Is a right understanding of Marriage an essential issue?
I'm told some Baptists are wondering what to do with churches in the denomination that want to conduct and affirm gay weddings. Is gay-marriage an essential for unity among us, or a non-essential for freedom?
First, in all things love.
That is, if male-female marriage is retained as an essential for unity in the denomination, and changers disagree with that and leave, there can and should still be love between us. Disagreeing doesn't mean we stop caring about each other. No-brainer.
What message would non-affirmation send to LGBTQ people?
1. That love isn't contingent on agreement. It is presumptuous to suggest that affirmation is the only option when it gets personal. Many of us have found there is liberation in being loved in spite of disagreements, rather than dependant upon agreement. (The former is tolerance, the latter is bigotry.) So we provide unconditional love to others with whom we disagree. If love is conditional on affirmation, then where does one turn for love when opinions differ? Thus, here is a group who loves people anyway, whilst they change in theological, spiritual, psychological, social dimensions. This is the truelove.is testimony of more LBGTQ people than the activists. We can disagree over sexual mores, yet with real love and acceptance of the person, "warts and all," as we used to say.
2. That our definition of marriage and gender involves much more than the two people - God instituted it with male-female specifically built in as a sacred model to the world of Christ and the Church (Eph5). This is a non-negotiable theme in our foundational texts.
"Isn’t marriage a non-essential issue over which we can agree to differ?"
Or is marriage actually sacred, not open to redefinition, an essential at least in the sense of worthy of denominational distinctive. Baptists drew a line about baptism: is marriage of that order?
Here’s the main point (which was mostly omitted during the marriage plebiscite debates, as people debated a handful of passages specifically prohibiting same-sex immorality): marriage is a majestic theme of some 600 verses winding throughout Scripture about marriage/divorce, faithfulness/unfaithfulness, husband/wife, and all in contexts assuming male/female-ness - such that if it is not male/female it is not marriage. This theme includes a special synergy between a man & woman, male-femaleness being part of the original Imageo-Dei (Gen1), and is specifically reiterated by Jesus (Mat19). Marriage is thus a sacred union, an object lesson of Christ and the church, our ultimate destiny in the New Jerusalem, indeed a salvation invitation, “The Spirit and the Bride say “Come!”” (Rev 21,22). This sacred union is therefore not something we can redefine to suit the winds of culture. It is specifically gender-defined by God, as part of our foundational creation, and our eternal destiny, which our puny human marriages are supposed to model in the meantime (Eph5).
"Does this make marriage a salvation issue?"
Does an individual have to understand human marriage in order to be saved, no, salvation is not a theology test. But there must be our marriage-like covenant with, and submission to, Christ in view of his saving sacrifice for us. We’re saying “I do” to Jesus, just like …a marriage. Christ died for his Bride. Marriage (male-female) is part of our image-of-God foundations, our relationship with God, and our ultimate destiny. Faithfulness to marriage is about faithfulness to Jesus, which is about our salvation.
And recently I've observed the convergence of Naturalism and New Age upon the same gnostic sexual experiences as catalysts to evolution & enlightenment. Through Kinsey & communism, to Tantra & occultic revolutions... Why would these worldviews based on such seemingly different foundations land on the same sexual practices and marriage-disdaining worldviews? Because it is the same gnosticism that Paul confronted in his day. And comes from the same pit. Marriage is a prime spiritual battleground. It seems to be more a salvation issue than the world is aware of, and somehow symptomatic of one. Pray into that.
"Was sex a part of any apostles creed?"
Yes, the Jerusalem Council Acts 15:29. No sexual immorality (ie sex outside marriage [which is male-female.])
"Does the fact that sex isn’t in most creeds mean it is not a salvation issue?"
Many sins are not mentioned in the creeds, but that doesn't make them ok. In fact we could say that in Christianity sexual morality was assumed as a given, until now. Likewise the nature of marriage a given.
Moreover a big salvation issue is whether we trust & obey Jesus or not, whether we listen to Jesus and do what he says - and what Jesus says on the nature of marriage is actually pretty clear.
"Is gay marriage like divorce, something we’ll just get used to, and eventually justify?"
Not theologically, because in Mat19 Jesus allows for divorce due to hard-heartedness, but he re-emphasises male—female marriage. You’d have to ignore his affirmation and that big marriage grand-narrative to try to justify it away.
"Don’t we want to see love win, not truth win?"
It’s not either or, it’s only both. If it’s not truthful, it's not really loving. Good intentions alone pave the road to a bad destination. The road to heaven is paved with wisdom, truth in love.
"Isn’t disunity a bad witness?"
Sure, so therefore we should listen to Jesus and sort out what is true on the matter. It is unity in the Spirit of Christ that is a good witness. Truth in love. Not mere contradictory affirmations of whatever, that’d be disunity. What good is salt if it loses its distinctive flavour. Our unity is in seeking first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, allowing him to add to us what we need. When our hearts are filled with love from him, we start to see our true identity is in him, not in sexual identity or any other idolatry. He leads us into his life-giving truth. God does love the whole world, yet not all will be saved. God loves Jew and Gentile alike as both find their unity in Christ - in fact Col3:11 is in a passage specifying putting off the sexually immoral self, and putting on Christ who is all and in all.
"Who decides which way is the truth he will lead us into?"
The wisdom of scripture does indicate what his righteousness looks like. And one’s interpretation of scripture must include ALL the relevant passages, not just a handful, not just the love passages, but the ‘put off’ passages too, and the grand-narrative. So although one might not agree at first with his truth, over time the honest enquirer of the LORD will soon be led in that way.
"So what is a denomination to decide?"
It is fair and fine for Baptists to retain Biblical marriage as a denominational distinctive (it is fair to say that marriage was always assumed to be male-female - until these recent challenges to that unity.) I’d say retain it as we do with baptism, for the sake of truth in love, unity in the Spirit, and scriptural integrity. All of us who are mature should take such a view of things, and if someone disagrees, this too God will make clear to them. Meanwhile they can either concede or secede.
"What about free speech, freedom of conscience?"
Some have falsely compared this situation to Andrew Thornburn's case where we say he should have the right to think differently than Essendon on marriage, yet here we are saying gay-marriage Baptists should not be allowed to so practice within the Baptist union. This is a false comparison. Every club has its social (or formal) contracts, the parameters within which we agree to operate. A footy club is about playing footy, which has nothing to do with sexual mores: if you play footy you're a team-mate, regardless of whatever else you think about other things, we expect you to cooperate around footy. This makes footy a great Third Place community. A church's focus is around following Jesus, which does have something to do with sexual mores: if you seek to serve him, you're a team-mate, but just as there are rules in footy, there are moral parameters in the church within which to teach and protect the flock from wolves. So every denomination or church defines those, and participants are relevantly expected to concede to those. Thornburn's sexual mores are not relevant to footy, and it is totalitarian to say so. But they are relevant to church, where he may discuss divergence but is expected to ultimately concede to the relevant social contract.
"Isn’t that still divisive?"
No, and it's actually manipulative to say so. Every group has agreed parameters. In this case the nature of marriage was always an agreed distinctive. (As a marriage celebrant I have a letter from the Baptists of WA about marriage after the plebiscite that clarifies this.) Now that some seek to change it, it’s not divisive to retain the distinctive. It should simply be a matter of the changer deciding that they are now outside the existing parameters of the group. That happens. And if the group disagrees, you can start your own group with your own parameters. What is divisive is for the changers to claim the retainers are divisive, and try to force a change in the name of "unity" - that’s off topic manipulation and should be rebuffed as such. Get back to thinking and praying about the issue itself. And if retainers resist the change, changers don’t get to take over the group and send retainers off to start their own group. Watch out for that deception.
Census data says Australian "Christianity" is down to 44% - the first time below half the population. No newslflash to those of us who know the percentage of regularly practising Christians is more like 10%, salt sprinkled in the world. But this decline was headline news in May, with broadcasters assuming that this trajectory will continue into the future. But that ain't necessarily so. As Andrew Turner writes:
The Holy Spirit.
"Jesus lived and ministered while on this earth filled with, led by, empowered by, anointed by, and sent by the Holy Spirit... "The Holy Spirit is the secret to living the Christian life... "Jesus finished the work the Father gave Him to do while depending upon the very same Spirit that now lives in me and you."
- Do read this Biblical foundation article, Where the Spirit of the Lord is, by Doug Holliday. Now. Read it? Good...
So when we tune in to the Holy Spirit, like Jesus did, like his followers did, in a dynamic relationship, life becomes much more interesting, more alive. In fact all of life is relational - the only question is, are we participating in that relationship well or poorly.
The problem for me is that, as a logical/rational Bible student/teacher, I can lean toward the rational so much that I forget about the relational reality by which I'm meant to be led. It's like studying about a loved one so much that I ignore them!
When I do that with Jesus, life gets colder, harder, and I get more anxious. I focus on my causes-and-effects. Which puts a lot of pressure on my puny self, because in reality I can never know enough to successfully plan my own path. No wonder I begin to fret: "I don't want to get this wrong, I have to nut it out"... My cause-effect is simply too ignorant compared to God's oversight.
Like natural selection which has a role but simply isn't powerful enough to create new kinds, cause-effect has a role, but simply isn't powerful enough to direct our paths. Only God does that. "The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps." (Prov 16:9) Let's not kick against the goads of reality.
And worse than just me being too puny for cause-effect, my own rationality can make me blind to, and ungrateful for, God's many graces in my life. Jesus works in my life, in fact he enables me to participate in the life and work of God! ...and yet I steal his glory by crediting myself for what happens?
And even worse, leaning on my rationality is me trying to put myself in control - in the place of God! Trusting myself, the original sin - Yikes!
But here's the better way. Relationship is how life really works: Let the LORD direct my steps. Listen to Jesus and do what he says. Let the relational put the rational back in its place. Tune in to His promptings - "do this, trust me."
Recognise and respond to the glow of his active, manifested presence. Look for him in all encounters. Seek first God's Kingdom, and everything else will follow (Mt6:33).
[How? Read. & Pray. Get the Biblical worldview into your head. & Start each day listening, tuning in to the still Voice for what he might want you to do today.]
Suddenly life becomes more inspired. Enchanted with real spirituality. Less my job to figure out, and more my job to seek & trust him on this adventure, and see what he does next.
I work in a rational job, but I need to abide in this relational life, in the Spirit of Christ. It's better for me to teach and lead in this relational way because it is more true to real life.
And so I must keep laying the foundation of Christ at the centre of all of my life & work. For it is Jesus who makes it possible for me to participate in the life of The Father.
He did this through the cross and resurrection, and through the Spirit.
I get to live relationally participating in his life:
How deep are God's riches, and wisdom, and knowledge! How unfathomable are his decisions and unexplainable are his ways! Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has become his adviser?... For all things are from him, by him, and for him. Glory belongs to him forever! Amen. (Rom11:34-36)
I found myself in conversation with a United Australia Party representative at the local polling booth at last Saturday's federal election. He said, "We all want freedom, right!"
"Mm, that's a value that comes from somewhere," I replied.
He nodded, "it's all about goodness and kindness, right."
"And those values come from somewhere too."
"Yeah, err..." he stalled.
I bailed him out: "Y'see, I like a lot of your values, but I'm voting Australian Christians because they are very open about where their values come from - it's the Bible, it's God, the foundations of the Judaeo-Christian worldview. So I know whatever questions they face, they will try to figure an answer from that reference point. What about the other parties - what are their reference points? Clive Palmer? Marx's Communist Manifesto? Prevailing popular opinion?"
So that's my basic question for every party and representative: "What's your reference point?"
Here's a good summary about why Easter matters so much. It only takes 5-10 minutes to read.
During 2021 we did have family camp, on the theme of Hearing God. We built in family times to train, including times of solitude and silent listening for the inner promptings of the Holy Spirit. We were all met.
And about 40 people got to know each other better around the attractions of Busso.
During the year we were able to continue meeting with youth on Fridays, the Art club, various small groups, and continued our regular meeting together at the community hall. Gathering around the Gospel of John has been spiritually eye-opening - every chapter has more to say about how we should see spiritually. This isn't easy when our cultural default is materialism. We also found each section to have very specific implications, as if we had rigged the section to fit the circumstances, but the 12 month schedule had been planned mid year. God just knows what he's doing. It's our job to listen and do.
A core team of young adults joined OAC in delivering on the Worldview Australia camp in January. Another big success, and as we tune in it seems the Lord wants to duplicate the ministry with many young people interested in stepping in to various directing roles to enable another camp to begin elsewhere midyear. So we're working on that now.
Sooner rather than later, shift the conversation from world-views to foundation level. That's where I want the convo to go anyway!
(Note: Ken defines world-views as based on foundations, whereas I define worldviews as including foundations, but he’s probably more correct. Anyway this foundational distinction is very helpful.)
If people are attacking you for your world-views (about say, abortion, gender, love), it only means they think you are inconsistent with THEIR foundation. But shift the conversation to foundations to help them see that you are very consistent with YOUR Biblical foundation, and they should be able to give you some credit for that.
And then let them ask, well WHOSE foundation is the right one, God’s word or man’s word...
The word of God really shines as an objectively reliable foundation. We have objective evidence of its historical reliability and its divine revelation. See apologetics for how we know the Bible is reliable (Core Stuff).
Compare that with how we know if naturalism is reliable…
.Naturalism refuses to acknowledge any supernatural phenomena, they only admit half the data.
.Don’t believe the hype about ‘science is self-correcting’ because it’s often biased by peer pressure, and financial pressure to conform, wherever scientists are wedded to their own unquestioned interpretation (evolution.)
.Note the crucial difference between observational science (which is simply recorded data), and historical ‘science’ which depends on interpretations of measured data. The Biblical interpretations work just as well with observations as any other interpretation, in fact better - eg it explains Design better, genetic entropy better, biology, geology, anthropology, cosmology, historical archaeology & manuscript evidences... better.
Anyway, if your protagonists don’t see that the foundations are different, they’ll not see why our world-views disagree with them, and that's why they might think we're just illogical, and ascribe some motive to us, like we must be hateful / primitive / conspiracy theorists.
But in fact we’re none of those things, our world-views logically come from a different (better, more solid/good/life-giving, but different) foundation, and one worthy of their consideration too. If they DO see that, they should be able to give us a little credit. If they DON'T, well that would be illogical of them.
This is a brilliant read: chapter 1 of the Creation Answers Book.
What do we mean by God, how do we know he exists, what difference does he make.
So many answers, and so concise: https://creation.com/god-existence-cab-1
What's a boss meant to do? The state government says their staff must vaccinate, or the company will be heavily fined. Should bosses view these mandates as a medically warranted rule (like, 'stay home if you’re sick'), or as an unwarranted status division (like, 'stay home healthy or not, because you didn't comply') a breach of conscience & civil liberties.
(BTW see below for my view on vaccines  and mandates .)
Have we considered when a mandate might become an unwarranted breach of conscience?
Mandates over conscience-matters demand some of the population go against their conscience.
- So we might resist mandating as citizens concerned for the democratic power of the people.
- But more important to me as a Christian is whether a mandate might breach a biblical principle of maintaining our good conscience before God.
Here are some key passages and thoughts to consider:
1. Christians have God-given, Spirit-quickened, Word-informed consciences. Normally our conscience knows when we've done wrong, we would have to suppress it to think otherwise. Moreover a Christian conscience should be being cleansed & quickened by Word & Spirit.
Bosses, it's simplistic to "just obey the government." Organisations have consciences, as well as the people in them. If your organisation-under-God protects people's conscience, stand by that, unless there is a really good and godly reason that outweighs it. If your organisation doesn't reference God, the consciences of your people still matter. So Christians, look to your God-given conscience, and prayerfully, sacrificially if need be, obey what Jesus tells you.
And whatever your call is, do be clear on how and when to resist a government mandate that does breach your line of good conscience. Because the greater good also requires civil liberty. And liberty of good conscience is important under God.
[1 - My view on vaccines? Consider them separately to the mandates issue. Good info accumulates here: https://creation.com/cmi-vaccination. Make an informed decision, weigh the risks of not having, as well as having. Then act accordingly.]
[2 - My view on mandates? Normally, forcing an injection upon people would be a breach of civil liberties, but the argument goes, it's ok if warranted by emergency conditions. So are we in emergency conditions? The emergency powers bill in WA was intended for short term emergencies such as earthquakes or floods, they were never intended for an ongoing situation like this, lockdowns of such magnitude and longitude were not envisioned. Once vaccines were available the use of emergency powers became disproportionate. Mandates should be subject to the normal scrutiny of any legislation. The costs of mandating vaccine status have been a disproportionate response for some time now. I am suspicious of the imposition of Pf&AZ to the exclusion of Novovax, Covax-19 (https://vaxine.net/projects/), and the broader immune response to the weaker Omicron..."Omicron has delivered us from Delta," (see Dr John Campbell at 5':30" and 7':19" here.)
Yes, if Covid came to WA earlier a wave of hospitalisations and deaths would have occurred, but this is inevitable anyway since emergency sanitary measures had suppressed normal death rates. Plus, we could have managed serious spikes with temporary field hospitals if necessary - all without a state of emergency, locked borders, lockdowns, exclusive vaccine mandates & compliance apartheid. I am suspicious of the continuance of these states of emergency.]
Our friend, Tas Walker, answers some fair questions about Easter here.
On the origin of the English word Easter, he says:
it came from the Germanic Ost, for east, and rising.
"it’s most doubtful that any Eostre was ever worshipped, because the only evidence is from Bede. And he never mentioned any animal associated with her. A non-existent association with a non-existent goddess is hardly good grounds for seeing paganism in the Easter bunny!"
On the question of three days and nights, he says:
the term "third day" was interchangeable with "3 days & nights" back in the culture of the day.
"So while X days and X nights can mean what it means in English, this was only a subset of its semantic range in Jewish idiom...
"Note that even His enemies understood that ‘after three days’ meant that they only had to secure the tomb ‘until the third day’. If three full 24-hour periods were meant, then they would want to secure the tomb until the fourth day to make sure. So for Jews, the phrases ‘on the third day’, ‘after the third day’, ‘until the third day’ and ‘three days and three nights’ were synonymous."
Enjoy the details.
Follow the events of Easter with in real time with notifications on your device.
From the raising of Lazarus the week before, through Palm Sunday, the Passover meal, the Biblical Stations of the Cross, Resurrection Sunday and the appearances of Jesus.
I made this GoogleCalendar* which you can add to your calendar if you use google calendars. You can add it with this link.
-Remember to allow that calendar to notify you.
-I use a different calendar app than my usual one, so I can see all the events coming up without clogging my daily system.
-It uses traditional timings of events for ease of use with the holidays here in WA.
-Unfortunately it may be locked on the WA timezone*
Try it - see what happens to Jesus, and see what happens to you.
* (In the past I had an App made which adjusted for your own timezone, but the developer ceased. So until a new developer is found, this calendar is the best I could do.)
PS. Just found out about easternow a sparse but good option, available on Appstore & Googleplay.
Question: Where can we see evidence of Jesus today? Are there any facts?
Answer: Yes, facts past and present, much more than many realise...
HISTORICAL FACTS still apply for today.
If facts are true, it doesn’t matter when they were discovered.
Historians exist to get to past facts, like the existence of Jesus.
The facts on the Onepager are not arguments from gaps we don’t have, but from facts we DO have.
And those facts together point to Jesus’ presence not only in the past but today as well. They support the present realities of: a Creator, and of sin, the Bible’s reliability and revelation, Jesus's life, death, resurrection, ascension, & Spiritual presence, including in our present day. These facts provide a reasonable foundation for the Christian worldview for today’s world.
Moreover these facts still apply to YOU today: your existence is evidence of God, your life, every breath you take, are facts. Your Bible reliably explains your sin, the struggle & grace in your life, and it establishes facts about your saviour. Such facts from the past remain relevant to what’s true in the present in your life.
NEW FACTS keep arising today.
-Archaeological finds which increasingly confirm the places and events of the Bible.
-Mendel’s Accountant, shows the deleterious effects of mutations over time, disproving evolution as a source of complexity.
-Problems with uniformitarian long-age calculations, support the cataclysmic events in the Biblical worldview.
Modern CONSEQUENCES continue to prove Biblical facts.
-Consequences of Godly morals, vs self-centred ones.
-Consequences of civilisations operating "under God” according to the Bible, vs "under self"
-Consequences of a Biblical worldview are consistently better for individuals, families, politics, war, science, economics, psychology, ethics - and the consequences are often life & death. This suggests that the Jesus worldview is best aligned with reality. (ie. true.)
Modern EXPERIENCES of the living Jesus continue to occur.
Just because they are subjective to each individual doesn’t mean they aren’t also objectively real. Rather, their ongoing occurrence invites deeper investigation. Upon investigation we find:
-Details, nuance, and life-directing impacts.
-Agreement with the descriptions & character of the Biblical Jesus.
-They occur across cultures and ethnicities - they don’t arise merely out of culture but also despite culture.
-Experiences consistently include answers to prayer, awareness of spiritual presence, spiritual inspiration & guidance, deliverance from bondages, and healings - physical, spiritual, mental, emotional, and relational.
-They are widespread, with billions reporting similar encounters, and ongoing relationships, with the life-giving Spirit of Jesus.
-An open offer to all people to experience this Jesus too. These experiences can be qualitatively compared with others, and to the Bible. So the claim is that Jesus is an objective reality you can meet for yourself.
Why doesn't EVERYONE accept these facts?
Hesitations may include:
-Traumas that have left people emotionally wounded, resulting in a mindset of basic distrust, fear, bitterness, rejection, or the like. Understandably this makes them reluctant to entrust themselves to God. Emotional healing is needed.
-Ignorance of the facts, and/or their conclusions. Education can help.
-Self-centredness: devotion to their own self-driven lifestyle & the control to which they have become addicted/accustomed. Facing one’s own wilfulness is very hard.
-Self-delusion is surprisingly easy. Even truths are often misused for false conclusions - for example, “God has never shown himself to me.” True in the sense that God hasn’t made a display to force a concession out of that person, this truth can be misused for the false conclusion that the creator therefore does not exist. Yet it remains very possible that the creator exists unseen, and even for good reasons. There are many such misuses of truth statements which we must learn to recognise as self-delusion.
-Peer pressure, pride coupled with fear of rejection, can make a person deny truths they would rationally accept in less emotionally threatening circumstances. (See Peter’s denials.) A healthy sense of identity will help.
-Fear of exploring the facts lest discovering Jesus is alive means a significant change to their worldview and lifestyle. Courage to learn is needed, to find and face the truth.
-Fear of the risk that they might miss out on an experience of Jesus, so it’s safer not to take the risk. Courage to trust is needed, enough to really pray.
Why doesn’t God just "poke his head out of heaven" and "definitively PROVE" himself to us all?
"Is He toying with us, playing some kind of cosmic game of hide & seek? Offering himself, then hiding from us?" Well, that’s one (perhaps bitter-&-twisted) way to look at it. But here are some other ways to look at it:
1. How much MORE evidence do we really need?
Truthfully we already have more than enough evidence: the existence of all physical things, design, life, complexity, universal altruism, conscience, free-agency, reason, relationship, religion, archaeology, history of the highest order, reliable records of his personal presence and action, spiritual experiences to today, all matching the Bible. Plus the offer of your own personal relationship with his Spirit. Outside of those things… what else is there!
2. Would some plain, spiritual, revelation REALLY make us believe?
-If it happened to someone else, couldn’t I still merely discount it as “just another subjective experience”?
-If it happened to me, couldn’t I just rationalise it away as, “just some psychotic episode"?
-If it happened to a lot of us at the same time… as happened with Jesus’s miracles before his death, with his resurrection appearances, and with his Spirit's manifestations from Pentecost onwards... all those eyewitnesses were still ignored by many.
As Jesus said in one of his stories, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’
3. The free agency of each person’s heart plays a key role, their disposition, whether they WANT to face up to Jesus.
- If they DO want to meet and serve Jesus, there are more than enough facts to go on, they aren’t hidden, they can find them, and they can pray.
- If they DON'T want to meet Jesus, then humans are very capable of ignoring or rationalising away from God. If that is what they want, then the creator allows them room to do that. For the Supreme Being of the Universe to allow this seems remarkably gentle and humble.
TURNING AWAY also has consequences to consider
God’s ultimate plan is to gather the people who will come to him, to be with him forever. But those who pull away will not be in that gathering.
That’s why Romans 1 says, "The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles. Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshipped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.”
We have observed all of this happening in our time too. And it simply constitutes further evidence for the truth of God’s word.
Meet Jesus EVERYWHERE
What do I do if I want to meet Jesus? Once I've paid attention to these many facts, how do I start a real relationship with Jesus?
Simply tell the ever-present spirit of Jesus that you want to do things his way from now on, and ask him to show you what that is.
LOOK & Listen for his answers.
Some places to look are obvious: read the Bible, and ask other Christians about what is already very clear, that he is likely to do with you.
Some listening takes practice. Our modern world is crammed with voices & signals throwing so much information at us, that we now actually have to learn to unplug, declutter, be still and quiet, in order to sense God’s gentle presence and promptings. Then we can begin to learn to put off and put on: put off bad identities, habits of thinking, behaviour, addictions, and put on Christ-filled identities, habits of thinking & conduct.
DO what he says.
Follow his higher purposes for our lives. Try it and see how you deepen and grow. Core practices include time with him, time with other believers, and time with other people as salt and light in the world. The aim is not legalistic obedience, but closer togetherness. You can learn to meet with Jesus everywhere you go, in everything you do. When it's his will, you will encounter his pleasure and joy in it. When it’s not his will, you will find he challenges you there, to put off that thing and put on something better.
Colossians 1 says, "For in him ALL THINGS were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”
When we learn to meet with Jesus at all times, in all places, literally in all things, then the evidence for Jesus becomes clear in the air we breathe, our very life. The factual truths outside of us merely confirm the living Truth inside of us. It turns out that evidence for Jesus is actually... in all things.
And all these facts become clearer for those with eyes looking to see them.
So it turns out that the first step to RECOGNISE him is actually in your heart, your basic motivation. Or as Jesus said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear."
Why are we afraid to witness? Fear of rejection.
Why are we afraid of rejection? Pride, fallen human nature, pecking order.
But we have been ultimately accepted by The One Who really matters!
Let that change us inside-out. See more here from Ray Comfort.
It's now 12 months into the pandemic, and we've been fairly protected here in Western Australia. With the first lockdown, Cheers transitioned fairly well into Cell Church mode, using digital tech to relieve the isolated, and our usual small group discussion format to keep Biblically centred.
- the young adults settled into 4 groups
- our teens re-gathered quickly
- Church 247 met on alternate weeks in Home Groups, and gathered in the Community Hall as able.
Adults were less confident to lead Home Groups than I'd hoped. It's not so difficult to run a small group, especially when compared with meetings and other responsibilities they conduct at work, and they have all they need in terms of knowledge, skills and tools, yet most still seem bluffed by leading a small group around the Bible. Not sure what to do about that, but press on. However it does show the importance of training young people who seem to be more likely to learn and do the stuff.
During the year some of our young adults married and moved to the country, taking their training with them and we're cheering for them, confident that they will find ways to bless and benefit their new part of the world with the Gospel. Others have done this in the past, and more are set to do so in the next year or so. We pray this outflow will result in multiplied mission.