Monday, November 17, 2008

protesting on the steps

I received a text on Saturday from one of our facility guys letting me know that a Proposition 8 protest was happening on the Pismo/Osos corner steps.

Here's the KSBY story . . .video clip is on the left. . .

I half expected we might have our worship services interrupted on Sunday, as I have heard that is happening throughout California.

It raises lots of sticky questions:

  • How shall we now live in this super-charged environment?
  • Should we call the police and have these folks thrown off our steps, since they are trespassing? (We didn't!)
  • Do these folks feel our love, or do they just know our Biblical stand?
  • What does the Gospel have to do with all this?

I have thoughts that may end up shaping my message for Sunday, but I'd like to hear yours.

Update: I removed the embedded video because its a "auto play" was driving me nuts and I couldn't figure out how to change that setting. I am guessing it might have been driving some you nuts as well. . . . T.


andy gibson said...

It's amazing how these generally "liberal" No on 8 supporters, who protest all the time preaching tolerance and "love for all" are so able to become intolerant and put the churches and anybody religious in the crosshairs as preaching hate.

It's not an issue of equality, as homosexuals already have civil unions. This battle is just on the word "marriage" which has a biblical background. The majority did not vote on civil rights (as they try to blow out of proportion), but simply voted to keep the word marriage reserved for a man and a woman. This has nothing to do with equality of rights.

Homosexuals have whined so much, they have placed themselves up on a pedestal as being special, and worthy of special treatment. So special that they think they can trump the democratic process. It's so angering, it's becoming almost laughable. But if they do get it overturned, they're killing democracy. They will be the leaders of a generation which believes they can cry and whine their way to what they want when they want (the so called "entitlement" generation). A philisophy of nobody loses, everybody wins, we're all great don't tell me otherwise.

The hypocrisy is really quite unbelievable.

Irish Girl said...

This very proposition is the reason I stayed registered in CA and voted Absentee from TX.
I think the most infuriating part about it, is that we already voted once on this and the courts ignored it.
I also think that there are so many people out there that just jump on the bandwagon and don't actually research what these propositions are about. So many people thought that it was about Gay marriage, but it wasn't. Most of the people I knew who supported Prop 8 were the most upset about not being able to be "husband" and "wife" anymore, but instead be called "person A" and "person B".
I'm sure I could go on and on... but I won't :)
I look forward to hearing the sermon on Sunday, no matter what it's about! See you then!!!

Anna said...

I think it's good! I mean that they protested on our steps. At least they recognize that it's something that we believe is agains Scripure. I don't think they protested in front of the Congregational Church. :-)

It's naive to believe that we are not going to be persecuted for the beliefs we hold. What's a little picketing??? :-)

Anna said...

Based on the second sentence of my post I don't like the letter "t". :-)

Anonymous said...

Allen Peek said...

Two cents Pastor Tim,

Question: How shall we now live in this super-charged environment?

See book of Acts.

“For truly against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined before to be done. Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.” And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness. Acts 4:27-31

And when Saul had come to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples; but they were all afraid of him, and did not believe that he was a disciple. But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. And he declared to them how he had seen the Lord on the road, and that He had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus. So he was with them at Jerusalem, coming in and going out. And he spoke boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus and disputed against the Hellenists, but they attempted to kill him. Acts 9:26-29

Now it happened in Iconium that they went together to the synagogue of the Jews, and so spoke that a great multitude both of the Jews and of the Greeks believed. But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brethren. Therefore they stayed there a long time, speaking boldly in the Lord, who was bearing witness to the word of His grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands. Acts 14:1-3

Question: Should we call the police and have these folks thrown off our steps, since they are trespassing? Waste of time!

Question: Do these folks feel our love, or do they just know our Biblical stand?
What does the Gospel have to do with all this?

We know that the world system has redefined love as a “feeling.” But ultimately, love isn’t felt, it was demonstrated by God (Rom 5:8) to all of creation through the death of Jesus Christ. He died FOR sinners – this is the Gospel. Verse five says that God’s love, “has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” By grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, we are justified and have peace with God. We have been empowered by the Holy Spirit to love God and man.

I believe that our love for these folks must also be “demonstrated” – by the power of the Holy Spirit. Yes – they’ve heard the Biblical stand on homosexuality and marriage. But if we are just proclaiming our stand without proclaiming the Gospel, there is no “power of God unto salvation.”

You personally have done a stellar job of teaching and preaching both on Sunday mornings. I thank God for your faithfulness in preaching the Gospel brother. But what about the rest of us 1000 or so Grace folk who sit in the pews every Sunday? What are we communicating to the people in our community?

I was so encouraged by the Christians who were willing to hold up “YES – On Prop 8” signs weeks prior to November 4th. It takes guts to do that (I chickened out) and never got one. I believe their efforts were a commendable fight for righteousness sake and for the good of the people of our state. However, what message did it send?

The Church is relatively quiet the majority of the time. For the most part we stick to the inside of our church walls. We invite people to come IN to hear the Gospel (I’m all for it). But there is no deliberate, continuous, sustained outreach effort where we are involved in our community to serve and more importantly to open up our mouths to communicate the Good News to them. That is until there’s an election or some moral issue to vote on. Then we come out of the woodwork to fight for our position(s) with “Yes – on Prop 8 signs.” Our message is all too often a proclamation of “we need a candidate who is pro-life.” We do! I agree 100%. It’s important that we stay on top of these issues. But because we are so inconsistent about being engaged, and our message all too often lacks a solid gospel proclamation, the world is missing our witness for Christ. It makes is seem that we are trusting in the political system (the same thing they trust in) instead of the Gospel.

The YES on Prop 8 campaign proved that there are so many solid Christians that were willing to show up in number, organized, passionate – bold as a lion for the cause. I thank God for them. But think of what would happen to our community if we REGULARY get out in number, organized, passionate – bold as a lion – filled with the Spirit of the Living God with the sole purpose of communicating the Gospel? Souls would be saved and our community would be different. Like in the book of Acts (maybe we would be receiving more persecution like they did).

As heated as this issue is right now, these folks need to SEE the Church, “rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” Our hope is not in winning an election or amending a constitution. Ultimately, our destiny is to enjoy God’s glory in Heaven. These folks need to SEE us “rejoice in our sufferings.” The Christian life is full of “sufferings” but one of them is this struggle over marriage (and the life issue). The Church is under pressure! What does the world see? Hopefully they don’t see us trusting in politics or loosing our tempers. Hopefully we can say what Paul said, “I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church…” Colossians 1:24

These folks need to see Christ in us through our sufferings and that our trust is in God and not in man. But alongside that these folks desperately need to HEAR the Church (you and me) open up our mouths and boldly, unashamedly, fervently, and faithfully proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Doesn’t “Gospel” mean good NEWS? News has to be proclaimed!

How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, Who bring glad tidings of good things!” Romans 10:14-15

I planned on attending the No on Prop 8 Protest on Saturday. I thought it would have been a great opportunity to meet these people with a smile, a greeting and THE GOSPEL BOMB! I have an agenda and I’m NOT going to be ashamed of it – my boast is in the Lord Jesus Christ and Him crucified. Anyhow, I called several brothers but only two of us were up for it on such short notice. But what a missed opportunity Pastor Tim!

Pastor Steve could have gone “George Whitefield” on the people gathered around the front steps of Grace. I wonder what would have happened if one of you would have boldly but gently asked them for their attention for just ten minutes? God may have quieted them to hear you out…then just faithfully deliver the message. Even if they didn’t give you their attention, courteously, lovingly, suffer though the persecution and faithfully deliver the truth in love – Christ died for homosexuals!

If two hundred people were gathered just outside Grace protesting, maybe one of them was a lost sheep who just need to be called home. I’m still blown away at God’s heart for the lost sinner (Luke 15:7, 10, 32).

It is my prayer that Grace would have a group(s) of brothers and sisters who meet regularly to passionately preach the Gospel and plead with lost sinners in our communities to be reconciled unto God. We need to love these people enough to tell them the truth in love. What about the Pride in the Plaza July 2009? It’s another great opportunity to be accused of associating with “tax collectors and sinners.” What’s your thoughts?

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a

Here are a few more videos from the SLO Protest on Saturday.

Protest Against Prop 8- San Luis Obispo, CA

Love not H8 SLO rally

You can follow the prop 8 agenda and scheduled protests here:

Anonymous said...

by J. C. Ryle

Mark 15:3. 'The chief priests accused him of many things.'

The servant of Christ must never be surprised if
he has to drink of the same cup with his lord.

If he who was holy, harmless, and undefiled,
was foully slandered, who can expect to escape?

If the head of the house has been called Beelzebub,
how much more the members of his household! (Mt.10:25)

Perfect innocence is no fence against enormous lying,
calumny and misrepresentation. The most blameless
character will not secure us against false tongues.

We must bear the trial patiently.
It is part of the cross of Christ.

Tim said...

Yo, brother Allen, love your passion and encouragement. I love you! I agree with much of your comments. But, to be honest, I have different ideas about the way forward in these perilous times.

I respect your perspective and want to support you in the involvement that the Lord calls you to, but I believe our way forward does not involve our confronting these folks with the Gospel at their protest rallies, but by looking for opportunities to serve them in love, being ready to give an answer for the hope within us. (1 Pt. 3:15).

With all due respect, throughout the book of Acts, I don't see the model you are proposing. While open air preaching and evangelism was apart of the apostolic witness, I see no evidence that the early church was seeking protest gatherings for these open air opportunities. It looks to me that they were creating their own opportunities. When they did, persecution happened.

Similarly, I don't see your confrontational approach prescribed anywhere in the Scriptures. As far as I can tell, we are never explicitly commanded to enter the fray in the way you are proposing. The Apostles have every opportunity exhort the churches to this type of confrontational evangelism and even to follow their own open air preaching model, but they never do so.

On the contrary, the seem to advise service, love, hard work and quiet living . . .

1Th. 4:9 ¶ Now as to the love of the brethren, you have no need for [anyone] to write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another;
1Th. 4:10 for indeed you do practice it toward all the brethren who are in all Macedonia. But we urge you, brethren, to excel still more,
1Th. 4:11 and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you,
1Th. 4:12 so that you will behave properly toward outsiders and not be in any need.

Titus 2:11 ¶ For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men,
Titus 2:12 instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age,
Titus 2:13 looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus,
Titus 2:14 who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.
Titus 2:15 ¶ These things speak and exhort and reprove with all authority. Let no one disregard you.
Titus 3:1 ¶ Remind them to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed,
Titus 3:2 to malign no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing every consideration for all men.
Titus 3:3 For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another.
Titus 3:4 But when the kindness of God our Savior and [His] love for mankind appeared,
Titus 3:5 He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit,
Titus 3:6 whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior,
Titus 3:7 so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to [the] hope of eternal life.
Titus 3:8 This is a trustworthy statement; and concerning these things I want you to speak confidently, so that those who have believed God will be careful to engage in good deeds. These things are good and profitable for men.
Titus 3:9 But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and strife and disputes about the Law, for they are unprofitable and worthless.

Having said this, I think we should be serving, engaging, actively looking for and taking opportunities to share the Gospel. Likewise we should be ready and willing to suffer joyfully for the cause of Christ, if called upon to do so.

Now, its possible that I am rationalizing and compromising in these things. I am open to you Biblical correction and instruction. As I have said, I respect your unique evangelistic calling, but I don't see that all believers are called to the same.

Brianna Heldt said...

I'm coming out of the woodwork to post from afar. :)

To answer your question, I really don't think they feel the church's love. Quite honestly it seems as if the church has no CLUE what to do with homosexuality. Mostly I think we pretend it doesn't exist--or at least not within OUR church's walls--and then something like this comes up and we come out strongly for a proposition. OR we take a "you can change who you're attracted to!" approach that doesn't at all take into account the person's experience or perspective.

I remember Randy Alcorn (who is a prolife advocate) saying that there were some pro-abortion protestors outside a crisis pregnancy center or something. And he bought them donuts and coffee and then came out to graciously talk with them. That has always stuck with me.

I do think that the church has a real opportunity here. I think about the parts in the Bible that talk about "quiet living" a lot. It can be harder than attending protests or rallies or telling people "what for", but it's what we're called to do.

Tim you've always done a great job of merging grace AND truth! Anxious to hear more on this subject. We miss you guys!

Phil Gray said...

Hi, Pastor Tim,

I have no problem with the no-on-8 protests on our steps. But their next step is to intrude into the services, with signs, banners, and screaming.

How should we deal with that? Some ideas:

1. check with SLO PD for their recommendations, will they help clear them out, or arrest?

2. the protesters would have two ways to 'attack': one is to walk in with others before the service (solution? Have greeters and ushers keep an eye out for signs and rolled-up banners, and be trained how to politely deny entry)

3. the other is for the protesters to 'attack' by charging in halfway through the service.

4. in this case, our first line of 'defense' would be a couple of ushers on the steps, to give the alarm, lock the front doors, etc.

5. If they get in and are disruptive, Plan B: the choir and congregation immediately stand and sing the loudest hymn we know, to drown out the 'screamers'. And keep singing until they are removed.

6. Then, Plan C: Meanwhile, a group of 'deputy ushers' (young men who have been trained for this), 2 to a protester, hold onto the protester's arms and gently escort them outside to the sidewalk. There they are released, or handed over to the police.

7. In all of this, we should have some volunteer videographers, to both provide close-up facial identification, and evidence that the protesters were not mis-handled. In fact, a couple of folks outside with cameras at the ready just might dissuade the protesters from going any further.

I'm aware that all of the above may not sound very Christ-like, but it seems to me we're not only entitled to defend, but obligated to defend, our beliefs and the 'house' in which we practice them. For an extreme example, consider the tens of thousands of Christians who gave their lives to halt the Muslim invasion of Europe, culminating at the Battle of Vienna.

At least, food for thought.

Phil Gray

Suzette said...

Your survey to the right did not include "Picking Up a CD". Brought one home today as I'll have to listen to the sermon again. I took it a bit wrong.

The idea that we are being "persecuted" seems a little self-indulgent to me. Honestly, no Christian has ever been tortured and killed by homosexuals. While too many homosexuals have been harmed by people professing to be believers in Chirst. As for the "black list". I think Christians invented that. Just ask Starbucks and Proctor and Gamble.

This has hit a sore spot with me. Sorry, but my heart is with the protestors. I weep for them and I weep for us and I weep for the Church as a whole past and present. They do not feel our love and we do not make much of an effort to demonstrate the love of Christ to homosexuals or any immoral people. It is too easy to judge them and steer clear. You know, they made thier choices and now they have to live with the consequences.

I must confess a huge bias on my part. I have been hurt really badly by Christians in my past. Wow! Didn't know it was still smarting quite so much. I'm a little angry and not even sure who I am agry at. We all have a common enemy who would love nothing more than to stir up some trouble and sit back and laugh while we tear each other apart(Oh how I hate that guy).

In your sermon I didn't sense it. Do you see the pain deep in the hearts of those protesting? How very much they hurt. My vision for Grace is not anger and retaliation. Or even a struggle to react in a Christ like way. But a sincere, deep, heart felt sorrow for the lost and sinful who ever they may be. The battle lines are drawn so just telling people the Truth probably won't get through until we demonstrate God's love in practical ways. Truly seeking to understand the rejection and humiliation they have suffered and shedding tears over even the pain they have caused themselves through their sin. God loves them and the Good Sheppard is seeking for them. We have to be heart broken over the fate of thier souls, for the wounds in thier hearts, for the fear that they live with continually.

Also, your story about the family who lives surrounded by non-Christians brings to mind my cousin whom I love dearly. She is not saved. I pray for her, but do not have much hope she will ever come to Christ. Circumstances are so against it.

She moved from a great neighborhood (near San Francisco)with kind, gentle neighbors who got along really well. Each Friday they took turns hosting dinner for the families in their complex. Like a great big family. Now she lives in Pleasanton. Surrounded by very conservative Christians. They exclude her family. They stand out near her drive way and whisper to each other instead of saying "Hi!" Which she thinks is very childish. I just ache for her and her family. I wonder what in the world God is doing there.

Any way, I realize focusing on others faults does not help anything. God has been gracious enough to me to show me just how self-centered I am and how much I feel sorry for myself and just how hard it is for me to do the right thing and not continually put my foot in my mouth and offend other people even when I am trying really hard to resemble Christ in some way (any way). I like what Larry Crabb said in his book "The Pressures's Off": "When we stare into the chasm separating who we are from who we long to be and realize we have no means in our flesh to cross from one side to the other, and not until the, we will change." So I am standing at the edge of that chasm and hoping. It is very painful.

Not sure what would be most meaningful to the protesters, but I would love to see us do something as a body for them this Chirstmas. They really do think we hate them. So sad. Oh! And if they invade our church service we should plan some way to welcome them instead of arresting them. Maybe invite them to fellowship with us in the courtyard? Anything to over come evil with good rather than fight with hurting people.

Tim said...

Dear Suzette,

I'm not sure you heard me correctly. Would you please listen again and then let me know if you are still struggling.

There's a lot there in your comment. Maybe it would be better for us to discuss offline.

I never said we were being persecuted.

I am not aware of Christians compiling blacklists of individuals.

The thrust of the message was not "how to respond to homosexuals", but "how shall we now live" and "how do we move forward in this supercharged environment."

Didn't you hear me advocating a demonstration of the Gospel (the kindness, love and mercy of God) through our serving?

I don't mind healthy and civil disagreement, but I do want to be heard and understood.

Suzette said...

Tim - Sorry to get so emotional. And very sorry to add to your stress. I'm a little burnt out right now. The first I heard of all this was in the service Sunday so it took me totaly by surprise.

I did hear all you said about service. While a little helpful, I don't think service is the answer. Service can be misinterpreted as some one greater bestowing charity on some one lesser. I don't think the protesters want to be served. I think they want to be heard. While we will never agree with them, I think we can offer them relationship. Relationship is hard to misinterpret. It is humble. Seeking to know and be known on a personal level.

I so wish the leadership at Grace had called around and offered relationship. Even just lunch and discussion on how this can be resolved in a positive way for everyone. I bet the Aids Network would have helped us do that.

Any way I would love to talk to you about it some other time.