The Power of Silence

There is a time and place for everything, even silence.

Solomon wrote, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven… a time to keep silence, and a time to speak.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1, 7)

There may be people around you whom you wish would understand the importance of silence. They tend to over talk and never be quiet. That is why Solomon also said, “Too much talk leads to sin. Be sensible and keep your mouth shut.” (Proverbs 10:19)

Throughout the Scriptures we read about the power of silence. James the brother of Jesus told us we should be quick to listen and slow to speak. When the seventh seal is opened in the book of Revelation unleashing judgment upon the world, there is silence in heaven for about half an hour. As I have observed the intentional use of silence, I wanted to share several ways I have seen silence used as a powerful medium.

Silence can be a form of judgement. When the high priest questioned Jesus at the trial before his execution, Jesus didn’t answer his accusers. He choose to remain silent. His silence was a form of judgment against those who would crucify him.

Silence can be a way to express wisdom. Jesus taught his disciples, “Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.” (Matthew 7:6) He was teaching us that you shouldn’t give your words to those who will turn them back against you. Don’t waste you nuggets of truth on those who will not appreciate them. Silence can be a sign of your wisdom and inner strength. The ancient Hebrew proverb says, “Even fools are thought wise when they keep silent; with their mouths shut, they seem intelligent.” (Proverbs 17:28)

Silence can be used to punish. Parents will place kids in “time out” and use silence to discipline the child. It’s the single best-documented technique in all of pediatrics for reducing unwanted behavior in children according to some doctors.

Also, “the silent treatment” can be used to punish. The silent treatment communicates without words that you refuse to hear what the other person has to say. The “cold shoulder” is an attempt to communicate displeasure, resentment, or indifference.

Silence can be used to help others. Active silence and listening is a productive form of communication. Active listening means you are quite while the other person is speaking. You don’t interrupt. You pay attention to verbal and nonverbal queues. When you are actively listening, you often repeat back what the person is saying. You summarize. You ask questions. This type of silence and listening helps the other person to clarify their thoughts and feelings.

Silence can be a form of resistance. If you perceive a threat, you may choose to be silent. It can be a coping mechanism when resisting negative stress.

Silence can be used to listen to God more effectively. The bible tells Jesus would withdraw to silent places to pray and to listen to his Heavenly Father. And listen to how God choose to speak to Elijah:

“Go out and stand before me on the mountain,” the Lord told him. And as Elijah stood there, the Lord passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper.” (1 Kings 19:11-13)

There is great power in silence.

Christmas is about two kingdoms colliding

At Christmas we remember.

We look back to the day in history when two kingdoms collided.

The kingdom of heaven quietly invaded the kingdom of earth bringing both war and peace. This day would change the eternal destiny of many.

It happened as the king of heaven, the son of the living God, came to earth. But he didn’t come as a conquering ruler as many had expected. He came as a baby. He didn’t come to slay the Roman occupiers of Israel as many hoped but rather he came to be slain. He came to give his life as a ransom for many. He came to set the captives free. The captives who had been entrapped by the Prince of the kingdom of this world.

Although the king of heaven was the lion of the tribe of Judah, he came as a lamb. The Mighty God came as a suffering servant.

It began with the circumstances he was born into. He was born to a lowly Jewish couple who couldn’t find place to give birth to their first child. There was was no vacancy for them at the local inns. They ended up in a place for animals.

The moment came and his mother gave birth. She wrapped him in strips of cloth and placed him in the only place available, an animal feeding trough.

But make no mistake, this was the king of heaven. He was THE Messiah. He was the Mighty God prophesied about by Isaiah hundreds of years earlier, “For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His government and its peace will never end.” (Isaiah 9:6-7)

The angles knew who he was and what an incredible event that was unfolding before their eyes. They arrived on the scene to herald his appearing to some lowly shepherds on a hillside. They wanted these men, who were the outcast of society, to be the first to hear of the King’s birth. He was noble they were ignoble. But that is how God’s kingdom works. The first shall be last and the last shall be first.

The armies of heaven proclaimed to them that night, “Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”(Luke 2:14) The shepherds hurriedly left to find the baby Jesus in the manger just at they said.

The coming of the king of heaven to earth was a decisive event in history. The heavenly host could not keep silent that night. They could not keep silent because the eternal, all powerful, infinite God had taken on human flesh. He had become one of us. He came to save us, not to destroy us. Even though we had rebelled against him and his kingdom, he came in peace. He came to restore us to himself.

The Apostle Paul would later write about the mystery of Jesus, God in the flesh. He said, “he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being.” (Philippians 2:7)

He showed us what true humility looked like as he gave up the luxury of heaven for the poverty of earth. He exchanged safety for danger, comfort for hardship, and glory for obscurity. He did it all for our sake and his glory.

Surprisingly he didn’t come to bring peace to the world. Later in his life Jesus would say, “Don’t imagine that I came to bring peace to the earth! I came not to bring peace, but a sword. ‘I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. Your enemies will be right in your own household!”

He came rather to bring peace between God and man. He came to bridge the gap that existed as a result of our sin. He was the truth and he came to bring truth. And truth separates. It separates the light from the dark. It separates right from wrong. It separates those who believe from those who don’t.

He came to give eternal life in his eternal kingdom to all who would believe and receive his invitation freely. This meant that we have a choice. We have to choose which kingdom we want to belong to. We have to choose between the kingdom of heaven and the kingdom of earth.

His arrival meant that he was also making war. He came to defeat the “evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12) He came to make a spectacle of them. He disarmed them. He shamed them by his eventual death on a cross. He stripped them of their power over us.

After accomplishing his work here, he went back to assume his place on his throne in heaven. But the work of his kingdom is still working its way through history and our world.

It works through the world as a yeast does through dough. “It is like a tiny mustard seed that a man planted in a garden; it grows and becomes a tree, and the birds make nests in its branches.” (Luke 13:19) It continues to grow throughout the hearts of men, women, and children over time. And one day it will be consummated.

One day the work will be completed and the kingdom of heaven will overtake the kingdom of earth. The king will return. He came as a lamb but he will return as a lion. He will come to finish what he started. He will come to set up his eternal kingdom on the earth.

In that day sin will be no more. The curse will be gone. The spiritual enemies of darkness will be banished and punished forever.

The day of that coming kingdom is prophesied about in Revelation 21:1-2. “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.”

“I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”

So that is what we do at Christmas. We look back. We remember. But we also look ahead. We look forward to the king’s return to make all things right that are wrong in our world today. We are reminded to that we must choose. We must choose what kingdom we want to belong to and what king we want to follow. That is what Christmas is all about.


The difference between the two white horses and their riders in the book of Revelation

White horses are mentioned twice in the book of Revelation that set into motion the events of the Apocalypse.


The first is found in Revelation 6:2. In this scene, the first of seven seals is opened by Jesus, the only one found worthy to open the seals. He is the only one who can give the permission for these forces to be released upon the earth. “And I looked, and behold, a white horse! And its rider had a bow, and a crown was given to him, and he came out conquering, and to conquer.”

Some have argued that this rider on the white horse is Christ himself who just opened the first seal. But it seems more likely that the rider of this horse is someone different. The bow he carries is a symbol of military power. The crown is a symbol of victory.

If you look back over history, you will find others who have been bent on world conquest. People like Alexander the Great. Attila the Hun. Charlemagne. Genghis Khan. Tamerlane. Adolf Hitler. But these world conquerors, were forerunners, foreshadowing this last tyrant. They paled in comparison to this apocalyptic conqueror and his conquest.

This leader, bent on world domination, will begin the consummation of history. The opening of this seal will be the mark of the beginning of the great tribulation to come upon the world. A time of unparalleled suffering.


In comparison to this rider and white horse, we find a different rider of a white horse in Revelation 19:1.

“Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war.”

Almost without warning, heaven is opened in the end of time. And from heaven comes a rider unlike all the others. He judges and makes war based on righteousness. He is the final judge. This rider is Jesus. He will bring a close to this present age. He will end the suffering and right all wrongs that day. He will establish his kingdom, the final kingdom.

Revelation 19 tells us:

His eyes are like blazing fire. Nothing can be hidden from his penetrating gaze into the hearts of men.

On his head are many crowns. He has unlimited sovereignty. All authority is his.

Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword. The word of his judgment has lethal power. God’s Word searches and judges our hearts and motives. Just as the writer of Hebrews wrote, “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” (Hebrews 4:12-13).

Then we read in Revelation 19, “On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.”

The title “King of kings and Lord of lords” show his supremacy over all the past future world leaders. He alone will judge justly and strike down the wicked. The forces of evil (demonic and human) will not be able to resist Christ’s power.

This is also what the Apostle wrote about in II Thessalonians 1:7-8, “God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.”

Christ will repay the wicked in that day and raise up those who believe to be glorified.

So that is the difference between the two riders of the two different horses in Revelation 6 and 19.

The first is a leader given a short season of military conquest and victory over the world.

The second is the King of Kings and Lord of lords. The One who will defeat the first leader and establish his eternal kingdom on the earth.

The one whom the prophet Isaiah prophesied about, “to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.” Isaiah 9:6-7)

He came as a baby in a manger, humble and gentle. He was led as a lamb to the cross to be slaughtered for our sins. But in the end, he will return on a white horse as a powerful warrior and ruling king.


After the last tear falls
After the last secret’s told
After the last bullet tears through flesh and bone
After the last child starves
And the last girl walks the boulevard
After the last year that’s just too hard

After the last disgrace
After the last lie to save some face
After the last brutal jab from a poison tongue
After the last dirty politician
After the last meal down at the mission
After the last lonely night in prison

‘Cause after the last plan fails
After the last siren wails
After the last young husband sails off to join the war
After the last “this marriage is over”
After the last young girl’s innocence is stolen
After the last years of silence that won’t let a heart open

All things will be made new. All things will be made right. We’ll look back on these tears as old tales.

“I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” (Rev 21:3-4)

(Lyrics from Andrew Peterson’s song “After the Last Tear Falls”)

5 Ways Men Can Pursue the Heart of Their Family

5 Ways Men Can Pursue the Hearts of Their Family

As men, we may realize how often and frequently we fall short when it comes to leading our families and pursuing their hearts. I am a pastor and I know that I am not always the spiritual leader I need to be. I imagine a lot of men feel this way.

Why is this true?

Because since we are all descendants of Adam, we all fall short. That is what the bible says: “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23 NLT) And thank goodness for next part of that verse, “and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus”. Though we fall short, God justifies us and make us perfect in Jesus.

Until that day when he completely perfects us, we live in the reality that we all have the same great grandparent Adam in common. And our great grandfather has passed down some baggage to all of us because of his original sin. It is hard wired into our DNA.

So as men who follow Christ, we need to aim for progression more than perfection. Expecting perfection this side of heaven will frustrate us and discourage us. Perfection will come when Jesus returns or takes us home. But until then, we make progress. One step at a time. And some days it is two steps forward and three steps back.

Also, we may not have ever been taught the skills on how pursue the hearts of our wives and children. We may not have had the role models in our lives to show us how to do it. We want to do it, we often just don’t know how. We truly do want you to know how much we love you. Sometime we just don’t know how to go about it.

So with that realization, here are some ways we can progress as men when it comes to leading our families better.

  1. Stay engaged.It’s easy to disengage and disconnect as a man when at home. It takes effort and intentionality to engage. We have to fight against our natural tendencies to be passive.

Part of what Adam passed down to all men, as a result of the sinful nature, is passivity. He was passive when he should have been assertive. When Eve was tempted to sin by the serpent, he just stood by watching. He didn’t’ do anything. Maybe he checked out.  Maybe he was on the couch with the remote in his hand.

As Adam’s descendants, we also have a tendency to check out. Disengage. Detach. Disconnect. You get the idea.

And I would like to remind the women in our lives of an important point here. Many of the books and movies out there paint unrealistic pictures of men. You know the guy. Always romantic, always engaged, and always looking buff with his chissled chin and his “smoldering” look while listening with an attentive ear. He doesn’t really exist.  He is a fictional character. We can’t live up to that.

Don’t expect the man in your life to be Dr. McDreamy (i.e. Patrick Dempsey). He can no more live up to that than you can live up to the many Photoshopped models online. Just as a man can be tempted to look at visual pornography, thus painting an unrealistic picture of women, a woman can be tempted to look at romantic pornography, thus painting an unrealistic picture of men. It works both ways.

Therefore, we both have to resist the temptation of believing the ugliness of the unrealistic and embrace the beauty of the realistic. The grass may seem to be greener on the other side, but only because you can’t see the poop from this side.

So for women, love your man as he is, where he is, and who he is. This will help you encourage your man to engage with you and the kids. As men, we are already struggling with the question, “Do I have what it takes?” So your encouragement goes a long way in helping him engage.

  1. Disengage to engage.We need to set times to disengage from the things that can distract us at home.

I have some friends that require all family members to put their phones in a basket during dinner time so that no one is distracted through the constant beeping, texts, and updates. You disengage from other things to engage with each other relationally. We as men have to initiate these boundaries for our families.
This also means we need to take time to turn off the TV and look at each other and listen. Put down your computer and take a break from work emails. Take a walk the family. Do an activity. Get ice cream. Learn what they like, dislike, and what is going on in their world. (We have some other great ideas to help you with that here.)

  1. Date your wife. There is a tendency for men to stop pursuing our wives the way we did before marriage. Keep on pursuing her heart the way you did before you were married.

And when you take her out, make it a point to NOT talk about the kids, work, finances, or other things that can take the fun out of the date. Let the date remain fun.

  1. Pray together. Leading your family in prayer time can be intimidating for a guy. But that is part of our faith journey, overcoming our fears. We can pray with our family at dinner time, when kids go to bed, or alone with our wife. It doesn’t have to be fancy or formal, just real.

Just the other night I sat in the floor in our living room while me wife sat beside me on the couch and we prayed about our finances together. The next couple of days we received financial provisions from three different places. God answers prayer and our prayers seem to be more powerful and unifying when we pray together!

  1. Don’t give up. There is a tendency when we fail, or when we realize we have fallen short, or when we have experienced some resistance from our family, to give up.

All of us will get frustrated, confused, and even angry from time to time. But keep pressing in. Don’t give up.

It requires perseverance to pursue the heart of your wife and kids. Learn from your mistakes and keep on keeping on.

And remember you are striving for progression more than perfection. Just take the next step. Do what you know you need to do next and let God take care of the rest. In doing so, we will all make steps toward becoming men who are learning to become better leaders at home.

5 things you can do to raise the respect level of your teen

(taken from the book Boundaries with Teens: When to Say Yes, How to Say No by  Dr. John Townsend. I highly recommend picking up a copy of this book. There is great content and an abundance of practical solutions is this book.)

Disrespect and teens seem to go together.

Defining the Problem

Most people find it easier to recognize disrespect than to define it. Disrespect can be seen in a tone of voice, a body stance, or a rolling of the eyes, or it can be evidenced in choices teens make that indicate they aren’t following their parents’ values.

Parents generally know when they are on the receiving end of a teen’s disrespect, because it feels like an attack, and it is one.

Disrespect is an assault on your place in the teen’s life.

Rather than the presence of something, disrespect is actually an absence of something. The absence of honor for someone. And respect conveys honor.

You show honor to people by giving weight to what is weighty about that person: their role in your life, their authority, their care for you. When teens disrespect, they dismiss that honor.

Instead, they have contempt for or anger at a person, or they simply ignore the person. This lack of honor can be directed at someone as a person or at his or her feelings, opinions, needs, rules, or standards.

Disrespect is rooted in several things that are going on simultaneously in your teen.


Teens tend to be narcissistic. They are less invested in getting along with the family unit and more aware of their emerging feelings and thoughts, which they view as theirs and no one else’s.

And those thoughts and feelings are strong and intense. It’s hard for teens to pay attention to what their inner world is saying as well as to what others are saying.

So they listen more to themselves (and often those peers whom they admire) and less to others. This self-focus contributes to disrespect.

The more teens are invested in their own perceptions, the less honor they will give to others. Those around them feel negated and put down because the self-focus is so strong.

Power changes.

Teens are coming into their own sense of power. They are smarter, more verbal, more mobile, and freer than they have ever been. Along with this increase in personal power can come a disrespect for others’ feelings and thoughts.

Because they are experimenting with being a stronger person, teens may not be as careful or kind about others, so people around them get annoyed or get their feelings hurt.

Authority shifts.

Adolescents are also coming to terms with authority. They want to be their own boss and to be accountable to no one. Yet they are not ready for that sort of freedom, so they challenge, question, and argue with any and all adult authorities.

In itself this isn’t bad; it is a helpful tension for the teen to resolve. However, it can lead to disrespecting a parent’s feelings, wishes, rules, or values, which is defiance.


In addition, teens are experiencing their own dark side as part of the adolescent passage. They can simply be mean and cruel. It’s a part of humanity that is certainly not good, but we all have the capacity for meanness.

Meanness will often negate the respect and honor that a teen should give to other people. A teen may be sarcastic, attacking, or dismissive of others and not even feel bad about it.

 You may be thinking maybe I should just sit back and wait till he or she are out of the house. Don’t give in to that temptation.

You can help your adolescent work through disrespectful attitudes and behaviors. Your teen needs for you to take part, and when you do, you can make a difference.

Here are five things you can do to raise the respect level of your teen.

1. Be a person who should be respected.

Your kid should respect you, but you may be making it more difficult for your teen, particularly if you have unresolved character issues and problems, such as drinking, anger outbursts, self-centeredness, irresponsibility, people-pleasing, or a “do as I say, not as I do” stance, or if you depend on your teen to offer you comfort.

This bears repeating: Your teen doesn’t need a perfect parent. But your teen needs to be able to look up to you and think, That’s what an adult is. That is a good thing to become.

In other words, become an honorable person with self-respect. This tells your teen that you should receive honor, and in turn, your teen will be more likely to become an honorable person as well.

2. Make room for differences and anger.

Differences and anger are there, they are real, and they aren’t all bad. Adolescents need to have their own feelings and experiences and to know what acceptable anger feels like.

Don’t attempt to bring back the compliant nine-year-old you used to have, as you will be trying to force your adolescent to develop backward rather than forward, and he will (and should) resist it.

Instead, make it all right for your teen to have his own mind and feelings. When your teen disagrees, say, “Interesting thought. Why do you think that?” This approach disarms much of the challenge and provocation.

I often cook breakfast to help my wife and give our boys a decent start on the day. To keep things from getting boring, I’m always figuring out new things to cook.

One morning I made a special oatmeal with cinnamon and raisins. Halfway through, one of my sons said, “Dad, just to let you know, I don’t like oatmeal.”

“Okay, that’s cool; thanks for telling me,” I said. He wasn’t being rebellious; he was stating a dislike. I don’t want my teens to grow up saying they like things they don’t and tolerating things they shouldn’t.

3. Require respect.

There is a difference, however, between differences and disrespect. Teens need room to differentiate themselves from their parents, but it can be done with honor.

Give specifics so your teen knows what is acceptable and what isn’t. It may be that she honestly does not know the difference. Or if she does, your being specific will let her know where you are drawing the line.

For example, say, “It’s fine for you to disagree with me and even to get mad at me. That’s how we know what we need to discuss and what problems we need to work out. But from now on, it’s not okay to disrespect me. Here is what I mean by disrespect: rolling your eyes at me, being sarcastic with me, having a disrespectful tone of voice with me, raising your voice with me, swearing at me, or calling me names. There are probably more, but I’ll let you know when you do them.”

Tone of voice is always tricky because it’s so subjective. But most teens understand what you mean by this. Their tone of voice gets them in trouble with their teacher at school and conveys contempt for the other person’s viewpoint.

But if your teen insists that she doesn’t understand what you mean, then act out for her what she does. Make your meaning clear so that your child is responsible for the information.

4. Be an accurate feedback system.

As the parent, you are your teen’s primary teacher for learning how to disagree and have respect, so your feedback needs to be accurate and clear. If you are easily hurt when someone is direct with you, do some work on that.

This is more your problem than your teen’s, and you don’t want him to be dishonest with the world because of what he learned from you.

But when your adolescent is being rude and disrespectful, confront him. He needs this information, so don’t neglect giving it to him, even if it’s inconvenient or difficult. Not long ago I was at dinner with some parents and kids, and one boy was in a foul mood, which he then directed at his mom, a friend of mine.

He would say hurtful things, such as, “You’re a crummy mom. You don’t know anything,” and she would divert him, saying, “How is your burger?” or “What movie do you want to see tonight?”

I didn’t interfere, but later I told the mom, “Travis was all over you. Why didn’t you say anything to him?”

She said, “Well, it wasn’t that bad, and I was just tired of fighting anyway.”

I understand being tired of fighting, I truly do. I could tell that she was exhausted by Travis. But no child should be allowed to talk to anyone like that. If your teen says similar kinds of things to you, something is wrong.

Get help, support, and strengthening from other people, so that you can begin giving your teen feedback that a rude and disrespectful attitude is not okay.

5. Enforce consequences.

If you have been clear about disrespect, but you haven’t been imposing consequences up till now, expect your teen to test the limits. So have your consequences ready, and follow through with them.

Here is an example: “I talked to you about disrespect a few days ago, and I told you that you would lose a weekend night with your friends if you were disrespectful. Well, when you used that tone of voice with me at dinner and rolled your eyes, that was disrespect. You’re grounded Friday night.”

“But that’s not fair!”

“I know you think that, but we’ve been over the rules, so they are clear. It’s okay that you don’t think I’m being fair, but I hope you don’t make things worse by disagreeing right now in a disrespectful way, because I will ground you for a second night.”

“But I didn’t know!”

“Well, we’ve talked about it. And remember, I gave you a couple of warnings about it before I gave you a consequence, so that you would know. I think you knew. So if you don’t want to be with me right now, you can leave the room. It’s okay if you’re mad, as long as you are not mad disrespectfully.”

You Can Do It!

Freely and generously give your teen love and grace, and require that your child respect and honor you and others. In so doing, you will be helping your adolescent become an adult who treats others with respect.

(taken from the book Boundaries with Teens: When to Say Yes, How to Say No by  Dr. John Townsend. I highly recommend picking up a copy of this book. There is great content and an abundance of practical solutions is this book.)

The Weight of the Supreme Court’s Decision on Same Sex Marriage

Whether you agree or disagree with the Supreme Court’s decision today on same sex marriage, it is hard to deny the weight and magnitude of their decision. It will shape policy and practice in our country for many years to come. A new course for marriage has been charted and mandated for all 50 states of our nation.

For those who claim that Jesus is Lord, and follow his teaching that God created marriage to be between one man and one woman, this decision is unsettling. I am unsettled. As a minister who doesn’t perform same sex ceremonies , I know I will be marginalized.

I think Justice Samuel Alito was correct in his assessment of the court’s decision, “This decision will be used to vilify Americans who are unwilling to assent to the new orthodoxy.”

I also realize I will be labeled and called a bigot by many. This is what Chief Justice John Roberts said: “It is one thing for the majority to conclude that the Constitution protects a right to same-sex marriage; it is something  else to portray everyone who does not share the majority’s ‘better informed understanding’ as bigoted.”

With that said, this decision by the Supreme Court shouldn’t surprise me. I shouldn’t expect the world or our nation to embrace the principles and values of the kingdom of God. After all, the king himself came to our world and the world rejected and killed him. Decisions by our nation like this much like the Roe vs. Wade decision are reminders that I shouldn’t let my roots grow deep here in this world. It is a reminder that I am a citizen of heaven first.

For those of us who claim that Jesus is Lord, we must give up the hope that the world is going to all of sudden fully embrace the teachings of our king. It didn’t 2,000 years ago and won’t today. We shouldn’t expect the world or our nation to legislate Christianity. Jesus didn’t impose his kingdom on others when he came but graciously invited people as he showed them what his kingdom was about by healing their diseases, giving sight to the blind, and raising the dead.

Yet, listen to what Jesus said in regards to popular opinion and the majority: “If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first. The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you.” (John 15:18-19 NLT)

If Jesus is your king, you are no longer a citizen of this world. Your citizenship is in heaven. You are now an ambassador to a lost and broken world. This is not your home. You are a foreigner and alien. You are looking forward to another country.

The creed of the Christian faith is “Jesus is Lord”. Such a declaration means that we submit ourselves to the authority of Jesus and not this world. We believe he is our God and not ourselves. He determines and knows what is best for us because he created us.

And we shouldn’t expect the world to jump on board. The world is in rebellion against God. A rebellion that will increase until the final days. It has been in rebellion every since Adam and Eve did the one thing God told them not to do. All of us have rebelled. Either passively or directly.

For those of us who claim Jesus is Lord, we know what happens when we choose to go on our way and make our own rules. Because we have all done it. We have all experienced the sorrow associated with that path. We know that God allows us to go on our way. He allows us to pursue desires that are not always best for us. By doing this God allows us to experience his passive judgement. He gives us over to the folly of our ways. That appears to be what we see today and will continue to see more and more.

Amazingly the words written by the Apostle Paul 2000 years ago still ring true today. “So God abandoned them to do whatever shameful things their hearts desired. As a result, they did vile and degrading things with each other’s bodies. They traded the truth about God for a lie. So they worshiped and served the things God created instead of the Creator himself, who is worthy of eternal praise! Amen. That is why God abandoned them to their shameful desires. Even the women turned against the natural way to have sex and instead indulged in sex with each other. And the men, instead of having normal sexual relations with women, burned with lust for each other. Men did shameful things with other men, and as a result of this sin, they suffered within themselves the penalty they deserved.”

God takes his hands off and lets them go their own way. I believe he does this in the hope that one day they too will turn and find the grace and mercy of the loving open arms of their Heavenly Father.

So remember you are a citizen of another nation, another country, another kingdom. Don’t expect the one we live in now to embrace the values on the one we will live in for eternity.