Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Daily Encouragement (11/18/14) "Understanding The Present Time" (Part 2) "The Call To Not Be A Safe Church"

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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Sunrise at JK Mechanical with first snow 11/14/14
Sunrise at JK Mechanical office near Willow Street, PA
(Photo taken by Ester)

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This week we are sharing a series of messages from Romans 13:11-14

"Understanding The Present Time"
(Part 2)
"The Call To Not Be A Safe Church"

"And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature" (Romans 13:11-14).

I recently read a blog article about being a "safe church". Now who wouldn't be in favor of having a safe church?

We are thankful for good leadership who strives to keep church safe in a variety of ways; safe, in the sense of having protections against predators; safe, in the sense of removing physical dangers that may cause harm. I consider Galen, Ken and other dedicated trustees in our church who work hard to keep our church a safe place.  You might also consider people in your church who work hard behind the scenes. Many churches, even smaller ones, now have defibrillators available for any who may have an immediate need to have their heart shocked back into proper rhythm.

Sound doctrine
Another positive sense of being a safe church is a place where the pastor and leadership are committed to sound Biblical doctrine. You can listen to messages from the pastor's sermons, guest speakers, Sunday School, youth and children's ministries and be assured that your family is consistently being taught the truth.

However the "safe church" blog article I referred to was written in the sense of "a safe church" not being a good thing! He wrote of a "safe church" being one that anyone can attend and always, regardless of their lifestyle, feel comfortable with the messages being preached.

Biblical warnings
The safe church in the writer's view is where, "the messages are affirming everyone in who they are without regard to their… well, eternal state." A safe church in this sense does not address the moral issues of our day. After all, someone might be hurt or offended. Of course there are now many "churches" that even affirm sinful behavior. But many, many more, including so many in the category of "evangelical", are just silent on these matters.

Yesterday we had opportunity to listen to Alistair Begg's "Truth for Life" radio broadcast where he presented an excellent message dealing with "Graven Mistakes". (link below) I believe it was Alistair who also said to his people (to the effect), "Some feel that a good sermon will make people feel comfortable, but I feel that a good sermon will challenge the people."

Today's Scripture section contains some hard-hitting truths that I suspect many safe churches would stay away from addressing if the leadership's goal is solely intent on making the congregation feel comfortable. We encourage you to read it again slowly and allow the grave meaning to sink deep into your spirit:
"And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature" (Romans 13:11-14).

Quoting again from the blog article, "You will never hear such words [such as the Romans passage above] in a safe church. They are too busy trying to give uplifting little ditties to make you feel good about yourself, no matter how sinful you really are."

Several years ago I had an interim pastoral role in a small country church. In the course of preaching the "whole counsel of God" (Acts 20:27)* God laid upon my heart a Biblical message dealing with sexual morality. As I preached I observed a young college-aged girl who grew noticeably uncomfortable. As I greeted the people at the conclusion of the service I detected a distinct coldness from her. Later I spoke to her mother who told me that she indeed was quite uncomfortable with the message.  "I would not be comfortable bringing my friends to a church like this", she related to her mother. She did not come back and it saddened our hearts to consider that she, along with growing numbers of youth and adults in recent years, are embracing lifestyles not aligned with the teaching of Scripture, due to its acceptance and endorsement through the media, education, politicians and the experimental social engineers of our day.

Sound doctrine
A vital part of the high calling to preach the whole inspired counsel of God's Word includes, "teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness" (2 Timothy 3:16). The preaching of convicting passages from God's Word should not be ignored, nor should "uncomfortable" passages be paraphrased in such a way as to be more palatable based upon the culture of our day or because some might perceive the message to be unloving. The truly loving message from the ministers of the gospel is to do everything possible to call sinners to repent and cease indulging in sinful attitudes and behavior that can lead to loss, destruction, and eternal damnation. 

This repentance remains the Biblical call for all believers who want to truly follow God.  We must be sober minded and behave decently. Let us "clothe ourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature".

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we seek to be alert and sober-minded in this generation where messages come from every direction seeking to confuse, delude, and undermine that which we learn from Your holy Scriptures. Instead of feeling despair help us to see it as a challenge to more deeply embrace and live the ancient Holy Word. Its truth does not change according to the whim of society. We resolve not to interpret Scripture in light of our generation, but instead we interpret our generation in light of Scripture, clearly defining right and wrong, good and bad as taught in Scripture not in the "scholarly" academia of our time. We must keep our head in all situations on a personal level as well as that which affects our society at large. We desire a clear mind, trusting spirit, and a steady aim at following You no matter the cost. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.

* "Whole counsel of God" is phrase used by Paul in his message to the Ephesian elders in Acts 20. The sense seems to be that he preached on every aspect of God's Word. The NASV renders it, "For I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God." The faithful preacher will see that He preaches a balance from all of God's Word. Certainly messages on God's love, faithfulness, grace and forgiveness will be at the forefront but also messages on living holy lives and specifying what the Bible affirms as sin. One dynamic I have noticed in the last several years is an amplification of any preaching on moral matters to those who have been conditioned by the world to be sensitive to this truth.

Willow Valley stone farmhouse and barn first snow 11/14/14
Willow Valley stone farmhouse and barn
Last Friday morning we had our first light snow cover of the season. We first saw it in an area south of Lancaster City in Willow Street.
(Click for larger view)

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Monuments"  Video  Legacy Five  One of Brooksyne's favorite songs that speaks of the monuments we must leave for our children to find the way home. "Don't move the landmarks set up for your children so they can find the way home."

"Heroes Of The Faith"  Video  Legacy Five  Listen to this song and consider someone in your life who left a legacy of faith. Are you leaving a legacy of faith?

"Is Your Church Safe?"  Article referred to in the message

"Truth for Life" with Alistair Begg  An excellent Bible teacher

Finally: Yesterday I came across this video that demonstrates just how crazy things are getting as man abandons God. "They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen" (Romans 1:25). If you choose to watch this keep in mind that these people almost certainly would have no problem with the killing of unborn babies.

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Stephen and Brooksyne Weber 38th anniversary photo (click on photo to enlarge)Stephen and Brooksyne Weber
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