Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: If we're going to accomplish the mission Christ gave us of equipping people to follow Him in a hostile culture, then we need to commit ourselves fully to God, communicate that commitment, and count on God to accomplish His plan in the midst of our pain.

Jack Groppel is a motivational speaker who works with various kinds of leaders to hone optimum performance. On one occasion, at his training center in Florida, he was working with a group of NFL linebackers. He gave them an assignment. They were to run to the fence at the perimeter of the center and then run back to base camp. Groppel then added one final, important detail: a wild boar had been spotted in the forest that morning. He explained how dangerous wild boars can be and told them to be on high alert.

Now, in preparation for the activity, Groppel had planted a cameraman along the forest trail, who hid behind the bushes. When the massive linebackers came around a bend, the cameraman began to snort and rustle the bushes. Here’s what happened (show Jack Groppel NFL video). The football players each turned tail and ran, squealing like schoolgirls.

Jack Groppel had a completely different reaction when he gave a group of CIA operatives the same assignment. When they heard the snorting and rustling, each operative got into combat position, drew his gun, and stood his ground. This time the cameraman was the one who ran away, afraid he might get shot, after which the CIA operatives completed their assignment.

When Jesus sent his followers out to spread the news of His Kingdom, he said, “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore… be on your guard…” (Matthew 10:16-17). Tell me, are we going to turn tail and run like those NFL linebackers, or are we going to complete our mission as Christ’s followers even in a dangerous environment?

You see, it is no longer popular to be a committed Christian in our country like it used to be. In fact, Christians who take a stand for Christ find themselves increasingly under fire in our culture.

Just this last Tuesday (September 3, 2013), Todd Starnes reported on Fox News that a family-owned, Christian bakery, under investigation for refusing to bake a wedding cake for a lesbian couple, has been forced to close its doors after a vicious boycott by militant homosexual activists.

Last January, Aaron and Melissa Klein, owners of Sweet Cakes by Melissa, made national headlines when they refused to bake a wedding cake for a lesbian couple. Klein told Starnes that he has nothing against homosexuals, but because of their religious faith, the family simply cannot take part in gay wedding events.

“I believe marriage is between a man and a woman,” Klein said. “I don’t want to help somebody celebrate a commitment to a lifetime of sin.”

The lesbian couple filed a discrimination suit with the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries and told their story to local newspapers and television statements. Within days, militant homosexuals groups launched protests and boycotts. Klein told Starnes he received messages threatening to kill his family. They hoped his children would die.

To make matters worse, the Oregon’s Bureau of Labor and Industries announced last month they had launched a formal discrimination investigation against the Christian family. Commissioner Brad Avakian told The Oregonian newspaper, “Everybody is entitled to their own beliefs, but that doesn’t mean that folks have the right to discriminate. The goal is to rehabilitate. For those who do violate the law, we want them to learn from that experience and have a good, successful business in Oregon.” In other words, the state of Oregon needs to rehabilitate and reeducate Christians like the Kleins, or so they believe.

Aaron Klein said what’s happened to Sweet Cakes By Melissa should be a warning to other Christians across the nation. “This is a fight that’s been coming for a while,” he said. “Be prepared to take a stand. Hopefully, the church will wake up and understand that we are under attack right now.”

Just last month, New Mexico’s Supreme Court ruled that two Christian photographers who declined to photograph a same-sex union violated the state’s Human Rights Act. One justice said the photographers were “compelled by law to compromise the very religious beliefs that inspire their lives.”

Denver baker Jack Phillips is facing possible jail time for refusing to bake a cake for a gay wedding. The Colorado Attorney General’s office filed a formal complaint against Phillips, the owner of Masterpiece Cake Shop. A hearing before the state’s civil rights commission is set for later this month.

In Indianapolis, a family-owned cookie shop faced a discrimination investigation after they refused to make rainbow cookies for National Coming Out Day. &

A T-shirt company in Lexington, Kentucky, found itself at the center of a Human Rights Commission investigation after they refused to make T-shirts for a local gay rights organization. (Todd Starnes, Todd’s American Dispatch, “Christian Bakery Closes after LGBT Threats Protests”, www.foxnews.com, September 3, 2013)

This is the culture to which Christ has sent us with a mission to make disciples, i.e., to equip people to follow Christ so that they KNOW him personally, GROW in their relationship with him, and SERVE him as he has gifted them to serve.

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