Daily Archives: June 28, 2019

June 28 Strategies for the Faithful

Scripture Reading: 1 Samuel 17:12–27

Key Verse: 1 Samuel 17:26

Then David spoke to the men who stood by him, saying, “What shall be done for the man who kills this Philistine and takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?”

A faithful child of God will reckon spiritual victory as sure and certain by applying the strategies David used against Goliath:

  • Fight the battle before the battle. Get on your face before God and pray through the challenge. Let the Lord prune, sift, sand, and weed you as you hash over the situation with Him. Do this until you are certain that you know the will of God.
  • Reaffirm in your heart that the battle is the Lord’s. Only the Lord can work in your situation for good, and only He can bring about true victory.
  • Declare the victory. David not only promised to slay Goliath but also said the Lord would destroy the entire Philistine army. His was the most ambitious of declarations, because he served the most certain, true God.
  • Wait on God’s timing. It wasn’t until David declared what the Lord would do through him that the Lord brought about the victory. Sometimes He asks us to wait. Always His timing is perfect.
  • Proceed in God’s way. We are prone to rely upon the world’s ways when we get into battles. We have to trust God always—even when He asks us to do something that doesn’t make sense immediately.
  • Trust God. Pray unceasingly. Fight with confidence. Believe God’s promises. Take Him—at His Word. Wait for His victory.

The battle is Yours, Lord! I will wait for Your timing and proceed in Your way, trusting You to give the victory.[1]

[1] Stanley, C. F. (2006). Pathways to his presence (p. 187). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

June 28 Healing the Pain of Brokenness

Scripture Reading: 2 Corinthians 12:7–10

Key Verse: Psalm 51:17

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart—these, O God, You will not despise.

The promises of God are dear to the hearts of those who have experienced brokenness:

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise. (Ps. 51:17 nasb)

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted, and saves those who are crushed in spirit. (Ps. 34:18 nasb)

He heals the brokenhearted, and binds up their wounds. (Ps. 147:3 nasb)

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted. (Isa. 61:1 nasb)

If you are in the midst of brokenness and bereft of hope, meditate on these Scriptures. They share the heart of our Father God who longs to embrace and heal the pain of your brokenness. He promises to be near you, sustain you, watch over you, and bring relief with His healing hand.

The end of brokenness is the healing touch of the Father, the touch of grace and mercy. It is the gift of His strength for Your weakness, His hope for your despair, His contentment for your anxiety.

Dear God, heal my heart. Bind up my wounds. Be near me in the midst of my brokenness, and let me sense Your presence. Exchange my despair for hope, my anxiety for contentment, my weakness for Your strength.[1]

[1] Stanley, C. F. (1999). On holy ground (p. 187). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Crops Devastated As More Ferocious Storms Pound The Midwest: “Hard To Get Your Head Around Just How Bad It Is” | ZeroHedge News

Authored by Michael Snyder via The End of The American dream,

It has gotten to the point where maybe we should just expect violent storms to hammer the Midwest every single day of the week.  Highly destructive storms ripped through the Midwest on Tuesday, it happened again on Wednesday, and the forecast calls for more powerful storms on Thursday.  This growing season has been a complete and utter nightmare for U.S. farmers, and each day it just gets even worse.  Millions of acres will not be planted at all this year, but an even bigger problem is that fact that crops are dramatically failing on tens of millions of acres that were actually planted in time.  Every major storm does even more damage, and that is why what we have witnessed so far this week has been so alarming.

For example, on Tuesday the middle of the country was absolutely pummeled by “more than 120 damaging storms”

More than 120 damaging storms were reported from Montana all the way to Florida on Tuesday, a barrage that included 70 mph winds from Texas to Illinois, golf ball-sized hail Nebraska and up to half a foot of rain in parts of southern Iowa.

Then on Wednesday a series of severe storms dumped enormous amounts of rain “from Washington state to Illinois”.

And of course we aren’t done yet.  According to AccuWeather, Thursday was another very rough day for the heartland

More severe weather is likely on Thursday over parts of the North-Central states.

The storms may take a more west-to-east track across the northern Plains to the Great Lakes region during Thursday afternoon and night.

During this period, a complex of storms is likely to travel from the eastern part of South Dakota to across Lake Michigan and much of the Lower Peninsula of Michigan. Storms are forecast to roll through Minneapolis in the morning and then Milwaukee later in the day or evening.

In recent weeks, some people that clearly don’t live in the middle of the country have left some really negative comments on my articles about the enormous toll that this disaster is taking on Midwest farmers.  For whatever reason, some people want to try to minimize the nightmare that these farmers are living.  But the truth is that it would be very difficult to overstate the scope of this crisis at this point.

Recently, Missouri farmer Kate Glastetter told one reporter that her fields “are washing away” and that they currently resemble “lakefront property”…

Kate Glastetter has worked on her family farm all her life. Alongside her father, the 25-year-old farmer grows row crops—wheat, bean, and corn—and runs a cow and calf operation in Scott County, Missouri. Normally, at this time in the season, farmers would be starting to plant soybeans, and corn should already be in the ground. Instead, Glastetter says, their fields are covered in water. “It’s like lakefront property,” she says. “The fields are washing away.”

It’s a common story across the Midwest and Great Plains, where the Missouri and Mississippi River basins are still recovering from a catastrophic deluge: Since March, record flooding in the central United States has caused historic crop delays. The Mississippi River received levels of rain and snow at 200 percent above normal this spring, causing corn and some soybean farmers to wait longer to plant their crops than ever recorded in Department of Agriculture data.

How would you feel if you had to watch your income for the year literally wash away right in front of your eyes?

This is happening in state after state, and it is truly a disaster unlike anything we have ever seen before.  In fact, one agricultural expert told AgWeb that it is “hard to get your head around just how bad it is”

“I never thought we’d see this widespread of a weather issue — all the way from South Dakota to Ohio,” Jerry Gulke, president of the Gulke Group, told Farm Journal’s AgWeb.

“It’s hard to get your head around just how bad it is.”

Meanwhile, U.S. farmers are also being absolutely devastated by our trade war with China.  The following comes from Zero Hedge

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs of the People’s Republic of China published new data Monday that shows agricultural imports from the US have fallen, as Chinese buyers shift supply chains out of the US to other countries because of the deepening trade war.

In the first five months of 2019, imports of agricultural products from the US crashed 55.3% YoY. Much of decline was due to a 70.6% YoY decline of soybeans in the same period.

Chinese importers went to Brazil, Argentina, and ASEN countries (Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei, Myanmar (Burma), Cambodia, and Laos). Data showed imports from the EU, Australia, and Canada also jumped in the first five months as Chinese buyers ditched American products.

Farmers are being financially destroyed all over the country, and yet there are some people out there that seem to think that it is appropriate to mock them and make light of their suffering.

I just don’t get it.

Look, the truth is that we are all going to be hurting as a result of this crisis.  Food prices are going to go up, gas prices are going to go up as less corn is available for ethanol, and the massive income loss that U.S. farmers are suffering is going to have ripple effects throughout the entire U.S. economy.  Those that are mocking others should be busy preparing for harder times instead.

And of course this all comes at a time when we are experiencing the worst economic downturn since the last recession.

For many months, I warned that a “perfect storm” was coming, and now we can see evidence of it all around us.

For U.S. farmers, it is hard to imagine that things could get even worse than they are right now, and so let us hope that better weather is right around the corner.

Source: Crops Devastated As More Ferocious Storms Pound The Midwest: “Hard To Get Your Head Around Just How Bad It Is”

Memo To Trump: Trade Bolton For Tulsi | ZeroHedge News

Authored by Patrick Buchanan via Buchanan.org,

“For too long our leaders have failed us, taking us into one regime change war after the next, leading us into a new Cold War and arms race, costing us trillions of our hard-earned tax payer dollars and countless lives. This insanity must end.”

Donald Trump, circa 2016?

Nope. That denunciation of John Bolton interventionism came from Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii during Wednesday night’s Democratic debate. At 38, she was the youngest candidate on stage.

Gabbard proceeded to rip both the “president and his chickenhawk cabinet (who) have led us to the brink of war with Iran.”

In a fiery exchange, Congressman Tim Ryan of Ohio countered that America cannot disengage from Afghanistan:

“When we weren’t in there they started flying planes into our buildings.”

“The Taliban didn’t attack us on 9/11,” Gabbard replied, “Al-Qaida attacked us on 9/11. That’s why I and so many other people joined the military, to go after al-Qaida, not the Taliban.”

When Ryan insisted we must stay engaged, Gabbard shot back:

“Is that what you will tell the parents of those two soldiers who were just killed in Afghanistan? ‘Well, we just have to be engaged.’ As a solider, I will tell you, that answer is unacceptable…

We are no better off in Afghanistan that we were when this war began.”

By debate’s end, Gabbard was the runaway winner in both the Drudge Report and Washington Examiner polls and was far in front among all the Democratic candidates whose names were being searched on Google.

Though given less than seven minutes of speaking time in a two-hour debate, she could not have used that time more effectively. And her performance may shake up the Democratic race.

If she can rise a few points above her 1-2% in the polls, she could be assured a spot in the second round of debates.

If she is, moderators will now go to her with questions of foreign policy issues that would not have been raised without her presence, and these questions will expose the hidden divisions in the Democratic Party.

Leading Democratic candidates could be asked to declare what U.S. policy should be — not only toward Afghanistan but Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Jared Kushner’s “Deal of the Century,” and Trump’s seeming rejection of the two-state solution.

If she makes it into the second round, Gabbard could become the catalyst for the kind of globalist vs. nationalist debate that broke out between Trump and Bush Republicans in 2016, a debate that contributed to Trump’s victory at the Cleveland convention and in November.

The problem Gabbard presents for Democrats is that, as was shown in the joust with Ryan, she takes positions that split her party, while her rivals prefer to talk about what unites the party, like the terribleness of Trump, free college tuition and soaking the rich.

Given more airtime, she will present problems for the GOP as well. For the foreign policy Tulsi Gabbard is calling for is not far off from the foreign policy Donald Trump promised in 2016 but has since failed to deliver.

We still have 2,000 troops in Syria, 5,000 in Iraq, 14,000 in Afghanistan. We just moved an aircraft carrier task force, B-52s and 1,000 troops to the Persian Gulf to confront Iran. We are about to impose sanctions on the Iranian foreign minister with whom we would need to negotiate to avoid a war.

Jared Kushner is talking up a U.S.-led consortium to raise $50 billion for the Palestinians in return for their forfeiture of sovereignty and an end to their dream of a nation-state on the West Bank and Gaza with Jerusalem as its capital.

John Bolton is talking of regime change in Caracas and confronting the “troika of tyranny” in Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela.

Rather than engaging Russia as Trump promised, we have been sanctioning Russia, arming Ukraine, sending warships into the Black Sea, beefing up NATO in the Baltic and trashing arms control treaties Ronald Reagan and other presidents negotiated in the Cold War

U.S. policy has managed to push our great adversaries, Russia and China, together as they have not been since the first Stalin-Mao decade of the Cold War.

This June, Vladimir Putin traveled to Beijing where he and Xi Jinping met in the Great Hall of the People to warn that in this time of “growing global instability and uncertainty,” Russia and China will “deepen their consultations on strategic stability issues.”

Xi presented Putin with China’s new Friendship Medal. Putin responded: “Cooperation with China is one of Russia’s top priorities and it has reached an unprecedented level.”

At the end of the Cold War, we were the lone superpower. Who forfeited our preeminence? Who bled us of 7,000 U.S. lives and $6 trillion in endless Middle East wars? Who got us into this Cold War II?

Was all this the doing of those damnable isolationists again?

Source: Memo To Trump: Trade Bolton For Tulsi

What the Bible Does (and Doesn’t) Say About the Life (or Death) of the Soul — Cold Case Christianity

What the Bible Does (and Doesn’t) Say About the Life (or Death) of the SoulAs Christians, we believe humans are more than merely physical creatures. We are also “soulish” beings; living souls who also possess physical bodies. As a result, the vast majority of Christians believe our souls are unaffected by our physical death. We are eternal beings, even though our earthly bodies eventually die. Other groups, also using the Bible as their source of information about the soul, have argued souls die along with the body, entering what is sometimes called “soul sleep”. Jehovah’s Witnesses, Seventh Day Adventists, and Christadelphians all hold this position. Part of the problem is simply a matter of terminology. When we use the term “soul” as we have been using it in this post, we are referring to the existence of our immaterial being. But when Bible translators translate the original Hebrew and Greek words used by the Biblical authors, they are actually translating words typically used to describe something else:

The Old Testament word, “nephesh” (neh’-fesh)
This word has been translated as “soul” on occasion in the Old Testament, but that’s not how the ancient Israelites understood the word. They used it throughout the Old Testament to describe any breathing creature or animal, and it is more often translated as “appetite”, “beast”, “body”, “breath”, “creature”, “dead”, “lust”, “man”, “mind”, “person”, or “life”, than it is translated as “soul”.

The New Testament word, “psuche” (psoo-khay’)
Like “nephesh”, this word has been translated as “soul” as well, but literally means “breath” and can accurately be translated as “heart”, “life”, “mind”, “us”, or “you” in addition to the connotation we would understand as “soul”.

How, then, are we to know exactly how the original writers of Scripture were using these words? How do we know whether they were using the words to describe some aspect of our temporal life or whether they were using the words to describe the soul? Let’s take, for example, Ezekiel 18:4, a passage often cited by Jehovah’s Witnesses trying to make the case we, as living souls, die or sleep when our bodies die:

Ezekiel 18:4
“Behold, all souls are Mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is Mine. The soul who sins will die.”

From a simple reading of this passage, it sure sounds like souls die. But the word being used as “soul” is “nephesh” and we know it is more often used to describe living physical beings (creatures). So this passage could just as easily (and may more accurately) be translated in this way:

“Behold, all lives are Mine; the life of the father as well as the life of the son is Mine. The person (life) who sins will die.”

See the problem here? We really can’t make the case for the mortality of the soul from a simple word study in the Old or New Testament. But Jehovah’s Witnesses are not the only ones who have to be careful. Those who try to prove the soul is immortal from a simple word study also fall into this same trap. Let’s take one example:

Psalms 84:2
“My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.”

Those arguing for the immortality of the soul use this passage to demonstrate the soul is clearly defined as something different than the heart and the flesh of the body. But once again we have to remember the word used for “soul” (“nephesh”) is most often translated in a different way. This could just as easily be what the psalmist intended:

“My entire being yearns, even faints, for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.”

What the Bible Says About the Everlasting Nature of the Soul
Word studies
simply don’t help us understand the nature of the soul in regard to its immortality. There is a better way to examine the Biblical evidence without relying on any interpretation of “nephesh” or “psuche”. Let’s simply study examples in the Scripture where people are described as living beyond their physical bodies. If we see instances of “living disembodiment”, it is fair to conclude we are immaterial beings who live beyond our physical existence:

Luke 23:39-43
And one of the criminals who were hanged there was hurling abuse at Him, saying, “Are You not the Christ? Save Yourself and us.” But the other answered, and rebuking him said, “Do you not even fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? “And we indeed justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he was saying, “Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom.” And He said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.”

Even though both Jesus and the thief were about to experience physical death, Jesus clearly said something about our eternal life. He said our lives would continue and extend right from the point of death: “today you will be with me in paradise.” The word used here for “paradise” is the Greek word, “paradeisos” and it is the same word Paul used to describe heaven in 2 Corinthians 12:2-4 (“I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know-God knows. And I know that this man-whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows- was caught up to paradise.”) The Bible clearly describes a disembodied life here (what we would describe as the “soul”), even though it is not given a name. From this passage it is obvious the soul lives beyond the death of the body. Here is another important passage:

Luke 16:19-31
“Now there was a certain rich man, and he habitually dressed in purple and fine linen, gaily living in splendor every day. And a certain poor man named Lazarus was laid at his gate, covered with sores, and longing to be fed with the crumbs which were falling from the rich man’s table; besides, even the dogs were coming and licking his sores. Now it came about that the poor man died and he was carried away by the angels to Abraham’s bosom; and the rich man also died and was buried. And in Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and saw Abraham far away, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried out and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue; for I am in agony in this flame.’ But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things; but now he is being comforted here, and you are in agony. ‘And besides all this, between us and you there is a great chasm fixed, in order that those who wish to come over from here to you may not be able, and that none may cross over from there to us.’ And he said, ‘Then I beg you, Father, that you send him to my father’s house – for I have five brothers – that he may warn them, lest they also come to this place of torment.’ But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them,’ But he said, ‘No, Father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent. But he said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone rises from the dead.’”

In this passage, the dead are repeatedly described as performing actions characteristic of the living. But that’s not all. How can this be? This is only possible if the physically dead are still immaterially alive. That’s why as Christians, we recognize we are living souls and immortal by nature:

Matthew 17:1-3
And six days later Jesus took with Him Peter and James and John his brother, and brought them up to a high mountain by themselves. And He was transfigured before them; and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him.

In this scene, Jesus was talking to Elijah and Moses. They obviously died long before Jesus was born, so how could this scene be true unless they still existed as immortal souls (and not simply as physical bodies)? We have another example of disembodied life after death, something possible only if we exist as living, immortal souls.

Matthew 22:31-32
“But regarding the resurrection of the dead, have you not read that which was spoken to you by God, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead but of the living.”

Were Abraham, Isaac and Jacob alive at the time of this statement? No. How, then, could they be described as living? This could only be true if they are actually immortal souls alive after death (and prior to their physical resurrection in the future). If they are immortal souls (immaterial beings), the passage begins to make sense.

1 Kings 17:19-23
And he said to her, “Give me your son.” Then he took him from her bosom and carried him up to the upper room where he was living, and laid him on his own bed. And he called to the LORD and said, “O LORD my God, hast Thou also brought calamity to the widow with whom I am staying, by causing her son to die?” Then he stretched himself upon the child three times, and called to the LORD, and said, “O LORD my God, I pray Thee, let this child’s life return to him.” And the LORD heard the voice of Elijah, and the life of the child returned to him and he revived. And Elijah took the child, and brought him down from the upper room into the house and gave him to his mother; and Elijah said, “See, your son is alive.”

This passage describes Elijah’s reviving of the widow’s son. The “life” of the child is said to “return to him”. The word used here is “shuwb” (shoob) and it really means “to turn back”, as if to retreat. But to turn back from where? Where is the “life” prior to being “returned”? The passage affirms the notion our true lives exist beyond death. God has the ability to return this “true” life to the body. This is consistent with what has been described elsewhere about the nature of the disembodied soul.

Ecclesiastes 12:5-7
Furthermore, men are afraid of a high place and of terrors on the road; the almond tree blossoms, the grasshopper drags himself along, and the caperberry is ineffective. For man goes to his eternal home while mourners go about in the street. Remember Him before the silver cord is broken and the golden bowl is crushed, the pitcher by the well is shattered and the wheel at the cistern is crushed; then the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it.

This passage also describes life beyond the grave. After our death, while people are still mourning our absence, we are on our way to the God who created us. We are not stationary. We are not lying in the grave. We are alive and moving. We all know that our bodies will someday die. We don’t need to make a case from the Bible for this; we get to see it (unfortunately) every day. The real question is: “Do we live beyond the grave, beyond the physical life?” The scriptures seem to answer that question in a straightforward manner:

John 11:17-26
So when Jesus came, He found that he had already been in the tomb four days. Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles off; and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary, to console them concerning their brother. Martha therefore, when she heard that Jesus was coming, went to meet Him; but Mary still sat in the house. Martha therefore said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. “Even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother shall rise again.” Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me shall live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die.”

John 8:51
“Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he shall never see death.”

We have a powerful promise here. When we place our trust in Christ we will never see death. Our bodies may cease to function, but there will never be a time when we could be considered dead. There is no soul sleep, even though the body dies. Once we understand what the Bible does (and doesn’t) say about the life (or death) of the soul, we can have confidence we will be reunited to God and in His presence the moment we leave this temporal life.

When we place our trust in Christ we will never see death. Our bodies may cease to function, but there will never be a time when we could be considered dead.
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For more information about the scientific and philosophical evidence pointing to a Divine Creator, please read God’s Crime Scene: A Cold-Case Detective Examines the Evidence for a Divinely Created Universe. This book employs a simple crime scene strategy to investigate eight pieces of evidence in the universe to determine the most reasonable explanation. The book is accompanied by an eight-session God’s Crime Scene DVD Set(and Participant’s Guide) to help individuals or small groups examine the evidence and make the case.

J. Warner Wallace is a Dateline featured Cold-Case Detective, Senior Fellow at the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, Adj. Professor of Christian Apologetics at Talbot School of Theology, Biola University, author of Cold-Case ChristianityGod’s Crime Scene, and Forensic Faith, and creator of the Case Makers Academy for kids.

via What the Bible Does (and Doesn’t) Say About the Life (or Death) of the Soul — Cold Case Christianity

Russell Moore’s George Soros-Funded Evangelical Group Attack’s Trump’s National Security Agents — Reformation Charlotte

Russell Moore is one of the heads of the Evangelical Immigration Table (EIT), a front group for the George Soros-funded National Immigration Forum (NIF) which calls for open borders and amnesty for illegal aliens. The fact that the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission head, Russell Moore, has never had to explain his association with George Soros is telling of the direction the denomination has gone. The Southern Baptist Convention is now primarily an outlet to propagandize semi-conservative pew-sitters with left-wing politics.

In a recent open letter to the Trump administration, Russell Moore and his Evangelical Immigration Table blasted border patrol and national security agents for the “mistreatment” of criminal trespassers who have willfully breached the nation’s Southern borders. The letter calls on the Trump administration to use tax-payer dollars to fund free healthcare, sanitation services, and quickly give legal status to these criminals who would otherwise “qualify” for it — despite the fact they’ve broken the laws and illegally invaded the country. All in the name of Jesus, of course.

Read more: Russell Moore’s George Soros-Funded Evangelical Group Attack’s Trump’s National Security Agents — Reformation Charlotte

The Gospel Coalition Reinforces Redefinition of “Complementarian” — Pulpit & Pen

The Gospel Coalition, a progressive political organization funded by millions of dollars in mysterious dark money, is continuing to push America’s churches to the left. On the heels of the complementarian debate sparked by Beth Moore’s slamming of conventional gender roles, The Gospel Coalition is now actively redefining the term, ‘complementarian.’

Read more: The Gospel Coalition Reinforces Redefinition of “Complementarian” — Pulpit & Pen

The PCA General Assembly Affirms the Nashville Statement — Denny Burk

Last night I stayed up until after 1am watching the annual General Assembly (GA) of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA). The debate went into the wee hours of the night because the assembly had several measures before it relating to sexuality and gender identity. The most controversial measure was Overture 4, which is titled “Declare the Council on Biblical Manhood & Womanhood’s ‘Nashville Statement’on Biblical Sexuality as a Biblically Faithful Declaration.”

Overture 4 is remarkable not only because it affirms the Nashville Statement, but also because it calls on the PCA to use the Nashville Statement in discipleship materials produced by the denomination. Here are the relevant lines from the overture:

Therefore be it resolved that the Calvary Presbytery hereby overture the 47th General Assembly and asks it to declare the Council on Biblical Manhood & Womanhood’s “Nashville Statement” on biblical sexuality as a biblically faithful declaration and refer the “Nashville Statement” to the Committee on Discipleship Ministries for inclusion and promotion among its denominational teaching materials.

Melton Duncan introduced Overture 4 to the assembly, read the entire text of Nashville, and then spoke in favor of its adoption. What followed was a debate that lasted for over an hour. Greg Johnson and Scott Sauls were among those who spoke against the overture. Lig Duncan, Kevin DeYoung, Rick Phillips, and Harry Reeder were among those who spoke in favor of it. The debate was lively but charitable.

Opponents of Overture 4 attempted a parliamentary procedure to derail Overture 4, but that attempt failed as nearly 70% of the assembly voted against it. In the end, 67 percent of the Assembly voted to affirm the Nashville Statement.

I think it is really important to put last night’s events into a larger context. The PCA has been facing a great deal of internal controversy over the last year because of the Revoice Conference which was hosted by a PCA church in St. Louis. In fact, Greg Johnson, the pastor of the church that hosted Revoice, rose to speak against Overture 4 in the debate last night. Revoice was mentioned during the debate, and it certainly formed a part of the backdrop for the introduction of Overture 4 in the first place.

This is significant because the founder of Revoice has said that he started Revoice as a response to The Nashville Statement. The founder and other Revoice supporters often identify as “gay Christians,” and they took particular offense at Article 7 of The Nashville Statement, which says “We deny that adopting a homosexual or transgender self-conception is consistent with God’s holy purposes in creation and redemption.” That is why it was no surprise that Greg Johnson spoke against Article 7 in particular during the debate.

Nevertheless, nearly 70 percent of the PCA General Assembly went on record to affirm the very statement that Revoice was founded to oppose. What makes this even more remarkable is that this happened right on the heals of the Southern Baptist Convention’s adoption of a similar measure earlier this month—a resolution that relies on the Nashville Statement as a response to the Revoice controversy. Thus two major evangelical denominations have weighed-in in a single month, and both have affirmed the theological perspective of Nashville.

It is remarkable that some of the people who spoke against Overture 4 last night began their remarks by affirming Nashville. In other words, some of the people who opposed the overture were open about the fact that they couldn’t find anything wrong with what the Nashville Statement actually says. Their problems were ancillary to the theological substance of the debate. In fact, almost no one raised any issues with the substance of the Nashville Statement, which I think is telling.

As I mentioned above, Greg Johnson was a notable exception to this. He came the closest to actually engaging the substance of Nashville when he criticized Article 7 of the Nashville Statement. Johnson claimed that Article 7 precludes “gay Christians” from acknowledging their own sin struggles. But this is a distortion of Article 7. Several same-sex attracted Christians were instrumental in the drafting of Article 7. Neither them nor any of the other drafters ever intended what Johnson alleges. Look again at the language of Article 7:

“We deny that adopting a homosexual or transgender self-conception is consistent with God’s holy purposes in creation and redemption.”

Adopt means to embrace or endorse. The point of the article is simply to say that it is out of bounds to embrace an understanding of oneself or one’s sin that is at odds with God’s design in creation and redemption. This is not a controversial point, or at least it should not be among Christians.

Other opponents of Overture 4 claimed that the Nashville Statement has the wrong tone or isn’t “pastoral” enough in its language and can’t be used in actual ministry to gay people. But I think this objection fundamentally misunderstands how confessions function as pastoral documents. When someone asks me, “What must I do to be saved?” I don’t throw a copy of The Baptist Faith & Message at them and tell them to go sort themselves out. That is not how confessions come to bear in tender pastoral moments.

Our confessions give expression to our fundamental beliefs and mark out biblical boundaries so that we can both listen and speak with clarity in tender pastoral moments. That is what the Nashville Statement does. It gives theological guidance. It is not a script for evangelism or pastoral counseling. We don’t use any of our confessions as such a script, and it would be wrong to criticize the Nashville Statement on those grounds. Anyone who does criticize the Nashville Statement on those grounds needs to understand that all confessions would fail by that standard.

Having said that, I think the “tone” criticisms of the Nashville Statement are misplaced. To prove my point, I would simply encourage you to read the Nashville Statement. As far as confessions go, it actually is unusually pastorally friendly. There are lines in there that I actually would use in an evangelistic encounter or in pastoral counseling. For example:

“The grace of God in Christ gives both merciful pardon and transforming power, and… this pardon and power enable a follower of Jesus to put to death sinful desires and to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord” (Article 12).

“We affirm that Christ Jesus has come into the world to save sinners and that through Christ’s death and resurrection forgiveness of sins and eternal life are available to every person who repents of sin and trusts in Christ alone as Savior, Lord, and supreme treasure. We deny that the Lord’s arm is too short to save or that any sinner is beyond his reach” (Article 14).

These are precious gospel truths that we hold out to ALL sinners, including those struggling with same-sex attraction or identity issues. That is the good news that the Nashville Statement communicates to all sinners.

One last observation about last night’s debate. Greg Johnson spoke powerfully of his own experience, and I was genuinely moved by what he said. I have dear friends and brothers in Christ who have shared with me the exact same kind of suffering that Johnson described last night. I think it is good for all of us to understand this suffering, to be able to enter into such suffering with friends and neighbors, and to bring the mercy of God in Christ to bear in those situations. I would argue, however, that theological clarity is not at odds with ministering well in those moments. On the contrary, such clarity is essential to such ministry.

The PCA General Assembly brought theological clarity last night. They will do so in the days ahead as a study committee continues to work on these issues. And that is something we can give thanks for.

via The PCA General Assembly Affirms the Nashville Statement — Denny Burk

June 28 A Divine Sin-Blocker

Scripture reading: Romans 5:17–21

Key verse: 2 Corinthians 8:7

As you abound in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all diligence, and in your love for us—see that you abound in this grace also.

For years she was entangled in an immoral lifestyle. Finally, through a friend, she came to know Jesus as her Savior. Several years passed before there was any hint of trouble; then friends discovered she was concealing a deep emotional hurt.

Instead of being transparent with God or talking her feelings out with a pastor or counselor, she allowed anger to fester and infect her emotional well-being. Sin resurfaced; only this time it was far more consuming.

Jesus loves us unconditionally. His grace is sufficient. We can lay all our hurts safely at His feet, knowing He will support and carry us through the difficulties of life.

The problem in this woman’s life stemmed from a lack of communication. Out of fear of rejection, she failed to communicate her need to God. Did He know of it? Yes, but He wants us to bring every tear, every heartache, to Him in prayer. It is a matter of yielding and loving Him above all else.

The chain reaction from an inner hurt can move quickly from self-pity to feelings of rebellion and then a return to sinful behavior. But God’s grace applied to your life is a divine sin-blocker. All you need to do is to walk in the light of His forgiveness.

Apply Your grace to my life, Lord. Let me walk in the light of Your forgiveness.[1]

[1] Stanley, C. F. (2000). Into His presence (p. 187). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.