Can you imagine what our forefathers would think if they were allowed to know that we are in the process of changing the definition of marriage in America? We seem to live in a day when any absurd idea one could think of is promoted and politically applauded. One of the leading advocates for changing this definition stated flatly that it was his intent to destroy marriage more than to simply change the definition. Sadly people who easily walk away from their wedding vows or produce children without marriage commitments have already started the destruction. There is the real possibility that if the proponents of same sex marriage get their way that multiple partnerships will follow in which several persons can demand to be married in various polygamous relationships. Before anyone cries foul, let me say that advocates of such things are already lining up to have their day in court. Once marriage is changed from a several thousand year old definition which even precedes the coming of Christ, anything is possible. Which leads me to make a declaration.
If Texas is forced to follow other states down this slippery slope, I will no longer sign government issued marriage licenses for anyone. Several Texas pastors have been working with attorneys and have found that the church can produce its own certificate of marriage. I already have several copies of such a document in my possession. This document has Scripture on it, has a place for the groom to sign and the bride to sign, and has a place for my signature. The document itself will cost nothing to the couple. The government issued document is more than seventy dollars. The couple can then take the document with them to the courthouse and present it and ask for a document which registers their marriage (This is not a marriage license.). They are then legally married with all of the protections needed. I will no longer be a functionary of the state certifying government documents. Thousands of Texas pastors will do the same. If the government cannot define marriage then it falls on the church to define it for them. Any document produced by an entity that does not know how to define marriage is not a document that I can sign. I have already informed our county clerk who is a member of our congregation of this possibility. She has verified the existence of a form for registering marriages. In the past this form was used to give legal standing to common law marriages, but I predict it will increasingly be used by those who choose Christian marriage. The state will lose a good deal of money on marriage licenses that Christian couples no longer want or need. There was a gathering of pastors and other leaders in Waco this past fall in which most of them stand ready to begin this process at such a time as marriage is officially redefined by the government.
On a final note, it always bothered me that I signed and participated with the government in documenting marriages anyway. I never in all my ministry stated what I have heard some pastors state at the end of the wedding “Now by the authority invested in me by the State of Texas . . .” I always said, “Now by the authority given me of our Lord, Jesus Christ.” I answer to a higher authority for my work.
I cannot imagine how any Christian could fail to be concerned with the barbarous behavior in the Middle East toward citizens in general and Christians in particular. Stories of the slaughter and abuse of Christians come almost daily. This Islamic terrorism is a throwback to ancient brutality and is perpetrated on many helpless elderly people, women, and children. A day must come when it is challenged and stopped. I have listened to Christian arguments for peaceful resolution to conflicts, but there are times when the face of evil is so hardened that reasonable approaches will not do.
It may surprise some to know that Augustine was working out theories of “Just War” in North Africa in the 400′s A.D. St Thomas Aquinas took his work and asserted some principles of a Just War in the early second millennium. His assertions were as follows:
1. A Just War can only be just if it is waged by a nation. Romans 13:1-7
2. A Just War must only be waged to halt or combat evil. It cannot be waged to gain land or wealth. Covetousness would be involved in a war to gain wealth.
3. A Just War must have as its objective to bring peace to mankind and nations.
The ultimate Just War will be waged when Christ returns with the armies of heaven and the kingdoms of this world become the kingdoms of our Lord. Only God has the rightful authority to take possession of the earth. He will do so at the beginning of his Millennial reign. In the meantime, he warned us of the days of wars and rumors of wars. Pray for those who lead the nations to rise up and put a stop to this present evil.
I seldom write a blog to underscore a sermon that God has placed on my heart, but this will be an exception. When we glorify God, we make his name great. When Jesus in John chapter twelve turned away from a prayer for deliverance and turned instead to cry out for the Father to glorify his name, he was setting us a powerful example that we should always keep in mind. When our interests are consumed with safety, health, prosperity, and other comfortable outcomes, we fail to take into account that Spiritual heroism involves deliberately sacrificing these things and more for a greater cause. Whether we know it or not, we all need a cause greater than ourselves in life. It is fine to ask God’s help when we are in dire circumstances, but we must do so realizing that God may help us by strengthening us to endure things unto his glory. This is not a lesser answer than deliverance. In fact, it is a greater answer. The cross and resurrection required Jesus to avoid asking to be rescued and instead of this to surrender to God’s eternal purpose. We need to always hold before our eyes a vision of God’s eternal purposes. Many foolish decisions are made simply to satisfy our tastes and appetites rather than to glorify God.
“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all to the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31)
Sometimes a verse that you have hardly noticed before just seems to jump off the page. Such is the case of this verse in Romans. Particularly this phrase spoke to me, “join me in my struggle by praying to God for me.” Can we actually engage in the lives of others through prayer. Apparently we can. In this case it is Paul’s hard struggle as a missionary evangelist in a hostile world that is in view. I submit that we can also connect with the lives of others such as those we barely know and those who are lost by faithfully praying for them. However little you may know about a person, when you pray for them, you are talking to the one who has every hair on their head numbered. The joining of our minds and hearts with the mind and heart of God has incredible potential. I was thinking about what seems to be missing in the average church in our day. We pray, but do we pray for lost people. I do not mean just general prayers, but prayers in which we call out their names to the Lord. Tragically the typical church member not only does not pray for the lost by name, but does not know their name. We know so much about methods and trends. Church leaders know so much about programming and image casting. We know about buildings and processes. What do we really know about prayer? I will conclude this brief note with a powerful statement shared with me by a great man of prayer. GOD DOES NOTHING BUT BY PRAYER, AND EVERYTHING WITH IT.
May God’s grace and kindness overflow to each of you who read these words. I am thinking this evening of the countless ways God has blessed me through the years. Tomorrow there will be a guest in our services whom I met around twenty five years ago. He was in Kingsville for purposes of work for a short time. He visited our services though he was Mormon by background. He was very troubled in his personal life and seeking answers. By the grace of God he came at a time and place where a people were committed to share the love of Jesus with him. He received the Lord and was baptized and spent a good deal of time with me in meetings where he could be encouraged in his faith. Then he was gone. Several months ago I heard from him for the first time in decades. I remembered him well. He told me of his firm faith in Jesus and of his marriage to a Christian lady. Tomorrow he plans to introduce me to members of his extended family who live near us. By coming and entrusting his family to my care, he has blessed me this Christmas with a great gift. We who preach and witness need to be reminded from time to time that our work makes a lasting difference. Nothing encourages us to be alert and attentive more than to know that lives are changed through our service. This is visit and event will be a special Christmas blessing for me. This gives me renewed energy to receive the next person God places in my life in need of the Savior. Perhaps I will meet that next person tomorrow.