As Todd kicks off a series called "Declaration: a divine proposal for life, liberty, and happiness" we investigate how it can go well with our country. We examine a divine proposal that God is the way of life, that our country believed that in it’s formative years, what’s happened since, and what we ought to do about it today. Life can only be found in a relationship with God. When we cut Him out, it will not go well with us.

Scripture References: 1 Peter 02:09 , 1 Timothy 2 , Deuteronomy 4 , Romans 1

Todd Wagner

About Todd Wagner

In 1999, a group of friends and I desired to be the same awe-inspiring community that we saw in the Scriptures and to connect God's people with opportunities to know... Read more

Message Transcript
Good morning, Watermark. Hello, Fort Worth. We are going to start a series that I believe is absolutely crucial for us if we are going to play the role we are to play in the society we are in. And we must play that role, because our society has missed us. Not _will_ miss us…_has_ been missing us, because we have not been doing our job as a group of called-out people. Now listen. I'm of the opinion that right here, we, Watermark and the disciples of this church and other faithful Bible-teaching churches in this country, have been doing a better job than most of what is commonly classified today as the church in America, but it's time for us to up our game. So we're going to do a little series called _Declaration_, which is basically us explaining that God, in his kindness, has not left us here to figure it all out. We don't have to listen to the wisest men of our age or the wisest men of ages past. The God who is the Ancient of Days has revealed to us the way of life, liberty, and how we can experience wellness of the soul. This series is called _Declaration_. It is a divine proposal for us to experience life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I'm going to give you a little history, a little current-day commentary, some Bible, and some assignment so that we may be who God wants us to be so the land we live in would be a land that is blessed by God, that is blessed in its existence, that reaps what it sows, and because it sows wisdom it will reap the fruits of righteousness and wisdom and not the increasing havoc that is all around us. This week, I'm going to make a divine proposal that God is the way of life. I'm going to talk about how our country understood that in its formative years, and I'm going to talk about what has happened to our country and what we ought to do about it today. Next week, I'm going to talk about liberty, what it is ultimately, what happens if you lose it, and what our job is, and then after that I'm going to talk for four weeks about how we will pursue happiness. What I'm going to do is take some of the most socially and politically talked about issues of our day and show you God's design and answer on them. We are in an election season, and I want to tell you this country is not run by the majority of people; it is run by the majority of people who vote and who speak out and who influence. You may not have a microphone or a cable channel. You might not have a big social media platform, but you have neighbors, you have relationships, you have friends, you have people you influence, and you have a vote, and you ought to use it, and you ought to use it effectively. We are not, as it has been said before, a part of the party of the elephant or party of the donkey. We are people who are part of the tribe of the Lamb, and we ought to vote consistent with the leader of our tribe. His name is Jesus. He is God, and he has made a divine proposal where real life can be found. So I'm going to walk you through not a politically correct view but a theologically sound view of marriage and family in week three. I'm going to walk you through a theologically correct understanding of the immigration issue, a theologically correct understanding of our economy, and, ultimately, a theologically correct understanding of human life. We are going to declare God's love for the nations. Let's pray. Lord, you do love us, so you have not left us, as I've said already, like ships sailing through the sea at night in the midst of a storm that have no things anchored in the heavens that can guide them so they must trust only in the best opinions of men, but you have brought light to us in our darkened understanding, in our fallenness, and you have been screaming in your kindness about how you love us and how it would please you for us to walk in wisdom so that it may go well with us. I pray you would tune our ears to hear your declaration and that you would strengthen our hearts who have _seen_ your declaration and train us, that we might speak winsomely and wisely and readily to these issues so we may serve our people and they would know a prophet has been among them, a prophet who wants it to go well with them, just as our Prophet, King Jesus, did. We thank you, Father, that Christ has offered provision for all of our sin and our rebelling against your declaration, but now we want to align ourselves with it until that great and glorious day that you no longer leave it up to a vote but you rule with a rod of iron. Until that day, may we have your will done on earth as it is in heaven, and may we love others, that they might see the goodness of you being their King. In Jesus' name, amen. There was a gentleman who, for years, was the chaplain of our Senate, and his name was Peter Marshall. Peter Marshall had a favorite story he used to love to tell. It was called the "Keeper of the Springs," and it talked about how in this European land there was a beautiful, heavily visited city that was quaint. It was there at the base of the Alps. Swans were everywhere. There were streams that flowed through the villages. There were windmills and the different mills that were run by the flow of the stream that would go down and allow industry to happen all around them. It was a beautiful Austrian village. Years before that, what had happened was one of the leaders of the town had made an arrangement with an old man who lived up in the mountains. The arrangement was to put him on salary, that there would be community money and resource given to him in order that he might keep the mountain streams and rivers that fed the springs, that fed the rivers that went through their town and made it a beautiful place and kept fresh water flowing…to keep it clean of sticks and debris and silt. Well, years later, after the town kind of became full of itself and confident that it would always be this place of great beauty, one of the current leaders looked at the budget and saw this fee, this arrangement with this guy nobody ever saw, and they weren't even sure what he did, so they cut his job out of the city budget. Now initially, there wasn't much response to that. For several weeks, nothing really changed. But, slowly, what happened is that autumn came, and the trees began to shed their leaves. Small branches snapped off and fell into the pools, and it began to hinder the rush and the flow of the sparkling water. One afternoon, somebody noticed a slight yellowish tint in the spring. A few days later, it was much darker. Within another week, Marshall would say, a slimy film covered sections of the water along the banks, and, finally, a foul odor was detected. The mill wheels that produced industry and kept people employed moved more slowly and finally were ground to a halt. Swans left, as did the tourists. Then the clammy fingers of disease and sickness reached deep into the village. With great humility, the leaders finally realized, "We have cut off that which was the ultimate source of our life." What I'm here to share with you today is that's exactly what has happened in our country. It is good that a chaplain of our Senate used to tell that story consistently, because what he was doing was taking them back to the origins our country was founded on: any group of people need to continually be aware of the source of blessing, life, and liberty, and if you just write out of your social contract any relationship with this Keeper of the Spring, it will not be long before the mills will grind slowly and the clammy fingers of disease and sickness will reach deeply into your village. Welcome to 2014. Before I talk about what God is always doing and who he always is, I want to give you a little history lesson on America. I want to read to you from the Preamble of our Declaration of Independence, and I want to show you that written right into our existence is the understanding of the sacredness of life, the protection of God. In other words, divine sovereignty and an understanding of nature's law and nature's God is fundamental to who we are. At the very beginning, before the most familiar parts, it says, "When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another…" In other words, "We can't be connected anymore, because you don't stand for what I stand for." "…and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them…" Then it continues. "We hold these truths to be self-evident…" My friends, that is the problem with today. America came out of the puritanical movement, which has a really bad public relations campaign going on. When you mention Puritans, people's eyes roll back in their heads and they go, "Oh! We don't want to be a puritanical society." Well, guess what? We are not, and we are reaping what we have sown. It's almost difficult to parody what we are embracing as normative and right and true in our land today. I'm going to say a verse I've quoted a ton. The reason most Americans don't care yet that we have cut off the Keeper of the Spring that is the goodness of God himself is that it hasn't been a few weeks for us yet. Fall is coming, and leaves are choking our rivers. Soon there will be a yellowish tint, and then there will be a slimy filth over it, and then there will be a foul odor, and then the swans will leave, peoples clamoring to be around us will leave, and judgment in the form of sickness and disease will come. It is here, and it is going to increase, because we don't hold _any_ truth to be self-evident anymore. In fact, we're trying to get God out of every pledge of our allegiance, every motto, every reminder that he is the source of all justice and law and righteousness. Whenever you start to do that and you abdicate God from being sovereign and good and right and true, you create a vacuum, which means there has to be some other standard that is established, and that standard will never be perfect, will never be selfless. It will never be suprarational, beyond the ability of men to understand. He is perfect, right, and true, and there is no other one like him. When you abdicate and say there is no self-evident truth anymore, "…that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness…" See, we can pursue God or we can't. Here's the deal. Our country is doing what we have made sure we have the right to do, which is to pursue what we want to pursue, but we are no longer pursuing life. We're no longer pursuing God. In fact, there is a radical movement (and has been for some time) to jettison God from our society, and I am here prophetically, pastorally, to tell you it will not go well with us when we do this. The concluding paragraph of the Declaration of Independence is this: "We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions…" It is amazing to me. We right now are appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world to rectify our rebellion. One of the most famous songs in the history of our country is the song, "Glory, glory, hallelujah! His truth is marching on." It is a song that sings of the coming wrath of God that will not put up with those who scoff at him. We will sing it on July 4, because we are now not declaring our independence from an oppressive king who wanted to force-feed us a certain worldview. No, we at one point broke free from that king so we could pursue a relationship with God free from the tyranny of the king. But now what we have done is we have broken free from _God_ as our King, and we've created our own tyranny. It says, "…appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions… And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence…" We have left the protection of divine providence, and now what we are doing is mocking the justice of divine providence, and because it's still early fall, people are not yet willing to write him back in, not to the city budget but to the city way. It is our job to be declarationers, winsomely, wisely, and kindly sharing things. The purpose of government, I will teach you today, is to maintain order. It is to suppress evil so that men might live free of fear and unrighteousness. It is the purpose of truth to define what righteousness is, and when you get rid of objective truth it becomes a tournament of narratives and it becomes a Darwinistic idea. Whoever has the most power, influence, and money…that person will get to determine what truth is. What has happened is, for a long time, when those who believed in divine providence and nature and nature's God were the majority, they were lazy. They did not make disciples. They had convictions of convenience. They said one thing and did another, and they raised up a group of people who rejected their God and rejected them as leaders, and they are now seeking to find a different way. It's always true that the philosophy of schoolchildren in one generation will be the philosophy of the government in the next. By the way, this is exactly what happened to the Puritans when they came over here. Another word for the Puritans is _Pilgrims_, who were a Reformed group, Calvinists, who believed in the sovereignty of God, the depravity of man, and the necessity of God to redeem him and inform his will and way. What happened is those Puritans had kids, and those kids became teenagers, and those teenagers didn't know what they were leaving, and those Puritans did not do a good job of declaring the kindness and goodness of God. They also got a little sideways and foolish with some of their leadership (the Salem witch trials and that nonsense), so it cost them credibility. You combine that with the growing rationalism that came crashing on the screen and people now starting to believe the way to find truth was not through divine revelation but through understanding and thinking. Then on top of that, a little bit later, you have the social reengineering that was the intellectual basis for the rejection of God altogether, commonly known as _Darwinism_. You have the increasingly liberal church that is rejecting the inerrancy of God's Word, the necessity of Jesus Christ, and you have people now who have an intellectual basis to embrace their increasingly socially compromising ways within the church, not holding to the goodness of God and the necessity of his revelation, and now you start to have the liberal church combine itself with an intellectual worldview that believes really educated people don't need God; there is no basis for God; the Bible might be a book that has some suggestions in it, but it is not what we claim it to be, and science now has proven that which it never did. Increasingly today, anybody who knows anything about science will tell you Darwinism is not just a theory; it is a failed, defeated theory. (Separate message for a separate day.) What you have as you go forward from there is a country that now moves to this idea that, basically, we need to find truth in our own way. We need to transcend modern man. We need to find some identity with ourselves in our own actualization. So whether it's through the Enlightenment age, where we believe we create our own reality, kind of what you found in the 60s in this existentialism and all this different stuff that radically moved forward and combined with atheism, and you get a country like we have today that has rejected the foundational understanding of what makes a people prosper. I want to share with you a few things that were said early on. This was our first president, who didn't want to be king, because he understood kings were necessarily corrupt, that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. So our founders, who understood the depravity of man, put checks and balances in place. We weren't to have an active legislating judiciary that overturned laws. It was supposed to make sure it executed on the laws the land corporately held and make sure they were consistent with our constitutional understanding. Congress was to make laws, the executive branch was to enforce laws, and the judiciary branch was to make sure it appropriately kept all just, but when you have an activist judiciary that wants to legislate from the bench, you start to now make a mockery of people's will and way. Even when they're still members of the democratic republic who say, "We don't want to live that way," they say, "You have to," because now the law of the land is there _is_ no law, and if your law tells somebody else they can't do what they want to do, you can't do that. Tolerance is the new king. Political correctness has replaced theological accuracy, and it is going to affect us. This is what Washington said. This is his First Inaugural Address: "…the foundations of our national policy will be laid in the pure and immutable principles of private morality…the propitious smiles of heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right, which heaven itself has ordained…" He goes on to say, "Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports." It's the keeper of the spring. "In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. […] And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without [right understanding of God]." He uses the word _religion_. "Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle." What you have is an increasingly chaotic culture, and one of the things chaos always does is it creates instability and fear. When you have instability and fear, it makes people want somebody, _anybody_ who will bring order, and they will even give away their liberty to get it. Chaos always invites tyranny, and that is why people who hate our freedoms love the things which lead to chaos. I don't care if they do it ignorantly or intentionally. It is our job to declare where liberty comes from. It comes from being subject to a selfless King who loves you. His name is Jesus, and he has done what he needs to do to reconcile you to the God humankind rebelled against initially. John Adams, our second president, said, "Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other." Then listen to this. This was written not by a man native to our land but by a philosopher from another land, from Asia. He essentially said, "Washington warned America in his farewell address that we should never try to base our country's ethic morality on something other than a Judeo-Christian worldview." The guy who writes this grew up around Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam. "It is foolish to believe that morality would prevail if religion were excluded. Take away the Creator, and you are at the mercies of the powers of the moment or the spirit of the age. You can debate all day long about whether or not America is a Christian nation, but you can be sure it was not founded on Islamic, Eastern, atheistic, humanistic…" I would add _existentialistic_. "…postmodernist, or any other pantheistic, godless idea." America was founded on this common declaration that there is a God, he is good, and he has revealed light, life, and truth to us, and we would do well to pay attention to him. For years we prospered because, by and large, we held to that Judeo-Christian ethic. What always happens when you get a land that gets a little full of itself, with prosperity and tourists and swans and beauty, is you go, "It's always been like this, and it will always be like this." We mock the source, and the next thing you know, suffering and sickness reach deeply in the village. That is true of Israel, as it consistently goes through times of prosperity, arrogance, pride, rebellion, disease, suffering, death, chaos, repentance, healing, humility, prosperity, and then it just keeps repeating. We are well into that cycle, friends, and it is our job to do what we can to stem the tide and to clear the spring, and that is what I hope this series does. We want to be individuals who speak up. Will Durant, who wrote much history in a very winsome way, said from barbarianism to civilization may take a century, but from civilization to barbarianism takes but a day. What I'm telling you is it has been happening in our day, and it is our job to be declarationers and lovingly, winsomely, rightly call people back to a clear and good understanding of all that is true. God is good. He loves you, and he always is seeking us. Let me just show you. In the very beginning, in Genesis 1, you have God creating man and putting him in a place of beauty and order where there _was_ no chaos. He got rid of chaos and darkness. He brought life and order and goodness. In that order and goodness, he walked with them, and he said, "Have faith in me. You don't need to know anything but I am God and I am good. Cling to me." But there was a liar who said, "God's Word is not true, disobeying him is not that big of a deal, and you could do better on your own," and we bought that lie. As soon as we did, we realized it was an awful mistake. So what did God do the second man rejected his declaration and experienced a deep awareness of its exposure now to life apart from God? What men always try and do is cover themselves in their own works in their own way. So they took fig leaves and threw them over themselves to cover their nakedness, their shame, their fear, their exposure, their loneliness, their cold. And what did God do? God said, "There is a very real consequence to what you've chosen, but let me tell you something else. There is a God out there who chooses to love and be gracious to you." The very first words we hear God speak after we leave him are these: "Adam, where are you?" The reason he did that is not because God was getting defeated in the first game of hide and seek. He knew exactly where Adam was. He was wondering if _Adam_ knew where he was. Adam was cold, exposed, aware now of the impingement and growing sickness and disease that was on his soul. He was separated from the woman, he was separated from God, and there was an immediate sense of death and a growing sickness and disease in him. He wanted Adam to acknowledge that, because God, in his mercy, was willing to save him, make provision for him, and woo him back. To America I would say, "Where are you, America? Do you like the way things are? Do you like the way they're going?" Here's the truth. Most of us go, "It's fine. We're playing a really bad game of Monopoly. Whenever things aren't going well, we'll just grab money from another Monopoly game and stick it in _this_ game. It's fine. If I don't like the way my flesh is being told it can't live, I'll just change the laws and act like those laws really weren't there for a reason and don't matter." And for the first little bit they _won't_ matter. This is the verse I was going to quote earlier: **"Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed quickly, therefore the hearts of the sons of men among them are given fully to do evil."** In other words, that verse in Ecclesiastes, chapter 8, verse 11, is the verse that caused Peter Marshall to tell that story. God seeks us and God loves us. God called out a group of people and gave them his law and was going to prosper this people just because of grace and goodness. He was going to share with them his divine, providential revelation, and he was going to bless them and prosper them. He said, "I'm going to bless you and prosper you, not so you can be arrogant but so that you might be a blessing to the nations." This nation is Israel. The leader he raised up was not Washington; it was Moses. At the end of Moses' life, not his _first_ inaugural address but his _last_ inaugural address was made up of four different messages, and it's found in Deuteronomy. We get that word _Deuteronomy_ from the Latin _duet nomos_. _Duet_ is two, _nomos_ is law, so the second telling of the law. As Moses gets ready to leave and commission the people to go in and fill the land and subdue it and to prosper and stay in the land, what Moses is saying is, "You have to know these are the things that will allow you to experience life and liberty and happiness." I want you to hear what Moses, the prophet, the declarationer, said to the people. Deuteronomy, chapter 4, verse 1: **"Now, O Israel, listen to the statutes and the judgments which I am teaching you to perform…"** Why? Why do we have to listen? **"…so that you may live…"** Look at verse 6. **"So keep and do them, for that is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples who will hear all these statutes and say, 'Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.'** **For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as is the** **Lord** **our God whenever we call on Him? Or what great nation is there that has statutes and judgments as righteous as this whole law which I am setting before you today? Only give heed to yourself and keep your soul diligently, so that you do not forget the things which your eyes have seen and they do not depart from your heart all the days of your life…"** Verse 39: **"Know therefore today, and take it to your heart, that the Lord , He is God in heaven above and on the earth below; there is no other. So you shall keep His statutes and His commandments which I am giving you today, that it may go well with you and with your children after you, and that you may live long…" **Deuteronomy 5:29: **"Oh that they had such a heart in them, that they would fear Me and keep all My commandments always, that it may be well with them…"** Why is God declaring his providential, sovereign decree? That it might go well with them. Deuteronomy 5:33: **"You shall walk in all the way which the** **Lord** **your God has commanded you, that you may live and that it may be well with you…"** Deuteronomy 6:3: **"O Israel, you should listen and be careful to do it, that it may be well with you…"** Deuteronomy 6:18: **"You shall do what is right and good in the sight of the Lord, that it may be well with you…"** Deuteronomy 12:25: **"You shall not eat it, so that it may be well with you…" **Deuteronomy 12:28:**"Be careful to listen to all these words which I command you, so that it may be well with you…"** I could go on. Do you understand why God desperately wants us to know who he is and to live according to nature and nature's laws under the hand of divine providence? Because he's a loving Father and he wants it to go well with you. Now here's what happens when you mock at the God who reveals himself. When Paul was writing to Rome that had no relationship with God… He was zealous to get to Rome, because all declarationers who are related to God have a deep desire to see it go well with the citizenry. Paul said, "I want to get there right in the middle of Rome, with all its demagoguery, with all its personal strength, and I want to preach to them the gospel, the good news that God loves them and wants to call them out of darkness and licentiousness and back into relationship with the God they've left." So this is what Paul writes in Romans, chapter 1, verse 15. **"So, for my part, I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome. For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written,** **'But the righteous** **man** **shall live by faith.'** **For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse."** You can raise up Darwin's theory as much as you want, but you know it's ludicrous. Darwin, in writing his theory, in the appendix to _On the Origin of Species_ acknowledged how ludicrous his theory was given the complexity of something he barely understood, which was the human eye. He acknowledged from the very beginning, "This is crazy, but it's the best I've got as I try and figure out how we're here apart from the revelation of God." What you see is a world that continues now, on the heels of a failed theory, to suppress that truth, the truth that there is a creator God, that there is nature and nature's laws. You suppress that truth in unrighteousness, and then watch what it says. **"For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools…"** It's just amazing to me what's happening in our world today that we even have to have this conversation. It's amazing to me that in a few weeks I'm going to have to talk to you about the sanctity of human life, that we have killed 10 times more Americans than the Nazis killed Jews and we still are playing word games with ourselves about whether or not it's a life, a human, despite all the evidence now that science gives us. Not scientific _theory_ but scientific, observable, repeatable fact shows us it's a human, and if it's human it is given unalienable rights to life and freedom and to be able to pursue its life. It's amazing to me I'm going to have to talk about the unreasonableness of the murder of humans, but I'm going to. It's amazing to me what's happening in our world today, that we're now saying, "God hasn't numbered our days; _I'll_ number my days. I'll tell you my beginning and my end. If I don't like the way my life is playing out, I'm going to take my life. I'll choose the day to do it, and you will help me, and you can't keep somebody from helping me end my life." That was this week. It's amazing to me that we are now mocking at God and saying, "You didn't even know what you were doing when you created us, so you can't look at us and tell us what we are." There's a person who wrote recently, "Don't let a doctor do this to your child." Do you know what they were talking about? "Don't let a doctor, when your child is born, grab their little heinie, smack it, turn it over, see if there is something present or something absent, and pronounce it a boy or a girl, because you don't know whether you have a boy or a girl. You just have a baby that now looks like it's this thing we used to call a boy, but it may not _be_ a boy. It might be a little girl trapped in a boy's body." Do you think I'm crazy? In California, when you go to school, by law you're required, if you're a teacher, to take your kindergarten kids and walk them the first day of school and say, "Hey, listen. Here are some bathrooms. We haven't changed the signs yet. It says 'Boys' room' and 'Girls' room,' but I don't know which one you are, and we're not going to make you use one based on what you've been told you were or what your biological specificity suggests you are, so you get to choose what bathroom you want to use." You think that's crazy? This week there was a school in Nebraska that said, through what is called _gender-inclusive training_… I'm reading this. "A Nebraska school district has directed its teachers to stop referring to students by gendered expressions such as 'boys and girls'…" This is a middle school. "…and start to use gender inclusive terms such as 'purple penguins.'" I'm not kidding. You're no longer supposed to call kids _boys_ or _girls_. Why? Because phrases like _boys and girls_ or _you guys_ or _ladies and gentlemen_ are gendered expressions and could hurt kids who don't feel limited to their gender. So we want to "create classroom names and ask all of the 'purple penguins' to meet on the rug." Instructions are given on this list, which is titled, "12 steps on the way to gender inclusiveness." If teachers still find it necessary at some point and unavoidably have to use genders, the document states they must list them as "boy, girl, both, or neither." You might go, "That's crazy." It's Nebraska! That's not California; that's Nebraska. Professing to be wise, they have become fools. It is amazing to me. They say, "Gender identity…can't be observed or measured, only reported by the individual." My buddy JP was speaking about this recently. It's like Adam. When he was born, he looked down and went, "What in the world is _that_ for?" Then God put him to sleep and created Eve. He woke up and looked at Eve in the same area and went, "Oh! Now I know what that is for." But, "No, you can't tell what that's for. Just because that jigsaw puzzle fits, that there's a male piece and a female piece, that doesn't mean that's why it was created. Make the puzzle however you want. Put the pieces together however you want." That is crazy. They are not purple penguins. This week (I'm not making this up; this is just what I had this week) in New York, they changed the laws about how you could go back and reassign your sex on your birth certificate so it could match your accurate gender. Gender is no longer about your physicality. It's not about your body; it's about your identity. What do you think you are? A boy or a girl? I wonder what the gender-inclusive term for _moron_ is, because that is what we have going on right here. It's Romans 1. It's professing to be wise, but they're fools. When you have a little boy and go, "Hey, forget all of recorded human history. You're a purple penguin until you tell us which one you want to be…" You want to talk about raising a bunch of angry kids who will snap off and do things that make national stories? You just wait, America. It's just beginning. Why do I do that? Because we're living in a Romans 1 day. What is the very first way, by the way, that everybody always will spin off? If you reject God as the place to find life, where are you going to go to find life? Probably the place you experience the most immediate feedback and pleasure in your seeking of life, which is always our sexuality. That's why this is so much about our sexuality. We are people who have been disconnected from life information, so we're looking for life. "Oh, I have immense pleasure when I do this." You couple that with incredible confusion because of the breakdown of the home and because of stereotypes and foolishness in our understanding of what makes a man a man and a woman a woman. You have all kinds of people who are increasingly saying, "You're not going to tell me how to use that thing between my legs. I get to decide, and I'll find life my own way." This is what Romans describes. Romans says what God does is he just turns you over, and the very first place he'll turn you over is the area you'll turn to first, which for most of us is our sexuality. It talks in Romans 1, right after I got done reading, about how men will burn in their passions for men, and it goes on from there, but then it gets down to the stuff that all of us wrestle with. I'm here to tell you the problem in America is not the radical homosexual movement. The problem in America was the breakdown of the family that the church has even endorsed. We've turned away and have bastardized what biblical love looks like. We've talked about no-fault covenant separation, and we have wounded children and have left children. Our children are growing up not to be purple penguins but very confused. Just go and read. Homosexuality is not the ultimate place humanity declines to. It's where we start, but where we decline to is what's written later in places like 1 Timothy, where it says we won't be surprised that in the last times difficult times will come. In chapter 3 it talks about how men will give themselves to all kinds of craziness and all kinds of lust and self-seeking and be disobedient to their parents. Have you ever struggled with _that_ one? See, that's where we go, because we believe there is no wisdom beyond our wisdom. It starts with rejecting God, and then it starts with rejecting God's provision to lead us, because they've lived through a few scars and pains. When you have parents who themselves are confused, it gets worse. Here's what I'm going to say. There is always a consequence when you mess with this. This is just a fact. I'm not hung up on homosexuality, but people are saying it's a loving thing to let homosexuals live the way they want to live. Here are some recent facts about homosexuality. Only 3 percent of the US population identifies itself as being homosexual right now, and yet 50 percent of all cases of syphilis and 60 percent of all cases of gonorrhea are within the homosexual community. Of homosexual men, 90 percent report chronic or recurrent viral infection. Of all HIV cases in the last five years, 75 percent came from the homosexual community, because the human being was not designed for that activity. God goes, "I love you, and I know it might connect with you emotionally because you've been wounded in other ways, or whatever other reason, but that's not what you're designed for." Life expectancy… This is according to the 2005 Oxford _Journal of Epidemiology_ and the American obituary report. Homosexual age expectancy is 20 years shorter than their heterosexual counterparts. If you really love somebody, you're not going to let them continue this behavior that is destructive to them. Only 1 percent of homosexuals die of old age. Proverbs 13:13-15 says, **"The one who despises the word will be in debt to it, but the one who fears the commandment will be rewarded. The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life, to turn aside from the snares of death. Good understanding produces favor, but the way of the treacherous is hard."** God doesn't want it to be hard. He's declaring to you where life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness can be found. Listen to me, Watermark. You may not struggle with homosexuality or maybe some of you do. If you struggle with homosexuality, come and join me in my struggle with my broken heterosexuality. It's the same thing. I desperately need God to inform my sexuality and my relationship with my parents and my relationship with every other whim or thought my flesh has, because when God informs what I do with my life and my land, it will go well with me. I've said it before. The church owes homosexuals an apology for making it about homosexuality. It's never about homosexuality. That's just one of many sin expressions that people who are non-followers of the declaration of the goodness of God go to. This is not a message about homosexuality; it's a message about human need for a loving God to guide them and rescue them. So what do we do if we're going to be people who are what God wants us to be? The first thing we do is _pray_. We don't panic. We're not surprised. Again, 2 Timothy 3:1-5. **"But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness…"** There's the problem, church. **"…although they have denied its power…"** Don't panic. We knew this was coming. Pray. First Timothy, chapter 2, tells you how to pray. You pray for kings and all those who are in authority, because they're the ones who are going to make the laws and they're the ones who are going to prosecute evil or encourage evil, and we will not long live tranquil lives, lives of peace, in all godliness and dignity, if we have godless kings. Now listen. We live in a democratic republic, which means we get to select our lawmakers and kings, which is why we have to vote consistently with wisdom and righteousness, because as the culture goes, so go the individuals. Our job is to lovingly serve culture, stand against culture, preach to culture, pray for our culture, and do everything we can to be declarationers of God's grace and mercy and goodness. When the people will humble themselves and pray and turn from their wicked ways and seek his face, he may stem the tide, and until I know it's too late, I'm not going to stop. Even when the social construct that is the last 240 years of American civilization falls underneath a flag with stars and stripes, I won't stop then, because I'm not ultimately an American. I love my country. I'm grateful for it, and I'm going to do what Jeremiah tells me to do: to seek the welfare of the city I live in, but when the city I live in is no longer called by that name, I'm still going to seek the welfare of the city and the people in it, and the way I will do that is by declaring God's goodness. So you pray. Along with praying and not panicking, the other thing we have to do is to be individuals who ultimately will _purify_ ourselves. It starts with us. You can't lead people where you're not personally there. The problem is the church isn't salty and the church hasn't been light. The church has been holding to a form of godliness, and we come up with pet sins that are the problem. I'm going to tell you something. Having pet sins has _been_ our problem. We have this whole group of acceptable sins that are going to reap just as much destruction in our lives as the sins we point out in others, and the church has to repent of that nonsense. We have to deal with the greed and the selfishness and the jealousies and the malicious speech and the coarse jesting and the love of pleasure that is in our lives and not just point it out in others who are nothing like us. As we pray for our land, we have to pray for ourselves and purify ourselves. This is what it says in 1 Peter 3: **"…sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts…"** In other words, become like Jesus. **"…always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence…"** Your life has to be not _out_ of the world but _in_ the world. We're not to be Amish people who just separate from society (God bless them). We are to be _in_ the world but not _of_ the world and love people and live among them wholly different lives with wholly different family structures with wholly different means of reconciliation with wholly different concern for them. Philippians 2:14-15: **"Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world…"** You have to turn your light up, and the only way you're going to turn your light up is by plugging back into the Light of the World. His name is Jesus. And I mean radically beginning to follow him. You become a declarationer of this. "Imitate me as I imitate Jesus Christ. Follow me as I follow Jesus Christ." When you don't follow him well, you repent of that. You confess it to all who saw it, and you get back on your knees and you change and begin to follow him again. That's our job. Do you hear what our job is today? It's not to tell the world what's wrong with their purple penguins; it's to make sure we are people of God, called by his name. As we pray, as we purify ourselves, we must _proclaim_. I've said it 10 times already. We are to be declarationers. First Peter, chapter 2, verse 9: " [We] **are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God's own possession …"** Why? **"…so that** [we] **may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called** [us] **out of darkness into His marvelous light…"** We are to propose a better way. It's what Moses did in Deuteronomy. In chapter 30, verse 15, he says, **"See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, and death and adversity…"** We have to declare it to the world, and we have to command them to love the Lord their God, to walk in his ways, to keep his commandments and his statutes and his judgments, so that they may live. Are you convinced that life with God is filled with grace and glory? Are you convinced that God is the way of goodness and order and beauty and light? We're not here to impose our morality on anybody. We are here to make a divine proposal that there is a better way in relationship with God, and that's what I do. I tell people, "You're free. Do what you want. Keep doing what you're doing if you like it, but if you keep doing what you're doing, you're not going to like what you have for long." I'm going to propose a better way, and I'd better propose it with my life first, on my knees, and proclaim it to them and say, "Come here. Here's how you can be forgiven. Here's how you can be reconciled to God. Here's who God is. He is not a massive taskmaster who wants you to behave; he is a God who wants you to be saved from a way which seems right to you but in the end is the way of sin and death." Ezekiel 33 talks about a watchman. God says, "You're a watchman. You know what's coming. You know what I have declared about the consequences of clogging up the spring, and if you remain silent and the people don't know, if you don't blow the trumpet, then when I come and bring judgment on them, the people who were yours to care for, I will hold their blood on your hands." But he says, "If you blow the trumpet and they don't respond to you, then I will tell you, 'Well done, good and faithful servant.'" When is the last time you shared your faith? When is the last time you engaged your neighbor in a winsome way about any of the topics I'm going to talk about, about the central character and the nature of God…his beauty, his love, his reconciliation, his desire for it to go well with you? When is the last time you told somebody that? Then why are you surprised that they have no idea, that they think God is somebody they're supposed to stick 10 percent of their hard-earned money into an envelope and show up at a meeting on a beautiful Sunday? If that's what they think God is, I wouldn't come either. If all God wants to do is disrupt their bedroom, I wouldn't come either. But if God is loving and good and true and you know him and you've experienced that because you're his people and you've been delivered out of darkness into his marvelous light, proclaim it. This is a church problem, not an American problem, and God wants us to declare his divine, loving proposal. Where are you, America? How are you doing? Are you so confused and so politically correct now you can't even call a boy a _boy_ and a girl a _girl_? _Are_ you? That's crazy. How are you doing? Father, I pray we would be your church, that we would pray and purify ourselves and proclaim, and as a result of us doing that in a winsome, kind, loving way we would conduct ourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity; that we'd let our speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so we would know how to respond to each person. I pray, Father, that you would let us be used of you to bring people back into relationship with you. We want to set before our friends and countrymen life and prosperity, death and adversity. We want to say, "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." I pray, Father, that we would serve you in such a way that they would see the excellence in our families, the excellence in our relationships, the excellence in our generosity, in our filthy wealth; that we would use it for the good of others and not our own selfish satisfaction, and they would love our prosperity, they would love our lives, and we could tell them where it comes from: divine grace and providence, and we could tell them about not _our_ beauty and wisdom but _yours_ and they would come to our Father who is everlasting, the all-creating one, God Almighty. I pray we wouldn't just believe in you with word or tongue but in deed and truth. Help us to be your people and declare your goodness to the world, amen. First of all, if you're here and you don't believe in the name of Jesus, let us love you by telling you we _do_ because we are wretched people who were stuck in the mires of darkness, who, by his kindness and grace, have been plucked out of darkness into his marvelous light. He paid for our sins. We're not earning his love. His love has been fully displayed on the cross, and he has redeemed us and covered us in the atoning, perfect provision of his Son, Jesus Christ. We do believe in him. We believe in the resurrection. We believe in the life to come. This world is not our home. We happen to be citizens of America only for a fleeting moment, but we're citizens of heaven, so we're doing what our Father has told us to do, which is to seek the welfare of this city and to call you to a celestial home with us and, while we're here, to not just sing songs like that but to prove ourselves doers of the Word and not merely hearers who delude ourselves. Would you forgive us, non-Christian here, that we're not as sanctified as we should be, that our sexuality is still messed up, that our greed still rules so much of us, that our tongues still run riot, that we don't live as holy among you as we should? We repent. Maybe we are the reason you don't believe in God, and we repent. Maybe the reason you don't believe in God is that no one has ever told you about him, and we repent. We're not here to wag our finger at our countrymen; we're here to get on our knees and ask God to forgive us and become more of what he wants us to be so that his goodness can be revealed to more of those he wants to save. Would you come? And if you have come to Jesus, would you live for him as a declarationer? Would you tell somebody this week, as best you can; get better at it? Would you purify your life? Would you live what you say you believe? Would you worship him? Have a great week of worship. We'll see you.