A popular Baptist pastor has resigned from the school board in Bakersfield, California. The reason: a new California law mandates that middle and high schools teach students how to have safe homosexual sex and how to get an abortion. It also requires schools to teach that gender is not aligned with biological sex. The pastor broke the law by voting against adopting the new legislation into policy and could be sued.
These are unprecedented days for Christians in America. Another California bill would restrict religious liberty to seminaries, jeopardizing the freedom of Christian colleges across the state. The Iowa Civil Rights Commission required that churches adopt transgender bathroom regulations and changed its stance only when a public outcry ensued.
A theologian responded to the California school law and other assaults on religious liberty: "It is time to . . . abandon the myth that the world is run by people who respect difference and diversity, and that all we need to do is behave decently in order to win their respect and earn their favor. They do not think that way. They will never think that way. And they will crush those who do. By any means necessary." The California pastor told his congregation, "We must prepare the church to live as sojourners in a foreign land, a land that feels more foreign by the day."
Here's the good news: Our Father is able to lead us where we've never been before.
In Joshua 3, God called the people to follow him across the flooded Jordan River and into their promised land, "for you have not passed this way before" (v. 4). When you are going where you've never been, it is essential that you trust and follow a guide who knows what you do not.
For their part, the people were to "consecrate" themselves (v. 5), paying the price in personal holiness to walk closely with a holy God. Then they were to follow their Lord in courage, stepping into the river while it was at flood stage.
Here's what happened when they did: "The waters coming down from above stood and rose up in a heap very far away, at Adam, the city that is beside Zarethan, and those flowing down toward the Sea of the Arabah, the Salt Sea, were completely cut off" (v. 16).
The town of Adam was some twenty miles upstream. The river would take several hours to flow from there to the place where the people were camped. So God began this miracle long before his people knew it or could participate in it. He timed the stopping of the river so that the last of the water would reach them just as they stepped into it by faith. As a result, the people marched into their Promised Land.
The river before us is at flood stage and rising. But our Lord is more powerful than any challenge we face. His will is still "good and acceptable and perfect" (Romans 12:2). We can still do all things through him who strengthens us (Philippians 4:13).
So let us step into the flood with courage, standing for truth with grace. And "let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up" (Galatians 6:9). Corrie ten Boom was right: "Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God."
Publication date: July 12, 2016
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