Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah,
Living By Faith
~ May you find the strength and courage to trust in Him today with all that you are.
“For we walk by faith, not by sight.” ~ 2 Corinthians 5:7
Living by faith is the key that unlocks the door to the fullness of God’s promises. There is no doubt that God will always be faithful to His promises. Scripture is clear in 2 Timothy 2:13 that “if we are faithless, He remains faithful — for He cannot deny Himself.” Faithfulness is within God’s nature. But, without faith we will not experience the fullness of what is available to us in God’s promises. God does not force emotion on us. He does not force us to receive the joy and peace that comes through trusting Him. He does not force us into the fullness of relationship available to us in faith. And He does not force His purposes on us. Faith is the vehicle by which we experience all that God longs to give us. Specifically, faith is the avenue on which we experience the fullness of God’s promises for intimacy with Him, purpose in this life, and freedom from sin.
Hebrews 10:19-22 says:
“Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that He opened for us through the curtain, that is, through His flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.”
By faith we walk into God’s presence. In faith we believe God desires to be with us.
Experiencing the fullness of restored relationship with our heavenly Father requires a heart full of faith and trust that God longs to tangibly be with us, His children. Without faith we will live solely for the pleasures this world has to offer and miss out on all the satisfaction of living this life for and with God above all else. In faith we can experience all the intimacy available to us through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.
Hebrews 11:32-34 says:
“And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets — who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight.”
We’ve been sent out by Jesus to make disciples of all nations. We’ve been given a command to bring light into the darkness everywhere we go. You and I have been given a purpose of eternal value and of great importance to our Lord and King. And Hebrews 11 is clear that it is by faith that the works of God are done.
• When we live by faith, we bring the kingdom of God into every dark corner around us.
• When we live by faith, we invite the Holy Spirit to work in and through every situation to draw others to Himself.
It’s in faith that we find our purpose.
And finally, Ephesians 6:16 says:
“In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one.”
It is through faith that we walk in the freedom from sin available to us by the promise of God. As children of God wrapped up in the finished work of Christ, we have been set free from the bondage of sin. By the power of Jesus’ death on the cross, you and I never have to sin again. But Paul teaches us in Ephesians that it is through faith that we extinguish the flaming darts of the evil one. If we don’t trust God at His Word that we who were completely entangled to the schemes of the enemy by sin are now considered the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21), we will not walk in freedom. It is through faith that we renew our mind and experience the wonderful freedom from sin available to us.
We all need a greater measure of intimacy with God, purpose, and freedom from sin. Not one of us has experienced all that is available to us through faith. May you seek out all that God has in store for you if you will take Him at His Word and trust Him in response to His faithfulness. Spend time in prayer receiving all that God longs to give you by faith.
~ by Craig Denison
May you be filled with hunger for the deeper things of God today. And may you have the courage and tenacity to seek out everything God has in store for you. If you will pursue Him with all your heart in faith you will discover all that your heart has been searching for. He has adventure, excitement, joy, fulfillment, and love for all who live by faith. Today is the day to live in the newness of life Jesus died for you to have.
From the Pastor’s Heart – June 2023
~ God has only just begun working through His servant’s legacy.
As you know, our beloved pastor and friend, Charles F. Stanley, went to be with the Lord on April 18, 2023. We grieve at his absence, but we also rejoice. Dr. Stanley was one of the greatest examples I’ve ever known of a man who loved God with all his heart. And today, he is with God and adoring his Savior in person. What a reason for joy!
Dr. Stanley was devoted, not only to sharing the good news of salvation to every corner of the globe, as Christ commanded, but also to helping believers walk more closely with the Lord every day. As a recipient of his From the Pastor’s Heart letter, you read his teaching from the Word of God each month. His letters contained biblical truths he’d seen proven on his own journey with the Lord, and spiritual guidance to help you grow in faith.
It was Dr. Stanley’s hope that we’d all stay the course of lifelong discipleship.
He entrusted to us a vast collection of sermons, notes, books, and recordings from his more than 60 years of ministry. This extraordinary wealth of Spirit-led teaching and encouragement is part of an incredible legacy.
Throughout his time at the helm of In Touch Ministries, Dr. Stanley gave us a mandate to steward this material for future generations.
He had a calling from God to hear the Spirit and minister to the body of Christ. And he often reminded us at In Touch that we also have a calling — to keep on sharing the gospel and Bible-based discipleship around the world.
All of us here at the ministry, myself included, accepted this calling through the years with a sense of deep gratitude. Now we’re ready to move forward with our mission.
With that in mind, I’d like to invite you to continue receiving From the Pastor’s Heart — in a new format.
Each month, our staff will select something to share with you from Dr. Stanley’s work. We’ll do this prayerfully, as he did, seeking words relevant to each moment. We’ll share his teaching on topics like the importance of obedience, the power of the Holy Spirit, living in Christlikeness, and the love of the Father, all with his faithful adherence to Scripture as a light for our path (Psalm 119:105). Perhaps you, like us, loved and appreciated Dr. Stanley’s passionate wisdom and pastor’s heart.
Well, God has only just begun working through His servant’s legacy. We believe it will keep blessing you for many years to come.
For now, I’d like to share some words from Dr. Stanley about living for the Lord. I think it describes his own example very well, and I hope it inspires you to think with hope and confidence about your own life in Christ:
“Our intimacy with God — His highest priority for our lives — determines the impact of our lives. You aren’t supposed to live the Christian life; it’s impossible. Rather, you must let Christ live it through you — that’s when you discover true power in your faith and witness for Him. You’ll only see such fruit by living deeply in intimacy with God. Prayer, obedience, trust, fellowshipping with Jesus — that’s how you abide in Him. Live this way and your life will become a powerhouse for God.”
What an incredible impact Dr. Stanley’s life has already had. Millions of people around the world have heard about Jesus and grown in Him through this one pastor’s devotion. And his obedience and commitment to God will pay eternal dividends for generations to come. When I think of Dr. Stanley, I’m reminded of these words from Scripture:
“Those who are wise will shine like the bright expanse of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.” ~ Daniel 12:3
I’m profoundly grateful for Dr. Stanley’s life of faithful service. He helped us all draw closer to God and love each other as the church. It was a priceless honor to have been his friend and co-laborer in Christ. Along with everyone at In Touch Ministries, I’m humbled and blessed to carry his legacy into the future.
Thank you for allowing us to continue Dr. Stanley’s ministry to you.
Until next time, may you live in intimacy with God, be filled by His Spirit, and adore Jesus at every moment.
C. Phillip Bowen, CEO
In Touch Ministries
Ranb2khz: Dependent upon the future content of this monthly publication, I may or may not continue to share it on this forum.
When God Wants Our Attention
~ When you feel restless, spend extra time with God in prayer; He may be leading you to something new.
Scripture Reading: 1 Samuel 3:1-21
Have you ever felt restless, as if something’s not quite right? At times God will use that feeling to get our attention. Take Samuel, for example. He literally couldn’t rest because a voice kept calling his name in the dark, and he assumed it was Eli the priest calling out. Finally, after the third interruption, Eli realized the boy was hearing God’s voice.
For Samuel, the sense of restlessness was physical, but it can also manifest as a mental or emotional feeling. This can be something God uses to guide us toward new insights, as He did in revealing Samuel would become a prophet. At first, this information made Samuel anxious — he was afraid to tell Eli about God’s judgment and didn’t sleep that night. He might even have wished he’d ignored that feeling of uneasiness. Ultimately, though, the distress proved worthwhile: Scripture tells us that “Samuel grew, and the Lord was with him, and He let none of his words fail” (1 Samuel 3:19).
No matter how or why God lets us feel unsettled, His purpose is always good. So we can trust the Lord and safely investigate our feelings of restlessness without fear. Seek to listen and obey. Then even if you, like Samuel, aren’t sure where the uneasiness is coming from, God won’t let you miss out. He is in control and His plans cannot be thwarted.
~ published by: In Touch Ministries
God Shows Us His Will
~ Our heavenly Father is not the author of confusion, and He will provide the answers you seek.
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take." ~ Proverbs 3:5-6
When we believe we have heard from the Lord, it is important to ask clarifying questions:
• Is the message consistent with Scripture?
God will never tell you to do something that goes against His perfect, unchanging Word. If you feel called to take an action that is contrary to Scripture, you can be certain that it isn’t the Lord urging you.
• Can you confidently ask God to enable you to do this?
If you feel uneasy about asking for the Lord’s help and empowerment, that may be a sign the voice wasn’t God’s. We should be honored — not ashamed — to ask the Lord to equip us.
• Does it fit with your identity in Christ?
We are the children of God, who are being conformed into the likeness of Christ. If you feel led to do something that doesn’t reflect the image of Jesus, then you can be sure God hasn’t called you to do it.
Our heavenly Father will never leave His children on their own (Deuteronomy 31:6) — He is with each believer right now. Know that the Holy Spirit is present, enabling you to hear, and His voice will remain clear, no matter what questions you may have. There is no rush; when the Lord speaks, take your time listening to be certain you’re hearing from Him.
~ published by: In Touch Ministries
~ As God’s people, He’s inviting us into His victory, a victory we so desperately need. May God establish us in His power today, and may chains fall off us and others as God guides us into a lifestyle of victory in Him.
Through Jesus, God has obtained victory in the earth. The dominion the devil had over humanity was crushed by the cross of Jesus Christ. Colossians 2:13-15 says:
“You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for He forgave all our sins. He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. In this way, He disarmed the spiritual [demonic] rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by His victory over them on the cross.”
Jesus has triumphed over everything that stood between us and a life lived in relationship with God.
One of my favorite chapters in all of Scripture, Romans 8, tells us:
“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” ~ Romans 8:37-39
We’ve been given victory over the enemy and all his schemes. But even though we have obtained victory in Jesus, the devil still works to lead you and me back into our former ways. Even though Jesus has defeated the enemy, we still must live out that victory every day and help others around us do the same. Even though love has won, we still must fight for the victory in others.
We need each other to experience the freedom available to us in Christ. Scripture admonishes us to engage in confession, community, worship, and spiritual battle together:
Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.”
James 5:13-16 says, “Are any of you suffering hardships? You should pray. Are any of you happy? You should sing praises. Are any of you sick? You should call for the elders of the church to come and pray over you, anointing you with oil in the name of the Lord. Such a prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make you well. And if you have committed any sins, you will be forgiven. Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.”
We must engage with one another and fight for a life lived victoriously in Christ together. The Bible is clear that sanctification is a process worked out, and it’s a process meant to be worked out together.
We must call out the greatness in each other. If you see a brother or sister struggling with temptation, fight for them through prayer. Speak life into them. Encourage them in who God has made them to be. Stand with them through whatever circumstances and consequences come their way. See them through the fight until they experience victory over the power of sin and darkness in their life. Open up to those around you and ask for their help in your own life! You don’t have to fight spiritual battles alone. There are people around you who will fight for victory in your own life.
Through Christ, love has won. He has paved the way of victory for you and me. We are the world’s no longer. Ephesians 2:10 says:
“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
Walk in the works God intends for you today and, in love, fight for those around you to do the same. You and I are meant for more in this life than the struggle with sin. Let’s fight for the victory in each other.
~ by Craig Denison
You don’t have to be perfect before you can fight for the victory in someone else’s life. You don’t have to be fully experiencing freedom before your Father would use you to help someone else. If the only people that could engage in ministry had to be perfect, the movement of Christianity would have died long ago. You are equipped to help right now exactly as you are. Engage in community with fellow believers as God intends and experience more life together as you walk in the victory laid out before you by the power of Jesus’ death and resurrection.
~ Every day we’re wronged in some way. And every day is an opportunity to show others forgiveness, not because they deserve it, but because loving forgiveness is the way of our Good Shepherd, the author and founder of our faith. May God empower us to forgive as He does today.
Key Scripture Verse:
“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” ~ Ephesians 4:32
We’re promised forgiveness from our Father because His forgiveness is offered in complete grace. Ephesians 1:7 says:
“In [Jesus] we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace.”
We have done nothing to deserve the forgiveness God so freely lavishes upon us. God offers us forgiveness because He is love; it is His very nature. And as Jesus demonstrated through His death, love forgives.
Sin stood between us and God like a great chasm separating a wanderer from an oasis; and so great was the Father’s love for us that He sent His only Son that we might be justly forgiven. Jesus fully bore the weight of our sin. In doing so, He received the wrath of God on our behalf that we might be afforded restored relationship with our heavenly Father. He set aside what was fair for Himself and chose to give grace.
“For our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God” ~ 2 Corinthians 5:21
Christianity is the only religion where salvation is based on grace instead of works. God, in His love, has laid before us a path founded on mercy, and He calls us to do the same for others. As the children of God, brought into His family solely by His grace, we must forgive as God has forgiven us. Colossians 3:13 says:
“[Bear] with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, [forgive] each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.”
Jesus modeled forgiveness perfectly in laying down His own life for you and me. In order for us to forgive others, we must be like Jesus and die to our own rights for the sake of the person who has wronged us. Forgiveness requires humility. It is a decision to offer unmerited grace because “as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.”
Think about your own life for a moment:
• Who in your life do you feel has wronged you?
It could be a small wound. It could be a life-altering sin committed against you. Maybe a parent left you. Maybe you were abused. Maybe you lost a job opportunity that should have been yours. Maybe it was a word someone spoke against you that hurt you. Whatever sin was committed against you, large or small, call it back to mind. Feel the injustice over it.
Now reflect for a minute on the sin of the world committed against God. The story of humanity is a fall from perfection because of pride. In every age thus far, man has chosen his own way over God’s and has thereby perpetuated the cycle of sin and destruction we live in today. God placed His judgement over the sins of all humanity, past and present, on the person of Jesus because He couldn’t take being separated from you and me. We have all been wronged, but no one more than God. Every day humanity turns away from God.
God weeps over what’s been done to you. He knows your pain because people wrong Him every minute of every day. But still, He chooses to forgive because there is no love without forgiveness. There is no abundant life apart from restoration of relationship. There is no joy for God or us when we harden our hearts and live for what is fair rather than what is good.
We aren’t called to forgive because someone deserves it:
• We forgive because love requires it.
• We forgive because abundant life requires it.
Choose love today over your own sense of fairness. Choose to be like your heavenly Father and forgive those who have wronged you. Choose to be a doer of Colossians 3:13 and “[forgive] each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” You weren’t made to live with the weight of unforgiveness, so don’t bear it any longer. The Spirit will help you. He will give you the strength and courage to do what seems impossible. Spend some time in God’s presence today and forgive as He guides and directs you.
~ by Craig Denison
Forgiveness is a process. But it is a process worth going through. Assess your heart immediately after you’ve been wronged. Go through the process of forgiveness instead of allowing the wound to be reopened time and time again.
The French proverb says:
“Write injuries in sand, kindnesses in marble.”
It’s ok to be hurt. It’s only harmful if you write your wounds in marble and let them linger longer than they should. God has designed you in His image and has given you His Spirit. You have the strength to forgive. So, choose love today and every day. Allow the Spirit to work in your heart, healing the wounds people and life have caused you through the wonderful gift of forgiveness.
The Daily Article – June 2, 2023
~ Why are Christians calling for boycotts of Chick-fil-A and The Chosen?
Chick-fil-A made news again this week — complete with calls to boycott the fast-food chain — in response to ire over the company's stance on diversity, equity, and inclusivity (DEI). Of course, Chick-fil-A is no stranger to such controversy, but this time it came from those who have typically been on the other side of the outrage.
The company's DEI policy garnered attention on Twitter and quickly went viral from those who assumed that it pushes similar "woke" policies to those often denounced by conservatives. Erick McReynolds, the company's vice president of DEI, was a focal point of the controversy, though more for the existence of his position than for anything he said or did.
McReynolds has previously stated that DEI is crucial to the company's purpose, noting that "Chick-fil-A restaurants have long been recognized as a place where people know they will be treated well. Modeling care for others starts in the restaurant, and we are committed to ensuring mutual respect, understanding and dignity everywhere we do business."
What's most peculiar about the recent outrage, however, is that there is nothing new about Chick-fil-A's stance. Their DEI policies date back to 2020 and do little more than formalize their long-held position that they do not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, sexuality, physical condition, or a host of other descriptors.
That approach is good for business, good for the gospel, and also what every company is required by law to do when it comes to hiring staff and serving customers.
Still, given the degree to which people on both sides of the "woke" agenda have their antennas raised this time of year, perhaps we shouldn't be surprised that it would not take much to make conservatives fear the worst with regards to what has been lovingly described as "God's chicken," particularly when a more legitimate concern has been raised with another fan-favorite in recent days.
Controversy on The Chosen set:
When the producers of The Chosen recently released a promo for season four, they likely expected that it would generate buzz for the show. But though the video has certainly done that, it's perhaps not the kind of attention for which they'd hoped.
A small rainbow flag appears in the background of the set for roughly four seconds, and while it's barely visible unless you're looking for it, it did not escape public notice for long.
Conservative commentator Jon Root then tweeted a screenshot of the flag to The Chosen's official account, asking, "Can you explain why there's a Pride flag on set?"
In response, the show stated that "just like with our hundreds of cast and crew who have different beliefs (or no beliefs at all) than we do, we will work with anyone on our show who helps us portray or honor the authentic Jesus. We ask that audiences let the show speak for itself and focus on the message, not the messenger, because we'll always let you down."
Given the ensuing controversy, it seems clear that many of the show's fans did indeed feel let down.
In the days since, the show's creator and director, Dallas Jenkins, has doubled down on the response, stating, "We've made no secret our cast and crew come from all different beliefs and backgrounds. I don't believe personal workspaces on set are relevant to the content of The Chosen, but if someone wants to stop watching a free show because of it, it's their right."
While Jenkins has been consistent in that approach from the beginning, and labor laws would prevent him from doing otherwise even if he wanted to, calls to boycott the show have become an increasingly popular refrain among a segment of those who used to be among its greatest supporters.
Jenkins is correct that people have the right to stop watching because of the pride flag's brief appearance and, more particularly, the defense of its presence by the show's cast and crew. But should they? Is boycotting a show that has, by all accounts, done an excellent job of introducing people to Jesus in a way that is both authentic and compelling really the best response to the present controversy?
I'm not so sure.
If you’re considering boycotting…
My purpose today is not to tell you whether or not it is appropriate to boycott The Chosen, Chick-fil-A, or any other institution with whom you might have a grievance, even if that grievance is legitimate.
Rather, it's to encourage you to let God be part of that decision.
In today's culture, both Christians and non-Christians alike tend to confuse emotional responses for reasonable ones. Perhaps that was inevitable given the growing emphasis on the legitimacy of personal truth over objective truth, but it doesn't make the resulting decisions any less harmful.
Even when we can find a biblical basis for our choices, we should not take for granted that the resulting decision is automatically correct. After all, one of Satan's favorite strategies — even when confronting the Son of God (Luke 4:1–13) — is to twist God's Word to justify actions that go against God's will.
If you saw the pride flag on the set of The Chosen and your immediate response was a mixture of disappointment and anger, that's understandable. But just because those initial emotions were justifiable in that case does not automatically mean they form a solid foundation for how we should respond.
So, the next time you are tempted to condemn a business, person, or organization for taking a position that goes against biblical truth, commit to spending at least as much time praying about how to respond as you are willing to spend actually responding.
Ultimately, Satan doesn't care if you take the right position on an issue so long as you do so in the wrong way. That's why we need God's help not only in discerning the truth but also in knowing how to stand up for it.
Will you ask for His help today?
~ published by: Denison Ministries
The Daily Article — June 1, 2023
~ Responding to Pride Month with Fidelity Month
America is the kind of nation where a girl born in the Galveston County Jail can grow up to graduate from high school at the top of her class and attend Harvard University this fall. Our nation’s founding belief that “all men are created equal” was truly revolutionary in a world dominated by kings, despots, and class-driven societies.
Now, however, this declaration is facing a threat unprecedented in American history. This threat is represented by Pride Month as it begins today, but it is more foundational than meets the eye. To love our Lord and our neighbor well, it is vital that we understand this threat and respond in the most redemptive, positive way possible.
This story caught my eye recently: “People in a throuple, or a relationship between three people, have gained major followings on TikTok. The hashtag #throuple currently has over 869 million cumulative views on the app.”
Columnist Jonathan Tobin is right: the legalization of polygamy was always the logical consequence of Obergefell’s legalization of same-sex marriage. He asks: “If marriage is possible between any two individuals, then why not three, four, or any number of consenting adults, regardless of their sex?”
As Pride Month celebrates LGBTQ individuals, some of its proponents have generated headlines for lambasting those who disagree. Gerard Baker, editor at large for the Wall Street Journal, cites the Los Angeles Dodgers’ about-face in including the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence in their Pride Night festivities. As Baker notes, the group is “most visible for their performative acts — frequently involving lewd depictions of sacred Catholic rituals that crudely lampoon the church’s precepts on homosexuality and transgenderism.”
His article documents other examples illustrating the fact that “indulging anti-Catholic sentiment is an elite pastime.” He also notes that if the Dodgers had “invited an anti-trans or pro-life group to receive plaudits at a game,” the cultural response would have been far different.
Gallup reports that 7.2 percent of Americans identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or something other than straight or heterosexual.
• Why is there an entire month dedicated to normalizing and legalizing the ideology and behavior of such a small minority while stigmatizing and criminalizing those who disagree?
• Why are groups who ridicule biblical morality elevated by popular culture and those who support it are denigrated?
Critical Theory (CT) claims that our nation was created by a privileged class to protect their privileged status. In this view, minority groups, whether they are defined by race, gender identity, or sexual orientation, have been systematically underprivileged in our society as a result. Now, to undo the wrongs of our history and create a truly equitable nation, CT proponents argue that minority groups must be privileged over majority groups.
This Marxist ideology results in “woke” companies, schools, media organizations, and political leaders who believe their corporate mission is to champion minorities while persuading the rest of society to join their advocacy. As I note in "The Coming Tsunami", this mission views anyone who supports biblical morality as dangerous to society.
The anti-Catholic bias Gerard Baker documents is but one symptom of this narrative. We can expect many more as Pride Month continues.
One response is to withdraw from our broken society into a Christian sub-culture. But this keeps our salt in the saltshaker and our light under a basket (Matthew 5:13–16). The opposite response is to “fight fire with fire,” mimicking our critics’ militantism as culture warriors for biblical truth. But as I noted Tuesday, “such antagonism hurts those we are called to help and reinforces the narrative of ‘hate speech’ so often associated with evangelical biblical morality.”
A third way is to counter opposition to biblical truth by proclaiming biblical truth as lovingly, graciously, and attractively as possible. Paul set the standard: “Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved” (1 Corinthians 10:32–33).
How can we follow his example this month?
“Values that used to unite Americans”
In his Breakpoint article yesterday, Colson Center President John Stonestreet highlights a remarkable initiative by Princeton professor Robert George. John describes Dr. George as “perhaps the leading Christian legal thinker of our lifetime.” He is a brilliant cultural analyst and stalwart follower of Jesus.
Dr. George is responding to Pride Month by announcing what he is calling Fidelity Month. This initiative will launch today with a webinar open to the public at 2 p.m. EST. The group’s purpose is “to establish June as national ‘Fidelity Month’ — a month dedicated to the importance of fidelity to God, spouses and families, our country, and our communities.”
Dr. George adds: “All who are interested in achieving this goal with the ultimate aim of helping to restore Americans’ belief in the importance of such values as patriotism, religion, family, and community — the values that used to unite Americans despite our many differences — are invited to join.”
Whether you formally join this group or not, let’s covenant to make June “Fidelity Month” with our Lord and our neighbors. When we see Pride Month ads and events, let’s intercede for those who created them and those who are influenced by them. Let’s look for redemptive ways to explain God’s Word and will regarding sexual orientation and gender identity.
And let’s ask God to help us love everyone He loves in ways that demonstrate His compassionate grace. Billy Graham noted: “The most important thing we can do is to show by our life and love that Jesus is real. Our actions often speak far louder than our words.”
Then he asked the question I’d like us to ponder today:
“Do others see Christ in you, both by what you say and by what you do?”
~ by Jim Denison
Love Makes Time for Others
~ May God grant us His perspective and fashion us into His likeness today.
There’s a story in Luke 8:40-42, 49-56 that gives us insight into Jesus’s love for those in need. Luke writes:
"Now when Jesus returned, the crowd welcomed Him, for they were all waiting for Him. And there came a man named Jairus, who was a ruler of the synagogue. And falling at Jesus’ feet, he implored Him to come to his house, for he had an only daughter, about twelve years of age, and she was dying. . . While he was still speaking, someone from the ruler’s house came and said, “Your daughter is dead; do not trouble the Teacher anymore.” But Jesus on hearing this answered him, “Do not fear; only believe, and she will be well.” And when He came to the house, He allowed no one to enter with Him, except Peter and John and James, and the father and mother of the child. And all were weeping and mourning for her, but He said, “Do not weep, for she is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at Him, knowing that she was dead. But taking her by the hand He called, saying, “Child, arise.” And her spirit returned, and she got up at once. And He directed that something should be given her to eat. And her parents were amazed, but He charged them to tell no one what had happened."
Jesus made time for those in need. He wasn’t too busy to leave what He was doing, which happened to be ministering to a large group of people, to make time for a single girl. Jesus displayed the heart of the Father in going after the one. Throughout His ministry, Jesus consistently made time for people around Him. Whether it was eating a meal with His disciples, going to the house of Zacchaeus, or spending time with little children, Jesus was there for those around Him.
God is the same way with you and me today. Through the death of Jesus, we have been given an opportunity to have conversation with God all day, every day. God’s desire is to make time for us. He counts our needs as important. Jesus’s ministry exemplified God’s heart to make time for His children. This week as we are looking at what it means to not only be a hearer of God’s Word but a doer, let’s ask God how we could be more like Jesus.
• In what ways could you make time for those around you today?
• Will you choose to spend time with someone in need even if it doesn’t fit in your schedule?
• Will you put those around you above yourself?
If you will choose to be a doer of God’s Word today, you will experience the joy of not living just for your own goals and pursuits, but for the benefit of others around you. Spend some time with God in prayer today, and ask Him to help you know when and how to make time for those around you in need.
~ by Craig Denison
Love is Powerful:
It has the power to lead someone to Jesus, heal a wounded heart, and even help someone on the path to restored relationship with God. It’s worth your effort to make time for those around you today. Jesus never wasted a minute. He did everything in perfect accordance with the Father’s will. You won’t be missing out if you make time for someone today. Follow the leadership of the Holy Spirit as you seek to love others well.
A Friend of Jesus
"When Jesus saw His mother and the disciple He loved standing there, He said to His mother, “Woman, here is your son.” Then He said to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his home." ~ John 19:26-27
Jesus knew that His time on earth would be limited, so when He started His ministry, He chose twelve disciples to walk alongside Him in this journey. Out of these twelve, there were three (Peter, James, and John) that got to experience miracles that others did not.
Jesus knew the ministries each of His disciples would lead, so He invested extra time in these three knowing the leadership roles they would have in the early church. Out of these three men, Jesus developed a special friendship with John. Jesus referred to John as the "disciple He loved", and when Jesus' time on earth came to an end, only John was there, out of all the disciples, at the foot of the cross.
John was a friend who walked with Jesus through thick and thin. Much of John's writings talked about Jesus' love for us, and the love we should show others. Jesus is love, and John got to experience that firsthand in the ministry and friendship he shared with Jesus. Proverbs 18:24 tells us that "there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother", and this is the type of friend John was to Jesus. When Mary watched her Son die on that cross for our sins, Jesus entrusted her to His good friend John.
• What kind of friend are we to Jesus?
• Can he trust us to obey him and stay faithful to him in all circumstances?
• What kind of friend are we to others?
• Do we inspire trust and are we someone who will walk with them through thick and thin?
True friendship is the result of following Jesus' model for love. If we can obey His command to love Him above all else and love others, our friendships will flourish and be God-honoring.
Dear God, what a beautiful gift it is to have a true friend. Someone you can count on, who will provide words of wisdom, who will pick you up when things get tough, and who will show you the love of Jesus and encourage you to do the same to others. Lead me to those who will be this kind of friend to me and help me to be this kind of friend to others. In Jesus' name, amen.
~ Crystal B. (www.actsweb.org)
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Daily Article — May 30, 2023
~ Should Christians boycott “woke” companies?
Target recently lost $10 billion in market valuation over ten days as its Pride-themed clothing line for children provoked a massive backlash. Nonetheless, CEO Brian Cornell has defended his company’s LGBTQ advocacy: “It’s helping us drive sales, it’s building greater engagement with both our teams and our guests, and those are just the right things for our business today.”
Target is not the only retailer making such headlines: Kohl’s is now selling Pride clothing for three-month-olds. The retailer is also marketing a children’s shirt with the words, “Ask me my pronouns.” Critics are calling for shoppers to boycott the retailer.
As Pride month begins this Thursday, these stories raise an important question: Should Christians boycott “woke” companies?
Are we to be culture warriors?
We can begin by identifying what not to do.
Target reports that since introducing this year’s Pride collection, “we’ve experienced threats impacting our team members’ sense of safety and well-being while at work.” The retailer is therefore “removing items that have been at the center of the most significant confrontational behavior.” Clearly, any threat to stores, employees, or others violates the biblical command to love our neighbor as ourselves (Matthew 22:39).
Demeaning people, whatever their sexual orientation, gender identity, or support for “woke” policies, likewise violates the biblical command to relate to others “with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love” (Ephesians 4:2). We are not permitted to say about someone what we would not first say to them (Matthew 18:15). We are to “put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander” (1 Peter 2:1).
In short, we are not to be culture warriors doing battle with those with whom we disagree. Such antagonism hurts those we are called to help and reinforces the narrative of “hate speech” so often associated with evangelical biblical morality.
When I served as a college missionary in East Malaysia, those I sought to reach were not my enemies. To the contrary, they were people for whom Jesus died who deserved to know the One I knew. I was simply a beggar helping other beggars find bread.
In the same way, in cultural conflicts, our opponents are not our enemies. Satan is the enemy; those who reject biblical truth are his victims: “The god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:4). Consequently, “the natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14).
This is why “speaking the truth in love” should be our daily aspiration and mantra (Ephesians 4:15). Rather than fighting our opponents as cultural warriors, we should love them as cultural missionaries sharing God’s word and grace in the place and time he has assigned to us.
Voting with our dollars:
In "The World: A Family History of Humanity", Simon Sebag Montefiore observed, “History is made by the interplay of ideas, institutions, and geopolitics. When they come together in felicitous conjunction, great changes happen.” Note the order: ideas change institutions, which change geopolitics, which change the world. John F. Kennedy was right: “A man may die, nations may rise and fall, but an idea lives on.”
To win the battle for minds in the context of “woke” capitalism, we must stay so close to Jesus that His Spirit can guide us and speak to and through us (Matthew 10:20). Charles Spurgeon observed: “The first thing for our soul’s health, the first thing for his glory, and the first thing for our own usefulness, is to keep ourselves in perpetual communion with the Lord Jesus, and to see that the vital spirituality of our religion is maintained over and above everything else in the world.”
Then, as Jesus leads us, we are to use our possessions in ways that honor him and support biblical morality. In a democracy, we vote with our ballots. In a capitalistic economy, we vote with our dollars.
Target’s CEO was clear: his company’s LGBTQ advocacy has been “helping us drive sales,” at least until recently. The bottom line with for-profit companies is profits. Supporting companies that advocate unbiblical immorality will only encourage such advocacy. Supporting businesses that stand for biblical truth, such as campaigns to support Chick-fil-A after its CEO affirmed biblical marriage, sends similar signals in a positive way.
“The chief danger that confronts the coming century”
I am not writing today to support any particular boycotts or other economic actions against any particular companies. I will leave such decisions to you as the Spirit leads you. But I am advocating a biblical worldview that includes our use of personal finances as we declare and defend biblical morality (2 Timothy 4:2; 1 Peter 3:15–16).
This is one way we join God at work in our broken world. The stakes could not be higher.
William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army, died in 1912. Consider his prophetic prediction for the twentieth century: “The chief danger that confronts the coming century will be religion without the Holy Ghost, Christianity without Christ, forgiveness without repentance, salvation without regeneration, politics without God, heaven without hell.”
Has his warning come to pass?
Lest discouragement win the day, let’s close with Edward Everett Hale’s injunction: “I am only one, but I am one. I can’t do everything, but I can do something. The something I ought to do, I can do. And by the grace of God, I will.”
What is the “something” you “ought to do” today?
~ by Jim Denison