A Fresh Approach to Political Involvement

It is Independence Day in these United States. Many are questioning the way forward in light of recent political upheaval. The following is a guest post by Matthew Barnes charting at least one part of the way forward for Christians. He is a good friend and fellow servant of Christ. He minsters with Capital Commission Indiana and Public Servants’ Prayer. Though he writes for an Indiana audience, the principles can be applied across these United States.

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I have been ministering in the Indiana Statehouse for more than 10 years. God has opened more doors than I would have ever imagined, and it all started with God impressing on my heart to pray for leaders. I found that it is impossible to hate someone for whom you earnestly pray. I can honestly say that I love politicians! Politicians are simply people who hurt, feel and bleed the same as you and I.  Some of them know Christ, others do not. The political arena has a vacuum of pastoral care.

Many people want to influence politics and politicians. Every time there is a perceived political loss for people of faith, there are passionate calls for pastors and churches to engage. This is true of churches […]


A Disciple of Mary?

I have often said that July is the best time to work through Jesus’s birth narratives. July is far enough away from December 25 that the emotional trappings of the day are not winning your heart. July is also far enough away from late September, when Costco starts to put out the manger scenes and yard Santas. July is perfect for studying the birth of Jesus! If I were a holy day keeping man (other than the Sabbath), I would propose July 12 as the Presbyterian and Reformed Birth Narrative Day of Remembrance and Cerebral Celebration through Pious Thoughts. But I am not a holy day keeper (other than the Sabbath), and this article is not a presbyteri-rant against the C-word.

In my family worship we have been begun studying the Gospel of Luke. What has impressed me as we have begun in the first two chapters is the faith and piety of Mary, the mother of Jesus.

Luke 1:34-38 says,

And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. And behold, your relative Elizabeth […]


A Lament for Sally (and the rest of us)

There is a difference between freedom and autonomy (literally, self-law).  Freedom allows flourishing within a defined context conducive to life.  To bloom bright and beautiful, flowers are “constrained” by their need for water, good soil, and sun.  Autonomy demands the right to redefine terms and refuse any restraint.  Pop culture and political activists in black robes have made it clear:  We demand autonomy.  No fixed definitions for social institutions and therefore none for us as individuals.  We demand the right to self-define, no matter whose freedom gets trampled in the process and no matter who gets hurt, including ourselves. As we will increasingly see, but will likely keep refusing to learn, self-definition is self-destruction.

The following satire is barely hyperbolic.  As these recent articles show – doctors in Belgium to kill healthy 24 year old  and  Aggressive pursuit of the right to die – this scenario is now nightmarishly close to materializing.    


Rainbow Theology

Rainbows seem to be popping up everywhere in our area. Some have been resulted from storms that have produced record June rainfall and flooding in Midwestern communities. Others have been displayed in celebrations over the Supreme Court’s decision on same-sex marriage. The prevalence of the rainbow makes us ask afresh, “what does the rainbow mean?” God established the rainbow as the sign of his covenant with Noah after the global flood in Genesis 9. God’s promise gives us great hope in the midst of trouble. His promise to Noah and to us is posted below followed the words of four theologians who apply these truths to our hearts:

Genesis 9:11-17 I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.”  12 And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations:  13 I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth.  14 When I bring clouds over the […]


The world and its ways are winning

We are living at a time when the world and it’s ways are winning in western civilization. On the face of it, It simply cannot be argued against. No matter which way you turn, the ungodly are not only winning the cultural, moral and educational battles, they are evidently prospering as they do so. It appears that they have no concerns beyond the pursuit of their own selfish gratification and dare anyone who would deem to stand in their way. David captured it well when he said that “pride is their necklace, violence covers them as a garment…. They set their mouths against the heavens, and their tongues strut through the earth ” Psalm 73.

The astonishing thing is not that the openly wicked are being openly wicked, that’s a given. We shouldn’t expect anything less from them. They are who they are, and their agendas have always been eminently clear. The breathtaking thing is the increasing ambivalence of the majority. Each year sees a new level of tolerance and acceptance of that which God decrees as wickedness.

The parallel fact of course is that church is in incredible decline in western civilization. In vast swathes of the visible community which calls […]


Homosexuality: A Losing Battle?

Guest Blogger: Michael LeFebvre 

Dr. LeFebvre is the pastor of Christ Church on the west side on Indianapolis, IN, and editor of The Gospel and Sexual Orientation. This post was originally given as a talk in January of 2014 and has an audio link at the bottom of this article.

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The title for this morning’s workshop points our thoughts in two directions. The title is, “Homosexuality: A Losing Battle?” This question confronts us on two levels.

First, and in my view most importantly, it confronts us on the personal level. For those who personally experience this battle, it can often feel hopeless. The phrase that we hear so often today, and that captures this feeling of hopelessness, is the phrase, “You cannot pray the gay away.” That popular phrase communicates hopelessness to those who experience same-sex temptations. Furthermore, by citing prayer as the cure that fails (“you cannot pray the gay away”), that popular phrase is a direct challenge to the church—indeed, to Christ as the one who has let us down. In the face of such a message, how is a Christian caught in this battle to feel? Is this battle, faced on the personal level, a losing battle?

Secondly, this question […]


Are My Children Christians?

Children. They’re a blessing from the Lord, right? Absolutely! But if you’re a parent you know that these little people are the source of more fear, anxiety, and worry than anything else in all of life. We are constantly concerned about our children—their health, their development, their personalities, their habits, their choices, and their friends. There’s enough there to gray the hair quite quickly! Yet, for every Christian parent there’s a concern that goes deeper than all of these: is my child a Christian?

If you’re a parent you know that’s a question that is often asked. It’s a question that keeps you up at night. It’s a question over which you have prayed time and time again. It’s a question that reverberates in your heart when you hear the shocking and sad news of a miscarriage or the death of a little one. And it’s a question that inevitably arises when your three old sons asks, “Daddy, am I going to heaven?” How do you answer that question?

My opinion and your opinion of our children–however optimistic or pessimistic that may be–is not the determining factor.

Well, I hope it’s evident to you that my opinion and your opinion of our children–however optimistic or pessimistic […]


ECHOing Across Generations

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work” Thomas Edison said. But not by John Hanson. John is a ruling elder at Southside Reformed Presbyterian Church in Indianapolis and has worked as an educator. For over two decades, he has hauled teams of young people from our presbytery each summer to North Fort Myers, Florida to serve at ECHO.

ECHO stands for Educational Concerns for Hunger Organization. It is a Christian organization with a vision to “Honor God through sustainable hunger solutions.” From the farm in Florida, it equips people, most often missionaries, with “agricultural resources and skills to reduce hunger and improve the lives of the poor.” They serve workers in more than 165 countries and are being used to change the lives of millions of people.

In 1989, Rich Johnston, another elder in the Reformed Presbyterian Church in Indianapolis, took the first team of young people from our presbytery to serve at ECHO. He and others had known ECHO’s director, Dr. Martin Price, and his wife Bonnie from their years in Indianapolis, at Geneva College, and at Purdue University. The Prices had begun their work at ECHO in 1981, and the work was still […]


Shepherd the Shepherd

It wasn’t until I was nearly twenty-two years old that I first became a member of a church. In the college town where I was, there was a small Presbyterian congregation that seemed to fit with my changing convictions. I was and still remain thankful for the three years I spent there before going to seminary. As a dating couple my wife and I were taken under the wings of the pastor and his wife, we enjoyed a lot of friendships and fellowship, I was learning a lot, and it was also the church where I preached my first sermon! However, all of this was mixed with profound sorrow when spiritual tragedy struck our small congregation.

Only weeks after he married us it was discovered that our pastor was being unfaithful to his wife of twenty-five years. His family was left utterly shattered and broken as a result of his sin. But his adultery also affected each member of the congregation in different ways. For my family—as we looked toward seminary and the pastorate—this was deeply discouraging. I remember telling my wife with tears that if this would be the result of my future ministry then I’d rather not even begin […]


The Impact of the Upward Fall on Man’s Will

In his work Theology is for Proclamation, Lutheran theologian Gerhard Forde (pronounced fur-dy) offers an insightful perspective on the impact of the fall of man in Adam on our wills.  In so doing, he explains why man, apart from the working of the Spirit of God on his soul, always insists on having free choice in matters of salvation.

Because of the direction the word “fall” implies, we tend to think of our fall in Adam only in a downward direction. Yet Forde reminds us of what Adam was doing when he fell to the temptation of Satan:

The fall is really not what the word implies at all. It is not (Note: I would add the word “only” here) a downward plunge to some lower level in the great chain of being, some lower rung on the ladder of morality and freedom. Rather, it is an upward rebellion, an invasion of the realm of things “above,” the usurping of divine prerogative.

Man’s great problem, simply stated, is that he wants to be God.  Forde uses the term “upward fall” to describe this rebellion.

As such, man, who was created in the image of God to reflect His glory, has now directed his constitution in the completely opposite […]