Good evening brethren and Happy Sabbath! I hope everyone is prepared and ready for this weekend's winter weather. Just a reminder that there will be no in-person services in Charlotte, Columbia or Hickory. This is due not only to the likelihood of inclement weather on Saturday night, but because we have many among us who are sick. All things considered, I felt it was best to have a Sabbath at home this week. The good news is you can tune into live services at 11 AM via our local webcast here. Please contact me if you need the password. In addition, we will have a Zoom fellowship after services. You should have received an e-mail invite earlier this evening.
If the power goes out, you can perhaps spend some time reading our next booklet, "Jesus Christ: The Real Story." You can begin by reading the Introduction and chapter one 'Who-and What-Was Jesus Christ?' If you don't have a hard copy on hand, not to worry, we will have them at services next Sabbath or you can read it online here.
Preparing for 'White Death'
You'd be hard pressed to tell it by looking out your window right now, but to hear the weather people tell it, you'd think we're all about ready to die from the 'White Death' or as you may also know it - snow. Perhaps of more concern is the potential for ice that comes along with it, and the possibility of downed limbs and power lines.
For many of you, myself included, who grew up in a colder climate, a little snow and ice isn't such a big deal. It was an inevitable part of winter, and about all you could do was prepare for it ahead of time. Make sure you have some water, toilet paper, canned goods and firewood on hand and then settle in with a hot cup of cocoa and watch it snow. Don't forget an old-fashioned manual can opener (in case the power goes out) and some good, dry kindling!
Here in the south, even though severe cold weather is less likely, it's good to have some emergency supplies on hand just in case. The good news is most of the stuff you need for being snowed/iced in is the same as what you need for hurricane season. Any way you slice it, the lesson is the same: The only thing you can do about bad weather is be prepared!
Challenges of a different variety
Things like ice and hurricanes are relatively easy to brace yourself against. Unfortunately, some more difficult times lie ahead that are much more challenging to get ready for. The challenges I speak of are ones that are a direct assault on Biblical values.
Hopefully, you read the latest e-News this week where the President of the United Church of God, Victor Kubik, elaborated on new laws going into effect in regards to 'conversion therapy.' Legislation in Canada has been recently passed that outlaws any practice, treatment or service designed to:
(a) change a person's sexual orientation to heterosexual;
(b) change a person's gender identity to cisgender;
(c) change a person's gender expression so that it conforms to the sex assigned to the person at birth;
(d) repress or reduce non-heterosexual attraction or sexual behavior;
(e) repress a person's non-cisgender gender identity; or
(f) repress or reduce a person's gender expression that does not conform to the sex assigned to the person at birth."
Similar legislation is already in place in many US cities, and will likely be federal law by the end of the year.
While we as a church don't have any sort of 'conversion therapy' practice in place, nor would or could we ever 'force' someone to be heterosexual or maintain their birth gender, the implications for the church are significant. In essence, this legislation means we could not even advise or counsel anyone that homosexuality or choosing your own gender is a sin they should work to overcome. Note that the legislation is written carefully so as not to outlaw the practice of helping someone change their sexuality from heterosexual to homosexual, nor encourage someone to reassign their gender.
In very simple terms, if your child were to talk to a counselor and have questions or confusion about their gender, they could be counseled to change their gender or become homosexual, but not advised to keep their birth gender or be heterosexual. The mind reels!
What to do?
Perhaps what is most disturbing is that it's conceivable this legislation could even apply to how and what parents teach their children in the privacy of their own home. If you are a parent or grandparent, I strongly encourage you to teach your children what the Bible says about homosexuality, cross dressing and other gender related issues while you still can. Obviously, the depth of your teaching must be age appropriate. Be loving and respectful as you teach, and listen to their questions and concerns. A few scriptures to review as you prepare to teach might be Genesis 2:15-25, Leviticus 18:1-30, Leviticus 20:10-26, Deuteronomy 22:5, 1 Corinthians 6:1-20 and Ephesians 5:22-6:4.
Waiting till the power goes out is too late to think about how to keep warm and find food. Likewise, waiting until it's illegal is too late to teach your children how God defines marriage or how He created us male or female. Please pray for all of your brothers and sisters in Christ dealing with these difficult times. Some live in areas where the ministry can no longer teach these basic Biblical truths from the pulpit.
For all of us, the lesson is clear: Be prepared. Whether it's snow, ice or the banning of the word of God, prepare now while you still can, before the storms arrive!