An Open Letter to the Mayor and City Council on the Coeur d’Alene Mask Mandate

November 11, 2020 in Authority, Coeur d'Alene Issues, Politics, Thankfulness

November 11, 2020

Dear Mayor & City Council Members,

I want you to know that I have been praying for you all. I know that being elected to serve our city at such a time as this is not what you had envisioned when you stood for election. The spread of the coronavirus has challenged us all. So know that there are many who are praying for you.

Since your decision to implement a mask mandate for the city of Coeur d’Alene, our surrounding cities have refused to do so. It is my understanding that the Post Falls City Council decided to mandate masks for those on city property but not to mandate masks generally. Given this, I want to urge you to rewrite your mask mandate to follow that pattern. Why?

First, it would enable you to continue to educate the community about masks. I understand that a majority of you believe masks are effective in limiting the spread of the coronavirus. While I would question that conclusion (and have included a couple links below for your information), if you pass a mandate for city property then you would still be able to accomplish this objective and endeavor to persuade the community of their effectiveness. You would still be on record upholding the value of masks for our community.

Second, it would free you from the need to mobilize the police force to cite those not wearing masks. I read in the paper this week that four individuals have been cited and are now at risk of being prosecuted by the city. Is this really how you want to use our police force? Aside from the questionable use of their limited resources, do you really want our officers to hold a gun to the head of our citizens and force them to wear masks? For this is what mobilizing the police force means. When you pass a mandate, you are authorizing men with guns to impose your will on others.

Finally, it would increase the esteem for your lawful authority. As a pastor I want to encourage members of our community to show due honor and respect to those whom we have elected as public servants. But when you pass mandates of this sort that are questionable in their value, dubious in their constitutionality, and widely disregarded by the populace, I cannot do that which I would. This mandate is simply fostering contempt for your authority among our citizens.

Again, thank you for your service. I pray that you may reconsider your mandate and rewrite it to reflect that found in our surrounding cities.

Sincerely,

Pastor Stuart W. Bryan

Links on Policy and Masks:

https://gbdeclaration.org/

https://themodelhealthshow.com/maskfacts/

Click here for a pdf version of this letter.

Time for a Jehu

October 23, 2020 in Homosexuality, Israel, Judgment, King Jesus, Politics, Sexuality

No doubt you have heard more than enough political commentary in the past few weeks. Yet several times folks have asked me for whom I plan to vote in the upcoming presidential election. I made quite public in 2016 my refusal to vote for either of the major candidates. I did not consider either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton worthy my vote and I do not regret my decision; nor would I have regretted it had my decision been more consequential and Clinton been elected President. I was and am at peace with the decision I made in 2016. It was not the first time, and it may not be the last time, that I voted for a third party candidate. Yet this year I plan to vote quite happily for President Trump. Why the change?

It is not because I think that President Trump’s character has fundamentally changed – though I regularly pray that God matures him and recognize that the media reports about him (from which our opinions of his character are often formed) are far from reliable. Nevertheless, his tweets are at times embarrassing. His past history of womanizing and breaking his marriage covenants remains. And his boasting and bluster and apparent pride are disturbing. So why vote for the man? There are several reasons.

First and foremost, I have four years of experience on which to evaluate what President Trump will do the next four years. In 2016 I had no confidence that President Trump would pursue any of the conservative policies that he was publicly advocating. Yet here we are several years later, and Trump has followed through with his promises. Working with the Senate, he has appointed hundreds of originalist judges to federal courts including (hopefully) three to the Supreme Court. Working with Congress, he has lowered taxes, reduced regulations on businesses, and negotiated new trade deals that have returned manufacturing jobs to America. As head of the executive branch of government, he has promoted increasing freedom in education, protected religious freedom from the LGBTQ+ revolutionaries, achieved historic peace agreements in the Middle East, pulled the United States out of incessant wars overseas, stood up to China’s communist and godless regime, compelled other countries to contribute to NATO’s expenses, calmed the threat of North Korea, and stifled the flood of illegal immigrants. I could go on. His fulfillment of many of the promises he made has convinced me to support him in this election.

Second, President Trump has been the most pro-life President in history. He is the first President in history to speak at the annual March for Life. His speeches have consistently recognized that the unborn bear the image of God and so are worthy of protection. He has regularly criticized the Democrats for their barbaric commitment to late term abortion. Contrast this with the godless pursuit of the Democrats. Consider that Kamala Harris, Joe Biden’s Vice-Presidential running mate, willfully chose as the Attorney General of the State of California to ignore the immoral and criminal behavior of Planned Parenthood selling the body parts of little babies and instead chose to prosecute the heroic journalist who exposed their butchery. I can understand and sympathize with fellow Christians who vote third party. I do not agree with them in this election, but at least I can understand. But any professing Christian who votes for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris is at best utterly confused but more likely on the road to utter apostasy.

Third, President Trump respects the Judeo-Christian and Constitutional heritage upon which our republic was built. He has surrounded himself with advisors, including a Vice President, who openly and publicly claim the name of Christ and live in a way consistent with that claim. He has stated that our rights come from our Creator and that it is the role of government to preserve and protect those rights, not to grant them. He has endeavored to appoint judges who respect the rule of law and understand their limited role in our constitutional republic. Throughout the coronavirus crisis, he has basically followed the principle of federalism, permitting the states to govern themselves and refusing to use the power of the federal government to intrude into affairs which rightly belong to the states. The Democratic party has no such commitments. Joe Biden has signaled a willingness to pack the Supreme Court, has promised to increase taxes, has promoted yet more socialist health care (even going so far as to call it Biden-care already!), and has indicated his willingness to try and implement a national policy on lockdowns, masks, climate change, etc. He will expand the power of a federal government that is already bloated beyond the recognition of our Founding Fathers.

Fourth, President Trump has made all the right enemies. He has unmasked the radical leftist bias of the mainstream media. He has enraged the sexual revolutionaries. He has been willing to critique identity politics and has highlighted its Marxist roots. He regularly warns against the dangers of socialism and praises the blessings of the free market. Though I myself am frustrated with President Trump’s willingness to sign trillion-dollar spending packages, his critique of the socialist trajectory of the Democratic party is heartening. With a Biden presidency, we would get none of this. He will embrace the sexual revolutionaries, abet the socialist “Green New Deal”, enable Marxist ideology in the form of Black Lives Matter and other movements, and fundamentally reshape the nature of our federal system.

I could go on, but these are some of the major reasons I will be happily voting for President Trump. In my own mind, I have regularly likened President Trump to Jehu in the Old Testament. Jehu wasn’t a particularly righteous man. Yet God anointed him to clean house and to purify many of Ahab’s abuses. It is my hope and prayer that God will be more merciful to us through Trump than he was to Israel through Jehu. But at this time in history only a Jehu can do what needs to be done.

Why Marry in Tumultuous Times?

September 5, 2020 in Bible - OT - Isaiah, Eschatology, Glorification, Judgment, King Jesus, Marriage, Politics, Postmillennialism, Sovereignty of God

Isaiah 62:4–5 (NKJV)

4You shall no longer be termed Forsaken, Nor shall your land any more be termed Desolate; But you shall be called Hephzibah [My Delight is in her], and your land Beulah [Married]; For the Lord delights in you, And your land shall be married. 5For as a young man marries a virgin, So shall your sons marry you; And as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, So shall your God rejoice over you.

This is a splendid evening for a glorious occasion. For years now I have known both of you and have appreciated your strong convictions, your willingness to work hard, and your love for Christ and His people. It brings me great joy to unite you in the covenant of marriage today confident that, by the grace of God, your home will be a beacon of Christ’s presence in the world.

You are getting married at a tumultuous time in our republic’s history. There is increased polarization and racial tension in our country. Protests and riots have gripped many of our major cities. Many of our citizens are looking skeptically at those in law enforcement and the military. And so some may wonder if it is worth getting married at such a time. Wouldn’t it be better to wait until things calm down? Or perhaps not to get married at all? After all, with marriage often come children and who wants to bring children into such a fractured, unstable world?

But Isaiah teaches us never to underestimate the power of a good marriage to display the light of Christ in a broken world. Israel was in crisis in Isaiah’s day. The Assyrians were ransacking the country. Jerusalem was besieged. It appeared that perhaps God had abandoned Israel. In the midst of this turmoil, Isaiah turned to a man and woman getting married and held out their love, their union, as a message of hope for all Israel. Even as that man longed for that woman and gave himself to her, so, Isaiah tells us, the Lord longs for His people and will give Himself for her. Isaiah insisted that the future was hopeful not bleak; light not darkness; for God is Lord of the future and God loves His people and loves His creation.

A good marriage points to the central message of the Gospel – a message of hope, of peace, of harmony, of love, of commitment, a message that God so loved the world that He sent His only begotten Son to rescue the world, to marry His bride. Even as Justus delights in you, Stacey, rejoicing over you and longing to marry you, so God rejoices over His people and over His entire creation, and He shall deliver us from all turmoil, causing the glory of His Son to cover the earth as the waters cover the sea. America – like other republics and nations – shall be a glorious place, full of the knowledge of the Lord, singing the glories of the Lord, prospering under the hand of the Lord. Want proof? Just look in Justus’ eyes.

So let me urge you both to remember that you do not marry just for yourselves this day. Obviously, we know that you marry for yourselves – your smiles and joy and delight tell us; the longing that each of you has had to find a spouse and the pleas that you have each raised to the Lord in that regard tell us that you marry for yourselves. We know that. But you do not marry just for yourselves; you also marry for all those assembled here: you remind us of the Lord’s love for His people and His determination to save and bless His own. You give us hope. You marry for all those you shall meet in the course of your married life: to draw them into the circle of love in your home and so to point them to the source of that love, God Himself, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the first and foundational community of love. You marry for the life of the world: to display God’s glory from generation to generation on those who love Him and keep His commandments and to remind everyone that the future is hopeful. Today you say to us all:

4You shall no longer be termed Forsaken, Nor shall your land any more be termed Desolate; But you shall be called Hephzibah [My Delight is in her], and your land Beulah [Married]; For the Lord delights in you, And your land shall be married. 5For as a young man marries a virgin, So shall your sons marry you; And as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, So shall your God rejoice over you.

But this hope isn’t automatic. Justus, if there were not in Stacey’s eyes also the light of love, a longing to know you and be known by you, then today would not be a joyful day, would it? So Stacey’s longing for you summons us to turn from other loves and to give our hearts wholly and completely to God Himself, our Creator and Redeemer.

So Justus and Stacey, may your home, both now and in years to come, be a beacon of light to point friends and foes to the One who is the Light of the world, our Lord Jesus Christ. For He alone is the foundation of life, of peace, of joy, and of hope. Amen.

 

Sexual Freedom vs Slavery

August 23, 2020 in Bible - NT - Galatians, Confession, Depravity, Homosexuality, Judgment, Meditations, Politics, Sanctification, Sexuality

Galatians 5:19–21 (NKJV)

19 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

The psalmist teaches us to sing in Psalm 119:45, “And I will walk at liberty, For I seek your precepts.” To walk in the law of the Lord, to obey the Lord, is to walk at liberty, it is to know true freedom. This is why James calls the law, “the perfect law of liberty” (1:25) – because everyone “who commits sin,” as our Lord Jesus reminds us, “is the slave of sin” (Jn 8:34). Sin corrupts and destroys us as human beings. God designed us to live in righteousness; to sin is to rebel against that design; it is to live in a way that we were not meant to live. The man who lives righteously is the most free. Consequently, the Man Jesus was the freest of men.

In our text today, Paul outlines some of the works of the flesh, sins that corrupt and destroy and enslave us as human beings. At the top of this list are sexual sins: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness… So let us relate this to our current cultural moment. Since the 1960s America has listened to prophets who have promised “sexual liberty.” But if the law is liberty, then what is true sexual freedom? Sexual freedom is the gift of God in which a man and woman who are covenanted together in marriage enjoy sexual intimacy. They are free: free to be naked and unashamed; free to learn the unity of body and soul that reflects the glory of their Creator; free to enjoy sex without the debilitating effects of guilt, regret, and sexually transmitted diseases. This is sexual liberty.

So what is sexual slavery? Sexual slavery is adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness. Sexual slavery is to be so driven by one’s sexual passions that one sleeps with a married man or woman, pursues sexual satisfaction outside the marriage bed, indulges varied sexual urges such as are represented by the LGBTQ agenda or the porn industry, or engages in coarse jesting and foul speech. Sexual slavery, in other words, is all the things our prophets have described as sexual freedom.

So why would they sell such slavery to us? Because tyrants love moral corruption and hate virtuous men. Men who are morally corrupt are men who are manipulable. So Balak, the king of Moab, hired Balaam to curse the people of Israel. But Balaam couldn’t curse them for God had blessed them. So what counsel did Balaam give Balak? Entice them with sexual corruption. So the men of Israel were enticed by the daughters of Moab. What Balak could not do with words he did with sexual slavery. Hence, it is no surprise that those who want to take away our political and economic liberties want to enslave us to sexual bondage. Why? Because morally corrupt men are manipulable.

So what of you? Are you sexually free or are you sexually enslaved? If you are enslaved to porn, then you are an advocate for everything the socialists and communists are trying to achieve in our culture no matter what you may say with your lips. So what is the solution? The solution is the forgiving and transforming grace of Jesus Christ. “If the Son sets you free, you shall be free indeed” (Jn 8:36).

And the Son willingly sets free all those who turn from their sin, turn in faith to Him, and seek His forgiveness. So as we come into the presence of the Lord today, let us confess our sin and the sexual slavery of our broader society, and seek the Lord’s mercy. And let us kneel as we confess our sin to the Lord. We will have a time of silent confession followed by the corporate confession found in your bulletin.

Ascension Sunday 2020

May 24, 2020 in Ascension Sunday, Authority, Bible - OT - Psalms, Church Calendar, King Jesus, Meditations, Politics

Psalm 110 (NKJV)

A Psalm of David. 1 The LORD said to my Lord,“Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool.” 2 The LORD shall send the rod of Your strength out of Zion. Rule in the midst of Your enemies!

Today is Ascension Sunday. On this day we celebrate the moment when the Lord Jesus Christ, having taught the disciples for 40 days following His resurrection, ascended into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. Ascension Day was actually last Thursday – 40 days since Easter. However, we haven’t yet reached the point of celebrating Ascension Day during the week and so we celebrate it on the Sunday following – today.

But why celebrate this event at all? What’s so important about Jesus’ Ascension? Oft times in history, especially prior to the advent of mass media, the coronation of kings was followed by a time of travel – the new king would journey throughout his kingdom and show himself to his people. It was an opportunity for the people to see their new king, to pledge allegiance to him, and to celebrate his coronation. But eventually the festivities would come to an end and the king would return to his palace, take his seat on his throne, and begin to rule.

It is this narrative that ties Easter and Ascension together. In the NT, the resurrection of Jesus from the dead is understood as coronation day. When Jesus rose from the dead on the third day, he rose as God’s triumphant King; the ruler over all the kings of the earth. For the next 40 days, He showed himself to his people. Our fathers saw the new King in his glory, pledged their allegiance to him, and reveled in his coronation. But eventually this time had to come to an end. So Jesus ascended into heaven, sat down at the right hand of God Almighty, and began to rule and reign over His Kingdom. As God the Father declares to Jesus in our Psalm today, “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool.” And it is sitting on the throne of His father David, sitting at the right hand of God Almighty, that our Messiah Jesus continues to rule and reign even now.

So what is the significance of Jesus’ resurrection? Brothers and sisters, Jesus is Lord! Jesus reigns! Let the earth be glad and the righteous rejoice! He is the King of kings and Lord of lords and He will cause justice to prevail in the earth.

So what ought we to do? Let us pray that God’s kingdom come, his will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Pray for the expansion of Jesus’ rule, the full manifestation of His kingship in human history. Pray for the proclamation of the Gospel and the conversion of friends, family, and neighbors. For, as Jesus’ kingship becomes increasingly acknowledged, light and life will reveal themselves in ever greater fullness.

And because Jesus is Lord, because Jesus is God’s anointed King, the only way that we can come to God is by pledging our loyalty to Jesus. “He who honors the Son, honors the Father; he who does not honor the Son, does not honor the Father who sent him” (Jn 5:23). This morning we have been summoned into the presence of God Almighty; we may only enter in the Name of His Son. So as you are able, let us kneel together as we enter his presence and pledge our allegiance to him.

Discernment and Covid-19

April 19, 2020 in Bible - NT - Romans, Coeur d'Alene Issues, Confession, Depravity, Judgment, Justice, Meditations, Politics, Responsibility, Ten Commandments, Wisdom, Word of God

Romans 1:28–32 (NKJV)

28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, 30 backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; 32 who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.

This morning we return to Paul’s catalogue of the bitter fruits that are produced by those of debased mind, those whom God in His justice has handed over to their sin for their rebellion. Today, we consider Paul’s assertion that people of debased mind “are undiscerning.”

The ability to “discern” is the ability to distinguish what is good from what is evil; what is most important from what is least important; what is major from what is minor. Repeatedly Jesus rebukes the leaders of Israel for their inability to discern. They strained out gnats and swallowed camels; they washed their hands but inside were full of dead men’s bones; they tithed mint and dill and cumin but neglected the weightier matters of the law. They were undiscerning.

This inability to discern was not unique to the leaders of Israel. Paul exhorted those Jewish Christians who were entertaining abandoning Christ and returning to unbelieving Judaism:

12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. 13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. 14 But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

Paul’s words reveal that the ability to discern good from evil is a gift from God given to those who meditate regularly on His Word. After all, discernment requires a standard of assessment; that standard is God’s moral law. By meditating on His law, we have our senses trained to discern good and evil and are capable of consuming solid food.

Our current Covid-19 crisis has revealed that many of our leaders are undiscerning, incapable of identifying what is most important and ignorant of God and His moral law. Most Governors that have issued stay at home orders have distinguished between “essential” and “non-essential” services – yet the application of this distinction has uncovered many perverse priorities. Elective surgeries canceled but abortions continued; family diners closed but marijuana shops opened; churches shuttered but liquor stores accessible. These inconsistencies highlight our inability to discern what is most important and necessary for a healthy society.

The tragic consequences of this inability to discern are increasingly manifesting themselves. Quarantining the sick and urging the vulnerable to isolate themselves is wise and prudent; destroying our people and their livelihoods through statewide quarantines is not. The true heroes and sacrificial victims of our current crisis are the owners and employees of so-called “non-essential” services or businesses whose livelihoods have been destroyed and savings depleted by the actions of our governing authorities. Until our governors voluntarily suspend their salaries and cut pay for all “non-essential” government services, then they are, like the Pharisees before them, loading burdens on the backs of their people that they themselves are unwilling to bear. Let us not, in the comfort of our homes, enjoying extended time with family, continuing to receive a paycheck, forget those who are being sacrificed for the safety of a small percentage of our society, including myself, who are especially vulnerable to the Covid virus. This entire debacle weighs heavy on my heart and I find myself resorting again and again to the cry in our confession of sins, “Lord, have mercy!”

So reminded of our need to meditate deeply on the Word of God in order that we be equipped to discern good from evil; wisdom from folly; freedom from servitude; let us acknowledge that we have failed to do so and that we are reaping the consequences of our lack of knowledge. So let us kneel before the Lord as we confess our sins to Him. We will have a time of silent confession followed by the corporate confession found in your order of service.