Helping One of Our Contributors

Twenty years ago, I had the privilege of having my first article published in The Homeschool Digest. I was referred to them and it was suggested that I contact the company.  Submitting my article, I was not sure whether it would meet the criteria for what they were looking to publish in their monthly magazine. However, I received a gracious response and with a few edits, my article made me a published author.

A contributor and one of the editors of the magazine was none other than one of our contributors, Sony Elise. About a year after the article was published, our family moved to Michigan and we learned that we only lived about three miles from Sony and her family. Connections were made and our families were able to spend time together enjoying meals and Christian fellowship.

Twenty years later, Sony has been an encouragement to many and continues to do so with her words of encouragement on Truth in Grace. While her health does not permit her to do a great deal away from her home, she has about 25 years of professional editing experience behind her. She has her own editing business which has benefitted myself and J.L. Pattison, who is another contributor here.

Over the last 2 months, we have been working together on a collaboration that would help incorporate her editing and her love of good Christian material. With that, it is my privilege to introduce her new online bookstore, Sony Elise Christian Books.

Sony’s intentions are not to compete with Amazon or other major bookstores, but to offer a small selection of good reading material. Supporting her new business helps her to support herself and also helps to support Christian Indie authors who are self-published. Many large name companies will not publish many Christian authors because the author is unknown or because the message in their book is not acceptable in mainstream evangelicalism.

More books will be coming to the current selection, but I also encourage you to visit, like, and share her Facebook page. You will be helping a friend, a prayer warrior, and an encouraging sister.

Every blessing in Christian love and grace,

Mark Anthony

Keep Praying for your Kids

This is a very good testimony from a brother in Christ, Ryan Haines. We have shared some material from Ryan before on the issue of homosexuality. He has a ministry called The Gospel Training Ground. I recommend listening to this video, especially if you have children who are far from God.

Consistent Inconsistency – Part 5 – Children & Church

Let us consider another inconsistency, but let me first warn the reader that it may cause some real heart searching, especially if you have children.

The scene is the same just about every week. Families struggle to get up on Sunday morning. Many have not bothered to prepare their hearts throughout the previous week, and especially the Saturday night before. This quickly becomes obvious as the rest of the morning progresses.

Breakfast is rushed and the parents are shouting at the kids to “Hurry or we will be late to church.” With a final flurry of activity, everybody runs out and jumps in the appropriate vehicle. On the way, the driver is pushing past the speed limit and hoping that a policeman is not sitting over the next hill with a radar gun. In the back, the children begin to bicker and then fight. The parents both threaten to stop the car to take care of the problem that does little to straighten out the children. The little ones are mostly immune to the threats because they have already figured out long ago that the parents don’t really mean what they say.

Every now and then, a word of wisdom may grace the conversation. One of the parents will remind their offspring that “we all need to settle down as we are going to worship the Lord.”

Arriving at their chosen place of worship a few minutes late, the parents send their children off to a little classroom. In the room, they only manage to get through 45 minutes due to the seemingly endless supply of snacks and juice. During the class, they may receive a pithy little lesson which may come complete with puppets and pages to color.

Stated otherwise, this means: Continue reading

Christian & a Transgender Dialogue

In these two videos, Ryan Haines engages in a conversation with Seraphim Step. They are good friends. Seraphim identifies as a transgender individual and Ryan is a true believer in the Lord Jesus Christ.

My purpose in sharing these two videos is because, as Christians, we are called to share the truth of God’s Word. 1 Peter 3:15 reveals that we should be ready to give an answer to anybody who asks us for a reason for the hope that is within us. Peter continues though by clarifying that we are to do so with meekness and fear. Belittling those who live under the judgment of God does not show them the love of Christ. We do not have to love, like, or endorse any actions within the LGBTQ community, but we can and should share that Christ came to the earth to save sinners.

In the first of the two videos, they discuss the terms about what transgenderism is all about, and how Seraphim came to the opinion that he was trapped in a male body and has made the decision to have surgery. This surgery is for the purpose of supposedly completing the transformation from male to female.  Unless your children are older, this may not be an appropriate video for them to see even though the two do not discuss anything explicit.

The second video is an open and Biblical explanation by Ryan sharing lovingly about the God of creation. He tells the viewer why and how God created two genders – male and female, and covers the Biblical mandate for marriage and the sexual relationship that was created for good.

One of the areas that I appreciated hearing from Ryan is the defining of Biblical terms such as “abomination” and what qualifies as an abomination before a holy and just God. If the term abomination is used just to define sexual immorality, the person using the term is not being faithful to Scripture. Ultimately, ALL sin is an abomination before God.

The bottom line is that true believers in the Lord Jesus Christ should be willing to reach out to those who have chosen a path that goes against the holiness of God. We can show friendship toward those who are searching for truth. God does forgive sin and He also brings healing.

Consistent Inconsistency – Part 4 – Christian Liberty

One of the principles in evangelical churches that is often taught is that of “Christian liberty.” This is a wonderful doctrine that should be known throughout the hearts and minds of all true believers.

It is unfortunate that the average church member will not find a middle ground in this area, nor will many pastors or elders. The usual suspects for why this is the case are 1) legalism, or 2) liberalism. Let me explain and then give a few examples.

The road of Christian liberty often splits. The first road is often considered the HIGH road, and it is walked by well meaning believers. They believe they have the right to define what Christian liberty. However, this is not where they stop. They also believe that they have the right and the God-given responsibility to determine what is right AND what is not right for other believers.

The second road too often leads down a path that leads to the attitude, “Don’t judge me. I can do anything I want to in Christ.” This path invariably will lead to liberalism and destroys the testimony of Jesus Christ.

As you read these thoughts, consider what DOES NOT define Christian liberty.

  1. Christian liberty is NOT the dictates of a pastor or an elder board. If a pastor is preaching or teaching principles for life as though they were solid doctrine, then you must beware. Teaching principles and practices as if they were the foundation stone of the apostles and prophets is the quickest road to legalism and a sure sign that you are attending a church governed by a dictator rather than a loving shepherd.
  2. Christian liberty is NOT the ability to demand other brothers and sisters agree with my stand on an issue that is NOT clearly defined in Scripture.

Two simple definitions as they pertain to Christian liberty –

  1. Legalism – Excessive adherence to the law that manifests itself by forcing others to obey what the Scriptures do not explicitly teach. Such a position is based on a worldview that is rules-centered rather than being Christ-centered.
  2. Liberalism – Excessive lifestyles that supposedly allow a Christian to live any way they wish to do so. This philosophy is defined and supported by a worldview that is man-centered rather than Christ-centered.

Both of these positions are wrong. I want to give a few examples after sharing this excellent excerpt from www.GotQuestions.org.

“Question: “Christian liberty – what does the Bible say?”

Answer: Christian liberty is found in the Bible in several concepts. For example, liberty for the Christian can mean that he or she has been freed from the penalty of sin by faith in Jesus Christ (John 8:31-36Romans 6:23). Also, Christian liberty can refer to being freed from the power of sin in one’s life by daily faith in Jesus Christ as Lord of one’s character and conduct (Romans 6:5-6,14). In addition, Christian liberty can mean that Christians are freed from the Jewish Law of Moses in that the Law only “exposes” sin in one’s life but cannot “forgive” sin (Romans 3:20-22).

Finally, Christian liberty can mean that Christians are freed in respect to such activity that is not expressly forbidden in the Bible. Therefore one can feel free to engage in such activity as long as it doesn’t “stumble” or “offend” another Christian (Romans 14:12-16). Most of these activities revolve around social “do’s” and “don’ts, such as whether or not to wear certain kinds of clothes, make-up, jewelry, tattoos, piercings, and/or practicing certain things, such as smoking, social drinking, recreational gambling, dancing, or viewing movies or videos. As the passage in Romans 14 says, these things may not be strictly prohibited by God’s Word, but they can be bad for one’s spiritual growth or Christian testimony and can cause other Christians to stumble.

Furthermore, Christians who tend to vigorously promote such liberties can sometimes fall into a loose lifestyle of undisciplined living, while, on the other hand, Christians who tend to vigorously limit such liberties can sometimes fall into a legalistic lifestyle of being defined by what they are “against.” So, it is wise to seek God in prayer and His Word to determine whether or not a particular activity is actually forbidden in Scripture. If it is, it should be avoided. If it is not forbidden, then we should seek to determine how the activity reflects on our reputation as Christians and whether it will help us or hinder us in representing Jesus to unbelievers around us, whether it edifies them or not.

The ultimate goal for the Christian should be to glorify God, edify fellow believers, and have a good reputation before unbelievers (Psalm 19:14Romans 15:1-21 Peter 2:11-12). “For you brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another” (Galatians 5:13). (emphasis mine)”

Here is the reality of life as a true believer. It is NOT easy being a Christian for the world clamors for our attention. The world demands that we look like them in every way, but they do not do this because they love God and His commands.

The world demands our undivided loyalty because they HATE Jesus Christ. When the world sees a true believer, it is like a massive thorn that has been jabbed under a person’s fingernail. The life of a true believer is called to bring conviction to the ungodly. We do not speak of being arrogant or haughty toward those who do not believe for we have nothing of which we can boast.

However, we have been chosen, by the Most High, with our calling being to be predestinated and conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. Simply put, the world should be seeing Jesus Christ in us. He is the hope of glory.

Now, let us consider a few examples –

Ultimately, Christian liberty is the understanding that my liberty starts and stops with what is clearly defined in Scripture. If there is an explicit command for us to obey, we must obey. If there is an explicit principle for life, then we are called to follow the principle. If the principle governs the motives of our heart, but not our methods, then we are free in Christ to follow the choices before us.

However, that freedom stops at the end of your nose and mine. Christian liberty is not free to assault the choices other believers make. If you make a decision that does not affect me or cause me to stumble, then enjoy the freedoms you have in Christ.

We may look at some of these areas later in the series, but for now I will use a personal illustration. I do not partake regularly of any kind of alcohol, but I have in the past. We have used it to flavor meat while it was cooking. I have swallowed a lot of cough medicines that have alcohol as an ingredient. I do NOT believe that I am forever condemned for having done so.

On the other hand, I have NEVER been drunk or lost self-control for what I have taken has been in moderation. For this, I am thankful to the Lord. It does not make me a spiritual person for having not been drunk versus a brother or sister who has succumbed to drunkenness. If we are in Christ, we are BOTH forgiven.

If I invite a brother and his family to dine with our family and I know one of their family members have struggled with alcohol in the past, my Christian duty and responsibility will refrain from offering it to that person. My Christian liberty does NOT allow me to be a stumbling block to him or her while we are fellowshipping together. I am free to follow the dictates of the Holy Spirit in my life AS LONG as it does not cause another to fall into sin.

As I have stated previously, when I was growing up in various churches, we heard all manner of “sermons” about long hair on men, pants on women, the dangers of Christian contemporary music, going to movies, or drinking alcohol – just to name a few. While these messages may have been well meaning, they only served to bind brothers and sisters to a defined set of standards that were man-made, and not ones established by Scripture. More often than not, such “sermons” are the result of too little time studying the Word to understand what it means in its own context, but are the result of using Scripture to prove a point being made. Scriptures were either misquoted or misunderstood in order to put other believers under a bondage that nobody can obey.

While the areas of Christian liberty are myriad, here is another example. Many denominations demand women wear their hair up, or that men have to wear suit and tie to church in order to be of service, or that families have to uphold the same standards as the pastor and his family in their normal weekly lives.

When we served in Liberia, West Africa, we saw the futility of many Christians who felt as though they were bound to what they had been taught – by the western missionary from a western society trying to force a western perspective on people for whom Christ died.

Too many times, I have seen African churches singing western songs (most had no clue what the words meant) while sitting in a western style church setting and feeling inferior to others attending because they did not have the money to wear western style clothing.

Missionaries may mean well, but if the focus is on making those in foreign countries to look, smell, talk, and act just like us in church, then we have failed miserably in directing, teaching, and discipling those precious brothers and sisters to focus on Christ, and to focus on Him ALONE.

In the west, legalism has driven many from the protection of fellowships across this land and into the arms of those who demand liberalism be what defines the church. If you were to ask many who have gone to Bible college, what they remember about college life, many would have no hesitation to share all about the rules that they learned. They can probably remember the demerits they earned for breaking man-made rules, but few would probably begin by telling you how much closer they grew to Christ. What a sad commentary!

Pastors and teachers, we are called to be an example to the believers. We are called to be shepherds of the flock and protect those for whom Christ died. We are not called, nor do we have the right or the responsibility, to be dictators. We have no business setting standards or principles for life that are not found in the pages of Scripture.

Do NOT place yokes or chains of bondage on those who are in Christ. Romans 8:1 is clear, “Therefore, there is now NO condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.”

Let us conclude with this –

What is the chief end of man?

The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. This is where Christian liberty MUST begin AND end.

More thoughts to come —

Consistent Inconsistency – Part 3 – Divorce

This next problem is one where way too many churches are consistently inconsistent, and I believe it is a shame for several reasons.

  1. This should NOT be a problem within the body of Christ, but it is.
  2. This should NOT be divisive between brothers and sisters, but it is.
  3. This should NOT be what defines congregations, but it is.

The problem I am speaking of is the matter of divorce.

It is imperative that we define marriage and what God commands regarding marriage. Biblical marriage can ONLY be defined as: One man and one woman united together before God in the bonds of matrimony for the rest of their natural lives. As God is the One Who created marriage, it is He and He alone who defines the rules for what makes a marriage. Government has NO RIGHT to try and define what they think marriage is or what it should be.

Stated otherwise, this means: Continue reading