The Encourager

The Encourager

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What Now by Richard Ross

Sunday, September 20, 2015

(Brother Ross is a retired Attorney who was for many years the County Prosecutor where he lives. In addition, he is an experienced and capable gospel preacher. I asked him to write the following article for us which the reader will find informative and useful. — Maurice Barnett)

On June 26, 2015, five black robed members of the United States Supreme Court thought that they were smarter than God: they thought that they could change the components of marriage. They have become the latest to call evil good and good evil (Isaiah 5:20). For those who are followers of Christ, the question is what will happen next?

The followers of evil do not believe that the war was won; they believe that the battle has been won to lead to a crushing victory over righteousness. Their goal is to destroy from public life any vestige of religion. George Washington, an Anglican, said that our nation could not exist without religion and morality. The forces of evil intend to get rid of both.

The immediate consequences of the court decision are continued attacks upon those who will not participate in the "weddings" due to religious beliefs: photographers, bakers, florists, wedding planners, locations which rent to hold weddings. All of these will, and are, being required to accept and participate. In New Mexico, when a photographer was asked to do a lesbian wedding (at a time when New Mexico did not recognize such a thing), the photographer was cited by the state civil rights commission for unlawful discrimination. Judge Richard Besson of the New Mexico Supreme Court, in his concurring opinion, stated that the surrendering of the photographers' religious freedom was "the price of citizenship" and they "are now compelled to compromise the very religious beliefs that inspire their lives." Justice Anthony Kennedy in the court's opinion finding a constitutional right to same-sex "marriage" stated that religious people retain the right to "advocate" and "teach" their opposition. However, Chief Justice John Roberts points out in his dissent that the First Amendment recognizes the "free exercise of religion" which is much more than teaching and advocating.

Brendon Eich was the CEO and co-founder of Mozilla Corporation, but was forced out of his job when it became public that he had donated $1,000 in favor of marriage in the Proposition 8 campaign in California. Kelvin Cochran, fire chief of Atlanta, Georgia, was fired because he wrote a book for his Baptist Bible study class which enumerated several sexual sins, including homosexuality. There is absolutely no evidence that Eich or Cochran ever showed any discrimination on the job.

It does not take a prophet to see the future. There will be attempts to take away the tax-exempt status of any institution that does not celebrate homosexuality. Churches, colleges, schools, hospitals, and social service organizations will have to pay real estate and sales taxes that were not paid previously due to their recognition as charities. Colleges will be required to open their married couples housing to same-sex couples. Adoption agencies with religious principles have already been forced out of existence because they would not place children with same-sex couples. Any religious bodies that have weddings on the property will be sued if they do not also disobey the scripture. Any contract with government will contain a clause that will prevent those who recognize marriage for what it is from participating. Student loans will not be available to any students going to "religious" schools or colleges that teach the truth on marriage. Graduate schools are already denying counseling degrees to students who will not counsel homosexuals positively about their life style.

Several years ago the Ohio Supreme Court floated a proposition that it should be a disciplinary offense against anyone with a law license to say that homosexuality was wrong. I wrote a letter opposing that. I do not know if I was influential, but it did not happen. However, I can see that's being attempted again against anyone seeking to obtain any type of licensing from a government agency.

A baker in Colorado and a florist in Washington (state) were told that the goal was not to close their businesses, but to "reeducate" them. To those of us old enough to remember the Cold War, that sounds like the Communists sending people to Siberia.

Friendship with the world is enmity with God (James 4:4). We must remember that "we ought to obey God rather than men." (Acts 5:29). "But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." (Joshua 24:15). Edmond Burke said that "the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." We sing

"Stand Up For Jesus." Will we?


Welcoming Newcomers by Bill Hall

Sunday, August 30, 2015

The man was a newcomer in town. On his first morning he went into the local restaurant for breakfast. Around a large round table was a group of locals eating breakfast, drinking coffee, and sharing stories and laughs. He could tell he didn't belong in that circle, so he quietly found a booth where he would eat alone. If one in that circle had gone over to him, introduced himself, and invited him to join the group, he might have accepted or politely declined, but he would have been impressed with the friendliness of the town into which he had moved and might have been inclined to return to the restaurant to speak again to the man who had befriended him.

On the Lord's Day, he went to worship with the church. As he walked in
he noticed several groups standing together, enjoying conversation. He could tell they were close friends who had known each other a long time. He was hesitant to join any of the groups, so he quietly went to seek out a place where he could worship. When he came to the first pew, however, it was filled with notebooks and Bibles, so he knew that seat was not for him. He went on to the next, but there was a line of footstools, and so it went until he found a place in the middle of a pew that seemed not to be "reserved." There were a few polite "hellos," but his reception was hardly better than it had been at the local restaurant. He "just didn't seem to belong."

Does the Bible not speak of some who "just didn't belong"? "My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality. For if there should come into your assembly a man with gold rings, in fine apparel, and there should also come in a poor man in filthy clothes, and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say to him, 'You sit here in a good place,' and say to the poor man, 'You stand there,' or, 'Sit here at my footstool,' have you not shown partiality among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts?" (James 2:1-4). The poor man would know "he didn't belong in that group." But one does not have to be poor to feel that a group is not warmly receiving him.

Efforts to Correct the Problem

Some churches appoint "greeters" who stand at the door to welcome visitors. This no doubt is helpful. The visitor can recognize, however, that the "greeter," no matter how warm and friendly he may be, is fulfilling a role given to him. Consequently
his good work cannot substitute for spontaneous warmth, friendliness, and concern on the part of the congregation as a whole.

Others deliberately "dress down" so that a visitor who comes in casual clothes will not feel uncomfortable. We appreciate the thought and are very respectful of brethren who are doing this, but we wonder about the effectiveness of this practice. After all, there are people who have been taught from childhood that when they go to worship, they should wear their "Sunday best," and when they find the whole group dressed in jeans, they might wonder about their disregard for the occasion. We would also ask:

If a man in a suit showed genuine warmth to a visitor in jeans, would his warmth not communicate that he doesn't judge others by the clothes they wear?

The Answer: Genuine Concern for Others

An incident that occurred several years ago provides the best answer. A young lady, a member of a denomination, had married a Christian. Having promised to attend services with him, she found a seat and immediately said, "I wonder whose seat we have." "You don't have anyone's seat," the lady seated in front of her said, "You are welcome here and you can sit anywhere you like." "My heart just melted," the young lady told me later. Is it surprising that a few months later she was baptized? Her husband now serves as a deacon.

Concern for others! Counting others better than ourselves (Phil. 2:3-4)! Leaving our little group of friends to welcome a visitor! Even going up to a visitor whom we see in the parking area, introducing ourselves, welcoming him, and introducing him to others! Giving up our "end of the pew" seat so the visitor doesn't have to crawl over us. This is the answer.

By the way, our newcomer learned of another faithful church in town and went to worship with them the next Sunday. He was welcomed warmly and he soon asked to be received in the group. And the first church wonders why the church across town is growing while they seem to be stagnant???

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