Dear Friends, this month’s e-teaching is the re-publishing of a ‘classic’ that I wrote in 2006. It seems to have just as much relevancy as it did then, and I do hope it ministers to you. Every blessing, David
It was reported by the Associated Press that, near the town of Gavas, eastern Turkey, one sheep among a large flock walked to the edge of a cliff and jumped to its death. A second sheep quickly imitated the first, also leaping off the cliff to its death. Then a third sheep followed. Then a fourth. Then a fifth. The AP reported that “stunned Turkish shepherds, who had left the herd to graze while they had breakfast, watched as nearly 1,500 others followed, each leaping off the same cliff.” When it was all over, 450 sheep had died and 1,050 survived, but only because those sheep that jumped later were saved as the pile of sheep got higher and the fall more cushioned.
Imagine the peer pressure that last sheep must have felt. Surely 1,499 sheep can’t be wrong…can they?
This month, I’ve sensed I should republish an e-teaching I authored back in April of 2008. It is just as relevant today as it was then. It is based on clear, biblical truth, vitally important for every professing Christian to understand. It is simply about loving Jesus. It is convicting. Once you’ve read it, I encourage you to share it. Jesus said, “For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory, and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels” (Luke 9:26).
May 2020 be your most fruitful year yet!
The greatest crisis I faced during my two decades as a pastor was not the result of a disagreeable deacon, a financial deficit, an egocentric worship leader, or a church gossip. Rather, it was due to an encounter with the Holy Spirit and God’s Word.
It all began when I read the second and third chapters of the book of Revelation, which contain Jesus’ opinion of seven churches in Asia Minor. I noticed that His opinion of some of those churches was considerably different than their opinion of themselves. The congregation at Laodicea, for example, considered themselves to be “rich” and in “need of nothing,” while He considered them to be “wretched and poor and blind and naked” (Rev. 3:17). Quite a contrast.
Ignorance, as the saying goes, is indeed bliss…until you realize that you are ignorant. Then it is embarrassing. And sometimes horrifying.
I know what I’m talking about, having experienced the shameful realization that what I’d been teaching for years under the banner of “incontestable biblical truth” was dead wrong. People trusted me, and I misled them on matters of eternal importance. Worse, some of that misleading teaching is still in print, scattered in places where I can’t possibly recover it, like hidden land mines buried during a war that is long over. (How thankful I am that cassette tapes have become an outmoded technology, effectively silencing thousands of my old sermons.)
In my previous e-teaching in this series, I promised that I’d share with you the story of the biggest spiritual event in my life, besides being born again. I’ve told this story hundreds of times around the world since it happened. It is my tenth confession.
I was in the midst of my third church-planting pastorate, which began in 1991. In just a few years, the congregation had grown from five people (my wife, myself, and our three children) to close to 300 people (if you counted pregnant women twice, which I did). We’d rented public school space for several years and then purchased acreage on which we erected a church building. The sanctuary could seat 400 people. We borrowed $800,000 from the bank, and that, along with our savings, got us Sunday School rooms, wall-to-wall carpeting, air conditioning, offices, and a paved parking lot.
A young mother was preparing pancakes for her sons, Kevin, age 5 and Ryan, age 4. As they sat at the kitchen table waiting, the boys began to argue over who would get the first pancake.
Their mother, seeing an opportunity for a moral lesson, reminded them, “If Jesus was sitting at our table, He would say, ‘Mom, please let my brother have the first pancake. I can wait.'”
This month I’d like to continue to examine Matthew Vines’ novel interpretation of the six biblical texts that traditionally have been used to prove God’s disapproval of homosexuality. If you haven’t read last month’s e-teaching, I suggest you read that first. A professing Christian and author of the new book God and the Gay Christian, Matthew Vines boldly declares on his website that homosexuality is not a sin, and he “proves it from the Bible.”
Note: This e-teaching is for adults only.
I did not intend for this series on homosexuality to continue beyond three months, but in light of current events, as well as the feedback I’ve received, there seems to be a need to proceed further. You may have heard that World Vision, the world’s largest Christian humanitarian organization, last month announced a change in its employment policy, allowing the hiring of homosexuals who are legally married and “committed Christians.” Days later, World Vision’s board reversed their position, obviously due to donor displeasure. The issue is not only dividing professing Christians, but also dominating world headlines due to anti-homosexual developments in Russia and Uganda.
The response to last month’s e-teaching, A Homosexual You Will Love, like the response to the previous month’s, I Love Homosexuals, and I’m Frustrated, was plentiful. Many folks shared their stories and insights. Many wrote to compassionately tell me that they were praying for “Jean Claude,” whose poignant story I shared in that e-teaching.
I also received a number of responses from good folks who cited first-hand examples of homosexual orientation that could not be attributed to any environmental cause (suggesting a biological cause). Others wrote who believe that homosexuality is the result of demonic oppression or possession, and that it can be cured by exorcism (although none cited any supportive Bible passages or personal success stories of delivering homosexuals through exorcism). A few wrote expressing blanket condemnations upon all homosexuals. And finally, some wrote to affirm that my amateur attempt to diagnose the roots of Jean Claude’s same-sex attraction wasn’t too far off track.
If you didn’t read last month’s e-teaching titled I Love Homosexuals, and I’m Frustrated, you missed what has proven to be, based on the feedback, one of my most popular e-teachings ever. I was encouraged by the sheer volume of positive feedback, and I was blessed by how many Christians expressed genuine love for the homosexual community. (I only received one strongly critical response, predictably from a professing Christian.)
This month I want to share one particular email response that I received, in hopes that it might contribute to further understanding between homosexuals (and their advocates), and those who, like me, believe that God condemns homosexuality (along with a host of other sins of which just about everyone has been guilty) but that He also offers forgiveness and freedom through Jesus Christ.
As I’m writing this, the two-week suspension of Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson by A&E over remarks he made that were offensive to homosexuals is making headlines. The incident has ignited a nationwide debate regarding homosexuality, and naturally, lots of people are taking sides and expressing their opinions.
With this article, I hope to make a small contribution to the understanding of folks on both sides of the issue, whom I will refer to, for simplicity’s sake, as homosexuals and their dissenters. (I realize, of course, that there is a variance of opinions on both sides, but I intend to stick with the fundamental differences.)