Recently I was elected and served as the moderator of the General Assembly of my denomination, the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. It was a great honor to serve in that capacity. I am thankful to the Lord for the abundant grace he showed me during the week of meetings. My terror at the prospect of serving was replaced by a sense of calm that came clearly from the Lord.
Looking back on that experience there was an important lesson that I was reminded of – it takes a team of people to accomplish any significant work for the Lord.
My spiritual fathers at the Westminster Assembly would probably not have been happy with me today. I admit I was glued this morning to my television. Once I heard that white smoke at been seen at the Vatican I became quite interested. I wondered who would be the next pope. Since the original Westminster Confession of Faith opinioned that the pope was the antichrist, this may not have been good Presbyterian behavior.
When Pope Francis was finally introduced I was impressed by the comments that many had to say about him. He was described as very humble, very servant like, and as a simple man. It was said (over and over again) that he cooked his own dinner and took the bus to the office. All of this with the intellect of a Jesuit.
Today I discovered that I am a bigot. I did not know that I was. In fact I would have denied it. But according to Jonathan Capehart of the Washington Post I am. He did not say it about me directly but by implication. Let me explain.
Fifteen to twenty years ago Louie Giglio, the pastor of Passion City Church in Atlanta, preached a sermon on homosexuality.
Earlier this month the Pew Forum released a study entitled “Nones on the Rise.” This study, based on several surveys, drew the dramatic conclusion that for the first time in the history of the United States, the number of Protestants no longer constitute a majority. Protestants in the US now number only 48%. The really big news was the rise of a group Pew called “Nones.” A “None” was one who claimed no religious identification. Some of the “Nones” were atheists and some were agnostics but the vast majority indicated that they “believed nothing in particular.” One in five Americans (19%) self identify as a “None.” This makes “Nones” the second largest religious group behind Catholics and it is a group that continues to grow.
On July 4 my family and I went to a baseball game, ate BBQ hamburgers, sang the Star Spangled Banner and God Bless America, and witnessed the annual rite of the 4th: fireworks. It was an all American holiday with a surprising number of mentions of God in a secular setting.
Does America have a special relationship with God? Are we the country that God favors the most? Are Americans God’s people in a special way? This could be a confusing holiday for some Christians. On the one hand we do recognize that America has been blessed. We have enormous blessings and freedoms that the Lord has given to us. On the other hand these blessings should not be misconstrued as if America is God’s country or God’s people.
Sunday, at Covenant, I preached on how to prepare for worship. I wanted to follow-up on that with some additional thoughts. The men’s discipleship groups at Covenant are working their way through R. Kent Hughes’ book Disciplines of a Godly Man. In his chapter on the discipline of worship he gives the following guidelines so that one is prepared for corporate worship.
Today, after a great deal of pressure, President Obama announced that he supports gay marriage. This was not a surprise. It has long been thought that he was a supporter of gay marriage but did not believe announcing it was worth the political fall out. But Vice President Biden made that silence harder to hold when he publicly supported gay marriage in an interview.
I was not surprised by Obama’s announcement but I was terribly saddened by his rationale for it. It is reported by news agencies that he cited his and his wife’s faith as the main reason for supporting gay marriage. In his interview with ABC News he cited the Golden Rule as the main issue – treat others and you would want to be treated.