President Obama’s executive order for LBGT

In light of President Obama’s recent executive order banning workplace discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees of federal contractors and the federal government, it’s important to review the seven tactics used to change public opinion on this matter (see them here) and review the word games used to move from sexual preference to sexual orientation (see here).

Peaceful existence in a nation rich in multi-ethnic, multi-cultural diversity requires civility and respect for those who differ in lifestyles. Requiring such goodwill is good for the nation. People who (within the law) choose different beliefs, morals and lifestyles, must be asked to live in harmony with one another. And we have made great strides in promoting respect – particularly through civil rights on race and gender and through special laws protecting the disabled.

What greatly concerns me is the inclusion of sexual preference into the category of civil rights. This is a deeply misguided decision based on a false comparison that will unnecessarily disturb peace and freedom.

All civilized people have laws restricting some types of sexual behavior. Rape, incest and all sexual contact between adults and children are and should remain illegal. Beyond these restrictions, in our country, consenting adults are free to live their sexual preferences. But to ask our nation to make new and special laws for these preferences is to force the lifestyle choices of others on everyone. If a homosexual lifestyle, for example, becomes a protected status equal with race and gender, people will not be free to be morally opposed to homosexual behavior. This is an unnecessary violation of freedom that will backfire on those who choose to live homosexual lifestyles.

Steve Cornell

5 guidelines for answering tough questions


Important review.

Originally posted on WisdomForLife:

When your friends ask you difficult questions about your faith, consider the wider context to their questions before trying to answer them. Keep in mind that most people only possess fragmentary knowledge about the Bible, typically mixed with a few misguided assumptions. The bits of knowledge are often the typical bullet points promoted by skeptics and late night comedians.

The aim of this kind of stuff is to dismiss Christianity as either simplistically unrealistic or ridiculously offensive. This is one reason why I believe that bearing witness to the gospel must be done with greater wisdom and grace.

We need renewed reflection, discussion and application of the truths in the following Scriptures:

  • “Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone” (Colossians 4:5-6).
  • “But…

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He says he’s a Christian, but …

Originally posted on WisdomForLife:

How can we know if someone is a true follower of Christ?

  • Is it right to try to discern the authenticity of another person’s faith?
  • Isn’t this a private matter between the person and God? 

I can think of a few important reasons why we sometimes have to do our best to discern the authenticity of someones faith.

  1. Most importantly because we love the person and want what is eternally best for her. 
  2. Sometimes we must know about their faith because we don’t want to violate II Corinthians 6:14-15 – by being unequally yoked together with an unbeliever.
  3. We especially need to know when deciding whether or not to marry another person (see: I Corinthians 7:39). 
  4. There is also a great danger of self-deception on this matter (Matthew 7:21-23).

When evaluating the genuineness of another’s faith, always be sure to search your own heart first. Jesus said, “You…

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Is God’s will specifically revealed?

Does God promise to reveal His specific will on matters not directly addressed in Scripture?

Few of us struggle with discerning God’s will on matters that are clearly commanded or clearly forbidden in Scripture. When we lack specific biblical directives, we often look to other means for discovering God’s will. But in such undefined areas, we must remember that Scripture firmly warns us to attach an “if” to all our plans.

James 4:13-16 provides us with a very helpful illustration concerning God’s will in these areas. Take a moment and read this text.

“Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ 14. Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.’ 16. As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil.”

The picture here is of first century Jewish merchants confidently asserting their plans for future business and profit.

James does not explicitly condemn them for planning, but warns them to attach an “if” to their plans out of honor for God’s final authority. James wrote, “…you ought to say, ‘if the Lord wills, we shall live and also do this or that’” (v. 15.)

The merchants in the illustration confidently assert

    • A short-term plan: “today or tomorrow,”
    • A long-term plan: “spend a year,”
    • A specific plan: “in such and such a city,” and
    • A final result: “to make a profit.”

The problem is not really with the detail of their plans, but with the arrogant attitude behind the plans. Nor does James say, “First ask God to reveal the plan, then you can speak confidently about the future.”

No amount of prayer will give us the authority to drop the “if” from our plans. Christians should therefore not say, “we prayed fervently about this plan and we know God is going to accomplish it.” James would say, “Where is your ‘if’?” And the absence of the “if” in our plans is disrespect for God’s final right to change anything he desires. It fails to honor God’s sovereignty over life itself. Thus, “you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that’” (15). The presence of the “if” recognizes God as supreme over all of life. 

James is not requiring a slavish use of the phrase, “If the Lord wills…” as much as a submissive attitude of heart and restraint in how we speak about the future.

Proverbs 27:1 wisely reminds us, “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth.”

The “if” is also a place of peace and security in God’s final authority over life. Our decisions should be made with peaceful assurance that our Heavenly Father (who knows our needs before we ask, Matthew 6:8) is sovereign.  

The recognition of God’s sovereignty is not just that, “He works all things after the counsel of His will” (Ephesians 1:11), but that He also promised to, “work all things together for good for those who love Him” (Romans 8:28).

“The mind of man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps” (Proverbs 16:9). 

The Bible repeatedly advocates wise planning. But it also announces God’s right to change or set limits on our plans. So be careful in how you speak about God’s will on matters not specifically addressed in Scripture. 

God has provided us with a great wealth of wisdom in Scripture (I Timothy 3:15-17) and gifted us with teachers to equip and mature the Church (Ephesians 4:11-16). God holds us responsible for our use of His provisions.

God may not choose to tell us everything we want to know but he has told us all we need to know.   

“…it is to be feared that many today who profess to be Christ’s never learn wisdom through failure to attend sufficiently to God’s written Word. … It is folly to pretend to seek God’s will for your life, in terms of a marriage partner or some form of Christian vocation, when there is no deep desire to pursue God’s will as he has already kindly revealed it” (D.A. Carson, Spiritual Reformation).

When making decisions our first responsibility is to discover whether there are any direct commands in Scripture either forbidding or demanding a specific course of action. If specific statements cannot be found, we must seek general biblical principles or examples that apply to the decision. But even here we must be careful not to normalize biblical examples as if God works the same way in every period of history. Gideon’s fleece, for example, was never intended as a normal pattern for guidance.

Circumstantial signs, opened doors, inner impressions, or feeling called by God

The most important matter is whether circumstantial signs or inner impressions align with Scripture and sound counsel. Subjective data (desires and signs) must always be determined by objective considerations. For example, one may feel called to pastoral ministry and even believe God has opened doors to pursue this desire. But the final test of God’s call is the qualifications for church leaders in the New Testament (see: I Timothy 3 and Titus 1). A man disqualifies himself from pursuing his desires and opened doors if he fails to meet the objective qualifications for Church leadership.

Steve Cornell

See also, “Do inner promptings reveal God’s will?”

Listen:      Short audio about God’s will

Don’t waste your ministry on dogs and pigs

“Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces” (Matthew 7:6).

These are strong and difficult words for contemporary ears to hear. 

The thought of purposefully refusing to reach out to someone is hard for Christians to understand. But Christians are in great danger when they refuse to be discerning; when they are unwilling to make proper judgments.

“It is easy to see how new danger arises. The disciple of Jesus has been told to love his neighbor as himself, and to love his enemies. He is to mirror God’s graciousness, the God who even-handedly sends his rain upon both the just and the unjust. He has been told never to adopt a judgmental mentality. As a result, he is in chronic danger of becoming wishy-washy, of refusing legitimate distinctions between truth and error, good and evil. He may even try to treat all men in exactly the same way, succumbing to a remarkable lack of discrimination” (D. A. Carson, Sermon on the Mount, p. 105).

Some should not receive ministry

In Matthew 7:6, Jesus taught that there are people who should not receive our investment of ministry. The proverbs offer something similar by warning us not to “reprove a scoffer,” but to “reprove a wise man” (Proverbs 9:7-9).

Consider the instruction to, “Warn a divisive person once, and then warn him a second time. After that, have nothing to do with him (reject or dismiss, remove from the fellowship of the Christian community). You may be sure that such a man is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned” (Titus 3:10-11).

Jesus chose two animals (both despised and ceremonially unclean) and he demanded what seems incredulously obvious. Don’t give what is sacred/holy (perhaps sacred meat) to the dogs and don’t cast your pearls (costly jewels) to pigs.

Who would do that?

Jesus obviously did not intend for this to be taken literally with regard to dogs and pigs. It would be ridiculous to do such things. So who did Jesus mean to identify as dogs and pigs? And what should be withheld from them?

In principle, we’re told to withhold something of value from an unworthy object — from dogs and pigs. But how this should apply is not immediately evident.

Jesus had been dealing with the matter of relating to other people. In Matthew 7:1-5, He taught His disciples not to judge others hypocritically but to offer constructive help proceeded by self-judgment.

Martyn Lloyd-Jones

“If our Lord had finished His teaching with those first five verses, it would undoubtedly have led to a false position. Men and women would be so careful to avoid the terrible danger of judging in that wrong sense that they would exercise no discrimination, no judgment whatsoever. There would be no such thing as discipline in the church, and the whole of the Christian life would be chaotic. There would be no such thing as exposing heresy and pronouncing judgment with regard to it. Because everybody would be so afraid of judging the heretic, they would turn a blind eye to the heresy and error would come into the church more than it has done. So many people show a lack of discrimination and are ready to praise and recommend anything that is put before them which vaguely claims the name Christian” (Sermon on the Mount, pp. 183-184).

D. A. Carson

“Jesus is commanding His disciples not to share the richest parts of spiritual truth with persons who are persistently vicious, irresponsible, and unappreciative. Their cynical mockery, their intellectual arrogance, their love of moral decay, and their vaunted self-sufficiency make them utterly impervious to the person and words of Christ. Over the years I have gradually come to the place where I refuse to attempt to explain Christianity and introduce Christ to the person who just wants to mock and argue and ridicule. It accomplishes nothing good, and there are so many other opportunities where time and energy can be invested more profitably” (Sermon on the Mount, p. 105).

Misguided understanding of Christian compassion can lead us to wrongly invest our ministry. It’s important that we practice Jesus’ teaching in our evangelism and discipleship.

Jesus’ own ministry

Did he deal with everyone exactly the same way? No. Jesus was wisely discriminate in His ministry to people. He compassionately ministered to many, but He also said to leave the Pharisees alone (Matthew 150. Although we cannot read the hearts of people, generally, it is wise to conclude that self-righteous, proud, arrogant, and cynical people fit into our Lord’s category of dogs and pigs. This should not surprise us because God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble (1 Peter 5:5-6).

Through Isaiah the prophet, God said,“But to this one I will look, to him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at my Word.”

John R. W. Stott

“If people have had plenty of opportunity to hear the truth but do not respond to it, if they stubbornly turn their backs on Christ, if (in other words) they cast themselves in the role of ‘dogs’ and ‘pigs,’ we are not to go on and on with them, for then we cheapen God’s gospel by letting them trample it under foot” (Sermon on the mount).


We must pray for wisdom in this matter. We need to “ask,” “seek’” and “knock.” Many have come to Christ — who at one time mocked His name. We must be prayerfully discerning in our application of Matthew 7:6! 

Steve Cornell

The Lord’s calf is dead

“I remember once hearing a pastor tell a story which he assured us was simple, literal truth. It is the story of a farmer who one day went with great joy in his heart to report to his wife and family that their best cow had given birth to twin calves, one red and one white. And he said, ‘You know I have suddenly had a feeling that we must dedicate one of the calves to the Lord. We will bring them up together, and when the time comes we will sell one and give the proceeds to the Lord’s work.’”

“The farmer’s wife asked him which he was going to dedicate to the Lord. ‘There is no need to bother about that now,’ he replied, ‘we will treat them both in the same way, and when the time comes we will do as I say.’ And off he went.”

“In a few months the man entered his kitchen looking very miserable and unhappy. When his wife asked him what was troubling him, he answered, ‘I have bad news to give you. The Lord’s calf is dead.’ ‘But’, she said, ‘you had not decided which was to be the Lord’s calf.’ ‘Oh yes,’ he said; ‘I had always decided it was to be the white one, and it is the white one that has died. The Lord’s calf is dead.’”

“We may laugh at that story, but God forbid that we should be laughing at ourselves. It is always the Lord’s calf that dies. When money becomes difficult, the first thing we economize on is our contribution to God’s work. It is always the first thing to go” (Martyn Lloyd-Jones).

“Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the best part of everything you produce” (Proverbs 3:9).

“If our charities do not at all pinch or hamper us,… they are too small. There ought to be things we should like to do and cannot do because our charitable expenditures excludes them” (C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity).

How then shall we give?

  1. Quietly (Matthew 6:2-4)
  2. Wholeheartedly (II Corinthians 8:7).
  3. Generously (II Corinthians 9:6)
  4. Cheerfully (II Corinthians 9:7)
  5. Willingly (II Corinthians 9:7)
  6. Sacrificially (II Corinthians 9:8) 
  7. Faithfully (I Corinthians 4:2)
  8. Habitually (I Corinthians 16:2)
  9. As a first thought, not an after thought (Proverbs 3:9-10; Matthew 6:33)
  10. To the glory of God and the advancement of His work! (I Peter 4:10-11).

Steve Cornell

Loving the God you do not see

Originally posted on WisdomForLife:

“What if we finally realized that our brief pilgrimage on this terrestrial ball is the only chance we will ever have to love God without seeing Him?” (Andrée Seu Peterson)

John 20:24-29“Blessed are those who believe without seeing”

After the resurrection of Jesus, “One of the twelve disciples, Thomas (nicknamed the Twin), was not with the others when Jesus came. They told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he replied, “I won’t believe it unless I see the nail wounds in his hands, put my fingers into them, and place my hand into the wound in his side.” Eight days later the disciples were together again, and this time Thomas was with them. The doors were locked; but suddenly, as before, Jesus was standing among them. “Peace be with you,” he said. Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and look at my hands. Put your hand into the wound in…

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