Unshakable Faith: In light of recent failures by Ravi and Max

The recent failures of Christian leaders/authors is disappointing, and maybe even causing some people’s faith to be shaken… but don’t let the failures of sinful man shake your confidence in our sinless Savior; and don’t doubt the truthfulness of His gospel coming through deceitful lips.  God is sovereign.  He has spoken through a donkey (Num 22), and He prophesied truth through Caiaphas (John 11), who plotted to kill Jesus.  So God has a way of using not only weak and sinful vessels (such as us), but He also uses those who are not even His own beloved children.

There have been several examples over the past years, but two recent ones stand out.  One, Ravi Zacharias, who was a hero to many, and used mightily of God in the area of evangelism and apologetics (defense of the Christian faith)… was so evil in his serial sexual assaults, as well as his denial and slandering of his victims… his clear lack of repentance until the day of his death, that if we have any doubt, it’s not over the truths he communicated, but over his eternal soul. 

That God would choose to use what appears to be a wolf, is a mystery, but that He can, is not.  What I take from this is that God is just; His patience is not eternal, and our sins will find us out.  So, repent while there’s still time.  God is not mocked. 

Also, God has a history of using the evil intents of man for His good purposes (Gen. 50:20).  He is gracious to all who repent and turn to Jesus in faith, but there is a heavy burden on those who teach (James 3:1; Heb. 13:17), and they will be held responsible for those they lead astray.  And oh the damage done by Ravi to the faith of many!

Another recent disappointment has to do with a popular pastor/author who ironically titled one of his many books, “The Applause of Heaven.”  Max Lucado recently spoke out of both sides of his mouth for the sake of earthly applause, as he apologized and asked the LGBTQ community for forgiveness concerning a 17-year old article he wrote, which rightly denounced homosexuality (and gay marriage) as sexual sin.  As he apologized for God’s truth, he then hedged it by inserting a quick comment to appease his Christian audience, saying that he personally holds to a traditional biblical view of marriage.  If so… why apologize for God’s truth? 

I don’t mean to put Max in the category of Ravi.  I don’t doubt his salvation, but I do doubt his priorities as his recent apology seems to come under the pressures of men, and ultimately wanting their applause over God’s.  I have no idea what kind of pressure he bears, and I’m reminded to pray for such people in the limelight, but we cannot compromise biblical truth for the sake of our sinful society’s applause.

So, thank God for the people in your life.  For the ways He uses them to minister and speak His truth.  But test all things according to His unchanging Word, pray for those in positions of responsibility, and look ultimately to our sinless Savior who enables us to receive Heaven’s applause. – Pastor Brian

What the Transgender Debate Means for the Church

– by Russell Moore

[Recently], news broke that the White House officially rescinded President Obama’s executive order regarding transgenderism in public schools. This is a good decision that corrects outrageous and coercive directives. Children should not be turned into pawns of culture war experimentation. As a conservative evangelical, I’m glad to see this action.

At the same time, the cultural conversation on gender identity issues requires more than good policy. It demands a gospel-centered response from the church.

Ultimately, the transgender question is about more than just sex. It’s about what it means to be human. Poet Wendell Berry responded to techno-utopian scientism with the observation that civilization must decide whether we see persons as creatures or as machines. If we are creatures, he argued, then we have purpose and meaning, but also limits. If we see ourselves, and the world around us, as a machine, then we believe the Faustian myth of our own limitless power to recreate ourselves.

This is, it seems to me, the question at the heart of the transgender controversy. Are we created, as both the Hebrew Scriptures and Jesus put it, “male and female,” from the beginning or are these categories arbitrary and self-willed? Do our bodies, and our sexes, represent something of who we were designed to be, and thus impose limits on our ability to recreate ourselves?

The Sexual Revolution has always whispered promises of this kind of godlike self-autonomy. After a generation of no-fault divorce, cohabitation, ubiquitous pornography, and the cultural unhinging of sex from marriage and marriage from childbearing, it only seems inevitable that Western culture is now decoupling sexuality from even its most basic reality: gender. If human sexuality exists solely for our self-actualization and satisfaction, then it makes no sense to impose restrictions based on something as seemingly arbitrary as gender.

This, ultimately, won’t work. There are good reasons to put boys and girls in different bathrooms and locker rooms and sometimes sports teams, reasons that don’t impugn the dignity of people but uphold it. Sex-differentiated bathrooms and sports teams and dormitories for men and women aren’t the equivalent of, say, a terrorist Jim Crow state unnaturally forcing people apart based on a fiction, useful to the powerful, that skin color is about superiority and inferiority. Every human being knows that there are important, and necessary, differences between men and women. Without such recognition, women are harmed and men are coarsened.

Moreover, the move here toward severing self-identity from biological reality will hardly stop at “gender.” If anything, there’s much more of a case to be made that one can feel to be a different age than one’s doctor’s exam or birth certificate would show. That’s relatively indifferent if all that this means is “You’re only as old as you feel” or “I’m a Millennial trapped in a Gen-X body.” It’s something else entirely if chronological self-identity is mandated for military service or the drinking age or the age of consent. People and neighborhoods and nations and cultures cannot live this way.

So how should we as Christians respond?

First of all, we should never mock or belittle those suffering gender identity disorders. These are our neighbors to be respected and served, not freaks to be despised. They feel alienated from their identities as men or women and are seeking a solution to that in self-display or in surgery or in pumping their bodies with the other sex’s hormones. In a fallen universe, all of us are alienated, in some way, from who we were designed to be. That alienation manifests itself in different ways in different people.

Christian congregations that seek to be faithful to the gospel must teach what’s been handed down to us, that our maleness and femaleness points us to an even deeper reality, to the unity and complementarity of Christ and the church. A rejection of the goodness of those creational realities then is a revolt against God’s lordship, and against the picture of the gospel that God had embedded in the creation.

But this also means that we will love and be patient with those who feel alienated from their created identities. We must recognize that some in our churches will face a long road of learning what it means to live as God created them to be, as male or female. That sort of long, slow, plodding and sometimes painful obedience is part of what Jesus said would be true of every believer: the bearing of a cross. That cross-bearing reminds us that God doesn’t receive us because of our own effort but because God reconciled us to himself through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.

Second, we must bear witness to the goodness of what it means to live as creatures, not as self-defining gods and goddesses. God created us as human, and within humanity as male and female (Gen. 1:27). We are all sinners, so we chafe against having ourselves defined by a Creator, and not by ourselves or our ideologies. Our nakedness shames us, because our physical difference reminds us that we are not self-contained. Man needs woman, and woman needs man.

We must also resist the temptation to buy into the Sexual Revolution’s narrative. I don’t just mean that we accommodate ourselves to the sins and heresies of the movement, although that’s always a danger too. I mean the danger is that we assume that the Sexual Revolution will always be triumphant, progressing upward and onward. To assume such is to assume that the Sexual Revolution will be able to keep its promises. It can’t. It never has. If Christians see ourselves as people who are “losing” a culture rather than people who have been sent on a mission to a culture, we will be outraged and hopeless instead of compassionate and convictional. If we do not love our mission field, we will have nothing to say to it.

We should stand against any bullying of kids who different from other children, for whatever reason. Children with gender identity issues are often harassed and marginalized. They should be loved and protected. Schools can do this without upending all gender categories. More importantly, churches and Christians can do this. We should hate the bullying of our neighbors, especially children, even more than the outside world hates it.

We Christians believe that all of us are sinners, and that none of us are freaks. We conclude that all of us are called to repentance, and part of what repentance means is to receive the gender with which God created us, even when that’s difficult. We must affirm that God loves all persons, and that the gospel is good news for repentant prodigal sons and daughters, including for those who have trouble figuring out which is which.


Portions of this article were published previously.


Coupla’ things

Nancy and I are burying a 200 lb. pig in our backyard for an all-night Memorial Day Roast (don’t tell the landlord!), so let me make a few points about today before I grab a shovel:

+ I hope that our time together today will help to improve your regular celebration of the Lord’s Table.  The Westminster Catechism, Question 168, answers the question of its import to us:

The Lord’s supper is a sacrament of the New Testament, wherein, by giving and receiving bread and wine according to the appointment of Jesus Christ, his death is showed forth; and they that worthily communicate feed upon his body and blood, to their spiritual nourishment and growth in grace; have their union and communion with him confirmed; testify and renew their thankfulness, and engagement to God, and their mutual love and fellowship each with the other, as members of the same mystical body.

+ To get more information about serving as a BCC Disability Ministry Team Buddy, write ServeBCC@gmail.com

+ Find the Elders’ Paper on In Vitro Fertilization here:


+ See a list of Bloody Mary’s victims, and more, here:


+ Thanks to Jessica and Penny for helping me with the difference between similes and metaphors, and to Sylvia for knowing her state capitols.

+ Let the record show that on this historic date: May 29, 2016, every bulletin was taken.  Keep up the good work, Pastor Brian.  It is not for nothing!

+ What a wonderful surprise to have Darryl and Becky Jordan with us today, all the way from the Philippines where they serve with New Tribes Mission: https://usa.ntm.org/missionaries/darryl-and-becky-jordan

+ The Mail-Tribune has a list of local Memorial Day services here:


+ I was really blessed by attendance today: I figured with the long weekend that attendance would be off, but no.  I hope that holds true during the long, hot summer, and especially with the 7 Letters of Revelation series coming.  I’m looking forward to that.

+ Thanks to everyone who pitched in today, from our worship leaders who led us in great songs, to PJ and Bill for their excellent prayers on our behalf, to the folks who arrived so early to set up or stayed so late to put everything away (with the time change, Ted remarked, “Look: we’re done and it’s only 12:37!).

Grateful to God for my role in our Church Family,

Pastor Dale