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Assumptions - Part 5

This week we consider Assumption #5. Perhaps, though, I should refresh your memories about the first four! Here are the first four of the "8 Assumptions Pastors Can No Longer Make in a Post-Christian Culture":

1. Biblical Literacy
2. Frequent Attendance
3. Consistent Giving
4. Political Alignment

Assumption #5, according to author Karl Vaters in the December 2017 issue of Christianity Today is:

Awareness of and Agreement about Biblical Sexual Ethics

The author says, "As ministers we can spend a lot of time teaching, debating, and arguing the finer points of sexual ethics, from gay marriage to premarital sex to gender identity and more. But when someone comes to faith in Christ today not only can we not assume they will want to follow a Biblical moral code, many will have no idea there is one to follow."

There is a lot of sexual sin and brokenness in our culture today, particularly among young people. We have paid a steep price for the sexual revolution of the 1960s and 1970s. But the stunning development of late is the sexually progressive agenda driven by so many evangelical pastors! Pastors seem more focused on welcoming, endorsing, embracing, and legitimizing the unrepentant LGBTQ community into their churches than preaching the blood of Christ. Twenty to thirty years ago this was not an issue. But the progressives are relentless and aggressive, determined to obtain the church's blessing, and not at all reluctant to denounce the "intolerant" churches who don't jump on the bandwagon.

I find the Biblical teaching to be simple and clear. Homosexuality is a sin. Same-sex attraction or desire is also a sin, even if it is not acted upon. In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus made it clear that even our desires must be in conformity with His will. Am I unloving to say so? On the contrary, telling the truth is the most loving thing we can do. We must speak the truth in love.

Having said this however, don't misunderstand me: the LGBTQ community is always welcome in our church. So are murderers and thieves and sinners of every stripe! We don't vet people at the front door. I wish nothing more than for them to worship Almighty God with us. I welcome the opportunity to explain "the way of God more accurately", as Priscilla and Aquila did for Apollos (Acts 18). And if they are repentant they are most welcome to profess their faith, become full communing church members, and one day perhaps rise to leadership in the church. As Augustine said, "We are all washed in the same blood."

Come, ye sinners, poor and needy,
Weak and wounded, sick and sore!
Jesus ready stands to save you,
Full of pity, love and pow'r.

Come ye weary, heavy laden,
Lost and ruined by the fall;
If you tarry till you're better,
You will never come at all.

Posted by Jim Bachmann

Assumptions - Part 4

Good morning, my friends! Today we come to Assumption #4 in our series of "8 Assumptions Pastors Can't Make in a Post-Christian Culture," taken from a December 2017 issue of Christianity Today.

Last week I received a thrilling email in response to one of the earlier assumptions. It said, "These past few years are the first time in my life, literally, that I have not attended Sunday School, morning and evening services and Wednesday night...interesting...how other 'things' fill that time. I felt strange at first...then became natural...that's what sin is like...at first done with loathing...then with joy...am in the process of changing...back to where I was..."

Yes, we are all creatures of habit and all too often those habits are not good ones. Praise the Lord for a soft heart and a resolve to return to one's first love. 

Assumption #4 - Political Alignment

The author, Karl Vater, says, "We have to stop assuming that everyone who believes in Jesus also shares our political views. Otherwise, we will increasingly end up with churches that are more united around political convictions than shared Biblical truths."

I love our country and the men and women who have bravely fought for our freedom. I have very strong political convictions, as do you. We're blessed to be free; to be able to vote, to be able to worship every Sunday morning. Everyone should vote! 15 million Christians are not registered to vote! But even as we vote we must do so realizing we are voting for fallen men and women, sinners who are prone to wander and likely to disappoint us sooner or later.

Years ago I remember how surprised I was when one of my colleagues told me how he had voted in a recent presidential election. The dots simply didn't connect in my mind. Frankly, they still don't. And yet we worked side by side, preached the same gospel, served the same church, and believed in the same Savior. Heaven will be populated by people by varying political persuasions. Someone has wisely said that three things will surprise us when we get to heaven: 1) who is there, 2) who is not there, and 3) that we are there - the greatest wonder of all.

Ultimately, our trust must be in the Lord, for it is He "who executes judgment, putting down one and lifting up another, "(Ps. 75:7). And we must rest in His sovereignty as Proverbs 21 says, "The king's heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord. He turns it wherever He will."

Posted by Jim Bachmann

Assumptions - Part 3

Good afternoon, friends! It was great to be with you Sunday morning for such beautiful fellowship, music, and worship. Truly, the Lord was with us!

Thus far we have considered two assumptions from the article in Christianity Today, December 2017, "8 Assumptions Pastors Can't Make In A Post-Christian Culture" by Karl Vaters. The first was Biblical Literacy, or the lack thereof. The second was Frequent Attendance. The third, which we consider today, is Consistent Giving.

Assumption #3 - Consistent Giving

It stands to reason that if people attend church less frequently they also give less consistently. Back in the early 1990's while serving my former church, we had an ice storm one January that forced us to cancel our Sunday services. I assumed the offering would be twice as much as normal the following Sunday. But I was wrong. We never really made up for the "lost Sunday." It was as though people thought God had given us a Sunday off!

Pastor Vater says "Today's churchgoers don't necessarily give less, but they do give differently. While previous generations gave out of a sense of duty, today's and tomorrow's givers do so based on a perceived sense of value. The good news is, this sense of value isn't necessarily about 'what's in it for me?' but 'what good is this really doing?'"

He is right in asserting that so many of us are pragmatists. No devout believer wants to be a poor steward of God's resources. We don't want to throw "good money after bad." We tend to be driven by tangible results. However, tangible results are not always a Biblical standard. The Bible tells us to give as an act of worship! When the sinful woman tearfully anointed Jesus with expensive perfume and wiped His feet with her hair the disciples (pragmatists) complained that the money could have been used for better purposes (i.e., tangible results to help the poor). But Jesus welcomed her gift and commended her because it was an act of worship from a woman who loved Him much because He had forgiven her much.

God loves cheerful givers who give, not merely out of duty nor driven by pragmatic results but rather out of love for Him because He has first loved us!

Thank you for your consistent giving. Thanks to God's provision and your generosity our new church home will be ready in just a few months. Our operating budget giving has been strong so far this first quarter. Let's keep it up, because we love Him, worship Him, and want to spread the good news far and wide.

Posted by Jim Bachmann