Word from the Center: Friday, September 21, 2018

Welcome to “Word from The Center” FRIDAY, a Two-Kingdom, practical reflection on the issues of the day from the Lutheran Center for Religious Liberty, I’m Gregory Seltz. Today’s topic/issue….

When Being Christian Means You Can’t Be Christian: Part 2

Last week, I talked about an issue that is happening with a University in Canada named Trinity Western University. It’s Canada’s largest privately-funded Christian university and the government is denying certification to a Law School they had hoped to add as part of their University experience. Why? The University requires all of its students to sign code of conduct covenants  – clearly defined, explained, and defended – which define the virtues and character called for from any student seeking to matriculate from Trinity Western. One of those conduct rules limits sexual activity to marriage between a man and a woman. That’s it. The Law School would not be certified unless the school rejected its covenant. To get their Law School up and running, that’s exactly what they’ve done (For the full story, see https://www.christianpost.com/news/canadas-largest-private-christian-university-drops-ban-on-same-sex-relationships-226803/).

It is ironic that the school has decided to change some of its fundamental, time-tested, moral views, even though the purpose of their having have a “Law” school was to produce well-trained lawyers and public servants who could address the moral and legal challenges of the day from a Christian worldview. The school decided not to demand “covenant subscription” from its students even though this had been a fundamental aspect of their “Christian” identity.

But that’s Canada, you say, not the United States. It is true that we have some constitutional protections that Canadians don’t have. It’s true that our Founding Fathers saw the value of principles encased in the Bible as fundamental supports, not hindrances, for temporal liberty, civility, and the very pursuit of purposeful happiness. Unfortunately, what Canada and the United States both share today is the increased pressure from certain forces in culture to redefine many of these fundamental principles and moral virtues. And, unfortunately, both cultures also share the reality of certain groups successfully hijacking the legal process, silencing opposing views to this radical transformation of cultural mores by legal fiat or governmental coercion. Some are even using traditional Christian moral views as disqualifiers for public service. Amazing!

Now is not merely the time to defend the basic moral teachings of the Bible, which, by the way, are reflected in virtually every culture and religious tradition around the world. Now is also the time to learn to be public Christians for the sake of the Gospel, and for the sake of the culture in which we live. Now is the time to boldly defend the Christian worldview principles that helped create and undergird the very temporal liberties so many of us enjoy. Binding temporal power due to humanity’s sinfulness, as well as protecting “unalienable rights from one’s Creator,” are biblical ideas that undergird the liberties we enjoy. And when people talk about the “separation of Church and State,” Christians know that this “separation,” or better, the “differentiation” of the public authority and work of both the State and the Church is an extension of the very Christian worldview that so many claim to despise.

Here’s the point: Such biblical wisdom for temporal liberties and freedoms won’t “save the world.” But it can bless the world. It can and will continue to provide the philosophical framework to maintain order in a culture full of sinful men and women in ways that are more peaceful and tolerant than differing cultures and governments before it. Christians have a role in that civilizing work wherever they live because God himself is at work amidst all these issues to preserve the world. Such efforts will never take the place of a Christian’s unique calling to be one who receives and shares the eternal salvation earned through Christ’s  life, death, and resurrection for all. But a Christian also seeks to honor one’s public responsibilities because they are directed and guided by God’s preserving work in the world too. That work takes place in the fields of education, commerce, politics, art, music, science, etc. It should also be part of a full educational experience, especially at a Christian University that is rooted in a Christian worldview perspective and is freely expressed on its own terms.

Devotion: Monday, September 17, 2018

Welcome to “Word from The Center” MONDAY, a devotional word from the Center of our faith, Jesus Christ, reflections from His Word. I’m Gregory Seltz. Today’s verse is from Mark 9:20-24, where the Bible says,   

They brought the boy to Jesus. When he saw Him, immediately the spirit threw him into a convulsion, and falling to the ground, he began rolling around and foaming at the mouth. And He asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. It has often thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if You can do anything, take pity on us and help us!” And Jesus said to him, “‘If You can?’ All things are possible to him who believes.” Immediately the boy’s father cried out and said, “I do believe; help my unbelief.”

All things are possible to a believer?

Our lesson for today is another healing event in the ministry of Jesus. It not only shows His power over all things, but also faith’s power IN HIM in our own lives. Jesus comes on the scene in the middle of this man’s incredible trial with a son he dearly loves. The father has no way to deal with the issue and no one else does either for that matter. Well, no one else except Jesus. All of the committed prayers of the disciples, and even the father’s dedicated concern seemed to do much good. And that brings out a very important aspect of true faith. Faith’s power is its object. If the object of our faith is true, if it is sure, then so is our faith.

I also don’t think that it’s by accident that this miracle involves a child either. Children are the most vulnerable among us, and they tend to be the most trusting. In this particular case, no matter how much we love our children, no matter how passionate we are to their plight, there are some things that are beyond our control, beyond our power. Jesus demonstrates His power and His love and concern for the most vulnerable among us in the healing of this child. Later Jesus will contrast the power of the faith of a child to the supposed faith of the hardened, grown-up disciples. Jesus tells them straight. He tells us straight as well, “Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all (Mark 10:15).” Again, the power of faith is its object. And when the object of our faith is Jesus, then the very Savior of the world, God in the flesh, hears your prayers and can indeed answer them for your good and mine.

Here’s a story that makes my point: A pastor told the story of an organist who was getting ready to play as the church service began. When he put his hands on the keys, there was no sound. Everyone knew something was wrong, so the preacher quickly got up and led in prayer. The janitor was aware of the fact that they hadn’t plugged in the organ. So, during the prayer he went, plugged in the organ, wrote a note and handed it to the organist. The note said, “After the prayer, the power will be on.”

That’s so true. Actually, the truth is that with Jesus the power is on before, during, and after prayer! So, bring your concerns to Him. And, no matter what His answer to your prayer today, know that you are loved and blessed in His hands always. In Him, all things are indeed possible!

PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, may we never limit what you can do in our lives. And may we trust in you no matter the circumstances of the moment. We believe, help our unbelief!  AMEN.

Word from the Center: Friday, September 14, 2018

Welcome to “Word from The Center” FRIDAY, a Two-Kingdom, practical reflection on the issues of the day from the Lutheran Center for Religious Liberty, I’m Gregory Seltz, Today’s topic/issue….

When Being Christian Means You Can’t Be Christian: Part 1

Trinity Western University is Canada’s largest privately-funded Christian university. It’s in the news now because the Canadian government is exercising extreme, coercive power to change fundamental teachings of this University if it wishes to add a Law School to its educational experience. Though the University has met all the criteria for the launch of its new Law School, the courts have decided that the school’s controversial “code of conduct covenants” prevent it from receiving state certification. In fact, only one aspect of that code disqualifies them. Ready? It’s the notion that sexual activity should be limited to marriage between a man and a woman. That’s it! Rather than continue the fight, the school has scrapped its conduct covenant even though it has been an authentically valid expression of the very thing that makes Trinity Western unique, the expression of its Christian worldview and the expression of its faith. [For the full story, see https://www.christianpost.com/news/canadas-largest-private-christian-university-drops-ban-on-same-sex-relationships-226803/.]

Isn’t it amazing? With all the issues we struggle with today, now, the Christian virtue of chastity and marital fidelity is being characterized as detrimental to society. Incredible! What’s worse, the government is dictating its own definition of virtuous behavior through its certification process. Strong marriages as the institution of Father-Mother-Children, have been the foundation for healthy societies for thousands of years. Having worked in urban ministry most of my life, the dissolution of the family – often as a result of bad public policy – is a major contributing factor to the enduring violence and poverty in some of our poorest communities.  Yet in Canada, and more and more in the United States as well, there is further cultural devolution of marriage from its institutional integrity to merely a momentary relationship among consenting adults.

Tragically, the school’s decision to give in to the government’s coercive pressure and to back away from its Christian identity publicly is merely the first step to becoming something that it was never meant to be, just another school promoting whatever society values at the moment rather than an authentic Christian witness in the midst of it.

When I was in New York City serving as Executive Director of Life’s Journey Ministries, I was privileged to visit two Cathedrals that typify the Church’s public struggle in culture, with culture, for the sake of the culture. One Cathedral was St. Patrick’s; the other St. John’s. One was a vibrant church, reflective of its Catholic heritage, fully engaged in the issues of the day in NYC, faithful to its worldview. The other, St. John’s Cathedral, had become a museum of tolerance that accepted  every religious expression one could imagine except the one that had built it hundreds of years ago, the uniqueness of the Gospel proclamation of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ for all.

Christian people find themselves under attack today merely for being Christian. We’ve always known that there are times when obeying Christ makes us look a little “foolish” to the world (see 1 Corinthians 1:18-26). But increasingly such views are becoming dangerous. Unlike Canada, America has enshrined religious liberty protections for its citizens, forever valuing the religious, even Christian, foundations that secured liberty for the sake of all. Many of us have lived with such liberties without much effort.

Now is the time to learn the art and skill of being a public Christian for the sake of the Church and its schools. Now is also the time to stand on the moral truths of the Bible for the sake of the culture as well. Why? Because these truths are not temporary whims of Canada or American Supreme Court justices. Such moral truths are not only written in the Bible; they are also inscribed on human hearts and consciences as well. (See Romans 2:14-15.) They are truths that will once again help us to be better neighbors and friends, even to those with whom we disagree.

Devotion: Monday, September 10, 2018

Welcome to “Word from The Center” MONDAY, a devotional word from the Center of our faith, Jesus Christ, reflections from His Word. I’m Gregory Seltz, Today’s verse is from Mark 7:37, where the Bible says,

37 They were utterly astonished, saying, “He has done all things well; He makes even the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.”

Is There Anyone like Jesus?

There’s a question that many are asking today. Actually, people have been asking the same question for over 2000 years. Here it is, ready? How can you believe that Jesus is the only Savior, the one that is the Savior for all people? The answer is fairly straight forward, “Who else is there like Jesus?” Give me another name! Show me another Savior.

This event of Jesus healing a deaf person who was brought to him, a person who was couldn’t hear and was virtually incapable of speech, is another healing event in the ministry of Jesus while He was here on earth. All the healings and miracles of Jesus were signs of the coming Messiah (see Isaiah 35:5-6, even Jesus’ word about Himself in Luke 4:21 where He proclaims that Isaiah’s prophecy about Messiah is fulfilled IN HIM). These miracles and healings, i.e. leper’s hands healed, exorcisms, walking on water, feeding thousands of people miraculously, are signs of the arrival of the Messiah and His Kingdom, not the Kingdom itself. In fact, the greatest miracle of all would be that the true Messiah, the God-Man born in a manger, born of a virgin, would live our life, die our death on a cross, and rise again so that we might have life in Him.

But just stick with me here on the miracle side of things. The crowd was amazed. They saw that this Jesus did “everything well.” It’s not just that miracles happen when He’s around. It’s that everything seems just as it should be. His words have authority. His teaching is unparalleled. And, as they will learn later, His work on the Cross and in the Resurrection is unmatched. Couple that with how He uses His power and position, not as opportunities for gain, but opportunities for service so that others might indeed be saved. Is there anyone else like Jesus? Anyone at all? No.

As you deal with the many issues on your plate this week, as you struggle to make sense of some things in your life, in your family, in your community, remember this. There is one who is the Savior over all of this. There is one who can be trusted in the midst of all of this. There is one who has seen the worst of humanity and still redeemed humanity so that we can be who we were created and redeemed to be IN HIM. What He wants for you and me today is not merely to be amazed at Him. He wants you to believe in Him, to walk with Him, and to live forever with Him. He also wants you to put the power of Faith in Him to work in your lives now and forever. Be amazed, yes, and believe.

PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, we often forget that the power of Faith is not how much we believe, but who we believe in. Give us courageous, confident faith to trust in you, to have faith in you today and always. AMEN.

Word from the Center: Friday, September 7, 2018

Welcome to “Word from The Center” FRIDAY, a Two-Kingdom, practical reflection on the issues of the day from the Lutheran Center for Religious Liberty, I’m Gregory Seltz, Today’s topic/issue….

Does Every Deli have to be Kosher?

When I was working in New York City, I must say that I not only loved the varieties of food, I loved the varieties of the people that made the city unique. Restaurants didn’t just serve cuisine, they served a culture, an environment, a style all their own. I had my favorites, that’s for sure. In the neighborhood there was “Pete’s Place,” a Greek restaurant that was to die for. Around the corner was a German restaurant that decked out their joint out in style for each season of the year. And, of course, who could compete with the delis, especially the kosher delis, in NYC. You would get up early just to get in line for a cup of coffee and a morning bagel and cream cheese toasted to perfection. This week, I thought back to those days, all those different people, each able to be themselves, open for business, open to serve….on their terms for the sake of their customers.

When I think about the diversity, the tolerance, and the service that was a normal part of the neighborhoods in the city back then, it makes me sad to see what is happening to people like Jack Phillips in Colorado today. (For more, see https://jimdaly.focusonthefamily.com/the-state-of-colorado-is-harassing-baker-jack-phillips/) He is under siege again. They, a kind of sexual-orientation lynch mob, are after him again. Isn’t it amazing? Think about this attitude that is becoming more normal in our culture. Think about the busy-body nature of so many today. Think about their willingness to use government coercion, intimidation, even violence to silence views that have been around for thousands of years, undergirding healthy, civil, tolerant societies, views that have enabled many to be tolerant of other viewpoints different from their own. There is a new spirit among us today. Those who object to Phillip’s view of sex and marriage don’t just value the freedom to shop at another bakery, they must litigate, eviscerate, and destroy dissenting views to the contrary.

Here’s a question that I’ve been asking. In a civil, tolerant society, “Aren’t there other bakeries who can serve you?” Does your right to be who you are demand that others MUST agree with you? I knew I was on to something when both Bill Maher[1] and the Family Research Council[2]  are both asking the same question. It appears that this, as so many other lawsuits today, has nothing to do with cakes, or business, this is about silencing speech and most of the hate is coming from one direction.

So, aren’t there other bakeries to bake the particular cakes of your choice? Is it a civil right’s issue now to coerce someone to bake whatever you demand that they bake? Should Jack Phillips have to bake cakes to celebrate satanic or pagan rituals? Why can’t he limit his services to those things that he can honor and esteem? He didn’t limit any of his in-store creations to any of these customers. What right does the government have to coerce people to a certain understanding of “healthy relationships?” If Phillips won’t bake a cake for a couple that’s living together, will he be sued for that as well? Is living together a constitutional right? Once the constitutional protections of individuals before the law became government protections and even enforcement regarding various couples and lifestyles, the absurdities become endless.

In a country where marriage as an institution is being devalued, the last thing this culture needs is government involvement in the discussion of what a “healthy relationship is to be.” Wouldn’t it be better to live and let live, and to allow the faith traditions of people to be honored and held in esteem, especially those that have proven beneficial to the temporal liberties and freedoms of such a diverse culture like the America? Why does every baker have to hold your worldview? Why does every Deli have to be Kosher, or not Kosher? They don’t. And in a free country, thank God they don’t have to be…..at least not yet.

[1] https://truepundit.com/bill-maher-asks-brutal-question-cakeshop-critics-cant-answer-is-there-only-1-bakery-in-colorado/

[2] http://www.frcblog.com/2017/11/why-it-unnecessary-force-jack-phillips-bake-wedding-cake/

 

Devotion: Monday, September 3, 2018

Welcome to “Word from The Center” MONDAY, a devotional word from the Center of our faith, Jesus Christ, reflections from His Word. I’m Gregory Seltz, Today’s verse is from Eph. 6:10–20, where the Bible says,

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against [a]flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.

Put His Protection to Use!

Last month, at one of the most beautiful, serene places in the country, Table Rock Lake, Missouri, a tragedy occurred. A “Duck Boat” suddenly found itself in the middle of a violent storm. No one could imagine the boat capsizing, but it did.  17 people drowned, 9 from one family. Heart-wrenching! In reading the stories about the tragedy, one struck me immediately.  One of the survivors claimed that the captain of the boat told the passengers not to bother with the life-jackets. If that’s true, wow!

There are certain things in our life that are there for our protection and life-jackets on a vulnerable craft in the middle of a violent storm are one of them. I think that I would have grabbed the life-jacket no matter what. But I guess if the man in charge says not to, some might not have bothered. Well, in our verse for today, the Apostle Paul is telling you and me to put  protection from THE “man in charge” to work. Faith in Jesus is not some religious exercise to merely help with the day to day struggles of life. It’s that and more. Faith in Jesus is about His life, His forgiveness, His holiness, His spiritual protection, His Word of Grace, His Word of direction, all to be received as His gifts by Grace through Faith for life now and forever.

St. Paul knew the power of faith in Jesus and that’s why he tells us to be “strong in the Lord.” But even there, it’s not about us doing our best for Jesus. It’s receiving and putting his gifts to work in our lives. It’s “girding our loins with truth,” his word of truth and a sincerity that comes from our relationship with Him.  It’s “being fitted with the breastplate of righteousness,” a protection that comes when His Life, Death, and Resurrection are ours by Faith. In Him, then, our feet are firm with the proclamation that there is good news for sinners; our shield is our trust in Him; our Helmet is a head held high because our life is forever with Him; and His Word is the ability to move forward each day with a Word that guides, protects, and empowers us. Wow! What a blessing, what protection! The “man in charge” is telling us to put these gifts “on,” to put them to use for our good, today, tomorrow, forever. Good advice.

PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, thank you for providing eternal life and salvation for us. But thank you for providing for our spiritual protection now and forever too. Give us courage to put that to work each day. AMEN.

Word from the Center: Friday, August 31, 2018

Welcome to “Word from The Center” FRIDAY, a Two-Kingdom, practical reflection on the issues of the day from the Lutheran Center for Religious Liberty. I’m Gregory Seltz. Today’s topic/issue…

Separation or Intersection of Church and State?

This fall, our nation is debating the aptitude and viability of a candidate for a life-long appointment to the Supreme Court of the United States. The process has become vitriolic over the years as political partisanship has infected the examination process to the point where people want to know “how you would vote” on this issue or that, rather than determining whether or not you are qualified for this position. Recently, even a person’s religious convictions have been on trial, as political appointees have been asked “religious litmus test” questions to determine their fitness for public service. One Senator even insinuated that believing in the uniqueness of Jesus as the world’s Savior is discriminatory, making one unfit for public service in America. Wow! Does it really? Actually, not at all. That’s one reason why the founders had no “religious test” for public service. So, where do we go from here?

First, one should be able to speak about the relationship of the Christian tradition to the constitutional liberties that we hold so dear. The very foundations of individual rights and responsibilities, the right to public property, the right to redress the government, the protection of the rule of law for all… these fundamental principles are rooted in a biblical worldview ofculture. So much so that those who are alarmed by the idea of committed Christians being in influential, public positions miss the point. The Judeo-Christian tradition, with its emphasis on the rule of law and the dignity of the individual before the law, forms the foundation of the very liberties that our branches of government are sworn to protect. (See Adam MacLeod’s article, “Why Judge Kavanaugh’s Religion Should Be an Issue,” for a more detailed discussion of the biblical and cultural roots of the rule of law tradition.)

Why does all this matter? Well, in our culture, judges are supposed to be able to understand the law, respect the law, and, most importantly, not create the law. The separation of the branches of government, which often frustrates the intentions of politicians, be they part of the Executive Branch, the Legislative Branch, or the Judiciary, was philosophically by design. The branches were meant to be limited in their sphere, even in competition with each other at times, so that the political, coercive power of the government would not coalesce in one place alone to the determent of the citizen’s individual freedom. The limiting of their sphere of influence and the clear differentiation of their work from one another are the safeguards of liberty for us all.

Ironically, the Christian tradition, with Christ’s injunction to “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s,” undergirds this type of differentiation and limitation even further. Christians, especially devoted Christians, understand that their calling in the world is to be faithful within the vocations to which they are called. With the Christian tradition being the intellectual seedbed for many of the constitutional ideals that we enjoy and the judicial “rule of law” perspective that guards such freedoms, maybe it’s time to really understand why Judge Kavanaugh’s religion should be an issue. Or maybe it’s better to stay with the perspective of the Founders who would emphasize that a Supreme Court justice needs to understand and respect the law, but not create the law, and leave it at that.

Devotion: Monday, August 27, 2018

A Biblical, Christ-filled word to bless your lives. 

Welcome to “Word from The Center” MONDAY, a devotional word from the Center of our faith, Jesus Christ, reflections from His Word. I’m Gregory Seltz. Today’s verse is from Mark 7:8, where Jesus says,

You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions.”

Whose Law? Whose Life?

Is it my way or the highway?

We’ve always done it this way before, why change now?

Tradition, Tradition!! Human laws and traditions, new and old, have a purpose… but they can’t ultimately save. They might keep struggles at bay for a moment, or they might give a sense of stability for a time, but eventually they don’t hold. Why? Because we are sinners trying to keep those laws and traditions. In time, ironically, we can actually misuse even precious human laws and traditions by pitting them against the Law and the Gospel of God recorded in the Scripture. Our confusion on these matters reminded me of a quote by G.K. Chesterton. He said:

“The whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and Progressives. The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of Conservatives is to prevent the mistakes from being corrected.”

Jesus is getting at the heart of that spirit. He’s challenging the spirit in us that thinks that we have the answers to the big problems that we face in life, when we feel that our traditions, our expertise, our tried and true methods and inventions will be enough to cure the matters that ultimately ail the human heart. But two things happen when we seek to go it alone without God. One, we eventually see our ineptitude in the face of this world’s temptations and challenges; the fears, the insecurities, the anger, the resentment, and the discouragement overwhelm us in the end. Or, two, we discard the things that really matter, the Law and Gospel of God, and we seek to replace it with a cheap substitution, human laws and traditions on our terms alone. One way causes us to be overwhelmed by reality. The other, ignorant of it.

In the face of such an attitude, Jesus replies that people like that are “people (who) honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me” (Mark 7:6; quoting Isaiah 29:13). And that’s the point. Jesus wants to draw our hearts to Him. He wants to reconcile us to Himself, overcoming our fears, our ignorance, our sinfulness, so that we can face the real struggles of life with joy that comes through His Law and His Gospel at work in our lives by faith. Today’s the day to repent of the notion that all of life is in our hands. It’s not. And even if it were, we, as sinners would continue to make a grand mess of it all. Jesus teaches us to let the Law of God have its say in our life, to show us what is right, to show us our sin in its reflective mirror, so that we might receive His gift of forgiveness and life as the gracious gift that He has earned for us on our behalf. Let our traditions then be rooted in God’s Law and His freeing Gospel, because His Word ultimately delivers us Jesus, and the Life we get to live by grace in His Name.

PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, don’t ever let me take myself or my particular views on things more seriously than yourWord, your Law, your Gospel. Because when all is said and done, You can be trusted in all things. Give me that confidence in your saving Word each and every day. AMEN.

Word from the Center: Friday, August 24, 2018

Welcome to “Word from The Center” FRIDAY, a Two-Kingdom, practical reflection on the issues of the day from the Lutheran Center for Religious Liberty. I’m Gregory Seltz. Today’s topic/issue…

Religious Liberty or Bust!

In much of my reading today, I’m more and more alarmed at the vitriol directed toward the Christian Church and its teaching. The moral framework of the Bible and even the proclamation of the uniqueness of salvation in Christ alone are being caricatured as bigoted, hate speech right before our very eyes.

Such vitriolic, aggressive engagement seeks no disguise or cover in certain parts of North America already. Recently, in Canada, a Christian University was denied the certification of its Law School because of one paragraph in its student covenant. Here’s what it said,

Further, according to the Bible, sexual intimacy is reserved for marriage between one man and one woman, and within that marriage bond, it is God’s intention that it be enjoyed as a means for marital intimacy and procreation.[1]

That’s it. While there are many other prohibitions in the covenant, it is the traditional view of marriage and the Biblical view of sexuality that is now supposedly indefensible. But is that really true? Surely not. There are not only religious differences regarding the traditional view of the marriage of a man and a woman compared to all others. There are also sociological, physiological, psychological, and historical differences to be discussed in a robust, free discussion which compares the union of a man and a woman to the “marriage” of those of the same sex. The elimination of the dialogue and refusing to protect the right to hold different views on such matters are suddenly being viewed as a positive thing in an increasingly intolerant Canada and elsewhere.

Such is the tyranny of the moment. By government fiat, this Christian school has been denied the right to engage with the very laws that now seek to stifle its voice. Amazing. But the stifling of freedom and conscience is not just prevalent in Canada; it is growing here in America too. Every day, those who hold long-cherished, defensible, beneficial views of traditional marriage, family, sexuality, and so forth are being subjected to harassment, lawsuits, intimidation, and even corporate bullying.

Isn’t it ironic that politicians, who supposedly want to be out of our bedrooms, businesses, and personal lives, are now are seeking to “define what healthy relationships” are? And, truth be told, even for traditional marriages, the government isn’t granting them a right. It is actually limiting the rights of a man and woman, making them sign a contract of marriage. Why? Because the government has a vested interest in not having the responsibility of raising the man and woman’s child(ren), which is only inherent in the male/female bond. If the government can’t stick to its limited involvement in relationships where it has some vested interest, it should get out of the whole marriage business completely. What it shouldn’t be doing is telling faith-based universities, schools, churches, and people what a healthy relationship is “from their point of view.” Religious liberty is essential for both sides of this argument. After all, the ability to “agree to disagree” in matters of conscience, is a fundament right of liberty in a free society, right?

[1]For the full article, click here.

 

Devotion: Monday, August 20, 2018

A Biblical, Christ-filled word to bless your lives. 

Welcome to “Word from The Center” MONDAY, a devotional word from the Center of our faith, Jesus Christ, reflections from His Word. I’m Gregory Seltz. Today’s verse is from John 6:67-69, where it says,

67 “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve.68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.”

A Haunting Question that Calls for Faith!

Moms and dads have all had that moment in their lives when they realize that this son, or that daughter just doesn’t get how much they are loved, or how much they as parents have sacrificed for them so that they might have a chance to make it in this world. It’s a tough thing, isn’t it? Such moments often come when you’ve had to discipline your child, or to guide them in a direction that they didn’t want to go. It often happens when your child doesn’t think that you are being fair, when you are struggling to know which version of love needs to be applied, the love that hugs or the love that disciplines. And, on top of all that, you need to do what’s right for them, not what’s right for your conscience, or your feelings. It’s tough. (Oh, I get that we parents don’t always do all this correctly… so if you are a son or daughter out there whose parents have let you down at times, repentance and forgiveness are needed the other direction,too). But, for our devotional purposes today, I’m talking to those who have experienced that moment where you’ve done the very best that you can do for another, and they still don’t see it. In fact, they think that you’ve missed the point, that you don’t care. They’re prepared to go off on their own as if you have let them down. That hurts deeply.

Such is the emotion that Jesus is experiencing in this text on a massive scale. The Christmaschild has grown up and started His ministry. He has preached, taught, challenged, healed, forgiven… exhausted himself in service to others, all to call people to repentance and to faith in Him as their savior and redeemer. And when He lays it all on the line with the crowd in our text, manyreject Him and start to leave. Somehow that call to faith IN HIM ALONE is out of the question, no matter how incredible their need for Him or how amazing His love is for them.

And that’s where the “rub” is even today. In theology, we call this “the scandal of particularity,” namely that Jesus ALONE is the savior we ALL need, the only one for the WHOLE world. Yes, that’s right. The whole world is saved by His gracious life, death, and resurrection, but He’s the ONLY one who could do it for all. Often, our rebellious nature (like so many that day with Jesus) looks at all that He has done and says, “If I have to believe in you ALONE,” that’s too much! Is it really? When people ask that question, I really wonder if they understand their need for God, and if they understand God’s great offer to them in Jesus. Today, I challenge all of us to look deeply in the Scripture concerning what Jesus Christ has done for us. You will not find one who is more just and merciful, who loves you more deeply, guides you more surely, sacrifices for you more diligently, or comforts you more sincerely.

When Jesus turns to Peter and says, “Will you go too?” It must have been gut-wrenching. But, no matter the response, Jesus would journey to the cross to pay for the sins even of those who would ultimately reject Him. Today, let’s remember how easy it is to miss all that God has done for us, and, even better, let’s mimic the response of Peter as we probe the depths of that amazing love of Christ for us in all we say and do. “We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.”

PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, we know that you experienced abandonment because of our sin so that we might be saved. Give us faith to trust you as the one who cares for us even more than we can care for ourselves, AMEN.