single, must remember that the Church is the bride of Christ. Marriage and the gospel explain one another (Ephesians 5:29-32). We cannot allow unbelieving culture to corrupt our vision for Christ-centered weddings and homes. Both marriage and the gospel are at stake.
  6. Think deeply about true answers. Don’t stumble through life as an unconscious zombie. Too many in our day never think about life’s big questions: Where did we come from? Why are we here? Why do we love? Why is there pain? How can we know God? Don’t be a zombie! Insist on answers (1 Peter 3:15). Let’s welcome discussion about what we believe so that we can point others to our King.
  7. Be assured: the people of the Red Brick Church love you. Love didn’t evolve. Love wasn’t invented. Love is eternal because our triune God is eternally love: ever giving and self-giving. He loves us and tells us to love one another. And we do. We love you. When we get to the Heavenly City, we want to know you will be at our meeting spot: 5th tree, right side of the river, facing the throne. We will be there soon. In the mean time, I am a pastoral resource available to you!

In Him,

 

Pastor Chris Brauns

www.chrisbrauns.com , @chrisbrauns

*This is a working document so I am revising it over time. I have already revised point #5 after an excellent comment. More revisions are probably coming. Proverbs 27:17

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Anderson_staver_0061426856588The Washington Post has profiled Ryan Anderson, a leading conservative defender of the traditional view of marriage. Anderson summarizes the heart of his argument:

“We argue that marriage really exists to unite a man and a woman as husband and wife to then be mother and father to any children that that union creates,” Anderson says to the voice on the other end of the line.

“This is based on anthropological truths that men and women are distinct and complementary. It’s based on a biological fact that reproduction requires both a man and a woman. It’s based on a social reality that children deserve a mom and a dad.”

He barely needs a breath. “Our argument is that this is what gets the government in the marriage business,” he says. “It’s not because the state cares about consenting adult romance.”

Read the article here.

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I recently spoke on how our local churches should engage the discussion of homosexuality and the definition of marriage. Below are a selection of my sources.

This is not an exhaustive list. It includes those sources I have come across in my studies. By listing a source here, I do not mean to imply that I am in complete agreement. Far from it! “But test everything; hold fast what is good (1 Thessalonians 5:21).”

*Indicates those resources that are either most helpful or most relevant to the discussion. Again, I reiterate that my intent is not to say that I agree with them completely.

*“A Church Statement on Human Sexuality: Homosexuality and Same-Sex ‘Marriage’ A Resource for EFCA Churches.” The Evangelical Church of America, May 1, 2013. http://go.efca.org/sites/default/files/resources/docs/2013/05/a_church_statement_on_human_sexuality_3.pdf.

*Allberry, Sam. “A Review: God and the Gay Christian – A Review.” The Gospel Coalition, May 21, 2014. http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/god-and-the-gay-christian.

*———. Is God Anti-Gay? And Other Questions About Homosexuality, the Bible and Same-Sex Attraction. The Good Book Company Ltd, 2013.

Andersen, Kirsten. “Adult Children of Gay Parents Unite in Court to Testify Against Same-Sex Marriage.” Breaking Christian News, January 16, 2015. http://www.breakingchristiannews.com/articles/display_art.html?ID=15290.

“Attracted To Men, Pastor Feels Called To Marriage With A Woman.” National Public Radio: The Sunday Conversation, January 4, 2015. http://www.npr.org/2015/01/04/374857829/a-pastor-moves-past-his-attraction-to-men-and-so-does-his-wife.

Barwick, Heather. “Dear Gay Community: Your Kids Are Hurting.” The Federalist, March 17, 2015. http://thefederalist.com/2015/03/17/dear-gay-community-your-kids-are-hurting/ – .VQhB_1qpgM9.facebook.

Bauckham, Richard. The Bible and Mission: Christian Witness in a Postmodern World. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2003.

Boorstein, Michelle. “Gay Christians Choosing Celibacy Emerge from the Shadows.” The Washington Post, December 13, 2014. http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/gay-christians-choosing-celibacy-emerge-from-the-shadows/2014/12/13/51c73aea-6ab2-11e4-9fb4-a622dae742a2_story.html.

Brauns, Chris. “Christian Smith Helps Us Understand Our Teens and Young Adults.” A Brick in the Valley: The Web Site of Pastor and Author Chris Brauns, June 3, 2010. http://chrisbrauns.com/2010/06/christian-smith-helps-us-understand-our-teens-and-young-adults/.

———. “C.S. Lewis and His Last Hurdle to Belief.” A Brick in the Valley: The Web Site of Pastor and Author Chris Brauns, April 21, 2013. http://chrisbrauns.com/2013/04/c-s-lewis-and-one-of-his-last-hurdles-to-belief/.

———. “John Frame: The Great Question Confronting Modern Humanity.” A Brick in the Valley: The Web Site of Pastor and Author Chris Brauns, November 13, 2014. http://chrisbrauns.com/2014/11/john-frame-great-question-confronting-modern-humanity/.

———. “On the Rise of Individualism and the Decline of Morality.” A Brick in the Valley: The Web Site of Pastor and Author Chris Brauns, May 29, 2013. http://chrisbrauns.com/2013/05/individualism-and-the-decline-of-morality/.

*Brooks, David. “The Cost of Relativism.” The New York Times, March 10, 2015. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/10/opinion/david-brooks-the-cost-of-relativism.html.

Burk, Denny. “10 Ways to Love Your Transgender Neighbor.” Denny Burk: A Commentary on Theology, Politics, and Culture, June 12, 2014. http://www.dennyburk.com/10-ways-to-love-your-transgender-neighbor/.

———. “An Exercise Club Allows Men into Women’s Locker Rooms, and Vice Versa | Denny Burk.” Denny Burk: A Commentary on Theology, Politics, and Culture, March 12, 2015. http://www.dennyburk.com/an-exercise-club-allows-men-into-womens-locker-rooms-and-vice-versa-planetfitness/.

———. “How to Think and Pray about the Suicide of a Transgender Teen | Denny Burk.” Denny Burk: A Commentary on Theology, Politics, and Culture, January 2, 2015. http://www.dennyburk.com/how-to-think-and-pray-about-the-suicide-of-a-transgender-teen/.

———. “Mozilla CEO Pressured to Resign for Supporting Traditional Marriage | Denny Burk.” Denny Burk: A Commentary on Theology, Politics, and Culture, April 3, 2014. http://www.dennyburk.com/mozilla-ceo-pressured-to-resign-for-supporting-gay-marriage/.

———. “My Husband’s Not Gay.” Denny Burk: A Commentary on Theology, Politics, and Culture, January 6, 2015. http://www.dennyburk.com/my-husbands-not-gay/.

———. “The Firing of Atlanta Fire Chief Is an Intolerable Precedent.” Denny Burk: A Commentary on Theology, Politics, and Culture, January 9, 2015. http://www.dennyburk.com/the-firing-of-atlanta-fire-chief-is-an-intolerable-precedent/.

———. “Will Christians Be Allowed to Serve as Judges in California?” Denny Burk: A Commentary on Theology, Politics, and Culture, January 24, 2015. http://www.dennyburk.com/will-christians-be-allowed-to-serve-as-judges-in-california/.

*Butterfield, Rosaria. The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert. Crown & Covenant Publications, 2012.

*Carson, D.A. The Gagging of God: Christianity Confronts Pluralism. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996.

*Chandler, Matt. “A Beautiful Design: In His Image.” presented at the The Village Church, Dallas, September 14, 2014. http://www.thevillagechurch.net/resources/sermons/detail/in-his-image/.

*DeYoung, Kevin. “Not That Kind of Homosexuality?” The Gospel Coalition, November 13, 2014. http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/kevindeyoung/2014/11/13/not-that-kind-of-homosexuality/.

*———. What Does the Bible Really Teach About Homosexuality. Wheaton: Crossway, 2015.

Dias, Elizabeth. “Inside the Evangelical Fight Over Gay Marriage.” Time Magazine, January 15, 1916. http://time.com/3668781/inside-the-evangelical-fight-over-gay-marriage/?loginfailure=true.

Dreher, Rod. “Christian and Countercultural.” First Things, February 1, 2015. http://www.firstthings.com/article/2015/02/christian-and-countercultural.

*Eberstadt, Mary. How the West Really Lost God. Conschohocken, PA: Templeton Press, 2013.

*———. “Is Food the New Sex? A Curious Reversal in Moralizing.” Hoover Institution: Policy Review, March 2009. http://www.hoover.org/research/food-new-sex.

———. “Is Pornography the New Tobacco: Another Curious Reversal in Moralizing.” Hoover Institution: Public Policy, April 1, 2009. http://www.hoover.org/research/pornography-new-tobacco.

*———. “The New Intolerance by Mary Eberstadt.” First Things, March 2015. http://www.firstthings.com/article/2015/03/the-new-intolerance.

———. “What Does Woman Want? The War Between the Sexless.” First Things, October 1, 2009. http://www.firstthings.com/article/2009/10/what-does-woman-want.

Epstein, Brian. “What Alabama’s Roy Moore Got Right.” The New York Times, February 16, 2015. http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/02/16/what-alabamas-roy-moore-gets-right/.

Flores, Carlos D. “The Absurdity of Transgenderism: A Stern but Necessary Critique | Public Discourse.” The Witherspoon Institute: Public Discourse, February 6, 2015. http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2015/02/14305/.

*Frame, John M. Apologetics to the Glory of God. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R, 1994.

French, David. “Where God Loves Abortion and Hates Israel.” National Review, March 20, 2015. http://www.nationalreview.com/article/415694/where-god-loves-abortion-and-hates-israel-david-french?utm_content=buffera8278&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer.

Gagnon, Robert. “A Response to Walter Wink’s Christian Century Review of The Bible and Homosexual Practice,” July 2002. http://www.robgagnon.net/articles/gagnon3.pdf.

———. The Bible and Homosexual Practice: Texts and Hermeneutics. Nashville: Abingdon, 2001.

*Gagnon, Robert A.J. “Why San Francisco’s Biggest Megachurch Is Wrong About Sex.” First Things, March 7, 2015. http://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2015/03/why-san-franciscos-biggest-megachurch-is-wrong-about-sex.

Girgis, Sherif, Ryan T. Anderson, and Robert T. George. What Is Marriage?: Man and Woman: A Defense. Encounter Books, 2012.

*Gushee, David P., Matthew Vines, and Brian D. McLaren. Changing Our Mind. Canton, MI: David Crumm Media, LLC, 2014. The author argues that same sex marriage can be biblical.

*Guthrie, George. “A Review: Changing Our Mind.” The Gospel Coalition, January 9, 2015. http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/changing-our-mind.

Hannon, Michael W. “Against Heterosexuality by Michael W. Hannon | Articles | First Things.” First Things, March 1, 2014. http://www.firstthings.com/article/2014/03/against-heterosexuality.

Hansen, Collin. “My Top 10 Theology Stories of 2014.” The Gospel Coalition, December 22, 2014. http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/my-top-10-theology-stories-of-2014.

Higgins, Will. “Owners Who Refused Cake for Gay Couple Close Shop.” The Indianapolis Star, February 27, 2015. http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2015/02/27/anti-gay-marriage-bakery-gone/24133651/?AID=10709313&PID=4003003&SID=i7p9kmk0hu00ou4y00dth.

*Hill-Perry, Jackie. “From Lesbianism to Complementarianism.” 9 Marks, March 11, 2015. http://9marks.org/article/from-lesbianism-to-complementarianism/.

Hubbard, Peter. Love into Light: The Gospel, the Homosexual, and the Church. Greenville, SC: Ambassador International, 2013.

Johnson, Luke Timothy. “Homosexuality & The Church.” Commonweal, June 11, 2007. https://www.commonwealmagazine.org/homosexuality-church-1. Johnson flatly rejects the authority of Scripture.

Kellaway, Mitch. “WATCH: First of ‘Seven Sisters’ Schools to Admit Trans Women | Advocate.com.” The Advocate, September 3, 2015. http://www.advocate.com/politics/transgender/2014/09/03/watch-first-seven-sisters-schools-admit-trans-women.

*Keller, Tim. “Deconstructing Defeater Beliefs: Leading the Secular to Christ,” http://www.case.edu.au/images/uploads/03_pdfs/keller-deconstructing-defeater.pdf

Keller, Timothy, and Kathy Keller. The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God. New York: Dutton, 2011.

Kreeft, Peter “The Pillars of Unbelief—Kant by Peter Kreeft.” Peter Kreeft, 1988. http://www.peterkreeft.com/topics-more/pillars_kant.htm.

*Lambert, Heath. Finally Free: Fighting for Purity with the Power of Grace. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2013.

*Lewis, C.S. “God in the Dock.” In God in the Dock: Essays on Theology and Ethics, edited by Walter Hooper, 240–44. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1970.

Lloyd, Jean. “Seven Things I Wish My Pastor Knew About My Homosexuality.” The Witherspoon Institute: Public Discourse, December 10, 2014. http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2014/12/14149/.

———. “The Girl in the Tuxedo: Two Variations on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity | Public Discourse.” The Witherspoon Institute: Public Discourse, February 5, 2015. http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2015/02/14388/.

London, Herbert. America’s Secular Challenge: The Rise of a New National Religion. New York: Encounter Books, 2008.

Mai-Duc, Christine. “California Judges Barred from Participating in Boy Scouts over Discrimination against Gays – LA Times.” LA Times, January 24, 2015. http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-california-judges-banned-boy-scouts-20150123-story.html.

McDowell, Sean, and John Stonestreet. Same-Sex Marriage: A Thoughtful Approach to God’s Design for Marriage. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2014.

McHugh, Paul. “Transgender Surgery Isn’t the Solution.” The Wall Street Journal, June 12, 2014. http://www.wsj.com/articles/paul-mchugh-transgender-surgery-isnt-the-solution-1402615120.

Merritt, Jonathan. “If the Supreme Court Legalizes Gay Marriage in 2015, How Will Evangelicals Respond?” On Faith and Culture, January 5, 2015. http://jonathanmerritt.religionnews.com/2015/01/05/supreme-court-legalizes-gay-marriage-2015-will-evangelicals-respond/.

———. “Leading Evangelical Ethicist David Gushee Is Now pro-LGBT. Here’s Why It Matters.,” October 24, 2014. http://jonathanmerritt.religionnews.com/2014/10/24/david-gushee-lgbt-homosexuality-matters/.

Metaxas, Eric. “Wanting a Mom and a Dad.” Breakpoint Commentaries, June 3, 2010. http://www.breakpoint.org/bpcommentaries/entry/13/22386?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+BpCommentaries+%28BreakPoint+Commentaries%29&utm_content=Google+Reader.

Mohler, Albert, J., ed. God and the Gay Christian: A Response to Matthew Vines. Louisville: SBTS Press, 2014.

Mohler, Albert J. “Religious Liberty vs. Erotic Liberty — Religious Liberty Is Losing,” January 12, 2015. http://www.albertmohler.com/2015/01/12/religious-liberty-vs-erotic-liberty-religious-liberty-is-losing/.

Moore, Elizabeth Armstrong. “Woman Turns 40, Marries Herself.” USA Today, January 29, 2015. http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2015/01/29/woman-marries-herself-houston/22519099/.

Moore, Russell. “Arousing Ourselves to Death.” Moore to the Point, April 27, 2011. http://www.russellmoore.com/2011/04/27/arousing-ourselves-to-death/.

———. “How Should Same-Sex Marriage Change the Church’s Witness? | Moore to the Point.” Moore to the Point, June 26, 2013. http://www.russellmoore.com/2013/06/26/how-should-same-sex-marriage-change-the-churchs-witness/ – more-10868.

———. “Man, Woman, and the Mystery of Christ: An Evangelical Protestant Perspective.” The Gospel Coalition, November 18, 2014. http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/man-woman-and-the-mystery-of-christ-an-evangelical-protestant-perspective.

———. Same-Sex Marriage and the Future. Nashville: The Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, 2014.

———. “The Supreme Court and Same-Sex Marriage: Why This Matters for the Church.” Moore to the Point, January 16, 2015. http://www.russellmoore.com/2015/01/16/the-supreme-court-and-same-sex-marriage-why-this-matters-for-the-church/.

———. “Why I’m Going to the Vatican.” Moore to the Point, November 3, 2014. http://www.russellmoore.com/2014/11/03/why-im-going-to-the-vatican/.

*———. “Women, Stop Submitting to Men.” Moore to the Point, December 5, 2011. http://www.russellmoore.com/2011/12/05/women-stop-submitting-to-men/.

Naselli, Andy. “Interview with John Frame on the Problem of Evil.” The Gospel Coalition, August 20, 2014. http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justintaylor/2008/08/20/interview-with-john-frame-on-problem-of/.

Olasky, Marvin. “Cultural Hardball.” World Magazine, March 20, 2015. http://www.worldmag.com/2015/03/cultural_hardball.

“On Transgender Identity.” The Southern Baptist Convention, 2014. http://www.sbc.net/resolutions/2250/on-transgender-identity.

*Plump, Wendy. “A Roomful of Yearning and Regret.” The New York Times, December 9, 2010. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/12/fashion/12Modern.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0.

Pritchard, Ray. “When Gay Activists Came to Calvary | Leadership Journal.” Accessed February 14, 2015. http://www.christianitytoday.com/le/2005/winter/7.64.html?start=1.

RFRA Opponents Urge Boycott of Legislator’s Ice Business.” Accessed April 1, 2015. http://www.indystar.com/story/money/2015/03/31/rfra-opponents-urge-boycott-legislators-ice-business/70740676/.

Roth, Sara. “Bakery Risks Large Fine for Anti-Gay Discrimination.” USA Today, February 3, 2015. http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2015/02/02/bakery-same-sex-oregon-fined-wedding-cake/22771685/.

Saletan, William. “Brendan Eich Quits Mozilla: Let’s Purge All the Anti-Gay Donors to Prop 8.” Slate. Accessed March 25, 2015. http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/frame_game/2014/04/brendan_eich_quits_mozilla_let_s_purge_all_the_antigay_donors_to_prop_8.html.

Schmitz, Matthew. “N. T. Wright on Gay Marriage: Nature and Narrative Point to Complementarity.” First Things, June 11, 2014. http://www.firstthings.com/blogs/firstthoughts/2014/06/n-t-wrights-argument-against-same-sex-marriage.

Sider, Ronald J. “Tragedy, Tradition, and Opportunity in the Homosexuality Debate.” Christianity Today, November 18, 2014. http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2014/november-web-only/ron-sider-tragedy-tradition-and-opportunity-in-homosexualit.html?share=OqU4+OeFKmzpYZ0jb%2fX%2fPanyWZNIaofp.

Smethhurst, Matt. “What Sex Trafficking and Gay Marriage Have in Common: An Interview with David Platt.” The Gospel Coalition, February 3, 2015. http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/what-sex-trafficking-gay-marriage-common – When:06:03:00Z.

*Smith, Christian, and Melinda Lundquist Denton. Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005.

Sontag, Deborah. “Transgender Woman Cites Attacks and Abuse in Men’s Prison.” The New York Times, April 5, 2015. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/06/us/ashley-diamond-transgender-inmate-cites-attacks-and-abuse-in-mens-prison.html.

Stetzer, Ed. “YEAR IN REVIEW: 4 Trends in Christianity That Could Scare You, According to Ed Stetzer.” Charisma News, June 4, 2014. http://www.charismanews.com/culture/44114-4-trends-in-christianity-that-could-scare-you-according-to-ed-stetzer.

Stonestreet, John. “The ‘Gay Marriage’ Tsunami.” Breakpoint: Changing Lives, Minds and Communities Through Jesus Christ, December 30, 2014. http://www.breakpoint.org/bpcommentaries/entry/13/26552.

Strachan, Owen. “Another Pastor Self-Congratulates for Endorsing ‘Gay Christianity.’” Patheos, January 30, 2015. http://www.patheos.com/blogs/thoughtlife/2015/01/another-pastor-self-congratulates-for-endorsing-gay-christianity/.

———. “David and Jonathan’s Love Was Pure, Not Erotic.” Patheos, December 12, 2014. http://www.patheos.com/blogs/thoughtlife/2014/12/david-and-jonathans-love-was-pure-not-erotic/.

———. “Dear Rob Bell: The Church Isn’t Giving an Inch on Gay Marriage.” Thought Life. Accessed March 7, 2015. http://www.patheos.com/blogs/thoughtlife/2015/03/dear-rob-bell-the-church-isnt-giving-an-inch-on-gay-marriage/.

———. “Gay Christianity: Toward a Theological and Pastoral Response.” Patheos, December 13, 2014. http://www.patheos.com/blogs/thoughtlife/2014/12/gay-christianity-toward-a-theological-and-pastoral-response/.

Taylor, Charles. A Secular Age. 1st edition. Cambridge, Mass: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2007.

*Taylor, Justin. “A Crash Course on Influencers of Unbelief: Immanuel Kant.” The Gospel Coalition. Between Two Worlds, February 26, 2015. http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justintaylor/2015/02/26/a-crash-course-on-influencers-of-unbelief-immanuel-kant/.

———. “How Can Churches Engage Believers and Unbelievers Who Experience Same-Sex Attraction?” The Gospel Coalition, February 10, 2015. http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justintaylor/2015/02/10/how-can-churches-engage-believers-and-unbelievers-who-experience-same-sex-attraction/.

———. “How the West Really Lost God: An Interview with Mary Eberstadt.” The Gospel Coalition, July 10, 2013. http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justintaylor/2013/07/10/how-the-west-really-lost-god-an-interview-with-mary-eberstadt/.

*———. “Watch This If You Want to See What Grace Looks Like: A Conversation Between Russell Moore and Rosaria Butterfield.” The Gospel Coalition, January 5, 2015. http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justintaylor/2015/01/05/watch-this-if-you-want-to-see-what-grace-looks-like/.

Tripp, Paul. “A Bitter Harvest? | Desiring God.” Desiring God, December 15, 2010. http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/a-bitter-harvest.

Tushnet, Eve, Lisa Severine Nolland, Sherif Girgis, and Peter Ould. “Should I Attend the Wedding of a Gay Friend or Family Member?” Christianity Today, February 23, 2015. http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2015/march/gay-wedding-attend-christian-marriage-family.html?share=tADUNGDbNrc8h0GosIrZxlIklWs0Mawe.

*Vines, Matthew. God and the Gay Christian: The Biblical Case in Support of Same-Sex Relationships. New York, New York: Convergent Books, 2014. Vines unsuccessfully argues for same sex marriage.

Volokh, Eugene. “Marquette Suspends Prof’s Teaching, Orders Him off Campus.” The Washington Post, December 17, 2014. http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2014/12/17/marquette-suspends-profs-teaching-orders-him-off-campus/.

Walker, Andrew. “A Church In Exile: Hillsong Shifts on Homosexuality.” First Things, October 17, 2014. http://www.firstthings.com/blogs/firstthoughts/2014/10/a-church-in-exile.

Wetzstein, Cheryl. “Gay Couples’ Children Oppose Same-Sex Marriage, Tell of Unpleasant Upbringings.” The Washington Times, January 8, 2015. http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/jan/8/gay-couples-children-oppose-same-sex-marriage-tell/.

Woman Plans to Marry Her Father after Two Years of Dating.” Fox News. Accessed January 27, 2015. http://www.foxnews.com/us/2015/01/17/woman-plans-to-marry-her-father-after-two-years-dating/.

*Yarhouse, Mark A. Homosexuality and the Christian. Minneapolis: Bethany, 2010.

*Yuan, Christopher, and Angela Yuan. Out of a Far Country. Colorado Springs: Waterbook Press, 2011.

Zuckerman, Phil. “How Secular Family Values Stack up.” LA Times, January 14, 2015. http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-0115-zuckerman-secular-parenting-20150115-story.html.

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The Old Testament law prescribed the death penalty for some sexual sins. How are Christians to interpret Old Testament commandments to execute people for sexual sin? My upcoming sermon at the Red Brick Church will address this question.

Short of hiding in a cave – – and a cave without Internet at that – – no one has been able to escape the heated debates taking place over the definition of marriage. Dr. Albert Mohler recently noted that we know an issue is in the news when Time Magazine features the story on its cover.

There is a part of pastors that would choose to sit this controversy out. We have friends and family who will disagree with our position – – whatever our view – – and no wise person looks forward to disagreement. Picture taking a walk in a hailstorm.

Yet, for pastors, remaining silent on this issue is not an option. When the Bible speaks clearly on a matter- – and it speaks clearly on this one – – pastors do not have the luxury of avoiding controversy. To do so would be to commit the sin of some Old Testament prophets who remained silent about difficult matters (Lamentations 2:14).

So, in God’s providence,  this is my week to grasp the nettle. D.V. On Saturday I will preach on homosexuality at a conference. (Below you can watch a video in which I give some orientation to my thought going into the conference).

Sunday, we will continue our series on the Sermon on the Mount at the Red Brick Church and the question of how New Testament Christians view the Old Testament Law with its harsh statements about sexual sin. It is easy to quickly dismiss Old Testament passages that call for executions. But given that Jesus stressed that he did not come to abolish the law (Matt 5:17-18), we need to consider how we are to interpret the Law. That is to say, “How should we understand the combination of the below verses?”

You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination. Leviticus 18:22

If a man commits adultery with the wife of his neighbor, both the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death. Leviticus 20:10

If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them. Leviticus 20:13

[17] “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. [18] For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. [19] Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. [20] For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:17-20

You might expect for me to wade into the thicket regarding my position on this post – – but I’ll hold off until Sunday. As always, it is our plan for the sermon to be available online.

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JT shares:

The highlights of this conversation for me were the last two exchanges: Kevin DeYoung’s answer on gay marriage (41:30-46:12) and Jackie Hill’s answer on what is the gospel (46:14-51:15):

Panel Discussion: Kevin DeYoung, Justin Taylor, Jackie Hill Perry, and Josh Moody from Crossway on Vimeo.

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Palm Sunday PicThe Seven Last Words of Christ reference Jesus’s final statements on the cross, not individual words per se. These seven final statements include:

  1. “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Luke 23:34
  2. “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise” Luke 23:43.
  3. “Dear Woman, here is your son!” and “Here is your mother!” John 19:26-27.
  4. “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Matthew 27:46
  5. “I am thirsty” John 19:28.
  6. “It is finished!” John 19:30.
  7. “Father, into Your hands I commit my spirit” Luke 23:46

For more reflection see:

John MacArthur, “The Seven Last Sayings of Christ: A Plea for Forgiveness,” Grace To You, March 23, 2015, http://www.gty.org/blog/B150323.

 

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Maundy Thursday IllustrationGiven the Old Testament’s explicit instruction to love our neighbors as ourselves (Leviticus 19:18), what’s new about the New Commandment?

Churches celebrate Maundy Thursday on the Holy Week in commemoration of the Last Supper and Jesus’ issuance of a new commandment.

“Maundy” comes from the Latin “mandatum” and references the word “commandment” in John 13:34.[1]

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. John 13:34-35.

Jesus illustrated his new commandment, prior to giving it, by washing the disciples’ feet (John 13:1-20). Christ’s example in servant love amazes us for at least four reasons:

  • The washing of feet was a menial task yet Christ, who is God, was willing to do it.
  • Christ washed the disciples feet fully conscious of the fact that his redemptive task would require him to go to the Cross.
  • Jesus washed Peter’s feet, and those of the other disciples, knowing that Peter would deny him and that all the disciples would scatter (John 13:36-38k, Matthew 26:31).
  • Jesus washed Judas’s feet even though Judas was going to betray him. In the Gospel of John, John makes sure that we do not miss that Jesus washed Judas’s feet.  Judas is mentioned at the beginning (John 13:2) and at the end of the passage (John 13:21-30).

Christ’s followers are to be known by their servant love. Jesus assured his disciples that their love for one another would distinctively identify them as followers of Christ.

The student of the Old Testament may wonder what is “new” about Jesus’s new commandment given that Leviticus 19:18 explicitly commands:

 You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD. Leviticus 19:18.

 One of my seminary professors, Dr. Carl Hoch, whose life work was studying the New Testament use of the word “new” (καινός / kainos), identified five major ways that the new commandment is “new.”[2]

  • The New Model – Jesus himself set the example.
  • The New Motive – Jesus love for lost people is now explicitly stated.
  • The New Motivator – Jesus soon encourages his disciples that it is to our advantage that he is leaving because this means he will send the Holy Spirit.
  • The New Mission – The new commandment is the central feature of the mission of making disciples of Christ (John 13:35, Matthew 28:18-20).
  • The New Milieu – Dr. Hoch was stretching a bit for “m’s” when he got to this one, but his point is that our Lord’s death, burial, and resurrection inaugurated a new age. Dr. Hoch wrote, “The new situation created by the sacrifice of Christ anticipates in the present the condition of the age to come. The mutual love of the disciples is therefore the rule of the new era.”[3]

Hoch concluded:

The new commandment is the sine qua non of the Christian life. “It is simple enough for a toddler to memorize and appreciate, profound enough that the most mature believers are repeatedly embarrassed at how poorly they comprehend it and put it into practice. Can any more be said?[4]

See also:

Kevin DeYoung on Maundy Thursday[5]

John Piper on Thursday of the Commandment[6]

What Happened Each Day of Holy Week : This post gives a summary of what happened each day of Holy Week.

The people involved in the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ: Have problems keeping track of all the Marys and the other people involved in Holy Week? Here’s a summary.

Places Associated with Holy Week: Calvary is the same as Golgotha and other helpful facts about Holy Week places.

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[1] In the original language, the word “commandment” is first in John 13:34. The word order is literally, Ἐντολὴν καινὴν δίδωμι ὑμῖν, ἵνα ἀγαπᾶτε ἀλλήλους, καθὼς ἠγάπησα ὑμᾶς ἵνα καὶ ὑμεῖς ἀγαπᾶτε ἀλλήλους / commandment new I give to you, in order that you love one another, even as I have loved you so that and you love one another.”

[2] Carl B. Hoch, All Things New: The Significance of Newness for Biblical Theology (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1995), 142–145.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid., 145.

[5] Kevin DeYoung, “Maundy Thursday,” The Gospel Coalition, April 1, 2010, http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/kevindeyoung/2010/04/01/maundy-thursday-2/.

[6] John Piper, “Thursday of the Commandment,” Desiring God, March 20, 2008, http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/thursday-of-the-commandment.

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Suppose that you want to get rid of some behavior in your life.  It is never enough to stop doing the wrong thing.  In order to defeat that behavior, you need to not only stop doing the wrong thing, but also start doing the right thing.

The Apostle Paul emphasizes this principle.

  • He tells the Ephesians, “stop lying, instead, tell the truth.”
  • He also encourages the Ephesians, rather than being drunk, speak to one another with Psalms Hymns and spiritual songs.
  • And, don’t let unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up.

So, if you are going to defeat a behavior in your life.  One of the first things that you need to do is find the right alternative.  Here is one to think about this week.  The positive alternative to “worrying” is “thanksgiving.”  Paul tells the Philippians, “Don’t be anxious but in everything by prayer and petition with thanksgiving make your requests known to God.”

If you struggle with worry and anxiety, and most of us do at one time or another, make it your goal this week to replace those thoughts with thanksgiving.

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Psalm 22 - Summary of New Testament UsageCharles Spurgeon believed Jesus may have repeated Psalm 22 word for word on the Cross. If you review the New Testament usage of Psalm 22, you will understand why Spurgeon thought so.

Psalm 22 is a psalm with application in David’s life (circa 1000 B.C) but it is prophetic and fulfilled completely only by Christ. Hence, it is sometimes called the 5th Gospel account of the cross.[1] Spurgeon says that this Psalm is beyond all others:

The Psalm of the Cross. It may have been actually repeated word by word by our Lord when hanging on the tree; it would be too bold to say that it was so, but even a causal reader may see that it might have been . . . O for grace to draw near and see this great sight! We should read reverently, putting off our shoes from our feet, as Moses did at the burning bush, for if there be holy ground anywhere in Scripture it is this psalm.[2]

 Regarding Psalm 22, Kaiser writes:

David did experience unusual suffering, but under a revelation from God he witnesses suffering of one of his offspring, presumably the last in that promised line, that far transcends anything that came his way.[3]

The Psalm’s essential message is summarized in verse 24. In spite of God’s awful delay in answering prayer, he answers and upholds ultimate justice.”[4] So, someone has said, that while Psalm 22 begins with a “sob”, it ends with a “song” in anticipation of the resurrection.[5]

Derek Kidner:

No Christian can read this without being vividly confronted with the crucifixion. It is not only a matter of prophecy minutely fulfilled, but of the sufferer’s humility – – there is no plea for vengeance—and his vision of a world-wide ingathering of the Gentiles. The Gelineau translation entitles it ‘The suffering servant wins the deliverance of the nations’.

 No incident recorded of David can begin to account for this Psalm. It is prophetic of the Cross.[6]

 

 ——–

[1] Peter C. Craigie, Psalms 1-50, ed. David A. Hubbard et al., Word Biblical Commentary (Waco: Word, 1983), 202.

[2] {Citation}

[3] Walter C. Kaiser, The Messiah in the Old Testament, Studies in Old Testament Biblical Theology (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1995), 113.

[4] Waltke, Bruce K., Houston, James M., and Erika Moore, The Psalms as Christian Worship: A Historical Commentary (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2010), 398.

[5] “Psalms Studies – Book 1,” accessed March 27, 2012, http://www.christadelphianbooks.org/booker/psalms1/psabka30.html.

[6] Derek Kidner, Psalms 1-72, ed. D.J. Wiseman, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 1973), 105.

See also:

What Happened Each Day of Holy Week : This post gives a summary of what happened each day of Holy Week.

The people involved in the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ: Have problems keeping track of all the Marys and the other people involved in Holy Week? Here’s a summary.

Places Associated with Holy Week: Calvary is the same as Golgotha and other helpful facts about Holy Week places.

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Palm Sunday PicThe following links will help you review what happened during Holy Week and why it is important.

What Happened Each Day of Holy Week : This post gives a summary of what happened each day of Holy Week.

The people involved in the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ: Have problems keeping track of all the Marys and the other people involved in Holy Week? Here’s a summary.

Places Associated with Holy Week: Calvary is the same as Golgotha and other helpful facts about Holy Week places.

Important theological terms: Terms we must know. These help understand why Jesus went to the Cross.

R.C. Sproul on the Most Horrible and Beautiful Example of God’s Wrath For Us  – To understand the Cross, we must understand that Jesus went there in the place of his people.

Only the Resurrection of Christ Can Explain These Facts – This will bolster your confidence in the historical truth of the resurrection.

Summary and Select Quotes of Isaiah’s Servant Songs Including Isaiah 53 – Isaiah vividly prophesied the Cross 700 years prior to the time of Christ.

Sing Psalm 118 in Anticipation of Palm Sunday and Holy Week – Shows the connections between Psalm 118 and Holy Week.

7 Reasons I Recommend the Final Days of Jesus by Taylor and Kostenberger – Points to the best introductory resource on Holy Week.

John R.W. Stott: 3 Truths Enforced by the Cross – Vintage Stott giving a powerful summary of truths enforced by the Cross.

Help Select Good Friday and Easter Hymns – Hymns like these are an essential part of worship during Holy Week.

What Will You Look Like After Your Resurrection : A link to a post by pastor Steve Dewitt that helps us consider how our resurrection bodies will look after Christ returns.

S.M. Lockridge: Sunday’s Comin: An excerpt from one of the all time great sermons on the hope of the resurrection when all seems lost.

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