Friday, September 16, 2016

Dig In and Discover Truth

As I was studying for a sermon, I came across a passage that cannot be avoided. Highly debated and definitely a hot button topic in culture these days, in good faith, when Scripture speaks, I must address said Scripture. Ephesians 5:3,5 was the verse I ran across. In itself, it doesn't really define the words "sexually immoral"; it's kind of a broad based definition. So, I decided to see what else Scripture might define as "sexually immoral". This study led me to 1 Corinthians 6:9-11. Here, it is defined a bit better. Here it is defined as a broad based term and specifically in three manners, adultery, effeminate and sodomites.

In the best interest of eliminating presuppositions, I decided to dig a bit deeper into it to see exactly what these words meant. I wanted to see if homosexuality is really condemned in Scripture. Many these days are coming with all kinds of accusations against the Scriptures that speak on digging deeper into this Scripture is necessary...I wanted to be sure about this for myself. With that said, adultery is literally having 'marital relations' with someone who is not your spouse. Effeminate is one side in a homosexual relationship. A sodomite is the other side in homosexual relationship. I noticed that it was interesting that effeminate and sodomites are paired together...some versions even lump them together in the same word, homosexuals. But I noticed something interesting about the word translated as sodomites too. Literally translated, the Greek word arsenokoites means "abuser (or defile) of (one's) self with mankind" *(Enhanced Strong's Lexicon #733). Abuser of self. I thought that was an interesting take on it. It really is referring to someone who lies with a male as with a female...a sodomite from the Old Testament Sodom & Gomorrah, where "their sin is extremely serious" (Gen 18:20), thus resulting in God destroying it. In that account in chapter 19, we see an example of their sin and depravity in homosexual behavior. But I turn back to the words 'abuser of self'.

It's also interesting to note that a good proportion of people (male or female) who are LGBT, have been survivors of abuse. With that said, LGBT behavior biblically defined is an abuse of one's self. My guess is that they engage in LGBT behavior as a result of comfort and some way to be able to cope with the abuse that happened to them, even if they don't realize it. If you really want to dissect it (biblically this is a stretch, but nonetheless it could be the case), you could even say that sexually immoral behavior period is a coping mechanism to some sort of abuse, no matter what type or kind. This isn't always the case I don't believe, but it just might explain the sexual depravity happening in our world.

Before you question my authority or qualifications on the matter, I admit that I am no professional counselor or psychologist. I know this. However, I counsel from a Biblical perspective as minister of God's Word. The depravity and sheer wickedness is beyond my comprehension. I just don't get it. However, in order to understand any sinful behavior, I know we must dig to the root of Scripture. It will provide answers as I believe I have found here this week. I wasn't necessarily looking for it either and that's usually when God throws those beautiful nuggets in front of us. I was actually looking to see if homosexuality is really condemned in Scripture, just to be sure I wasn't bringing presuppositions to the table. What I found was one of those huge 'ahha!' moments given by the Holy Spirit. So, I decided to share what I found because I honestly believe the root issue of LGBT behavior can be attributed as an 'abuse of self' as evidenced by Scripture. I know I'm not the first to discover this truth...I'm sure apologists and theology scholars have discovered this truth long before I did. Whether or not we choose to view the root of LGBT behavior as an 'abuse of self' is ultimately up to the individual...but Scripture is as plain as day here, and Scripture is the Word of God. When we see Scripture speak, we must make a choice to recognize the sin for what it is, or continue to deny that our behavior is sinful. Removing sin from our lives begins with recognizing the sin for what it is.

What this means for the Church is that we need to have compassion on those battling LGBT issues. We don't know what they've been through. They may very well be dealing with major life issues...we should bring them to Christ first, then allow God to not just convict them of their depraved behavior, but heal them and minister to their needs too. If what I've discovered really is the Truth, it means that the only way the LGBT behavior will go away is through healing of their past. And by the way...that applies for all sin, because we all need healing, which is why we all need Jesus as Lord & Savior.

Monday, September 12, 2016

The True Nature in Social Media

Social media. It has a way of working it's way into our lives. It dominates our time. We look more at our phones than we do those closest to us. And then, people who on the outside appear put together, well mannered, and socially well versed, click their social media apps and turn into argumentative trolls who enjoy creating drama. When people see this, it usually sends a shock through them; "I had no idea they ______." The shock waves tend to flip us upside down and truly change the way we look at them. The relationship changes and sometimes gets way worse...

Social media connects us with people like never before, yet can stir more drama and make relationships so disconnected and impersonal. We've never been more connected with people than we are in our current world. Yet, we have never been more disconnected in our relationships than we are now. However, social media also has a way of showing our true nature. Want to know how real a person is? Check social media and their activity on said social media sites. More times than not, you'll find out quickly just what lies underneath that well put together facade. People tend to say that what people do on social media isn't what they'd normally do. That's just not who they are. I, on the other hand, am arguing that what they are on social media is who they really are. What used to be hidden away from all others but God is usually now on full display for all to see...unashamedly.

The trouble is, people hide behind social media to air their dirty laundry, political and social views, and yes, even their religious views. Now, I'd rather be an advocate for God than to be airing dirty laundry and political/social drama. However, hiding behind social media to air combative religious views (or hiding behind the 'religion is private facade') is not right either. There's a question that one must ask themselves. "Is what I am about to post True? Helpful? Inspiring? Necessary? Kind?" It's the T.H.I.N.K. principle. In other words, 1 Thessalonians 5:11 (HCSB) "Therefore, encourage one another and build each other up as you are already doing." We are called to be encouragers...helping and steering people in the right direction. However, that does not mean engaging in endless debates, being rude, harsh or unloving. We are called to be humble, gentle and patient, speaking the truth in love (Ephesians 4:2,15).

So now the question remains; who are you on social media? Are you combative? Passive? Quiet about your faith in Christ? Are you prideful and a bragger or an attention seeker? Are you a drama queen/king? What of your true colors are shining through on social media for all to see? Because let me tell you this, your true nature comes out in social media. If you're a believer in Christ, I want to challenge you to look through your history on social media. If you can see a change from who you used to be and it's improved, that's the Holy Spirit working in you my friend. Be encouraged, because we are being transformed into the image of Christ day by day (Romans 8:28 & 12:2). If you're not a believer and don't like who you are, and trust me, before I believed in Christ as Lord and Savior, I didn't like who I was either (I still am fighting against those thoughts, but that's another discussion), let me tell you there's hope in Jesus Christ. You don't have to live like this any more. There is hope and peace to be found in Him...He offered Himself for your sins and if you'll accept Him as Lord & Savior, He'll wash you as white as the new fallen snow. When we repent, confess, believe and are baptized, we receive the Holy Spirit as a down payment of things to come. He guides believers into the newness and renewal of serve others while loving on them. My friends, there is no time like the present to give yourself to Him, because you'll never be 'right where you need to be in life' moreso than you are right now. Only through Jesus can you have the salvation, hope and peace you're looking for.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Ephesians: Draw Upon the Well for Our Strength

Strength is something we all lack at times. Life gets to where it wears us down. This week, we look at the idea of drawing strength from Jesus.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Jesus is No Private Matter

The other day I saw a picture that said "Jesus died in public, so don't just live for Him in private". This reminded me of those posts on Facebook (and before that the chain letter emails) saying "if you don't forward this, you don't really love Jesus" or that "by not sharing it you're denying Jesus" in some way. I don't share the those type of things because our faith is based on more than just a copy and paste status or chain letter. If you don't know that I love my Lord & Savior Jesus Christ by how I live my everyday life, then I am not doing my job as a His follower. A status update or resending a chain letter won't change that much. However, allow me to say a few words because there is a point in all of this that we often overlook, especially in western civilization.

All too often, I hear, "I don't talk about religion because it's a private matter." my friend, it's not a private matter. Christ died publicly for our sins. If we really recognize Him as Lord & Savior, He will be the center of our lives, even in the times when we are wallowing in ourselves. Way too many times in our culture we complain about the trials we go through, indulge our fleshly desires, or just downright think we have it so hard when in actuality, there are those of our brothers and sisters in foreign countries who live every day of their lives in a reality where they just might lose their life for Jesus. And they do it willingly. They live their lives boldly for Christ, while doing it carefully too might I add, and the Gospel of Christ flourishes. Here, we exclaim that religion is to be kept private because it's such a hot topic. Here, we have a tendency to leave our faith at the door of the church on Sunday or our home in the morning before headed out to work or run errands for the day. If Jesus is being excluded from our public life, yes even on Facebook, then we may have made Him Savior, but we haven't made Him Lord over everything.......yet.

My friends, we Christians are to live publicly exclaiming the love of Christ everywhere, especially in our faults. And I know we'd all confess that we've got our shortcomings. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 12:9b-10 (HCSB), "Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may reside in me. So because of Christ, I am pleased in weaknesses, in insults, in catastrophes, in persecutions, and in pressures. For when I am weak, then I am strong." Where we are weak, Christ is strong. So, let's show the power of Christ in our lives, because I know that I've fallen down too many times to count or remember. However, I know every time my Savior gets me to my feet to walk forward again. And for that my friends, I simply cannot live my faith in private. So yes, I will live a life publicly for Christ. I may not share those status updates all the time, but let me say again, if people can't tell that we love Christ by our every day lives, then something we're doing needs changed...we need to make Him LORD over everything, not just our private life.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Ephesians: Draw Upon the Well for our Message

We are stewards of a message...and this week, we explore this further in the next sermon in the series...

Monday, August 22, 2016

Ephesians: Draw Upon the Well for Our Citizenship

Conflict. Everyone has it...sometimes it creeps up in churches too. This weeks sermon tackles conflict and our citizenship.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Ephesians: Draw Upon the Well for Grace, Faith and Our Work (Purpose)

Purpose. Everyone seems to be searching for it at one point or another. This week in our trip through Ephesians, we search the idea of purpose in our lives.

(This is the weekly sermon uploaded to YouTube by me!)