IN THE NEWS
Christian Baker Being Sued Again
Jim Denison | Denison Forum on Truth and Culture | Thursday, December 20, 2018
For more from the Denison Forum, please visit www.denisonforum.org.
Jack Phillips made headlines in 2012 when he refused to make a cake celebrating a same-sex wedding. The suit against him went to the United States Supreme Court, which ruled in his favor.
Now Phillips is in court again, this time for refusing to bake a cake celebrating a gender transition. The Colorado Civil Rights Commission claims that he discriminated against Autumn Scardina, who transitioned from male to female and wanted him to make a cake that was blue on the outside and pink on the inside to celebrate.
Phillips’s attorneys call the complaint an “obvious setup.” They say their client “believes as a matter of religious conviction that sex–the status of being male or female–is given by God, is biologically determined, is not determined by perceptions or feelings, and cannot be chosen or changed.”
So do millions of evangelical Christians, including me.
“If they persecuted me, they will persecute you.”
I expect to see more such lawsuits in the coming years as our post-Christian culture collides with Christian morality. When so-called civil rights compete with religious rights, civil rights usually win.
As believers navigate the legal and social implications of our faith in this challenging day, there is an imperative we need to remember: our lives must bear the scrutiny our beliefs are sure to provoke.
Two related facts follow.
One: People deserve to know what we believe and why we believe it.
Peter called his readers to be “prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15a). God’s word speaks with powerful relevance to every issue we face today. It is vital that we speak his truth to our times.
You’ve probably heard the Francis of Assisi quotation, “Preach the gospel at all times; if necessary, use words.” As researcher Ed Stetzer notes, there are two problems with this quote. First, Francis never said it. Second, it’s incomplete theology.
Stetzer: “Using that statement is a bit like saying, ‘Feed the hungry at all times; if necessary, use food.'” The gospel is good news, and, as Stetzer notes, “good news needs to be told.”
Two: Our lives must mirror our words.
Peter continued: “Yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame” (vv. 15c-16, my emphasis).
We must be prepared to defend our faith, remembering Jesus’ warning: “If they persecuted me, they will persecute you” (John 15:20). But our witness loses its power and credibility unless our lives are worthy of respect.
“Cease to do evil, learn to do good”
Here’s the problem: it’s easy to equate religion with righteousness.
Early Christianity was a movement, not an institution. Congregations could not legally own buildings until Constantine legalized the church in the fourth century. Christians didn’t “go” to church–they were the church. Christianity was all about a personal, intimate relationship with God, not a religion about him.
However, the church over time became identified with its buildings, clergy, and religious activities. Spirituality was measured by time spent in the building where members engaged in various rituals and watched the clergy perform.
Even in our nondenominational era, those who participate in church activities are tempted to feel that they are more moral than those who don’t. There’s an implicit sense that we must be right with God if we are in his “house.”
But our Lord disagrees.
Speaking to his chosen people, God warned: “Your new moons and your appointed [religious] feasts my soul hates; they have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them. . . . Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause” (Isaiah 1:14-17).
Charles Spurgeon: “Apart from vital godliness all religion is utterly vain; offered without a sincere heart, every form of worship is a solemn sham and an impudent mockery of the majesty of heaven.”
“He will tax the remotest star”
Here’s the irony: Our post-Christian society holds us to a higher standard than we might demand of ourselves. If we commit the same sins we find in popular culture, we are accused of hypocrisy. And rightly so–we claim to follow the sinless Son of God and to be the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16).
So, here’s the bottom line: Our times require courageous Christians who will model the truth we proclaim and love those to whom we proclaim it. In a skeptical culture, personal character is both essential and compelling.
The good news is that the Spirit will empower every believer who seeks his help. If you and I want to serve and reflect Jesus, “he will tax the remotest star and the last grain of sand to assist us” (Oswald Chambers).
Our culture judges Christ by Christians. Let’s make that fact good news today.The Daily Article Podcast is Here!
Publication Date: December 20, 2018
Photo Courtesy: Bryan Schneider/Pexels
An Appeal to All Christians to Please Witness to Unbelievers
Kayla Koslosky | ChristianHeadlines.com Editor | Thursday, December 27, 2018
Franklin Graham took to Facebook on Wednesday to call out the news media as “vicious and relentless.”
The evangelist wrote, “Well, it’s the day after Christmas—and I’m tired. How about you?”
He continued, “Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy seeing family and friends and hearing from people I haven’t heard from in a long time. But I’m tired, and it’s not just the season.”
He continued, referring to the government shut down, “I’m tired of all the fighting in Washington. You can’t turn on the news or read the headlines online without being overwhelmed by all of the political squabbling (to put it mildly). The news media are so vicious and relentless in their fault finding and their attacks on the President.”
According to Fox News, the government “partially shut down” on Saturday after Congress could not agree on a budget. The outlet reports that Trump said he would only sign a bill that provided adequate funding for the southern border wall and border security.
According to WND, the $5 billion demand was met with great opposition, including opposition from New York Senator Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) who promised President Trump that the Democratic party would never work with the president on border wall or security plans. In his post on Facebook, Graham emphasized that he was tired of this lack of civility in Washington and the media.
He wrote, “It’s just sickening. We have the potential for so much good and so much progress for our nation, but Washington is squandering it away over political agendas.”
Graham ended his post by giving thanks to God for being consistent and unchanging. He said, “I’m thankful that I have put my faith and trust in God who never grows weary and is never shut down, no matter what the problems are.
‘The everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary’ (Isaiah 40:28).”
As of Thursday afternoon, there was still no end in sight for the government shut down.
Photo courtesy: Getty Images/Pool
Boy with Terminal Cancer Receives 40,000 Christmas Cards plus One from the White House
Kayla Koslosky | ChristianHeadlines.com Editor | Tuesday, December 25, 2018
40,000 people are wishing one Louisiana boy a Merry Christmas in an “overwhelming” gesture.
Drake Quibodeaux is a young Louisiana boy who was diagnosed with the lethal Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG) earlier this year. When a family friend learned of his severe diagnosis, they reached out to the public asking them flood Drake’s mailbox with Christmas cards. While Drake’s original goal was to receive 190 cards, he has actually received over 40,000 greetings plus one very special card from the President of the United States.
The card from President Donald Trump and the First Lady reads, “Dear Drake,
Melania and I recently learned of your diagnosis and send our prayers for your healing and recovery,” the President wrote. “The resolve and tenacity you have demonstrated during this difficult time is inspiring.”
The President continued, “We pray that God grants you strength as you courageously fight this battle. We hope you find comfort and peace in your faith and that you are uplifted by all those around you.”
President Trump ended the letter assuring Drake that he and his family were on his team. Trump wrote, “We are all on Team Drake!” and included his and his wife’s signature.
According to Faithwire, Drake and his family are overwhelmed with gratitude for all of the people who sent cards and gifts to the young boy. Reportedly, ever since it was announced that Drake’s inoperable tumor was rapidly progressing, his mailbox has continued to be flooded with notes and well wishes.
DIPG is a currently incurable, aggressive brain tumor that puts pressure on the nerves that control the essential bodily functions such as cognitive function and mobility, Defeat DIPG reports. The disease, which typically only affects children, can result in death by interfering with breathing and heartbeat.
To donate to Drake or to send him a card go HERE:
Photo courtesy: Annie Spratt/Unsplash