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Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Blood moon 1/21/19 (Photo by Ester)
"Offended By Truth"

Message summary: Truth is hate to those who hate the truth!

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"We must speak the truth in love" (Ephesians 4:15).

I see a nation on the brink
I see a people prone to think
That truth is like an ocean wave
Changing with the tide.

But for me there has to be
An absolute, a center line
And it's the Word of God eternal
The cornerstone of Christ

Several weeks ago a church in rural California used their changeable message sign to post a truthful but very culturally unpopular message. It hit the social media circus, many were offended by it and the pastor lost his position as pastor. The sign's message was blunt but true and just 25 years ago wouldn't have caused much attention. Some would have agreed with it, other would have disagreed but would have accepted, perhaps even respected, the church's right to express its beliefs.

But we now live in the age of the easily offended and day after day we read of someone causing a stir because they are offended about something. With social media this can quickly become "viral" and mob-like. This works especially well for those offended by conservative views.

In the nineties I pastored a church in Massachusetts that had a changeable message sign at the entrance to our parking lot. We placed up Scripture verses and short truths expressed in catchy phrases and changed it weekly. Our church was located on US Route 44, the busy east/west highway passing through the city, so we had lots of traffic. Through the years we would occasionally get a positive comment about a message posted. But my most informative feedback memory was not positive.

Abortion Stops A Beating Heart

One year during a "Sanctity of Life Sunday" we posted this simple, unambiguous, irrefutable message: "Abortion Stops A Beating Heart". A few days later a lady called our church office and told me she had seen the sign and was deeply offended and extremely upset about it. She thought there should be a law against posting such a message and threatened that she was going to check into it. She said her children were so upset they cried. Well, the truth really hurts and in this case illustrates the awful blindness that sin causes. However, that was it and it blew over and we left the message up without further incident till it was time to put up a new message.

When reading about the California church sign I considered how different things might be today for posting "Abortion stops a beating heart" and similar type messages. With social media as a catalyst someone would have twittered out a photo and in no time an offended group would have probably gathered around the sign at the entrance of our church in angry protest. They might have yelled at our church people as they entered the parking lot and no telling what else!

Today, whatever Biblical issue is being assaulted in your corner of the world, keep standing for the truth. A lie: no matter how it is packaged, no matter who repeats it or how often, whether or not a majority holds to it, it is still a lie!  Let us commit to being proclaimers and examples of truth in the midst of a world that redefines or "modernizes" what is perceived as truth to promote its own truth-denying agenda.

Today's text is a phrase from a verse that we purposely quote to make us think. In its initial application it was directed to the church in Ephesus and addressed their interpersonal relationships. But we feel the principle applies to the church's stand in the world as well. "We must speak the truth in love." Unfortunately the concept of love and hate has been so muddied that this is very hard. Truth is hate to those who hate the truth!


Be encouraged today,


Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we learn from Scripture and we see by Jesus' example that we are to speak the truth in love, even when it is easier to go along with the crowd or the trends of our society including the post modern thinking that doesn't rely on facts as much as one's personal experience, emotions, and ideology. Help us to be courageous believers who live the truth and speak the truth. Give us strength not to apologize or shrink back when we're attacked as ambassadors of Your unchanging truths as presented in Scripture. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.



Several additional considerations on offending and being offended:

1) Of course this message should not be construed as an excuse to bully or intentionally offend others.

2) All through life I have been insulted and/or offended. I think this has been virtually everyone’s experience. Sometimes the insults are intentional and mean, but most of the times unintentional, a misunderstanding.

3) And I have also insulted and/or offended others. I also think this has been virtually everyone’s experience. Most of the time these insults and offenses to others have been unintentional, or likely a misunderstanding. But frankly, especially in my pre-conversion days, I look back at my insensitivity and immaturity and admit that I was intentionally mean at times, such as getting a laugh at someone else's expense. In some cases I have sought forgiveness from those I hurt, in other cases such as a lost contact I must leave it in the Lord's hands.

4) Now "being offended" can be used to silence those with whom one disagrees and if lawyers get involved can be a potential source of big money.

Several years ago I recall when Daniel Riley, a singer with the Gospel group "Gold City" shared how that in his small town in Alabama, they had, as long as he could remember, a nativity scene on display. One person was "offended" by it and an outside group called the "Freedom From Religion Foundation" demanded its removal. Like so many small towns they complied rather than pay the legal fees to fight such an outrageous demand.

He shared that the same evil, Satan-inspired group demanded a town remove a sign often seen in smaller towns all across America. "The Churches Of ______ Welcome You". Now how in the world could that be offensive to anybody? When we drive by a sign or billboard with a message offensive to our faith (which we see a lot) we either disregard it or at times it prompts us to pray.



Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"I Will Stand"  Video  Gold City

Here's another example of the sheer evil and twisted thinking of the religious left "Nadia Bolz-Weber Asserts Life Begins at Breath" in regard to the pro-life viewpoint. (Note: I am not related to this Weber!)


Observations.
  • I believe the sign message expresses the truth, but am not sure that was the best place.
  • We don't have the full story about the pastor's dismissal. Maybe there were other issues and the sign message was used to egg someone on, which it sure did!
  • Interesting when looking at reviews of the church on Google maps, the amount of negative reviews the last couple of weeks almost certainly by people that never heard of this church prior to this. You sure don't want to get the social media mob coming against you!
  • The church web site now states "forbidden".

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Stephen and Brooksyne Weber

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.



Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."



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