The Time HAS Come (Part 3)

I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus,who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

–2 Timothy 4:1-5, NASB (emphasis added)

(Continued – Part 3 of 3)

When folks say the things I am saying, others call it hate. I challenge anyone to look at anything I have written and point out where I have expressed hatred toward anyone. I harbor no hatred toward any person or group of people. We have come to the place in our society where disagreement with someone’s viewpoint is tantamount to hatred. That is just plain wrongheaded.

We need to understand a very simple truth. The time has come. The time when Paul predicted folks will no longer listen to sound doctrine and will seek to gather teachings and teachers they find more palatable — that time has come! Even people who claim to be Christians will read Scripture and only utilize the parts that make them feel good. They will trumpet the fact that God is love, but forget the part where He is a Righteous Judge. They cling to the fact that Jesus is the Light of the world, but not that He is Truth. The Timothy passage I have shared is one of the marching orders given to preachers of the Gospel. I cannot preach only half the Gospel!

Make no mistake. Jesus Christ loves you. If you are struggling with gluttony, homosexuality, lust, lying, adultery or [enter your sin here] – The fact is JESUS IS LOVE and HE DIED FOR YOU. However, another thing that some people like to avoid is the very thing that helps form the gateway to salvation in Jesus Christ. It is called REPENTANCE. To repent means to turn around and turn away from your sin. Whatever your sin is, you are required to lay it down, turn away, denounce it. Stop! Does this mean you never sin again? No. We all still struggle with sin, but the big difference is it becomes the exception rather than the rule.

As far as I am concerned, the doors of my church are open wide to ANY AND ALL who are seeking answers to life’s problems. You may not even know that Christ is the missing puzzle piece that fits that emptiness in your life. You are welcome in my church. Know this though, as long as you embrace your sin, you will not serve in any leadership capacity. You cannot expect to keep one arm around Jesus and one arm around your sin of choice. Case in point, when the scribes and pharisees brought the adulterous woman before Jesus (John 8). After confounding the men by asking “he that is without sin cast the first stone,” Jesus then turned to the woman and said, Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.” Go and sin no more! That is the thing. Jesus longs for you to be free from the bondage of sin and that is only available in Him. When we repent and confess Jesus Christ as Lord we can experience that freedom.

This manifesto, if you will, will not sit well with some folks. I will no doubt receive nasty comments and I will be accused of being hateful, but I am anything but hateful. I will endure the bad vibes and nasty comments because I love you enough to share the truth. I want folks to be free in Christ. I don’t make a habit of wielding the Bible violently like an axe seeing whom I might strike down. Yet, the Bible describes itself as a two-edged sword and to those in sin it cuts pretty deep and makes folks uncomfortable. Loved or hated, a pastor must preach the Word! I will make no apologies for that.


The Time HAS Come (Part 2)

(Continued – Part 2 of 3)

Please allow me to state, for the record, my stance on a few things.

Sin is a choice that humans make. Though we inherit a sin nature and are thereby given to sin, we have all chosen to sin. Romans 3:23 declares that, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” We live in a fallen world. It’s a world stained with the curse of sin. Because of that state of being, ALL OF US have our issues. ALL OF US have things in our life with which we struggle. Some folks have anger management issues. Some folks have addiction issues. My struggle is eating. I have a food addiction.

I am a large man. Every year I was in school I was always among the largest people in my class. I have been overweight for about 30 years. By that I mean I have been over what the charts say I should weigh relative to my height. While I may not be morbidly obese, I struggle with my weight. Do you know why? I LOVE FOOD! I don’t just eat to stay alive, I eat for entertainment. I struggle with the sin of gluttony. Webster’s tells us that gluttony is the act or habit of eating or drinking too much. The Bible says this is a sin. Unfortunately, this sin gets a wink and nod from folks most of the time. However, gluttony is no different than adultery, fornication and homosexuality.

I would say that there are factors that complicate my food sin. Body chemistry and environment. I have friends who look at food differently than I do. They did not grow up in families in which every major function involved food. Of these friends, several have a very high metabolism. Some of my friends even forget to eat! I have never forgotten to eat. Even when I am fasting, I remember that I am supposed to eat. These factors result in some folks not struggling with food as much as I do. In order to not allow my food sin to destroy my life, I have to make choices. I have to choose to eat healthier things. I have to choose to eat less. I have to sacrifice that which I want for that which I need. I have to realize that eating food is not the source of my identity that my identity is, in fact, grounded in the person of Jesus Christ. If I could not control these things myself, I would have to seek professional help.

Here is my simplified look at life with regard to repetitive sin. It boils down to addiction. What I have just described as my food addiction struggle could just as easily have been a sexual, drug, alcohol, porn or you-name-it addiction. This is controversial and is going to make some folks angry, but let me be clear: Homosexuality is a choice. Sexual orientation is a different discussion than the physical sex act itself. But those who feel as though they are only sexually gratified in homosexual relationships make a personal choice.  It is a choice that can also be influenced (though not in all cases) by both body chemistry (hormone imbalance, etc), as well as, environmental factors. No scientific study has shown evidence that homosexuality is hard-wired into folks’ DNA. It’s a lifestyle choice. Just as those who agree with God’s Word that sex before marriage is wrong and make a choice to abstain, denying themselves sexual gratification until the proper boundaries exist, those who struggle with homosexuality can choose to abstain. It is a sin that can be overcome just as any sin can be overcome. Jesus died for ALL sin. Romans 8:2 reminds us, For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.”

Things like Kinky Boots being broadcast during family time is just a continuation of what the media power brokers have been doing for years. Pushing an agenda that affects a minority of people into the majority. Nearly every major television show has a gay storyline somewhere in the mix. The more they can portray alternative lifestyles as “normal” and just a part of the fabric of our society, the more our culture deteriorates. The folks tolerating the gay agenda look at God-fearing, God-honoring people as if we have three heads and wonder why we don’t just fully “embrace the inevitable.” The answer is easy. It was a sin at the beginning. It’s a sin now. It will be a sin until Jesus returns. No matter how often they say it or how they package it, it’s wrong! I might be talking about homosexuality/sexual orientation now, but I feel the same way if we were talking about the glorification of heterosexual promiscuity, the glamorization of illicit drug use or any other sinful lifestyle folks may want to try to normalize.

(To be continued tomorrow…)

The Time HAS Come (Part 1)

[What follows is the first of a 3 part series from my heart. It will upset some folks. Others will feel as though I read their mind. I would ask that both camps reserve their comments and final analysis until you have had a chance to read the series in its entirety.]

I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus,who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

–2 Timothy 4:1-5, NASB (emphasis added)

There I was, minding my own business, spending my Thanksgiving morning pretty much like every other Thanksgiving morning in recent memory. My family got up early and I was enjoying the rare occasion of nothing pressing or vying for my time and attention. I took my place in my chair and flipped on NBC for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, the traditional Brooks family practice. We were in filler time when some of the Broadway shows perform before the parade reaches Herald Square. I remember the Motown performance and thinking how awesome it was and that I would very much like to see that on Broadway.

I don’t recall the time exactly, but suffice it to say it was between 9 and 10 o’clock in the morning, when the broadcasters announced a performance with which I was unfamiliar. It was a show called Kinky Boots. The next 3 or 4 minutes were filled with men and women parading around in knee-high boots along with men dressed up like women. I later learned that to try to describe that with the traditional phrases such as “dressed in drag” or “transvestite” is demeaning, mean-spirited and hate-filled language. At least one friend suggested I instead use “transgender.” As an aside, I always thought someone who was going through the process of being surgically altered to go from being a man to a woman or vice versa was known as transgender. I could be wrong.

At any rate, I was a bit aghast at the idea that at 10 o’clock on Thanksgiving morning a traditional family oriented program was broadcasting anything “kinky” with cross-dressing people. As a father, I prefer to choose the time and place to explain things to my daughter. That decision and those conversations happen when her mother and I feel she is mature enough and there is reason for her to know certain things. That’s why we are careful about the things to which she is exposed. To see that on my TV knowing not only my child, but children all over the United States were seeing that, took me aback. So what did I do? I did what many folks do. I expressed my amazement at what I had seen on social media to see what my friends thought of said event. Here is what I posted:

“And then the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade got weird… Transvestites singing on my TV! What? So much for family programming.”

This set off a litany of posts expressing their displeasure with my statement. Apparently, I was being “negative” and “hurtful” with my comments. In actuality, I was merely being factual with what I had witnessed on the screen. There was not one shred of hate in my heart, nor was their any hint of negativity. It was Thanksgiving for crying out loud! However, I learned long ago that there is absolutely no win whatsoever in arguing and badgering one another on Facebook or any other online venue – especially if you are a pastor or an otherwise reasonably intelligent person.

It’s not the first time. In the past, I’ve been accused of being hateful, mean, small-minded, a racist, a homophobe, and generally out-of-touch along with many other things. All of the above have stemmed from my taking a stand on things that are in opposition to God’s Word. I hope and pray that those who truly know me know that I am none of the aforementioned. I have dedicated my life to being faithful to the Truth. The fact is, just as the verses which opened this post stated, those who disagree with the Truth will find me disagreeable.

(To be continued…)

iSBC Student Ministries Launching New Mentoring Initiative

iSBC Student Ministries is looking for a few, good men…and women who want to impact the world one student at a time. If that rings your bell, read on.

In recent years, much research has gone into, and many books have been written on, the slow fade of student ministry. When the infamous study came out a few years ago that addressed the numbers of students who graduate from youth ministries across the nation and then decide to “graduate from church” as well, more than a few heads were turned. We have since learned that the statistics may not have been as bad as first thought, nevertheless, those of us who have been in the ministry a few years faced the fact that we could be contributing to a fragmented church body. The senior adults do their thing, the children do their thing and the youth do their thing. In some circles, the students never have an opportunity to worship with the rest of the local church body. Examination and reflection was in order.

For the last 18-24 months, I have prayerfully considered some strategies and models already in place in other churches, taking into consideration the opportunities and obstacles that exist in our own church. After numerous conversations with my ministry assistants (past and present), as well as other adult mentors in our ministry, we have come up with what we pray is a strategy that will help us have a dramatic impact on our students and, by extension, our world. A mentoring initiative called:   3:two:1 Contact!

For our purposes, understand that I am equating mentoring with “disciple-making.” Perhaps you recall Jesus COMMANDING us to be involved in making disciples. I have a deeply held conviction that parents are to be the primary spiritual mentors for their children. In practice, however, this is not always the case. Some parents unintentionally, or possibly intentionally, abdicate this role to the church “professionals.” We want to turn this trend around. We want to come alongside parents (represented by the “two” in 3:two:1) with four other people who can assist in the mentoring process. This also includes support for the parents in terms of equipping with resources and skills to enhance the mentoring process.

The “1” would be one of our “seasoned citizens.” We have a treasure trove of senior adults at ISBC who are willing and able to “adopt” one of our students and build a strong relationship with him or her. Drawing upon priceless life experiences, these seniors can pray for, write to, cook with, eat with, build with, love on and counsel with a student; offering things which neither mom and dad nor I could.

The remaining spots in our equation will be filled by three of the following: one or more of the student’s Bible study leaders, the Minister to Students (yours truly) and/or an at-large adult member of ISBC.

Only time will tell, but I can imagine that four adults plus two parents pouring themselves into a student for 6+ years (I can see these relationships lasting far beyond graduation) will pay some astronomical dividends.

If you would like more information about this initiative, feel free to call me at my office 423-323-2187. If you would like to be involved with a church that is endeavoring to cultivate eternal relationships for the sake of the cause of Christ, I invite you to come visit us at Indian Springs Baptist Church.

Click here for more student information: iSBC Student Ministries on the web
Click here for the main ISBC site