The Personal Message of John 3:16

John 3:1-17

You have heard many times, I’m sure, that if you would have been the only person, Jesus would have come and died just for you. Some have said that you can put your name in this verse so that it reads, “For God so loved Steve that He gave His only begotten Son, that if Steve believes in Him, Steve would not perish, but have everlasting life.” Indeed, the message of Christmas, the message of John 3:16, the message of salvation is a very personal message.

First of all, the personal message is a message of love. The love described in this verse is not just a word, but it is a tangible love. Jesus showed us His love in that He came. If His coming was not enough, He came, knowing that He was going to die.

This love is an amazing love. God made Himself into the form of a human and came to live on this earth.

Just remember this one truth this Christmas. This great message that is indeed a personal message to you demands to be shared with others. Take some time between now and Christmas to share the good news with one person. This will be the most significant thing that you do this Christmas season.

If you are in Lafayette, join us this Sunday for Christmas worship at either 9:45 a.m. or 11:11 a.m. and then again on Monday for a Christmas Eve Candlelight service at 5:00 p.m.

A Few Thoughts on the Library Controversy of Lafayette

In my city, Lafayette, LA, the news has been dominated in recent days about a proposed event at the Lafayette Public Library. The advertised event had the headline, “Drag Queen Story Time.” If that isn’t eye-catching enough, the advertisement also reads, “Recommended for Ages 3-6.”

The library’s position is that this is an event focused on the opportunity for families who might be seeking the opportunity to educate their children that some people may be different from them.

The pushback has been quick and strong. The Mayor has issued a press release today indicating his request for the Library Board of Control to review how programming gets decided and that he is working on getting the event canceled.

Pray for Mayor-President Joel Robideaux. He faces a firestorm of letters, including one from me, which I will share at the close of this article.

This matter draws attention to how we are supposed to respond to such matters as Christians. People quickly rush to Ephesians 4:15—“But speaking the truth in love, let us grow in every way into him who is the head—Christ.” Though we are to speak the truth in love to all people, my reading of this context is that the specific instruction in Ephesians is within a church body.

A better instruction to us in this particular situation is Colossians 4:5-6. “Act wisely toward outsiders, making the most of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you should answer each person.”

Folks on the other side of the debate than I am on quickly suggest that any criticism is filled with vitriol and hate even if the individual is just presenting what he or she believes to be truth. So, the truth part gets lost because the manner in which it is perceived. Some on my side of the argument say we can’t say anything lest we push people away from God so they remain silent.

What are we to do? I can’t speak for everyone, but on this issue I can’t be silent. I pray that my speech is gracious, seasoned with salt.

How do you think I did? Here’s my letter.

I write to voice my concern regarding the advertised “Drag Queen Story Time” slated for Saturday, October 6. The listed recommendation that this is appropriate for ages 3-6 is incomprehensible to me, but I realize that this is my opinion formulated by my Christ-centered, Biblically-centered, and traditional family-centered worldview. I realize that a public library is indeed open to the entire public, but that does not negate my strong objection to the public library hosting this event.

Whereas I realize that families have a right to expose their children to this form of educational experience, I believe that the library should also realize that the majority of families in Lafayette do not want to expose their children to this kind of experience. Suppose I do not know this event is going on, and I bring my 7 year old to the library that same afternoon. As a parent, I know he is not ready to process seeing men dressed in drag. If this is the sort of thing that the public library is going to sponsor, I am going to be hesitant always to bring my child.

What comes across to some as being educational, informative, and helpful also comes across to others as being very agenda-driven. I do not believe it is the purpose of the Lafayette Public Library to promote one specific moral worldview over another. This is precisely how I see this event.

At the least, I would ask the library board to consider removing their name from the sponsorship of this event and require the presenting organization to bear the responsibility of being the sponsor.

Sincerely,

Now, let me close with this. I wrote my letter but there is something more that I should do. I must remain focused on evangelism and discipleship. That’s where I am headed now—to train a new group of folks who want to learn to share their faith. The ultimate answer to all of our social problems rests in more people discovering a relationship with Jesus and growing as His disciple in every area of life. I want to spend the bulk of my energy there, because this is the most efficient manner of addressing all that divides our world.

 

Christ’s Answer to Every Problem

I find myself thinking and praying for multiple friends today who are going through a hard time. One of the difficulties of being a pastor is to help people through difficult seasons of their life. Usually, there is no advice to give or anything to say that will really change the circumstances. At the same time, saying something like, “Just trust God,” seems so hollow and void of real compassion. And yet, is there any better answer to all of our problems than the answer that Christ gives? Jesus said to Paul and He says to us, “My grace is sufficient for you.

I always think of this passage in hard times. I hope it blesses those today who need to hear it again.

Therefore, so that I would not exalt myself, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to torment me so I would not exalt myself. 8 Concerning this, I pleaded with the Lord three times to take it away from me. 9 But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me. 10 So because of Christ, I am pleased in weaknesses, in insults, in catastrophes, in persecutions, and in pressures. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:7-10

The focus here is on the power of God. There is …

  1. The Power of the Cross of Christ

1 Corinthians 1:18

18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. (NKJV)

  1. The Power of the Resurrection of Christ

Philippians 3:10

10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death (NKJV)

Ephesians 1:19-20

19 and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power 20 which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, (NKJV)

  1. The Power of the Intercession of Christ

Romans 8:26-27

26 Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. 27 Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God. (NKJV)

Romans 8:34

34It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. (NKJV)

  1. The Power of the Love of Christ

Romans 8:35-39

35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?36 As it is written:

“For Your sake we are killed all day long;
We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”

37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come,39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (NKJV)

  1. The Power of the Holy Spirit

Acts 1:8

8 But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (NKJV)

  1. The Power of the Promises of God

2 Corinthians 1:20-21

20 For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us. (NKJV)