The Hand that Holds Me

Life has its anxious and fearful moments. When they occur, we sometimes find ourselves wondering what will happen if . . . ? For example, a child moving into a new town wonders if she’ll make new friends. A high school graduate wonders if he’ll make the grades in college, and if he will find a job in his chosen career. An employee worries about losing his job when the corporation down-sizes. A patient in the hospital wonders if she will get better. The wife of an American soldier stationed in Iraq is anxious about his safety. Life can make us feel insecure, alone, and afraid. However, our Lord has a good word for us concerning these moments.

In today’s text, some skeptics in Jerusalem were questioning Jesus about his identity. He had earlier announced that he was the Good Shepherd. Now they wanted to know whether he was the Promised One for whom they had been waiting. He said to them, “I told you through my own works, but you do not believe because you are not my sheep.” Then he described the life promised to the sheep who belong to him.

First, Jesus points out that he knows his sheep; they are not just another name in the book. Jesus knows each sheep in his flock.

Jesus, at another time, told a parable about a shepherd who had a hundred sheep. At the end of the day one of them turned up missing, so he dropped everything and went looking for that one sheep. When he found it, he threw it up on his shoulders, carried it home, and had a great party.

Another time Jesus said, “You are of more value than many sparrows. Even the hairs on your head are numbered.” Jesus pointed out that he cares about each of us. He knows us and wants to have a personal relationship with us. I heard someone say once that if Jesus had a wallet, your picture would be in it. The writer of Hebrews tells us that we have a great high priest in Jesus who sympathizes with us because he has been there; he has gone through the things through which we go. We can turn to him confidently and call upon his name assured that he knows us and what we are going through.

However, the statement that I am most taken with in this passage is where Jesus says, “And no one can snatch them out of my hand.” I love that picture of Christ holding us in the palm of his hand. I would like to take a closer look at that hand for a few moments. What does it look like?

First,that hand has a hole in it. It is a nail-pierced hand and it communicates the depth of his love for us. That Good Shepherd laid down his life for you and me. The hole in his hand reminds us that he loves us and he wants to have a relationship with us. He went to great lengths to make us his own. He went to the cross as a payment for our sins so that we might be forgiven and become children of God. That kind of love tells me there are no boundaries or limits to the love Christ has for me.

Second, that hand is a big hand. When I think of that big hand of Christ, it reminds me of my grandfather’s hands. He was one of the most generous people I have ever known. He was always handing me things. For instance, when I was a senior in college, my grandpa’s hand pushed a set of keys across the kitchen table to me, and he said, “Steve, you are a senior in college; you need a car. I want you to have mine.”

Christ’s hand has pushed a wonderful gift to you and me Ð something far more valuable than anything the world has to offer. Listen to his words: “I give my sheep eternal life, and they will never perish.” He made good on that promise when he died for our sins and rose again from the dead on that first Easter morning. He promises those of us who trust in him, “Because I live, you shall live also.” I love that passage where Jesus says to his frightened disciples, “Let not your hearts be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go and prepare a place for you? And when I go and prepare that place for you, I will come again and take you to myself that where I am, you may be also. And you know the way I am going.”

When Thomas, one of the disciples, said, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus replied, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but by me” (John 14:1-6). That hand is a big hand offering us a big gift Ð eternal life with our Father in heaven.

Finally, that hand is a strong hand. We hear Jesus say, “No one will snatch them out of my hand.” No matter what happens to me in this life, Jesus holds on. When I am sick, he is holding onto me. When I am facing adversity, Jesus holds on. As I face death, Jesus still holds on. The grave may come my way, and you can be certain that it will, but for those of us who trust in Jesus Christ, it is simply a graduation time. A place is prepared for us in our Father’s heaven, and nothing can snatch us away from the loving hand of Jesus Christ, not even death.

Helmut Thieliche, a German theologian, wrote in one of his books about a sailor writing to his relatives, “If you should hear that our cruiser has been sunk and there are no survivors, do not cry for me. The sea in which my body sinks in is only a puddle in the hollow of my Savior’s hand. Nothing can snatch me from that hand.”

What a gift! Paul explains in Romans 8, “I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Jesus Christ our Lord” (vs. 38-39).

This past month I have conducted four funeral services in my church, and I am currently keeping vigil with two other dear families whose loved ones are gravely ill. What a relief and a joy to come alongside them and remember the story of the risen Jesus Christ Ð our Good Shepherd Ð who promises his sheep eternal life, and that not even death can separate us from his love.

In January 2000 leaders of Charlotte, North Carolina invited their favorite son, Billy Graham, to a luncheon. Billy initially hesitated to accept the invitation because he struggles with Parkinson’s disease. But the Charlotte leaders said, “We don’t expect a major address, Dr. Graham. Just come and let us honor you.” So he agreed.

After they said wonderful things about him, Dr. Graham stepped to the podium, looked at the crowd and said, “I am reminded today of Albert Einstein, the great physicist, who TIME magazine is honoring this month as the man of the century. It seems that Einstein was once traveling to Princeton on a train when a conductor came down the aisle punching the tickets of each passenger. When he came to Einstein, Einstein reached in his vest pocket, but he could not find his ticket. So he reached in his other pocket. It was not there. He looked in his briefcase and in the seat by him, and he still could not find it. The conductor said, “Dr. Einstein, I know who you are, we all know who you are. I am sure you bought a ticket. Don’t worry about it.” Dr. Einstein nodded appreciatively.

The conductor continued down the aisle punching tickets. As he was ready to move to the next car, he turned around and saw the great physicist down on his hands and knees looking for his ticket. The conductor rushed back and said, “Dr. Einstein, don’t worry. I know who you are. No problem, you don’t need a ticket. I’m sure you bought one.”

Einstein looked at him and said, “Young man, I too know who I am. What I don’t know is where I am going.”

Billy Graham continued, “You see the suit I am wearing? It is a brand new suit. My family is telling me that I’ve gotten a little slovenly in my old age. I used to be a bit more fastidious. So I went out and bought a new suit for this luncheon and one more occasion. You know what that occasion is? This is the suit in which I’ll be buried. But when you hear I am dead, I don’t want you to immediately remember this suit I am wearing. Instead, I want you to remember that I not only know who I am, I also know where I am going.”

Dr. Graham knows the Good Shepherd and is claiming the promise Ð Nothing will snatch him from the hand of Jesus Christ.

I heard it said once that sheep spend the summer in the high country. On their way back to the shepherd’s fold, they eagerly anticipate their homecoming, although they have to go through difficult terrain and storms that make them cold and wet. You can sense in the flock an excitement and enthusiasm as they come nearer and nearer to the shepherd’s fold. The same goes for Christians in the flock of Jesus Christ who know that we will dwell forever in the house of the Lord.

Yes, life does have its question marks and scary moments that can cause us anxiety and make us feel insecure. However, we have a wonderful Shepherd who laid down his life for you, rose again, and lives to walk with you. He knows you and wants to hold you close in all circumstances. He promises that no one and nothing will snatch you from his nail-pierced, loving, strong hands.

God Speaks to Social Sins

Christ spoke of His Church as being “in the world but not of the world.” There are many things in this old world that Christians cannot accept if they listen carefully to what God is saying to us. Let us learn from the Scriptures how Jesus dealt with the social sins of his day.

You remember the woman who was caught in the act of adultery? It is a story that gets quite a bit of attention in our preaching. There is something about the sin of adultery that interests people. While Jesus was teaching, the Pharisees brought in a prostitute and told him that they had caught her in the very act of adultery. These men were not interested in the woman’s welfare. They only wanted to trap Jesus.

The Pharisees continued, “Moses says she should be stoned to death. (Such a person should not be permitted to live for fear that she would contaminate others.) What is your opinion, Jesus?” they asked.

Jesus had an answer for them: “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” Then the Bible says, “they began to go away . . .”

Jesus turned to the woman and said, “Has no one condemned you?”

The woman replied, “No one, Lord.”

Jesus replied, “Neither do I condemn you. Go now and leave your life of sin.” Go and sin no more.

Jesus had his choices in dealing with this woman. According to the law of Moses, He could have said, Execute her. He could have said, Let’s try to figure out why she has become a prostitute. Maybe she never had a chance in the early years of her life. Perhaps her mother was a prostitute and her father had run away refusing to care for his family. Or He could have said, Aren’t you all sinners? Why condemn her? Don’t you have enough in your own life? He did not excuse her by saying, I forgive you. That’s what love is all about.

This was not Jesus’ solution to the woman’s problem. No. Instead He said, “Your accusers did not condemn you. Neither do I condemn you. Go now and leave your life of sin.”

Jesus did not deny the Law. The sixth Commandment tells us that adultery is sin. You remember that Jesus said, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law . . . but to fulfill (it)” (Matthew 5:17). The woman stood guilty before Jesus. He affirmed the absolutes that many in our day are anxious to eliminate from our culture.

Neither did Jesus condone her sin and say, “In our day, since people do not think of adultery as a sin, it is not a sin.” In other words, cultural acceptance of behavior sets the standards for how we live. Not so in Jesus’ book. Sin is sin and must be dealt with.

How authoritative is the Bible in our day? This is a burning question around the world. The Christian ethic in western civilization stands or falls according to how we answer this question.

Bo Giertz was a gifted pastor and bishop in Sweden. He was voted the most influential church leader in Sweden during the 1990s and became known as a gifted proclaimer of Church doctrine as anchored in Scripture. In 1941, he wrote the best-selling novel, The Hammer of God.

In his book, Giertz presents a conversation between two pastors who were to appear on the same program. They had different points of view regarding the voice of authority in the Church. One pastor taught that a person’s conscience was the highest authority. He believed that what was valid truth in Jesus’ day might not be valid today. The other pastor responded that Christianity must cling to the Word of God to the end of the ages or else it will cease to be Christianity, since it would no longer have the Gospel to proclaim.

This controversy goes on in the Church today. A modern view says that God’s Word alone is not the final authority. Before we reach a conclusion on what is truth, we must interpret Scripture in the light of what culture says about the subject. For example, the acceptance or rejection of same-sex marriages cannot be made based on what is taught in the Bible alone, for we must also consider how culture views the subject.

In contrast, the conservative view, which many of us believe, that says the Bible is the inspired Word of God, and the only authority in matters of faith and life. What culture says cannot change God’s Word.

Now back to our original question – What did Jesus say to the woman who was caught in the act of adultery? He forgave her, but told her not to continue her same lifestyle. “Leave your life of sin,” were Jesus’ parting words to the woman.

In this post-modern age, where do we stand on many lifestyles that are acceptable in our culture? I refer to cohabitation, free divorce, the practice of homosexuality, the acceptance of non-Christian religions as coequal with our Christian faith. Fifty years ago in our Lutheran Church, such behavior and thought were denounced as wrong. Today, we have divided convictions on these subjects. Where will these diverse opinions lead the Church? What will be our authority in matters of faith and life? If we cannot have unity except by compromising the truth, let us pray for division. Truth cannot be compromised.

Our Lord has spoken; His Word has not changed. He did not condone sin nor seek to change the law. His arms reached out to the sinner in his day and in ours, as he offers us forgiveness and a word of admonishment to “leave your sinful lifestyle.”

That, my friend, is grace. Without this message, the Church ceases to be the Church with a forceful voice to a crumbling society. Without this voice Ð “Thus says the Lord” Ð we cannot long endure as the dynamic spiritual influence in our nation. Who then will lead the wandering sheep who have no shepherd?

The Resurrection of the Body

If you belong to a church where confessing your faith in the words of the Apostles’ Creed is a part of the worship service, you say, “I believe in the resurrection of the body.” What do these words mean to you?

If your church does not include the Apostles’ Creed in your worship service, but you take the Bible seriously, the resurrection of the body is a basic doctrine in your faith and shapes your understanding of death.

What are your thoughts regarding the resurrected body?

Let us turn to I Corinthians 15 and note some inspired thoughts that St. Paul brings to us. You should remember that Paul was the first New Testament writer to record what had been preached about the resurrection for years. The book of I Corinthians precedes the account in the earliest gospel by fifteen years. We should also say that in the Spirit, St. Paul once wrote, “Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part, then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known” (I Corinthians 13:12). We have no specific and definite answers on what our bodies will be like when we live in heaven. The noted theologian, William Barclay, writes concerning the resurrected body, “Paul is talking about things that no one really knows anything about.”

Well, then, you may ask, where did Paul get these thoughts? The answer is clear. He had listened to the early Christians tell about Jesus’ resurrection and how He appeared to many people. But more important than that, Christ appeared to Paul on the Damascus Road (read Acts 9). Paul also continued to receive many revelations directly from the Lord before his official ministry began. I believe that the Lord had many personal visits with Paul while he was in Arabia preparing to be God’s missionary to the Gentile world.

While Jesus did not give us a detailed description of what the resurrected body would be like, he clearly said to Martha after her brother Lazarus’ burial, “Your brother shall rise again” (John 11:23). We are going to have a new body although some details are yet to be made known.

One question that is often asked is, Will we recognize one another in heaven? This is such an emotional question! We have our own answers, and they become divine truths for us. Some believe that parents will be standing at heaven’s entrance meeting their children when they arrive. To question this belief can bring a sharp rebuff.

The Bible helps us answer this question. William Barclay writes, “Paul takes the analogy of a seed. The seed is put in the ground and dies. However, in due time it rises again, and it rises with a very different kind of body from that with which it is sown. Yet in spite of the difference, it is the same life, the same seed. Our earthly bodies will die and be buried. They will also rise, and the form in which they rise may be very different, but the fact remains that it is the same person who rises, however different the resurrected body may be. It is still we who exist.”

The disciples did not recognize Jesus at first. Mary Magdalene thought she was speaking to the gardener until Jesus spoke her name. Then she recognized him and said, “Rabboni.” So she ran to the disciples and said, “I have seen the Lord.”

Other disciples had similar experiences in recognizing Jesus.

Paul tells us the body is sown perishable and it is raised imperishable. Our bodies change. The beauty fades and the strength diminishes. The new body has permanence.

The apostle continues, “The body is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory.” We can bring dishonor on ourselves in this body. Our passions, emotions, and appetites often make our lives displeasing to God, but in heaven there will be no sin. We will live to bring honor to our Father’s name.

Paul writes, “It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power.” We talk about the power of humans. Perhaps we should talk about the weakness of humans. We are limited intellectually and physically. There are so many things that we cannot do. Look at our problems. We cannot find a way to live at peace with each other. Our greatest diplomats and best informed military officers cannot sit across the table from one another and come up with a solution to bring this war in Iraq to an end. We struggle with so many diseases and yet do not have the answer to malignancies and dementia. In heaven there will be no such limitations.

Our bodies are sown natural bodies and raised spiritual bodies. While on earth we are imperfect vessels for the Spirit to use, but in heaven the Spirit of God will use us in limitless ways.

All these insights reveal that life beyond the grave is superior to living here on earth. That is why St. Paul could write to the Philippians, “For me to live is Christ, but to die is gain” (1:21).

In closing, let me say that St. Paul was talking about people who die trusting Jesus as their Savior and Lord. For those who die not trusting Christ as their Savior, the Bible pictures another resurrection that is entirely different. It is an eternity away from God.

Need we say anymore? The world will laugh at such a thought. However, our Lord, who loves all, says regarding those who reject him, “Wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and many enter through it” (Matthew 7:13).

A glorious eternal home is offered to all people. It is a gift that we can receive by grace through faith in Jesus Christ our Lord. If you are not a Christian, will you receive the Savior and become a recipient of your heavenly home?

It’s A New Day

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the world’s greatest historic event!

The three women who were on their way to anoint Jesus’ body on that first Easter Sunday didn’t realize what they were about to experience. Their lives would never be the same. Jesus was alive and it was the beginning of a new day for them.

Now do you believe that the resurrection of Jesus Christ is the greatest event in your life? Or is this story simply the preacher’s repetitive Easter message? It is quite appropriate for one day in the year, but for the following 364 days, it does not get that high a rating unless grandma dies. Then we want to hear more about the resurrection from the dead and life everlasting because it is so comforting.

Let us talk about Christ’s resurrection and how this living Lord changes lives. Let us also talk about why Christians believe it is the greatest event in the history of humankind.

The Easter story is still well known to millions of people. For three years Jesus had walked among his people announcing that he had been sent by God and was the promised Messiah. He had told them that his mission was to restore people into God’s presence and change their lives. The more he preached, the angrier the people became. Finally, they were successful in getting Jesus into Pilate’s court where he was sentenced to be crucified.

On Friday, just before the Sabbath, Jesus was crucified for the sins of the world. He paid the price for our sins. A rich man by the name of Joseph of Arimathea was given Jesus’ body, and he and Nicodemus, a new disciple of Jesus, laid him to rest. They all thought the life of Jesus was over. How sad to die that young when he could have done so much good.

But then came Easter Sunday. Those who had gone to the tomb were greeted by an announcement: “He has risen. He is not here. Come and see where they laid him.”

It is one thing to know this story and quite another thing to know Jesus Christ. He lives and wants to live in our hearts. When he does, it is a new day! Just think how he has changed lives!

Peter was filled with guilt the day Jesus was being crucified. The night before, Peter had denied Jesus and said, “I never knew him.” Days went by and Peter was a miserable creature. How could he ever forgive himself for denying the One who loved Peter so much? Then came the day when Jesus met Peter by the Sea of Galilee, forgave him his sins, and commissioned Peter to be his spokesman with the special responsibility to tell it to the Jews.

Confessing his sins and trusting Christ who had died for him was what changed Peter’s heart. Imagine living guilt ridden for the remainder of his life.

When Christ lives in us, we too can be free from guilt. That is the beginning of a new life. The Bible says that if Christ has not been raised, we are still in our sins. To know what Christ taught about forgiveness is one thing, to experience this forgiveness is something else.

While guilt can be taken away, Jesus also said, “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:34).

This is the daily counsel that Jesus gives to his friends: “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruits Ð fruits that will last” (John 15:15).

Don’t you think that a life that knows what to do with guilt and worry would be different from the one with which most of us are acquainted?

The great concern is death. Listen to these words: “Death has been swallowed up in victory. Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God who gives us the victory through Jesus Christ our Lord” (I Corinthians 15:55).

Do you remember the story of Martha, whose brother Lazarus died? When Jesus came to comfort her, he said, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

With her intellect she believed what Jesus had said to her, but she did not experience the meaning of this promise until the word reached Bethany where Martha lived that Jesus had risen from the grave. Then she knew that death had been defeated.

When people have experienced the truth of victory over death, it is a new day. I love to hear people talk about their assurance of going to heaven. A wealthy man who was facing death once told me that he was thankful he had been raised in a Christian home. He also thanked God for his parents who had taught him a good work ethic and that he had been born with an entrepreneurial spirit. God had blessed him with many material blessings, for which he was grateful. Then he said words like these: “My temporal affairs have been settled in my attorney’s office, but my spiritual affairs have been settled in the presence of the living Lord, who I will see face to face one day.”

When Christ lives in us, it is a new day.

At the beginning of this sermon, I made a strong statement. “The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the world’s greatest historic event.” This is the Christian’s conviction. Do we as Christians experience the full impact of this statement? Do we rely on our living Savior as he had invited us to do? Do we let him have complete control of our lives?

The answer is no.

We know he lives. His word makes this clear. We experience the power of this word when Jesus lives in us. But our faith is imperfect. We pray with the man who said, “I believe, Lord. Help my unbelief.” The truth that Jesus lives becomes more meaningful each day.

So the appeal for those who are not believers is to give the message of the cross and the empty tomb your prayerful consideration. If you would take the step to let Him into your life, it would be a new day for you.

Will You Also Go Away?

“You don’t want to leave me too, do you?”

Jesus often asked his followers some very confrontational questions. This question is one of them.

Why would Jesus ask such a question? Our text tells us that many of his disciples were no longer following him. This caused his heart to be saddened because he loved each one of them.

Jesus loved people – all kinds of people. After He spent the day teaching 5,000 people, they were hungry. The disciples suggested that he bid them farewell and let them go home hungry. But the Bible says that Jesus had compassion on them. He was not about to send them home with empty stomachs.

Jesus loved people who were physically sick, and he healed them. He ministered to those who were spiritually sick – even prostitutes like the woman Jesus met at the well and tax collectors like Zaccheus, who was from Jericho. He did not like their lifestyles, and he never condoned their sins, but Jesus loved the people and wanted to turn their lives around.

Remember the words Jesus spoke from the mountain as he looked out over the city of Jerusalem? “Oh Jerusalem, how I would loved to have gathered you under my arms as a hen gathers her chicks, but you would not.” On the cross he looked down upon the crowd of people who were showing their hatred for him and prayed, “Father, forgive them. They don’t know what they are doing.”

With that much love for people, Jesus’ heart was grieved when they turned away from him.

At the Palm Sunday parade the people sang,

“Hosanna to the Son of David,

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!

Hosanna in the highest!”

Yet, in a few short days, they changed their lyrics and joined the hostile crowds who shouted,

“Crucify Him, crucify Him!”

Why did these disciples leave?

Remember, by this time Jesus was no stranger in the crowd. He had declared himself to be the long-awaited Messiah who came to set his people free. But this was not the kind of Messiah the Jews expected. They wanted a leader who would free them from the Romans.

Jesus announced that he would break down the wall of sin that separated them from their Heavenly Father so that they might walk in a personal relationship with him. Such a teaching made no sense to them.

On another occasion, Jesus proclaimed that he was the Bread of Life. They were to feed on his Word and they would be spiritually strong.

The Bible says, “Hearing these teachings, many of his disciples said, ‘This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?'” Such preaching was offensive to them. So they departed.

Many people in our day would say, Amen, these are hard sayings! We realize that our lives are not perfect, but neither are we helpless sinners. We cannot accept that Jesus is the Son of God and Savior of the world. We do not believe that he is the only way to heaven. These are hard sayings that do not make sense in our post-modern age.

Others who go away are emotionalists. Their Christian faith quickly fades away when tragedy comes into their lives, and they wonder where the God is who is supposed to watch over them.

Then there are those who find other gods who they believe bring them greater satisfaction in life than Christ is able to do. They follow the thinking of Judas who thought that thirty pieces of silver would bring him more peace than a Savior who promised to walk by his side.

Jesus turned to the twelve disciples and asked a personal question: “Will you also go away?”

Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Peter was thinking not only about the time he had left on this earth, but also about what will happen when this life is over. Only Christ could promise a place for a person in His Father’s house, and he would be going to prepare that place.

“We know who you are,” Peter replied. “You are the Holy One of God.”

Allow me to suggest that Jesus has another question related to this thought of leaving him that is pertinent to the Church today. It is confrontational, and we might want to avoid answering it. But I ask it because it must be a burden on the heart of our Lord and therefore on the hearts of those of us who are His disciples living in this pagan culture. Here is the question:

If your congregation or denomination is decreasing in its attendance, what is the reason?

Is this the first item on your congregation’s or denomination’s agenda – Where did these people go? Why did these members leave? What is your plan to have each of these people visited by the leadership of your congregation?

Are the basic truths of the Christian faith too hard a teaching for them? Do they have trouble believing that Jesus’ death on the cross atoned for their sins? Are they moralists believing that, if there is such a thing as eternal life, you have to earn your place in this heaven through good works?

These people should not be forgotten. God’s Word does not return void. Wait for the opportunity to be with them. That could well be the time they receive Christ. Remember, they are not just a number, but a soul whom God loves.

While others might not be disturbed by the teachings of the faith, they have become offended at the application of the Word. For example, a mother who has a homosexual son is hurt when the congregation upholds the biblical teaching that the practice of homosexuality is sin. She and her family have left the congregation. In as far as it is possible, stay in contact with her. Think of how you would be hurt if it were your child who was homosexual. But do not deny what God’s Word says on this subject. To do so would not help her.

What if a family left the church where you worship, and they kindly but openly said, “We were not hearing the Word of God preached in our former congregation, so our friends invited us to their church where we hear the Word expounded each Sunday.”

Thank God they have not left the Church, they are only worshiping in another congregation. However, do not become defensive at their accusation of not hearing the Word preached in your congregation. Learn from what they are telling you. If a part of what they are saying is true, maybe it is time for some changes to be made.

Read these words once more: “From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.”

And a broken-hearted Savior asked his disciples, “You do not want to leave too, do you?”

Remember that many who have left Christ can return. His grace is sufficient and this is the day of grace.