Read This! 10.17.17

The Cheap Way to Bless Your Pastor

Yeah, that would do it.

Pastor, Keep a Close Watch On Your Life and Illustrations

Helpful tips on using illustrations in sermons.

6 Reasons Pastors and Church Leaders Must be More Courageous Today

I agree on the need for courage.

6 Ways to Steward Your Weekly Screen Time

These are worth looking into.

116 Been Real

I appreciate Piper’s response to Lecrae leaving “white evangelicalism”.

Thomas Becon

I hope this series continues. I love hearing about obscure people in history.

Don’t Freak Out If You’re Not Feeling God’s Presence

I appreciate this.

Why the End of Marriage in Eternity is a Good Thing

I’ve honestly always struggled with this.

Does the Bible have errors or contradictions?

Is It Really God Speaking to You?

“I’ve prayed about this and I really feel like God told me that it would be okay.”

Those were the words that I heard when a young lady informed me that she was leaving her husband in order to live with another dude. She was happier with the other guy. She knew that God didn’t want her to be unhappy and so as she prayed that voice in her head confirmed that she had permission from the Almighty.

Don’t write me off as crazy, but I think she probably did hear a sort of “voice” in her mind that she attributed to God. And I don’t believe it was necessarily demonic. In fact I believe it is a voice that many of us hear on a daily basis. I believe many well-meaning believers attribute this voice to God.

That voice is your conscience.

I was with a guy who told me that as he was praying “God told him” that he was being inconsistent in a particular behavior. As he played out the conversation with “God” it was interesting how much the Lord sounded like the man who was telling me the story. Your conscience is “your consciousness of what you believe is right and wrong.” (Naselli, 41) It is that internal voice that you hear that tells you whether things are right or wrong.

But here is the problem with equating the voice of your conscience to the voice of God. Your conscience can be wrong. In fact it can be seared (1 Timothy 4:2) and guilty (Hebrews 10:22). Your conscience can make you think that right is wrong and that wrong is right.

This is why that voice in your head needs to be submitted to God’s Word and not just assumed it is God. God could very well be using your conscience. It is not wise to go against your conscience. But our conscience must be recalibrated to the word of God. It is also possible that your conscience could be way off and causing you to submit to laws which are opposed to the gospel or giving you permission to do things that God never said is appropriate.

This is why I’m really shy to say “God told me” unless it’s something that I can clearly back up with Scripture. That’s not saying that God only speaks to us by His Word. But it is saying that the only certain guide that we have is God’s Word. That voice in my head must submit to the ancient words and ultimately to the Lord Himself.

Jiminy Cricket isn’t infallible. He isn’t the voice of God. He’s a helper. But we should speak a little less authoritatively. Instead of saying “God said to me…” Perhaps say, “My Jiminiy Cricket is saying to me…” 

It’s fine to let your conscience be your guide so long as your conscience is held captive to the word of God.

Andy Naselli and J.D. Crowley have written a tremendously helpful book on the conscience. Conscience: What It Is, How to Train It, and Loving Those Who Differ

Photo source: here

Read This! 10.12.17

Letter to a Church Member (or a Letter to Myself)

Amen! And I say this as a church member who just happens to be a pastor.

God Is With You in Your Panic Attack

There are some very helpful practical tips in here.

Five Obstacles that Dads Face

These are things that stand in the way of us being the best dads we can be.

The Man and His Song

I was saddened to hear of the death of Tom Petty. I appreciated this reflection on his music by David Mathis. 

How to Fight When Your Mind Is Failing

This is about sanctification when you are battling issues like memory loss and dementia.

Think About Your Welcome

I don’t know how we could pull this off with our structure and building (perhaps our Sunday school fills this need) but I like this idea.

Five Elements of a Church Membership Class

I think we cover all of these in our new members class.

What About the Pigs?

I remember when I preached through Mark all of the ink that was spilled over this question.

Jeremy Pierre answers an important question on assurance:

Why We Must Fight For Religious Liberty Out of Principle and Not Privilege

“A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both.” –Dwight D. Eisenhower

I think Eisenhower is correct. Losing our principles—and the ability to argue on the principle of a thing, instead of on heated emotion and twisted rhetoric—will always lead to a loss of our basic freedoms. And this is why I’m going to argue that we have to speak for the principle of religious liberty regardless of who is in office.

Do a little thought experiment with me.

Imagine that our nation puts a Gay Pride Day on the nation’s calendar. In honor of this day every building which has a flag pole is encouraged to put up the rainbow flag to represent the LGBTQ community. The national sentiment becomes that if you support and honor America (all of America) you will do this. To not do this is to violate a “fundamental national public policy”. The pastor of a church refuses to do this, and does so with the support of his church. Because they refused to fly the flag they are now threatened with the loss of tax-exempt status.

Would you say this is wrong?

Most who are advocates of religious freedom would argue that it violates the first amendment. It is wrong for the government to increase taxes on private entities because its employees/members exercised free speech. That is the principle.

That is why I am going to argue that this tweet by Donald Trump is dangerous to religious liberty and we ought to call him on it:

This isn’t about how you feel concerning the NFL and the national anthem protests. That is another debate for another day. And never mind that the NFL gave up their tax-exempt status in 2015. That is irrelevant. Nor is this about whether or not a football league should be included in the 501( c) (6 ) tax code. This is about the principle that you do not increase taxes on a group just because they are perceived as disrespecting our country. To do so is to set a dangerous precedent.

Feel free to argue about the merits of the principle and how far it should extend. But know that the tide could just as easily shift and the word “NFL” could easily change to “church”. In fact such things were being said even in 2015 when Obergefell dropped. The only difference now is that political power has shifted some. But that could just as easily shift in four more years.

If we want to fight for religious liberty it isn’t done by merely voting every four years. The fight for religious liberty is a fight for principle. If your aren’t fighting for these freedoms when you are the one with the privilege then it won’t be long before its lost. We must call for religious liberty on principle and this statement by President Trump is setting a dangerous precedent against free speech which is directly connected to our religious liberty.

UPDATE: After writing this article this morning and scheduling it to post on Friday this came across my Twitter feed:

No matter how much you dislike the MSM this is absolutely unconstitutional and again a dangerous precedent..