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Marriage

“Love is patient and kind;
love does not envy or boast;
it is not arrogant or rude.
It does not insist on its own way;
it is not irritable or resentful;
it does not rejoice at wrong doing, but rejoices with the truth.
Love bears all things, believes all things,
Hopes all things, endures all things.”
1 Corinthians 13:4-7


Christian marriage was designed by God as a basic part of how men and women should relate to each other. We were created by God for relationships, and Christian marriage is at the center of this design. This enduring relationship was instituted by God before sin entered the world. It was put in place for our good and God’s glory. It was designed to press us toward godliness and to make society possible. I say Christian marriage to be specific in my biblical definition – marriage between one biological man and one biological woman. Any other definition departs from God’s intention and purpose. This will be the first in a series of articles reminding us of the foundations of a strong Christian marriage and practical ways that we can strengthen the joy and endurance of our marriages.

There are three basic foundations to a healthy, joyful, and life-giving Christian marriage. These foundations are love, service, and forgiveness. If you keep these fundamentals in focus, your marriage can maintain a strong even keel throughout the decades. But we all know that pressures, tragedy, and sin enter in to undermine our marriages. I strongly encourage you to return to fundamentals when you or your spouse know something has been lost in the joyful step of your marriage. Begin with these three fundamentals. This week I’ll start with love.

Love is the foundation of Christian marriage because love is the master virtue of the Christian life and the first fruit of the Holy Spirit in our lives. We’ve all seen loveless marriages. Couples sitting at dinner on their phones, totally disengaged from each other. Couples that sit together with obvious distance from each other and seem to never touch each other. Couples that always make sure to have the kids between them when taking pictures. Couples that intentionally live separated lives by workplace or schedule. Couples that constantly take shots at each other to undermine and accuse. Marriages that have deteriorated into business relationships that revolve around raising children or preserving pensions. The love has gone out. Marriage without love is a tragedy, but sadly there are zombie marriages all around us – marriages that died long ago but go on in a state of active death.

If any of these things describe your marriage, the world will tell you that divorce is the answer. You should go find someone else that will better meet your needs. But God hates divorce and selfishness. Instead, there must be a return to the foundations of Christian marriage to assess what has gone wrong and labor by God’s grace to restore what has been lost. This is possible, will turn your heart toward the Lord, and result in joy the world cannot know.

Let’s begin with the origin of love. Love is the first and primary fruit of the Holy Spirit in our lives. This means that in Christ the Holy Spirit gives us love. He teaches us how to love and by His sanctifying work strengthens us to love when we ordinarily would not. This means that you cannot love your spouse in the beautiful and life-giving way that you should without the work of the Holy Spirit. Foundationally, this means two things. First, if you have not put your faith and trust in Christ Jesus for salvation you are not a Christian and do not have the power of God’s Spirit indwelling your life. You are instead attempting to live the Christian life without the power of God to enable you. You will fail in this moralistic attempt. No man or woman can walk in the glorious and good ways of Jesus with out the strength of the Holy Spirit. Second, the path to love in marriage is not directly through action toward your spouse. The primary step is toward abiding in Christ (John 15). Only when you learn to love Jesus will you learn to love your spouse in the perfect way of Jesus.

The primary way that a husband and wife walk in love together is by going in the same direction. When husband and wife are both seeking hard after Jesus this aligns their lives. They are both pulling in the same direction under an authority higher than themselves. This is never an equal pull. One spouse or the other will seek harder after Jesus at various times over the years of marriage, but this is where two are better than one. This is where you pray for, encourage, and point each other toward Jesus. When one is weak the other will be strong, but together you seek Jesus and in seeking Jesus your hearts become united in love. Be humble before Jesus in His word. Be together in church more. Be in small group more often with your spouse. Simply walking in these habits consistently over years will do more for the love and joy of your marriage than intervention counseling. These are healthy habits that cultivate love through spiritual formation and togetherness.

After committing to these basic spiritual steps, 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 gives the practical map for how you ought to demonstrate Christian love toward your spouse. These steps are self-sacrificing and will require you to call out to Jesus for change in your life, but we also know that these ways are good and beautiful. We know that Jesus is right to call us to these ways. God help us! I strongly urge you to look carefully at this passage and labor over how to practically act in these ways toward your spouse. By practically and authentically living these ways out toward your spouse you ARE loving your spouse.

Patient / not irritable: Bear with your spouse and do not lose your temper – no matter what! Pray for self-control to tame your impatient, angry, and irritable tongue.

Kindness: Whereas patience may be the absence of anger, kindness turns this to the positive. By kindness you actively work to bless your spouse through actions that show love. This is also directly spoken of as a fruit of the Holy Spirit.

Does not envy: In love you rejoice in every success and advancement of your spouse. You genuinely want to see their life blossom and grow. You never ever want to advance yourself at their expense. Their success is as your own success. Instead of envy, you should be your spouse’s biggest fan!

Does not boast / is not arrogant: Boasting consists of exalting yourself at the expense of others. You raise up yourself by putting others down. This can never happen in marriage. In marriage you should instead be ever-praising your spouse. You should go out of your way to publicly and privately speak highly of your spouse.

Is not rude: When you are rude, you are not putting others first. Rudeness displays a lack of self-control and specifically demonstrates that you don’t care about embarrassing or offending your spouse.

Does not insist on its own way: It’s one thing to express your desire about an issue of taste or conviction, but in love you should never insist that such decisions go your way. This is selfishness and shows a lack of respect for your spouse and their preferences. In love, there should be a give and take that shows respectful deference to each spouse at different times.

Not resentful: Love does not bear grudges. In Christ we forgive sins. I’ll address that at length in a few weeks.

Rejoicing in truth: You should rejoice with your spouse in every victory, in every achievement, and in every step forward in their life. Look for ways to celebrate growth and progress in their life. Never relish failure or sin in their life, pressing them down further into the ditch when they are already low.

Bear, believe, hope, endure: When you vow “for better or worse” to love and honor your spouse, you are pledging yourself to this last section concerning love. Hard times will come. Storms will batter the house, but when your foundation is on Jesus the house will not fall. Always give your spouse the benefit of the doubt. Believe what they tell you. Hope in the future, setting your hope fully on Christ Jesus (1 Peter 1:13). Endure hardship together with your spouse. Face the trouble of the day as the two of you against the world – not the two of you against each other.

If you are walking with Jesus and actively living these things out, the Holy Spirit will bear a beautiful love in your marriage. If you refuse these ways, and turn away from Christ, love will dry up in your marriage. Let’s focus this week on the fundamental of love in our marriages!

May the love of Christ overflow in your hearts,
Pastor Vic

Psalm 2

Psalm 2   

    Why do the nations rage
        and the peoples plot in vain? 
    The kings of the earth set themselves,
        and the rulers take counsel together,
        against the LORD and against his Anointed, saying, 
    “Let us burst their bonds apart
        and cast away their cords from us.”

    He who sits in the heavens laughs;
        the Lord holds them in derision. 
    Then he will speak to them in his wrath,
        and terrify them in his fury, saying, 
    “As for me, I have set my King
        on Zion, my holy hill.”

    I will tell of the decree:
    The LORD said to me, “You are my Son;
        today I have begotten you. 
    Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage,
        and the ends of the earth your possession. 
    You shall break them with a rod of iron
        and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”

    Now therefore, O kings, be wise;
        be warned, O rulers of the earth. 
    Serve the LORD with fear,
        and rejoice with trembling. 
    Kiss the Son,
        lest he be angry, and you perish in the way,
        for his wrath is quickly kindled.
    Blessed are all who take refuge in him.

We are less than a week away from a major national mid-term election. I have spoken in past weeks to the Christian role in civic engagement. This week I would like to remind us, per Psalm 2, that the Lord still reigns from heaven and that proud, manipulating, and ungodly political rulers are nothing new. The picture of Almighty God laughing at those who plot against Him is powerful.

During this time of year, I believe we need to be reminded of a few things. First, above all things, we preach the gospel. We openly speak to others about the hope of eternal salvation by the forgiveness of sins through the grace of Jesus Christ. We believe that the kingdom of God is coming through the preaching of the gospel, and no scheming ruler of the past, present, or future can stop this plan. Second, we find our identity in Christ. Once we come to salvation in Jesus, our identity is firmly rooted in who we are and who we are becoming in Jesus. The central defining part of our person is that we are a disciple of Jesus Christ. Everything else is seen through this lens, and this lens casts a light of love, hope, and peace over our lives. We rest in our new relationship to Jesus.

Third, we find our primary community in our immediate family, then flowing into the local church. Instead of wanting to escape family, Christians want to lean into their spouse and children. Christians rightly desire the formation of marriages and want large families. These families then associate together in the local church. The local church is not just a traditional American past-time. The local Christian church is designed by God for His glory through gathered preaching, musical worship, and prayer. But the local church is also a powerful engine for community and deep relationships. The complementing spiritual and natural gifts that the Lord combines in the local church produce a joint strength.

Fourth, as Christians we live in obedience to God’s moral will. As Christians we do not self-define right and wrong. As Christians we do not allow loud groups in society to define moral right and wrong. We do not accept that civil government has the right to ultimately define moral right and wrong. As Christians we obey the moral will of God, expecting that it will put us greatly at odds with the world.

I believe it’s particularly important to keep these things in mind at this time of year. We participate in government to influence government. Voting is a fundamental part of this influence. However, our hope is not in government. Our identity is not tied into party affiliation. Political associations are not our primary community. Our hope is not tied to a candidate. Party platforms do not determine our moral values. This time of year, the pull of politics is strong. Many people in our day have been influenced by 24-hour news cycles to become obsessed with politics. This is an easy thing to identify. You’re obsessed with what you cannot stop thinking and talking about. If people know that you’re going to turn the conversation to politics if it lasts longer than five minutes – then you’re obsessed with politics. If this describes you, I urge you to revisit the four fundamentals above.

We must keep our eyes on Jesus, preach the gospel, bear one another’s burdens, care for widows and orphans, enjoy the goodness of God, obey His will and from this base participate in government. We should be people that may talk about politics, but are certain to talk about Jesus and His church. The watching world should squarely associate us with Christ and His purposes in the world.

Next Tuesday I urge you to pray, vote according to Christian virtue (if you need candidate position clarity, please visit The Family Foundation of Virginia), then go on preaching the gospel and loving your neighbor. Remember that the Lord reigns and the local church is God’s plan for reaching the nations with His good news!

Blessed are all who take refuge in Christ,
Pastor Vic

Travel to LA

“Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need.” Ephesians 4:29


I’ve been in Los Angeles all week. I go there a few times a year, and each trip shows more indication of moral and societal decline. There was a marked increase this trip in the homeless encamped under the over-passes and openly sleeping on mattresses sometimes hanging out into the streets. Homeless tents were lined up along many sidewalks and inoperable RVs parked in parallel spaces as permanent living quarters. I’ve experienced all this before in Portland, OR and many foreign countries, but seeing the obvious deterioration of Los Angeles hit home on a trip to Walmart.

Mid-way through the week I needed to make a Walmart run for a razor. I went to the toiletries area to buy my usual Walmart generic brand disposable razor and found all the razors behind sliding locked doors. After walking around to find an associate to open the locker it became clear items on nearly every isle were in similar lockers. After finding a store worker, I was told that only managers had access to the lockers, and one would have to be paged. I went back to the razor locker and waited. After a while an associate came and unlocked my generic disposable razor but would not give me the razor. I was told the $8 five-pack of razors could be picked up and purchased at customer service when I finished the rest of my shopping.

What I was facing is the reality of a city over-run with theft. Literally everything that wasn’t locked down was being stolen. This store was not in a “bad” section of town but had hired armed guards at multiple places in the lobby of the store and clearly didn’t even trust its own store associates to not steal from their employer. Walmart is in many ways a gauge for the general state of public society. This visit disturbed me. Where do you go from here? You can’t lock down everything in a store, or you don’t have a store anymore. Only so much can be written-off to theft, and off-set by raising prices before the store is not profitable and must be closed. Reports of such store closures are all over the news for cities like Los Angeles.

This was not an isolated situation. Even the Whole Foods Market I passed through to get a to-go dinner had an armed guard in the check-out area and homeless people wandering the isles pulling bags and suitcases behind them. People around me had clearly grown accustomed to this, like those living in a third-world country slowly declining by imperceptible degrees. At some point you ask yourself, “How did this city become like this, and what does the future hold?” Part of the answer relates to a return to basic law-enforcement principles that have been abandoned by the city at large, but this is not the foundational answer.

It’s obvious that LA is an intensely materialistic, sensual, and non-Christian place. It has descended into an every-man-for-himself place of isolation with more and more private walled-off yards, bars on the windows, locked and guarded lobby areas, and other overt signs of crime and community distrust. We must make the connection between intentionally rejecting Christian ethics and the decline of society. Los Angeles, California is one of the most taxed and government regulated cities in the world, but this has not resulted in it becoming a better place.

There are only two final authority options – God or government. Individuals will choose one or the other. Society will reflect the choices of the people. Those who believe in and submit themselves to the authority of Jesus Christ will experience a growing peace and provision in their lives, resulting in an outward stability in society as people live according to God’s will. Those who reject the gospel and the authority of Jesus over their lives will descend into personal, then societal, chaos and struggle.

The experience of this week relates to the culture of Los Angeles. It’s something that makes me want to leave the city, but it also stirs in me a sense of missional need. As Christians, we know that stealing and selfishness relates to the lost soul. For a person to instead put in an honest day of work, then hold by some to be generous to the poor is a thing of personal Christian virtue. What would it take for this to become an honest, virtuous, and personally generous city? No election can reverse this tide, only the reviving work of the Holy Spirit can convict and then save this city. As Christians, we must pray for cities like this, and develop a missional heart toward the people who live there.

We should not think that our community is immune to these same struggles. I was in Lowe’s last week in Fredericksburg and the associate helping me find a roll of wire was upset that his inventory system showed five rolls in stock, but not a single roll was on the shelf. He said that despite the cable-locks, people will climb the shelves, throw the wire off the upper shelves, and steal the unlocked rolls. We don’t have armed guards and in-store lockers in Fredericksburg yet, but they will be here soon if we don’t pick up our passion for preaching the gospel.

There is a God, the Bible is true, and salvation is only found by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. We must not withdraw from the world and put our hope in government. We must speak up about the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ. We must tell others about the cross and resurrection. We must never be ashamed of the cross or the ethic of Christ. We must openly associate ourselves with Jesus, raise our children in his ways, commit ourselves to the local church and understand the powerful force for good that Christians together play in our local societies.

May the Lord strengthen us to be salt and light in the world, bringing revival in His time.

I rejoice in the work of Jesus in our midst and pray for the gospel to go forth in power,
Pastor Vic

Moral Matters

“Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.” Psalm 20:7


Last week I spoke to the role of the Christian participating in a democratic government and to the importance of representing Christian moral matters. I would like to continue now with the unbroken connection between sexual sin and abortion. There is a clear reason why those who advocate for sexual sin also advocate for abortion. Advocates of one are advocates for the other. As I mentioned last week, God designed sex and marriage. He designed sex between a biological male and a biological female to produce children. Even with all of our technological and scientific advancement, human beings have been unable to re-engineer God’s design of childbearing through sex.

Be reminded that according to God’s plan this should be a beautiful process. A man pursues a woman, they build a relationship of love that honors the Lord remaining sexually pure. They plan a life together and are joined in Christian marriage. After marriage the union is consummated sexually and the possibility of children becomes real at any time. If the wife becomes pregnant, the child is born into a family and received with joy. When this process is repeated generation after generation, family is produced. Each generation becomes a platform of stability helping the subsequent generation. This is the way marriage, children, and family were designed to function. Many today call this repressive. I call it a path of blessing, stability, and joy.

When sex is turned into a recreational activity for personal pleasure, unwanted children are conceived. There are various ways to control conceiving, but all are imperfect. There are ways to sterilize men and women, but those processes cannot be reliably reversed. Concerning sterilization, even non-Christians realize there is something good about children. Most are uncomfortable being sterilized before having children, knowing that some day they may want a child – but only on their terms and when deemed convenient. As human beings we can bring death, but we cannot bring life. We can end the process of childbearing through sterilization, but cannot undo that process to recreate what God had made.

The result of this is millions upon millions of unwanted children being conceived in America every year. These children are not ‘accidents,’ these children (except in cases of rape or abuse) are products of willful choices people made with the hope that the sex act would not produce what God designed it to produce. Abortion at its base is an insurance policy to protect the right of Americans to be sexually active with anyone they want any time they want – with no consequences. People are willing to kill, repeatedly, to maintain their pursuit of sexual pleasure and affluence.

This is directly related to affluence because children are expensive. Pro-abortion advocates openly argue that it’s justified to kill a child to relieve the parent(s) of the future financial ‘burden’ of raising that child. They argue that it’s justified to kill an unborn child to keep one’s schooling on-track to protect future earnings. It’s even been argued recently that it’s justified to kill an unborn child to keep a sports season from being interrupted. In the end, abortion advocates in America are prepared to kill an unborn child for any reason, or no reason at all. I hope I don’t need to say much more to illustrate how far away from God’s will and design we have fallen in the hardness of our hearts.

Let me be plain. Christians cannot name the name of Christ and also advocate for the killing of the unborn. Our God is a God of life and declares children a blessing. Our God is a God who calls for self-sacrifice, not self-indulgence. Our God is a God who commands self-control for our own good. We must support candidates that work to move our country toward pro-life laws and regulations.

Lastly, we should seek limited government. Romans 13:1-7 and 1 Peter 2:13-25 are very clear that God has ordained government to play an important roll in the ordering of society. We should be thankful for and submit to good governance that promotes peace and freedom. However, these passages are also clear that human government is not the highest or final authority, but is a delegated authority from God. The authority of civil rulers only goes as far as God allows. They have no authority to do what God has forbidden and they must not leave off what God requires. Civil government is not the final moral authority. Right and wrong flow from the character of the Lord our God and the moral order cannot be remade by voting or judicial decisions. In the end, human government will be submissive to the final authority of God.

We live in an increasingly atheistic day. Even if people are not open atheists, many are practical atheists – they live as if there is no God even if they say with their mouth there is a God. Atheists put human government in the place of God. Most importantly, any problem or difficulty too large for the individual atheist to handle is pressed into the hands of government. Great hope is placed in government to fix the struggles and brokenness of humanity. A hope that government will stop criminal unrest, will lift the poor out of their misery, will direct education into producing an age of peace and prosperity, and order society to some form of utopia.

However, just the opposite is always true. The more people turn away from God and put their faith in government, the more government increases and the influence of the local Christian church decreases. As the authority of government increases more resource and freedom is taken from the people that government is supposed to serve. Over time, the government becomes more of a self-serving bureaucracy and the corruption of the people running the government becomes more apparent. The more power is consolidated into the hands of that ruling elite, the more they feel they actually do have the power of God.

All Christians should understand the necessity of limited government, and that government begins with the moral restraint of the soul before God. Society cannot function without a fear of God and interior moral restraint. No amount of police or laws can restrain a populace that lacks inner moral restraint produced by a fear of God. The attempt to restrain a godless population leads to a radical increase in laws proportionally decreasing personal freedom. Whereas a God-fearing society needs far less laws due to their own personal moral restraint, which allows for much greater personal freedom. As Christians we should seek an increase of personal godliness and a limited civil government.

In closing, please remember the verse at the top of this devotional. As Christians we don’t put our faith and trust in implements of human government. Our hope is in our Savior Jesus Christ and in His coming kingdom. Our highest allegiance is to our Lord Jesus Christ, and we know that His purposes will prevail. We should also remember that elections are a reflection of the heart of a nation. Elections are not the primary cause of change in a nation, they are a result. I have committed my life to ministry in the church, because only God can change the heart. It is through the salvation of Jesus Christ that sins are forgiven, and people pass from death to life. It is only by revival of the soul through a renewed fear of God that any substantial change will occur in this country. We should seek this revival and this change.

Christians rightly want to get involved. People want to do something to help. I urge you friend, give a little time to politics if you feel you should, but devote your life to serving Christ Jesus in the local church. If you really want to make a difference, teach a children’s Bible class for years. Be a youth small group leader. Come to prayer meeting and plead with God to call lost sinners to repentance. Tell your co-worker about Jesus and invite him or her to church. It is in Christ alone we will find salvation!

We trust in the Lord our God,
Pastor Vic

Mid-Term Elections

“Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.” Psalm 20:7


Mid-term election season is just a few weeks away. I begin this article with Psalm 20:7 because the overarching issue that we must never lose sight of during election cycles is that nations do not rise and fall related to politicians, war, or economics. Nations rise and fall according to their fear of the Lord, or lack thereof. In all of this, the Kingdom of God is coming. This kingdom was inaugurated by the ministry of Jesus, continues to unfold now, and will be completed in the second coming of Jesus. The purposes of God cannot be derailed by the sinfulness of humanity (Psalm 2). I say that to put election season in perspective. Political involvement as a citizen is important, but of secondary importance to the Christian’s citizenship in heaven (Philippians 3:20).

Election season always gets a little crazy, and when emotions and anxieties rise it’s important to focus on fundamental truths. I want to remind us, as Christians, about some of these fundamentals. First, it is an unusual privilege historically that citizens have a peaceful way to participate in the direction of their government. We should be thankful for this opportunity. Our voting process is not perfect, and is always being pushed, pulled, and refined as a part of the political process itself. But no system of people is perfect or static – meaning unchanging over time. This can be compared to our justice system, which is also flawed as a system devised and directed by sinful human beings. However, I would rather cast a vote or go to court in the United States than in any other country in the world. This system is held accountable and continually refined through the engagement of citizens. The most basic form of civic engagement is voting. I encourage you to make an informed decision and vote in the upcoming November 8 midterm election.

Engagement in the political process through voting is the honest effort as a Christian to see progress made publicly toward a more just, free, equitable, and virtuous society. As Christians, we believe the roots of all these good things are found in the character of the Lord God. Therefore, we seek honorable, virtuous, and courageous people of Christian character to hold public office. We seek progress not completion. No election will ‘win the day.’ No election is ‘the most important in our lifetime.’ Each election is an indication of the direction of the hearts of the people in the nation. I encourage you to be an engaged, virtuous, courageous, and peaceful Christian.

Second, casting a vote for a candidate is not a wholesale endorsement of everything that person has ever done or will do. Every ballot has a very limited number of candidates on it. Casting a vote relates to supporting the candidate who is most likely to act toward justice, freedom, virtue, and equality. I think the only time we would be justified in not voting would be if there were only candidates that did not meet any of these criteria. Thankfully, we are not in a time like that yet. Apathy or ‘being tired of the process’ is not an excuse for a Christian to withdraw and choose to not be involved with the world around them. If all the hype is too much for you, then turn off TV news, change your internet habits, and go to trusted sources when you need to, so you can cast an informed vote. Twenty-four-hour news organizations have a major financial motive to present every news story as a crisis emergency. They want you to leave the TV on forever to make sure you don’t miss any breaking crisis and they make millions of dollars. In reality, every day is not a crisis and those who choose to live this way are robbed of much of the joy of living a peaceful and fruitful Christian life. I believe this is particularly a temptation for our seniors who have more discretionary time on their hands and can be drawn into this cycle of living in ‘Newsstand Crisis Mode.’

The next three fundamentals relate to how a Christian should vote. I will cover one this week and two more next week.

The first issue that should be in sight for Christians voting next month relates to sexual ethics. There are many lists of sin in the Old and New Testaments and nearly every one of them recognize sexual immorality. The bottom line is that the Bible clearly places how we conduct ourselves sexually in the moral category. Sexual actions are not neutral. Sexual actions are not just a matter of personal taste. Sexual actions are either according to the will of God and blessed, or against the will of God and sinful. The Bible is abundantly clear that from the creation of the world to this day God created the sexual relationship to only exist between a biological man and a biological woman within the covenant relationship of marriage. This is biblical sexual morality. Every other conceivable sexual union is out of bounds and is sinful.

Sexuality is blessed, joyful, binding, and life producing only within the design of marriage. In any other context this emotionally powerful and biologically important (producing children, transmitting disease, etc.) action produces anxiety, separation, economic hardship, disease, and even death. People argue that this is terribly narrow because they do not really believe the sexual relationship is designed by God. No one argues that a gasoline engine is restrictive. It was designed to run on gasoline and will only run on gasoline. If you pour diesel, kerosene, cooking oil, water, pancake syrup, or any other liquid in the fuel tank it will not run. So it is with marriage. God’s design cannot be altered.

It goes without saying that biblical sexuality is under a full aggressive assault from almost every corner of society. If this nation abandons biblical sexuality, it speaks to the soul of our nation. God has never, and will never, bless a sexually depraved and decadent nation. As Christians, we know that how we conduct ourselves sexually matters. We should also hold our leaders to this moral standard. As Christians, it’s not enough to be fiscally conservative. What we primarily stand for as Christians is moral holiness. In voting we must stand against, and vote against, the onslaught of LGBTQ positions and platforms. This is not a political matter, or a matter of phobia, or a matter of anger – this is a matter of being faithful to biblical Christian morality. A Christian cannot vote to support, fund, or praise what God has declared to be sinful.

Next week, I will discuss the connection of sexual morality to abortion and matters of limited government.

May the Lord make us wise and help us to be light in darkness,
Pastor Vic

The Connected Parent

“The Connected Parent: Real Life Strategies for Building Trust and Attachment”
By Karyn Purvis, PhD. & Lisa Qualls


I highly recommend that you read “The Connected Parent.” This book was specifically written to help adoptive and foster parents care for traumatized children, but it is filled with excellent, biblically sound, practical advice for how to connect with the hearts of children. This compassionate and practical advice is helpful for parents with children of any age and would also be helpful to any grandparent in their interaction with grandchildren. As we parent, it’s wise to regularly read new resources to freshen up our outlook on parenting. Regularly reading new material will cause you to re-examine blind spots in your habits and perhaps give you new possible solutions to particular points of struggle.

This book is written as a two-part conversation between Dr. Purvis and Lisa Smith. This book represents the culmination of Dr. Purvis’ remarkable life and work, but it was not completed by Lisa Qualls until after Dr. Purvis’ death from cancer. Dr. Purvis cites and explains the scientific research-based reasons for each of her conclusions, while Qualls explains the practical outworking of each principle in a busy home.

The entire book focuses on ‘Trust-Based Relational Intervention.’ The important focus that jumps off the pages to me as having been so essentially true in raising our children, is the vital need for connection with your children. As parents and grandparents, we must authentically connect with the hearts of our children. As we care for, train, educate, and direct our children, along the way our heart as a parent must truly connect with the hearts of our children. This is difficult to quantify, but every parent or grandparent knows what distance or nearness feels like. Dr. Purvis instructs the reader in a clear, compelling, and personally experienced way how to make these connections with traumatized and struggling children. However, the advice she gives is also generally helpful to parenting, even if you are not raising a particularly traumatized child. 

The authors write about:

  1. Empowering: They begin by speaking to the basic science of nutrition, hydration, food, and sensory input. If a child’s nutrition, hydration, and stimulation are all wrong, the parent is fighting an uphill battle in connecting with their child and correcting problem behavior. Simple steps are given to help correct some of these major imbalances.
  2. Connecting: Parents meet the connection needs of their child by focusing on the relationship in every interaction. The goal is not behavior modification in the child, but first establishing authentic relationship between parent and child so further parenting guidance is possible.
  3. Correcting: This part of the book is specifically focused on traumatized children. Standard parental discipline is both ineffective and inappropriate in the lives of most traumatized children. Dr. Purvis speaks to the fear and detachment of children that are trying to protect themselves from further hurt. Disarming this fear is vital, so the child can develop trust with the parent and through relationship enjoy a balanced childhood.

You may not be parenting a traumatized child, but many in our church are. We want to be a church that constantly is working to care for orphaned children. We want to demonstrate the sacrificial love of Jesus by helping the weakest and outcast of our society. This will involve everyone at Redeemer grasping these concepts to a certain extent. Everyone needs to read a book like this to develop compassion for traumatized children and to take even a few small steps toward knowing how to care for and react to children with these needs.

This book does not cover traditional aspects of discipline. It’s not an all-encompassing parenting book, but it’s extremely valuable for those that feel detachment from their children and are struggling with how to bridge that gap.

“And calling to Him a child He put him in the midst of them and said, ‘Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea … So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.” —Matthew 18:2-6, 14


May the Lord help us as parents to love our children well that they may each come to salvation,
Pastor Vic

Forgive

Church,            
Periodically it’s important that we all be reminded of Jesus’ mandate to forgive each other. In Christ we have been forgiven all our sins by grace through faith. Because of the grace shown to us, we must also be willing to forgive those around us. The forgiveness of a Christian is supposed to follow after the incredible mercy of Jesus. We are required to forgive others over and over again, because we ourselves have been forgiven much more by Jesus.

In this teaching there is no room for bearing grudges. There is no place for conditional love – “if you do this for me, I’ll do that for you.” Instead, it’s very clear. You have been forgiven, so you must forgive others. If you refuse to forgive another person, and instead choose to remain in anger, nurse hopes of retribution, or simply cut the person off from your life, you are not displaying the love of Christ. If this goes on for a long time it should give you grave concern over the condition of your soul (v.35).

No passage better teaches this than Jesus’ ‘Parable of the Unforgiving Servant.’ I hope you will read this parable and consider if it describes any aspect of your life. Take seriously the final warning in verse 35. By the work of the Holy Spirit in you, you must forgive – from the heart.

Matthew 18:21-35 — The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant

Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times. “Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’  So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’  He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt.  When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”

May the Lord give us authentic love for each other, a love that will forgive like Christ,
Pastor Vic

Walking in Unity

Walking in Unity
Ephesians 4:1-3
In the book of Ephesians, Paul writes about the believer’s position and practice. The first three chapters of Ephesians speak of the believer’s position and the last three chapters speak of the believer’s practice. Both are required to be understood to walk in obedience to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I want to share with you about walking in unity, Ephesians 4:1-3.

Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

In verse 1, we are told how important it is to “walk in a manner worthy of our calling.” Paul is imploring us to live our lives in a manner that illustrates our obedience to the Word of God. Our daily walk “manner of living” should mimic that of Christ and correspond to our position as children of God. Walking worthy means that we are to balance our behavior with our position. God has “adopted us as sons through Jesus Christ in Himself” and we should live as someone who has been adopted by God’s great mercy.

We are also to walk in “all humility.” Humility is one of the key foundations of Christian living. Humility must permeate our lives and influence all we do. The word means to think or judge with lowliness and to have lowliness of mind. In Romans 12:3 we are reminded to not think more highly of ourselves but to think of ourselves with sound judgment based on the measure of faith God has given us. Paul, in Philippians 2:7-8, reminds us of how Christ humbled Himself even to death on the cross. He is our example.

When we are walking in a manner worthy of our calling, and in humility, we are to do so with gentleness and patience. Meekness and forbearance are some of the signs of a person who is humble. Many in our culture view meekness as a sign of weakness, someone who is a pushover, or lacks courage. This is not true of a Christian; this word means to be mild-spirited or self-controlled. King David was a great example of this type of inner spirit when he refused to kill Saul even though he had the opportunity. We should forbear in God’s love based on His graciousness and kindness toward us to achieve unity.

Lastly, we are to work “diligently” to preserve unity. This is not talking about ecumenical unity among different religions. This speaks of inner unity and unity within the body of Christ. We as Christians are to strive to be unified with other followers of Christ. We are to wrap ourselves in the “bond of peace” to glorify God in attitude and practice. Peaceful unity can be achieved by exegetically (the process of discovering the original and intended meaning of a passage of scripture) studying and meditating on the Word of God and applying the precepts of His Word. I pray your Christian walk will be with humility, patience, unity, and gentleness.

Rodney

Revival

Revival Follows The Honoring, Reading, and Obedience to the Word of God

“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you have rejected knowledge, I reject you from being a priest to me. And since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children.” Hosea 4:6 ESV


These words are prophetic words given by the minor prophet Hosea. Hosea was called to a prophetic ministry in a time of rebellion described earlier in the chapter under the reign of the wicked king Jeroboam II. The people of Judah were described as faithless and without an enduring love in verse 1. Throughout the chapter, Judah’s culture is described as a land full of “… swearing, lying, murder, stealing, and committing adultery; they break all bounds, and bloodshed follows bloodshed” (verse 2). After reading this, one can’t help but think of how this describes our nation today.
 

Israel was chosen by God as a special people, chosen above all the nations of the earth (Deuteronomy 7:6). “They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen” (Romans 9:4-5). God passed over every other mighty nation, full of all the world’s wisdom and military might, and chose a small nation to reveal Himself. It was to the Israelites, and them alone, whom God chose to reveal His ways. It’s important to note that God was not obligated to have this kind of mercy on any nation, but, in His love, He chose Israel.
 

Let’s fast forward about a century after the utterances of Hosea, to the reign of King Josiah. Please read the full account of Josiah’s reign and reformation in 2 Kings, chapters 22 and 23. To summarize, during the reign of Josiah, the law of the Lord was recovered after a century of the raging rebellion described above. After Josiah read the Book of the Law, likely the book of Deuteronomy or another book from the Torah, he tore his clothes in anguish and did away with the idolatrous practices. This was arguably the greatest reform done by any king in Israel. In fact, he was the first king who ordered Judah to keep the Passover described in the law since the time of Israel’s judges (at least 400 years).
 

Today, we find ourselves in a nation and culture very similar to ancient Israel. Our churches are being shuttered because of an epidemic of moral failures that comes from a disregard of God’s word and His law. We’ve been blessed with affordable and accessible bibles, as well as, arguably, the greatest Christian writings from people like Jonathan Edwards. God doesn’t owe America, or any nation the gift of having accessible bibles. Study the history of the middle ages, when having a Bible was unheard of, and to be found with one was a death sentence. Because God doesn’t owe us His mercy, and He is not a respecter of persons, we must take heed to the prophecy “since you have forgotten the law of the Lord your God, I will also forget your children.” Jesus said to whom much is given, much is required (Luke 12:48).
 

I believe God is calling those who have reverence and adherence to His word to sound the alarm like Hosea did. God has blessed us with a church that exalts the Word of God above everything else. My prayer is that this letter would move us to gratitude for the blessing of our church, and we would be moved to pray for Redeemer Bible Church, other local churches, and our nation to remain standing on the Word of God; and if not, to repent and not take for granted what we’ve been given, lest it be taken from us and our children. 

Jacob

Daniel Chapter 11

“And now I will show you the truth …” Daniel 11:2a


Daniel chapter 11 is a prophetic revelation giving – as I have said before – enough information for us to clearly know that its telling reveals to us that God knows and is causing the future to come to pass according to His determined will. But the prophecy has an intentional lack of clarity to keep the hearer walking by faith. This chapter deals with the time in which Daniel receives the vision (approximately 527 BC) up to at least 164 BC. From our period of history looking into the past, the revelation is so specific that scholars have been forced to conclude one of two ends. First, Daniel was written nearly at the time of Christ by some unknown author because the prophesied events were concluded by that point. This view is problematic from both a biblical and archaeological point of view. Daniel is referred to and known in Jewish heritage from a much earlier time than Christ. Also, Jesus Himself spoke of Daniel in the context of the setting given in Daniel – affirming his historicity.

The second option is to believe the revelation was written by Daniel as stated, and God really does know and cause the future. This belief requires faith but is deeply encouraging and instructive to the soul. This view faces the reality that God is shaping the future for His glory and gives hope to all who believe in Jesus.

I will here briefly review the connection between chapter 11 and historical events. I believe you will find the parallels amazing.

(Verse 2) The text refers to three more kings of Persia after Cyrus. These were Cambyses (530-522 BC), Gaumata (522 BC), and Darius I Hystaspes (522-486 BC). Then rose a fourth king richer and more powerful than the previous three. This king was Xerxes I (486-465 BC), known as Ahasuerus in the Book of Esther. Xerxes I, in his establishment and wealth, warred against Greece seeking to conquer it, but was repelled by the efforts of Philip the Macedon.

(Verses 3-4) A “mighty king” shall arise “with great domain and do as he wills.” Alexander the Great was the son of Philip the Macedon. Xerxes I does not succeed in conquering Greece, but Alexander defeats Medo-Persia by 331 BC (Daniel 8:7, 20-21). Alexander rose to great imperial power but died at age 32. His Kingdom was divided into four parts ruled by four generals not of his “posterity.” These generals were Ptolemy, Seleucus, Lysimachus, and Cassander. Seleucus I ruled in the “north” covering Syria and Mesopotamia. Ptolemy I ruled the “south” covering Egypt and Palestine.

(Verse 6) The next generation of rulers, (north) Antiochus II and (south) Ptolemy II, made “an alliance” in 250 BC promising the daughter of Ptolemy II (Bernice) to marry Antiochus II. Antiochus II instead chose to abandon the agreement and return to his previous wife who allegedly eventually poisoned him. This drama is outlined in verse 6.

(verses 7-18) These verses are full of drama that make the stuff of history. There are back and forth wars working through the generations of Ptolemy III, IV, and V of the southern kingdom and Seleucus II and III / Antiochus III of the northern kingdom. It is Antiochus III who would eventually enter and conquer Israel (verse 16). It is this Antiochus III who “turned his face to the coastlands” (verse 18) in 196 BC in an effort to conquer Turkey and Greece. In response to this aggression, Rome sent warnings for Antiochus III to stay his advance, but he did not. So, Rome sent “a commander” to “put an end to his insolence.” This commander was Lucius Cornelius Scipio. Scipio defeated Antiochus III in 191 BC, forcing him to pay tribute to Rome and send his oldest son as a slave to Rome.

(Verse 19) During passage back to the “fortress of his own land” he “stumbled and fell” attempting to sack a temple of Zeus in modern day Iraq to gain revenue. The local people defended the temple with passion and killed Antiochus III. The remains of his kingdom were ruled by his next son Seleucus IV (187-175 BC). Seleucus IV was “broken in neither anger nor battle” as he was poisoned to death by his finance minister, Heliodorus.

(Verse 21) This verse speaks to the rise of “a contemptable person to whom royal majesty has not been given.” This king is Antiochus IV Epiphanes (175-164 BC). He did not ascend to the throne through normal channels, but by drama and murder.

(Verse 25-28) “He shall stir up his power and his heart against the king of the south.” Antiochus IV set his heart on attacking Egypt and conquering Ptolemy VI. Antiochus IV had a vast army, but was defeated as a result of his war plans being leaked – (verse 25) “plots shall be devised against him.”

(Verse 29) Antiochus IV attacked Egypt a second time in 168 BC. “He shall return and come into the south, but it shall not be this time as it was before.” Aided by Rome, Ptolemy VII defeated and humiliated Antiochus IV sending him back to Palestine empty handed. Angered by his defeat, Antiochus worked vengeance on the Jews in Jerusalem under his rule. From 167 to 164 BC he implemented a severe campaign of forced Hellenization on the Jews. This involved profaning the temple, ending daily sacrifices at the temple, forbidding the reading or use of Scripture, forbidding circumcision, and forbidding Jewish festivals. The penalty for violating these laws was death. It was during this period that the prophecy from Daniel 8:13 was fulfilled concerning “the abomination that makes desolate.” On December 6, 167 BC, Antiochus IV Epiphanes set up an idol of Zeus in the temple. On December 16 of the same year, he had pigs offered as sacrifices on the temple altar as blasphemy. It is my understanding that this desolation of the temple fulfilled this prophecy given to Daniel and was a type of the prophecy spoken by Jesus in Matthew 24. Jesus also spoke of the “abomination of desolation” which was the complete desecration and destruction of the temple in 70.

(Verses 32-33) “The people who know their God shall stand firm and take action.” Apostate Jews sided with Antiochus IV for political power, but the faithful resisted and formed up into armed rebellion. This rebellion was led by the five sons of the priest Mattathias. One of those sons was Judas Maccabeus – Maccabeus meaning ‘Hammer.’ The Maccabean Rebellion (166-164 BC) succeeded in recapturing Jerusalem and the temple. The temple, and its grounds, were rededicated on December 14, 164 BC. This reconsecration is remembered in Jewish custom by Hanukkah.

(Verses 36-45) These verses are more unclear and do not clearly align with historic events after Antiochus IV, but do lead in the text up to the final events of the judgment. It is my understanding that the text transitions here to refer to future events. This would explain their lack of clarity.

I have significantly abbreviated all that could be said here but hope that enough was given to significantly encourage your faith that the Lord our God revealed the future before it came to pass. He who is the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, is able to make known what He intends to accomplish before He accomplishes it.

“Remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done …” Isaiah 46:9-10


Soli Deo Gloria,
Pastor Vic