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From The Daily Mail:

A Washington florist who refused to provide flowers for a gay wedding rejected an offer from the state to settle a discrimination case by paying a $2,000 fine.

Barronelle Stutzman, a 70-year-old grandmother, wouldn’t provide flowers from her shop in Richland, Washington, for the 2013 wedding of Robert Ingersoll and Curt Freed.

When longtime customer Ingersoll came to Arlene’s Flowers and asked for the flowers, the devout Southern Baptist told him her ‘relationship with Jesus Christ’ wouldn’t allow her to do the wedding.

Her rejection led to multiple lawsuits, including one from Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson.

If the lawsuits are successful, Stutzman could be required to pay damages and legal fees that far exceed the attorney general’s offer to settle the matter.

In addition to the $2,000 fine, the settlement Stutzman rejected said if the florist chose to continue selling flowers for weddings she would have to sell the items to all couples, including same-sex couples.

In a letter to Ferguson, Stutzman wrote she ‘never imagined that using my God-given talents and abilities, and doing what I love to do for over three decades, would become illegal’.

She added: ‘Our state would be a better place if we respected each other’s differences, and our leaders protected the freedom to have those differences.

‘Since 2012, same-sex couples all over the state have been free to act on their beliefs about marriage, but because I follow the Bible’s teaching that marriage is the union of one man and one woman, I am no longer free to act on my beliefs.

‘Washington’s constitution guarantees us “freedom of conscience in all matters of religious sentiment.”

‘I cannot sell that precious freedom.’

The offer from Ferguson came after Benton County Superior Court Judge Alex Ekstrom rejected arguments that Stutzman’s actions were protected by her freedoms of speech and religion.

The First Amendment protects religious beliefs but not necessarily actions based on those beliefs, Ekstrom ruled.

The state has the authority to prohibit discrimination and Stutzman can be held personally liable for damages if she breaks bias laws, according to the judge.

Kristen Waggoner, an attorney with Alliance Defending Freedom, called the ruling ‘terrifying’ and said Ferguson was targeting Stutzman, Fox News reported.

She said: ‘He’s using the full power of his office to personally and professionally destroy her.

‘He’s trying to send a message — you better shut up if you disagree or you are going to lose everything you own.’

Ferguson maintains his objective is not Stutzman’s financial ruin.

He said: ‘My primary goal has always been to bring about an end to the defendants’ unlawful conduct and to make clear that I will not tolerate discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

‘Before this case began, my office wrote to Ms Stutzman, asking her to comply with state law.

Had she agreed to no longer discriminate, my office would not have filed suit, and Ms Stutzman would not have paid any costs, fees or penalties.

‘After lengthy proceedings, the court has ruled, the law is clear, and the state prevailed on all counts.’

 Stutzman plans to appeal Judge Ekstrom’s ruling.

 

from Charisma News:

For those who had any questions, Rob Bell has now made himself totally clear: He is willing to trash parts of the Bible as “letters from 2,000 years ago” when God’s Word contradicts his views on same-sex “marriage.”

Bell appeared on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday program together with his wife, Kristen, to promote their new book The Zimzum of Love: A New Way of Understanding Marriage. In an interview last December, Bell explained that on page 16 of the book, he and Kristen give their “whole hearted affirmation” to same-sex “marriage.”

That was no surprise in light of his announcement in 2013 that he supported redefining marriage. In fact, that had been his position for years, although he had not proclaimed it publicly prior to 2013.

But on Oprah’s show, he and Kristen went much further, dismissing the words of Scripture and criticizing churches that were determined to be faithful to God.

Explaining to Oprah why they included “gay marriage” in their book, Rob said, “One of the oldest aches in the bones of humanity is loneliness. Loneliness is not good for the world. Whoever you are, gay or straight, it is totally normal, natural and healthy to want someone to go through life with. It’s central to our humanity. We want someone to go on the journey with.”

Of course, he’s absolutely right in terms of the importance of intimate personal relationships.

God made us to be relational beings, but in a very specific way. He formed Eve as the fit companion and helper for Adam, the two of them uniquely designed to complement each other in the journey and mission of life.

And Paul’s solution to loneliness (and, even more so, to temptation) was specific as well: “Nevertheless, because of sexual immorality, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband” (1 Cor. 7:2).

He didn’t say, “Each person should have his or her own companion,” because that was never God’s intent for His creation.

In contrast, what the Bells want to do is take God’s very specific, beautiful blueprint, and radically redesign it in the name of “love.”

To be sure, the church needs to take on the burden of those who struggle with same-sex attraction, helping them in every way possible find personal and relational wholeness in Jesus. But we are hurting them rather than helping them when we think we know better than God.

Rob Bell was then asked by Oprah when the church was going to embrace same-sex “marriage,” to which he responded, “We’re close,” with Kristen adding, “I think it’s evolving.”

Rob then explained, “Lots of people are already there. We think it’s inevitable, and we’re moments … ,” at which point Oprah chimed in, “Moments away from the church accepting it?”

Rob’s answer said it all: “Absolutely … I think culture is already there, and the church will continue to be even more irrelevant when it quotes letters from 2,000 years ago as their best defense. When you have in front of you flesh-and-blood people who are your brothers and sisters and aunts and uncles and co-workers and neighbors, and they love each other, and they just want to go through life with someone.”

So, according to Rob Bell, the church of Jesus should follow worldly culture and deny the plain teaching of God’s Word in order to be “relevant.” (For my thoughts on the idolatry of “relevance,” click here.)

And according to Bell, human feelings trump God’s Word, which can easily be dismissed as outdated—2,000 years outdated, it appears.

I guess what’s trending on Twitter trumps the timeless wisdom of the living Word of the living God.

I guess an emotional appeal carries far more weight than transcendent truth.

That’s similar to what Methodist Pastor Frank Schaeffer told me on my radio broadcast last year, explaining that he had to revise his views on the Bible and same-sex “marriage” after his son came out as gay but would “absolutely” have to restudy the issue if his son reversed his position about homosexuality.

Talk about loving your son or daughter (or father or mother) more than Jesus (see Matt. 10:37)

But that is exactly what Rob Bell is calling for: Go with the culture, stay “relevant,” dismiss the outdated biblical evidence and listen to your emotions.

Kristen, for her part, explained that some churches are just not getting with the program: “There are churches who are moving forward,” she said, “and there are churches who are almost regressing and making it more of a battle.”

How antiquated! How backwards! How embarrassing!

How dare these churches entrench themselves against the onslaught of worldly culture.

How dare they continue to resist the redefining of marriage and the rewriting of the sacred Scriptures.

How dare they hold fast to their position that God’s ways are best.

How dare they not get with the program of liberal progressivism.

The bad news is that many professing Christians are capitulating to culture and abandoning the holy and wholesome ways of the Lord.

The good news is that the Word of God stands forever (Is. 40:7-8; Matt. 24:35), and one day, Oprah Winfrey, with all her massive influence, and Rob and Kristen Bell, with their substantial influence as well, will be mere footnotes in this age of compromise and apostasy, marked as eternally irrelevant by the only One whose opinion matters.

That’s why I pray for their repentance today.

Imminence

from Herescope:

Part 1
By Pastor Anton Bosch

“Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming–in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster, or in the morning– lest, coming suddenly, he find you sleeping.”
(Mark 13:35-36)

Imminence means “impending” or “about to occur.” We say when the storm clouds grow dark, that the rain is imminent. This word is often confused with two other words that sound similar but have entirely different meanings: immanence and eminence.[i] In Christianity, imminence is a fancy term that refers to the fact that the Lord can return soon, or at any time. As we will show in this article series, the idea of the soon return of the Lord was central to the thinking and living of all those in the New Testament, and it should still be the attitude of the true believer today. The imminence of the Lord’s return was not only part of the doctrine taught by Jesus and the apostles, as contained in the New Testament, but it was a real part of their lives. They genuinely expected the Lord’s return at any moment.

But the longer the Lord delays His coming, the more some of us tend to feel that He is not going to come soon. Peter predicted:“knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.” (2 Peter 3:3-4). Sadly, this kind of worldly thinking has infected Christians also. But just think about it: Statistically, the longer He delays, the closer we are to His return. So here we are, 2,000 years closer than Peter was. Paul confirms this when he says “And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed.”  (Romans 13:11).

Does that mean that the apostles were mistaken and that the Lord’s return is only close to us, but it was not close for them? Not at all. For example, It has been 20 years since the last big earthquake here in Los Angeles.[ii] For 20 years we have heard “the next big one is imminent – it could happen at any moment – be prepared.” That was true 20 years ago, and it is even truer today. We do not know when the next big earthquake will happen, just that it will happen. But it is literally around the corner at any moment.

Because believers have not known when God has planned the Rapture of the church (Matthew 24:36), His return was imminent then and is still imminent now. Just like the next big earthquake, He could come for His saints even before I complete this paper.

Jesus’ Teaching on Imminence
“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only. But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left. Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” (Matthew 24:36-44)

“Let your waist be girded and your lamps burning; and you yourselves be like men who wait for their master, when he will return from the wedding, that when he comes and knocks they may open to him immediately. Blessed are those servants whom the master, when he comes, will find watching. Assuredly, I say to you that he will gird himself and have them sit down to eat, and will come and serve them. And if he should come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants. But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” (Luke 12:35-40)

The plain meaning of Jesus’ message is clear – you don’t need some fancy seminary degree, nor do you need to learn Greek or Hebrew to understand what He says: He is coming at a time you do not expect, therefore be ready at all times. Any attempt to interpret these texts to mean anything except what they clearly say and mean is a deception.

The simple truth is that if something is unexpected, then there are no warning signs, nor a schedule, which predicts exactly when it will occur. Some have tried to set an exact date, which has caused much trouble for Christians over the centuries. But, by its very definition, “unexpected” requires surprise with no forewarning. Therefore, those who believe that Jesus cannot return for His church today because certain events need to be fulfilled first are in blatant contradiction to the clear words of Jesus. It is really quite simple.

In Luke 12:42-48 Jesus tells a parable that teaches that there will be Christian leaders who, because He delays His coming, will begin to abuse their fellow Christians and begin to live immorally. That is exactly what is happening today. Many Christian leaders have lost sight of His imminent return and have begun to live as though He is never coming back. In the process they also remove the idea of imminence from their theology. This seems to be done in order to salve their, and their disciples’, consciences. Jesus warned that when He returns He will judge such men.

The book of Revelation closes with the words of the Lord Jesus:“Surely I am coming quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!”(Revelation 22:20). His words are truth, and the lies of man cannot, and will not, change the facts: He is coming soon, without delay and without warning. Therefore we must be prepared. Are you ready?

To be continued…

from The Christian Institute: 

The British Red Cross volunteer axed for opposing the redefinition of marriage has lost his appeal against the decision.

The charity upheld its original ruling to dismiss Bryan Barkley, a volunteer for over 18 years, for holding up a sign saying ‘No Same Sex Marriage’ in March of last year.

The Red Cross apologised for taking such a long time to deal with his case and for not following its own procedures, but refused to overturn the original decision.

Incompatible

The grandfather, married for over 40 years, was originally told in August 2014 that his opportunity to volunteer with the organisation had been withdrawn “permanently and with immediate effect”.

The Red Cross gave its reason as the incompatibility between Mr Barkley’s views on marriage and the Red Cross’ “fundamental principles and values”.

In the most recent letter confirming the appeal outcome, the organisation now refers to his stance as ‘political campaigning’. It also uses Mr Barkley’s criticism of how the Red Cross handled his case as new grounds for his dismissal.

Disappointing

Coalition for Marriage (C4M), an umbrella group of supporters of traditional marriage which has been backing Mr Barkley, described the decision as “very disappointing”. It also accused the Red Cross of ignoring “the thousands of people who have asked it to reassess how they treat volunteers who believe in traditional marriage”.

C4M told supporters that it had identified Red Cross volunteers who had used social media to support same-sex marriage and campaign for political parties.

A spokeman said: “We have written to Mike Adamson, the CEO of the British Red Cross, asking him whether he is now intending to dismiss the rest of his volunteers who express some sort of political opinion.

‘Alarm bells’

“This is a decision that should sound alarm bells for anyone working for the Red Cross who believes in freedom of speech, not least those who still believe that marriage is between a man and a woman”.

There are no further opportunities for Mr Barkley to appeal.

Ezekiel 11:16-17

Therefore say, Thus saith the Lord God; Although I have cast them far off among the heathen, and although I have scattered them among the countries, etc. Therefore say, Thus saith the Lord God; I will gather you from the people, and assemble you out of the countries where ye ( Israel ) have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel.”

from Yahoo News:

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday urged European Jews to move to Israel after a Jewish man was killed in an attack outside Copenhagen’s main synagogue.

Israel is your home. We are preparing and calling for the absorption of mass immigration from Europe,” Netanyahu said in a statement, repeating a similar call after attacks by jihadists in Paris last month when four Jews were among the dead.

Two police officers were also wounded in Sunday’s attack in Copenhagen, one of two fatal shootings in the normally peaceful Danish capital on the weekend.

In the first attack on Saturday, a 55-year-old man was killed at a panel discussion about Islam and free speech attended by a Swedish cartoonist behind controversial caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed.

“Extremist Islamic terrorism has struck Europe again… Jews have been murdered again on European soil only because they were Jews,” Netanyahu said in the statement.

The Israeli prime minister said his government was to adopt a $45 million (39.5 million euro) plan “to encourage the absorption of immigrants from France, Belgium and Ukraine”.

“To the Jews of Europe and to the Jews of the world I say that Israel is waiting for you with open arms,” Netanyahu said.

He had made a similar call after three days of bloodshed in Paris that started with the January 7 attack on satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo where 12 people were gunned down, followed the next day by the shooting death of a policewoman just outside the city.

On January 9, the gunman who killed the policewoman took hostages at a kosher supermarket in Paris. He killed four Jewish hostages before police shot him dead when they raided the store.

The bodies of the four were later flown to Israel where they were buried.

Officials in Copenhagen described the weekend attacks as an act of terror and said the man believed to be behind the shootings was shot dead after opening fire on police at a rail station.

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman sent condolences to Danish counterpart Martin Lidegaard over the attacks, telling him Israel “appreciates Denmark’s cooperation in maintaining the security of Israelis and Jews in Denmark.”

The foreign ministry quoted Lieberman as telling Lidegaard that Israel was “ready for any cooperation required on this issue”.

The Palestinians also condemned the attack “in the strongest terms,” with PLO official Saeb Erakat calling the Copenhagen attacks “absolutely unjustifiable.”

“Terrorism knows no religion or nationality, and our opposition to such violence must be firmly united. We stand in solidarity with the Danish people,” Erakat said in a statement.

from STAND UP FOR THE TRUTH:

Recently we shared that a pastor of GracePointe Church, who leads the megachurch congregation that country star Carrie Underwood attends, announced from the pulpit that not only can practicing homosexuals be members, but those in sexual sin can now fully serve in his church and will be allowed to “marry” at the facility.

In his excellent article titled,Witnessing to a New Breed of False Converts, Mike Gendron from Proclaiming the Gospel writes: “How do we evangelize people who believe they are Christians but, at the same time, deny their sin of homosexuality? We know from God’s Word that conviction of sin is an essential part of true conversion (John 16:8-11; 2 Cor. 7:10).

Until the sinner is convinced of sin, he can never be converted from sin. Until sin is thoroughly revealed, Christ cannot be rightly claimed as Savior. As long as sin is rationalized, Christ will be recognized merely as a badge of honor. No one will seek a Savior unless they know they are perishing. We must speak the truth in love to “gay Christians” and tell them that the Lord Jesus saves us from sin, not in sin.”

Here is the article:

Witnessing to a New Breed of False Converts

By Mike Gendron

A new kind of false convert has emerged within the professing church in this generation. They are professing Christians who identify themselves with a particular sinful lifestyle. They call themselves “gay Christians” and they are becoming more and more accepted in many Christian communities. Many of them have been encouraged by a book released last year called God and the Gay Christian: The Biblical Case in Support of Same-Sex Relationships. The book was written by Matthew Vines who was raised in a Christian home. At age 19, he left Harvard University after his third semester to study the Bible and prove that homosexuality is not a sin and to remove the term “homophobia” that he thought was in the church. In March 2012, he delivered a message about the Bible and homosexuality that called for acceptance of gay Christians and same-sex marriages. Since then, his message has been seen nearly a million times on YouTube and was featured in The New York Times and The Christian Post. Tragically, Vines interprets the Bible through the lens of his sexuality rather than interpreting his sexuality through the lens of Scripture!
There is also the Metropolitan Community Church, which calls itself a Christian denomination, with 222 congregations in 37 countries. It is an outreach to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender families and reportedly bases its theology on the historic creeds of the Christian Church. One of its pastors was Mel White, who was best known for his ghostwriting auto-biographies for Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, and Billy Graham. After years of writing for the Christian right, he came out as a homosexual in 1994 and wrote his autobiography, Stranger at the Gate: To Be Gay And Christian In America.

The apostate pastor of GracePointe Church, who leads the megachurch congregation that country star Carrie Underwood attends, announced from the pulpit that not only can practicing homosexuals be members, but those in sexual sin can now fully serve in his church and will be allowed to “marry” at the facility.

How do we evangelize people who believe they are Christians but, at the same time, deny their sin of homosexuality? We know from God’s Word that conviction of sin is an essential part of true conversion (John 16:8-11; 2 Cor. 7:10). Until the sinner is convinced of sin, he can never be converted from sin. Until sin is thoroughly revealed, Christ cannot be rightly claimed as Savior. As long as sin is rationalized, Christ will be recognized merely as a badge of honor. No one will seek a Savior unless they know they are perishing. We must speak the truth in love to “gay Christians” and tell them that the Lord Jesus saves us from sin, not in sin.

We must tell them that the Bible reveals homosexuality to be a most degrading and indecent behavior that dishonors the body. It is an ungodly and unnatural sin that has been condemned by God, was punishable by death in the Old Testament and given as a divine judgment in the New Testament. It is a twisted perversion of the God-ordained roles for men and women. Of over 30,000 verses in the Bible, not one makes a positive statement about homosexuality. We must encourage false converts to take the Word of God seriously. Those who don’t will be judged by the Word of God on the last day (John 12:48). The Apostle Paul made it profoundly clear: “Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Cor. 6:9-10). We must lovingly confront homosexuals and share with them that there is forgiveness in Christ. The power of God can set captives free from the bondage of any sin when they are washed, sanctified and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God (1 Cor. 6:11). In Christ, there will be victory and there will be joy and peace.

When God replaces man’s stony heart with a heart of flesh, and opens his eyes to see the light of the Gospel, and he is humbled under the sovereign hand of God, he will turn from his sin to Jesus Christ in gratitude and thanksgiving. Then his mind, his will, and his heart will all join together in the power of the Holy Spirit to put to death the evil deeds of the flesh for the glory of God.

The Old Cross and The New

Hat tip to Berit Kjos:

By A. W. Tozer  (1897-1963)

Unannounced and mostly undetected there has come in modern times a new cross into popular evangelical circles. It is like the old cross, but different: the likenesses are superficial; the differences, fundamental.

From this new cross has sprung a new philosophy of the Christian life, and from that new philosophy has come a new evangelical technique — a new type of meeting and a new kind of preaching. This new evangelism employs the same language as the old, but its content is not the same and its emphasis not as before.

The old cross would have no truck with the world. For Adam’s proud flesh it meant the end of the journey. It carried into effect the sentence imposed by the law of Sinai. The new cross is not opposed to the human race; rather, it is a friendly pal and, if understood aright, it is the source of oceans of good clean fun and innocent enjoyment. It lets Adam live without interference. His life motivation is unchanged; he still lives for his own pleasure….

The new cross encourages a new and entirely different evangelistic approach. The evangelist… preaches not contrasts but similarities. He seeks to key into public interest by showing that Christianity makes no unpleasant demands; rather, it offers the same thing the world does, only on a higher level…

The new cross does not slay the sinner, it redirects him. It gears him into a cleaner and jollier way of living and saves his self-respect…. It is false because it is blind. It misses completely the whole meaning of the cross.

The old cross is a symbol of death…. The race of Adam is under death sentence. There is no commutation and no escape. God cannot approve any of the fruits of sin, however innocent they may appear or beautiful to the eyes of men. God salvages the individual by liquidating him and then raising him again to newness of life.

That evangelism which draws friendly parallels between the ways of God and the ways of men is false to the Bible and cruel to the souls of its hearers. The faith of Christ does not parallel the world, it intersects it. In coming to Christ we do not bring our old life up onto a higher plane; we leave it at the cross. The grain of wheat must fall into the ground and die.

God offers life, but not an improved old life. The life He offers is life out of death. The life He offers is life out of death. It stands always on the far side of the cross. Whoever would possess  it must pass under the rod. He must repudiate himself and concur in God’s just sentence against him.

What does this mean to the individual, the condemned man who would find life in Christ Jesus? How can this theology be translated into life? Simply, he must repent and believe. He must forsake his sins and then go on to forsake himself. Let him cover nothing, defend nothing, excuse nothing. Let him not seek to make terms with God, but let him bow his head before the stroke of God’s stern displeasure and acknowledge himself worthy to die.

…let him gaze with simple trust upon the risen Saviour, and from Him will come life and rebirth and cleansing and power. The cross that ended the earthly life of Jesus now puts an end to the sinner; and the power that raised Christ from the dead now raises him to a new life along with Christ….

Dare we, the heirs of such a legacy of power, tamper with the truth? Dare we…alter the pattern shown us in the Mount? May God forbid. Let us preach the old cross and we will know the old power.

“…none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” Acts 20:24

“O what marvelous kindness is this! Is my worthless name written in His book of life? Am I redeemed by His blood, renewed by His Spirit, beautified with His loveliness, and clothed in His righteousness? O wonder of wonders! How can I forbear to love this adorable Savior? Can I withhold my choicest affections from Him?” – John Fawcett

* A. W. Tozer, Man, the Dwelling Place of God, 1966)
* This article appeared in The Alliance Witness May 15, 1963, just two days after the death of Dr. Tozer.”

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