Pastor Kevin Sanders

"He must increase, but I must decrease." -John 3:30

Category: Cultural Issues (page 1 of 10)

Same-Sex “Marriage”: Helpful Links/Articles

I’d like to share some of the most helpful/meaningful articles I have read over the past week or so.  Many of these were written in direct response to the Supreme Court’s historic decision regarding same-sex “marriage.”

I have updated my post called The Gospel and Gay “Marriage.” It isn’t that much different than before but I’ve done a little bit of editing to (hopefully) improve it.  This has been one of the most frequently read post on my blog for several weeks.

Russell Moore explained Why the Church Should neither Cave nor Panic about the Decision on Gay Marriage.   I really like the way Moore addresses issues with grace and truth–he makes me proud to be a Southern Baptist.  One of the most striking things he said is that the church should be ready to minister to “refugees from the sexual revolution”–those whose lives have been damaged by sexual sin.  Moore actually has posted several articles and videos this week that are worth checking out.

Kevin DeYoung wrote an excellent post called Five Questions for Christians Who Believe the Bible Supports Gay MarriageHe later added 40 Questions for Christians now Waving Rainbow Flags. These are great questions for professing Christians who claim the Bible has nothing negative to say about homosexuality.

Carey Nieuwhof has written this post: Some Advice on Same-Sex Marriage for US Church Leaders from a Canadian.   He is ministers in Canada, where same-sex “marriage” has been legal for a decade. Note: this pastor’s last point is about judging.  I don’t think he is saying we should avoid preaching against sin.  I think he is talking about the unfortunate way some Christians behave on social media, etc.

Denny Burk has written a post on Protecting Your Church Against Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Lawsuits. This post includes a free booklet with some sample bylaws, etc.

I also ran across a couple of articles written my men who spent a decade in the gay lifestyle and left it after coming to Christ.

The first one is entitled  I was the Other Man: an Insider’s Look at Why Gay Marriage Will Not Work.* Blogger and author Joseph Sciambra described the secret frustration and despair he encountered among “monogamous” homosexual couples.

“I believe God has something better for every gay man and woman that far outweighs the expected hopes and promises of gay marriage or even a gay life,” said Mattie Walk in Gay Marriage, Krispy Kreme Donuts and Freddie Mercury. Amen to that!

This will likely be the last post I write about this issue for a while.  As I’ve mentioned before, most of the broken hearts/lives I encounter are caused by other forms of sexual immorality (premarital sex, adultery, etc.).

*You may argue that this man’s testimony does not accurately represent the gay culture or same-sex couples.   It may not in all cases, but I think his experiences are a lot more common that than what the media would have you believe.

A Long Week in the USA

I have to say I’m ready for this week to be over.  Watching the news has been emotionally draining in ways I’m not sure I have ever experienced before.

Sunday was the first worship service at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston since a senseless shooting left nine of her members dead.    Worshipers demonstrated grace and forgiveness that is only possible through the power of the gospel.  “No evildoer, no demon in hell or on Earth can close the doors of God’s church,” proclaimed their pastor.  Mourners of all races gathered inside and outside the church building in a powerful demonstration of support and solidarity.

Dylan Roof was trying to start a race war by attacking innocent people in the one place everyone should feel welcome and safe.  His senseless, depraved act caused just the opposite–South Carolina and other states decided to remove the Confederate Battle Flag from state monuments.

I support the removal of this flag from state property.  To me it is simply a familiar historical symbol I’ve seen all my life–part of the landscape here in the South.  But as Russell Moore has pointed out, it represents something completely different to African-Americans.

Having said that, the anti-flag movement I’ve seen this week has reached a level that borders on insanity.  Case in point: Apple has removed all Civil War video games from its app store because the Confederate soldiers in the game march under . . . the Confederate flag.  It seems a gesture of peace and goodwill is quickly turning into hysteria.

Friday the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex “marriage” is a right protected under the US law.  This was no surprise to me, but I was deeply grieved nonetheless (you can check out The Gospel and Gay “Marriage” if you want to know my convictions on this).

I should make something clear before I go any further:  I do not long for America to return to the “glory days” of previous eras.  Our history of sexual sin is as old as the country itself, not to mention our unfair treatment of racial and ethnic minorities.

But it breaks my heart to see people proudly marching to their eternal destruction, rainbow flag in hand.

Friday’s news included President Barrack Obama’s eulogy for Reverend Clementa Pinckney (one of the nine killed in the attack), who was the pastor of the Emanuel AME Church as well as a state Senator.  His thoughtful speech seemed like a sermon at times, and he surprised the attendees by leading them in Amazing Grace, a cherished hymn of the Christian faith.white-house-rainbow-3

Later that evening the White House would be lit up with rainbow colors to celebrate the Supreme Court’s ruling. I find these contradicting messages from our President completely bizarre, though he’s not the first politician guilty of picking and choosing only the parts of the Christian faith that suit his taste.

Both the power of God and the deceitfulness of sin have been on full display in the United States of America this week.

The Lord has reminded me of some important truths through these events.  I’ll share them in hopes of encouraging my fellow believers.

1.  This world and this country are not my home.  Peter admonished the ancient believers to see themselves as “temporary residents” of this world (1 Peter 2:11).  I’ve been reminded not to hold too tightly to anything this temporal life has to offer.   I am just a sojourner, bound to see some ugly scenery on my way home.

2.  Everything that I see was foretold long ago.  Paul told Timothy the last days would include “difficult times” with people “scoffing at God.”  He even said they “will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly” (2nd Timothy 3:1-5).   Unholy acts have fulfilled holy warnings spoken centuries ago.  God is not surprised–neither should I be.

3. Jesus promised His strength in the midst of a hostile world.  Jesus never said following Him would be an easy path that is celebrated by the masses.  He told his followers, in fact, that we will have trouble in this world.  But He didn’t stop there–He reminded us that He has overcome this world (John 16:33)!

As a believer I’m called to take up my cross and follow Jesus, regardless of changes in the political wind.  That’s just what I intent to do.

Scripture quotes have been taken from the New Living Translation of the Bible.

Six Month Update

I don’t guess I’ve said much about our journey since the post on reverse culture shock.  Mare Cris and I have been here in Alabama, USA for six months (as of yesterday).  Here’s what we’ve been up to:

Winter Fashion

Winter Fashion

Staying Warm

After 11 years in the tropics I was looking forward to the variation in weather that comes with the fall and winter seasons. Be careful what you wish for–we’ve experienced some record-breaking low temperatures.  Mare Cris saw snow for the first time while we were in Pigeon Forge (TN) helping with a youth retreat.  She also loves seeing me wear something besides shorts and white t-shirts (my garb of choice in the Philippines). I only sweat when I go to the gym these days, and this is a welcomed change of pace.

Ministry

Mare Cris and I visited several churches in and around the Birmingham area last year.  It was an honor to preach, worship, and in some cases catch up with old friends.

This month I started a new phase of ministry at First Baptist Chalkville (located about ten minutes from where we live).  Their pastor resigned recently (to pursue another ministry opportunity) and I’m preaching/teaching there while they search for a new one.  My wife and I are delighted to have a place to serve!

Spending Time with Family

Mare Cris' 27th Birthday Celebration (with our nephews)

Mare Cris’ 27th Birthday Celebration (with our nephews)

I’ve really been blessed with the way my family has welcomed Mare Cris.  My nephews are crazy about her (who can blame them?).  I’ve spend most of the past eleven years on the other side of the globe, so being with my family through the recent holiday season was a great joy.

Waiting

The most challenging part of our lives right now is living in limbo.  We believe the next step for us is for me to become a full-time pastor.  We just don’t know know exactly when or where this will happen.  We could end up settling down here in the Birmingham area or moving to another state altogether.   We are patiently waiting and trusting God to reveal these things to us in His perfect timing.

The Manila Grind

Have you ever received a message that lifted your spirits for the whole day? That happened to me a couple of weeks ago. A quick phone conversation put a smile on my face for several hours.

What was this mood-altering news? A local travel/immigration agency informed me they could pick up my I-card at the Bureau of Immigration. All I’d have to do is bring them the proper documents and they’d take care of the rest.

In other words, I was glad because I could avoid a trip to Manila.

I guess this wouldn’t be so strange if I was the typical expat living in Angeles City—most of them seem to have the same aversion to visiting the capital of the Philippines. But this expat (or foreigner, or missionary, or whatever you want to call me) considered Manila home not too long ago.

My first “apartment” (more of a dorm room) was located at Dalupan (formerly called Gastambide). This street, like many in the University Belt, was not designed to handle the hundreds of jeepneys that passed through every day. A line of these now familiar vehicles stretched at least halfway down its length during business hours. Hundreds (if not thousands) of students also walked this street on their way to or from their campus on a daily basis.  It was a challenging place to live, but it was great for student ministry.

I “upgraded” my living arrangements a few years later by moving to a condominium near SM City Manila. I filled it with second-hand furniture and appliances purchased from the mission agency that originally sent me here. This was the best of both worlds: I had a living space that felt like home—right in the middle of the University Belt area.

I hope these two paragraphs give you some sense of the fond memories I have for Manila.

Why do I now avoid the city I once embraced? What has changed?

I think the answer is spiritual in nature. God gives us the grace and strength to live joyfully in whatever circumstance or place He has called us to (see Philippians 4:11-13). I did feel called to live in Manila for that season of my life, and that made all the difference.  My mission has changed now, and I no longer feel drawn to the place where I invested nearly a decade of my life.

But I can’t overlook some of the practical reasons. Many of my return visits have reminded me of things I didn’t like about the city. My wife and I, for example, had the opportunity to do a seminar at Emilio Aguinaldo College back in July. The seminar was great—the students, faculty and venue all combined for a very enjoyable gig. But I can’t say the same for the return trip home. Heavy rains started flooding the streets around the time I started speaking.  It took over two hours just to get back out of the city. I could give other examples, but I think you get the point.

Why am I even writing this post? Last month I read an editorial article about the ugliness of Manila, written by Constantino C. Tejero. It was as personal as such an article can be for a foreigner. Most of the places he mentioned are within walking distance of the before-mentioned condo where I used to live–I saw many of these landmarks on a daily basis. It feels strange to see your old neighborhood called “ugly,” but I couldn’t argue with his assessment.

I’m thankful to live here in Angeles City, and I’m enjoying the Philippines as never before. My beautiful wife deserves most of the credit for this current state of bliss.  But less traffic, pollution, and crowds certainly don’t hurt.

Having said all this, I don’t regret the nine years I spent in Manila. Living there was part of an adventure that has permanently altered the course of my life. I think past and present residents of this city will understand how I feel. We are proud survivors of the Manila grind.

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