Friday, October 2, 2009

From an Oklahoma pastor, part 2

This is the continuing saga of the tornado that hit Minneapolis in August, 2009, according to a pastor in Oklahoma.....

"The social statement passed and a news article declared:

The largest U.S. Lutheran group voted Friday to allow homosexuals in committed relationships to become ministers. Delegates to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America convention voted 559 to 451, the Washington Post reported. The ELCA, with 4.8 million members, becomes the largest Christian group in the United States to approve gay ministers. The vote changes a policy that had allowed only celibate gays to serve in the ministry. Critics predicted the vote would split the church. Terri Stagner-Wollier, one of the delegates, said Lutherans who cannot accept gay pastors would be "ripped away" from the ELCA. "I urge you not to do this - not to do this at all," she said, in tears. Some delegates argued the church must recognize changes in attitudes toward homosexuality. "We live today with an understanding of homosexuality that did not exist in Jesus' time and culture," said Tim Mumm, a lay delegate from Wisconsin. "We are responding to something that the writers of scripture could not have understood."

The words of Mr. Mumm were without spiritual understanding. "Father, forgive him for he knows not what he is saying." Whether 2000 years ago or today, God's Word certainly understood and understands the time and culture.

A few days after the tornado, Dr. John Piper, pastor of Bethlehem Baptist in Minneapolis gave this message that he received from God. He provided 6 points of biblical insight and counsel, to which I fully agree.

1. The unrepentant practice of homosexual behavior (like other sins) will exclude a person from the kingdom of God. (1 Cor 6: 9-10)

2. The church has always embraced those who forsake sexual sin but who still struggle with homosexual desires, rejoicing with them that our fallen, sinful, disordered lives (all of us, no exceptions) are forgiven if we turn to Christ in faith. (1 Cor. 6:11)

3. Therefore, official church pronouncements that condone the very sins that keep people out of the kingdom of God, are evil. They dishonor God, contradict Scripture, and implicitly promote damnation where salvation is freely offered.

4. Jesus Christ controls the wind, including all tornados. (Mark 4:41)

5. When asked about a seemingly random calamity near Jerusalem where 18 people were killed, Jesus answered in general terms-an answer that would cover calamities in Minneapolis, Taiwan, or Bagdad. God's message is: repent, because none of us will otherwise escape God's judgment. (Luke 13:4-5)

6. Conclusion: The tornado in Minneapolis was a gentle but firm warning to the ELCA and all of us: Turn from the approval of sin. Turn from the promotion of behaviors that lead to destruction. Reaffirm the great Lutheran heritage of allegiance to the truth and authority of Scripture. Turn back from distorting the grace of God into sensuality. Rejoice in the pardon of the cross of Christ and its power to transform left and right wing sinners.

A few days later, Dr. Piper wrote another blog post to better clarify that each of must deal with any and all sin in our lives. He wrote:

Three years ago God sent the tornado of cancer into my life. It split the steeple of my health and shredded the tents of my sexual life. I wrote an article to myself: Don’t Waste Your Cancer. It could have been titled: Don’t waste your tornado. God’s message to me in my tornado was essentially the same as to the ELCA in theirs. My tornado was

a gentle but firm warning to me and all of us: Turn from every approval of sin in your life. Turn from the justification and promotion of any behaviors in your life that lead to destruction. Reaffirm the great biblical heritage of allegiance to the truth and authority of Scripture. Turn back from your inveterate bent to distort the grace of God into sensuality. Rejoice in the pardon of the cross of Christ and its power to transform you and all other sinners. (from Thursday's post)

That is the message of every calamity (Luke 13:1-5). And every sunny day (Romans 2:4).

I said to myself three years ago: God’s design in the tornado of this cancer is “to deepen my love for Christ…and to wean me off the breast of the world.” It aims to make my besetting sins look less attractive than they ever have.

This tornado “is designed to destroy the appetite for sin. Pride, greed, lust, hatred, unforgiveness, impatience, laziness, procrastination—all these are the adversaries that cancer is meant to attack.” In other words, the cancer-tornado was a merciful rebuke to my worldliness and a timely thrust toward holiness.

This is the lesson that Luke 13:1-5 and 2 Corinthians 1:8-9, 4:17-18; 12:9-10, and many other texts imply for every tornado in any city, and any life, anywhere in the world. Only the details change.

My tornado was a call to repentance. Yours will be too. But that is not Satan’s design. Only God’s. Satan’s design is that you approve your sin. God’s is that you let him forgive it and overcome it.

I'm thankful for Dr. Piper's message. I hope that you are too."

I want to add to what the Oklahoma pastor said, and to what Dr. Piper said. that the tornado of affliction is meant to do all that Dr. Piper says, but also to bring us to the place of victory when we have been forgiven. I believe it was implicit in what he said that he was healed of his cancer, but I want to say it: that there is healing after forgiveness.

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