Friday, June 28, 2013

Same-Sex Marriage, the Supreme Court and the Gospel

This past week, the Supreme Court weighed in on the subject of same-sex marriage. This decision reflects our culture and where we are as a nation. Yes, we would like the laws of our country to follow our beliefs, but many of them do not. Our nation is not a Christian nation, though in past times it followed Christian principles.

To be clear the Bible’s teaching on homosexuality is unequivocal, and stems from the fact that God created humanity to be male and female, and ordained marriage as the only appropriate context for sexual intimacy. (cf. Genesis 1:26-28; 2:18-25) It is often alleged that Jesus has nothing to say about homosexuality, but this is inaccurate. Jesus addressed this issue when he brought the standards of marriage and sexuality back to the creation (Matt. 19:4, 5). Jesus certainly associated with sinners, but he did so in order to call them to repentance, not to affirm them in their sinful behavior which would lead to God’s judgment. (cf. Matt. 5:28; 15:18; 19:9)

This is where the gospel of Jesus Christ comes into play. Because the reality is that homosexuality is a sin and like any other sin, it needs to be dealt with in the only way possible. It needs to be laid at the cross of Jesus and repented of. The gospel is good news precisely because it has the power to rescue people from a life of sin which includes sexuality immorality and homosexual lifestyle. (cf. 1 Cor. 6:9-11, “such were some of you)

We need to also be reminded that it will always be the case that as Christians we live in the tension of confidently proclaiming the Bible’s teaching while respectfully and lovingly pursuing relationships with those who live contrary to the Word of God. We must always make “lovingness” our method and the manner in which we say and do all things. (cf. Eph. 4:15; Col. 4:4-6) We cannot settle for truth without love nor love without truth. We should treat homosexuals with the same dignity and respect as we would anyone else because, they are made in the image of God. By failing to do so, we as Christians cannot be an effective witness to those around us.

I am not ultimately saddened by the prospect of the government taking a position that may be contrary to Scripture. My hope rests, not in horses or chariots, but in the name of the Lord. I will continue to follow Paul’s advice no matter what the government decides. I have been and will continue to love God, lift up Truth, and love and show compassion to people who are sinful, just as I am sinful.

The church needs to rededicate itself not to advancing the kingdom through the political process, but to the preaching of the Gospel. I believe the Lord is presenting His church a great challenge and opportunity. We can proclaim the Word of God in a clear and fresh manner. We can offer real, eternal hope to sinners whom God loves.

For Christ,
Robert Prater

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Foot-in-mouth epidemic

What do you do after putting your foot in your mouth? No one is immune from the foot-in-mouth epidemic. And for those who heard me make the announcements Sunday evening at Central, you know this includes your preacher:) Let’s just say for those who weren’t there, instead of saying “The Old Testament ladies class……”, I goofed badly and let off the critical word “Testament” in the announcement! (insert foot in mouth here)

I imagine sooner or later it happens to all of us. We say the wrong thing. To the wrong person. At the wrong time. You hurt someone’s feelings. You offend them. You put them in an awkward position. Usually the best thing to do is admit the error and ask for forgiveness. I’m thankful for the gracious and forgiving Christian ladies here at Central:)!

Of course, in more serious situations and relationships in our lives, this is even more important to consider. Saying the thing you wish you’d never said, that hurt someone deeply…..we should continually strive to never do that intentionally (and do it less spontaneously).

The Bible references to the tongue over 150 times. James reminds us that the tongue cannot be tamed—only controlled. (cf. James 3:1-8) It has incredible power to hurt or bless depending on our choices. (cf. James 3:9-10)The apostle Paul wrote to the Christians in Ephesus, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” And in Colossians 4:6 he says: “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” (NIV) Perhaps one of the most chilling of statements about the power of the tongue comes from the lips of our Savior as recorded in Matthew 12:36 where he said: “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, 37 for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” (ESV)

A humorous sign in a place of business describes an all too common truth about the tongue. It reads, “If you cannot think of anything good to say about someone else, then pull up a chair and sit down here beside me!”

In a recent issue of House to House/Heart to Heart, it included the following piece about the tongue.

The Tongue
“The boneless tongue, so small and weak, can crush and kill,” declared the Greek.
The Persian proverb wisely saith, “A lengthy tongue, an early death.”
Sometimes it takes this form instead: “Don’t let your tongue cut off your head.”
While Arab sages this impart: “The tongue’s great storehouse is the heart.”
From Hebrew wit, the maxim’s sprung: “Though feet should slip, don’t let the tongue.”
A verse from Scripture crowns the whole: “Who keeps the tongue doth keep his soul.” [Proverbs 21:23].
~ Author Unknown

Our daily prayer should be like that found in Psalms 19:14: May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.” (NIV)

God bless,