Why The Secular Left Despise The Christian Right

Why The Secular Left Despise The Christian Right
Many people in the Evangelical Christian community fail to understand the true underlying cause of the Secular Left’s antagonism for the Christian Right. Many Christians assume it is because of our opposition to abortion, or the homosexual lifestyle, or our desire for alternative theories to evolution to be taught in the classroom. While all of these are related to the Secular Left’s vitriol, none of them strike the core of the matter. No, there is a much deeper and far less recognised cause for the Secular Left’s animosity for the Evangelical Christian community.
What lies at the heart of the division between the Secular Left (Liberals) and the Christian Right is a debate over the nature of truth. Evangelical Christians believe that truth is objective and universal, which means that there is absolute Truth and it is found ultimately in one true God of the universe and His revelation given to us personally in Jesus Christ and the Bible. As a result of God having revealed absolute Truth to humanity, Evangelical Christians believe that lives and societies are best governed by adhering to the principles and guidelines that God has given. After all, when an omniscient (all-knowing) and loving God personally reveals Himself and the correct path for humans to follow, it only makes sense to hold fast to His guidance.
And it is the Evangelical insistence on adhering to God’s absolute Truth found in His Word that strokes the Secular Left’s ire.
To the contrary, the Secular Left is guided by a far different understanding of truth. For them, truth is no more than a social construction of reality. This means that reality has no inherent structure or meaning and there is no objective truth that humanity can discover. Instead, the Secular Left in our world has adopted a Post-Modern view of truth that declares that individuals and societies impose their own meaning and truth onto reality. Thus, for them, truth is relative. Truth is relative to individuals, to social groups, to cultures and to religions. And it is this Post-Modern view of truth that has created the wedge of animosity between the Secular Left and the Christian Right.
As a result of their denial of objective truth and their belief that truth is relative, the Secular Left has adopted a deconstructionist approach to history and traditional worldviews, and specifically towards the absolutes of Christianity. The common claim brought by the various proponents of the Secular Left’s agenda is that Christianity has historically led to violence, repression and conquest. They will list a long series of historical abuses as evidence.* As a result of these so-called ‘Christian’ abuses towards non-Christian people and cultures, the Secular Left’s Post-Modern worldview has determined that we must now highlight and give preference to the historically marginalised and mistreated. *Everyone, even the Evangelical Christians with whom they most identify these abuses, readily acknowledges the fact that historical abuses have taken place in the name of Christianity. What they fail to recognise, however, is that nowhere in God’s Word (once again, the ‘absolute’ for Christians) do you find the sanction for these historical abuses.
While highlighting marginalised people groups is a noble goal, the Secular Left does not stop here. Once again, as a result of their Post-Modern view of truth, the Secular Left makes an amazing leap at this point. They claim that not only should we recognise and highlight these historically marginalised people and cultures, but the leap that is made is that these marginalised people, cultures, lifestyles and religions are actually equal to, or even preferable to, the traditional Christian worldview. Thus, we see the Secular Left’s embrace of every non-Christian lifestyle choice and religion as normative – homosexual ‘marriage’, abortion on demand, even Muslim terrorists.
It all boils down to the nature of truth. The Christian Right has remained steadfast in our adherence to the objective Truths and standards set forth in God’s Word. Thus, we oppose homosexual marriage, we stand on the side of the unborn and we believe that religions that promote the killing and suppression of those opposed to them are evil. Evangelicals are guided by God’s objective and absolute Truths and it is for this stance that the Secular Left despises us. Christian brothers and sisters, we must be vigorous in this cultural debate over the nature of Truth. The future of our country and our world is at stake. Our engagement in this debate is a thoroughly Christian pursuit. In fact, God’s Word admonishes us to “contend for the faith” and to contend for the Truth (Jude 3). At the same time, while we debate passionately, we must do so with a Christ-like “gentleness and respect” 1Pet 3:15. The way of the Master is to stand for the Truth in love. While we are right to defend the Truth, point out sinfulness and label right from wrong, we must do so with an attitude of humanity and love. If we do this, we will be faithful to the Truth and to the example of standing for the Truth left to us by our Master, Jesus Christ.

God’s Heart on Marriage and Divorce

God’s Heart on Marriage and Divorce
In this fast changing world, believers must be made aware of how much of the world’s standards have crept into the Church… hence the reason for this series, “The Church Needs to Know”.
Let me ask you a question: “Does it bother you that Christians everywhere are compromising the Word of God and conforming to the world’s lifestyle, to the point that it is acceptable today, even for pastors and leaders, to get divorced for such reasons as discord, differences of character, self-justification, legalistic influences, spiritual manipulation, hurts, unforgiveness, etc?” This is definitely an area where the Church has allowed itself to be influenced, not only by the ways of an unbelieving world, but also by Christian leaders writing books, often justifying their own, very subjective, experiences, and who, by taking the option of divorce, have opened the door for believers to do the same. But let us  look instead at what the Word of God has to say on this subject.
Marriage under the New Covenant
In Genesis, God instituted marriage. However, marriage under the Old Covenant, with its multiple wives and letters of divorce, cannot be compared with marriage under the New Covenant, after what Jesus Christ accomplished on the Cross.  God’s plan for us, as born-again Christians, is to live with our husbands and wives until ‘death do us part’. In Mark 10:2, the Pharisees tried to test Jesus because He had been challenging their legalism on so many issues, asking, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” Jesus showed them that, under Moses and the Law, God had ‘allowed’ divorce because of the hardness of their hearts, (Mark 10:5); but that under the New Covenant, things would be different. In Matthew 5:32, He states plainly what is expected of all New Covenant believers: “But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery .” ‘Except sexual immorality’ obviously does not mean when one partner happens to fall into sin and commit an act of adultery or infidelity. It speaks of a person being backslidden and living in sin, and determined to continue in immorality. In allowing divorce in that very specific case, Jesus does not take away the fact that the  other partner needs to humble himself or herself and forgive. This can only truly happen when we accept the way of the Cross. The Bible, therefore, is clear: under the New Covenant, there is no justification for divorce apart from very specific cases… otherwise it devalues what Jesus Christ accomplished at Calvary! 
Powerless gospels
I am certain you have noticed that the Church has lost its conviction in this area, behaving as though the Gospel were something that changes with the times. The Church, including pastors and leaders, rightly didn’t accept divorce a few decades ago, but it has now become common in churches today. What has happened? Surely it is because the gospels being preached today have changed and have no power to deal with such issues. Obviously, they no longer bring the same conviction as before. This is why a return to the preaching of the Cross is vital if we want to see Christian families united and the rate of divorce dropping in the Church. The ‘Prosperity Gospel’ is causing hearts to be drawn to material things instead of seeking spiritual maturity. It does not edify, and certainly is powerless to confront the deep inner issues that believers today face. Christians today often want a simple solution to marital problems, an easy way out. They divorce for trivial reasons such as: “She won’t submit to my authority; he isn’t spiritual enough,” or worse, “We no longer fit together, our vision and ambitions have changed…” It is obvious they cannot be hearing the right gospel, as the true Gospel would lead them to assume their responsibilities towards one another.  
The ministry of the husband
Allow me to expand on the amazing revelation Paul had about marriage in Ephesians 5. The relationship between a husband and a wife is the only one in the New Testament that is paralleled with the relationship Jesus has with His Church.  Paul declares boldly that “AS Christ loved the church and gave His life for her, SO a husband should love his wife.” Jesus humbled Himself, took the form of man, was obedient unto death even the death of the Cross. That is the attitude Jesus is asking of a husband towards his wife. That is the ministry of the husband; like Jesus, he is called to lose his rights and his life for his wife. This is the key to a successful marriage. 
God’s order for marriage
The ministry of the wife, however, is compared to that of the Church. Paul states that just “AS the church submits to Christ, SO the wife should submit to her husband.”  So, when the Church – you and I – understands what Jesus did for us on the cross, in other words His love manifest for us, we can love Him in return. We could not love Him before we felt His love for us. Can you see the order of things here?
It is clear, therefore, that the husband has a greater ministry and responsibility than his wife in the marriage, since his ministry is compared to Christ’s whereas the wife’s is compared to the ministry of the Church. If the husband first responds to his calling, as Jesus did, he will automatically reap an attitude of submission from his wife. Obviously, the submission of the wife is not conditional; but when the proper foundation is laid, the husband can expect his wife to submit to him. However, even if the wife does not do so, he should still continue to give his life for her, and trust God for a miracle in her heart. At the end of the passage, Paul quotes the Old Testament verse, “For this reason’ a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife and the two shall become one flesh.” ‘For this reason’ means that being united in marriage is the sole purpose behind a man and a woman leaving their parents. Therefore, God’s heart for marriage is for a husband and wife never to separate, but to remain united for life. When we obey God’s instructions, He is faithful to perform miracles.
The husband of but one Wife…
May I say that there are many specific scenarios in marriage not mentioned in the Bible. In our own church, we have experienced different situations over the years, and have learnt to deal with them individually, with grace and truth. In every case where the brother or sister has taken the road of the Cross, and allowed repentance to do its work in his or her heart, we have seen victories in their lives and in their service for the Lord. And, let me just add that God is not a God of the second or third chance. It does not mean that He rejects those who have divorced and remarried.
But, at the same time, we cannot conclude that this means it is acceptable to go that route.  His plan has always been for a husband to have one wife and He has provided the means for that by sending Jesus in the form of man, to die on the Cross and conquer sin in the flesh. It is up to us to give up our lives as a sacrifice so that our flesh can be crucified. A man who divorces and continues in ministry as if nothing has happened, can never expect to carry the same anointing in his service for God, until he stops justifying his decision and repents of having divorced his wife unless, of course, she has given her life over to adultery.
The key to restoration
So, if I have touched on any of your experiences, it’s not too late. God can restore you and your ministry, if you are prepared to acknowledge that you did not act in line with God’s heart and Word, but according to the desires of the flesh, and possibly entered into a wrong relationship. However, you must come before God in true repentance; according to the leading of the Holy Spirit, with a readiness to do whatever He asks of you… even if that may mean returning to your original spouse.
Remember that the Lord isn’t interested in reasons or explanations about what your partner is like, or what he or she may have done. He looks at the heart of man. There may well be relationships that are beyond repair; but, in all cases, God still desires a pure, humble, forgiving, and repentant heart. Then again, so many more are repairable, provided we make room for repentance and forgiveness to bring restoration in the relationship. This can only happen when we are prepared to deny ourselves and take up our cross. 
The Cross is God’s provision for a successful marriage!  
I trust that these few words have helped you to look at marriage as God sees it. 
This article is based on the message: ‘God’s Heart on Marriage and Divorce’ from the series ‘The Church Needs to Know’ by Miki Hardy. To order the CD or DVD, contact CTMI Media on: 071 241 1016.

Office wars – dealing with organisational politics

—by Roché Snyman

Office politics is an inevitable byproduct of our competitive nature and the humanistic view of Western society. The underlying value of capitalism (in
a fallen world) is to make a profit at all costs, while humanism values the individual as the highest priority. These twin values culminate in the egocentric motivation of self-interest, resulting in self-promoting behaviour of individuals in the workplace. We have all heard the sayings ‘every man
for himself ’ and ‘the survival of the fittest’. These commonly shared ideas represent the value of individualism in Western culture. Everyone is
concerned with his/her own agenda for self-actualisation. This plays out in the workplace where the competition for jobs, material goods and status is fierce.

Don’t play The ‘game’
Organisational politics is not usually a transparent endeavour. In fact it has a very subtle, subversive nature. Communication is indirect, meanings are ambiguous and only the ‘skilled’ are able to navigate their way through the maze. It is a common belief amongst employees that one has to
know how to ‘play the game’ in order to ‘get ahead’. The game is often characterised by competitive, manipulative, controlling, exploitative and self-serving relationships between employees. In addition, social awareness or organisational ‘savvy’ is regarded as an emotional intelligence competency needed to thrive in the present global workplace.
It is often argued that the most successful people not only understand the political game, but are quite adept at playing it to their advantage. In games there are always winners and losers, and usually the skilled players have no concern for the weaker players. Competition is the highest value and winning is sought at any cost. There are ample examples of the casualties of organisational wars. These are the disillusioned employees who have been ‘burnt’ and have lost all their trust in others. They almost always say that they hate company politics and want nothing to do with it – whilst the ‘winners’ see them as losers who just didn’t have the skill to play the game well enough. Respect for the other has been compromised both ways.

Loving others
The above scenario excludes the basic premise of Christianity i.e. to love other people as oneself (Lev 19:18; Mat 19:19) and behave according to the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22), seeking each other’s well being before thinking of your own needs. Our attitude towards others should be to serve each other (Gal 5:13) and not to harm another in any way whatsoever (Rom 13:10; Rom 15:2). This Biblical attitude would result in fairness and overt, honest behaviour in the workplace (Eph 4:25). God also tells us that we should serve wholeheartedly as if we were serving Him (Eph 6:7).
Our work motive should be higher than mere self-interest. We should realise that promotion comes from God, and all we have to do is to work as if doing it for Him. Christians should also not constantly compare themselves to others as this leads to envy and is against God’s Will for us (Ps 49:16-17).
Paul, in his first letter to the Thessalonians, warned against impure motives, greed and flattery. “For the appeal we make does not spring from error or impure motives, nor are we trying to trick you. On the contrary, we are speaking as men approved by God to be entrusted by the Gospel. We are not trying to please men but God, who tests our hearts. You know we never used flattery, nor did we put on a mask to cover up greed – God is our witness.” 1 Thess 2: 3-5

The battlefield
Christians who find themselves on the ‘battlefield’ of the political game in the office can use the following guidelines:
• Search your behaviour for selfish motives and a selfpromoting agenda.
• Don’t use manipulation as a means to get your own way; it devalues another person as an object to be used for self gain.
• Refrain from using flattery, coercion or control in relationships with co-workers.
• Practice serving the other instead of promoting the self.
• Be direct, transparent and honest in your communication.
• Refuse to gossip and join coalitions with other co-workers that exploit or disrespect fellow employees.
• Never compromise on your Christian values just to get ahead – believe God for promotion in His time and according to His Will.

Our general attitude should be according to 1 Peter 2:17: “Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God and honour the king.” This is a good guideline for Christian attitude and behaviour in the workplace.

Roché Snyman is a Psychologist and Business Coach, who serves as subject head for Industrial Psychology at the Institute of Christian Psychology. For more information on Christian
Psychology, or for professional advice, please contact 011 827 0209
/ 7611. See www.icp.org.za

Men of Honor

Men of Honor
Many books have been written about the inspiring stories of men who have climbed the highest mountains in spite of insurmountable odds; men who have fought bravely in wars and sacrificed their lives for their country; policemen, fire fighters and rescue  teams who have risked and given their lives to help and save others. They are the heroes who have shaped the course of history and inspired others to new heights. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to these men. However, I want to focus on a unique character trait present in all men that also change the lives of those around them and even the course of history. It is something that is not just reserved for a few mighty men of valour, although it also requires courage, perseverance, faithfulness and a willingness to serve, and even lay down their lives, daily, for others.
I am referring to the life-changing commission of God to walk in honor. Living by the Code of Honor as an all consuming value that we need to apply  in every relationship.
Honor gives respect, dignity and worth to those we deal with daily. I am referring to men who treat their wives and children with respect and honor and lift them up to all that they can be; men who walk in moral purity and financial integrity and don’t abuse their positions of power.
This is mostly done beyond the public view, quietly and inconspicuously serving and honoring in their attitudes, words, actions, business deals and many other areas of life.
Honor is something available to every man, every day. It may not make newspaper headlines, but it could alter the course of history for individuals, families, communities and nations.
1 Kings 2:1-3 says “As the time of King David’s death approached, he gave this charge to his son Solomon: ‘I am going where everyone on earth must someday go…Take courage and be a man…Observe the requirements of the Lord your God, and follow all His ways. Keep the decrees, commands, regulations, and Laws written in the Law of Moses so that you will be successful in all you do and wherever you go.’” 
Why would David speak these final words to his son? David knew that of all inheritances/blessings he could pass on to his son, this was the most important: “Son, be a ‘Man of Honor’ – one who is worthy, a champion, a man of integrity, might and valour.”
When we look around the world today, at all the moral failures, financial betrayals, political corruption and the lack of Godly leadership in all domains of society, we realise that many people are born male, but very few have been raised to be ‘men’!
It is amazing how the days come and go, full of routine and responsibility. Then suddenly, one day, something happens that impacts and changes you forever; a ‘day of destiny’.
I had received a call from a man asking to see me regarding a marital problem. During our time together I asked him about his background. He told me of his days as a young boy growing up in Scotland and how, at the age of eighteen, he had been enlisted in a Scottish regiment. It was a Scottish tradition for young men to serve in a regiment representing their clan. After he shared the details of his training and the prestige attached to this regiment, he told me a story that changed my life.
During World War II, his Scottish Regiment was fighting alongside the Allied forces in Europe and they were under severe artillery-fire from the enemy on top of a strategic hill. Their commander had received orders to capture the hill and destroy the enemy stronghold. Their captain assembled the regiment and told them that the following morning they would charge up the hill, capture the gun encampment and plant their regiment’s flag on the top. It was an assignment of dangerous proportions yet great honor for their regiment.
He then told them to look at the man to their left and right. “At least one or perhaps two of you may not return from the battle,” he said. For the honor of the regiment and their clan, they should be ready to lay down their lives for the men beside them as they seized the mountain.
The next day the men charged up that hill! The front soldier took the bullets so that the man behind could advance a few metres further. He would then take the bullets so that the man behind him could get closer to the top. That day the men took the hill, defeated the enemy and raised their regiment’s flag. I was stunned by that story. “Why would anyone be so brave and willingly give his life for the soldier behind him?” I asked. His reply was life changing: “For the honor of the regiment and the honor of their clan!” 
These  were men who willingly sacrificed their lives for the sake of honoring their family, clan and regiment; men who took back the moral high ground to establish peace. What kind of world would we live in if men still held the value of honor so highly?
Our world is reeling from the lack of Godly leadership that men should be displaying. There are very few men today who willingly sacrifice anything, let alone their lives, for the sake of honoring those around them. The level of integrity, responsibility and honor found in men, directly correlates to the state of the world we live in today.
The office of the president and political leaders used to be highly revered and depended on by the people of a nation. However, today we see politicians who are prepared to allow their people to suffer poverty, starvation and abuse in the wake of their pursuit of political power.
Around the world we see millions of people suffering and dying as the result of the selfish exploits of political leaders. We are also exposed to financial corruption through the personal greed and deceit of business leaders as they violate the trust placed in them.                                    
In many countries, the divorce rate is well-over 50%. Statistics reveal that the average male will have numerous sexual partners during his life. It seems that faithfulness in marriage is no longer valued. Only 34% of all children born in America will live with both biological parents through to age eighteen.
The ‘family’, established by God to be the foundation of society, is disintegrating before our eyes. It is a crisis that is literally threatening the stability and future well-being of our lives and that of generations to follow. “Historically, when the family begins to break down, everything from the effectiveness of government to the general welfare of people, is negatively impacted.” (Dr. James Dobson, ‘Bringing up boys’)
What will become of us if we continue in this apathetic complacency? If men honored their wives and kept the marriage bed undefiled (Heb 13:4) we would certainly see the divorce rate drop significantly. Children would grow up under the protection and blessing of honor and would, in turn, inherit a blessing when they honor their parents. “Honor your father and mother, so you will live well and have a long life.” Eph 6:2,3. Honor in families will produce unity in a nation. This will reduce poverty, corruption, crime, mistrust and stress. Unity in families results in peace and prosperity and affects all areas of life.
 For instance, productivity in the work place could potentially more than double! Imagine how that would improve the economy and our standard of living. 
We live in a world in which anything goes. ‘If it feels good, do it!’  People consider it their constitutional right to do whatever they want. Our consciences have been seared. It’s time for men of honor to make a stand against moral compromise, corruption and evil.
Righteousness exalts a nation. It took a lot of courage for that regiment to charge up the hill and establish the moral high ground so that the Allied forces could be delivered from the enemy. I stood with my Scottish friend and prayed a prayer of re-commissioning him into God’s army. He later went home, took his ‘mountain’ and restored his marriage!
“What is man that You are mindful of him, the son of man that You visit him, for You have made him a little lower than the angels and You have crowned him with glory and honour” Ps 8:4-5. We have been chosen by God, crowned with glory and honor and given dominion over all of God’s creation.
This prominence in the order of Creation implies huge intrinsic worth, not only for mankind but also for each one of us.
A person who understands this position of honor will then seek to honor others. In fact, without honor there can be no genuine love. To give honor, we need to speak to people, especially those closest to us, in a gentle affirming way. Honor treats people with consideration, compassion, respect and appreciation; it constantly communicates acceptance and praise and confers dignity and value.
Genuine, sincere encouragement and honoring should be our delight and responsible attitude towards others. Imparting acceptance and value can literally transform the lives of those around you.
Honor is the ‘Atmosphere’ of Heaven
In his vision of Heaven in the Book of Revelation, John sees and hears every living creature worshipping Jesus and singing, “You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor.” This singing is continual and never ceasing, creating an atmosphere of honor. Honoring can change the atmosphere in your marriage, home, office, church, sports team and our nation. Do not allow your titles, positions of importance or pride to get in the way of adopting a humble attitude and giving praise and honour to those around you.
Shame means to have feelings of rejection or lack of value, a deep sense of unworthiness and brokenness of identity. It entrenches negative feelings about who you are and your purpose in life. Often we are not conscious of deep-rooted shame in our lives, but it can surface through irritability, anger, rejection, anxiety, fear, depression, confusion, constant criticism of others and the putting down of oneself.
We confer shame upon people when we speak to them and treat them in a derogatory way; when we undermine their value through constant criticism, sarcasm or withdrawing of our love and affection. Honor and shame are huge opposing forces and will have a great impact on how we live our lives and how we relate to others. Honor results in unity, harmony, peace, love, joy and blessing for all. Shame in our lives and our relationships will result in contention, frustration, anger, hurt, pain, loneliness and division.
When we experience a revelation of our ‘position of honor’ in God, through Jesus Christ, our lives are changed forever. We can then begin to live in such a way as to create an ‘atmosphere’ of honor in our homes, office and daily relationships. Our choice to bless or curse, honor or shame should not be dependent on the way other people deal with us, but on our position of honor and God’s empowering Grace.

Forgiveness or discipline?

By R.T. Kendall

I am repeatedly asked, in the light of my book, ‘Total Forgiveness’, how this teaching on forgiveness squares with confronting sin in the Church? If one is to forgive another “totally”, how can we exercise discipline in the Church? 
A number of Scriptures come to mind, among them: “If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over.  But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses’.  If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church, and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.” Matt 18: 15-17

Mercy or judgement?
These are the words of Jesus who also taught that we should be merciful (Matt 5:7), that we should love our enemies (Matt 5:44) and forgive those who have sinned against us – in the Lord’s Prayer (Matt 6:12).  Not only that, Jesus warned, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged”.  (Matt 7:1) Showing a person their fault calls for making a judgment.  So are there exceptions to total forgiveness? No.
This is because Jesus’ teaching on forgiveness means to bless them and pray for them when we are being hurt personally; when injustice has been perpetrated against us. We are never given the right to punish the person who has hurt us. “It is mine to avenge, I will repay” Rom 12:1. And yet showing a person their fault, when you are sinned against, smacks of pointing the finger…or not necessarily?

Correction without wrath
There comes a time and place for pointing out another’s sin, when it is done with meekness (Gal 6:1), so that the person senses that you are not on a vendetta or trying to get even. It is not that you are trying to punish this person, not at all; you are wanting clarification and understanding. When this is done without the slightest twinge of anger, Jesus approves. When the person you approach is defensive and incorrigible, you proceed to bring others in, to let others (who have no personal involvement in the matter) decide. Plan A is to win the person over.  Public discipline (excommunication) is the last resort.

Preserving integrity
“It is  reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that does not occur even among pagans. A man has his father’s wife. And you are proud! Shouldn’t you rather have been filled with grief and have put out of your fellowship the man who did this? Even though I am not physically present, I am with you in the spirit.  And I have already passed judgment on the one who did this, just as if I were present.
When you are assembled in the name of our Lord Jesus and I am with you in spirit,and the power of our Lord is present, hand this man over to satan, so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord.” 1 Cor. 5:1-5
Scandalous sin disrupts the unity of the Spirit of the Church, not to mention bringing disgrace upon the honour of God’s name. To excommunicate this person is not personal vengeance; it is upholding the integrity of the Gospel.  You forgive the person before the Lord and pray for them. Paul did not point the finger by saying “this man is not Christian”, he simply ordered his excommunication that his spirit be saved. Total forgiveness was still intact. There is nothing personal about Paul’s instruction.

Total forgiveness
“Those who sin are to be rebuked publicly, so that the others may take warning.” 1 Tim 5:20.  When the Gospel is abused by ingratitude and an absence of holiness, we are commanded to deal with this in a manner that signals that a Holy God cannot tolerate this. When one preaches a Gospel of forgiveness, you can be sure some will abuse the teaching or use it against you. “You teach total forgiveness, how can you do this to me?” comes the reply. However, total forgiveness is not necessarily reconciliation, it is refusing to get even. And yet if sin brings the name of Jesus Christ into disrepute, we are commanded to step in, as Paul did.

R.T. Kendall was the pastor of Westminster Chapel in London for 25 years. He is the author of numerous books, including Total Forgiveness.Second Chance and Totally Forgiving Others.  www.rtkendallministries.com

Ernie Haase and Signature Sound

Ernie Haase and Signature Sound
Combining 21st century ideas with the timeless quality of great quartets from the 1950s, Ernie Haase & Signature Sound have truly made their mark in the music world with an unconventional approach to communicating the Good News with ground-breaking originality.
The group’s founder and leader, Ernie Haase, was a long-time member of the famous Cathedral Quartet. His roots are deeply planted in the rich legacy of music that is both meaningful and thoroughly entertaining.
After the Cathedrals bid farewell to their five-decade platform in the music industry, Ernie’s passion for Gospel music led him to begin a new era in Gospel music. He gathered a group of like-minded men who shared his love for great harmonies, time-honored songs and energetic performances…and together they are an unstoppable force.
Inspired by their heroes, loved by their audiences and blessed beyond their wildest dreams, Ernie (tenor), Ryan (lead), Doug (baritone) and Tim (bass) share a deep love for Gospel music. That passion, along with an intensely strong work ethic, has launched them to the forefront of Southern Gospel music. JOY! caught up them just before their tour to South Africa in June.
When did you give your life to christ?
Ernie: That is a loaded question…our paths to Christ started early and have many different turns. We talk about this very thing on the bus all the time. We all have salvation experiences where we prayed and asked Jesus in our hearts at an early age, but through the years we have all doubted that young decision. One reason we pick the songs we sing is we are sure that giving your life to Christ is so much more than a “calendar” date. It is even more that an “experience” that we can hang our hat on.
Doug: I was raised with parents who lived to honor God. My father played a huge part in my coming to know Christ as a child. I think the biggest thing I have come to realise since then is that He died for me so that I could live. Jesus rose from the dead, and He loves me. Tim: I was raised in church and have always been around the Word of God; it was something instilled in me at an early age.
I believe in Him with all my heart. Ryan: Through those early experiences I came to realise who Christ is and I wanted to be apart of a bigger family. I want my children to have that same personal experience. and I feel it’s up to me to show them God’s love.
When did you discover a musical talent?
Doug:  At an early age; my mom and dad are talented and played and sang in church every week. I am an child and was blessed to have parents who invested everything in me – from music to sports, they gave and gave – and I am here today because of their joyful sacrifices I have a foundation given to me from my parents that some kids are not afforded and I am deeply grateful to God.
One of the motivating factors of Ernie Haase and Signature Sound (EHSS) is to reach out to children who may not have receive any encoutagement to dream and pursue their God given talents.
Have you had any formal musical training?
Ryan: I have never had formal training but my mother has been trained in singing and she gave me lessons. Infact she still does!  Not a concert goes by that she attends that I don’t get a call the next day telling me all the things I did wrong!  She is a hoot and she is always on the money with her comments. Being on the road with EHSS has taught me things that I could not have learned in any music school! I often wish I could have furthered my education, but when Ernie called me and offered me the opportunity to  join EHSS, I just knew it was right thing for my career.
I think I made the right choice and I am still learning so much; soaking up all the experience and information..I am like a sponge just absorbing it all – but no where close to being full!
When did you decide to pursue a music career?
Tim: I was raised in the South where Gospel quartets came by my church all the time. I can’t remember the first time I got bit by the quartet bug, but ever since I can imagine, all I have ever wanted to do is sing in one.  I lived near a Gospel bass singer named London Parris (who’s was a pretty big name in the business). One day I called him and asked him for some pointers on singing bass. London decided to help me and so every week I would drive for two hours to get lessons. He has since gone to be with the Lord, but I think he would be really proud of my success. I am so grateful to God for bringing him across my path.
How often are you on the road?
Ernie: We travel a lot. We do about 120 shows a year but with studio time and travel time it adds up to more like 150 days away from home. This is still less than we use to do with The Cathedral Quartet back in the 1990’s. Back then we would travel over 200 days a year! Because of The Cathedral’s success, we are benefiting from all their hard work., thus, we do not have to travel as hard and long as they did. 
Where have you travelled on your tours?
Doug: We have been all around the world.  From every state in the USA to Canada, Isreal, Europe and of course South Africa.  We have seen a lot of interesting places and met all kinds of people. We are looking forward to adding South America one day to our touring schedule. EHSS is very interested in being a global group and one day we would like to look back and see the impact of our music on the world. We are even consdering a tour in Japan.
Being away from family and from a church community is tough. How do you cope being so far away from your wife and kids?
Ryan: We could not do what we do if our family did not support us. I speak for all the guys in saying that we would be nervous wrecks if we had to leave home and not have their trust, love, and prayers.
How do you keep your Christianity alive being out of church so often?
Ernie: I believe God is with us everywhere we go; it also helps traveling with guys who are like minded. We pray, share, worship, cry and rejoice together – it’s like having your own small church on a bus! We have been through a lot together, so it makes our bond pretty tight…God is always at the centre of this bond and we invite Him into everything we do.
Do you only sing Gospel?
Doug: Our first and true love is Gospel Four Part Harmony. We all love that kind of music and it is what drives us. Occasionally we have ventured out and there and grabbed a secular style song, but it has to fit our program and the message we want to get across to the masses.
There are a lot of good songs out there. and infact some songs that are considered secular by the church, have been the most  moving  spiritual songs I’ve heard. Our goal is to reach people with a message of hope and encouragement. We take pride in producing fun, meaningful music that people enjoy.
What type of people attend your concerts?
Ryan:  Well the age range of our audience typically for a quartet is probably 35-80.  We have seen a huge increase in that range.  Young couples,  teenagers, and a lot of little kids have been falling in love with our music.  Thats good to see.  I think we have created a style and program that everyone can enjoy.  We see a lot of families from babies to great grandparents coming to our shows and they all enjoy it.
How many records have you made and on average  How long does it take to put a record together? 
Tim:  We have been in the studio quite a bit with this group in short five years. Dream On (our latest CD) is the fourth major release from the Gaither Music label. It takes between 18 months and 2 years to put a project together as first you have to come up with a concept and then write for that. This is followed by picking the songs that best fit.  Then tracking, rehearsal and vocals start, it’s a process that we take our time with so as to put out the best product possible.
Is this your first time in SA?
Ernie: This is actually our third time in the country. We have been here before with the Homecoming group and the Gaither Vocal Band. The response to our group was overwhelming; we are taken back by your love and your appreciation! So it was only natural to return. We are thrilled to be bringing our show back ro your shores, and I believe this tour is going to be very memorable!.