Thursday, September 11, 2014

Stay at Home Christians: Leaders of the World's Smallest Cults?

For a while, I have been pondering the phenomenon of Stay-at-Home Christians. Before I propose something rather controversial, let me define the group that I am talking about.

They are not shut-ins with protracted health problems. They have every means necessary to attend a Bible-believing church, but simply choose not to. They are not unreached. I am not writing about those who live in places with few or no open expressions of Christian faith like North Korea or Iraq. I'm not talking about those who are imprisoned for their faith. Dietrich Bonhoeffer is off the hook in this article. I should also clarify that I am not talking about the paradigm of local churches meeting in homes. This article is about ecclesiology (our view of the nature of the church) not architecture (what type of buildings Christians should meet in).

I'm talking about that ever-growing demographic of people who have every opportunity to attend a local assembly of confessing Christians, but simply choose not to. They got bored and left. They got offended and never came back. Someone sat in their pew and they got ticked. They lost a close vote at the board meeting and split, never to darken the doors again. The pastor said the wrong thing on the same day the band played the wrong song. Whatever.

If you ask them, they will say devoutly, "I worship at home. I have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. I read my Bible. But I don't need the church." 

Sometimes you will recognize a S.A.H.C. by their particular vocabulary. Church for many is merely "organized religion." And they want no more of it. (I am always tempted to ask in a snarky tone whether they would prefer the opposite, "disorganized irreligion," but I usually don't go there).

But to pose the question more directly: are these professing Christian believers actually closer in practice to cults than orthodox Christianity? 

One of the definitive works on cults, is Walter Martin's The Kingdom of the Cults. To my knowledge, he does not mention this classification of people. So they're orthodox, right? Not so fast.

To answer my own question more precisely, we will have to look at the typical markers of a cult and see whether or not Stay-at-Home Christians would qualify. Let's consider several.

A) Authoritarian and Unchallengeable Leadership. For instance, in the Jehovah's Witnesses cult, the headquarters of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society is unchallengable. No mere member has the right to question their teaching. Or correct their interpretation. The same with the Branch Davidians. All directives go downward, from the top.

Although Stay-at-Home Christians do not have any formal leadership structure at all, with each man functioning as his own senior pastor and guru, that's exactly the problem. It is worrisome to me when one's own opinion is regarded as the highest and best. Who else would he listen to? What other voice can he heed? He has no one to whom he submits, excepting his own conscience. He carries out his religious practices at his own dictate. In a sense, he acts as his own personal pope and bishop. RATING: SEMI-CULTIC.

B) Lack of Accountability. In most cults, there is no process by which a "person in the pews" can call a leader into account. There are no presbyteries for accountability. There are no General Assemblies, or Regional Conferences to whom one may appeal for help or to reign in an unrepentant leader. In the case of moral failure, (sexual, financial or otherwise) no one can call the leadership into account. No one can hold their feet to the fire. For this reason, cult leaders often are able to get away with much sinful license that orthodox church leadership cannot. In fact for the cult, accountability is a bad idea. Accountability would only get in the way of a leader's pursuit of his own passions and power. He doesn't want any speed bumps.

So too, I think, with the S.A.H.C.  If a man or woman falls into sin - for instance marital infidelity - there is no "church disciplinary" process that automatically kicks into affect. As a Presbyterian minister myself, if I committed adultery, I would have to face a Presbytery commission to reprimand me. But who is in a position to reprimand the S.A.H.C.? Sure, a person could check themselves into rehab or turn oneself into the police in extreme cases. But would he have to? Of course not. There are no council of elders, or deacon board, or ranking bishop to call one to accountability. There is no congregation to vote out the leader because he is both the congregation and the leader. RATING: CULTIC.

C. Unorthodox Theology. Cults are known for their unorthodox theology that veers far from the historic Christian faith. Cults do not profess such historic documents as the Apostles Creed or Nicene Creed or the Chalcedonian Definition. Neither do they profess the confessions of Reformation-era Christianity such as the Westminster or the Heidelberg. Their views of Jesus (Christology) are all over the map. Doctrines such as the Trinity and the eternality of Hell are usually the first to go. After that is the infallibility of Scripture. While some go far afield in sexual ethics, (the Mormons and polygamy for instance), others still attempt to live holy, if legalistic lives.

As for Stay-at-Home Christians, their theology and doctrinal convictions are impossible to categorize since the wide scope of their beliefs are unique to each individual person. Each man defines truth for himself. One man may believe this, another that. In fairness, a Stay-at-Home Christian may know his Bible better than most. But maybe not. Who knows? There is no one there to correct him. No one there to teach him or steer him away from error. One S.A.H.C may quite like the Westminster Catechisms, while another cannot even define "justification." Another likes Oprah's views. Still another the preaching of Joel Osteen. Their theology is simply too messy to attempt to analyze. The point is, there is no way to tell. RATING: QUESTIONABLE.

D. Ecclesiology and Sacramentology. Cults often have very unique definitions of the church itself and the sacraments (or ordinances) of the Lord's Supper and Baptism. Many simply will not practice them at all and create their own pseudo-sacraments. These expressions of corporate faith are as variant as they are numerous.

As for S.A.H.C.'s their expressions of the church cannot possibly be orthodox, in my view. The very word "church" in the NT Scriptures (Greek: ekklesia) is plural and means "called out ones." A lone individual can be a member of a church, but not the church. One can be a member of the body (to use Paul's analogy in Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12), but he cannot be the whole body.

Since it is impossible to baptize oneself or serve oneself the Lord's Supper (all of Paul's dictates to the Corinthians about the Lord's Supper presuppose a corporate gathering of believers) we have to assume that both the ecclesiology and understanding of the Biblical ordinances of the S.A.H.C. movement is deeply flawed. RATING: CULTIC.

E. Other Beliefs and Practices. On the other hand, there are probably dozens of practices of S.A.H.C.'s that do not evidence cult-like behaviors at all. I don't sense a strong desire on the part of this movement to manipulate or control people, for instance. Neither do I detect a strong evangelistic outreach or campaign to win people to their views, as is often evidenced in many cults. I don't see much financial motivation to work Ponzi Schemes over on people, and undo their adherents financially as many cults have been wont to do. The only possible financial motivation I can detect in this movement is probably a reticence to tithe of their income to any local church. RATING: NON-CULTIC.


In conclusion, then, while probably not cults by any traditional definition, we do find some disturbing patterns among Christians who profess Jesus Christ as Savior, but who eschew the Church that He bought with His own blood (Acts 20:28). Many of the foundational beliefs and patterns appear cultist in some respects, and many others are borderline, albeit without any motivations or aspirations towards gaining power among a great many followers.

I believe we should show great concern and love for those who reject the corporate expression of the Body of Christ (Romans 12:3-8; 1 Corinthians 12:12-14). I think their position is precipitous in many ways without necessarily being outright heretical.

In some cases, we ought to regard S.A.H.C.'s as sincere believers who have back-slidden considerably, and are in great need of the love and care of a local church. In other cases we ought to treat them as those who have yet to be converted (1 John 2:19). Certainly great grace should be shown on our part, and no little charity as well.

Matthew Everhard is the Senior Pastor of Faith Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Brooksville, Florida. 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Let's Talk About Discouragement

by Dr. Wilfred A. Bellamy

Over the years, in the service of my Lord, I have often had a reason to be discouraged. My hopes and aspirations, my "best laid schemes", may not have worked as I had wished. My long range plans, so carefully crafted and expressed, have not always transpired, and I have been given cause to wonder "what is wrong with me?" ... I am not doing very well. Then I ask "am I doing my best?" ... and often I am, as far as I understand it,  but even so the results don't flow and I wonder why some appear to enjoy such success and I feel like I am not making much progress.

It has been in comparatively recent time that I have come to the conclusion that God is not in the business of meeting my goals. I have read what others have written about methods and techniques, ideas and consequences, and sometimes I have sought to fashion myself according to them, but never completely. I have heard of their abounding fruitfulness and unparalleled success and concluded that they must have had some special revelation that I have not. 

It is then, when I begin to ponder, that I hear the gracious reminder that "my thoughts are not your thoughts and my ways are not your ways." I am arrested! ... pulled up short and rebuked. I have subliminally believed that if I am careful and sincere God will honor my goals. I now know that is not the case -- I must honor His.

So as I search on,  the Word of God insists that the priorities that He dictates must become my priorities. If He says that my personal relationship with Him is paramount, Jesus is all in all to me, that the Holy Spirit indwells me and will sustain me, then I must nurture and foster the relationship and tend it carefully never taking it for granted.. If prayer is the first and most vital component of the Christian life, then I must not only believe it so but make it so. If building up the Body of Christ, is important, then I must focus first on that responsibility before I consider any further endeavor. If reaching out to the unsaved that they may be gathered in is high on the agenda, then I must rest in the assurance that this is His work and that He will bring it to pass through His people and not necessarily through me.

A further word here and I'm done. We have been trained to think that prayer, meditation, even teaching, are all passive -- somewhat incidental and, let's admit it, ordinary. So the idea of a stirring stimulating exciting adventurous ('new and improved') activity is to be preferred. So we aim for it, prepare for it and go to it with a new enthusiasm. We are sometimes promised a finite result -- "if you do this the right way, this will happen" ... and when we don't see that fulfilled we blame ourselves. There was nothing wrong with the program, it must be us! We are discouraged. No wonder. But do we ever ask if our goals were His goals or if we simply asked Him to endorse ours because we sincerely believed them to be worthy?

"Lord, in the simplicity of my life, I humbly ask that I be enabled to release my personal ambitions, to submit them all to you, and ask in exchange that you will "take my will and make it Thine," that Jesus may be seen to be Lord of my life and that I desire nothing more than that He be lifted up, above all.

Wilfred  A. Bellamy, Ph.D.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Going Old School: My Venture into the Greatest Literary Work Ever Written in English, The King James Bible of 1611

I'm embarrassed to admit it, but it's true.

At 37 years of age, having been a Christian for nearly 25 years, and having served as a pastor in two Presbyterian churches,  I still have not read completely through the King James Bible.

Cover to cover.

I've received two degrees in theology and am working on my third and final one. But still that fact hangs over my head. Yes, I've read dozens of Psalms and portions of the Gospels in the KJV. But Genesis to Revelation, no. (Hangs his head in shame). As to the Authorized Version, I am still a newbie.

When I was converted to Christ at age 12, well meaning Christians told me to stay away from the KJV. That it was "old fashioned." That it was "too religious." That I wouldn't understand it. That I needed a personal relationship with Christ and that a modern English translation was best. I'm sure they meant well. (Shrugs shoulders).

For years, the NIV84 served as my everyday Bible. My first year as a Christian, I read the Bible straight through. And then I did it again. And again. The NIV84 was my heart language.

When I began to study the original languages of Greek and Hebrew in college and seminary (I got pretty good at the former and still stink royally in the latter), I eventually realized that I needed a more literal, word-for-word translation of the Bible. Thus, the ESV came into my life in the mid 2000's. I latched on and never let go.

Since that time, the ESV has been my translation of choice. Literal, beautiful, authoritative, and powerful, I even led my church through a transition from the NIV84 to the ESV when we purchased all new pew Bibles. The ESV has been the translation upon which I have preached some 500 sermons, messages, and Bible studies (give or take a couple hundred). The ESV has been the text I quoted in all of my books.

But this year, I am going "old school." I turn 38 next month and I am preparing for a new venture in the world's greatest literary work ever written in the English language (and yes, I've heard of Shakespeare and I'm not backing down on that claim).

*Note: I'll still be using the ESV in church. 

Briefly then, here are four reasons that I am starting this personal adventure.

1. The KJV is an excellent, word-for-word translation of the original tongues. Always has been, always will be. It is known for majestic style, accuracy, power, and beauty. Just a couple weeks of studying Greek and Hebrew, and even the seminary freshman can see how fitly the KJV renders the original languages into gorgeous English. The translators of the 1611 masterwork did great diligence and got it right. Pretty amazing for a committee! 

2. It's not as hard to read as everyone makes it out to be. Go ahead and try it out on a Psalm or two. Read a chapter of Matthew or Luke. Compare what a passage in Romans says to the ESV or the NASB and you will see that it's not too terribly difficult at all. The beauty of the text will make up for any strange vocabulary that you will encounter. ("Peradventure?" Had to look that one up!) The oft-cited "thee's and thou's" are actually very beautiful and lend themselves to prayer very readily and naturally. The more you read it, the more you get used to it.

3. History. The KJV was the Bible of Jonathan Edwards, Charles Spurgeon, Billy Graham and virtually every other significant figure between the 1600's and the 1900's. Nearly the entire Puritan and Colonial Calvinist movement used it. For me as a lover of history, this is a pretty significant reason. In the case of Edwards, who is my doctoral research subject, I felt compelled to throw myself into the study of his Bible as well as his thought, theology, worldview, and philosophy. We are not the first generation of Christians on Planet Earth (despite what cutting-edge coffee shop pastors in skinny jeans and horn rims might lead you to believe) and it is a rich experience to read the texts, creeds, and confessions of the generations on whose shoulders we stand. How much more so their Bible!

4. The KJV has influenced the English language that you and I speak more than any other book. Simply speaking, it is a literary gem as well as a faithful rendering of the infallible Word of God. It is shocking to consider all the ways that the KJV has become part of our everyday English. Here is an article that shows that quite well. 

In the coming weeks, I will review a couple of high-end copies of the KJV that you can purchase for around $30--both bound in high quality leathers with excellent print quality and paper--to enhance your reading experience. As a general motivation, getting a new Bible every once in a while is a good incentive to launch a new personal study program! (I think a huge adventure like this calls for the treat of getting oneself a little present, don't you?)

Alright. So the launch begins in a couple of weeks. So, who's with me? Are you ready for the KJV challenge?

-Pastor Matthew Everhard is the Senior Pastor of Faith Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Brooksville, Florida. A confessed bibliophile, he loves the works of Jonathan Edwards, the puritans, and old and new Bibles. 

Why Do We Recite the Apostles’ Creed?

Let's take a careful look at all that the Apostles’ Creed has for us.

1. It is a brief summary of the Christian faith. It was not crafted by the Apostles but it is rooted in their teaching. It was not written originally as a single document. Most of the Church Fathers had their own creedal statements and they were incorporated into what became the Apostles’ Creed as we have it today.
2. The Creed serves an important purpose in those churches that subscribe to the teaching of the reformation. The Christian who knows the Creed knows the basics of what we believe and teach.
3. If you wish to set forth what differs Christianity from other religions, for example Islam or Judaism, the Apostles’ Creed provides an excellent summary of the uniqueness of Christianity.

A. The Creed sets forth the doctrine of the Trinity
  • God the Father, is the Creator of all things
  • God the Son, is the only Savior
  • God the Holy Spirit gives us faith and unites us to Christ

B. The Creed affirms the basic historical facts of the Gospel
  • Our Lord’s sinless virgin birth
  • His suffering, death and bodily resurrection
  • His descent into Hell, His ascent into Heaven
  • His return to judge both the living and the dead

C. The Creed affirms the Person and Work of the Holy Spirit
  • The church: made up of all who have come to Christ, God's elect children.
  • The catholicity of the church: the redeemed throughout the whole world.
  • The communion of saints: the fellowship the saved have with one another.
  • The forgiveness of confessed sin:  through the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ
  • The resurrection of the human body at the time of the return of Christ
  • Everlasting life

Because there is great need to summarize the teaching of Scripture and to identify with the faithful who have gone before us, we recite the Apostles’ Creed in the hearing of one another. We need to hear one another saying what we believe – husbands and wives hearing one another, parents and children hearing one another, friends and fellow worshippers, visitors and members, need to hear one another saying what they believe. This affirms us and bonds us in a single Body of Christ, the people of His Kingdom.

May God, by His grace, fill our hearts with joy, every time we recite the Apostles’ Creed, and remind us as we say to one another the ancient words, this is who we are and this is what we stand for!

Wilfred A. Bellamy, Ph.D.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

"Vintage" Bible Review: Circa 1960's World Publishing KJV Bible

World Publishing KJV Bible in Black Morocco Goatskin
Check your grandmother's closet. Look closely at the Goodwill. Examine that next garage sale with special care.

You may have a valuable "vintage" Bible in your possession.

World Publishing Bible; Double Column Setting, Red Letter
Photographed here is a circa 1960's KJV published by World Bible Publishers in Cleveland, Ohio. Once a dominant presence in the high quality Bible publishing industry, World Publishing Bibles can still be found,  but have been long since out of production.

Formerly the leader in the industry, (insiders say some of their work rivals R.L. Allan today), World Publishers eventually sold off their various book, dictionary, and Bible manufacturing businesses to other companies including: Collins (Great Britain), Simon and Shuster, Putnam, Nelson, and Riverside Book and Bible (Iowa).

[See an article on the history of World Publishing here].
World Publishing Bible; Gold Imprinted Spine, 5 Rib Spine

This particular Bible is a beautiful, near-perfect condition double column reference Bible. It is cloaked in black Morocco goatskin, with full, hatched-style, leather interior lining.

I should say at this point, "They don't make 'em like they used to!" (Actually, some publishers do; Allan, Crossway, Schulyer, and Cambridge still make high quality Bibles, but most others don't even come close).

World Publishing Bible; Leather Interior Lining, Hatched Style
Like all good Bibles coming out in the 1960's this one is Smyth sewn (stitched signatures, groupings of 32 pages), and printed on India paper, the best technology available at the time. (Surprisingly, I could not find a publishing date anywhere in this beautiful little volume). The relative whiteness of the paper today after more than 50 years attests to the quality work that World Publishing Company was doing in that era.

For my part, the paper in this book feels magnificent. It is rich, smooth to the touch, and sturdy. The India paper of that era seems to exceed the much cheaper "recycled" feel of many publishing works today, likely due to our obsession with staying "green." A publisher today may feel that it is more of a credit to their corporation to use recycled (or partially recycled) paper for public relations purposes than to use good, new, paper for high end productions. Pressures to incorporate recycled paper into their Bibles may be the partial cause for the weak and easily staining paper of today's Bibles.

World Publishing Bible KJV; Circa 1960's, Cleveland Ohio
Sadly most Bible publishers began in the 1970's to produce much cheaper, and far less quality Bibles. Many today are glued (instead of sewn), and worst of all, are tucked inside a cardboard cover, or even "bonded leather" (which is really just scraps, leather dust, and glue--the "plywood" of leathers).

World Publishing Bible; Center Column References
This gorgeous, hand-sized edition (measuring at 7.5 X 5.25 inches) of the Authorized Bible has red-under-gold edge gilding to make the pages really "pop" when opened, and glitter when closed. It utilizes one off-center black ribbon, just left of middle.

As for the Morocco leather, it is very flexible without being wimpy, and has been marked by just one notable battle scar in these five-plus decades. Then again, because it is goatskin, it could be original to the hide of the animal.

As it came to me, still in the box, with its original "owner care" papers in tow, I can't say that it ever endured much hard labor from its previous owner. It's only notable weakness is some very slight page warping due to many years of life here in the humid South. I smooth it with my fingers along the crease and it settles a bit, but I doubt that problem is going away soon and is probably related to its age.

World Publishing; Bible Care Instructions
Inside, the text is set in two very readable columns, with references and some annotations in a center column. Words of Christ are printed in red. The red lettering, by the way, is RED. It is not the faint-hearted pink that seems to wilt on the pages of others I have seen.

Extras inside include a substantial concordance, color maps, and a "Bible Reader's Aids" section edited by one Rev. Charles H. H. Wright D.D. of the Universities of Oxford and London. Presentation pages for matrimony, births, marriages, and deaths are set in between testaments.

This Bible came to me with several documents in the original box including "Your World Bible and How to Care for It" (pictured), a certification that the leather is hand-grained Morocco goatskin, and "An Important Note about Gilded Edges." All of this shows me that World Publishing knew what it was giving the buyer--a Bible meant to last.

I want to thank the anonymous giver who handed this over to me several months ago. Honestly, I didn't even know what was in my possession until I began to research it.

So do just a bit of homework next time you are at a your church yard sale; you just might discover a vintage era World Publishing Bible.

-Matthew Everhard is the Senior Pastor of Faith Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Brooksville, FL. Besides being a published author, he is an admitted Bibliophile and an active Bible collector. 

Friday, August 15, 2014

Book Review: Thomas Watson's "The Doctrine of Repentance"

Thomas Watson. The Doctrine of Repentance. Electronic edition. (Public Domain: Amazon Kindle).

Overview: Thomas Watson was a great Presbyterian pastor during the puritan era in England. This book is the first of Watson’s that I have read (to my shame), but I certainly expect that it will not be my last. In The Doctrine of Repentance, Watson shows that he has thoroughly considered the subject of his treatise from nearly every conceivable angle. Watson considers the motives of repentance, the manner of repentance, distinctions between true and false repentance, and the source of our freedom in repentance.

The style of this work is highly engaging. He uses short, memorable aphorisms (almost “tweetable”) to underscore his primary thrusts: “Either sin must drown in the tears of repentance, or the soul must burn in hell” (location 54); “Many had rather had their sins covered than cured” (location 486); “It is a great shame not to be ashamed” (Location 657); “If prayer does not make a man leave sin, sin will make a man leave prayer” (location 1101) and the like.

These staccato maxims fall like lightening bolts in the midst of his biblical expositions. If Watson preached in the same style as he wrote, his audience must have left the sanctuary convicted each Lord’s Day! These short, almost proverbial, bursts would surely have preached audibly as powerfully as they read in this centuries old book.

Application: If there was a Christian believer who sincerely wanted to begin reading the Puritans—but was either intimidated to read such venerable stalwarts as John Owen, or was simply not sure where to begin—this book might be a good recommended starting point.

More than that, this work is a virtual “how to” manual for the believer to begin to look deep within his own soul when taking time to repent. Watson does his best work in distinguishing many of the false forms of “confession,” by insisting that we grapple with our sin at the root of the issue, refusing to allow lesser, shallow forms of repentance suffice.

Critique: The puritan style of making distinctions between distinctions (and even more distinctions) of theological topics may seem repetitive to some. Others may not be able to see the “direction” of the overall piece as it moves circuitously forward because it seems that Watson retreads some material in several places. In reality this is a fairly typical example of the puritan style of teaching; reemphasizing the basics, and recovering areas already explored in order to to help secure mastery of the material in their hearers or readers. For me, having some familiarity with this literary technique, it is not burdensome, but rather encouraging as I progress through Watson’s eminently practical doctrine of repentance. 

Matthew Everhard is the Senior Pastor of Faith Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Brooksville, Florida. 

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Ask Pastor Matt: Should I Invite My Gay Friend?

Pastor Matt, 

I have a good friend at work who is a professing homosexual. Since our relationship as friends and coworkers is growing, I have considered inviting her to important events in our lives (weddings, the birth of children, baptisms etc.). I don't want to promote a sinful lifestyle, but I do want to be a good witness of the love of Christ. Where should a Christian draw the line on these matters? I'm looking for ways to share my faith in Christ with her, but I'm not sure how. Can you help? 


What a great question! And one that no doubt many believers are asking, especially as our society grows more and more accepting of the so-called alternative lifestyles. 

Although some Christians may disagree with me on this, I do believe that you should invite this woman who is struggling with her sexual identity to come to witness your family together in important events like weddings, the birth of a child, Christian baptisms, and other great life moments.

I see no reason why not to invite her, as your friendship with her seems to be blooming anyway. If anything, I believe it would be a positive witness to her of the beauty and glory of a Christian marriage, conception within marriage, the miracle of live birth, and the discipleship of child rearing--all for the glory of Jesus. We want people in alternative lifestyles to see up-close and personal the stability and beauty of married life, don't we? We especially want them to see Christian households that live together in peace within the covenant of grace. 

As a matter of fact, I love preaching at weddings and funerals--not to mention baptisms--because these are some of the important Christian life markers that unbelievers still feel some compunction to attend and participate in. Preaching at these events is a great joy for me because I know there will be those who are unbelievers present. I want them to see what we do. Hear what we believe. Even long for what we have in Christ. 

We want LGBT people to be able to see us as Christians in our "real element" with our families and our churches, standing alongside our spouses, loving and raising our children together in the faith. Too often LGBT people  have mental conceptions of Christians holding up signs at street rallies and shouting out our beliefs in megaphones. You know and I know that Christians are loving people, even if we do have many flaws that our Savior did not have. But they have often been fed an 'image' of Christianity that is no more than an angry caricature. 

Part of our problem as believers today is we lack the necessary "street credibility" with the LGBT community who only view us as condescending, hypocritical, and judgmental. The only way to refute and break down that stereotype is to engage in real relationships and honest friendships. This will take time and cannot be done overnight. 

If we are going to be a witness to people in the LGBT community, we are going to have to develop authentic relationships with them. We will need to invite them into our homes and dine with them. Serve them meals and love them through their own struggles and trials. Handing them tracts on a street-corner won't likely be enough for them to listen intently to the message we proclaim. They have been trained to shut it out. If we are going to share authentic relationships with LGBT people, that will require us to invite them into deeper moments of our lives beyond professionalism and mere neighborliness (although it often starts there). We will have to go deeper.
Wait longer. Love more compassionately. We have a huge up-hill climb to go. 

The moment will come when you can talk to her about your faith in Christ. Pray for that to come in God's timing. Ask God for His wisdom in discerning when that moment will be. It may not be "the big conversation" but many little conversations over many weeks and months. Or it may all pour out over a very long extended coffee one day at Starbucks. (Pay the bill and give a generous tip too--act like a Christian!).

By all means, include this women in the meaningful moments of your life and show her the love of Christ who Himself met with drunks, liars, thieves, religious hypocrites, adulterers--and loved them all. At the same time, Jesus masterfully defended the law of the Old Testament and gave no ground on moral issues. Neither should we. When the moment comes for you to share your faith--and possibly even defend the line in the sand you draw about human sexuality--you will have earned the right to speak truth into her life rather than assuming it.  

Hope that helps. 

Matthew Everhard is the Senior Pastor of Faith Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Brooksville, Florida.