I’ve said ‘No’ to heterosexual marriage ceremonies many times.

The recent supreme court ruling on homosexual marriage has ignited a firestorm surrounding whether or not a church and or minister should be required to perform a same sex wedding.  Can a minister deny performing a same sex wedding on the basis of his/her faith?

The assumption is being made that Pastors marry heterosexual couples without hesitation. This is simply not the case.  Any Pastor with standards and a high regard for marriage evaluates every potential marriage ceremony individually.  There are multiple reasons a Pastor may excuse himself from performing a wedding.  I have personally declined several. The Word of God commands individuals to not be “unequally yoked together with unbelievers”.  Scripture forbids a minister from marrying a Christian and a Non-believer in marriage.  The first question I always have is in regards to their faith.

The issue of divorce and remarriage is also a hot topic among church leaders.  This issue alone will affect the decision of many ministers in whether or not they will perform the wedding.  I require three sessions of pre-marital counseling which some couples don’t want to go through.  This eliminates some potential ceremonies.  I have a pastor friend which requires potential spouses to take a test first to gauge how well they complement each other.  There are others who want a marriage reception atmosphere (alcohol and music) which is against my standards and they find other arrangements for their ceremony.

Marriage is a sacred union that must be taken seriously.  I feel it is important to note in our discussion of marriage today that the issue of heterosexual vs. homosexual may be grabbing the headlines but I for one take many, many other things into account.  I have several members of our congregation which respect my high standard for marriage and while I was not able to perform their own wedding they are still a part of our church. Marriage is a divine picture of Jesus’ relationship with the Church and is not to be taken lightly even in a heterosexual ceremony.

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Sermon outline for the week – ‘Allowing the Lord to work’

Allowing the Lord to Work! – a message by the late Rev. Tom Gunther

Psalm 92

1. The Lord works WITH you. (verse 4)

2. The Lord works THROUGH you. (verse 10)

3. The Lord works IN you.  (verse 11)

4. The Lord works ON you. (verse 4)

5. The Lord works FOR you. (verse 12)

6. The Lord works IN SPITE of you.  (verse 12)

7. The Lord works BESIDE you.

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Cartoon for the week!

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Sermon: Re-digging the Wells.

Re-digging the Wells.  Genesis 26:17-18

Isaac returns to his father’s land in the area of Gerar of the Philistines during the time of famine.  He finds that the wells that his father, Abraham had dug were now filled in and Isaac sets about on the task of re-opening these wells.

1. Over time – wells become clogged.

A. They may become clogged by sin in our lives.

B. They may become clogged by others.

** Not necessarily clogged by ‘bad things’ – but may just have become clogged up by the demands of life (Luke 14:16-24)

 

2. Notice that Isaac returned to His Father’s Wells

A. He knew WHERE to return – we need to return to the Joy of our Salvation

B. He found peace there – he stayed and dwelt there once again. (Genesis 26:25)

 

3. The Significance of the Well’s Names

A. Abraham’s Wells:

1) Beer-lahai roi = “of Him who seeth and loveth me”

2) Beer- sheba = the covenant

B. Isaac’s Wells:

1) Esek = contention

2) Sitna = hatred

** Isaac found satisfaction at the original wells, but found difficulty in digging new ones.

 

4. The Holy Spirit is our Well of Water

A. He is to be ‘springing up’

B. He is to be constant (Isaiah 58:11)

C. He is placed within (John 7:38-39)

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The Christian’s Daily Survival Kit

This was found in the Bible of a dear saint from our church that went home to be with the Lord last year.

A Toothpick – Needed to remind you to pick out the qualities in others.  Matt. 7:1

A Rubber band – Reminds you to be flexible.  Romans 8:28

A Band-Aid – We must heal hurt feelings; yours or someone else’s.  Col. 3:12-14

A Pencil – Needed to remind you to list your blessings.  Eph. 1:3

The Eraser – Everyone makes mistakes.  Genesis 50:15-21

Chewing Gum – Always stick with it.  Phil. 4:13

A Mint – a reminder that you are worth a ‘mint’ to God.  John 3:16-17

A Hershey’s Kiss – People need love.  I John 4:7

A Tea Bag – You need to relax and go back over that list of blessings. I Thes. 5:18

* Reminder: To the world you may just be somebody – but to somebody you may be the world.

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How to respond during difficulties

When troubles and trials come our way (and they will) how do I properly respond?  What is my reaction supposed to be?  Here a 5 key points I use:

1) Remember that the world looks at our reaction.  It is our response during the trials of life that should separate us from those who do not know Christ.  During the good times everyone, saved or unsaved, can look happy.  How do we respond when things get bad?

2) Keeping look ahead!  We often want to focus on the dire circumstances around us.  Sometimes we even get lost in the problems of our past.  The Scriptures tells us “forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forth unto those things which are before I press toward the mark”.  Our focus should always be on those things which are above and before us not the sinking sand around us.

3) I am a child of the King – I should act like it!  We are joint heirs with Jesus Christ.  We have a home prepared for us in Heaven.  We have an eternity to dwell in the presence of the Almighty God.  We have no cause for living a defeated life.

4) I must remember that God is always good, Always!  God never lies.  His promises are true.  He promised us “I will never leave thee nor forsake thee”.  God did not forget us or lose track of us.  He knows where we are and what we need this very hour.

5) I still have a God given job to do.  I cannot shirk my responsibilities.  I am still a Father/Mother or Husband/Wife or Church Member or Sunday School teacher or choir member, etc.  I am still commissioned to ‘go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature’.  My God given job has not changed.  I must remain busy in His work.

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From Reverend Fun

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Five Essentials for Lasting Relationships – part 3 on Marriage and Family

The following list of ‘Five Essentials for a Lasting Relationship’ are taken from a booklet of that name that I give to every couple that I counsel or am about to marry.  It is written by Pastor Ron Berrus of the Bible Baptist Church of Shiremanstown, PA who is a friend of mine.

Essential #1  Respect – demonstrated to your spouse through Listening.  I Peter 2:17

Essential #2 Honesty – demonstrated to your spouse through Speaking.  Ephesians 4:15

Essential #3 Commitment – demonstrated to your spouse through Serving.  Micah 6:8

Essential #4 Acceptance – demonstrated to your spouse through Embracing.  Romans 15:7

Essential #5 Forgiveness – demonstrated to your spouse through Praying.  Ephesians 4:32

To read a full pdf copy of Pastor Berrus’ book click here: http://www.ronberrus.abwe.org/site_content/attachments/0000/1729/A_Booklet_Five_Essentials_Web_Ready_04_20_09.pdf

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Marriage and Family part 2 – Questions for Married Couples

Having now completed ten years of the pastorate I have counseled countless couples going through various degrees of marriage difficulties.  Having studied, read and prepared over these years has lead me to compile the following list of questions which I always use.  This is a fluid list – I may add to it at any time.  Perhaps these questions will bring value to any relationship well before one needs to meet with a counselor.

1) If my marriage was good tomorrow, how would I know?

2) What effort am I putting into my marriage to make it stronger?

3) In what ways do I complement my spouse?

4) Is your spouse aware of the needs you have and how to meet them?

5) Everyone knows what they would like to change in their spouse – but what would your spouse like for you to change?

6)What is the most recent positive thing you have done for your spouse?

7) What is the dream you had for your marriage and how does it relate to today?  Was is realistic to begin with?

8) Do you understand God’s view of marriage?  Genesis 2:18-25, Ephesians 5:23-33, Ephesians 5:22-33

A good review of these questions from time to time will help keep your marriage on track.  Taking time to evaluate your marriage and your personal dedication to your spouse will go a long way towards spiritual success in your marriage.

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Marriage & Family – Part 1

Beginning with this post I will focus on issues that families and couples deal with.  I will focus on some of the counseling advice and, more importantly, some of the Biblical advice we have as we face these issues.

As an introduction, here are 3 important facts to consider:

1) Satan is real and Satan wants to destroy your family.  The Bible tells us that Satan is “a roaring lion seeking about whom he may devour” (I Peter 5:8).  While there are plenty of issues that we deal with in the flesh that may hinder our marriage and our relationship with our children, we dare not forget that we “wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers in high places” (Ephesians 6:12).  There is a spiritual and invisible ware going on for your home and for your marriage.

2) God wants your marriage and your home to be strong and healthy and He gives us the tools to make it work.  As much as Satan wants to destroy your marriage -God wants your marriage to succeed.  God uses marriage as a picture of His relationship to Israel in the Old Testament and His relationship to the church in the New Testament.  God tells us that He is our Father and that we are His children.  God uses the home as a clear picture of His relationship with us.  It is no wonder that Satan wants to destroy the home and God wants to strengthen it.  God gives us tools through His Holy Word and through His Holy Spirit (more on this in a later post).

3) Marriage is not a competition and training our children is not optional.  We are not in a competition with our spouse.  Too many couples are trying to ‘one-up’ each other.  They need to get the last word in.  They need the situations where they can say ‘I told you so’. The Bible tells us that we are one.  The Word of God also commands us to ‘train up a child in the way he should go’ (Proverbs 22:6).  Parents today are content to relinquish child rearing to church, school and community.

Our goal in the following posts is to follow God’s plan to having a strong home and a healthy marriage.

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