Great Insight from Paul Tripp: Hang In There

Read this word from Paul Tripp in his Wednesday Devotion:

Have you ever been in the middle of a difficult season and someone says to you, ‘Hang in there!’ Maybe you’ve said it to a friend just recently yourself. I think we mean well with phrases like this, and our aim is to encourage our friends or loved ones, but let’s be honest: ‘hang in there’ doesn’t actually do much to lift our spirits or strengthen our resolve. If I can be even more honest, sometimes I think we say ‘hang in there’ because we’re…

Source: Hang In There

A Word on the Transgender Issue…

On Friday, the U.S. Secretary of Education, John B. King, stated, “No student should ever have to go through the experience of feeling unwelcome at school or on a college campus” (source). Out of this sentiment, a call for change in the use of restrooms has come from the Federal executive branch to all educational institutions in one fell swoop. Also in line with this thinking, both governments and businesses have begun to allow transgender individuals to use any restroom that they feel comfortable with using.

Of course, this has unleashed reaction like a tidal wave. Parents, churches, and community leaders have protested that such a policy would create an unsafe atmosphere in the most private of places. In essence, they claim, this practice would literally open the door to anyone who wishes to enter any restroom, even if there are nefarious reasons. Safety and security are issues, to be sure.

Both sides of this issue offer arguments with both logic and emotional considerations. The media is having a field day, grabbing clicks with emotionally charged headlines to get readers to state their opinions and stir up debate. Yet all of the arguments fall short of the main issue at hand. While the assumption in almost every discussion here is that restroom choice is the problem, the truth is, we are missing the main point.

What is the main point? To answer this, we have to return to God’s creation. When God created the universe, He created it as a proclamation of His glory. He made men and women to be equal in value, image bearers of Him, willingly fellowshipping with His presence, following His commands without burden. He intended a perfect paradise, a place where love and truth share an equal coexistence, unopposed to one another in contrast to some of the thoughts of today. His created order is a perfect order.

Unfortunately, we as a people have fallen. Because of sin and death, we live in a broken world. We rebel and squeal and scream, we try to find our own path instead of what God wants best for our lives and our world. We struggle with our lives and we pridefully seek our own ways and our own lives and we miss God’s way. We and others struggle with alcoholism, drug abuse, gluttony, pornography, or anything else which mars and scars us. As we see today, our minds come into conflict with our bodies, often because we fail to see God’s sovereignty even in our struggles. As such, we miss the joy and pleasure of turning our lives and struggles to a powerful God who can get glory in the victory over these things.

And this is the underlying issue behind the transgender bathroom debate. The conflicts of our desires with God’s desires are as old as the temptation of sin in the Garden. Whether it’s gender identity or anger management or sins of the heart, the truth in love is found in the perfection of Christ. Our conflicts will happen if we turn from God and His Word, and anything contrary to God’s created order in the beginning is going to create problems, even chaos in our present world. We should know what it means as to what biblical manhood is and on what biblical womanhood is. In other words, our struggles are resolved if we think and act and behave as Scripture teaches vs. what the culture claims.

So what is a Christian to do? I respectfully disagree with this decision, and I call for the church to focus on showing our children, youth, and adults that being a man or a woman is more about following Christ and His Bible than biology. We must love boldly in reaching out to those who are hurting and confused, and yet be the voice of safety and security for our children. But most of all, we as believers must be a voice to share the Scriptural teachings on men, women, and God’s sovereignty. That said, let’s remember that our witness to the world should have both love and truth- today, even in the face of yet another societal controversy, we have the opportunity to do both.

Love boldly. Share Biblically. Live blamelessly.

Pastor Fran

A Devotion: Serving in the Spirit

5 Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. Romans 8:5

Last night, I had a vivid, realistic dream, the type of dream that only comes on occasion. I dreamed that I was outside in a field preaching a message and that there was a crowd of thousands of people from many different people groups. As I spoke, I was also being shown on a large screen behind me, and I was sharing the gospel of Christ and how to live a life in the Spirit. One of my sons was also in the dream, and he was holding a camera as I walked around sharing the Word of God.

Suddenly, a man in the crowd asked me a question. He simply asked me how he too could serve God with his spiritual gifts. I responded, “First, you have to know Jesus, and then you have to find out how God has gifted you. Beyond that, find your passions and serve God in that way.” He nodded and seemed to understand, and I woke up.

handful_of_water_-_kolkata_2011-03-16_1999_croppedI told my wife about the dream, and being the ever practical one, she asked me what I thought it meant. I told her that first, God is doing something amazing and will keep on doing it, and second, I just need to keep doing what He called me to do, to live for Him and serve Christ with the spiritual gifts that He has given me. Such a comforting, encouraging thought!

Without a doubt, all Christians are called to do the same. We are to live and serve our Lord as we walk in the Spirit. In fact, you cannot separate the two. If you are Christ’s, you will serve Him because of a love for Him- there is no such thing as an inactive Christian! This is because when your mind is set on godly things “in accordance with the Spirit,” then you will reflect it by loving others, living in peace, showing patience and kindness, being gentle, and having self-control (Gal 5:22-23). Simply put, if you live a life centered in the Spirit, you will do what He says.

Jesus said as much, when in Luke 6:46 He asked the question, “Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” and then proceeded to compare those who heard and then acted on His words to a house that was built on a solid foundation. As the Pharisees showed, talk is cheap, and a true ambassador for Christ is not just a person who “talks the talk,” but also “walks the walk.” We thus walk worthy of the calling (Eph 4:1), not by human power but by the power of the Spirit. This is a powerful testimony of a changed life in Christ!

Go. Walk worthy of the calling. Serve in the way that He has called you with the gifts that He has given you in the Spirit. Live for Christ, under the conviction of Christ. And as you walk in Him, and do what He says to love God and love others, you will indeed glorify Him now and for eternity.

Pastor Fran

A Devotion: What to Do…

15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do…. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. – Romans 7:15, 19

adam-and-eve-798376_960_720No one is immune from the peril of sin. Satan, that father of lies, the thief who came to kill and destroy, continues to attack every human being. Ever since the temptation and Fall in the Garden, the addiction to sin has continued, and all humanity has been held captive by the evil one. All have sinned and fallen short of God’s glorious standard (Rom 3:23), all have been led astray (Isaiah 53:6), all have walked in this transgression and sin in rebellion against God (Eph 2:1-3). The wickedness of sin wages war in the soul to rebel against the Creator God. Just like in Paul’s example here, we desire to do the right things yet we do the opposite. How horrific and cruel sin has been!

But praise God for His grace! Praise God for His mercy! Praise God for His salvation! The forces of Hell have already been defeated by the King of kings and Lord of lords. This freedom from sin, born through the cross, has transformed the victim into the victor, the rebel into the redeemed, and the lost into the liberated!

Fellow sinner, take heart: if you are in Christ, you are no longer condemned. This is why Paul just a few verses later wrote the ultimate truth of our condition in Romans 8:1, “there is therefore no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus.” Be comforted: the Bible is full of promises that the Holy Spirit will protect, guide, and even open a way out of the temptations that come. You don’t need to surrender to the temptation. Instead, His grace is sufficient, so rely on His strength, look to His Spirit, and live for His glory!

Pastor Fran