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prayer invite

A Kansas City, Kansas police officer was shot and killed on Tuesday. Police Captain Robert Melton was 46 years old. He gave 17 years of service to the Kansas City Police Department. He also was a veteran of the Kansas Army National Guard, who served in Afghanistan.

He was a dedicated servant who deeply cared for others. He understood the meaning of sacrifice and service. He lived out a calling to help people in distress even if it put his own life in peril.

Pray for his family and friends, the KC police department, and the Army community. Ask that God would comfort the friends and family of Captain Melton and strengthen them for the days ahead.

 

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Today America celebrates 240 years of independence. As many are inclined to celebrate with fireworks, picnics, and parades, the Forth of July also provides the perfect opportunity to look back on the document and the ideas that brought us to this place in time.

When one looks at the Declaration of Independence the emphasis is clearly on reasons to separate from England.  It also articulates the fundamental ideas that form our nation:  all men are created free and equal and possess the same inherent, natural rights. These rights are not imagined, decreed, or penned on paper by mankind, but found in the eternal “Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God.” When rights are viewed and expressed as “God-given” the Declaration’s meaning transcends the particulars of time and circumstance.  It means that these rights are inherently possessed by all men because of the Almighty.

There are five references to God in the Declaration of Independence, two in the first paragraph, one in the middle, and two in the last paragraph.

As we continue our Fourth of July celebrations, may we take time to appreciate the idea that we are free people, but ultimately that our American freedom was born of God.

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prayer invite

Sunday’s horrifying attack was the worst mass shooting in America’s history and it is the worst terrorist attack on American soil since 9/11.

Pray for the injured in this tragedy and the families of all the victims who lost their lives. Ask God to comfort those who mourn the loss of family and friends.

May Christian men and women rise up to support each other in this time of tragedy. Help us to remember that you are the strong tower we seek when times are tough. Guide our hands and feet to respond in a Christ-like manner.

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boy and girl

I read a story on parenting a few years ago.  It was eye opening to say the least.

A mom and a dad wanted to start a family.  They wanted to raise their child in a better way than they had experienced.  The parents wanted to raise their child to have better choices free from social norms that they considered harmful in our world.  This all sounded fine and dandy until I read their plan.

You see, they believe that society imposes certain gender norms on people.  And these norms make us who we are.  Biology has nothing to do with it.  Boys are wrapped in blue blankets and girls are wrapped in pink blankets at the hospital.  We are all hapless victims of circumstance and society after that.  Boys play with toy guns and girls play with dolls.  This forms us.  Boys take wood shop in school while girls take home economics.  This determines who you are.  All of these social constructs are then forced down on the individual child and that is what makes us a guy or a gal.  We become products of our environment and mirror the social norms around us.

The couple has a child and launch out on their parenting plan.  From this point on, the story reads more like a strange sociology experiment.  They give their child a gender neutral name.  They dress their child in neutral clothes, so that it could decide if it wanted to be a boy or girl.  They give their child a neutral haircut or hair style, so that it can have the freedom to choose its own gender.  You see the parents are just waiting for the child to tell the parents how it wants to be raised, known, and identified.  Will the child play with boys or girls on the playground at school?  They will stay out of the way until the individual child makes a decision.

This libertine parenting method struck me as very odd.  Why would these parents purposefully keep truth from their own child?  If there is no truth from mom and dad, what kind of life will this kid endure?  What other choices are they leaving up to their child?  Why wouldn’t they try to help, protect, and actually raise their kid?

A laissez-faire approach to life can only get you so far without dramatic consequences.  I am personally grateful that my parents taught me that fire is hot, some snakes are poisonous, and to come in from the rain.  That sounds ridiculous, but so is laissez-faire parenting.  Perhaps it is best to share the truth with those that we love.  Living in the example of Jesus, wouldn’t that be a better way?

Part of that truth is that we are made in the image of God.  Psalm 139:14 declares, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made . . . .”  Each life is a wonderful masterpiece made by our Creator, the Living God.  God does not make garbage.  While people may question who they are or why they are here, they always bear the fingerprint of the Master.

God made us male and female.  Pointing to Genesis 1:27 is not bigotry, but science.  Our DNA is unique from our parents.  Gender is determined immediately upon fertilization or when life begins. The 23rd pair of chromosomes will establish the sex of a baby.  Biology, not feelings or childhood toys, determines our gender.

We are all called to honor God with our body.  This means living in purity.  This is accomplished by upholding fidelity in marriage and upholding chastity outside of marriage.  We need to be aware of potential temptations and be transparent with those who hold us accountable.  This is also where parents need to speak truth to their children.  A laissez-faire parenting plan in this arena is reckless and harmful.  Teach your kids what is right, don’t ignore the truth.  Scripture calls us to “present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God” and to be “transformed by the renewing of your minds” Romans 12:1-2.  Heaven help us all to live by this standard.

As the bathroom wars of 2016 go on, let us remember to speak the truth to those we love.  Let us also remember that parenting is a ministry of the heart that deserves our very best and sharing what we know is never the wrong answer.

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NDOP

The National Day of Prayer is an annual observance held on the first Thursday of May, inviting people of all faiths to pray for our nation. Since its inception, this day has continually united all Americans in prayer while also encouraging personal repentance and righteousness in our culture. The National Day of Prayer belongs to all Americans and is a day that transcends differences, bringing together citizens to celebrate our most beloved freedom; the freedom to humbly come before God and seek His guidance in prayer.

The National Day of Prayer is a vital part of our heritage. Since the first call to prayer in 1775, when the Continental Congress asked the colonies to pray for wisdom in forming a nation, the call to prayer has continued through our history, including President Lincoln’s proclamation of a day of “humiliation, fasting, and prayer” in 1863. In 1952, a joint resolution by Congress, signed by President Truman, declared an annual national day of prayer. In 1988, the law was amended and signed by President Reagan, permanently setting the day as the first Thursday of every May. Each year, the president signs a proclamation, encouraging all Americans to pray on this day. Last year, all 50 state governors plus the governors of several U.S. territories signed similar proclamations.

Whether you lift your voice in a sanctuary or sit silently at home, join people across America and take to time to approach the Almighty in prayer.

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harriet

It was recently announced that Harriet Tubman would replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill. Harriet Tubman is remembered as an abolitionist who risked her own life to rescue others, but it is the story of her living faith that truly made her famous.

She was born into slavery around 1820 and was raised as an illiterate child. Harriet’s mother often shared Bible stories and helped to develop a passionate faith in her child.

Tubman escaped to freedom in 1849. She made use of a network known as the Underground Railroad to find her freedom. This informal, but well-organized system was composed of free and enslaved African Americans, white abolitionists and other religious activists. Most prominent among the latter in Maryland at the time were members of the Friends Church, also known as Quakers.

Even after securing her own freedom, Tubman later made more than 13 missions to rescue enslaved families and friends. Her notoriety and wide ranging success with the Underground Railroad grew. Tubman was nicknamed “Moses” after the biblical rescuer who delivered the Jews from slavery in Egypt.

Tubman ultimately led hundreds of slaves to freedom. The groups would travel at night and always in secrecy. All of her rescue missions were successful. She “never lost a passenger” and attributed all of her strength and success to God.

Today, even as Christians are being persecuted for their faith, we should look to the story of Harriet Tubman and be reminded how important it is demonstrate a living faith. Harriet’s mother could not teach her daughter to read, but she could share Bible stories to develop a lasting faith. Christians could be fined and arrested for harboring fugitive slaves, but they carved out time and space to help people in need. They shared food, shelter, and protection with fellow believers so that they could find freedom. Harriet also practiced a living faith by crossing the Mason-Dixon Line, risking her own arrest to save others who had no way to escape the cruel grasp of slavery.

Just as God has richly provided for us in 2016, may we boldly live out our Christian faith in a way that benefits others and guides them to a newfound freedom.

 

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crazy world

It may not be the politically correct way to say it, but sometimes I feel like the world has gone crazy. There are days when the common sense, decency, and values that I saw in my youth seem to have vanished from our culture. Common sense no longer seems common. Decency is no longer honored. And the values of yesterday feel strangely distant.

Take for instance these events. Presidential debates need a seven second delay or a PG-13 rating. Men must now be called biological males. Teen age girls can enter male locker rooms in a public school. The NFL won’t properly discipline or fire players who beat women unconscious. And it is now considered a public health issue that nuns provide free birth control. What in blazes is going on around here?

While it is easy to feel that the world has gone crazy, it has always abided by its own set of rules.

We live in a post-Christian society. The moral landscape of our day rests on shifting sand. Everyone does what is right in their own eyes, instead of following God’s example. The culture and practices of Christianity are mostly rejected or, worse, forgotten.

When we look at Scripture, the early church operated in this kind of environment. There was little or no Christian culture, only a cosmopolitan and secular society that focused on self. Rome and Corinth believers needed to be a community of contrast, one that shows the world a better way to live. They were encouraged to live and demonstrate light in a dark and twisted world. When we do this it shows that no one is beyond redemption and that God has a particularly soft spot for sinners. Messages that our world desperately needs to hear and understand.

And so again, it is up to the Church to live and act in a different way from our world. A way that dispenses grace like Christ and honors God. A way that demonstrates the Sermon on the Mount and the Great Commission.

We have the power to change this crazy world, not by looking down on it in disgust, but up to God, the One who consistently calls us to become the people we were designed to be. May God empower us to live as first century Christians who showed grace, compassion, and mercy to a crazy world.

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