Good Morning Church! There Is No Separation Of Church And State!

Photo by Shelby Knowles

At least not in the way we have been led to believe.

Earlier this week, a story circulated on social media, regarding the interaction between Hillsong Pastor Carl Lentz, and Joy Behar of ‘The View’.

The story dealt with the pastor’s failure, to clearly state abortion is a sin.

The conversation featured the ladies of The View, asking the pastor how he handled the big social issues of our time. Such as, gay marriage, and abortion.

At one point Joy turned to the pastor and said, “So, it’s not a sin in your church to have an abortion?”

His response?

“That’s a kind of conversation we would have, finding out your story. Where you’re from. I mean God’s the judge, people have to live with their own convictions. If I have to tell you… that’s such a broad question to me. I’m going higher. I’m going to sit with someone and say, where do you believe…”

At this point Joy interrupted him and said, “So it’s not an open and shut case with you?”

To that Pastor Lentz said, “Some people would say it is. To me, I’m trying to teach people who JESUS is first. Find out their story. Before I start picking, and choosing what I think is sin in your life, I’d like to know your name.”

The feedback to his comments, on the lives of our most helpless citizen’s, our unborn children, has not gone over well with those who are unapologetically pro-life.

My reaction then and now, is one of disappointment. I am a huge supporter of the Hillsong ministry. I like pastor Lentz, but I am heartbroken when people of faith, miss such big opportunities, to declare the truth about the lives of our unborn children.

With that said, I want to take a look at the conversation between Joy Behar and Pastor Lentz, once she concluded he was flexible — or as CHRIST might say ‘lukewarm’ — on some key social issues, she began asking him about the separation of church and state.

Here is an transcript excerpt from the interview;

Joy: We’ve talked to other religious leaders on this show about whether politics and religion mix together. We do have the separation of church and state. So you’re really not suppose to endorse any candidates for example from the pulpit. Do you do that or how do you feel about that?

Pastor Lentz: I don’t want to get in trouble, we keep it really straight laced. No… I think at our church, when people say, keep politics out of the pulpit, I say what do you mean by that? Because politics affect people. So, if that’s happening, you better believe I’m going to talk about politcs. To not do that in a church setting to me is…

Joy: Where’s the line, where’s the line where you infringe upon the separation of church and state?

Pastor Lentz: My dad’s a lawyer, so dad if you want to text right now, I’m getting into hot water. I don’t know, I feel like JESUS came to destroy the political norm of the day. So, since I’m a Christian, I believe we’re still suppose to speak directly to politics, and things that affect people, they should be talked about in our church. I’m just going to preach what I feel is right.

Joy: I’m not going to argue with you, but if you endorse, let’s say President Trump from the pulpit, you are infriging upon that particular law of the separation of chruch and state. Am I right?

No, Joy. You’re not.

There is no law regarding the separation of church and state.

The phrase ‘Separation of Church and State’, prominently appeared, in a letter Thomas Jefferson wrote during his presidency.

A group of Baptist ministers from Connecticut, had written to the president. They were concerned they would one day be forbidden from preaching, because they were a religious minority in the area.

The president responded to their concerns with a letter of his own.

He assurred them, that The First Admendment to the Constitution, clearly erected a separation of church and state, and would as it states, prohibit Congress from making ANY LAW setting up a state religion, and would not prohibit the free practice of religion in any way.

Unfortunately, Judges are not all created equally. Nor, do they have the same opinions.

In 1947, the state used the 1st Amendment to argue a case. It was regarding the reimbursement of parents, for both public and private school students. These parents, were using public transportation to get their kids to school when school buses were not available. The use of public funds, to reimburse parents that were sending their kids to parochial or other religious based schools, was deemed unconstitutional.

And, just like the Judges ruling on Roe vs Wade, this opinion has had lasting implications.

The Separation of Church and State is not a law. It is an enormous misinterpretation of the First Admendment.

An admendment that was, intended to protect all free expression of religion,not prevent it.

Churches, unfortunately, have fallen victim to the threat of losing their status as non-profit organizations, if they take a political stand.

It is constitutional extortion!

But, there has never been a case where a church has lost it’s charitable status.

As a result, more and more churches are finding the boldness to take a stand, on issues that are not just matters for the state, but matters that threaten our nation’s eternal soul.

When we allow debates, like the one this past week on The View to go unanswered, we contribute to the continued mission of misinformation, being perpetuated by those who would seek to not only ban GOD from our public spaces, but would cast HIM and HIS SON to the winds of change, till only those deemed religious radicals will know HIS name.

God Bless!

LaVern Vivio

Original Post Date; November 12, 2012

Repost Date; April 29,2018

Published in: Uncategorized on August 19, 2018 at 3:19 pm  Leave a Comment  

Good Morning Church! Do You Know Why Israel Matters?

This week President Trump, made what Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described as, a historic and courageous proclamation.

On Wednesday the President acknowledged Jerusalem as the capital city of Israel, and pledged to move the United States Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

At the heart of this proclamation, is the absurd reality, that most of the world fails to recognize Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel, when in fact it has served as the capital city since 1948.

When the State of Israel was established, Jerusalem was named the capital of a sovereign Jewish state.

King David first declared Jerusalem the capital city of Israel over 3000 years ago.

With the rebirth of the nation, Israel could consider no other city as it’s capital. However, the city remained divided until 1967.

War broke out, at the very moment Israel regained their sovereignty in 1948.

At the end of that war a year later, Israel controlled west Jerusalem, and Jordan controlled the east side.

It wasn’t until the six day war of 1967, that the city was reunited under Israeli control.

But, due to the political implications of the city’s status, presidents and political leaders across the globe, have refused to recognize the city for the truth of what it is.

The proclamation by President Trump was indeed historic.

Christians across the globe are celebrating this moment, but do we really understand why?

First, It’s a fulfillment of prophecy.

Ezekiel 36:24–38 “For I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. Then you will live in the land I gave your ancestors; you will be my people, and I will be your God. I will save you from all your uncleanness. I will call for the grain and make it plentiful and will not bring famine upon you. I will increase the fruit of the trees and the crops of the field, so that you will no longer suffer disgrace among the nations because of famine. Then you will remember your evil ways and wicked deeds, and you will loathe yourselves for your sins and detestable practices. I want you to know that I am not doing this for your sake, declares the Sovereign Lord. Be ashamed and disgraced for your conduct, people of Israel! “‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: On the day I cleanse you from all your sins, I will resettle your towns, and the ruins will be rebuilt. The desolate land will be cultivated instead of lying desolate in the sight of all who pass through it. They will say, “This land that was laid waste has become like the garden of Eden; the cities that were lying in ruins, desolate and destroyed, are now fortified and inhabited. ” Then the nations around you that remain will know that I the Lord have rebuilt what was destroyed and have replanted what was desolate. I the Lord have spoken, and I will do it.’

God clearly has plans for HIS chosen people.

Second; The fact that Israel and the Jewish people still exist, is a miracle, and evidence of GOD.

History records that in 1897 England’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Disraeli, at the First Zionist Congress was asked if he knew of any infallible proof of God’s existence. He responded “The Jew, sir, the Jew.”

We have clear, and undeniable evidence, of repeated attempts to wipe the Jewish people from the face of the earth, yet they endure, survive, and thrive.

Third; From a purely political perspective, Israel is a stabilizing force in a region that is responsible for many of the greatest sources of terror that threaten the world, and Israel is clearly one of our strongest allies.

After dubbing America, ‘The Great Satan’, in 1979 during the Iran Hostage crisis, Iranian leader Ruhollah Khomeini later tagged the nation of Israel as ‘The Little Satan’, in part because of their unwavering support of The United States.

Fourth; We are told those who are a blessing to Israel will be blessed.

First in the promise GOD made to Abraham when HE described the nation that would come after him.

Genesis 12:1–3 “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you. ”

Then again through the prophet Balaam, as he spoke about the children of Israel.

Numbers 24:9 “May those who bless you be blessed and those who curse you be cursed!”

And Fifth and finally; Jesus was a descendent of the tribe of Judah.

The one who stood in our place, brought us back into fellowship with GOD, and made our adoption into the family possible, was a part of the nation of Israel. Through HIS sacrifice when we stand for Israel we are in fact standing up for our own.

Israel matters to America, and America matters to Israel.

God Bless!

LaVern Vivio

Originally posted December 10, 2017

Repost May 13, 2018

Published in: Uncategorized on August 19, 2018 at 3:14 pm  Leave a Comment  

Good Morning Church — Are You Afraid of the Dark?

That was the question I asked my friend Tim Martin last week as we were retrieving some frozen food items we had stored at the church building.

We had pushed old grocery carts from the Church’s Benevolence Center down to the kitchen in our Fellowship Hall. (When we run out of cold storage for our food distribution program at The Benevolence Center we fill up the freezers at the church.)

The Fellowship Hall is in the basement of the church buildng so we rode the elevator to save ourselves a few steps.

On the ride down we were able to fit both grocery carts onto the elevator so we rode together.

But with the carts loaded we had to ride up one at a time.

I asked Tim to wait in the hallway by the door as I took the first cart up a level.

The hallway was dark so as the elevator door began to close I said “Are you afraid of the dark?” and just as the doors snapped shut I heard Tim respond “No but it’s afraid of me.”

I had the elevator ride to let that sink in.

Then when the doors opened he finished his thoughts (as he turned out the light in the room he had apparently glanced into as he waited for me.)

“That’s all it takes for the darkness to return.” He said with a flip of the switch as the hall and the room darkened again. “Just turn off the light.”

For the rest of the day it’s all I could think about.

I’m not afraid of the dark — but is it afraid of me?

Is it?

Or am I just a flicker of light — an interruption to the darkness but never a real threat?

This week I read a story based upon a Gallup survey — that said only 24% of Americans believe the Bible is the Word of God and is to be taken literally.

26% said they viewed the Bible as a “book of fables, legends, history and moral precepts recorded by man.”

And 47% said the Bible was inspired by God but shouldn’t be taken literally.

Yet 89% of us say we believe in GOD based on a Gallup poll taken just last year.

Is this what Christ was talking about in Revelations when he said you are neither hot or cold?

Could the lackluster commitment to GOD be the reason we seem to find ourselves in a bit of darkness around the world?

When my twins were just a year old we experienced an ice storm that knocked out the power in several counties. Because we live out in the country we were one of the last houses to have our power lines reconnected.

During that time period we witnessed many moments of darkness that we were unaccustomed to.

We always had flashlights and lanterns available so we could continue to move about after the sunset but nothing could really penetrate the darkness like the organized power and distribution we have grown accustomed to from the electric company.

I can still remember fumbling around in the evening hours and the relief I felt (especially as a young mother) when the sun would rise and wipe out the darkness.

So much is being written and said about the state of our country / our world.

And I have this image in my mind of all of us running through the house (like we did as kids when we were afraid) flipping on every light in every room to chase away the darkness.

And when I read the stories like I read this week I wonder how things might change if those who say they believe in GOD acted like it.

What will it take for the people of GOD to realize the power each of us has with the simple flip of a switch?

How would the world change if the darkness was really afraid of those who say they believe in GOD?

But too many of us find ourselves stumbling around in the darkness with a mediocre flashlight. — enough light to illuminate the path directly in front of us but nothing to light the way for others or to penetrate the darkness beyond our little circle of influence.

Our light is shinning but the darkness doesn’t fear us — it almost ignores us.

I’m not afraid of the dark — but is it afraid of me?

If you want the world to change — You have to want to change the world.

How many lights in how many rooms can you turn on this week? And please don’t just read this — think about it then do nothing — I am serious — how many lights in how many rooms can you turn on this week?

Find ways to show the world your Light!

Be intentional and be deliberate about being patient, loving, kind and peaceful and be bold, gentle and respectful about telling the world of the GOD we serve and the SALVATION we have through HIS SON!

And let’s turn some lights on in this place!

God Bless!

LaVern Vivio

July 29, 2018

Published in: Uncategorized on August 19, 2018 at 2:57 pm  Leave a Comment