Friday, July 3, 2015

Independance Day 2015

If you are in the Raleigh area, join us on July 4th at Victory Church for our 1st annual Freedom Fest, from 11:00 am until 4:00 pm. Free food, lots of great music. This is a community outreach.
Two Hundred Thirty Nine Years ago today, the United States declared its freedom from Great Britain.
Our nation is in peril now due to our wilful sin and neglect.
Psalm 33:12-22 reads: Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people He has chosen for His inheritance. The LORD looks from heaven; He sees all the sons of men. (14) From the place of His dwelling He looks On all the inhabitants of the earth; (15) He fashions their hearts individually; He considers all their works. (16) No king is saved by the multitude of an army; A mighty man is not delivered by great strength. (17) A horse is a vain hope for safety; Neither shall it deliver any  by its great strength. (18) Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear Him, On those who hope in His mercy, (19) To deliver their soul from death, And to keep them alive in famine. (20) Our soul waits for the LORD; He is our help and our shield. (21) For our heart shall rejoice in Him, Because we have trusted in His holy name. (22) Let Your mercy, O LORD, be upon us, Just as we hope in You.

Proverbs 14:34 is clear: Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.

Take some time today to pray for our nation. We have the promise of God that If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land -2 Chronicles 7:14

Below is a copy of our nation’s Declaration of Independance. Read it and ask God for a fresh spiritual renewal in this land.

In Congress, July 4, 1776
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us;
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States;
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world;
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent;
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury;
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences;
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies;
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments;
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

An Unusual Experience I Had In Prayer This Past March

At Victory Church we have prayer meeting every Saturday from 9:00 to 10:00 A.M. On Saturday, March 21, 2015, we were praying as we normally do, and the Holy Spirit came upon me. I had been praying in the spirit for about 30 minutes, and the anointing to prophesy rose up within me. As I prayed in the spirit, I began to have the interpretation of what I was praying rise up within me. I intuitively knew that God wanted to speak something to all of us that were there, so I gathered those praying together, and asked someone with a recording device to record what I was about to say.

The following is the prophecy God gave me that morning. I have not wanted to make this public, because I felt that it was for the people that normally pray with us on Saturdays. But I do believe that the Supreme Court’s ruling on same sex marriage will produce what you will read in this prophecy. And I believe that we all need to take heed to it.

Our nation and world is undergoing a quick transformation. It’s the spirit of antichrist is belligerently working against the church of Jesus Christ, and against the nation of Israel right now. I believe that we will soon see the manifestation of a leader in the Middle East that will bring a pseudo peace to that region between Israel and its enemies.

As Christians, we need to prepare for what is coming. I submit to you the following prophecy that God gave in March with the prayer that it will stir a prayer passion in us, and will move us to prepare for what is ahead.

                            Tongues and Interpretation (Prophecy)
                                        Saturday,  March 21, 2015
For you will be the witnesses of the end of the age, and as I called Israel of old, and I called those that would be watchmen on the wall, [those] who would hold their peace not day or night as they supplicate and as they watch for the souls of men, so I’m raising up an army in this hour of those that will listen, those that will hear, those that will be sentries as it were. Watching, watching, waiting, watching, waiting, brooding over [things that are happening] and making [spiritual] preparation.  For there is a spiritual preparation that is currently being made for [there is change that is coming.]
There is a change that will come that you’ll see, that will be very apparent, much like in the natural world as you see a front coming.  A front, the tumultuous clouds, the darkness, the blackness, and then when the front comes, the wind, the rain.  It changes the atmosphere.  Everything is affected by it. There’s coming a front, there’s coming a spiritual front, for you see -  [we’re] changing from the age of grace and we’re moving into the age of the judgement of all things.
This has been prophesied and will occur and no believer should be concerned about what I do in this hour. For [this time has] been prophesied by my ones (speaking of the prophets of the Old Testament).  It’s been prophesied by my sentries of old that this time would come and this time would be at hand.  And now you will see it unfold, and the preparations are already underway.
For [there will be a] changing of the guard, for [there will be a] change of the way things are done. For there’s been a looseness and laxness that has entered my people, but it shall be no more.  Let those that walk with Me, walk with Me strongly, and those that compromise will find themselves hindered, and they will go backwards, and [many] could fall by the wayside.
But I’m calling the sentries [those that pray] to rise up, to rise up and to help them [those that compromise] and to minister to them.  Oh this will be a time of great tumult.  It will be a time of decision, it will be a time of darkness, and as that front so to speak goes through, then the atmosphere changes behind the front.  That will be, that will happen, you see, we’re changing from the age of grace [into] the age of judgement.
During that change time, it will be a time that many will not understand what is happening, and many will say nah, nah, nah we’re just [going] do things as they have been done, we’re [going] to talk the way we’ve been talking, walk the way we’ve been walking, work the way we’ve been working, [having] leisure the way we’ve been doing that. But it will be different here now, and you will see that there will come a persecution.  No one needs to be concerned about [the persecution] because I have grace for everything that I’ve called my people to do.
There is a coming persecution.  There will be those that will be required to lay their lives down for me.  Those that walk in that vein will know it and they will be prepared for it and my grace will be upon them.  There will be those that will not have such sacrifice, but there will be those none the less that will be persecuted more than they have ever seen, understood, or known. [They will be] thrown aside, put to the side, because you see, this world does not know Me, does not recognize My ways, My goings or My doings and so there’ll come a separation of the wheat and the tares.  [There will be] those that know Me, and those that do not know Me. [There will be] those that have a form of godliness, but deny the power thereof.  They shall surely fall into ever [increasing] deception, but My people will not.  For those that know their God will be strong and they will do exploits.
So be aware that things are changing and will continue to change, but you don’t have to be concerned [worried] about the change.  When you see uprisings, when you see tumults, when you see things that you never in your life seen, even in this nation, don’t be afraid and don’t let it deter you from the purpose I have for your life.  Keep walking as normally as you can, doing what you know to do. But be a person of prayer, be a person of faith, be a person of integrity, and be a person of non-compromise.
For [as] I also spoke of my servant Joel, [I] will arise in the last days [and] there will be a mighty move of My Spirit. I will pour out my spirit on all flesh. So you’ll see both the darkness and the light. You’ll see both the good and you will also see the evil. You’ll see the tumult, and you’ll also experience the peace.  And so walk with Me and let your life be upright and be one of those that will be one of the sentries [prayers], the watchman on the wall, those that will take to task, the burden, sometimes of a family, sometimes of a church, sometimes of a region, sometimes of a city, sometimes of individuals who will spend their life in eternity in hell unless someone stands in the gap.
Be those that are willing to make a sacrifice of pleasure, a sacrifice of time, a sacrifice of leisure moments, to get alone with Me.  These are the days that heaven and earth will be shaken and everything that can be shaken will be shaken.  But that which cannot be shaken will remain and that is My kingdom.  And I’m calling you to be [set apart] and I’m calling you to a little higher level, no, not a little, but a lot.  So see, I’m calling you to be a sentry and watch, and wait, and pray, and look, and one day the King will appear.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The Word Of God Is Our Protection In The Tough Place

Every word of God is pure; He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him (Proverbs 30:5).
When the harshness of life settles in like long monsoon rain, it gives hope to know that God your Father is taking good care of you. Some tests are of long duration. These are the times you must be rooted in the fact that God your Father always has His eye on you, and He has made promises to shield you and deliver you from the day of test. Tests and storms may come to your life, but the Father has promised that you’ll come through them every one. We must never forget that underneath us are the everlasting arms.
Years ago, during a particularly grueling trial, it seemed as though I would never see the end of the difficulty I was in. The Lord urged me time and again to go to His Word, and there He met me. What He shared has become very close to me now, and I often reflect on the verses He gave me. I’ll share them with you today the way the Lord gave them to me. If you’re in a tough place, and the test is hard, take my word for it, you will come though this thing on the other side as a better version of you than you are now. 

As you read the following, know that God keeps His promises!                                                                                                                                   For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high upon a rock (Psalm 27:5 NIV).
The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles (Psalm 34:17 NIV).
A righteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all (Psalm 34:19 NIV).
The Lord redeems his servants; no one will be condemned who takes refuge in him (Psalm 34:22 NIV).
The salvation of the righteous comes from the Lord; he is their stronghold in time of trouble. The Lord helps them and delivers them; he delivers them from the wicked and saves them, because they take refuge in him (Psalm 37:39-40 NIV)
And call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me (Psalm 50:15 NIV).
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. Selah (Psalm 46:1-3 NIV).

Because he loves me," says the Lord, "I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.  With long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation (Psalm 91:14-16 NIV).

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

You've Been Adopted By God!

But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, "Abba, Father!" Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ (Galatians 4:4-7).For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:26).
You are a son or daughter of Almighty God. You have been adopted into His family through the new birth. Now, everything He has is at your disposal. You have a rich inheritance.
Your relationship with your former family is completely severed by this adoption into the family of God. Your former spiritual parent Satan no longer has any legal jurisdiction over you. He has no relationship or property rights over you. You are now under the care of the One who upholds all things by the power of His Word!
All former debts and obligations from your former family relationship have been canceled. Any personal penalties you have incurred because of laws you have broken have been forgiven. This adoption has given Father God full custody rights over you, and has severed you from all past debts, obligations, and penalties.
You are now an heir of God, and an equal heir with Jesus Christ. All that the Father has belongs to you. You have the full rights of family relationship with the Father. In fact, you have the same status with the Father as His child that a child actually born into his household has! His all belongs to you. But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus!
Take your place as a child of God and hold your head high today. You have a new genealogy. You are of God! He has assumed the obligations of your care. He has told you not to worry about where or how provision for the day will come. Just seek Him and His kingdom, and all will be provided!
Your adoption in Christ gives you victory in every circumstance, authority over Satan and his minions, the peace of God, the love of God, the rest of God, healing for your body, prosperity, the promise of answered prayer, everything that pertains to life and godliness, every benefit provided by Jesus on the cross (called every spiritual blessing in heavenly places by Christ Jesus in Ephesian1:3), and the faith to believe God for everything he has given you!

Expect the Father to provide His best for you His child today. Talk to Him about everything. Take every difficulty the day brings and lay it before Him in faith. You are His child. He is your Father. He will take care of you!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

How Should Christians Respond to Legalized Same Sex Marriage? My Sunday Morning Notes Here...

On Sunday morning, I addressed the issue of same sex marriage that was legitimized by the Supreme Court of the United States this past Friday. Christians have differing opinions as to how to deal with this subject, so I offer the totality of my Sunday morning notes here so you can see what I shared with Victory Church.

I have sited quite a few sources here, and was not able to cover these notes in their entirety on Sunday morning.

Ok, so how do we respond as Christians when the Supreme Court of the United States upholds the legality of same sex marriage in the United States?

In the case before the court, Ohio resident Jim Obergefell is suing the state for recognition of his marriage to John Arthur. The pair were legally married in Maryland where same-sex marriage is legal, but when Arthur died two years ago the state of Ohio refused to put Obergefell's name on the death certificate as the surviving spouse.

In a 5-4 decision, the court held that states will be required to recognize marriages between couples of the same sex. At the time of the decision, bans were in existence in 14 states.
In a poll released before the decision, NBC News and The Wall Street Journal found that 57 percent of Americans believe same sex couples should be granted the constitutional right to wed.
Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the majority decision, and was joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor, Stephen Breyer and Elene Kagan.
Justices Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia, Samuel Alito and John Roberts dissented, with each releasing an opinion.

Do we capitulate and agree that to reach our culture we must change our convictions?

Has God changed His views concerning sin?

How should we reach out to those with same sex attractions?

1. God has not changed His mind about human sexuality.

1 Corinthians 6:9-11 - NLT
Don't you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don't fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, (10) or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people—none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God. (11) Some of you were once like that. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

1 Corinthians 7:1-3 - NLT
Now regarding the questions you asked in your letter. Yes, it is good to live a celibate life. (2) But because there is so much sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman should have her own husband. (3) The husband should fulfill his wife's sexual needs, and the wife should fulfill her husband's needs.

Genesis 2:15-25 - NLT
The Lord God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to tend and watch over it. (16) But the Lord God warned him, "You may freely eat the fruit of every tree in the garden(17) except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die." (18) Then the Lord God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him." (19) So the Lord God formed from the ground all the wild animals and all the birds of the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would call them, and the man chose a name for each one. (20) He gave names to all the livestock, all the birds of the sky, and all the wild animals. But still there was no helper just right for him. (21) So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep. While the man slept, the Lord God took out one of the man's ribs and closed up the opening. (22) Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib, and he brought her to the man. (23) "At last!" the man exclaimed. "This one is bone from my bone, and flesh from my flesh! She will be called 'woman,' because she was taken from 'man.'" (24) This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one. (25) Now the man and his wife were both naked, but they felt no shame.

God originally made our bodies the way he did so that male and female compliment one another- mentally, emotionally, and sexually.

Leviticus 18:22-25 -NLT
"Do not practice homosexuality, having sex with another man as with a woman. It is a detestable sin. (23) "A man must not defile himself by having sex with an animal. And a woman must not offer herself to a male animal to have intercourse with it. This is a perverse act. (24) "Do not defile yourselves in any of these ways, for the people I am driving out before you have defiled themselves in all these ways. (25) Because the entire land has become defiled, I am punishing the people who live there. I will cause the land to vomit them out.

What people are saying...

John Roberts
Raleigh News And Observer, June 27, 2015
The court invalidates the marriage laws of more than half the states and orders the transformation of a social institution that has formed the basis of human society for millennia, for the Kalahari bushmen and the Han Chinese, the Carthaginians and the Aztecs. Just who do we think we are?

Clarence Thomas
Aside from undermining the political processes that protect our liberty, the majority’s decision threatens the religious liberty our Nation has long sought to protect,” Thomas said in his dissent.

“In our society, marriage is not simply a governmental institution; it is a religious institution as well,” said Thomas. “Today’s decision might change the former, but it cannot change the latter. It appears all but inevitable that the two will come into conflict, particularly as individuals and churches are confronted with demands to participate in and endorse civil marriages between same-sex couples.

Samuel Alito
Today’s decision usurps the constitutional right of the people to decide whether to keep or alter the traditional understanding of marriage.”
Antonin Scalia
Today’s decree says that my Ruler, and the Ruler of 320 million Americans coast-to-coast, is a majority of the nine lawyers on the Supreme Court. The opinion in these cases is the furthest extension in fact—and the furthest extension one can even imagine—of the Court’s claimed power to create “liberties” that the Constitution and its Amendments neglect to mention. This practice of constitutional revision by an unelected committee of nine, always accompanied (as it is today) by extravagant praise of liberty, robs the People of the most important liberty they asserted in the Declaration of Independence and won in the Revolution of 1776: the freedom to govern themselves,” Scalia wrote.

Dr. George O. Wood - General Superintendent of the Assemblies of God
As a Christian minister and general superintendent of the Assemblies of God, I am deeply concerned with the Court's redefinition of marriage and the negative effects that it may have on religious freedom.
I close with three words of pastoral advice:

First, to Assemblies of God ministers: Politics reflects culture, and culture reflects religion. If you are concerned with the political drift of American culture, preach the gospel! As it sends out roots in the lives of believers, the seed of the gospel will change hearts and minds.

Second, to Assemblies of God adherents: You are privileged citizens of a blessed nation. Use your citizenship well! Seek the common good. Advocate for the last, the lost, and the least. Speak the truth in love. And vote for candidates and issues that reflect a biblical perspective on issues. The difference in so many conflicts in American politics and culture turns on who turns out to vote.

Third, to all Christians: If you are troubled with the Supreme Court's decision, keep perspective! In this and every other matter, always remember the words of our Lord Jesus Christ:
In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world (John 16:33).

Let us all pray for a great spiritual awakening in our country!

Franklin Graham:
The Supreme Court of the United States has ruled today that same-sex marriage is legal in all 50 states. With all due respect to the court, it did not define marriage, and therefore is not entitled to re-define it.
Long before our government came into existence, marriage was created by the One who created man and woman—Almighty God—and His decisions are not subject to review or revision by any manmade court. God is clear about the definition of marriage in His Holy Word: “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24).
I pray God will spare America from His judgment, though, by our actions as a nation, we give Him less and less reason to do so.
President Barack Obama
This ruling will strengthen all of our communities by offering to all loving same-sex couples the dignity of marriage across this great land,” President Barack Obama said in a statement at the White House.

Governor Mike Huckabee, a 2016 presidential candidate, tweeted:
This flawed, failed decision is an out-of-control act of unconstitutional judicial tyranny –> #SCOTUS

Dr Michael Brown has an excellent article entitled:

What Do We Do When Loving God Conflicts With Loving Our Neighbor?
If you've read the Gospels, you know that Jesus taught that the two greatest commandments are that we love God with all of our heart, soul, and strength, and that we love our neighbor as ourselves (see Matt. 22:35-40).
What do we do when there's a perceived conflict between the two and when it feels as if we have to decide between loving God or loving our neighbor?
On the one hand, the Scriptures teach plainly that allegiance to God always comes first, to the point that we have to side with Him even against our own families if they turn away from the Lord (in the Old Testament, see Deuteronomy 13:6-11; in the New Testament, see Matthew 10:34-37).
On the other hand, the Word warns us against hypocritical religion, challenging those who claim to love God (whom they cannot see) while failing to love their brother or sister in the Lord (whom they can see; 1 John 4:20).
Jacob (James) also defines true religion as caring for the widow and orphan as well as keeping ourselves unstained by the world (Jacob 1:27).
Why do I bring this issue up?
Many followers of Jesus today are deeply conflicted over the issue of homosexuality, knowing that the Word clearly prohibits homosexual practice and defines marriage as the lifelong union of a man and woman, yet they have friends or family members who identify as gay, and these are people whom they dearly love and do not want to hurt.
How can they say to their gay friends, "I love you and I want you to be happy, but I cannot affirm your 'marriage' to your partner"?
How can they tell a terrific gay couple that these two men (or women) do not provide the best parents for a child, even a handicapped, unwanted child for whom they would provide love and support?
How can they tell a young gay person who wants to follow Jesus, "You have to be celibate for the rest of your life unless the Lord changes your sexual and romantic desires"?
Recent polls indicate that among committed religious Americans, the vast majority oppose redefining marriage while, conversely, among irreligious Americans, the vast majority support gay "marriage."
That's not surprising in the least, and it really tells us something about the differences between a God-centered, biblical worldview and a worldview based on humanism.
Those same polls indicate that people who know a good number of homosexual men and women strongly favor redefining marriage while people who know few or no gay men and women strongly oppose.
Obviously, getting to know people personally often changes our perspectives, since we often stereotype those we don't know (or, worse still, demonize them).
What happens, then, if you're a committed Christian and your new lesbian neighbors turn out to be two of the sweetest ladies you've ever met, doing Bible studies in their home, attending a gay-affirming church, visiting a community center for the elderly on a weekly basis, and raising two delightful daughters?
What happens when you find out that, aside from the fact that they are in a lesbian relationship, they share your moral values and love to tell other people about Jesus?
If this does not cause any pain in your heart or move you to get alone with God and pray, then I would dare say something is lacking in your compassion for your fellow human beings.
That's why I've often said that the scriptural arguments for homosexual relationships are weak (really, they are nonexistent) but the emotional arguments for homosexual relationships are powerful.
And that's why I live daily with the holy tension of "reach out and resist," meaning, reaching out to LGBT people with compassion while resisting the gay agenda with courage.
I take this stand with absolute conviction of the rightness of God's ways, knowing without a doubt that the Lord has spoken clearly in His Word about homosexual practice.
At the same time, I do so with a broken heart, sometimes with tears, knowing that to the LGBT community, my solidarity with God and His Word feels to them like rejection, judgmentalism and even hatred.
Recently, I was talking to a restaurant manager who asked me what I did for Father's Day. As far as I know, this gentleman is gay, and when I asked him about what he did on Father's Day, he talked about seeing his dad but said nothing about his kids, and my heart sank for him as he spoke.
How can I, a follower of Jesus, stand against him raising children with his partner?
How can I, as a lover of God—and my neighbor—tell my neighbor that I cannot recognize his "marriage"?
How can I, as someone who believes that "love does no harm to its neighbor" (Rom. 13:10), hold to a position that he finds harmful?
The answer is simple but painful.
It is only by loving and honoring God that we can truly love our neighbor, and no matter how difficult the pill might be to swallow, we must not dilute or twist a single word that He has spoken.
That's why we need hearts of compassion and backbones of steel, weeping in secret for the souls of LGBT people whom we love and do not want to hurt while holding fast to the ways of the Lord, knowing that He loves them far more than we ever will and being sure that His ways are best.

2. We are called to love first.

John 13:34-35 - NLT
So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. (35) Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples."

Christianity Today article

Same Sex Marriage is Legal, What Now?

Warren Wiersbe is quoted as saying, "Truth without love is brutality, and love without truth is hypocrisy." I like this quote because it emphasizes the importance of both truth and love. One without the other simply doesn't cut it.

As we live in a culture that has just defined marriage in a way contrary to what evangelicals and others believe, we must understand that, as Christians, we aren't the only ones who care about marriage. As a result, we must keep in mind that discussions surrounding the definition of marriage carry a lot of emotions and must be handled with care.

As evangelicals contend for the definition of marriage in spheres outside the law (that is settled now), we must keep in mind truth is often not heard if it's not communicated in love. If we want to be heard, we should communicate in a way worth hearing.

At the same time, as debates will ensue about attending or serving same-sex weddings and other such issues, we must both act in accordance with our consciences and act with love for our neighbor.

For instance, much of the conversation in conservative circles has been about what we won't affirm or won't participate in. But, we need a conversation about how we will show love to our neighbor who differs on the issue (that's a growing majority) and particularly about how we might love our LGBT neighbor.

Loving people who disagree with Scripture on this issue does not mean we have to agree with them, but it does mean we have to actually love them.

3. Learn to disagree without being disagreeable!

We need to MASTER the art of disagreeing without being disagreeable…

You will often hear that because we as Christians do not agree with certain things that we hate the people involved in them...NOT TRUE!

Duck Dynasty's Phil Robertson Quote
Our culture has accepted two huge lies. The first is that if you disagree with someone's lifestyle, you must fear or hate them. The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe or do. Both are nonsense. You don't have to compromise convictions to be compassionate

2 Timothy 2:24-26 - NLT
A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone, be able to teach, and be patient with difficult people. (25) Gently instruct those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people's hearts, and they will learn the truth. (26) Then they will come to their senses and escape from the devil's trap. For they have been held captive by him to do whatever he wants.

In an article entitled - Marriage: Where Do We Go From Here, Ryan T. Anderson  (May 22,2015) has some good points we need to hear:

We must continue to witness to the truth about marriage, find new ways to make the reasoned case about what marriage is, and work to protect our freedoms to do so for the next generation. All of this must be done in service of the long-term goal of restoring a culture of marriage.

...We must understand that for many of our neighbors  the argument for marriage hasn’t been heard and rejected; it simply hasn’t been heard. We must make that argument in new and creative ways.

In the short run, the legal battle over the definition of marriage may be an uphill struggle. But in the long run, those who defend marriage as the union of a man and woman will prove to be prophetic. First, because when people do hear a compelling case for marriage, they respond accordingly. And second, because the logic of marriage redefinition ultimately leads to the dissolution of marriage into nothing more than a social mess of consenting adult love of manifold sizes and shapes.

4. Our country has a divided world view.

PLURALISM - a hodgepodge of different belief systems in a culture - is taking over America.

Travel has opened our borders, and immigrants have come with all sorts of belief systems.

Then, the Bible was taken out of our schools many decades ago.

Yes, we have many who say they are Christians, but much fewer who actually have a Biblical worldview.

Here’s a book excerpt from Rick Renner that will help us understand what we are dealing with today:

No Room For Compromise, Christ's Message To Today's Church - A Light in Darkness, Volume Two by Rick Renner (Tulsa, Oklahoma: Institute Books, no date listed), pages 31-32

Page 31

What was at the beginning of the Church Age is attempting to arise again at the end of the Church Age.

Although our society today is filled with new technology and sophistication, the pluralistic, inclusive view that dominated the First Century is once again lifting its ugly head. Certain key elements  of paganism that dominated the First Century - such as its diversity of beliefs, it's ever-changing moral code, and the acceptance of moral perversions - are sweeping back into its mainstream, encased within the noble-sounding ideas of inclusivity and open mindedness. There is no question that we are witnessing a return to paganism right before our eyes.

To possess rock-solid, unchangeable belief in absolute truth in this current climate is to be labeled as extreme. A person who fits this description may even be seen as a menace to the direction the rest of society wants to take.  Yet, although unyielding Christians will be called intolerant, it will be the pagans themselves who have no stomach for anyone who holds a position different from theirs.

The pressure exerted on Christians continues to intensify, pushing them to modify their message and become more accepting of other beliefs  and moral codes that are in direct contradiction with the Bible. In the First Century, the pressure to conform led some believers to encourage compromise with the world. Today this message of compromise is beginning to resound from pulpits once again.

As pagan influence continues to increase in these last days, Christianity will once again become completely out of sync with the times, with its message that Christ alone is the way to the Father. If this regressive trend continues, it is only a matter of time before the Bible is relegated to simply being " just another book," a relic of a bygone era collecting dust alongside a host of texts representing other religions. When this occurs, the authority of Scripture in society and the Church will be lost   - which is precisely what the devil wants to achieve. STOP!

Satan has learned through 2,000 years of Church history that Christ cannot be defeated. So instead of fighting a fight he cannot win, the enemy now attempts to level the playing field, by deluding people into believing that every belief, including Christianity, is equally acceptable and true. Entrenched in this deception, people begin to think that no one is exclusively right or wrong, and that everyone has a piece of the puzzle. From this mindset, a diverse mix of beliefs emerges, and people no longer feel the need to repent or be saved.

This is the inclusive view promoted today by so many in the areas of politics, media, entertainment, justice, and education. More and more, it is also the perspective advocated by those who claim to be part of the Church.

According to the rules of this pluralistic game, there are no winners or losers - everyone is the same. Christians who stick by their "mad insistence" that Jesus Christ is Lord over all and that the Bible is absolute truth are often persecuted for being stubborn and intransigent in their convictions. As it was in the first centuries of the Church when believers were viewed as obstinate, unbending, and intolerant, modern pluralism accepts only those who are compliant to the broader view.

Page 32

Any exclusionary view is increasingly considered intolerable and out of step with the spirit of the age.

To experience the religious pluralism and pagan inclusiveness that is reemerging in these days, you simply have to take an absolutely moral stance on sex, abortion, or other hot issues for which the Bible provides solid answers and then witness how those around you react.

Unfortunately, in this day and age, even many Christians are tending to gravitate toward the more pluralistic, inclusive position. In fact, the trend toward such thinking is increasing so rapidly among young people in churches that many are even wavering on the very basic tenants of the Christian faith. Foundational beliefs - such as the virgin birth, the sinlessness of Christ, the need to repent, moral rights and wrongs, and a literal Heaven and hell - are on the table with the younger generation. Recent statistical analysis clearly shows that the belief in absolute truth has already regressed to such a point that the younger generation generally sees no need to convert acquaintances or friends of a different faith to Christ. Instead of sharing the life - saving message of the Gospel,many young people find ways to rationalize their indecision, such as:

  • "If what they believe is working for them, why should I bother them with my beliefs?"
  • "Who is to say that Christians are right and they are wrong?"
  • "Isn't it possible that there are alternative ways to God and that Christianity is just our particular way of believing?
This trend toward inclusivism, which is simply paganism with a modern twist, is growing so rapidly that believers are now often hesitant to publicly affirm what they believe for fear of the backlash of being labeled intolerant. However, those who remain faithful to the Gospel must be prepared to be ostracized  as members of a fringe group - nonconforming outcasts of an uncaring society. Yes, they may be called "hateful" and "bigoted" simply because they adhere to a teaching of the Bible that does not condone others' immoral life choices. But if today's Church and its leadership don't stand up for the faith - regardless of the price required to proclaim it in its purest form - it will only be a matter of time until Christianity is reduced to nothing more than another lifeless religion or philosophy among a cast of many others.

5. Prepare for people to vilify and strongly disagree with you. Persecution comes with package of salvation Jesus gives you.

Matthew 5:10-12  -NLT
God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right,  for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs. (11) "God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers.  (12) Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way.

Matthew 5:10-12 - The Message
You're blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God's kingdom. (11) "Not only that — count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. (12) You can be glad when that happens — give a cheer, even! — for though they don't like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble.

Matthew 10:16-22 -NLT
Look, I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. So be as shrewd as snakes and harmless as doves. (17) But beware! For you will be handed over to the courts and will be flogged with whips in the synagogues. (18) You will stand trial before governors and kings because you are my followers. But this will be your opportunity to tell the rulers and other unbelievers about me.  (19) When you are arrested, don't worry about how to respond or what to say. God will give you the right words at the right time.  (20) For it is not you who will be speaking—it will be the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.  (21) "A brother will betray his brother to death, a father will betray his own child, and children will rebel against their parents and cause them to be killed.  (22) And all nations will hate you because you are my followers. But everyone who endures to the end will be saved.

Matthew 23:34

Matthew 24:9-10 -NLT
"Then you will be arrested, persecuted, and killed. You will be hated all over the world because you are my followers. (10) And many will turn away from me and betray and hate each other.

Mark 10:28-31 -NLT
Then Peter began to speak up. "We've given up everything to follow you," he said. (29) "Yes," Jesus replied, "and I assure you that everyone who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or property, for my sake and for the Good News,  (30) will receive now in return a hundred times as many houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and property—along with persecution. And in the world to come that person will have eternal life.  (31) But many who are the greatest now will be least important then, and those who seem least important now will be the greatest then."

Luke 6:22-23  -NLT
What blessings await you when people hate you and exclude you and mock you and curse you as evil because you follow the Son of Man.  (23) When that happens, be happy! Yes, leap for joy! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, their ancestors treated the ancient prophets that same way.

Luke 12:11-12 -NLT
"And when you are brought to trial in the synagogues and before rulers and authorities, don't worry about how to defend yourself or what to say,  (12) for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what needs to be said."

Luke 21:12-18 -NLT
But before all this occurs, there will be a time of great persecution. You will be dragged into synagogues and prisons, and you will stand trial before kings and governors because you are my followers. (13) But this will be your opportunity to tell them about me.  (14) So don't worry in advance about how to answer the charges against you,  (15) for I will give you the right words and such wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to reply or refute you!  (16) Even those closest to you—your parents, brothers, relatives, and friends—will betray you. They will even kill some of you.  (17) And everyone will hate you because you are my followers. (18) But not a hair of your head will perish!

John 15:18-23 -NLT -NLT
If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first. (19) The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you. (20) Do you remember what I told you? 'A slave is not greater than the master.' Since they persecuted me, naturally they will persecute you. And if they had listened to me, they would listen to you. (21) They will do all this to you because of me, for they have rejected the One who sent me.  (22) They would not be guilty if I had not come and spoken to them. But now they have no excuse for their sin. (23) Anyone who hates me also hates my Father.

John 16:1-4 -NLT
"I have told you these things so that you won't abandon your faith.  (2)For you will be expelled from the synagogues, and the time is coming when those who kill you will think they are doing a holy service for God. (3) This is because they have never known the Father or me.  (4) Yes, I'm telling you these things now, so that when they happen, you will remember my warning. I didn't tell you earlier because I was going to be with you for a while longer.

2 Timothy 3:10-12 -NLT -NLT
But you, Timothy, certainly know what I teach, and how I live, and what my purpose in life is. You know my faith, my patience, my love, and my endurance. (11) You know how much persecution and suffering I have endured. You know all about how I was persecuted in Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra—but the Lord rescued me from all of it. (12) Yes, and everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.

Hebrews 10:32-36 NLT
Think back on those early days when you first learned about Christ. Remember how you remained faithful even though it meant terrible suffering. (33) Sometimes you were exposed to public ridicule and were beaten, and sometimes you helped others who were suffering the same things. (34) You suffered along with those who were thrown into jail, and when all you owned was taken from you, you accepted it with joy. You knew there were better things waiting for you that will last forever. (35) So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you!
(36) Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God's will. Then you will receive all that he has promised.

1 Peter 3:14-16 -NLT
But even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it. So don't worry or be afraid of their threats. (15) Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it. (16) But do this in a gentle and respectful way. Keep your conscience clear. Then if people speak against you, they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to Christ.

1 Peter 4:12-16 -NLT
Dear friends, don't be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. (13) Instead, be very glad—for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world. (14) So be happy when you are insulted for being a Christian, for then the glorious Spirit of God rests upon you.  (15) If you suffer, however, it must not be for murder, stealing, making trouble, or prying into other people's affairs. (16) But it is no shame to suffer for being a Christian. Praise God for the privilege of being called by his name!

6. Teach Your Children the Word of God!

If your children are in public schools, look for other options.

Ephesians 6:1-4
Children, obey your parents because you belong to the Lord, for this is the right thing to do. (2) "Honor your father and mother." This is the first commandment with a promise: (3) If you honor your father and mother, "things will go well for you, and you will have a long life on the earth." (4) Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.

  1. Talk to your children EVERY day about spiritual values.
  2. Live what you believe in front of them. What you do is so loud that I can’t
         hear what you are saying.
   3.   Make church life an important part of your lifestyle.
   4.   If you do nothing, then their default with be the world’s belief system.


Dr. George O. Wood - General Superintendent of the Assemblies of God
Statement Regarding the Supreme Court's Same-Sex Marriage Decision
Today is a sad day for America.

In Obergefell v. Hodges, a 5-4 majority of the Supreme Court ruled:
The Fourteenth Amendment requires a State to license a marriage between two people of the same sex and to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-State.

As a Christian minister and general superintendent of the Assemblies of God, I am deeply concerned with the Court's redefinition of marriage and the negative effects that it may have on religious freedom.

Scripture, Marriage, and Religious Freedom
Scripture defines marriage solely in terms of the union of a man and a woman (e.g., Matthew 19:4–6; Mark 10:5–9; cf. Genesis 1:27–28, 2:20–24; Ephesians 5:21–32). Not only that, Scripture prohibits same-sex intercourse (Romans 1:26–27; 1 Corinthians 6:9; 1 Timothy 1:10; cf. Leviticus 18:22, 20:13). When it comes to same-sex marriage, Scripture prohibits what the Supreme Court permits.

As Christians, Assemblies of God adherents affirm that the Bible determines what we believe and how we behave. Our Statement of Fundamental Truths puts it this way: "The Bible is our all-sufficient rule for faith and practice." And: "The Scriptures, both the Old and New Testaments, are verbally inspired of God and are the revelation of God to man, the infallible, authoritative rule of faith and conduct" (emphasis added).

Our Scripture-based definition of marriage and understanding of sexual morality shapes what our Constitution and Bylaws require as behavioral standards for credentialed ministers, finds reflection in the Assemblies of God position paper on homosexuality, and provides the rationale for the conduct codes of our denominational offices, affiliate organizations, and colleges and universities.

I am grateful that in its decision the Supreme Court acknowledged that our opposition to same-sex marriage and behavior arises from "good faith" rather than animus. I am deeply concerned, however, about how the Court will rule when government laws and regulations that reflect its redefinition of marriage conflict with our biblical behavioral standards.
Will public accommodation laws be interpreted to require Assemblies of God congregations to rent their sanctuaries to same-sex weddings if they also rent their sanctuaries to weddings involving a man and a woman?
Will Assemblies of God ministers be required to solemnize same-sex marriages?
Will Assemblies of God colleges and universities be required to enroll same-sex married students, even though that constitutes a violation of their student conduct codes?
Will our schools be able to access federal student loans and grants if our student conduct codes prohibit same-sex behavior?
Will Assemblies of God organizations that provide psychological counseling, adoption services, or other services that require professional licenses be stripped of their licenses because of their faith-based opposition to same-sex marriage and behavior?
Will Assemblies of God organizations lose their tax-exempt status because of their opposition to same-sex marriage because of the Bob Jones precedent?
The answer to these questions based on the First Amendment should be a straightforward, "No!" But in oral arguments about Obergefell before the Supreme Court, Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli himself admitted, when asked a question such as these:
I don't think I can answer that question without knowing more specifics, but it's certainly going to be an issue. I—I don't deny that. I don't deny that... It is–it is going to be an issue.

And that is my deepest concern. Although it should not be, religious freedom itself is "going to be an issue." In this way, the Supreme Court's ruling regarding so-called "marriage equality" will be used as a wedge to narrow the scope and weaken the protections afforded by the free exercise of religion guaranteed to Americans by the First Amendment. No religious person—Christian, Jewish, Muslim, etc.—can view that possibility as good news. No freedom-loving American should.

A Judicial Usurpation of Politics
As an American, I believe that this decision represents a judicial usurpation of politics.

Proponents of same-sex marriage like to draw analogies between their movement and the Abolitionist and Civil Rights Movements. The analogy is false, but it is nonetheless instructive in this particular case.

Whereas abolition and civil rights were enacted democratically by amending the U.S. Constitution in the 1860s and passing national civil rights legislation in the 1960s, same-sex marriage has been democratically enacted in only 11 States and the District of Columbia. It has been imposed on 39 States and American territories by State and Federal Courts that overturned democratically enacted definitions of marriage as a man-woman union.

I cannot help but think that this is an unhelpful way to resolve the political, social, and moral conflicts that divide the American people.

Closing Words of Advice
I close with three words of pastoral advice:

First, to Assemblies of God ministers: Politics reflects culture, and culture reflects religion. If you are concerned with the political drift of American culture, preach the gospel! As it sends out roots in the lives of believers, the seed of the gospel will change hearts and minds.

Second, to Assemblies of God adherents: You are privileged citizens of a blessed nation. Use your citizenship well! Seek the common good. Advocate for the last, the lost, and the least. Speak the truth in love. And vote for candidates and issues that reflect a biblical perspective on issues. The difference in so many conflicts in American politics and culture turns on who turns out to vote.

Third, to all Christians: If you are troubled with the Supreme Court's decision, keep perspective! In this and every other matter, always remember the words of our Lord Jesus Christ:
In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world (John 16:33).

Let us all pray for a great spiritual awakening in our country!

May God bless you richly today and every day!

George O. Wood
General Superintendent
Assemblies of God (USA)

See also this article form PE News.