Break Every Chain (Monologue)

The Bible is God’s love story to written to us

Let’s begin with the bad news

All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God

Each of us have been born in sin, with a sin nature

We are blinded in sin.

Scripture tells us that men love darkness rather than light

 

We have spurned God’s law

We are bound and shackled in the chains of sin

Chains of pride, selfishness

Chains of envy and jealousy

Sinful chains of lust

Chains of addiction, laziness, indifference, ambivalence

 

Our transgressions are many

Our sins outnumber the grains of sand

We stand helpless and broken

Our situation is bleak

If you, O Lord, kept a record of wrongs, who could stand?

But with you there is forgiveness, therefore you are feared

 

Here is the good news

There is power in the name of Jesus

There is power in the precious blood of Jesus

That can cleanse every sin, every stain, every addiction.

He died so that you might live

Repent and turn to God

so that your sins may be wiped out

and times of refreshing may come from the Lord

 

There is no one too far gone

There is no one beyond the reach of Almighty God

Jesus can break the chains of sin and death

He can shatter every chain that binds you

Turn to him, trust in him today

You Are Not Alone (at Christmas)

Genuine relationships with people are important. We were not meant to live life alone. We are better together. Marriage and family relationships were created by God. And the church is God’s design and plan for community. But in this dark world, many of our core relationships have been broken. The wounds we carry are deep. Life is hard. Each of us will walk through seasons of suffering, pain, and loneliness. At times, we feel hopeless. We can easily be led into despair.

With all the connection that technology offers us, many of us feel alone. We can be surrounded by people and feel lonely. We can interact with thousands on facebook, twitter, and instagram. We can connect with people around the world within seconds. All this connectedness still can leave us feeling isolated and lonely. Columnist David Brooks writes: “The suicide rate has surged to a 30-year high — a sure sign of rampant social isolation.”

There is a desperate craving in our hearts. We can search for meaning and purpose in the pursuits of friendships, relationships, marriage, family, pleasure, money, career, and more. All these things will leave you feeling empty. Nothing on this earth can satisfy your soul. It’s never enough.

King Solomon is known for his wisdom. In his lifetime, he pursued everything . . . education, agriculture, construction, and romance. Nothing could satisfy. At the end of his life, he said all these pursuits were meaningless, empty, a chasing of the wind. In his book of regrets, he concludes with this simple advice: Fear God.

In our hearts, there is a yearning and a longing for the One true living God who created us. God is here, and he is not silent. His name is Emmanuel, God with us. God came to dwell among us. Jesus was born on Christmas to die for our sins and provide hope and forgiveness. Acts 17 tells us that God appointed the very times and places that we lives so that we might reach out and find Him.

This Christmas season, I pray you hear the voice of God calling out to you. You are loved. You are not alone. There is hope in Jesus. Reach out and find him. He is not far away. He is near. God is with us. This is the hope of Christmas.

The Christian Response to Homosexuality in Post-Christian America

Many churches fail in their approach of addressing homosexuality. The liberal response embraces and celebrates sin. The fundamental response typically shuns and condemns sinners. The way of Jesus is neither of these approaches. The Christian response speaks truth in love and offers Gospel hope to sinners.

Here are 12 considerations to keep in mind in this day and age:

  1. Scripture is clear. Homosexual practice and behavior is sin. Both the Old and New Testaments are crystal clear on this issue. It is interesting that Jesus never mentions homosexuality, but he warned against sexual sin (porneia). Homosexuality was not tolerated in Palestine, so Jesus did not need to address this issue specifically. The apostle Paul warns against homosexuality on several occasions as he writes to Gentile churches.
  1. We have a minority view. The clear Biblical stance on homosexuality is now a minority view in America. Over half of Americans approve of gay marriage. There is no longer a prevalent Judeo-Christian worldview and ethic in our country. Younger generations are more tolerant and heavily influenced by friends, peers, media, and culture. Most Americans do not care what the Bible says about homosexuality. Christians thumping the Bible is falling on deaf ears. Satan is at work and having a heyday with this issue. While Christians must stand on Biblical truth, we also need to stay current on research and present rational arguments for our perspective. We also need to understand that most homosexuals in our culture tend to tie their identity to this inward struggle. This is a controversial, intricate, and challenging issue to unpack, understand, and address.
  1. We must become Christ’s ambassadors. Our nation no longer legislates morality in regards to adultery, divorce, homosexual practice, and abortion. We probably cannot legislate morality regarding gay marriage in post-Christian America. Even if we did, laws cannot change hearts. John MacArthur says, “Overly politically-active Christians make enemies with the lost.” He writes, “Rather than concentrating on political issues and debates, believers should be consumed with their responsibility as Christ’s ambassadors. That is the church’s mandate. When other priorities and pursuits crowd out the Great Commission, both the message and the mission get confused.” In our efforts to be responsible, voting, politically-active Christians, we can easily lose sight of eternal Gospel priorities. Satan is our enemy, not people. Homosexuals are not our enemy. We need to adjust our expectations, prepare for persecution, pray for revival, and become Christ’s ambassadors.
  1. This world is not our home. Our priorities must shift from an earthly focus to a heavenly focus. What is now seen on earth is only temporal, and what is unseen is eternal. America is not “God’s special country.” No country has ever been perfect or fully Christian. All nations are corrupt, and no nation will last. The earth will one day be destroyed. The Christian is not to ignore the political arena of the world nor his cultural identity for that would be irresponsible and disrespectful, but earthly politics and patriotism must be seen as secondary. It is essential that a believer prioritize the kingdom of God and the gospel of Jesus Christ. Living as an alien and stranger on earth, the Christian life is one of expectation and yearning for heaven—the better country to come.
  1. Never enjoy confronting homosexuality. There should be no applause or rejoicing in condemnation of sin. All too often, our preaching against homosexuality is a disgusting spectacle. Older generations tend to be too harsh when addressing homosexuality. The heavy duty of preaching against sin should be discharged with reluctance. Pastors should take a fatherly approach when addressing this sin, as if pursuing a wayward child. There is no joy in confronting homosexuality. We should find this difficult and heavy. We must shed compassionate tears for those who struggle with homosexuality. We must be humble and broken.

In the book, God in the Dock, C.S. Lewis presents some dangers in preaching national repentance. He writes: “Is it not, then, the duty of the Church to preach national repentance? I think it is. But the office—like many others—can be profitably discharged only by those who discharge it with reluctance. We know that a man may have to ‘hate’ his mother for the Lord’s sake. The sight of a Christian rebuking his mother, though tragic, may be edifying; but only if we are quite sure that he has been a good son and that, in his rebuke, spiritual zeal is triumphing, not without agony, over strong natural affection. The moment there is reason to suspect he enjoys rebuking her—that he believes himself to be rising above the natural level while he is still, in reality, groveling below it in the unnatural—the spectacle becomes merely disgusting. The hard sayings of our Lord are wholesome to those only who find them hard.”

  1. Homosexuality should not be singled out as the only sin or the worst sin. The apostle Paul mentions homosexuality within lists of many sins (1 Cor 6:9-11; 1 Tim 1:9-10; Rom 1:18-32). We should be honest that we are sinners and each of us are battling different sins. We should speak of homosexuality as one of many serious sins including premarital sex, adultery, pornography, etc. 
  1. Hope must be offered. The apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthian church regarding homosexuality as something of their past that had been washed and cleansed. If Christians in Corinth could be cleansed of former homosexual sin, there is hope that anyone can be washed, sanctified, and forgiven (1 Cor 6:11). We do not write anyone off. There are people attending your church every Sunday who are struggling with same sex attraction and homosexuality. Many are carrying pain and guilt. They need to know that they are accepted even as they struggle with this issue. All sinners need encouragement to struggle against sin, no matter what kind. Individuals should not be penalized in the church for struggling with same-sex attraction while living a life of holiness. We offer real Gospel hope to sinners knowing there is substantial healing in Jesus Christ.
  1. Love must be paramount. Jesus said we will be known by our love (John 13:35). Remember that it was God’s kindness that led us to repentance (Rom 2:4). Love and kindness must be communicated in every conversation on this issue.
  1. Every word counts. Always be ready to give an answer (1 Pet 3:15). Our words can be easily misunderstood and twisted. Jesus said we will give an account for every careless word (Matt 12:36). We must guard our words carefully, especially in this day and age.
  1. There is a time to be silent. Pray for wisdom when to speak and when to be silent. There were times that Jesus did not open his mouth (Isa 53:7; Acts 8:32; Matt 27:12; 1 Pet 2:23). Sometimes we talk too much. Jesus cautioned Christians to “be wise as serpents and innocent as doves” (Matthew 10:16). The apostle Paul recommends that we not judge those outside the church (1 Cor 5:12-13).
  1. Some of our approaches are different.Christians are forced to make difficult decisions when close friends or family members pursue an active homosexual lifestyle. When invited to attend a gay wedding, a Christian has to prayerfully consider his response. There should be opportunity at some point to verbally speak truth in love. Once the Gospel has been shared and concerns voiced, it is important to show respect and love. Some would argue that attending a wedding would show complete support and approval of the marriage. Others would argue that avoiding the wedding would cause offense and irreparably damage a family relationship. These are difficult decisions. Each individual must count the cost. There are repercussions to either approach. Godly men and women have freedom in Christ to prayerfully approach these hard decisions and make wise choices. Be respectful of those who may have a different approach than your own.
  1. Do your best to avoid hypocrisy. Yes, the church is full of hypocrites. None of us have arrived. We must admit that some of the accusations we receive are well deserved. Our attitudes and words often cause unnecessary barriers. There are times to set clear boundaries. Pastors and clergy have to draw real lines when officiating weddings. If it is possible, as much as it depends on you, try to live at peace with all men (Rom 12:18). In our efforts to stand for the sanctity of marriage, we must be careful to not show partiality and favoritism. Homosexuals are sinners like us created in the image of God who are worthy of dignity and respect. Christians in society should not have a vendetta to refuse business and services to all homosexuals. For example, suppose you own a cake-making business. If you refuse to make a cake for a gay wedding, do you also refuse to make a cake for those who had premarital sex? Try to be consistent. Otherwise, you are showing partiality and favoritism to “certain sinners.” This does not communicate love. This shows hypocrisy and gives Christians a bad name. Philip Yancey’s new book, Vanishing Grace, laments how Christians have lost respect, influence and reputation in our culture. Some of the disdain we receive from the lost is self-inflicted.

Class Notes: Respectable Sins (Bridges)

Kevin Jones and I are teaching through Jerry Bridges book, “Respectable Sins: Confronting the Sins We Tolerate.” In this discipleship class we will carefully examine the most common overlooked and pervasive sins we encounter and succumb to on a daily basis. Join us on this 8-week journey in April/May which will challenge and encourage us to examine our thoughts and actions more closely.


Our main textbook is:

Bridges, Jerry. Respectable Sins: Confronting the Sins We Tolerate. Colorado Springs: NavPress, 2007.


Class Notes:

Outline & Recommended Books

1. Understanding Sin

2. Remedy for Sin

3. Ungodliness & Unthankfulness

4. Anxiety, Frustration, Discontentment

5. Pride & Selfishness

6. Impatience, Irritability & Anger

7. Judgmentalism & Sins of Tongue

8. Self-Control

Some Thoughts on Decision-Making

Below is a recent letter I wrote to a friend seeking advice for wisdom in decision-making. I pray these thoughts are helpful.

Generation X tends to often struggle with doubt and indecision, and that has been my story. I have regrets of hopping churches and dabbling in dating over the past 10 years and had developed a reputation of being indecisive and uncommitted. It took most of my 20’s to conquer doubt and indecision with church ministry and dating relationships. I’m so glad the Lord restores, gives substantial healing, and uses us in spite of ourselves.

These 2 books have been very helpful to me:
1) God in the Dark: The Assurance of Faith Beyond a Shadow of Doubt by Os Guinness
2) Just Do Something: How to Make Decisions Without Visions, Liver Shivers, Writing in the Sky, Wet Fleeces, etc. by Kevin DeYoung

Os Guinness’ book helped me identify that struggles with doubt and decision-making were linked to sin issues of ungratefulness, lack of commitment, and fear/running from pain/difficulty. I am learning to be grateful where I am, commit long term, and embrace suffering through Christ.

This may sound crass . . . God doesn’t care where you live or where your paycheck comes from. Yes, he cares because he loves you, but ultimately, He cares more about HOW we live than WHERE we live. God’s will is clear in the Bible: rejoice, give thanks, pray, love God, love people, be holy, commit to and serve in the local church, make disciples, share the Gospel, marry a Christian, etc.

The place you live doesn’t matter. There is no perfect job, and there is no perfect spouse. Life is hard. It has it’s challenges. But things usually get sweeter through longevity and stability. Yes, there is a time to leave and a time to stay. But our generation is poor at commitment and sticking it out for the long haul. Our grandparents’ generation did much better at this. They got married, got a job, and made it work. There’s something good about that. We have so many options available to us, and we grow idealistic. We also tend to overanalyze and consider the repercussions of every decision, which becomes paralyzing and leads to worry.

Psalm 46:10 says to be still, relax, let go, cease striving and know that He is God. Relax. God has promised to meet your needs. Jesus promised to be with you even to the end of the age. Christians will go through trials and suffering, but the Lord will not give more than we can bear. He will provide all that you need so that your faith will not fail.

The godly man/woman of Proverbs knows truth and is a wise, confident decision maker. Be careful to not overspiritualize your decisions. We cannot trust emotion, feelings, etc. Walk in confidence in Christ. Know the Bible, pray, get counsel, and make wise decisions. As you move forward, trust God to meet you on the other side of that decision. He appoints the very times and places that we live.

Another comforting thought . . . nothing is wasted. God uses even our mistakes and sins for His glory. As Paul said, “Forget what’s behind and press on to what’s ahead. I press on toward the goal of the prize” which is knowing Christ.

So what is the Lord’s will? Again, God’s will is clear in the Bible: rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances, love God, love people, be holy, commit to and serve the local church, make disciples, share the Gospel, etc. Do these things, and everything else will fall into place.

Press on. Keep your eyes on Jesus. Run the race with endurance. You are in my prayers.

Advice for Apple MacBook Video Out: Mini DisplayPort

Apple is a great company with excellent products, and I am a loyal customer. One main criticism would be the lucrative monopoly Apple has in changing specialized video outputs of new products every few years.

iPod Video Out: Earlier versions of the video iPod allowed for many brands of adapter cables to connect and watch videos on a TV. In 2007, Apple locked the TV Out feature of video-capable iPods, preventing users from outputting iPod content to their TV sets with former adapter cables. Customers are now limited to 2 iPod video adapter cables for $50.00 thru Apple which carry the necessary computer chip. In 2008, Apple locked the charging function of new iPod models, preventing users from being able to charge without an Apple brand cable or docking station.

MacBook Video Out: Apple laptops formerly provided several video output options. As of 2009, all new MacBooks provide only the Mini DisplayPort video output. This is profitable for Apple as most folks will purchase adapters directly thru the company. Unfortunately, Apple only provides 2 video adapters for MacBooks at this point (VGA or DVI). The TV adapter cable only works with HDTV and will not work with older technology. This will encourage most folks to eventually upgrade to HDTV.

I contacted Apple Customer care to see if the company will provide any other video adapter options for the Mini DisplayPort in the future, but there is no news at this point. As for blogs and online forums concerning Apple video outputs, there seems to be some disagreement on what’s going on out there. It usually takes time for 3rd party companies to catch up with new technology.

I explored online and came upon some great options. The sites below offer more options than Apple currently for adapters/cables and at lower prices.

As for charging newer iPods, check out: http://www.handhelditems.com/ipod-touch-apple-ipod-touch-chargers-c-4_5289_5314.html

For Mini DisplayPort Video Output to a Monitor or Projector, you will need the following 2 items:
Mini DisplayPort to VGA Female Adapter Cable for $12.12.
VGA Monitor Cable (Male to Male) for $4.89.

For Mini DisplayPort Video Output to an older TV (RCA inputs), you will need the following 2 items:
Mini DisplayPort to VGA Female Adapter Cable for $12.12.
VideoSecu PC Laptop Mac Computor to TV Presentation Converter, VGA to Video VGA2TV 1L7 for $18.89 (unit requires a USB Power Adapter).

For Mini DisplayPort Video Output to HDTV, you will need the following 2 items:
PTC Premium Mini-DisplayPort Male to DVI Female Adapter Cable for $6.95.
DVI to HDMI Cable 6ft Male-Male for $1.99.

I hope this is helpful to you. Best regards.