This past weekend I attended the gay pride events in Mansfield with around 15 other Christian friends to share the gospel. One thing that was profoundly evident during our time out was that the "feastivities" was a complete flop.
If it was a testimony to anything, it was that Mansfield does not truly support the deviant practice of homosexuality. The crowd was embarrassingly small. One may not even want to call it a crowd. The handful of us who went to pass out tracts and witness were able to canvass pretty much the entire group in less than an hour. To be sure, people came and went, but the number of people did not swell much at all--testifying to the fact that few stayed long or had much interest in showing their support. A friend of mine drove by in the evening and said that things were shutting down quite early and venders were tearing down by 8 pm.
All in all, it seemed that most of Mansfield stayed away from the square.
Even the media involvement was pretty pitiful. The Richland Source, which was perhaps the friendliest of the news sources, seemed to focus more on covering our little group that was out to call to repentance. The Mansfield News Journal's article was so short that it was almost laughable. It looked like someone just tweaked a poorly written press release. To be sure, it was clear that they didn't send a reporter or photographer down to cover it. WMFD ran a good sized clip, but makes you chuckle because there is virtually no one in the background. It looked pretty much deserted. Those who were in the camera gave the impression that it was more of a freak show than a feastival.
It certainly wasn't because of the weather either. The rain may have put a squash on the parade, but the rest of the day was quite nice. The truth is simply that the majority of Mansfield showed they did not support a lifestyle that goes against God's design.
The afternoon was not a complete loss though. Those of us who came out to share the gospel had splendid opportunities to engage with the unbelieving. I personally spent almost a full two hours talking with various homosexuals and homosexual supporters about the things of the Lord.
Each conversation was cordial. We were able to laugh together as we thought through the issues of eternity. Many of those who I spoke to admitted that they did not have an absolute standard for morality. Almost all admitted that the will be judged if they were to stand before Christ on the last day. They understood the gospel when I explained it, but openly refused it. The only exception was one man who said he didn't believe in hell. But when I pressed him, he admitted he didn't know what his god thought about justice at all and he wasn't interested in trying to find out.
If I ever was asked what tips I would give regarding preaching, topping the list would be sex. Sex helps a man in so many ways. In particular, it gives him clarity of mind. Sexual satisfaction provides a man with a much needed release that allows him greater focus. It may sound like some new age cult when I say this, but it puts a man back in "balance."
Over the years, my wife and I have found that, as a result, sex makes preaching and sermon preparation much easier and... (pun not intended)... stimulating. And I would assume that this applies to the productivity of any man in any line of work.
All this is to say that women need to be aware of how much men need regular sexual fulfilment.
I've written before about Keeping the Marriage Bed Hot (not to mention the sermons I've preached on the topic). I've even dedicated a whole church newsletter to the topic.
But recently my wife forwarded me a couple articles she found on her blog reading list which have to do with the wife's duty to her husband sexually. Specifically, they deal with stirring up the desire even though she is fatigued after a day of wifing and mothering. My wife said they should be kept on hand for marriage counseling purposes. But I link them here for your reading (pun intended...) pleasure:
The buzz on the local news feeds today focuses on Galion's public pool. Two homosexuals were denied a family pass because they did not fit the definition of a family as defined by the Galion city ordinance.
We need to keep in mind too that Galion likely forbids pedaphile rapists from wading in the kiddie pools. This is simply outrageous!
Seriously though. This is just another step our culture is taking to baptize perversion and normalize sexual deviance in our contemporary postmodern age. The cry of our day is that you can't put definitions on me and you can't say what is right and wrong.
The link above also shows the WMFD coverage of the city council meeting. In it a council member wears a big cross around his neck and claims to be a conservative Christian who has definite views regarding marriage. HOWEVER, he says, this issue is...wait for it..."about the children and their being able to use the pool."
With "Christians" like this in leadership is there any way the ruling will stand? Not hardly. The weak kneed man has no interest in standing for what is right. If he had any real concern for children he would remain faithful to the Scriptural command regarding marriage and family. He could easily say, "Homosexuals are free to use the pool, but we are not going to change our laws to acquiesce to their perversions."
All this is to say that Providence Church, unlike many other churches today, won't be dying out anytime soon.
What I also like is that this picture displays something of our church's unity. These families came forward on Sunday for a child dedication. They took vows to raise their children in the fear and admonition of the Lord, and I had the great opportunity to close this part of the service by praying for them.
Sure, I would have prefered that they baptize the children too. I believe that paedo-communion is Scriptural. As a matter of fact, I think it is quite a serious thing to "neglect or contemn" this rite. They don't though. So we have to deal with it. In the midst of our diversity, we seek to love each other. We accept each other in the Lord despite our quibble over water's application.
These two dynamics of our church home here in Ashland is just some of what makes it such a great place to worship.
My friend Caleb Davenport is currently running for the Ohio Senate. I want to take a second to encourage anyone in Wayne, Stark, and Summit Counties to back his campaign.
Caleb is a member of the congregation I serve and his Biblical convictions advance the priorities we hold dear. His decision to do so came as a result of the need to stand for life and liberty, something the current seat holder has not done.
At the top of his list is his support for the Ohio Heartbeat Bill, which could virtually wipe out abortions in Ohio. It would protect children in the womb as soon as their heartbeat can be detected, which typically occurs in the 3rd or 4th week. His opponent hands drip with blood because he has not backed this critical piece of legislation.
Davenport also has pledged to defend our freedom of conscience when it comes to our religious convictions. His opponent has introduced legislation that would mandate business owners to violate their conscience and require them to do business with homosexuals.
All of this goes under the false flag of "anti-discrimination." But what it amounts to is a huge infringement on one's first amendment liberties and, essentially, a state ordered religion.
The Biblical values also extends to the sphere of commerce and integrity in the marketplace. As an entrepreneur himself, Caleb already knows quite a bit about how government intrusion can take the life out of the economy. As a Christian he knows the results of making government the All Saving god.
If you value life and liberty, I want to encourage you to back Caleb's campaign. Visit his website and connect with his campaign Facebook page. You can help advance righteousness in the land.
I've found that marriages break up not long after people leave their church. It is almost like a gateway drug. You break one solemn covenant (the one with God), it opens the door for you to break the covenant you have with your spouse.
In our day skipping out on a church is a commonplace occurrence. Most people do not realize how henious a sin that is in the eyes of God. To break those vows wherein you knit yourself to a local congregation, is like amputating part of the body of Christ.
Most don't see it this way though. They simply up and go without much thought about it. We leave churches if we are not happy. We have no interest in confronting the sins of the members or leadership. We have no desire to be iron sharpening iron. We just want a place that will suit our needs and make us happy.
Worse yet, people bail out on church altogether. They make lame excuses like, there are no Calvinistic or Reformed churches around here. The churches are just too Arminian. We'll tell ourselves that it is better to have no church than any church that doesn't live up to our expectations.
You see the connection between such attitudes and what happens in a marriage. We've already seared our conscience. We've already opened the vein and let the blood start flowing. Oaths and covenants have already been diluted.
We broke covenant once, and it was good. We tasted of the fruits of sin and now we are ready for more. We are ready now to leave our spouse.
After all, he/she doesn't live up to my expectations. There has got to be a better fit out there for my tastes. Why fight to save this relationship? Neither of us is happy. We can be happier if we just go our separate ways.
So just remember, breaking faith with your church brethren puts you in a dangerous place. It opens the door to divorce.
I just listened to a lecture by Cal Thomas at a past Ligonier conference and he touched on the notion of divorce. He stated that much of the cause of divorce in our day is due to the fact that we have been fed the lie that we deserve to be happy.
He went on to explain that our entitlement attitudes, which are so prevalent in our culture, have seeped into our marriages. We think, "I'm not happy. God wants me to be happy. So I must get a divorce."
Thomas also expressed that love is not a feeling, it is a choice. You choose to love. You choose to repent of your sins. You choose to resist your desire to hate. You love by choosing to obey God through submission or loving leadership.
I couldn't agree more with his synopsis. In marriage we vow to have and to hold "for better and for worse." There is no guarantee that we will be happy. We pledge to love and seek the good of our spouse despite not being happy. The feelings will come and go. The vows will remain binding till death do you part.
The editing process can be quite painful sometimes. I had written this as the conclusion to this week's sermon on divorce and remarriage. But it is getting revamped. I wanted to preserve it though. The exhortation is still valid & useful...
Fourthly, and finally, let me give a word to all of you. If you gain anything from this passage, it should be this: God hates divorce. And we ought not to let our marriages deteriorate. Instead, we should do everything within our power to love our spouse, cling to her, help her, cherish her, and build her up in the Lord.
When Elizabeth and I were doing our pre-maritial counseling, our pastor gave us very good advice. He said, “Divorce is not an option. Do not even think of it. Do not let it even enter your mind.”
This was well said, and it is advice that I give also to you. Do not let it even enter your mind. If you are having trouble with your marriage, seek help. The elders here are more than willing to offer you counsel. And if we cannot, we will find someone who can.
What’s more, do not wait until things have virtually bottomed out and you are calling us as a last resort. Too many marriages end because couples wait too long and do not avail themselves to the options that are available to them.
So do not wait. Even now, seek to give honor to the Lord and cultivate a thriving marriage. Confess your sins, and let not another day go by where you make void your vows.
You have pledged to have and to hold this person. Before God you said you would take this person to be yours until death do you part. And so, what God has brought together, let no man separate.
A truthful witness saves lives, but one who breathes out lies is deceitful. In the fear of the LORD one has strong confidence, and his children will have a refuge. Pro 14:25-26
Exegeting Scripture involves looking at all the different parts of God’s word. You whittle each line down and examine each and every word. Each phrase is scrutinized. But as you look at the individual trees (and even individual leaves!), you should never forget to step back and see the forest.
Each of these proverbs contains good lessons. You can learn a lot from each line. But it is important to notice their juxtaposition too.
We could talk about the excellency of a truthful witness. We could enshrine the bold advocate of Biblical truth as one who is a savior. And we could talk about how wonderful it is to know the fear of God and possess a good self esteem (confidence). But you have to understand that these ideas are not separate and independent of each other. They are intertwined and the first is absolutely dependent upon the second.
A truthful witness saves lives. He is one who stands up against the tide of unbelief and is willing to be known as a kook. He’s not afraid to speak out against the issues of his day, despite being the minority—perhaps even the lone voice. But how is it that he has that boldness? His confidence comes from his fear of God. When you are not anchored in the fear of God, you will end up pandering and capitulating to the masses.
Think of Athanasius. He was exiled three times for his standing against the rank heresy of Arianism. There is no doubt that there was the temptation to succumb to the falsehood that was becoming more and more mainstream. Life in exile was certainly not a pleasant thing. Yet, despite his persecution, he remained faithful to the word of God.
Martin Luther is a good example too. We romanticize Luther’s life. We tend to forget that people didn’t much care for his speaking out against purgatory, the Roman establishment, and such. We forget that he cowered at times in his home, to the point of being almost mad.
What was it that made these stalwarts so persevering? It was their fear of God.
Or, on the opposite end of the spectrum, think of the Apostle Peter. He betrayed Christ three times. What was the grand pressure that he faced? It wasn't anything much. He got rolled over by a little girl. Why did he cave? Why did he lack the confidence to speak up? Because he didn’t know the fear of God.
What about our day? What would it be like if you spoke up against the sacred cows of our day? If you dared to pipe up about feminism, and talk about things like Titus 2 or 2 Tim. 2:14. Or if you had a crazy thought like: You know, children are leaving the faith in droves and becoming atheists and agnostics almost en mass. Perhaps it is because they are going to schools that are atheistic and agnostic? Maybe we should do something completely off the wall and reconsider the way we raise and educate them.
What would it be like if you attempted to broach these kinds of issues? Imagine the kind of blowback you’d get. I would suppose some of your jobs would be on the line. You’d likely be thought of as a kook. You might not be physically exiled like Athanasius, but you might experience an exile of sorts as people leave your church or say things like, “there goes Crazy Uncle Matt again!”
That’s why the fear of the Lord must be your confidence. The best summary of what that is goes like this: The fear of God is when your biggest fear is breaking God’s command and offending him. God is so loved, so enjoyed, so reverenced, so enjoyed that His will, and it alone, is what matters.
Only when He comes first will you be able to be a savior...and an oddball.
In a day where sex has become almost synonymous with sleaze and fornication, it is important to reiterate The Sacred Glory of Sexual Intimacy. This month's newsletter is dedicated to just that very thing!
In this issue we'll talk about the God ordained joy of sexual intimacy and how the Scripture encourages couples to have an exuberant sex life. You will even discover how a couple's sanctification can increase the fulfillment they experience in the bedroom.
In sum, this issues magnifies the good gift of the union that God bestows upon a man and woman in the context of marriage. If anything, it serves as a reminder that we are to always be intoxicated with the love of our spouse and rejoice always in them!
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Matt is blessed to be a husband, father, and pastor in Ashland, Ohio.