Category Archives: authenticity

Leaving it all on the course for Him Matthew 5:21

We make our beginning in the Name of God the Father and in the Name of God the Son and in the Name of God the Holy Spirit and all those who have left it all on the field for Jesus said … AMEN!

You’ve heard the interviews after an athletic contest, one of the most common phrases; “I left it all on the field”, basically I gave everything I had in order to win. It can get a little cliché, but by the same token, I have no doubt that each person who says that truly believes it. At the end of that contest; a race, basketball game, matholympics, I gave everything I had, physically, mentally, emotionally in order to win, or at least to do my best. I’ve done races where I expected it to be a little more challenging and at the end upset with myself that I was holding back too much and I could have pressed harder on the bike or the run. By the same token I’ve seen people sprinting to the finish line, giving everything and as soon as they crossed, going off somewhere and literally getting sick right after they finished. No question they exceeded their normal physical ability in order to find that tiny little bit that they had left in order to finish as well as they could.

We certainly see this in so many of the people described in the Bible. King David wrote dozens of Psalms, but if you think he was all about sitting at a desk pen in hand and dreamily wondering how to compose his poetry, you would be mistaken. Most of his prose was about the different ways that he was left it all out on the field for God. David was a powerful soldier, his soldiers followed him into many different situations, they trusted him as a leader who would be there for them, do whatever it took for his men and defeat his enemy. David had no compunction going out on that field and doing what God directed him to do and pouring every last ounce he had into the fight for his men, his country and very much so for his God. David lived his life for Yahweh, there were times when he failed in that and he failed in a way that only a great king and general could fail. As Dr Luther wrote: Be a sinner, and let your sins be strong [or sin boldly], but let your trust in Christ be stronger, and rejoice in Christ who is the victor over sin, death, and the world.”[1] If King David had known about Jesus and written about Jesus, he would have understood completely what Dr Luther wrote.

In a lot of ways that is what Jesus is saying in the Beatitudes, you have to go over and above, you have to leave it all out there. There may even be a physical price to pay. The Beatitudes can be taken in a legalistic way. Jesus is not saying you have to do this, you have to do that in order to be saved. People have told me that they live by the Beatitudes. It’s not about grace, it’s about them and their performance, what they need to do, that God is keeping score and waiting for them to tank, to hit the wall, to not finish the course. If they somehow fail in one of Jesus’ directives they failed to leave it all out on the field for Jesus, they kept some back for their own pleasure, maybe cheated on the course somehow and didn’t completely live up to what Jesus directed us to do.

The fallacy is this, the Gospel doesn’t tell us that unless we are picture perfect, that we have somehow failed and therefore don’t manage to hit the finish line having left it all out on the course for Jesus. The Gospel does say that Jesus who is entirely perfect God and perfect man, something we could never be, a person that we will never be because there was only one Jesus. Jesus absolutely did leave it all out on the course and it was entirely for us, Jesus didn’t do all that He did for Himself. What’s the point? Jesus is the One through whom all creation came into existence, He is perfectly God, all He did was not for Him, but entirely for us. Nothing we can do, can add to what Jesus did for us, not one iota, not one jot or tittle.

Yet, many people are pretty sure it’s about sticking to the letter of the Law in the Beatitudes and that gets you over the line. I’m not saying we shouldn’t be obedient, Jesus said “if you love Me, you will obey Me.” But Jesus knows that we are fallible, that our obedience is qualified by our failings as sinful people in a sinful world. However, for all that Jesus did for us, how can we not strive to be obedient? How can we not strive to leave it all out on the course for Jesus?

Does a completely good, completely holy, completely gracious God want us to pluck out our eye and throw it away if we are not completely perfect in everything? In this day and age you can’t look anywhere that doesn’t offend your eye. The issue is, did you let your eye linger over that which offended? Or did you realize, “hey, this isn’t glorifying Jesus or doing me any good”, and just turn away? That’s what Jesus is asking us to do, in the Beatitudes. He exaggerates to make a point. He might say. “You really want to try to earn your way, this is what has to happen, if your right hand causes you to sin cut it off and throw it away. I’m thinking, none of us would truly stand that test. That does not, however, minimize the fact that we should strive to avoid things that offend our eye or what we do with our right hand, or our left hand in order to sin.

Marge and I were at Pastoral Leadership Institute immersion this past week, which, ironically is about us and our performance, and driving us higher in Jesus. It’s an honor to be asked to attend, not everyone is, and it’s recognition of the fact that we are striving in evangelism and discipleship and given the opportunity in PLI to push to the next level. It doesn’t makes us more saved, but it does push us to better serve you and the Kingdom of God as leaders of His church.

The Father is not trying to impose unrealistic expectations on us, He is trying to get us to realize that we can’t get there on our own effort. We will fail! We will have plenty of good efforts, being obedient to the things Jesus asks of us, but at some point we will fail to push as hard as we could. That doesn’t mean we’ve lost, that we should cut off our hand. Matt Popovits was one of the speakers, the overall subject was discipleship, which was great, I emphasize discipleship in my ministry. While we are called to be strong and faithful disciples of Jesus, our performance in that respect is not what saves us. The thesis was “How do I measure my worth?” For those who are so sure that it’s all about me and my “opinion”, because my “opinion” is so vitally important! I have bad news for youse, your opinion just doesn’t really matter. Heavens, how can I say such a thing, come on pastor, we all know it’s all about me! It really isn’t. I can tell myself how great and special I am, but despite what I think, it’s not going to get me diddly. Whose opinion does matter? Oh yes, God’s opinion. That is a great thing! By the way, I told Matt I was going to rip him off relentlessly here, he said “fine, go for it!”.

Anyway, Matt talked about “Performacism”, this idea that we measure our worth by what we do, how well we do it, in and of ourselves. Performacism drives you to the following: 1) The fear of and trying to avoid a horrible outcome, a false Hell that you’ve created, that you’re running from in order to make it to an “unfulfilling heaven, that you earn the applause and approval of your peers. That heaven can’t do what you want, doesn’t fulfill your life.”[2] God’s not all powerful, it’s all about you and what you do and more importantly the way you want it to play out. It drives me nuts hearing people talk about heaven as a boring place, “why would I want to end up there”. Heaven is not our ultimate destination, our ultimate destination is the eternal resurrection. We will be put back on this earth in our physical bodies in order to live our lives the way God intended us to live, a world filled with unlimited possibilities and life fulfilling beyond anything we could imagine. Matt points out that Adam and Eve rejected the “Garden of Yes” in favor of the “tree of no”. We make that wrong choice all the time, a garden full of all kinds of possibilities in order for us to indulge in our personal besetting sin.

Matt further observes that we make ourselves a “Functional Savior” that it’s all in our hands whether or not we make it to that amazing eternity. It’s our activity, and accomplishments that save us, so that we are valued by ourselves and by others, because, heavens! in today’s world, it is all about everyone else’s who so precious opinion. We have that problem on a massive scale in our society today and something that our youth get so caught up in, but we’re all susceptible to it. Our self-image, whether our physical attractiveness is valued by others. In a world where everyone’s equal regardless, ya right! Our hypocritical world is just so full of themselves. The fight is to be as superficially attractive as possible to be of value, if you’re not, you might be patronized a little, but just not taken seriously. We see girls today going to extremes because hey the vital thing is to be beautiful, get the right guy, have all kinds of worldly wealth and live happily ever after. Forgetting that despite all our efforts, some, like me, who’ve just been ugly from birth, end up simply being dumped out the other end of life, whether we were beautiful  or not because we no longer meet the standards.

The cut to the chase is this; Jesus tells us that we can do it the hard way, by our own standards, our own worldly, wrong opinions. Or, because Jesus did it the hard way for us, we can trust in Him, that He has done all that’s necessary. Yes, we should leave it all out on the course for Jesus, because that’s what He’s done for us, but never think that is what gets you His promises.

We are so incredibly valued by the Father and there’s not one thing that we can add to that, not by anything we’ve done, not done, or done wrong, but solely who we are in Jesus, so incredibly valued because of who we are in Him and that He died a horrific death in order to save us. For such a huge price and to be adopted into true life in the Father’s family in baptism, we are, each one of us, so incredibly valued and loved. There are those of us who the Holy Spirit is moving to do big things, to serve at high levels. There are those of us who just physically can’t or who are called to do what we feel are humble things. Doesn’t matter to the Father, yes we should follow our calling, but no, we should never doubt how precious we are to the Father and what we are to Him in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

The peace of God that surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Amin and Shalom

[1] Dr Ryan M. Reeves https://blogs.thegospelcoalition.org/ryanreeves/2016/04/20/did-luther-really-tell-us-to-love-god-and-sin-boldly/

[2] Matt Popovits PLI seminar, Cary, NC, February 9, 2017

Hugs are healthy, whodda thunk?

I will start out by saying I’m just not a hugger. It’s not that I’m somehow neurotic, anti-social, snobby or anything obsessive, just never did. I’ve been taking grief about that for years. Yea, I guess that I am somewhat conditioned. I spent 20 years in the corporate world. Hugging is not an acceptable part of corporate culture, or military where I spent 29 years. A firm hand-shake and steely eyed look in the eyes was considered to be entirely proper and sufficiently familiar.

Not so much in church culture, heck it’s even a quickly referred to topic in seminary. So apparently it’s a generally practiced gesture. My perspective is why would some sweet little lady want an ugly, gnarly ape like me putting my arms around her? Granted it’s become acceptable with guys in the church, but frankly my angle on that is that most guys would also prefer not. Yes, we should be family, more familiar with each other in a church environment. Certainly in those times of emotional distress physical comfort is often more therapeutic than anything I could say to that person, but for the vast majority of time not, in my opinion how you want to go. As I said it’s never a statement on the other person, it’s more about me thinking why would this person want this big, ugly guy that close? I have no problem with pats on the back, shoulder squeeze, physical contact is sometimes helpful in a bad situation. Non threatening touch often helps people come back to reality. So I don’t have some touch phobia. In a way I just have a problem with what I see are gratuitous gestures.

I guess I just have a bashful outlook on hugging, there are way too many that have what borders on hysteria towards it. There are way too may out there who are sure that everyone is somehow out to abuse them, I just really don’t want to give someone like that any impetus to irrationally lash out at me.

Having said this, turns out that hugs, physical contact in general (and you know what I mean so don’t be getting all hysterical, weird and phobic on me), is very healthy, for both parties. The caveat in the article is the positive effects … only happen when “you trust and love the other person, if not, hugs can raise stress and anxiety levels.”  If OK, then by all means. Since you don’t get Concordia Plan Services newsletter (Winter 2016 Vol 32 Nu 4), which is quoting a U.S. News and World report article. There have been other studies. I don’t have the reference right at hand, but it seems to have a vitally important impact on new-born babies. Hospitals go out of their way to put babies in contact with their mothers as much and as quickly as possible. Babies who went without physical contact, seemed to have physical problems, even dying. It seems to have a very positive physical impact for the baby. There are hospitals who recruit people to come in and sit with babies who can’t otherwise be held by their mother. So yes, it’s important. Within the limits of reason, trust and physical safety.

Anyway, the study shows that hugs are good for both, that there is a release of a hormone called Oxytocin that is released and promotes feelings of trust and bonding, it also influences mood and behavior. The article goes on to list other positive affects; lowers blood pressure, can reduce depression, bolsters immune system and builds up pain tolerance. Yes, it is an issue of commonsense, as always with all of God’s creation, it always seems to an issue of moderation, using the brains God gave you.

In conclusion, if I’ve somehow offended anyone, there was never any offense intended, if anything it was to spare you. However in view of the research and since it would seem to benefit both of us, I would certainly welcome the opportunity. I just hope it doesn’t end up being an issue for you.

I’m going to do it God’s way, by His Word in Scripture

A lot of feedback I get is to the extent, “sound really strict”, “not very loving”, “why are you always quoting the Bible?”. There is a lot of pretty superficial Christianity out there. As a Lutheran pastor I’ve always been taught, to be faithful to what the Bible says, it’s God’s Word that matters. It’s your job to help people understand it, grow in it, live their life in accordance with the Bible, not to make things up. Imagine if we all lived according to the Bible and not just the way we think things should be, the world would be a much better place. Fact is, we are all sinners, even in our best intentions we do things that are messed up and hurt people and hurt our relationship with God. We can turn back to Him for His forgiveness and blessing, or we can keep messing things up, even unintentionally and keep driving each other away. We live so isolated from each other today, we have our superficial relationships, heck we really think we’re friends with someone because they accepted us on FaceBook. No it’s really time to build relationships the right way and not the way the world tells us that we all know inevitably hurts us and other people.

For example, “it’s all about love”. It’s not about “love” in terms of doing what’s right, of being a blessing to others by helping them to really focusing on God, His Word and your neighbor. (I do find it interesting that people will always quote “Love they neighbor”. They seem to forget that Jesus said first, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your strength.”) You can’t really love your neighbor until your relationship of love with God is firm and established. Until you know how to “love” as God wants you to “love”, then you’re really just kind of playing with people.

To many people “love” means, “you make me happy, you do things for me”. (Often those things are give me sex, booze, drugs or just cash, make it easier on us.) Love means what’s doing the best for that person, helping that person be the best they can be and not just an enabler for whatever sin that they’ve become chained to, that’s supposed to make them “happy”. Come on, let’s face it, let’s take a, somewhat, benign sin like ice cream. It costs money, good ice cream gets a little pricey after awhile. It puts on weight, with very little nutritional benefit. It causes much more serious health issues. I know plenty of people with diabetes, yet we’re so consumed with smoking. Smoking is sin too, but get a grip. Too much junk and diabetes will kill you. There’s people all around getting constant medication for diabetes, going blind, losing limbs, dying. Don’t know anyone with lung cancer.

Let’s really love and start holding people accountable to what they should be doing. Being “happy” today, is just a fast track to poor health  and early death. Throw in drugs, booze, lack of exercise. Poor health in general is everywhere, do we really love when we see someone tooting another joint, or doing another in a long line of “16 ounce curls”?

There is so much “me” today and so little in terms of God’s will. We make God to be an agent of our “happiness”  and we really aren’t interested in what God has for us. People would look at my life and think that it might be pretty goofy. Picking up and moving from a place I had grown up in, raised children in, then moved to an unfamiliar place (actually two), far away from family and friends. But I do have peace that this is where God wants me and I am doing what He wants me to do. Way too many people today do what they think makes them happy, but have very little peace, hmmm, how do you think that happens? Telling God to go take a hike in order for me to do what makes me “happy”, then finding out what makes you “happy”, just messes you up. What God wanted for you would make you “happy”, but you just decided “don’t confuse me with the facts” if God wants it, then it’s probably boring or lame, I don’t want to do that.

But yes, in God’s will I do have peace. Doesn’t mean things are easy, we see with the disciples, many people down through history. Things weren’t easy, read what Paul wrote about 2 Corinthians 11: 16-33, he went through more in a few years, then most of us will in a lifetime. He knew God was guiding him and strengthening him, making him a better man and certainly a more godly man, and certainly not a messed up man.

So I do what God guides me to, yea sometimes it’s not very pleasant, there are plenty of times I take shots for what I preach, teach or write. Doesn’t mean what I’m doing is wrong, just means someone thinks it’s ok to take shots at me, even if they don’t have a good reason to, don’t know what they’re talking about. Being faithful in God is not settling for just a “feel good” Gospel, something that makes everyone happy for the moment. Sorry just doesn’t work. The trials and tragedies of life pop up all to quick and then we don’t feel good anymore and it’s all God’s fault. My job is to equip those who are in Jesus in order for them to deal with all the good times, tough times, and mundane, maybe even boring times in order for them to grow closer to God and to glorify Him who provides so much for us. That includes eternal, perfect life in the resurrection, it’s only through Jesus. This also includes being strong and being a Christian example for others. The next time you need to be encouraged and strengthened, you think your local drug pusher is going to help you? No! In the end he’s only going to make it worse. What really works is a strong /mature Christian man or woman (and yes that excludes the “feel good” Christians out there too). Too often we want to be made “happy”, placated like a child. We know that leaves us worse off then we were.

God sacrificed greatly for me in His Son Jesus. I have to step up and live a true life in Jesus, not a life of go-along to get-along. I have to be that example of a mature faithful Christian man. That is what God expects from me, to be faithful in continuing to grow, in following where He leads and not in what I think is “happy”, or what I “like”. Lots of other people look to me for that too, imagine what a great place the world would be if everyone were living that way. But that’s not going to happen because in this day and age it’s all about me and what makes me, what I think, happy. We can’t just continue to “hang” where we are and to be pacified, You aren’t going to find any example of that in the Bible. The Bible is what God wanted us to know about Him. He inspired men to write the Bible and show what is the truth. You don’t see people just coasting along in life, sitting around getting snookered and honoring God. Only those who are strong and faithful honor Him. What you find over and over again is men and women who are pushed to step out of their comfort zone in order to live up to God’s will and not their own. Why on earth do we think we should be different today? Is it because we know we can’t handle it and need to be babied?

You will think what you will, but Jesus made it very clear that many will be deluded, fooled, by wrong messages. That His true disciples will have to deal with the trials and antagonisms of the world. We are seeing Christians being martyred right now, all around the world. Not for “feel good”, but because they know who Jesus is and that they need to serve Him and others even in extremely difficult circumstances. There were more Christians martyred in the 20th century, then in all of history, combined! There’s no “feel good” Christianity there, yet it is only through Jesus that we are saved, some of us do have to suffer to the extreme in order to be saved. It dishonors them and Jesus when we make being a a Christian about “what makes us happy”.

What does honor Jesus, the millions who have lived in Jesus through the centuries, the millions who live around the world? It is being true, faithful disciples of His. Doing what He teaches us in His Word the Bible, and not what other people try to make Him out to be. To follow where He leads us and to what He leads us to do through His Holy Spirit. Jesus said He will tell many to be gone because “I never knew you”. Many who thought that what someone told them to “tickle their ear”, was actually genuinely in Jesus. Someone who tried to make Jesus into what they wanted instead of what Scripture truly says about Him. I know my responsibility as a teacher will be greater and I will be held much more responsible for what I teach. I intend to do all that I can to truly teach God’s Word in the Bible. I seriously fear for those who have to answer to God who ignored God’s Word and made up what they thought would make people feel good, it will be very scary for them.

Peter was a fallible man, so am I, but the Holy Spirit uses fallible men

Peter is such a great example to me and should be to all of us I readily identify with him. If the Gospels show the humanity of anyone, it is Peter, he really is every man.

Good Friday was yesterday and among the things we remember from Good Friday is Peter’s denial of Jesus. At the Last Supper Peter vehemently promises Jesus he will never deny him. Few hours later, to a woman, Peter is not just denying Jesus, he is doing so with oaths and curses, denying Jesus rather vehemently

But as the Blackabys point out, despite his failings Peter was always seeking after Jesus and I certainly hope that I am at least as passionate in seeking after Jesus as Peter was. “Peter did not always say or do the right things, but he did constantly seek to be with Jesus.” (Henry, Richard Blackaby Experiencing God Day-by-Day p 36). Hey give him credit he may have denied Christ, but other than John, Peter is the only one we know who at least tried to maintain contact with Jesus. All the other disciples had scattered at Gethsemane.

People seem to like to stereotype me, that “well you grew up in the church, that’s the way it’s always been for you, la, la, la…” Well that would be wrong! I did not grow up in the church. Jesus was a vague historical figure and really did not mean anything to me, well yeah Christmas and Easter. I saw that, as many do today, as some sort of rote, ritual thing to do. Then I got whacked over the head. There is so much superficial platitudes going around the secular. People just think they go through the motions, do what they decide is right (which is often very wrong), think that “well I’m a good person”, when they know deep down they aren’t. Or they decide that some superficial good deeds are all that is necessary and everything will work out fine. They never seem to be able to articulate how that will be, they have no basis for what they think or for that matter don’t think, but “hey don’t try to confuse me with the facts.”

Peter was very much like that, “trying” hard, but it just didn’t sink in. He thought it was all about him taking action. Well the fact is it’s all about what God does. On the Day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit filled Peter and he came out like a tiger witnessing to over 5,000 fully aware that it could end him up in jail, flogged, crucified. But all of a sudden, because the Holy Spirit moved him, it was all about Jesus for him and not about what he did, it was all about what the Holy Spirit moved him to do regardless of the circumstances.

So the question is, do people see Jesus in me? Do they look to me to point them, to disciple them in Jesus? For sure I’m certainly not doing it perfectly, but like Peter I keep coming back. The question is raised “what’s the difference between what Peter did and what Judas did?” Judas trusted in his own actions, decided he needed to force the issue and make Jesus come out as the Messiah. It was going to be done that way, Jesus knew it and said so at the Last Supper. But when the issue came to fruition, Judas decided that he would take issues into his own hands, again, and not turn it over to the forgiveness of Jesus and so Judas went and hung himself. Peter on the other hand waited in the faith that the Holy Spirit gave him and stayed faithful. He was one of the first ones at the empty tomb and after Jesus was resurrected stayed with Jesus and was told to “feed my sheep”. Peter was faithful to that and after Jesus ascended to heaven, the Holy Spirit came down and gave Peter the courage to stand and witness to his Savior Jesus. Many were saved because Peter was used by the Holy Spirit to witness to many that Jesus was the Savior, the Hope and Promise of the world, of true life in the resurrection. He was an example to many in his life and continues to be an example to us today.

So I am a very human and fallible man, but I continue to pray that the Holy Spirit uses me as mightily as He did Peter and that I continue to faithfully witness to the only hope of the world, my Savior Jesus. Jesus died for me as the payment of all my sins and rose so that I would have life in the resurrection of my body and the perfect, eternal world of the resurrection.

Meekness and following the world’s lead Matthew 5:5

The world tries to shut the church up, by saying something to the effect: “Doesn’t Jesus say “the meek shall inherit the earth”? So that means you should just shut up and mind your own business because that what meek means.” Yea, No! And the last thing on earth we should be doing is listening to the worldly/secular about the Bible. They take a few isolated phrases (oh yeah, judge not blah blah blah…), think they really know what they’re talking about and throw those phrases around. As always, the secular is about an inch thick and a mile wide. Problem is too many in the church, who also don’t know what they’re talking about, who call themselves Christians but don’t read the Bible, don’t truly serve, just cave in to the secular do what they’re told and even have the chutzpah to tell others in the church what they should and shouldn’t do. Liberal Christians dismiss way too much in the Bible, have this sort of half-baked, groundless spirituality and try to sell that as real Christianity. This folks is the height of dishonesty, if you don’t really know what you’re talking about then do everyone, yourself included, and keep your mouth shut. Presuming to teach the church about Christianity is the height of arrogance, is called the sin of presumption.

Now I’m going to quote the Blackabys at length because this is the best explanation I’ve seen of what “meekness” according to Jesus, in the Greek, the original meaning actually is talking about in Matthew.

“The word Jesus used had a different meaning. His picture of meekness is that of a stallion that has been brought into subjection to its master…The stallion has lost none of its strength or endurance; it has simply turned these over to the control of the master.” (Experiencing God day by day Henry Blackaby, Richard Blackaby p 235) Meekness is in terms of submitting to God and His will, not the world’s. We have the power of Christ, yes we are supposed to be winsome, welcoming, encouraging. No the other extreme of the image of the church being “well you better just get everything together right now and be the perfect person, yada, yada!!” Well that’s wrong too, seems there’s always this middle that Jesus wants us in and we  either think we’re supposed to be just weak and stupid or we let the world convince us that we’re being bullies by proclaiming Christ. The middle is often too hard for people, yea even Christians. Most people like nice and cozy black and white. My experience in the corporate world, the military, government, school, church, there is no such thing as a black and white. There’s this place where you are supposed to leave yourself open to the Holy Spirit’s guiding and most of the time it’s not some nicey/nice vacuous cream puff. It’s hard to stand up for what’s right, I get it, but like the old saying “if it was easy everyone would do it”. Being a Christian isn’t easy, Jesus told us there is a narrow road, a narrow gate to salvation. Because the Holy Spirit guides us we know what that is and that is what we have to tell the world, even when obnoxious bores are telling us to shut up. They will, because they can’t tolerate the truth, they live in their own little fiction which leads to destruction and they don’t want to know the truth and they don’t want anyone else to either. “Meekness is not submitting to everyone around us, it is taking our direction from God. Meekness means a life submissive to the Holy Spirit…” Read the Bible, when people were standing for God they were not bashful about it. If anything they were very much asserting the truth of God, the truth of Jesus’ sacrifice and resurrection, the truth of the Bible. And yes quite often, be it an Old Testament prophet, Peter, Paul, John they were not bashful and they were very assertive. I’m not saying for anyone to go out of there way to be obnoxious, but again that big gray area. You must know what you’re talking about, be serious about it, get past this gloopy, sweetey Christianity, assert that we are all sinners in need of a Savior, that we do need to understand that and repent of our sin. We need to be baptized, not our decision, but because the Holy Spirit has led us, we need to be instructed in the faith so that we can function as knowledgeable Christians, we need to regularly attend worship and grow in our fellowship and Christian maturity, we need to regularly receive the true Body and Blood of Jesus and we need to be open to the leading of the Spirit to witness to those around us about Jesus.

It basically means to be mature, strong, knowledgeable baptized sons and daughters of God, we call that being a “disciple” of Jesus. Just as anyone else in the Bible is. To be any less is to cave into the world, and to be faithless to God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Christ saved us, He is the ultimate truth, the world is a lie, especially when it presumes to teach us something that it doesn’t even understand. This idea that a Christian is supposed to be a malleable cupcake for the world to push around is just not Biblical and it certainly is not going to serve anyone.

Encouragement, wow what a relief it is!

I just want to add that I have received such genuine encouragement from this blog and that it seems that this is a very felt need with a lot of people. Always seems to be plenty of people to tear down and I’m not saying we shouldn’t push on people, challenge, I’m not saying it’s like most of society today, tell everyone they’re wonderful. It is strange for so many they just hear the down side, the criticism, and for others they’re enabled in their negative and destructive lives. Anyway, I appreciate the positive feedback I’ve received from some very genuine people, their encouragement was very much appreciated.

We who write these Christian blogs often seem to be writing to or for ourselves. That’s actually a good thing, we aren’t going to have the world patting us on the back. But when I put out a signal for encouragement and I got it. People like Wally Fry is a regular encourager, it’s almost like he looks for the opportunities and I try to look to encourage too. Real nice note from anitvan, that there are lay people out there who do have a ministry of encouragement. Please give your input, and when I deserve it let me know where I could improve, I have no doubt I need a lot of improvement. And I’m not saying there will be times when you shouldn’t ask “what were you thinking? Or that’s not the way to do that!” I appreciate that too, if someone’s willing to take the time to make me better, I am very thankful. Thanks to all who take time to read these blogs and I hope that I can encourage many of you as much as you’ve done for me. In the meantime let’s keep talking to each other and building each other in Jesus.  Continue reading

Competition keeps you focused

Yea, competition is, in our politically correct little La-La Land, a bad word. But since most of the politically correct don’t really have a proper appreciation of gender differences, they want to live a quiet mediocre little life, really can’t adapt or accept differences (despite their rhetoric) we feel we have to accommodate the mediocre and unmotivated among us.

We really don’t frankly, they should be ignored, because they just don’t know what they’ve talking about and just don’t care. Their responses are usually emotional outbursts, although they condemn that in other people. They’re usually little bullies, physically, only if they can get away with it or emotionally. They will resort to petulant adolescent outbursts, instead of reason and resolution, despite what they think they’re not very smart, and they can’t understand why someone would respond emotionally. It’s their way or no way. Yea, I know, being a little harsh. The fact that there are those out there who are weak, passive or whiney is not an excuse to stomp on them either. Quietly correct them and move on. They will fuss at you as you’re leaving and will try the usual passive/aggressive undermining, but be assured no one really takes them seriously. For the rest of us who want to move on and actually do something in our lives we are the stronger and have to live that out when dealing with the, frankly, weaker and unmotivateable. Ya, I know that’s not a word, but it is descriptive.

The impetus for this rant is an article in Mens Health (May 2015 pp 130-134) The writer (couldn’t find his name) writes about personal rivals. Ya, that can get ugly sometimes, but the fact is that if you’re doing anything with your life, you will have rivals: “If you don’t think you have a rival, that could be your first problem. There is truth in one Holly wood agent’s assertion that ‘you’re no one in this town unless someone wants you dead.'” Ya, again a little harsh, but if you’re not worthy of someone else’s, let’s say dislike, you are just part of the mediocre crowd. Again, competition is not an excuse for playing dirty, lying, cheating, etc. It’s a way to motivate and strengthen.

For those of us who are Christians, we see rivals all through the Bible. God’s people simply had to stand up to their rivals in order for us to move along according to God’s will. The early Christians had the Jewish establishment and the Romans to compete against. They could have passively rolled over to them, but they knew what was right and took a strong, principled stand and so should we as Christian men in our daily life.

The author of the article points out: “Our recurring competitive bouts against known rivals ratchet up anxiety, excitement and also performance. Oddly, considering that rivals date back at least to Cain and Abel, the science of rivalry is relatively new,…” Yes, that was not a healthy rivalry and did not serve to improve anyone. Frankly it’s a better example of the nastiness of the mediocre and uninspired then it is of the positive affects of rivalry.

The writer refers to a positive example of how rivalry motivates us: “…NYU’s Gavin Kilduff, PhD studied the running community in State College, Pennsylvania he found that going up against a rival could cut 25 seconds off a competitive runners 5K time.” It may not seem like much, but I would love to be able to improve that much in a 5K, that’s a huge improvement.

“In one experiment, Uris Gneezy, PhD, an expert in behavioral economics at UC San Diego, gave people the choice to earn money at either a piece rate or a competitive basis for solving puzzles. Men (but not women) preferred to compete – going  against rivals dramatically increased their output.” There are numerous examples of the impetus of competition has created something better, and has done something difficult a lot faster. In 1961 when President John Kennedy challenged the United States to put a man on the moon before 1970, there weren’t many people around who were going to put money on that, yet because of the competition with the Soviet Union, eight years later the goal was accomplished with a few months to spare.

The writer points to Paul McCartney and John Lennon, yea, maybe not buddies, but smart enough to compete against each other and produce music that is still mainstream 40 years later.

Can women compete? Yes, of course and they do and there are many who do it in an inspiring way. God bless ’em. But again for those of the “don’t try to confuse me with the facts”, the mediocre, lazy and frankly just plain lame, competition is part of men’s makeup.

“When you’re the champ in any kind of competition, testosterone levels often quickly rise in your blood stream, says Matthew Fuxjager PhD, an assistant professor of biology at Wake Forest University.”

“Experts hypothesize that a rise in testosterone feeds your noggin’s reward system. And an influx of T may equal more receptors in brain structures that feed competitiveness and social aggression.”

For those in public education that simply can’t understand, identify with and are incapable of properly channeling this in boys, they really need to accept the facts and get out of the way, stop stifling this in boys. So many in today’s society think that they somehow get ahead by dragging someone else down, especially when they do it from ignorance and laziness. That’s not acceptable. Those who go out and accept the challenge are to be encouraged over those who prefer their laziness and passivity. In fact the writer concludes by saying that this chemical affect on a man has the affect of growing and building and helping to make life better for all of us, versus the mediocre la-la-ness. “Additional T receptors are probably still hanging around in your head long after your victory, Fuxjager says. The effect? You’ll be more likely to aggressively repeat the steps that led to your last win.”

I know this effect. Twenty-nine years in the Coast Guard competing against Mother Nature. Despite what the La-La’s think Mother Nature is an unforgivable competitor, she won’t hesitate to kill you if you make a mistake. When we went out and pulled someone out and got them to safety and help it was definitely a rush. For those who think drugs, booze, twinkies or just plain laziness is happiness, they will never know that rush. But I can tell you from personal experience, the next time I was called out, I had more knowledge, better prepared, bolder in accepting the challenge, and more motivated to pursue success. I’ll bet the person I rescued was probably pretty happy about that. For the mediocre and unmotivated they will never know that fulfillment and sit around and whine about it.

God equipped men to stand to the challenge, to be pushed to strive harder, God gave us rivals to push us and challenge us, to do things that will improve lives for other people too. It is not an excuse for men to stomp on others, to take what’s not theirs. But we should strive to serve God, our family, our community to the best of our ability and God gave us the make-up to do that and we should. God did not put us on the earth to be mediocre, passive, lazy. Read the Bible, I don’t see anyone in their that could be described positively in those ways. If someone pushes or inspires you to be a hero use that and always remember that it’s to the glory of God, His leading, His encouraging and in His service.

Sin is sin, trust in your pastor and quit thinking you know it all

I am still pretty much of a rookie pastor. I try to listen more than yap when others who have more experience, more education than I do, so that I will be a better pastor. Can’t say that everything I hear or am told is correct, that I should follow it. I do have a lot of life experience, so there are times when someone is telling me something that is just wrong. Just because someone else has been making mistakes for years, doesn’t mean that I should make the same mistakes.

Dr J Vernon McGee was the pastor of one of the largest churches in California. He also had a world-wide radio ministry, wrote a bunch of books, etc. He went to be with the Lord in 1988, but his radio ministry is still alive and well.

One of the observations I’ve made as a pastor is that people continue to try and impose their sin on me, as a pastor, or they expect me to endorse their sin, often due to their tortuous reasoning. I’m sure we all know which types of sins that people are finding all kinds of justification for. My overall favorite is “the church is full of hypocrites so who is a pastor to tell me I’m sinning, and so therefore I can continue to pursue my personal sin.” Yeah, like I said, those in the world live a very delusional life.

Let me make one aside, for those who recognize their sin, struggle with it, lift it up to the Lord for forgiveness, continue to ask God to deal with their sin and overcome it, “…If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive our sins…” (1 Corinthians 11:31) God does forgive, will help us and is not there to beat us down on something that we are genuinely trying to deal with and conform to His will. Christians do not live deluded lives, our sin is sin. We’re not kidding ourselves that our particular sin and circumstances are justified, that, for those simple minds in the world, is what hypocrisy is. Maybe you ought to look into your own heart and be a little genuine. For those in the world, get over all your petty little justifications, get real and deal with your sin issues and be a part of a genuine Christian church that will help you in this area.

As a rookie pastor, I have had the experience where people pretty much confront me and demand that I justify their particular sin. Really! Yea the world really does bully and thinks that most pastors are entirely lacking in integrity and genuine biblical faithfulness, that you (me the pastor hears) just don’t know what you’re talking about at all and those in the world will be happy to set me straight. The hypocrisy, naivete, bullying, and straight out ignorance is just breathtaking.

Dr McGee had a wide breadth of experience and accomplishment for the Kingdom, a very accomplished pastor and these are his words: ” “What if there’s a sin in the Christians’ life that he/she won’t deal with, reveal it, confess it? … it’s amazing the number of people who are in sin, who come to a pastor and what they really want, is for the pastor to approve of their conduct and they become very much incensed if he does not agree with what they are doing or with their solution to the problem. When he attempts to put the Scripture down on their lives, why they wince under it and they get angry with the pastor and they say ”my he’s cruel, very unkind, he’s not the kind of pastor he should be, he’s not as sympathetic as he should be.” A lot of pastors know what this is because so many people will not deal with their sins. Now when they won’t, God will deal with them at the judgment seat of Christ and a great many people are going to find out, though they were busy down here teaching Sunday school classes, being the president of the missionary society, singing in the choir, leading different groups… yet they were disobedient and they would not deal with the sin in their lives, they won’t receive reward, they refused to deal with sin in their lives.” (Dr J Vernon McGee “Thru the Bible” Broadcast Dec 26, 2015)

I’ve had this experience. The person doesn’t want to discuss, they are going to tell and if you don’t listen and get it, then you  have a problem you’re wrong and I’ve had people tell me how lacking I am in what they consider to be the proper pastoral characteristics. No, I don’t get too spun up over it. I’ve had a lot of life experience (usually more than the person who’s telling my how it really is) and I get it, people are often not going to really think it out. They’re sure they know what it’s all about and they’re going to make sure that they give you the benefit of their “knowledge”.

Which leads me into another observation, Mr or Ms “I’ve been successful” in my world. They’re going to tell you how you should successfully run this church. I have news for you Mr Successful, God bless you that you’ve achieved some success in an area, I wish you the best. What a lot of these people don’t seem to understand, despite their obvious smartness in their success, is that success in one thing doesn’t necessarily translate into success in another thing. Not that I’ve achieved any level of success, but we certainly see that in so many individuals who have presumed that their success in one thing should ipso facto, translate to success in another.

Sorry Mr Success “so you should listen to me”, if you were as smart as you think you are you would know that. I have no problem whatsoever listening to others suggestions, direction and assistance. Frankly I find myself kind of begging for that. Having said that, it does not mean that I can always use and apply the input. Often times part of the problem is that the input just does not conform to the proper functioning of a Christian church. I think the church has done itself a great deal of damage in the last maybe 100 years, because it has allowed the world to dictate to it, instead of doing ministry in accordance with Scriptural direction. When pastors fold up and function according to the world, the world and the church realizes he as a pastor, or a Christian, that is not to be taken seriously.

It is amazing how much hypocrisy there is in the world and the world is the first to wag it’s finger at the church to criticize it for hypocrisy. The world’s hypocrisy really does border on the delusional and is absolutely breathtaking to see in action.

I hope that 1) people start to deal with their sin honestly. I’m not saying that because I’m perfect because, I’m not. On the other hand, I don’t try to delude myself into thinking that I’m above all that, if it’s my sin then it’s really not sin, it’s just A Skippy OK.

2) To Mr/Ms I know it all. I know that you don’t know it all, I can tell. You’ve been in church for decades, but I know that you don’t have even the most basic Christian/Scriptural understanding. You’ve been sitting in church because you think you should, just waiting to tell everyone how it should be.

The truly smart people who I know, recognize when others know more than they do about a particular subject. I really try to make sure, that when I can tell someone obviously has a grasp of something that I should shut-up and let them talk. I inevitably learn something and am thankful that they shared with me. Mr and Ms I Know It all, you might actually get smart and rely and trust those who actually know more about something. That doesn’t mean blind submission, that does mean realizing your limitations, recognizing someone else’s expertise and listening. That’s the smart thing to do and if you were really that smart you’d understand that.

Gaudette, Rejoice Sunday Zechariah 3 December 13, 2015 First St Johns

We make our beginning in the Name of God the Father and in the Name of God the Son and in the Name of God the Holy Spirit and all those who rejoice in the hope and promise of Jesus Christ said … AMEN!

As Christians we cannot say enough, we cannot overemphasize, the hope that we have, the only true hope, the hope that comes in Jesus and I cannot imagine for the life of me, although we’ve seen it, we know people who are like why any Christian would not rejoice in the hope that we have in Jesus. We are reminded every year of that hope specifically, right now, right this time, every Christmas is the true and  eternal promise that we have in a baby, God came to us as a child. The scenario is complete, there is a young, innocent girl betrothed, about to be married to a man who, for his time, is doing well. Mary would have a godly, hardworking faithful husband. They would both care, support and love each other. And then we have the angel Gabriel, the angel who stood in the very presence of God ready to announce God’s Word to wherever the Father would direct him to go. We have the humblest of the respectable. People below the shepherds were not respectable, the tax collectors, the prostitutes, but the shepherds were invited by the multitude of the heavenly host, lesser angels than Gabriel, but still magnificent, who would also attend the birth of Jesus. There are the magi, wealthy and important in their lands. The magi were gentiles, they weren’t Jewish. Jesus was born a Jew, but He came as “true Israel”, the true Israel Isaiah had prophesied about 600 years earlier, where all the nations would come to Israel to Jesus, to salvation. That Jesus is the hope of all the world. All creation; supernatural, Jew, Gentile. Among the greatest and among the most humble are led to the salvation of the world, our Lord Jesus the Christ, Messiah, the One anointed by God the Father to save mankind.

God inspired Zephaniah to write 600 years, before Jesus’s birth. “ESV Zephaniah 3:14 Sing aloud, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel! Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem! ESV Zephaniah 3:15 The LORD has taken away the judgments against you; he has cleared away your enemies. The King of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst; you shall never again fear evil.”

The people of Zephaniah’s time were about to be overrun, killed or at least exiled from their homeland.

The people at that time knew that their time as a nation was about to end. It did not seem like a time to sing aloud or to rejoice or to exalt. It wouldn’t have seemed as if there was much to be joyful or to rejoice about. Yet for us, we who are baptized in the Name of Jesus, reborn into that new life as children of God the Father, we who have the promise of salvation and eternal life in the new world in Christ, how can you not be joyous about that?

Yeah, Christmas is that time with the pretty lights and the decorations and joyful singing, feasting, exchanging gifts, to be with family and friends. Yes we should be joyous, we should celebrate regularly, we have every reason to celebrate, we should. God tells Jeremiah, and ironically we refer to Jeremiah as the weeping prophet, Yahweh tells Jeremiah: “Thus says the Lord, behold, I will restore the fortunes of the tents of Jacob and have compassion on his dwellings. The city shall be rebuilt on its mound and the palace shall stand where it used to be. Out of them shall come songs of thanksgiving, and the voices of those who celebrate. I will multiply them, and they shall not be few; I will make them honored, and they shall not be small.” (Jer 30: 18-19)

Who was God talking about to Jeremiah? To us! We Christians. We should sing thanksgiving, we should celebrate. The Father said He will honor them and they will not be small. God does honor us and Christians are certainly not small. Despite some of the popular perceptions these days, Christians are the largest religious group in the world by far. God has multiplied His people, Christians.

Even in those times of trial and certainly Christians are being tried in America right now, times of trial will probably increase going forward. Certainly Israel was being tried in the time of Jeremiah, Zephaniah, Isaiah. Even in that we are called to rejoice, to celebrate. We know the world tells us it’s crazy to celebrate when things look bad, when we’re being oppressed, when we’re being tried. What does the world tell us? Be angry, lash out, be bitter. The misery loves company thing. In comparison to the people in Zephaniah’s time, Christians in the United States have so much to celebrate, to be thankful for, to rejoice in. We too often we let those inevitable trials steal our joy, keep us from celebrating.

We restrict our celebrating to the time between Black Friday and Christmas Day, the season does go straight to Epiphany twelve days later. The day after Christmas though, we’re back to the races, fighting tooth and nail through the stores. Grousing because “well Christmas really didn’t turn out the way I thought it should”. What does St Paul say in today’s reading in response to    : “Rejoice in the Lord, always, again I will say rejoice …And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 4:4, 7) Yea even in a foot of snow in February, even in the hectic times of life, the trials, the heat and humidity of summer, the lowering darkness of Autumn, so much that the world can drag us down about and God, even in the darkest time, is telling His people to rejoice, exalt with all your heart. You shall never fear evil, rejoice always, I say rejoice.

The short name for this Sunday is “Gaudette”, it is Latin, it means rejoice. We need to be told to rejoice, we need to be reminded, nothing wrong with that. Make it a point to rejoice today! Rejoice knowing that the birth of God the Son, Jesus our Savior, our Creator, our Redeemer, our loving, compassionate, giving, Lord and God is going to be remembered in less than two weeks. At least take this time to rejoice, to stop in the middle of the season and rejoice.

You’ve all heard the Christmas carol “I heard the Bells on Christmas Day”. Our dear friend Terry Downes posted the origin of this carol. Too often we hear these Christmas carols and they seem kind of gratuitous, platitudes, nice things to say, things we’re supposed to say for days like Christmas and to raise up to God.

More often than note the stories behind the lyrics and the music are the result of genuine trials, pain and grief that’s been endured by others. Pain and grief that should not be minimized. That we should appreciate as real world testimonies of what God has done for us, does for us, even in the most difficult circumstances.

Terry passed on this article by Justin Taylor. The story is about Henry Longfellow, a good Massachusetts boy, and his son Charles Appleton Longfellow, a grandson of one of America’s greatest poets, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Charles left his home in Cambridge, Massachusetts, traveled to Washington, D.C. in order to enlist in the Union Army in the Civil War in 1861 right at the beginning of the war.

He enlisted as a private, but he impressed his fellow soldiers and officers so much that he was promoted to Second Lieutenant in 1863. He fell ill with typhoid fever, which was a very common problem at the time because the Army did not have very good hygienic practices. Charles was sent home for three months to recover. Shortly after his return to duty he was shot and nearly paralyzed in battle. Charles’ father Henry traveled to Washington to be with his son. Henry had recently lost his wife, her dress caught fire and she died the next day from the injuries that she received. This man had lost his wife, his son had been wounded and still might be paralyzed as a result of the wound, who was living through all the tragedy and violence of the Civil War. While he was with Charles he was listening to the Christmas bells of the local churches. This is how he was inspired to write the lyrics that we know today.

“I heard the bells on Christmas day, their old familiar carols played, of peace on earth good will to men. Then from each black accursed mouth, the cannon thundered from the south, and with the sound the carols drowned. And in despair I bowed my head, there is no peace on earth I said, for hate is strong and mocks the song of peace on earth, good will to men. Then peeled the bells more loud and deep, God is not dead nor doth He sleep, the wrong shall fail, the right prevail, with peace on earth goodwill to men.”

Through the bells God gave Henry the renewed hope and promise of Jesus. Even after the loss of his wife, the serious injury to his son that might leave him paralyzed, he knew the hope and peace in the Lord Jesus that God gives us, the promise knowing that even in the midst of loss and the national tragedy that was going on around him, that God will always prevail. We will be saved, we will be raised up in new life, and to life eternal in Jesus. The same hope on Christmas Day that Henry was revived in 150 years ago he passes on today in the carol that he wrote. The Father gives to us every day in our baptism, in our new birth in Jesus that hope. We can let the world drag us down into bitterness and anger or we can hear the bells on Christmas Day, every day and remember the peace hope and promise that Jesus gives us every day.

The peace of God that surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Amin and Shalom

The world does want to undermine your morals.

This nonsense that the secular world doesn’t care what you believe, “you do what is right for you”, but don’t tell us if we’re doing somthing obviously wrong , particularly in terms of messing up their lives. Let me put it this way P.T. Barnum was right the world is talking total nonsense, the world is very much determined to undermine everyone and really wants everyone to be a rutting animal. Hey, I have my own issues, I don’t need some of the real characters that have somehow made it almost obligatory that people should be having sex and despite their rhetoric, seems as people should be as young as possible, to have sex. Yea, look it up, there are attempts right now to lower the age of consent in some states to as low as twelve years old.
We have Tim Tebow and Olivia Culpo. Ms Culpo decided that Mr Tebow wasn’t getting her into bed and broke up with him. Apparently this isn’t the first time that she’s broken up with a man who would not have pre-marital sex on the basis of moral and religious scruples. Good for both of those very manly men. I wouldn’t mind in the least if my son were Tim Tebow, someone want to give me grief because my football star is still a virgin? Well let’s just say I don’t think it would be a wise move on their part, I will happily let them know what I think of their morals, “men” who are just out to use women. Of course the idea also occurs to me why more women’s rights types would be like that, but frankly I really don’t think they’re that concerned with the welfare of women in general. “You do what you want”, they say, “but, if you get in trouble, don’t come running to me.” Single parent women led households are almost all under the poverty level. God set it up for a man and woman to committ to each other, over and above their children to marry and support each other. When they do, poverty is far less likely, children are raised in an environment where they are supported, protected and cared for and they do have a chance to live a Tim Tebow life. Doing it the worlds way, usually just creates hate, bitterness, “my baby’s mommy, my baby’s daddy”. Money, time, blah, blah, all this hate and bitterness because two people couldn’t wake up to the fact that they were not capable of taking care of themselves no less a child. They love the drama but “eh”, to the responsibility. and believe me I’ve been dragged into enough to know.
Then there’s Sheldon Cooper. I sure don’t agree with the character a lot, but I gave him credit, again based on principles, (although I’m not sure where they were based), but nonetheless, despite intense pressure, also finally gave in. (I think that’s after ten seasons of the Big Bang Theory?) Yea, the main-stream media had to make sure that their character was dragged down into the moral abyss.
My other example is even more obvious. These middle-aged frat boys on WEEI radio in Boston, the morning drive time pontificaters, were absolutely excoriating a woman Olympic athlete who was a virgin at thirty years old. It is apparently the only problem they had with this woman, who they otherwise commended for being a tremendous athlete, obviously an Olympian, but were highly indignant that an unmarried, attractive, 30 year old woman should have the colossal temerity to not have sex before she was married.
So any delusion that you had that the schools, the government, media, video games aren’t trying to undermine you, your spouse, your children, grandchildren, I strongly suggest you get over your delusion or your so open-minded high-mindedness. The world is positively indignant when someone says that sex is only in terms of marrying a man and a woman. Sure, people won’t like it, because they will feel the sin on them. That’s not your problem, that’s their’s. Luther once said to preachers: “Preach until they hate their sin or they hate you.” Yea, that’s really the way it is. If they hate you, they hate you, it’s not your problem it’s theirs. But we can’t continue to go along with this naive idea that the world is not trying to undermine us. It is turning too many people into just callous, indifferent, stumps, they just don’t care. They want you you in the same moral sewer and to endorse their sin and if you don’t it’s because you’re mean and bigoted. And frankly the resulting social problem is supposed to be handled by the church. This goofy idea that’s evolved that it’s all about the relationship? I’m not saying break relationships, but I am saying the most important relationship any of us has is with Jesus. If someone asks you to compromise your relationship with Jesus in order to condone their unacceptable sexual relationship, it’s time to let that person know in no uncertain terms where you stand. If they cannot accept it they will dump you and you should let them go.