7/11/2010 ~ Today I visited The Woodlawn Baptist Church, Crestview, FL
I discovered this lovely church while driving to the North Okaloosa Republican Hob-Nob on Saturday and determined to return the next day, even though it was more than half an hour north of my home in Shalimar, Florida.
I was certainly not disappointed in the slightest: This was a very "upscale" conservative, congregation with more suits to the cubic inch than almost any church I had attended to date (except perhaps the Episcopalian Church beside the White House in D.C.). And that was in spite of the 90 degree summer temperatures, at a time when most churches in the area had cancelled PM services and declared "Casual" Sunday attire.
But these fine folks still boasted a 6 PM service and even the Ladies were formally decked out in their two piece suits!
The sermon, preached by the very amiable Senior Pastor, Patrick Primmer (below) emphasized the need for discernment of societal evil and separation from sinful elements of our modern, culture (such as homosexuality). Pastor was particularly critical of The Episcopalian and Presbyterian, USA groups for their recent acceptance of "Gay" preachers.
The "Financials" published in the bulletin indicated a slight reduction in Tithing this year, with collections still at about the half million dollar mark this year through June 2010.
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THE MESSAGE: " "One way to be miserable for the rest of your life." (A summary, adapted & edited from the sermon given 7/11/2010 by Senior Pastor, Patrick Primmer at Woodlawn Baptist Church, Crestview, FL; referencing Matt 7:1.)
The message was "One way to be miserable for the rest of your life." Pastor preached on Matthew Chapter 7, verse 1.
Pastor stated that this was one of the most misinterpreted statements in the Bible. (John 8:32 is another which states "the truth will set you free". In the instance of John, the reference was to freedom and not to the mastery of any formal knowledge data-base). This verse too, in Matthew 7 is a close second as being one of the five most misunderstood Bible verses.
Matthew 7:1 says, "Do not judge, or you too will be judged". Verse 3 references sensitivity to the speck in another person's eye and the oversight of the log in the viewers own eye. Frequently people misinterpret this to indicate that one should not judge other behaviors or moralities. This is an entirely false teaching and quite wrong. In the New Testament the word "judge" means to discern, or critically judge ... not to merely criticize. Therefore we should not be judgmental. But we should have the capacity to exert good judgment and to be discerning. That is the meaning of this particular verse. We absolutely do need discernment. One must absolutely be aware of false prophets. You must assess these people and know who they are. Verse 16 says "You will now them from their fruits". So Jesus Christ is not preventing us from making critical evaluations of sin in other people.
It has been falsely said that there is no absolute truth, but that is wrong because if it were so, then that statement would also be an absolute truth. It would then be true to say that there is absolutely no absolute truth. (But obviously that is ridiculous). On the other hand there ARE absolute truths, and the Christian must discern false teachings and identify false prophets. We must counter the notion that Biblical teachings and morality don't matter. There are mainstream religions today that espouse homosexual marriages and even homosexual pastor-ships. So, though we do need to cast aside self righteousness and recognize that we all are sinners, we must be prepared to identify what is clearly sinful.
Homosexuality is a sin. A lot of Baptists even, are caught even up in sin of homosexuality and need to be saved. A Pastor must live above sin and therefore cannot be homosexual. Remember that The Bible rules against homosexuality. On the other hand, Episcopalians already condone homosexuality. And the Presbyterian U.S.A. church now accepts homosexual Pastors.
We don't work that way. Because society is accepting of these things, doesn't mean we have to accept such evil. We need to call a sin a sin. So it is not only our society that is pagan, it’s the "Churches" too! And we need to be discerning when making all our choices.
In Thessalonians Paul warns us to be on your guard to shelter the Church of God. Therefore be on the alert. Paul says the church is being infiltrated by false teaching. See Galatians 1:6-9. If an angel from heaven came teaching that gospel (of homosexuality) it would not be accepted. See also Titus 1:10. Make sure the teachings that you hear line up and are acceptable with the word of God. Therefore we are to make critical discerning judgments of teachings and behaviors. 1 Corinthians 5 indicates that there was immoral behavior in the early church. Paul says he had judged that church, and instructed them to purge the sinful behavior. (Corinth was an arrogant church). So we too, like Paul, must love the sinner but not the sin. In Galatians 6:1, the writer says if anyone is caught in any trespass, restore the individual who as fallen, so you too will not be tempted.
So our passage today: "Do not judge lest you be judged", means don't be judgmental that is ‘censorious’ ... not that you shouldn’t judge sinful behavior and condemn it for what it is. Note that Matthew 7:1 uses censorious to mean fault finding. One must not be a fault finder. (Is what our reading today means). One way to be miserable for the rest of your life, is to find fault with other people continually! A person who is censorious is destructive to others and enjoys seeking out faults. This is a person who is continually trying to find the glass not only ‘half empty’ but almost ‘all empty.’ I do a lot of marriage counseling and I can assure you that no one is perfect. But in a marriage, just as with a tube of toothpaste, you don't squeeze it in the middle you must squeeze it from the end. Similarly, in a marriage you must choose what you look at. We can thank God for the good qualities in our marital partner but don't look for the faults. Don't use that shallow way to make yourself feel good. Jesus Christ says don't be a fault finder and be critical of others. (1 Corinthians13). That is, do not be censorious. The opposite is to love. Because love endures all things and does not keep a record of wrongs nor a debit card on how much you owe. You might as well swallow poison then live life as a fault finder. When you are that critical of people you have a choice. You can beat your bitterness to death, or you can choose the way of God, forgive those who harm you and release them from the debt. And remember God has forgiven you and your debts so you also must forgive your debtor.
The alternative is enslavement. That's why we love. It’s because love forgives faults. A lot of times at weddings, someone will say to me, "What a beautiful bride, have you have ever seen one nicer?" HE is looking with the eyes of love. This is the opposite to being censorious. Love is long suffering and kind. We are all works in progress. If you have a fault finding spirit, you will make yourself all-around miserable. Christ died to set you free from your faults. So ask for forgiveness, then dwell on good and holy things.
Jesus loves you, and died on the cross for you. He brought you forgiveness. So Accept that forgiveness and don't look for faults in others. Rather as God loves you, so must you love others. Spend time with God to read His word; pray, be kind and treat people kindly rather than looking for their faults and "being miserable for the rest of your life."
But do not fail to discern and correct true evil.
(NOTE: I want to emphasize that, pursuant to the relevant campaign prohibitions, none of the churches, Pastors nor parishioners in their official church capacities ~ referenced or pictured herein ~ officially support my political candidacy).
Pd. Pol. Adv., paid for and approved by Dr. Bill Escoffery,
Candidate for U.S. Senate from Florida.
Copyright © 2010 by William Escoffery III. All