By Pastor Doug Shotsky
Ephesians 4:14-19 - 14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
17 So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. 18 They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. 19 Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed.
There’s no doubt that it’s perfect timing that God has led pastor Kevin to preach a sermon on Thriving in Babylon, and to lead a study on a similar topic on Sunday nights with the book We Will Not be Silenced. Certainly we are still afforded many freedoms in our country that those living in Babylon were not, but we are seeing a secular culture that is being more and more antagonistic towards biblical truth.
It’s tough to know when to stand up for truth, what to say when we do stand up, and how to say what we say. As the scripture above mentions, “speaking the truth in love”, so many of us struggle to know how to do this. We must speak the truth. We must do it in love. But, even when we do so we must also recognize that God’s truth often isn’t received well, and in fact will be considered offensive. Certainly we’re not out to be antagonistic or offensive, but I’m learning that God’s word is offensive to those who choose to reject it.
I want to share something about my recent experience at the local school board meeting that was a little mind-boggling to me. The board was allowing the public to speak on the subject of allowing transgender students to use the bathroom of the gender they identify as, not their biological sex. As I spoke I mentioned that I believe God created individuals male and female and that it is He who determines our gender, not us.
The response to me simply stating this, was that I was “weaponizing the bible”, am “homophobic”, and was “spewing hatred”. Unbelievable! It was interesting to me how hateful the response comments were that were calling me hateful. I’m not surprised by this, and I don’t take it personally, and I am challenged more and more to pray for and love those who are in opposition to God’s Word. The scriptures we read above mention the hardness of people’s hearts that leads them to being given over to sensuality and impurity, so I pray that God will open their eyes to the deception they are living in and consider the eternal consequences of rejecting God through their behavior.
Please join me in praying that we will remain strong in the face of opposition, that God will help us to love those opposed to us, and that God will reveal the truth to those who are deceived.
By Pastor Kevin Van Wyk
We have two cats that live mostly outside, but lately they’ve not wanted to go out much. So, if we are leaving or going to bed, we occasionally have a good chase through the living room. Once they are caught, you must be prepared for the claws to come out. Maybe they are afraid, but mostly I think they want what they want.
Dogs, on the other hand, tend to bite while they are playing or threatened. Growing up, my family’s mixed mutt, Euler, did just that. He was pretty harmless, as he was not much bigger than our cats, but he loved to play tug-a-war and nip at you in play. I remember a few times when he would bare his teeth and growl. He was threatened and not happy.
We are not much different. When I feel threatened, afraid, denied, questioned, or disrespected, my fight or flight responses flare up. I either want to retaliate and hurt the one who hurt me, or I want to walk away. I am learning to be “slow to anger” (Jame 1:19) and to take time to pray before responding.
Part of the challenge we all face is the heightened animosity in our culture. If you can step back from your political positions for a moment and really listen to what is being said on the news and social media, you’ll see the hostility boiling up from all sides. Some are able to disengage from all this and surround themselves with like-minded folks, but even then the conversation seems to slide into a disheartened attack of others.
Our nation is polarized. Our state is antagonistic. Our community is divided. And James says to us…
What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? 2 You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. (James 4:1-2 ESV)
Ouch! James not only bluntly confronts us on our self-seeking motives, but our lack of prayer. Oh Lord, forgive me for seeking what I want and not seeking Your will in prayer.
After this scathing rebuke, James confronts another issue…
Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. (James 4:4 ESV)
James does not want us to abandon Godly convictions and simply acquiesce to the cultures immoral views. We need a backbone and heart. The challenge is how to be in the world, but not of the world.
• When should believers stand their ground?
• Are there issues we need to let go of?
• Are there issues we need to confront more aggressively?
This is the tension I plan to address in a series after Easter. Join me for…
• “Living in Babylon: How to thrive in an anti-christian culture” Sunday mornings, April 11-May 2.
• “We Will Not Be Silenced: Responding with Courage to Our Culture's Assault on Christianity” A book discussion on Sundays @ 6:30PM. April 18 (Chap. 1-4), 25 (Chap. 5-7) & May 2 (Chap. 8-10) See below on getting a book.
Lord, help us navigate the tension in our culture. Give us wisdom to know what is right and the grace to walk with others who disagree. Helps us to be slow to anger and willing to listen carefully. As well, help us to be courageous in standing for truth.
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