Saturday, June 27, 2015

What does Birmingham's gay pastor, churches in debt, free speech, and the SCOTUS decision have in common?

I found this news article a few days ago and saved it for when the Supreme Court decided. Here are some of my personal thoughts on the nationalization of homosexuality in America.

Birmingham church hires gay pastor; he's ready to do same-sex weddings
The Rev. Paul Eknes-Tucker was named senior pastor
of Pilgrim Church on June 1
and preached his first sermon on June 14.
The historic Pilgrim Church in Birmingham [a UCC denomination] has hired an openly gay senior pastor who is ready to officiate same-sex weddings. ... He is ready in the event that the U.S. Supreme Court rules to make gay marriage legal nationwide, which could happen next week. "I'm cautiously optimistic that it's going to happen," Tucker said.

The United Church of Christ has been a pioneer among Protestant denominations in ordaining women pastors and openly gay ministers. It's a historic, predominantly white denomination that embraced the civil rights movement in the 1950s and 1960s. Tucker married his partner, Bill Eknes-Tucker, in Toronto in 2005. Bill is a retired nurse. Tucker said he knows first-hand how his marriage not being legally recognized in Tennessee and Alabama has been a hardship. ... The congregation could serve as a major hub for gay weddings. "We're ready Day One (that gay marriage is ruled legal in Alabama)," he said. "They wanted someone who was ready to do that.
The first gay marriage in my adopted state of Georgia took place at 12:31 pm on the day SCOTUS ruled. This is the "Bible Belt", the "Deep South".

 We can see that the homosexual lobby is ready to advance their banner. Are we ready to advance ours? The Banner of Christ? (Exodus 17:15)

I see a few things ahead. Not prophetically, lol, just following the train tracks to the horizon. It's pretty clear. It is only going to become harder from here on out.

OK, first this SCOTUS ruling allowing gay marriage for all the land will usher in a new phase that will ramp up persecution in America toward churches and Christians. For one, free speech will be squelched. It started already-

Newspaper editorial page bans op-eds opposing gay marriage
Second, as churches and pastors speak out, or refuse to perform homosexual weddings, they will lose their tax-exempt status. This is a problem. Through the early part of the 2000's, many churches went emergent and in a frenzy, bought bigger buildings. Thus they unwisely (in my opinion) became saddled with a mortgage and/or construction debt, or otherwise chained themselves to capital plans they could not afford. I pray that any upcoming decisions to be made regarding homosexual pressure infiltrating the local churches will not have this reality factored in. However, it is equally true that many pastors are pragmatic and I fear that pragmatism will pollute or at least influence faithful decision making.

Randy Alcorn said it well: [HT to Glenn]
Many churches spend more on interest payments than on world missions. Debt ties the church’s hands. If attendance drops, the economy suffers, or giving dips, then pastors or missionaries must go unpaid. The building completed eight years ago, already needing repairs, keeps demanding those monthly payments, mostly going to interest. . . . When a church overextends itself financially, it inevitably spends time during services trying to persuade people to give to the building fund. This changes the focus from worshiping Christ, studying the Scriptures, and meeting the needs of the community, to concerns about buildings, mortgages, and money.
Third, this ruling has brought out many who believe that homosexuality is not a problem, and I'm not talking about pagans. Self-professed Christians by the droves are applauding it. I have had more than one solid sister or brother in the faith marvel at the number of people who say they are in the faith but exalted a different Jesus and a different Gospel when the Supreme Court decision was handed down. Those who are not with Jesus are scattering for sure.

An aerial photograph showing opposing trenches
and no man's land between, during World War I. Wikipedia
Fourth, the Birmingham church ready to marry gays by a married, gay pastor. The true church will shrink, become invisible in all the hullaballoo of false "churches" making much of this lifestyle. A cultural Christianity represented in the Birmingham church will take over and surround the true church. The Birmingham church will be seen as the real church of Jesus Christ, (blasphemously).

The true church is not in danger, mind you, I'm not saying that. But the cultural churches like the one in Birmingham will become visible, and if the the true church is seen at all, it will be seen as outdated at the least, and dangerous at the most. The timid pastors unwilling to stand for the faith will become absorbed in the flow, which yesterday became tsunami force. Fearing their position, or their paycheck, or their liberal deacons, or the neighborhood...they will change their position and weaken. Many churches will become like the Birmingham church, sadly. If it only took satan 20 years to fully change America's position on homosexuality so that the highest court in the land would nationalize perversity. What hay do you think satan can make of false churches now that the pendulum has swung so far?

Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. (Matthew 12:30)

Gill's Exposition on Matthew 12:30,
and he that gathereth not with me, scattereth: Christ is the good shepherd, that gathers his sheep to himself, and into his fold, by the external ministry of the word, and internal efficacy of his grace; Satan is the wolf, that catches and scatters the sheep, and seeks to kill and destroy them: and since there is such an open war proclaimed and carried on between Christ and the devil, none ought to be neutral; whoever is not on the side of Christ, is reckoned as an enemy; and whoever is not concerned by prayer or preaching, or other means to gather souls to his word and ordinances, and to his church, and to himself, is deemed by him a scatterer of them.
There is no middle ground. There is no No Man's Land where no trench is dug from one side or the other. A person is either in one trench, or the other. Even those who declare their neutrality are actually with satan because they are not overtly with Jesus, as the Matthew 12:30 verse reminds us.

My advice is:
  • To remain prayerfully vigilant, in prayer, by praying. Do you see the theme? Pray! Our connection in Jesus is our strength, His strength, energized by prayer.
  • Prepare to have your views challenged and be ready to answer all with a meek but firm response. 1 Peter 3:15 REALLY comes into play now more than ever.
  • Thus, read the Bible. If you have been woefully neglectful of late, stop it. Soldiers do not ignore orders, policemen do not neglect what their Captain tells them. Jesus is our Commander-in-Chief. His battle plan IS the Bible. Neglect it no longer.
  • Believe the spiritual battle is real. Believe you are a target.

"Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; 32but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers." (Luke 22:31-32).

Did you catch that? 'when you have turned again'. Jesus was predicting Peter's denial and restoration. Blessedly, our enemy's plans are also in Jehovah-Nissi's Bible! We are not unaware of satan's schemes. (2 Corinthians 2:11)
  • Therefore pray for each other that our faith may not fail when put to the test.
God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. (1 Corinthians 1:9)

---------------------------------------
Further Reading:

The faithful in the Lord's warfare--

The LORD is our Banner, Jehovah Nissi, a study by Alexander MacLaren

Precept Austin: The LORD is our Banner, an inductive study of Exodus 17:8-16. (Scroll down a bit)

Focus on the Family: Prayer and the Spiritual Battle

GotQuestions: What does the Bible say about spiritual warfare?

6 comments :

  1. He is separating the sheep from the goats. As sad as the events from yesterday are, He will be purifying His Church through this. I, for one, am excited to see what He has in store for us next. Even so, come Lord Jesus!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Elizabeth,
    I pray you are able to respond even though the last Comment post was June 2015.

    I recently asked a Pastor (Baptist) if they would attend a gay wedding, expecting an immediate and emphatic 'No'.

    Their response grieved me, saying, 'I'm not sure, perhaps as support/witness if it was a friend of mine'.

    Surely ANYONE claiming to believe in Christ in a nanosecond would shout 'No'.

    In my heart, attending a same-sex marriage is condoning perverse behaviour.

    I heard a great comment by John MacArthur (I think it was him)
    say, 'there is no wedding if its two of the same sex'. That is the black and white truth.

    Why O Why aren't men and woman of God outraged by this?

    I don't know where the real churches are anymore - I fear many Christians are being slowly drip-fed with gentle unholy arguments to 'cave in' and 'accept' this sickening change in our world.

    How can anyone in their right mind not understand God designed a man and woman to be married. Since when did a glove fit a foot?

    Please pray for me, I find myself weeping often, I grieve and hunger to hear this madness on the whole same sex thing gone.

    I do not understand why God fearing men are so silent on the perverse changes; God help being a child these days, it must be horrendously confusing for some.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Anonymous,

      Thank you for your comment. I feel the deepening sorrow of the church, too, in the face of heavy sin of the world. Everybody needs Jesus, and more and more they reject Him, the only solution to their eternal problem.

      Homosexuality is a grievous sin and one that is the sign that Jesus has turned over a society to its ills (Romans 1:18-32). The visible church is caving in, something that even the first century church tended to do, as we see in Corinth and Thyatira. It helps to know that the original churches struggled too, just shows us that sin is an eternal, pervasive problem, and makes us long for Jesus even more! Though the visible church is caving in the eternal church, each member of which Jesus knows, is still unshaken and unstained. It's glorious and beautiful.

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    2. Elizabeth,

      If I asked you why 'you' wouldn't attend a gay wedding, how would you respond?

      The reason I ask is I seem to tie myself up in knots when I have attempted to explain why I am so against this, to 'Christians', of all people. I just don't understand why they would dare to believe God would think there is nothing wrong with it?!

      The latest question asked of me by an 'older wise woman in the Lord' I know was 'Ask your husband if Jesus asked him to go to a same-sex marriage, would he go'. Then telling me her husband said he would.. I almost fainted with shock. I couldn't believe my ears, and I replied 'Have you gone crazy - Jesus would never ask one of His to attend such an event'.

      I apologise if a similar message comes through, I went to post it and it 'disappeared'??

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    3. My response would be "no" and my reasons are consistent with those explained at this GotQuestions essay. I'd add to it, that in humbly declining, I'd lovingly explain why.

      http://www.gotquestions.org/gay-wedding.html

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    4. Thank you, I appreciated reading that.

      Delete