Helen Louise Herndon

Amos, A Laity Model and Prophet for Our Times

Unfortunately, there are some who have succumbed to the lure of secular culture and promote those values as if biblical. And gladly in the midst of this, many lay elders, deacons, and congregational members remain faithful and speak to the current issues. They need to be heard, heeded, and respected.  Their “prophesying,” like Amos, on behalf of God’s Word and Christ’s commands deserves careful attention.

Amos is considered a minor prophet in the canon of Scripture. However, Amos asserted he is not a prophet: “I am not a prophet, nor am I the son of a prophet; for I am a herdsman and a grower of sycamore figs.  But the Lord took me from following the flock and the Lord said to me, ‘Go prophesy to the people of Israel” (Amos 7: 14-15).
Amos had been accused by Amaziah, the priest of Bethel to King Jeroboam, king of Israel, saying, “Amos has conspired against you in the midst of the house of Israel . . . Then Amaziah said to Amos, ‘Go, you seer, flee away to the land of Judah and there eat bread and there do your prophesying!  But no longer prophesy at Bethel, for it is a sanctuary of the king and a royal residence.” 
Then Amos replied to Amaziah, “I am not a prophet, nor am I the son of a prophet; for I am a herdsman and a grower of a sycamore figs.  But the Lord took me from following the flock and the Lord said to me, ‘Go prophesy to My people Israel.”
In today’s language here is a layman addressing a warning to the people of God, and he is then rebuked by a cleric.  Does that not speak to some similar situations in the church today?  Many clerics are coming out of what are considered conservative, orthodox seminaries, yet with cultural ideologies that are counter to biblical principles and truth.  And so it is left to lay leaders to stand up for maintaining  biblical principles and truths.
The book of Amos is applicable to today and a reminder that God is sovereign and will choose whom he wills to address serious issues confronting his covenant people both in the Old Testament and in the universal Church today.
The Church in every generation is confronted with false teachings of every type. The present time is no exception where specific issues like race and sexual identity are front and center. By whom are these issues usually framed? Sadly, mostly by those who are clergy and the seminaries that influenced them. As a result, it falls to lay leaders lay church members to resist these incursions into the church. They desire to remain steadfast to the divine revelation of God regarding human depravity, that all, regardless of race or sexual identities, “…have fallen short of the glory of God.” And further, that God created male and female and instituted marriage by which they would express sexual relationships. 
There is no intent here to discount the importance of clergy in the life of the church; many are faithful to God’s divine revelation and historic, orthodox Christianity. Unfortunately, there are some who have succumbed to the lure of secular culture and promote those values as if biblical. And gladly in the midst of this, many lay elders, deacons, and congregational members remain faithful and speak to the current issues. They need to be heard, heeded, and respected.  Their “prophesying,” like Amos, on behalf of God’s Word and Christ’s commands deserves careful attention.
Here is my plea to church leaders: recognize the voices of the laity, don’t silence them; listen to them.  They too are God’s instruments and servants to keep Christ’s Bride faithful to her Groom.
The message for us today is listen to Amos, a simple herdsman and grower of sycamore figs, not to Amaziah, the priest and the cleric; Amos is a forerunner and model for today’s Church. And to lay leaders: be faithful as Amos to your churches today.
Helen Louise Herndon is a member of Central Presbyterian Church (EPC) in St. Louis, Missouri. She is freelance writer and served as a missionary to the Arab/Muslim world in France and North Africa.
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A Reminder Etched in Glass Is Etched On My Heart

God enriched my life not only with friends like Dorie Howell, but with friends of so many different nationalities and diverse races.  My life has been etched time and again with such diversity.  But the most important etching in my life and on my heart is that of my most beloved Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

I must have seen it a thousand times over, my name, Helen Louise, etched in glass on a flower vase.  Above my name is etched a small songbird with flapped wing sitting on a small branch.  It sits holding pale artificial flowers on the sink in my bathroom.  Every time I wash my hands, wash my face, put on makeup, comb my hair or push it into its waves after shampooing, I see it. And yet this morning, it was more than seen.  It was a reminder of a very dear friend who gave it to me as a gift.
That dear friend was Dorie Howell, a graduate student I met in college my freshman year as an undergraduate student at our Christian college founded by an Irish Presbyterian minister in Columbia, South Carolina.  Dorie was one of those delightful people who was always cheerful—one might even call her the “life of the party.”  She was quite tall, while I was so short.  We only knew each other there for a year and a half, as she returned to California to begin teaching kindergarten.  Through correspondence, our friendship grew and became punctuated with visits to California, to her family’s cabin in Colorado, and her visits to her sister and family in St. Louis.  Dorie was also a twin whose sister was named Lorie.  Dorie and Lorie.  Another interesting fact about Dorie was she and her sister, as toddlers, were babysat by Marilyn Monroe when she was still Norma Jean before becoming a star.
Our friendship continuously grew and endured many years until God took her home following a long bout with ovarian cancer.  I had visited her in California less than a year before she died sensing what the outcome of her medical battle would be.  One day while at work, I telephoned her in the hospital from my office when one could charge calls to one’s home telephone.  I felt compelled to call her and to attempt to encourage her.  That very day a few hours later when I returned home, her twin sister telephoned me to let me know Dorie passed and was with the Lord.  I was so struck that I called her only a few hours before her departure.  God has a way of letting us know what we must do and when.
This morning seeing that etched vase reminded me that not only was my name etched on a vase; my friend remains etched on my heart.  So many years later, I recall so many conversations and experiences with this dear friend and sister-in-Christ—conversations and experiences that not only formed a deep and rich friendship but edified us both in the Lord.  We both shared a deep and rich love for our mutual Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  We both sought to serve Christ by making Him known to others.  Dorie, remaining single, loved children and gave them her all teaching kindergarten in a Christian school.  She served Christ in many other ways as well through her church and in community service to many.  She was completely spontaneous in talking about God.
A short while after her death, I was informed she made travel arrangements for me and others to go to California to attend her memorial service.  So a plane ticket was made available to me to go, and I was able to spend time with her twin sister, Lorie, and her family with whom I remained in contact all these many years after Dorie’s death.  A healthy friendship is not exclusive; it invites many others into it.
As I am reminded of this very dear friend who remains etched in my heart, along with so many more of diverse nationalities and races, my thoughts take me to our relationship with Jesus Christ and our Triune God.  Just as my name is etched on a vase and a dear friend is etched on my heart, what about Jesus Christ?  Is He etched on our hearts? Biblically, the word “etched” does not appear.  But there are not a few references to Christ being written on our hearts:
“You are our letter, written in our hearts, known and read by all men; being manifested that you are a letter of Christ, cared for by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts” (2 Corinthians 3: 2-3).
As a Christian woman, I have many very dear friends etched on my heart.  In fact, the plaque to be placed on my grave reads “Devoted daughter and friend.”  I want to leave behind the legacy that my parents and my friends were most important to me.  God enriched my life not only with friends like Dorie Howell, but with friends of so many different nationalities and diverse races.  My life has been etched time and again with such diversity.  But the most important etching in my life and on my heart is that of my most beloved Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
The etched vase that caught my attention this morning reminded me, yes, of a very dear friend; but it also reminded me of an eternal relationship that matters the most in life and for eternity.  Is He and His sacrificial death on the cross for you and His resurrection etched upon your heart?
Helen Louise Herndon is a member of Central Presbyterian Church (EPC) in St. Louis, Missouri. She is freelance writer and served as a missionary to the Arab/Muslim world in France and North Africa.
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Praise, The Doxology’s Descant

If God never blessed us again, we could continue to praise Him for Who He is – God the Creator of heaven and earth, the Everlasting One, God Almighty, or Father of lights.  His character remains constant and always worthy of praise – holy, righteous, just, loving, patient, and merciful.

The Scriptures abound with plaudits of praise to God.  Praise is the essence of worship.  There can be no worship service without praise.  Whenever any people of God stray from Him, their patterns of worship change.  No longer is He the object of worship or adoration; rather they begin to worship, whether formally or informally, false gods.  The false gods could be idols carved in wood or stone or they could be ideologies or philosophies of life carved with words.  The result is God is no longer recognized for Who He is or what He does.
Throughout Church history, there have been doxologies (hymns of praise to God) written to help Christians verbalize their praises to God in song.  Best known to us is a translation of one written in the sixteenth century by Louis Bourgeois, “Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow,” or “Old 100th.”  Louis Bourgeois was the master of choristers in Geneva and was primarily responsible for the musical portions in the Geneva Psalter.  My French hymnal is replete with hymns attributed to him.
Another well-known or favorite doxology is, “All Creatures of Our God and King.”  This doxology was written in the twelfth century by Francis of Assisi, founder of the Order of Little brothers or Friars Minor.  It is a beautiful example of a call to all creation, animate and inanimate, to render praise and glory to God.  If the “Hallelujah Chorus” causes us to rise to our feet, “All Creatures of Our God and King” ought to cause us to lift both head and hands in glory to God the Creator, the Eternal One.  It is truly worthy of memorization, freeing us from looking down at our hymnbooks in order to look up to our God!
Thanksgiving is the time of year when thoughts turn to considering our many blessings and expressing thankfulness to God for His bounteous acts of mercy and loving-kindness.  Surely a thankless heart is a cold, insensitive heart.  It is a heart that barely beats and where the pulse of spiritual life is undetected.  Each day affords each and every one of us many opportunities to be thankful to God, for His blessings are innumerable.  Praise encompasses thanksgiving, but thanksgiving is just a portion of praise.  Thanksgiving praises God for what He does or gives.  Praise goes beyond focusing on the acts of God to spotlighting His person and His character.
If God never blessed us again, we could continue to praise Him for Who He is – God the Creator of heaven and earth, the Everlasting One, God Almighty, or Father of lights.  His character remains constant and always worthy of praise – holy, righteous, just, loving, patient, and merciful.
This Thanksgiving Day many will know how to offer thanks, even if it is only for the table spread before them or for the family that is gathered together that day.  However, as Christians, let’s not just tally our thanks nor tarry at thanksgiving.  Let’s go beyond what the world can do because we know Him and Who He is.  Let’s pursue praise and devote our doxologies of praise to Him who is worthy of worship.
From time to time, we enjoy either singing or hearing a hymn with a descant.  The descant is a melody or counterpoint sung above the simple melody, usually by sopranos.  As the descant rises distinctively above the simple melody, so praise rises above simple thanksgiving.
“Now Thank We All Our God” may be a favorite American Thanksgiving hymn, but “Great is the Lord and Greatly to be Praised” is an age-old admonition.  Let’s not waste the centuries-proven talents of a Louis Bourgeois or a Francis of Assisi, as well as others like them.  Let’s join them and centuries of Christians in praising God for Who He is with our doxologies of praise!  May God be pleased as we all – soprano, alto, tenor, and bass – join together singing the indelible descant of praise.
Helen Louise Herndon is a member of Central Presbyterian Church (EPC) in St. Louis, Missouri. She is freelance writer and served as a missionary to the Arab/Muslim world in France and North Africa.
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Church, Christians, We Are in a Real Battle: Shepherds, Protect Your Flocks

When we continue to identify our position in Christ with a particular sin, we are in essence denying the redemptive efficacy of Christ’s atonement.  What miraculously reborn believer wishes to announce or imply such an affirmation?  Denying the redemptive efficacy of Christ’s atonement assuredly rates equal to the heresies of the past that were so soundly resisted by the Church.

Church, Christians, —regardless of branch of the Church—we are in a battle, a battle never dreamed possible in our age.  It is a battle that is being fiercely fought by the invader and, sadly, ignored by many church leaders, leaving their flocks very vulnerable.  The early Church once transformed a pagan world (Acts 17;6); however, today the pagan world is transforming the Christian Church. What a turn of events.
How so, you ask? Unfortunately, to not a few, it’s something considered benign and something quite subtle as well.  It doesn’t appear to compare to the great doctrinal heresies of the past, e.g., tenets addressing the Godhead, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, which were soundly resisted by godly men and women as they stood on God’s powerful divine revelation in his Word.  And what is this new heresy that we must now fight? It is all about identity.
We find its beginning with those who were practicing, struggling with, or promoting homosexuality.  They claimed that they had been spiritually recreated by their new birth by the power of the Holy Spirit, yet they declared themselves identifying their brand of Christianity by the very sins and temptations they experienced beforehand. They claimed they had been redeemed and forgiven. Yet they rename some particular form of sin they once experienced or practiced with a euphemism, with the gravity and seriousness of that particular sin being diminished to the status of a faux pas, a foible, a mere flaw or tendency.  Thus, they can call themselves “gay Christians.”  Who can deny it sounds clearly and simply benign?  However, God never treated homosexuality as benign, in the old covenant or the new covenant.  It is one of the those sins modified by the harshest of adjectives and modifiers, as seen in the letter to the Christians in Rome (see Romans 1:18-32). It’s impossible to ignore the gravity of such sins, even as great effort is exerted to skew the Romans passage’s clear meaning and magnitude.
Many Christians come to Christ with a background of other sexually related sins, fornication, adultery, pornography, etc.  Through repentance they cease any such practices, and never identify their new, transformed life with their former sinful propensities.  It is unthinkable as well as shameful to identify the miracle of saving grace by what God declared as offensive to his holy character.  How incredulous that it is not treated as shameful today.  For over 2,000 years, Christians never identified themselves with the sins from which they had been delivered.
Sadly, this unthinkable identification with a sinful disposition is no longer limited to homosexuality alone.  The door has been opened to other perversions to God’s creative intent, such as non-binary gender ideologies.
The statement above, “It doesn’t compare to the great heresies of the past that were doctrinal tenets…” may not be accurate after all.  Why?  When we continue to identify our position in Christ with a particular sin, we are in essence denying the redemptive efficacy of Christ’s atonement.  What miraculously reborn believer wishes to announce or imply such an affirmation?  Denying the redemptive efficacy of Christ’s atonement assuredly rates equal to the heresies of the past that were so soundly resisted by the Church.
This battle is real; it is not insignificant.  Church leaders, are you faithfully warning and protecting your flock from such an epic error?  Are you lovingly arming and educating your flock to protect them from such perversity? Too many Christians have been taken hostage already to worldly passions masquerading as truth.  Remember your obligation not only to teach God’s truth but to protect the sheep of your flock.  As one shepherd has said, “Along with knowing the flock, leading the flock, and feeding the flock, a fourth biblical function of the visionary shepherd is to protect the flock. Sheep are in constant need of protection.”
“Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood”  Acts 20:28-30 (NASB).
Helen Louise Herndon is a member of Central Presbyterian Church (EPC) in St. Louis, Missouri. She is freelance writer and served as a missionary to the Arab/Muslim world in France and North Africa.
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Lay Elders, An Important Book for You, As Defenders of Truth

The sources to which “gay Christians” constantly appeal—secular psychology, sociological data, identity theory, and the personal experiences of people who identify as sexual minorities—are not sufficient to guide us into all truth…If the Bible is God’s holy, inerrant, and clear revelation, then it is the foundation of all that we should believe and do—regardless of anyone’s contrary personal experience.

“God has always saved the church, not by theological pacifists,but by sturdy defenders for the truth.”  J. Gresham Machen
An abundance of books today addresses Christians.  I just finished one—one I’m compelled to recommend every lay church elder be provided and required to read.  Why emphasize “lay” elders?  Throughout Church history, heresies or straying from God’s divine revelation came mainly through clerical leaders—not the laity. In Reformed Faith churches, lay elders may be the bulwark defending the church from vulnerability to straying.  This is not intended to be anti-clerical—simply recognizing a historical reality that is unrelenting yet today.  Sadly, reports coming out of trusted conservative seminaries indicate the threat exists; this article is not about that phenomenon.  Rather it’s about a book promoting biblical analysis and discernment that elders need to be sensitive to and on guard against a present danger.
The book is Dangerous Affirmation: The Threat of “Gay Christianity written by M. D. Perkins. I received it courtesy of David H. Linden to whom the book is dedicated with these words: “. . . who . . . taught me that life is too short and Christ is too precious to remain silent when His church is under attack.”  The author and to whom it’s dedicated are both “sturdy defenders for the truth.”
Anyone reading The Aquila Report and other Christian resources is aware a battle has come to the church via the LGBT activists and agenda.  It’s not only related to sexual morality.  It relates to a misnomer of Christian identity, i.e., “gay Christian” or “same-sex attracted Christian.”  It’s tearing churches and denominations apart.  Many congregations remain ignorant of how serious an issue it is.  Members lack clear instruction via sermons, oral instruction, or published communications.  If lay elders were informed and aware of the seriousness, perhaps congregations would become more instructed and discerning.
Packed with innumerable facts and biblical truths, justice cannot be attained in a simple review; but I’ll attempt to cite certain key points not to be ignored.  First, an important lost principle.  Much emphasis is directed on loving the sinner, making the sinner comfortable, welcoming the sinner in our churches and times of worship that the inordinate heinousness of certain dishonorable, indecent, shameful sexual desires, lusts, passions, and sexual acts are softened or ignored.  It was Jesus’ Father who described all of the above with harsh terms.  God’s love enters as a result of a lost sinner experiencing remorse, shame and sorrow for sin, confession, desiring to repent and cease from sin, and desiring deliverance and redemption.  That’s true for all of us regardless of sinful propensities.  Balancing truth with love and truth in love to all realizing how far from God’s holy character they are and what God hates is primary in receiving Christ’s atonement.  We mustn’t get the cart before the horse.”
Now to some of the author’s revealing facts:

The sources to which “gay Christians” constantly appeal—secular psychology, sociological data, identity theory, and the personal experiences of people who identify as sexual minorities—are not sufficient to guide us into all truth. . . If the Bible is God’s holy, inerrant, and clear revelation, then it is the foundation of all that we should believe and do—regardless of anyone’s contrary personal experience.
. . . the purpose of Christian theology is to know God.
Gay celibate theology wants to essentialize homosexual temptation to the point it is left untouched by the work of the Holy Spirit.
Love and truth are redefined. The majesty of God is minimized and the holiness of God is outright blasphemed.
As Christians, our primary concern should be the character of God—and questioning the integrity of His Word is the first step toward impugning the character of God.
Romans 1 is the central text in understanding the Bible’s teaching on homosexuality. The passage mentions the desire/orientation (“dishonorable passions”) as well as the behavior (“committing shameless acts”) lesbianism (“for their women”) . . . and the connection of sexual lust and rejecting God (“God gave them up”).
This comes as a rebuke to anyone who claims their homosexuality is innate and immutable, which is why even “gay celibate Christians” resist this reading of 1 Corinthians 6:11.
Words matter, and God’s words matter more than any others.
It is not loving to call something good and right that the Bible labels an “abomination,” “dishonorable passion,” or “shameless act”
. . . same -sex attraction . . . it is a phrase that removes the moral framework that Paul embeds in the term dishonorable passions (Romans 1: 26)
Because homosexuality is wicked and defiling, Christians are right to be disgusted at its normalization and celebration (Isaiah 5:20)
If we look carefully, we see that the charge of homophobia is ultimately an attempt to replace the shame of homosexuality with the approval stamp of victimhood.
What if our attempts to adjust the worship of God to make people feel more comfortable at church are an offense to the One who established the church?
What’s most amazing to me about the “born gay” phenomenon is that the scientific evidence for it is thin as a reed, yet it doesn’t matter.
. . . but our temptations should not ultimately define us.
But the peace of Christ is available only to those who are surrendered to Christ by faith (Isaiah 26: 3)
False teachers always appeal to our senses, to our emotions, and to our base instincts. They minimize scripture, reframe it, change the emphasis, and twist it until it is forced to confess a lie.
Can the Christian faith and the LGBT movement really live in harmony? “For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness?  Or what fellowship has light with darkness?  (2 Corinthians 6:14)

The aforementioned represents just some of the rich and vast coverage the author gives in order to grapple with the multitude of issues requiring attention for the sake of the church as well as the individual believers.  There’s so much more to inform and instruct.  Lay elders, encourage the godly men and women of the church to be “sturdy defenders for the truth” along with you.
“I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to  the saints. For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.”  (Jude 1: 3-4)
Helen Louise Herndon is a member of Central Presbyterian Church (EPC) in St. Louis, Missouri. She is freelance writer and served as a missionary to the Arab/Muslim world in France and North Africa.
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Labor Day’s Unsung Hero: Work

Work is not only a positive and creative activity it is also an antidote to destructive behavior and activity.  More crime is conceived in an atmosphere of idleness than in the work arena.  The Apostle Paul recognized the benefit of work when he wrote: “Let him who steals steal no longer; but rather let him labor, performing with his own hands what is good. . .” (Ephesians 4:28).

Unlike many European nations which observe May Day as an international labor day, both the United States and Canada honor labor on the first Monday of September.  Ironically, whether the celebration be for May Day or Labor Day, both holidays are celebrated by ceasing from the very activity, i.e., work, for which the holiday is named.
For most, Labor Day is celebrated by playing or resting rather than by working.  In a way, we have forgotten how honorable work or labor is.  Many would like to hit some kind of a jackpot in hopes of being able to quit working.  Work or labor is considered, for the most part, a necessary evil.  Returning to the work force on Monday mornings has caused Monday to be one of the least loved days of the week.  Even the rush hour traffic on Monday mornings is slower.  No one is in a hurry to get back to work.  There may be a T.G.I.F. (Thank God It’s Friday) Day; be assured there will never be a T.G.I.M. (Thank God It’s Monday) Day!
In our leisure-loving world, we have lost sight of the fact that work, no matter how menial it may appear or how risky it may be, is honorable.  One of the problems facing Great Britain is that of enticing workers off the national dole to job openings, which neither pay well nor appear glamorous.  In the US, workfare has faced an uphill battle.  However, those of us who are fortunate and blessed enough to escape the need for the safety net of either welfare or the national dole must guard against a “holier than thou” attitude and exhibit compassion for the plight of those who are unable to work for one reason or another.
Work is not only a positive and creative activity it is also an antidote to destructive behavior and activity.  More crime is conceived in an atmosphere of idleness than in the work arena.  The Apostle Paul recognized the benefit of work when he wrote: “Let him who steals steal no longer; but rather let him labor, performing with his own hands what is good. . .” (Ephesians 4:28).
It must not be forgotten that work came before the fall, not after it. “. . . by the sweat of your brow. . .” came after sin entered the picture. Had there been no sin and no fall from grace, we would still be working today.  After running up and down a terrace mowing my lawn and pulling weeds with perspiration flowing from my brow into my eyes and over my cheeks, I relish the thought of work as it was before the fall!
The Apostle Paul goes one step further and recommends work not only as an antidote to a life of crime, he also raises it above a self-centered activity to one of compassion towards others, “. . . performing with his own hands what is good, in order that he may have something to share with him who has need” (Ephesians 4:28). What a different world this would be if all of us who work incorporated the purpose of sharing with those in need.  In fact, we could organize and form a corporation called “For Others, Incorporated.”  Those who prefer to continue working only to advance their own interests could also organize themselves into a firm called, “For Self Only, Limited.”  “For Others, Inc.” is, of course, preferred for the company of believers.
Work is not only honorable, but it also affords an opportunity to be compassionate.  Let us, as Christians, seek to raise work to its highest level as a constructive, creative activity, and a compassionate outlet.  As we begin each new workday, may our morning horizon be that of the Psalmist:
Let thy work appear to thy servants,And thy majesty to their children.And let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us;And do confirm for us the work of our hands;Yes, confirm the work of our hands. (Psalm 90: 16, 17)  
Helen Louise Herndon is a member of Central Presbyterian Church (EPC) in St. Louis, Missouri. She is freelance writer and served as a missionary to the Arab/Muslim world in France and North Africa.
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A Response to “The PCA Presbytery of The Ascension Receives Report On “Still Time To Care”

I realize his book relates to what he calls, “the church’s failed attempt to cure homosexuality.”  Really!  Let’s face it, none of us are “cured from” sin or any sinful propensity or proclivity.  We are “covered” by Christ’s blood, but not necessarily “cured.”  I’m sure there are many heterosexual men and women who would confess confidentially that their sinful propensities and desires remain strong and are a continual struggle, but they are able to resist due … by the enablement of the Holy Spirit. 

I appreciate the Ascension Presbytery’s report inasmuch as is made available in this article.  Most books dealing with such controversial issues such as homosexuality or any sexual sin may not be totally flawed.  Yet their aim and emphases have serious influence and ramifications in diluting biblical truth by either softening the exceeding sinfulness of sexual sins or ignoring the universality of total depravity that affects all people, not only those with homosexual desires. The latter relates to the tendency of homosexuals and lesbians considering themselves exceptional or unique.  No, immoral sexual desires afflict heterosexuals, pedophiles, and more.  Universal depravity in the area of sexuality implies in Scripture that regardless of the direction such desires, temptations, or urges take, God’s Word and the work of the Holy Spirit would be the same for all.
Nonetheless, when it comes to the issue of same-sex sexual desires or actions, we cannot escape the fact there is nothing in Scripture that even hints at sympathy for either. The same can be said for heterosexual adultery, fornication, or addiction to pornography.  Throughout God’s divine revelation and Church history, sin—and particularly sexual sin—is/was treated as egregious.  Perhaps we are dealing with what Carl Trueman refers to as The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self.
Additionally, nowhere in God’s divine revelation do we find any positive reference to identifying ourselves or our personhood with sin, sexual or otherwise, especially not as Christians, disciples of Jesus Christ.  We cannot escape the fact that God hates sin or that Jesus clarified that even the mental or emotional lust is sin.  I realize this requires boldness on my part to say, but I believe Greg Johnson desperately needs to be encouraged to repent.  Whether he realizes it or not, he is normalizing and promoting an identity that God has clearly communicated to be serious, to be unnatural, to be abhorrent, and to be renounced.  Both sadly and unfortunately, he is wrongly influencing others.  Any and all sexual sins must be fled.
I realize his book relates to what he calls, “the church’s failed attempt to cure homosexuality.”  Really!  Let’s face it, none of us are “cured from” sin or any sinful propensity or proclivity.  We are “covered” by Christ’s blood, but not necessarily “cured.”  I’m sure there are many heterosexual men and women who would confess confidentially that their sinful propensities and desires remain strong and are a continual struggle, but they are able to resist due to their knowledge of God’s will for holiness and purity, determination, and by the enablement of the Holy Spirit.  Joseph fled Potiphar’s wife; Paul warned Timothy to flee youthful lusts. It’s the same with many other sins unrelated to human sexuality.
So, Greg Johnson probably relates to some who admit they are unable to abandon or stop their particular struggles, but that ignores they are not alone or unique.  All Christians struggle with some besetting sin in their lives.  He would do more spiritual good by counseling them to abandon their mental and emotional sense of uniqueness and aloneness to join the rest of Christianity.  And a vital first step is to stop identifying one’s Christian identity with sins and sinful lusts.
One thought about the issue of orientation might be helpful.  The majority of people are orientated to opposite-sex relationships.  That doesn’t preclude or dismiss their sinful propensities, temptations, or urges to sexual immorality.  And they don’t identify themselves as “straight” or “heterosexual” Christians.  They are also in the same boat as to desires and actions.
Greg Johnson ends his book with this statement: “I’ve been walking with Jesus in celibacy as a Christian adult for more than thirty years.  I’m here to say it’s worth it.  Jesus is worth it.  And the best is yet to come.” That is definitely laudable, but . . .  But it’s based also on identifying himself and his walk with Jesus with a sin Jesus died for and for which He cleansed and covered him with His blood.  Many of us are life-long single men and women living chaste lives (I prefer that definition, as it puts us in the same company with chaste married people), but . . . But we are not choosing any of our many sins or sinful temptations to identify ourselves for which Jesus paid such a high price and penalty to atone for and our natural propensity to sin.
Dr. Johnson definitely means well, but he is called to be a shepherd to a large diversity of people struggling with the diversity of the fall’s consequences. He certainly wouldn’t ask everyone to publicly identify with some prominent sin or temptation in their life, would he?  Neither should he.  No biblical shepherd, apostle, bishop, elder, pastor, teacher identified with sin.  Nothing could be clearer to us as Christians: we are redeemed not only from the penalty for our sin; we are also redeemed from identification by or with our sin.  And it’s because we really do care both in truth and love that we are compelled to resist a false approach to sin, and a trend never before allowed or imagined in the Church of Jesus Christ and to humbly and graciously warn against.
Helen Louise Herndon is a member of Central Presbyterian Church (EPC) in St. Louis, Missouri. She is freelance writer and served as a missionary to the Arab/Muslim world in France and North Africa.
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As a White Christian, I’m Guilty of White Privilege: It’s Just Not What You Think

For me, class, family, opportunity, or wealth did not bestow upon me “White Privilege.”  No, my “White privilege” came as a gift and blessing from God, my heavenly Father, whose guidance I followed throughout life.  I wear my “White Privilege” as a badge of honor!

“White Privilege,” a negative accusation against White Americans, is among the latest and perhaps most poignant and trendy of bywords to describe the Caucasian race.  Regardless of the fact it dismisses multitudes of impoverished Whites across the nation or even the globe, it is quite popularly used.  I’m certain they would hardly feel “privileged.”  For Christians though, privilege isn’t necessarily a status in life; it’s a blessing related to some of God’s precious gifts to us, and such gifts are given universally regardless of race.
One has to admit that, yes, many Whites have been and are privileged.  But isn’t that true of many in all races?  Isn’t privilege, according to the world’s definition, related to class, family, opportunity, and wealth?  I grew up in a low middle-class family.  We weren’t impoverished, but we were far from comfortable or on easy street.  My parents’ struggles were incredible at times.  However, I am compelled to think back on my life and recognize a “White Privilege” perspective that may not be appreciated or enjoyed by all.  As a White Christian, that “White Privilege” relates directly to people of other races.  Here is the story of my “White Privilege.”
As a child raised in Sunday school, I sang “Jesus loves the little children of the world.  Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in his sight.”  Despite my surrounding community, this six- or seven-year-old believed all colors were loved by God, and she should love them too.  Learning that song was my first “White Privilege.”  My church supported a Black orphanage.  Our youth group frequently went and played with the Black orphaned children.  That was my second “White Privilege.”
In high school, I belonged to a student group called Inter-Group Relations.  As White students, we met with a Black high school’s students to discuss racial issues amicably together.  Another “White Privilege.”
Attending a Christian college in Columbia, South Carolina, a Chinese student from Hong Kong asked me to be her roommate my sophomore year.  I accepted her invitation.  Ting Lan Lam was remarkably gifted musically, exceptionally intelligent, and highly disciplined.  I loved and admired her.  Another “White Privilege.”
While still attending college, I taught a Black children’s Bible club in a very poor Black woman’s home.  A single lightbulb hung from the ceiling to give light.  I loved those children.  Add another “White Privilege.”
As a junior in college, I taught Sunday school classes to both White and Black female inmates in the county jail.  In the mid-1960s, they were still segregated from one another.  Once, I went to visit a Black female inmate to speak with her alone at her request.  She wished to share with me her life.  As much as I taught them, I learned much and cared for them.  That too was an added “White Privilege.”
Eventually, I studied French and Arabic at Paul Valéry University in Montpellier, France while living with a French family.   My classmates were from around the world, especially Eastern Europe and the Middle East.  I entered into friendly relationships with those students and the French professor. Once again, a “White Privilege.”
While living and studying in France, my colleagues were from England, Austria, Australia, Germany, Lebanon, Morocco, Syria, The Netherlands, and Zanzibar.  They were European, Middle Eastern, and African.  An added “White Privilege” for me.
I was sent to Tunis, Tunisia in North Africa to study Arabic and begin ministry among that population.  Besides Arab, Black, and Jewish Tunisians, I became friends with Black Africans from Togo and Senegal.  I invited them into my home for hospitality, a meal and games.  I also worshiped with them.  What a “White Privilege” for me that was.  Perhaps the most precious of “White Privileges” there was to be given the Arabic name Basma, which means “She who smiles” or “smiling face,” by Tunisian girls.  I treasure that name!
Being transferred to Marseille, France, I served at the École Radio Biblique (Radio School of the Bible) where Arabic radio programs, Arabic and French Bible correspondence courses, and Christian newspapers were produced.  We represented 17 different nationalities and diverse races—African, Asian, European, and Middle Eastern.  A tremendous “White Privilege,” indeed!
Returning to the States, my career of almost 24 years in a Black-majority school district provided and sealed many friendships with African Americans.  What I consider a culmination of “White Privilege.” 
My “White Privilege” guilt is definitely immense, but I don’t regret it.  I feel no shame!  In fact, I celebrate and rejoice in it feeling greatly blessed.  That “Privilege” allowed me to grow and learn, and to become close friends with so many beautiful people of all races.
For me, class, family, opportunity, or wealth did not bestow upon me “White Privilege.”  No, my “White privilege” came as a gift and blessing from God, my heavenly Father, whose guidance I followed throughout life.  I wear my “White Privilege” as a badge of honor!
Helen Louise Herndon is a member of Central Presbyterian Church (EPC) in St. Louis, Missouri. She is freelance writer and served as a missionary to the Arab/Muslim world in France and North Africa.
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Social Media and Christian Behavior

If we disagree with someone often, we can simply delete or not read their messages.  That is not the same as completely shutting them out or cutting them off.  They are our family, Christ’s family.  How can we even contemplate such unkind, thoughtless, and rude treatment of one Christ loved and died for as He has for us?

Today, Christians deal with many challenges never imagined by those believers who lived in the past.  For one, there are many ideologies infiltrating churches that undermine biblical principles and teachings.  Yet they are somewhat subtle and sentimentally popular in the world that they receive a fair share of sympathy and acceptance by Christians who have not quite or yet conquered biblical apologetics that reveal the falsehoods inherent in them.
However, and most unfortunately, there is another challenge that might be as equal in detriment to Christian testimony related to love and unity to that of false ideologies.  That challenge is social media.  Social media includes the proliferation of Facebook, blogs, e-mail, and more.  They also involve interactions, discussions, and debates.  Just as society has been affected by a coarseness and rudeness in interrelations, so social media has also been greatly affected.  The world around us is less friendly and tolerant of disagreements.  And some of the reactions and responses represent coarseness and rudeness that involve name calling, vulgar language, malice, sarcasm, and even viciousness.  But a more subtle reaction is to block, unfriend, or reject any communications from one another.
I can’t say I’ve seen any Christian respond with vulgar language, malice or viciousness, but I’ve seen and even experienced being blocked, unfriended, or all communications being rejected.  What does this say about Christians who completely cut off other Christians from any communications?  It is impossible to see any of these as positive responses to Christ’s command, “Love one another as I have loved you.”
Such actions are done abruptly to some without any explanation.  Was there something said or done that caused such a reaction?  If so, wouldn’t it be more in keeping with God’s Word to communicate any such concern that caused one to react in such a radical manner to cut off all communication with another believer?  Wouldn’t that allow for perhaps an apology, a change of heart, repentance, and reconciliation?  Was some unforgivable offense committed?  If this is the case, do we remember how much we have been forgiven by our heavenly Father through Christ?  Can we recognize that completely cutting off communication with another believer is indicative of some terrible offense?  The question is in such a case, which is the greater offense and who is the true offender?  Could the greater offense and real offender be the one who fails to love another Christian as Christ commanded us to love them?
I recently read where some Africans questioned African Christians why they should become Christians when they didn’t treat other African Christians Christianly?  It caught my attention, as it goes beyond Africa.  Blocking, unfriending, and cutting people off abruptly and completely is happening among American Christians.  What a poor testimony to the world!
Remember the song, “They Will Know We Are Christians by Our Love?”  How we treat one another is revealing to the world around us.  The Apostle Peter clearly states what we should be known for:
“Since you have purified your souls in obedience to the truth fora sincere love of the brothers and sisters, fervently love oneanother from the heart, for you have been born again not ofseed which is perishable, but imperishable, that is, throughhe living and enduring word of God.”  1 Peter 1: 22-23
Cutting people off or shutting them out contradictorily relates to “fervently love one another from the heart.”
In another passage, Jesus states: “But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return . . .”  How can one love one’s enemies when one fails to love fellow believers by cutting off any and all communication?
As Christians, our standards come from above and not from social media or the world.  There is never a need to completely block, unfriend, or reject communications from another believer, even if we cannot totally agree with them.  We must also resist any possible envy of the well-acceptance of believers to others we might not experience.  If we disagree with someone often, we can simply delete or not read their messages.  That is not the same as completely shutting them out or cutting them off.  They are our family, Christ’s family.  How can we even contemplate such unkind, thoughtless, and rude treatment of one Christ loved and died for as He has for us?
Perhaps it’s necessary to address pastors who receive communications from their congregants.  Do you remain open to all in your flock?  Hopefully, you do.  They need to know you care about them as their shepherd.  Even Judas was not cut off or shut out by Jesus.  What a lesson for all shepherds.
We’re living in a different world today from yesterday.  As Christians, our home is elsewhere, and we are just passing through.  The laws of God are higher than the laws of the lands and societies we pass through.  To the natural heart, mind, and spirit, it’s impossible to keep those higher laws.  But God the Holy Spirit is here with us in our trekking through social difficulties.  He fills us with the fruit of the Spirit, which is “love, joy, peace, patience. kindness, faithfulness, goodness, gentleness, self-control . . .” (Galatians 5: 22,23) Possessing His fruit is what enables us to never give up on one another and to “fervently love one another from the heart.”
Let’s obey Christ’s second great commandment to love one another as He has loved us and never allow social media to affect or diminish our Christian behavior either technically or spiritually.
Helen Louise Herndon is a member of Central Presbyterian Church (EPC) in St. Louis, Missouri. She is freelance writer and served as a missionary to the Arab/Muslim world in France and North Africa.
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Personal Thoughts as June 2022 Closes: A Lamentation

To begin with the month of June was marked by a month-long celebration of two deadly sins, according to God’s divine revelation:  pride and sexual immorality.  For one, rainbow flags were flown everywhere—especially at the White House.  They were also flown with the American flag at many of our embassies in far off places. Such flags celebrate and flaunt diverse sexual acts and relationships God has clearly communicated to be evil.  The most evident one relates to homosexual acts and relationships. 

June 2022 closes and ends today.  Weather-wise, it was a mixture of exceptionally high temperatures accompanied by milder temperatures.  Precipitation-wise, it was normal.  At least, these facts relate to where I live.  Climate-wise, this is just a short recap.
Definition-wise, climate primarily refers specifically to weather conditions.  It’s the science of Meteorology.  However, there is a third definition given that communicates climate also refers to “the prevailing attitudes, standards, or environmental conditions of a group, period, or place.”  It’s the condition of a culture.  These thoughts relate to the latter definition.
June 2022 was sadly and lamentably a month clearly revealing this nation’s, this society’s low ebb in moral integrity and steep decline in righteousness.  Such a decline, of course, relates to a spiritual climate defined as “a headlong fall or rush.”  In this regard it was as precipitous as rainfall.
To begin with the month of June was marked by a month-long celebration of two deadly sins, according to God’s divine revelation:  pride and sexual immorality.  For one, rainbow flags were flown everywhere—especially at the White House.  They were also flown with the American flag at many of our embassies in far off places. Such flags celebrate and flaunt diverse sexual acts and relationships God has clearly communicated to be evil.  The most evident one relates to homosexual acts and relationships.  God created and gave the rainbow as a covenant reminder of his past condemnation of his earthly creation due to horrendous sin and rebellion and promise to never again use water to destroy the entire earth.  It is ironic and blasphemous to use it to celebrate sinfulness.  All month long, the media forced us to be witnesses to such open and unabashed flaunting of a sinful nature and practices he named as “shameful, indecent, abominable, detestable, unnatural.”  To be proud of a sinful sexual orientation or acts has to be unimaginable to say the least.  Just think, no one boasts of pride in a natural sexual orientation or acts.  One’s primary identity is not based on one physical or emotional area of life.
Some might prefer to remember June 2022 with its 24th day in which the United States Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, wherein abortion policies were returned to the states.  Yes, that was a historic day and a positive ruling.  However, the outpouring of protests against the decision hyped by the media over a lengthy period of time has diminished to some degree the joy expressed believing more babies would be allowed to be born and to live.  The culture of death is ironically very alive and well. Isn’t that a strange paradox?  In fact, one state even seeks to legalize infanticide up to so many days following birth. It’s disheartening to see so many in favor of killing the most innocent and vulnerable among us.  The methods of destroying the unborn, the about-to-be born, the partially-born, and the just-born match, if not exceed, methods the Nazis used in the mass murder of millions.  How can anyone approve of poisoning, burning, cracking open the skull and sucking out the brain, or the dismemberment of these tiny, precious souls?  Additionally, some churches and pro-life organizations have been attacked and vandalized.
June of 2022 revealed something about us as a nation and a society.  It revealed we have as a culture returned to the paganism of the ancient empires of Greece and Rome.  In fact, we may have exceeded them in sacrificing innocent human beings and flaunting sexual immoralities.  Yes, this latter is plural because it doesn’t relate only or solely to deviant lifestyles and practices, but also to heterosexual immoralities.
For Christians, these are indications of grave rebellions against a holy, just and righteous God.  There are, nonetheless, others including Jews, Muslims, other religions, and even non-religious people who sense we have seriously lost our way.
Was June 2022 sadly and lamentably a month clearly revealing this nation’s, this society’s low ebb in moral integrity and steep decline in righteousness?  If there is agreement to this perception—even if partially—perhaps there is something we could do to July to manifest our great sadness and lament.  Let’s make July 2022 the opposite of a month of Pride by making it a month of Humility.  Let’s call it such and let’s practice it as such by confessing our sorrow and lament for the condition of our nation and society.  Godlessness and indecency have taken over our culture.
The Jewish prophet, Jeremiah, was called “the weeping prophet.”  He wrote a book called Lamentations.  We can reiterate Jeremiah’s words:
This I recall to my mind; therefore, have I hope. It is of Jehovah’slovingkindnesses that we are not consumed, because his compassionsfail not. They are new every morning; great is thy faithfulness. . . Let ussearch and try our ways and turn again to Jehovah. Let us lift up our heartwith our hands unto God in the heavens. Lamentations 3: 21-23, 40-41
As we bid farewell to June 2022, let’s respond to July’s opening door with its emphasis on Independence by complementing it with an emphasis on Dependence, that is, dependence on a gracious God to forgive and spare us and inter-dependence on one another to stand for humble godliness and decency.  It will take prayers and vocal speaking the truth in love to make a difference—not anger or hate.
America deserves men and women who care for her soul and who promote genuine justice and righteousness.  The vehicle to those blessings for all is a spirit of humility.
Helen Louise Herndon is a member of Central Presbyterian Church (EPC) in St. Louis, Missouri. She is freelance writer and served as a missionary to the Arab/Muslim world in France and North Africa..
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