Living In Sin: An Accusation That Really Just Means, “I’m Better at Hiding My Sin Than You”

hiding

 

So I think we’ve all heard the term. It’s a label pretty closely resembling the Scarlet Letter. A sentence that gets passed upon unfortunate souls who we feel have strayed from the paths of righteousness: Living in Sin.

 

I don’t really know why more Christians are not concerned about this topic.  I mean, the claim has been that if you’re, living in sin and die that way, you’ll go to hell. Others aren’t willing to say you’ll go to hell, but they’re also not willing to say with any certainty that you won’t. Then you have some folks who will tell you that as a Christian, you can’t lose your salvation at all—-comforting, right?  I thought so too . . . Until I found out that there is often a fine print disclaimer on this one that basically says, “oh, by the way, if you sin too much, you probably never were saved to begin with . . .  So you’re going to hell anyway.”

However one wishes to pronounce, “tomato” or, “potato”, the train of thought here is:

“living in sin” = “soul in jeopardy”

So, I think it’s time we stopped giving this subject the, under the rug treatment, and got some real answers.

 

M.I.A.

 

The issue I ran into almost immediately when investigating this topic in the Bible is that some of the greatest dynasties we have erected—-doctrines that are fundamental to our Christianity, are largely Missing in Action:

For instance,

The Bible really doesn’t mention or refer to a, “Hierarchy of Sin”–where some are worse than others.

Nor is there a, “Sin-O-Meter” which measures whether or not the number of sins exceed the, “allowed daily amount” by grace.

There’s also that weird Variety thing that no one has ever spoken out loud but sounds something like, “A variety of sins here and there is fine. We all do it. But when one sin is committed in a higher frequency than all the other average sins, well then I’m afraid you’ve crossed over into, living in sin.”——- In other words, diversity of sins won’t damn you but a concentration of any will.

So, apparently with this idea, you just need to make sure your vices are proportional to one another.

Then you have probably the most popular of these ideas; what I call the, “Heart Monitor.” This is where we convince ourselves that if we are sorry for our sin, or feel bad when we do it, that this is somehow different from a person who sins without feelings of remorse . . . Once again, this is seems to be an artifical distinction not actually made in Scripture.

 

 

So Then —What’s The Bible Really Say?

 

 

All of these concepts are actually quite difficult to find and extract application from in the Scriptures. I mean, sure, they are kind of . . .  sort of———— ish in there. But they are certainly not as clearly outlined as most of us have been led to believe. And they are not anywhere close to being a measurable criteria for us to live by.

No, instead, it would seem that upon searching God’s Word what we find more than anything else is simply that sin is sin—- Either you do it or you don’t.

Some may point to Scriptures that talk about, practicing sin  such as 1 John 3:9 as if this is the dividing line between believers and non believers. But then gloss over the other part of the same verse which says a born again person cannot sin—–period. Not just practice sin, but sin at all. Even if that part wasn’t in there (or you decided to avoid the versions that translate it that way), there’s another problem we run into with this. And that’s the fact that nearly every professing Christian on the planet says they sin multiple times each day. One minister I recently heard on the radio said we sin, “constantly.

Yet . . . We’re suppose to believe this does not constitute practicing sin?

A little hard to swallow.

Now, some will wonder if we all violate this passage that speaks about practicing sin, then what does it mean?  Why would God write such a thing to us? It’s not the subject, but God actually tells us why He said what He did—- Chapter 2 reads, “I write these things to you so that you won’t sin.”  That kind of sounds like what Paul said in Romans 6, doesn’t it? He tells the believer they are dead to sin, and then says therefore, do not let it reign in your mortal body. He tells us to reckon and act, as if it’s true, because it is true. John tells us those who are born of God do not sin, then says he writes these things so we don’t sin. We are to act in line with the reality that those who are born of God, do not sin.

 

What’s it all About?

 

This being the case, where does the whole, living in sin, thing come from? As previously pointed out, the Hierarchy, Sin-O-Meter, Heart Monitor, and Variety doctrines are largely bunk.

My theory?

I’ve  noticed that as I progress in my Christian walk, I’ve gotten pretty good at hiding my sin——-Come on . . . You know what I mean. Us seasoned folk have learned to talk the talk and walk the walk— in front of the right people.  In other words, sin tends to go underground and undercover over the life span of the average believer. We get so good at playing the game that we can be overly critical, judgmental, lustful, hateful and selfish—— inwardly, without skipping a beat (or should I say a, “Hallelujah”?) outwardly. As we become experts in this field, it seems we also become more aware of those who aren’t. 1 Corinthians mentions folks who compare themselves with and among themselves.  So if you think about it, the only way the, “living in sin” thing really works is if we compare ourselves with another human being.  I mean, we’ve already admitted to sinning, “constantly” and on a daily basis, so we certainly can’t compare ourselves to Christ and come away feeling like we’re not living in sin, can we? At least not without a couple hundred theological jumping jacks.

But when comparing ourselves to one another, it inevitably creates a lesser-of-two-evils type scenario. Then those who sin different from us, and aren’t quite the pros at hiding it that we are, will stand out. And let’s face it, there is a part of us that enjoys pointing these folks out. Just like looking at someone who is fatter than you (yes, I’m going there) makes you rationalize how fat you are, so this makes you feel better about your sin.

 

 

Conclusion

 

I have a feeling the Holy Ghost has been dealing with a lot of us about this. Maybe finally hearing it out loud will cause us to think twice before accusing others of what we ourselves are still guilty of on a, “daily” and, “constant” basis.

Two Big Lies You Never Knew You Believed About Prayer

shocked

 

You often hear people ask,  “Why aren’t the extraordinary things we read about in the Bible— the miracles, healings, etc, not happening today?

Firstly, I believe the question is fallacious because these things are indeed happening (you probably just need to get out more).

But really, what we should be asking is, “Where are the type of people we read about in the Bible, who believed God in unrelenting faith for the miraculous and impossible?

See, we’ve been trying to put the blame off on God for why these things don’t happen as much but the truth is, God doesn’t change. People, on the other hand, are a whole other story.

 

The Lies We’ve Embraced

 

I’ve found that for the most part, the Church has allowed herself to be robbed of the miraculous and answered prayers as a result of buying into two big lies.

Lie #1:

We have substituted devotion for faith. Over time, we have equated these things as the same. You get people all the time saying things like, “Uncle so and so was a minister for 50 years and he loved the Lord more than anyone. Yet he died of cancer, and never saw his prayers answered. If anyone had faith, it was him!

Think about that statement. Notice how the assumption was made that if you have devotion, you have faith.

Devotion and faith are not the same—hence the reason one is called faith, and the other devotion. As a result of accepting this falsehood, we have made God out to be a liar and impugned His character. How? Because He promised (it’s amazing how lightly we take that word now a days) that all things would be possible for the person who believes. Yet, we have people all over who are not seeing the impossible in their lives, though they are ministers. Though they are committed. Though they love the Lord.

No, faith for answered prayers is not the same as love or devotion for the Lord.

Lie #2:

We took all the verses where Jesus spoke about the necessity of having faith in order to get answers to prayer, and we said He was referring to faith in God. So folks go around saying, “I have faith! I believe in God, I believe in Jesus.”

But . . .

When Jesus spoke about the object of faith which gets prayers answered, He did not say it was faith in God.

Shocked? I was too. Let’s take a look at a few instances in the Bible.

Mark 11:23, for instance, He does not say, “If you pray and tell God how much you believe in Him, the mountain will get up and fall into the sea.” What did He say? “Whosoever shall say unto this mountain be removed and be cast into the sea and shall not doubt in his heart but shall believe (believe what? In God? No. Then believe what? What should he believe?) that those things which he says will come to pass, he will have whatever he says.

Again, Mark 11:24, “Therefore, whatever things you desire when you pray, believe (in God? Nope) that you receive them and you shall have them.”

What did the woman with the issue of blood believe? Just in God? No. The Bible tells us what she believed. “If I may but touch the hem of his garment, I shall be made whole.” She did not say, “If I just believe in God, and trust that He is sovereign, I shall be made whole.

Right before Jesus healed the blind men, what did He ask them?

Do you believe in God?

Nope. He never asked that.

Do you believe I am the Christ?

Wasn’t ever brought up.

Do you believe that I’m sovereign and that one day, after you die, I will take you to heaven and open your eyes?

Negative.

He didn’t ask them any of those.

What did He ask?  “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” (Matt 9:28).

Again and again we see that the object of the faith was connected to the desired outcome of the prayer. Not to some generic belief in God’s sovereignty, His existence, or Jesus as the Christ.

 

Lies Don’t Comfort

 

Don’t get me wrong, I understand there are things that we all wish were not the way they were. I wish that all God required of us in the area of prayer was to just believe in Him. To just believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died for us and rose again. But the fact is, He requires more than that. And I get that we feel compelled to comfort the afflicted in times of tragedy and crisis by any means possible. But lying to them isn’t the way  to do it. Telling them the truth is. Giving them hope by sharing with them God’s Word is.

Of all people, Christians should be the ones to understand this the most. Lies do not comfort. It’s the truth that sets us free.

Instead of hiding the truth about prayer, we should be heralding it. This is Good News! It means we serve a real God who can and is still doing what we read about in the Bible.

 

The Achilles’ Heel of the Grace Movement: Why Many Won’t Survive it

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What has come to be known as the Grace Movement/Message holds a very special place in my heart. For years I felt like a lone voice heralding the life changing power of Grace, through faith, apart from works.

Long before most had ever heard of Andrew Wommack, Joseph Prince, and others, I was having Bible studies in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s teaching what I had found by myself with nothing but the Holy Ghost, and a Bible. As far as I knew I was the only one on the planet preaching this message.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s still a lot of things I don’t know. There’s plenty that I have learned and continue to learn from other grace preachers. But I mention this so that folks understand that what I’m about to say does not come from a critic of this message. Nor does it come from a person who has just caught wind of the doctrine. On the contrary, I’ve been beating this drum longer than most.

 

A Disturbing Trend

 

Having said this, I’m beginning to see that as the Movement progresses, it is encountering what seems to be the inevitable fate of every sound doctrine—a mutation, or perversion of the authentic.  Many, with little knowledge of what God’s Word has to say on the subject, are jumping on board and attempting to teach it. But even more alarming than these folks who lack biblical knowledge is the fact that they don’t appear to even care that they lack it.  As a result, we are now seeing large amounts of, “grace” people who don’t want to talk about other important aspects of God’s Word. Sin, judgement, hell, wrath, and the devil have all but been completely removed from the vocabulary.

 

God is Not a Two Thousand Year Old Book

 

Upon inquiring about the seemingly lack of respect for the Bible, I have heard variations of the tired cliche’, “God is much bigger than a collection of two thousand year old manuscripts. My allegiance is to Jesus, not a book “

So, let’s explore this idea a bit . . .

There are some things that we, as Christians, have been practicing for so long that many don’t know why there was a necessity for them in the first place. So it’s pretty much inevitable that there’s going to come a point in time for people who were not around when the foundation was laid, to challenge these practices. Which is fine. I’m all for the challenge of long held traditions. And it sounds great to say, “Jesus is a real Person, not an old Book. If you want to know about Him, just ask Him.” Seriously, such a statement sounds revolutionary, right?  Man, lets get rid of the way these old farts in stuffy suits have been doing it for centuries and lets get back to Jesus!

So why is it so important for people who have Jesus living on the inside of them to follow the Bible?

Well, anyone who has even a basic understanding of the history of Christianity knows that almost the exact moment Jesus ascended to heaven, false doctrine began to infiltrate the Church. The Bible speaks about different gospels, and even a different jesus that slowly crept into the fellowship of believers and began leading people astray. When we look at the New Testament, we see nearly every book is jammed packed with warning after warning against false doctrine and exhortations to hold firmly to the original teachings of Jesus and His Apostles.

So you see, as nice and fluffy as it sounds to claim you don’t follow a book because all you need is Jesus, it really makes no sense. If first century Christians who personally knew the apostles needed their supervision and constant course correction, why would we think we don’t?

Well, we have the Holy Ghost and so He leads us into all truth.

All of the first century Christians had the Holy Ghost too. But even more than that, many of them received the Spirit directly through the laying on of the hands of the apostles, themselves. Are we supposed to believe that these Spirit-filled, tongue-talking, believers, who rubbed shoulders with Jesus and the apostles, somehow required more oversight than us?

 

. . . I mean——really?

 

“The Bible isn’t the Answer”

 

All of this usually segues into the objection: “Well, obviously following the Bible is not the answer. There are thousands of denominations and no one can agree on the right interpretation.

But we can all agree you don’t need to be circumcised to be saved, right?

We all agree you shouldn’t get drunk at communion, right?

We all agree you shouldn’t curse Jesus, right?

All of these things and many, many more, first century Christians were confused about.

See, it’s easy to point to the diversity in the Body of Christ now and say, “They’re all reading the same book but they can’t agree on anything” but you’re not comparing it to the time before the apostle’s doctrine was widespread.

Christians literally needed to be told that a person isn’t inspired by God if they say, “Jesus is accursed.”

They literally needed to be told not to get drunk at communion.

They literally needed to be told that a man having sex with his father’s wife is not something you should be proud of.

Think about it . . .

Spirit-filled Christians!

Tongue-talking Christians!

Direct disciples of Peter, Paul, James and John!

Yet they needed clarification on things that you and I wouldn’t think twice about today.

No, if you think the diversity is bad now, you have no idea what the Body of Christ would look like if we didn’t have the Bible. You think you do, but all the evidence points to absolute and total chaos.

 

Ol’ Faithful

 

Another unfortunate and bizarre element to this whole thing is the treatment these, “Grace Christians” show towards those who disagree with them. You’d think that for a people who promote grace there would be a lot of patience, understanding, and love toward those on the outside. But half the time they treat you like an enemy if you’re not willing to go along with everything they say. They’ll scorn, ridicule, and mock you. And rather than attempt to combat your ideas with reason and logic, they take the ol’ faithful route of  simply shunning you from their groups.

It’s a shame. What they heralded as a revolution is slowly turning into just another divisive group in the Body of Christ.

 

The Beginning of the End

 

So here is my prediction: There are many riding the bandwagon of this message that will be destroyed for a lack of knowledge. Because the Bible isn’t central to their understanding of the Gospel, they’ll leave themselves wide open for false and erroneous doctrines with no means of detection. There will be no way to prove or disprove what is being said in their fellowships. And the certainty of truth will slowly decay into New Age Thought, where anything goes, and every person simply does what is right in their own eyes.

Yet, in spite of all of this, the True Gospel of Grace must, and will continue to prevail and become more and more widespread as it leaps forward on the backs of men and women who know God’s Word.

Exorcisms: Are We Doing Them Right?

1

 

 

I recently read a book, “The Day Satan Called” by Bill Scott. It’s a true story of his experience with a demon possessed girl who called his radio station and the supernatural, unbelievable chaos that ensued in the year and a half following.

Reading the book and hearing this man describe what he had gone through brought back to my mind an encounter I had about fifteen years ago.

One evening I received a phone call from a close friend of mine. His voice over the line was trembling. He sounded out of breath, almost like he had just run a marathon. “Scott, I need you to get over here, my friend has a demon!” Without even really thinking about it, I hung up the phone, threw on my shoes and  jacket and drove about a mile down the road to my friend’s house. I remember walking up to the front door being excited. I had never cast a demon out of someone before. This was going to be a night to remember (boy, was I right about that! Unfortunately not in the way I thought.) My friend answered and walked me over to his room. There I was, Bible in hand, chest puffed out, ready to confront the forces of darkness.

Nothing in the world could have prepared me for what I saw next. It was literally like something you’d see in a bad horror movie. First I noticed that it looked like a tornado had blown through. The room was in total shambles. This wouldn’t have been so surprising if i hadn’t visited multiple times before and knew what his room normally looked like. My eyes quickly glanced around and I saw blood smears in different spots on the walls. You hear rumors from other Christians about their encounters with demons and they always describe a thick, almost tangible presence of evil. Let me tell you—-there is no better way to describe it than that. Then I saw him. A man 1crouched down in the corner like some kind of animal. His eyes were blood shot, his hands were bleeding, and he was foaming from the mouth. He cocked his head my direction and with a grin on his face, spoke in a sinister voice, “Hi, Scott!” Where he was located at in the room, to his left were two rolling closet doors made of mirror. After he called my name he sprang from his crouched position, slamming his head into one of those doors and the whole thing shattered. Then he crawled closer, with a smirk on his face, staring me right in the eye. I was still trying to process what I was seeing when suddenly he jumped forward and knocked me back. At that moment I was filled with a level of fear I had never experienced before and without even thinking I ran out of there.

What ensued after that was a long, grueling, battle with the devil. Part of the time he was hopping all over the room. Other times he’d be on the floor in contorted positions. The evil spirits in him laughed at us and gave different names of demons that were present. They claimed they had been there since this man’s childhood and had no intention of leaving. Every time we thought we were gaining ground he would smile and say “There’s still more of us!”

After about four hours, he lay passed out on the floor in a deep sleep, almost as if he were dead. It was exhausting. I thought it was all over, but soon realized once I got back home that at least one spirit had followed me. As I got ready for bed I was hearing audible voices in the room. Fortunately, this must have been a last-ditch effort on their part because they quickly left once I began praying.

 

Why Are Exorcisms So Hard?

 

That event in my life has always bothered me. Both me, my friend, and two other friends I had called over had commanded the demons to leave multiple times in Jesus’ name. Yet they continued to laugh, making a mockery of us and of God. To make matters worse, in the days ahead it began to become clear to us they had either never left, or there were more that still needed to be cast out.

Why did it happen like that? I went into the situation expecting to see the same results Jesus had seen and instead fell flat on my face.

Even apparent, “experts” on spiritual warfare will tell you how long these battles can last, and how often their successes are short lived. And don’t even get me started on the Catholic Church. Those guys are always getting beat up and thrown around like rag dolls by the devil. I heard a statistic a while back that priests who handle exorcisms have a significantly shorter life span than those who don’t.

Looking into the reasons for this, I’ve been unsatisfied by the answers I received.

Why does such a seemingly easy practice in the Scriptures translate to so much difficulty for believers today?

 

An Enlightening Moment in my Research

One day as I was surfing the Internet I began to come across websites of pagan religions that spoke about demon possession. I was a bit surprised because I had always been taught that this was something exclusive to Christianity (at least the recognition of it was.) What was even more amazing to me was these people had stories of casting demons out as well! Unbelievers, casting out demons? Turns out it isn’t such a wild idea and dates back even before Christianity. But here is what really concerned me: the stories I read about and the methods these pagans used to expel devils were extremely similar to the methods Christians use. They spoke about finding out the name of the demon, reasons for why it was there and it often took hours, weeks, and even months before seeing success.

This I found really bizarre!

But it prompted me to search the Bible for an explanation. What I soon realized is the idea that only Christians can expel demons really isn’t present. I know the story of the Seven Sons of Sceva. But I’m not sure if we should use that as a universal template to arrive at a doctrine.

For years I had been puzzled by this until one day I was reading the passage from Mark 16 about believers casting out demons. Jesus said, “And these signs will follow them that believe: in my NAME they will cast out devils . . .”

 

Are We Doing It Like Jesus?

 

In the Greek, Name isn’t just a title given to identify a person. Christians have sort of unconsciously used it like a lucky rabbit’s foot, tacking it on to the end of their prayers in the hopes of getting results. But  in the original language, it carries much stronger ramifications. One of which is authority, and like manner.

See, when you cast a demon out, or pray for the sick in Jesus’ Name, you’re not just adding that word like its a some sort of proper grammar to end religious sentences with. It means you are taking upon yourself the authority of Jesus Christ, and doing it in His manner. In other words, you’re doing it like He would if it were Him physically present. This would explain the existence of pagan exorcisms.  Jesus was not saying casting out demons would be a unique trait of the believer, but the ability to do it in His Name, or, in the same manner He expelled them.

This is where the title of the article comes in. If we are not casting demons out in the manner that Jesus did, are we really doing it in the Name of Jesus? I understand we are verbally speaking His Name but if we are not seeing the same results, are we really using His authority?

 

In Conclusion?

 

Now, to clarify, I am not implying that Christians have some kind of evil spirit they are substituting for the Name of Jesus in these situations. Nor that God isn’t involved when it takes hours upon hours to expel a demon. But could it be that just like you could take a pill and make a headache go away after a while, or go through radiation therapy for months and overcome cancer, so some methods to rid a person of demonic possession are more—— normal? It isn’t that the practice is wrong or ineffective, it’s just not God’s best.

This is what I think could be happening in regards to spiritual warfare. Most of us are not truly using the authority of Jesus Christ. If we were, I don’t see how anyone could argue we should be getting better results. I have a feeling that we have sort of just been going with what others have told us, and settled for spiritual engagements which leave us exhausted, spiritually drained, and with questionable results.

This is definitely not a conclusion. This is a theory, a hypothesis, if you will, that I’m submitting for scrutiny, or confirmation. I definitely want to hear what others have to say on the subject.

The Big Secret Atheists Won’t Tell You

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Atheists will often tell you they won’t believe in something unless they can see it, but that’s a lie. The true nature of the atheist’s creed can be summed up by what is known as the, Bandwagon Effect and has nothing to do with whether or not something can be observed. The Bandwagon Effect essentially says that the more an idea is accepted and found to be commonplace, the more reliable and acceptable it becomes.

In other words, if the majority says its true, it should be believed and embraced.

Now, many will claim the opposite. It’s the Christian who follows societal norms and the atheist who is the independent lone voice for reason and logic.

While that may seem true on the surface, here’s why, in all actuality, it’s bogus:

Lets take, for instance,  the Atheistic equivalent of the Christian’s Jesus—-Evolution.

Folks who buy into this idea are often portrayed as critical thinking, no nonsense, just-the-facts type individuals. Yet, upon inquiring from them how they know what they do, things begin to get a bit . . . Interesting.

 

What Is Proof, Anyway?

After hearing a, “scientific” claim, the average atheist will never go out and actually put forth the effort to determine if the findings are true.

Hashtag: Going on YouTube or watching National Geographic is not investigating the claim. If you wanted to do a real, scientific investigation, you would need to get a hands on, first person observation.

. . . Not exactly sure why I started that paragraph by saying, Hashtag. Honestly, I still don’t really know what any of that stuff means.

Anyways, someone will come back and ask, “How am I supposed to do a first person observation? Most people do not have direct access to the evidence.

Alright, so how do you determine the findings are reliable if you can’t test them, yourself?

We look for a consensus among the top research facilities and their published findings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Okay . . . Let me translate:

If enough people tell us it’s true, we don’t feel a need to test it. We just believe.

No firsthand, observable research.

No life long travels around the globe to excavation sites.

No handling of, “transitional”  fossils.

No years spent in a lab comparing actual DNA samples.

Nope.

1
“Pay no attention to that little fella behind the curtain!”

They come off like they’re some type of intellectual giant with this vast body of hard evidence that they have tirelessly and painstakingly accumulated through years of testing and research. But the truth is, the majority of atheists are sitting in front of their computers clicking a mouse or reading a book, buying into whatever they’re told. They’re quite good at dressing it up, but when boiled down to it’s most basic form, they have simply chosen to believe.

That is not science. Nor is it a rational way to arrive at the truth. That, my friends, is the Bandwagon Effect.

 

Are Christians Guilty of This?

 

Christians are the same way, and even worse!

Not quite.

Have you ever noticed how Christians often refer to themselves as Witnesses?

Now there’s an interesting term.

Hmmm . . .

Why would Christians call themselves, witnesses?

What is it they’ve witnessed?

An encounter with Jesus Christ. And a changed life to prove it.

They are not relying on what others have told them. They’ve had the experience themselves so it isn’t second hand information.

Now, some may argue that isn’t true. They may claim it’s some type of delusion or wishful thinking . . .  But they can’t PROVE it’s not true, a delusion or wishful thinking. All the atheist can do is stand on the outside looking in, and—–guess.

So here is the real clincher of the whole thing: Christians have an experience where the atheist only has an argument.

And the man with an argument is always at the mercy of the man with an experience.

In addition, unlike so many atheists who measure truth based on the number of people telling them that something is true, Christians can also collaborate their story with millions of others—–but don’t need to. The crux of their worldview does not depend on the Bandwagon because their knowledge is first person. It’s experiential—-the highest type of knowledge that exists.

And that, my friends, hits a whole lot closer to the scientific process than watching the Discovery Channel or having a subscription to Popular Science.

God Wants You Wealthy: An FAQ On One of the Most Controversial Issues in the Body of Christ

 

 

 

 

The Bible teaches that God wants His children to be wealthy (not necessarily millionaires, please don’t misunderstand me—but wealthy. ie, To have an abundant supply enough to meet all their needs, and more left over).

 

Let’s begin.

 


Objection/Question

“All the first century Christians including the apostles were poor and struggled to get even the most basic of necessities.”

ANSWER:

A few things about this:

Firstly, this isn’t entirely true. There were Christians in the early church who lived in abundance  (1Tim 6:17).  Paul had his moments as well (Phil 4:18).

Secondly, I’m going to say something that I have never heard anyone else say on this subject: Aclose examination of the Bible will reveal that the only instances poverty was condoned were in connection to persecution or the preaching of the Gospel.

See, the modern Western world of Christianity is vastly different from that of first century Christianity. Back then, many believers were being put to death. They were run out of their homes and cities and forced to live in hiding. Many were stripped of all worldly possessions and thrown in prison.

Why? Because they had low paying jobs? Because of a recession? Because of a bad economy? No. It was because of their faith in Christ and the preaching of the Gospel.

So here’s the thing—If that is why a believer is struggling financially, neither I nor any prosperity teacher I know would have a beef with that type of a situation. Persecution is a mark of the Christian and the Scriptures are crystal clear on that.

But let’s get back to the original objection—- if we wanted to do a comparison between Western Christianity, and First Century Christianity, we would need to be fair and ask the question like this: If there were no persecution, and early Christians were practicing the wealth-building principles of the book of Proverbs by working hard, spending responsibly, and being charitable, would most of thembe poverty stricken?

When put in this light, a whole new perspective arises, doesn’t it?

The thing is, we really don’t have that sample to draw from when it comes to the New Testament. As previously mentioned, early believers were under severe persecution which led to severe poverty. The closest thing we would have for an accurate comparison is the Old Testament. Here, followers of Jehovah had periods of time where they were under no persecution. And when we study these instances, what we find is a pretty consistent pattern of prosperity.

 

 

Objection/Question:

“Proponents of the Prosperity Gospel are out to get money. They twist the Word of God in order to make the preaching of the Gospel a money making venture.”

ANSWER:

I can’t argue this. I have seen it many times. However, the old saying, “Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water” applies here. There will always be bad examples in Christianity for ANY doctrine. So we need to be fair and look at the idea itself, apart from any of it’s abuses.

 

 

Objection/Question:

“These teachers wouldn’t dare spread such a message in third world countries where people are severely poverty stricken.”

ANSWER:

Actually, I think you’ll find this message is often even more wide spread in these types of countries than it is here, in America. I’ve spoken to multiple missionaries who tell me this is the case.

Really, if it’s in the Bible, then it needs to be preached everywhere, regardless of outward circumstances, or popularity.

 

 

Objection/Question:

“If God wants us rich why are there so many poor, struggling Christians? And why does it seem it is only working for these Faith Teachers?”

ANSWER:

Let’s broaden this scope a bit to include anything that God wants for us. When we do, we find that most Christians are not living up to their potential in MANY areas. They are depressed, divorced, struggling with multiple sins and bad habits. None of these are God’s Will yet MOST believers find themselves still in bondage to them.  Why would we assume that the fact that God wants us rich and prosperous would somehow work automatically when these other things don’t?

As far as the, “faith teachers” who it seems to work for—- Again, you have to think of this like any other topic. How would you like to hear a pastor teach about being free from lust while he is committing adultery? Or a Bible teacher on having the joy of the Lord while he is miserable? Or someone else talk on witnessing to the lost when he has never led someone to the Lord?

We view a person as an authority in any field in which they are able to achieve an uncommon level of success. There is nothing suspicious or underhanded about leaders leading by example.

 

 

Objection/Question

“People who see you driving expensive cars and living in big houses will be motivated by the wrong reasons to get saved.”

ANSWER:

First of all, our duty is to preach the Word of God regardless of what motivates people to get saved. Secondly, one could argue that Peter was motivated by the wrong reason to follow Christ in Luke 5 after Jesus blessed His fishing business so much so that his boat almost sank. Yet, even though he had experienced, “divine prosperity” it still caused him to realize he was a sinner and needed Jesus (vs 8). Same with those who believed and followed Jesus after He multiplied the fish and loaves (John 6:26). Regardless, what some may consider, “the wrong reason” could be the only way some may realize their need for salvation and follow Jesus.

 

 

Objection/Question

“The Bible says the love of money is the root of all evil.”

ANSWER: That’s true. It’s very wrong and very destructive to pursue money or to be greedy. It’s unbiblical to elevate anything or anyone above a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and our allegiance to Him.

 

 

Objection/Question

“Jesus said don’t lay up treasures for yourself here on earth.”

ANSWER:

This passage actually presents a problem for the non Prosperity crowd more than it does Word of Faith people. Because if you’re WOF, you believe God has provided for you riches. So you’re not laying up anything. It’s a gift God has given you and you are simply RECEIVING it.  On the other hand, if you don’t believe God wants you to be rich and that you shouldn’t be storing up for yourself  treasures,  then what are you doing with a bank account?

 

 

Objection/Question

“The Bible says to be content with just food and clothing.”

ANSWER:

This is another of what I call, “self hanging” arguments. In other words, the passage challenges more than just what is known as the, “Prosperity Gospel.” Because if you live in America and have a computer, car, tv, iPhone, iPad, etc then we must ask, Are you being content with just food and clothing? And why are you saving up all that money for a vacation?

 

 

Objection/Question

“Jesus told the rich young ruler to sell all he had before he could follow Him.”

ANSWER:

He also told Zacchaeus (another rich man) nothing of the sort (Lk 19:2-5). So what should we take away from these stories?  If it’s that we should not put riches before God—- I agree. If it’s that we should sell all we have and follow Jesus—-lead the way, chief.

You first.

 

 

Objection/Question

“There just isn’t any solid biblical evidence for this doctrine.”

ANSWER:

Well that depends on what you mean by, “solid biblical evidence.” All I can do is tell you what the Bible plainly says. To me, that’s solid. I get that there are other criteria many of us look at. Commentaries, digging around in the original languages, etc. Those are all fine and good (heck, what you’re reading now could technically qualify as Bible commentary) but at the end of the day, the emphasis should be on what the Bible says. Not on what we think it says. Not on what we think it means, or what others say about it, but what God Himself, actually wrote down for us.

So here are a handful of my personal favorite passages on the subject.

By humility and the fear of the Lord are riches, and honor, and life

(Proverbs 22:4 KJV)

 

Through wisdom is a house built. And by understanding it is established. And by knowledge shall the chambers be filled with all precious and pleasant riches.

(Proverbs 24:3-4 KJV)

 

Wealth gotten by vanity shall be diminished, but he that gathers by labor shall increase.

(Proverbs 13:11 KJV)

 

“Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold NOW IN THIS TIMEhouses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life.”

(Mark 10:29, 30 ESV)

 

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.

(2 Corinthians 8:9 NKJV)

 

Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us RICHLY ALL THINGS TO ENJOY

(1 Timothy 6:17 NKJV)

 

Therefore let no one boast in men. For ALL things are yours: whether  . . . THE WORLD or life or death, or THINGS PRESENT or things to come ALL are yours.

(1 Corinthians 3:21, 22 NKJV)

 

And if you’re tempted to doubt what is included when the Bible says, “ALL” in the above verses, this passage has always helped me to keep from trying to put a lid on it . . .

He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?

(Romans 8:32 NKJV)

 

Conclusion

 

At this point, I’d like to open the floor to hear from you.

What are you thoughts on this subject?

Would early Christians have prospered if not for persecution?

What is your take-away from Jesus’ words to the rich young ruler?

How does one avoid laying up treasures here on earth?

Should God’s Will for prosperity be expected to work automatically when His Will in so many other areas of our lives does not?

 

What I Wish I Knew Before My Divorce

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Most people who know me know that I’ve been married twice. As you get older, and further from certain events in your life, you tend to look back with a different perspective. Often you realize what at the time seemed like a situation with no options, was really a situation that simply lacked knowledge. In other words, if you had more information, you would have been able to make a smarter decision.

Not always. But many times.

All marriages are different, I understand that. But my first marriage started out, for lack of a better word, pretty normal. We loved each other. Did things together. Communicated. Shared our passions and dreams for life. Had the occasional fights that all married couples have etc. About a year in we had Mykenze, my beautiful and super talented daughter, and things were good.

I remember one day the topic of divorce came up and my wife asked me, “What would you do if I ever wanted to get a divorce?” And me, being the Christ follower that I am, knowing that the Lord is my Portion and I have need of nothing else (insert all the other Christian cliche’s here______________________________________________________________), responded, “I’d say, okay. Then let’s get a divorce.” She was a bit shocked. “You mean you wouldn’t fight for our marriage?” And I said, “Why would I want to stay married to someone who didn’t want to stay married to me?” I thought I had made a good point. And I suppose she did too because we kind of laughed about it and changed the subject. A couple years later that was exactly how it played out. “I’m not happy anymore. I think I got married too young and there is still a lot of life that I want to live. I want a divorce—–”

Let me just stop here and say this in case I never get another chance to—- Does what she said sound familiar to any men out there? After hearing story after story similar to mine, a very wise man by the name of Dennis Prager once made the astute observation that there is a profound  shift that takes place in the minds of most women around twenty nine or thirty years of age. Life, to them, begins to speed up. They begin thinking they’re missing out on things, they reassess their goals and accomplishments. And if you’re married to one, there is a good chance she’s going to want to kick you to the curb. Now, of course, this is not always the case. And men are often just as much, if not more to blame for divorces in this age bracket as women are. But, many, many, females have testified to the legitimacy of this phenomena.

I’ve always said what makes women so confusing isn’t that they don’t know what they want—(because a lot of us don’t know what we want) it’s that they think that they do.

This seems especially true of women under the age of thirty.

. . . Just some food for thought.

 

But I digress . . .

 

Several months later everything was finalized and my marriage was over.

Fast forward five or six years and Lorena (my current wife) and I were discussing the subject of divorce among Christians. During the course of the discussion I had an epiphany: Parents seem so much more committed to their children than to their spouses—-I know, it’s weird anyone would ever draw a comparison here, but just think about it for a moment.  It isn’t that our kids don’t drive us bananas. Or that we don’t constantly butt heads with them. And sometimes the arguments get loud . . . things get thrown . . .  the police get called   . . . And maybe you spend a night or two in jail.

Hmm?

This has never happened to you?

Of course not. Me neither.

But there just seems to be this whole other level of determination when it comes to our kids that 1isn’t even in the same stratosphere with our spouse. It’s a resolve that no matter what, we are going to love them and work with them and do everything in our power to get along with them. Short of death, the idea of divorcing or abandoning our children is not even a thought, let alone an option.

So here’s what struck me so profoundly: While humans have the capacity to exude this type of commitment toward others,  for one reason or another, we often decide not to when it comes to our spouses.

 

Irreconcilable Differences?

Now,  I’m not interested in getting into a conversation about what qualifies as justifiable reason for divorce. Regardless of what the Bible says about that subject, I think most of us who have been divorced (including myself) know that that was not the reason we decided to end the marriage. We simply lacked the resolve.

Like the Church has done in so many other areas, we have looked over to see how the world was doing marriage and said, “That seems fine. Let’s do that.” It is no wonder the divorce rate is just as high among Christians as it is among the world. Because we have adopted their version of marriage. And the world’s version of marriage is, “This is a commitment to stay with a person for the rest of your life. But things change. People change.” Irreconcilable differences came to mean:

“They don’t pay enough attention to me.”

“We fight too much”

“I got married too young”

“We’re drifting apart”

“They’re never going to change”

“We have financial problems”

“I’m just not happy”

If you use your imagination, you can rearrange most of these statements to apply to your relationship with your child. Yet, notice how with the change of context these statements go from sounding like legit reasons, to lame excuses.

 

What is Marriage?—I Mean, Really?

Then again, one could argue that the difference between the bond with your spouse versus the bond with your child is blood. Your children are a part of you. You’re hard wired to have a stronger connection to them. I mean, on the one hand you have your own flesh and blood, on the other you have just—– a person . . . Right?

One of the most commonly quoted passages we hear at wedding ceremonies and regarding the subject of marriage in general comes from Genesis chapter 2, “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife and the two shall become one flesh.” I get that there is a point we’re trying to make by just quoting this portion and leaving the surrounding context out. But I am always curious when people quote a section of Scripture that starts with an unfinished thought. ” . . . For this reason ” For this reason, what? Have you ever asked yourself that question? For what reason? What is the reason for marriage?

Genesis 2:23 “This is now bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh.”

See, God had taken Adam’s rib and created Eve. God took one person and from that created two. Adam was missing something from that day on and his own commentary reveals to us the purpose of marital union—Because the woman had something that the man lost. She possessed part of him. Man would now spend his life looking for that one thing that eluded him and when he finds it, he wants it back. So he leaves his father and mother, cleaves to his wife, and regains what had been taken from him.

Beautiful, right?

But the question is . . . Do we really believe that?

Do we really believe that marriage is not just dealing in spiritually abstract ideas of, “commitment” but is, in all actuality, a reset. It’s Man being put back to One Flesh.

This is not just a sentimental story to make you feel all warm and fuzzy on the inside. It’s a revelation of the inner dynamics of what makes marriage, marriage.

I have to say, I only understood this passage from Genesis in a poetic way, that had no bearing on any real world situation. But the fact is, the reason a man is joined to his wife is not dissimilar from the reason a parent is joined to their child—-Because they are a part of them.

 

God Works It Out

 

Again, this is by no means a fix-all for marriages. Much, much, more can and should be said on the subject. But this was one personal reflection of mine I felt compelled to share. The lesson? When it comes to your spouse and children, do not put the ideas of commitment, resolve, faithfulness, and determination, into separate categories.

If you are going through some rough times with your spouse, I encourage you to change your thinking in this area.

It makes a world of difference.

And if you’ve already been divorced, trust Him, because regardless of a bad decision, He will work it all out for the good.

He certainly did for me. I’m now married to a beautiful and wonderful woman who enriches my life in so many ways.

In addition, I feel like Job, because my children literally multiplied over night!

Blessings!

. . . But also mercy!

Help me, Jesus!

Why Every Believer Should Pray in Tongues

 

 

 

 

I don’t know if you have ever experienced this type of phenomena but its been a pretty common scenario for me.  It goes something like this: You’re listening to a Bible teacher talking on a controversial subject. And at first it’s amazing. You’re thinking, “Oh, wow. There’s alot of good information here. I may finally get some legit answers on this subject!” Then it happens. What seems to be the inevitable fate of nearly every sermon we hear: Weird tangents that leave the Scriptures and start into gobbledegook. Or  the, “under the rug” treatment where Bible passages to the contrary are either completely ignored, or stamped with a generic disclaimer before moving on.

I’m a firm believer in doing unto others as I would like done unto me. So I’ve put this subject into an FAQ format in order to hopefully cover every angle, question and objection. If I missed something, or you have another question not addressed, please feel free to ask 🙂

Oh . . . And one more thing—I feel silly having to say this but just to clarify, this article isn’t about what people say or think about the Bible. It’s about what the Bible actually says on the subject. I mention this because I know there are entire schools of thought devoted to commentaries and what folks think the Scriptures imply as opposed to what they actually say about tongues. While I think these things can be helpful and informative, they are not divine and should not be treated as one in the same as the Bible.

 

 

 

 

Question/Objections:


“1 Corinthians 13:8-10 Says that when the, “perfect has come” tongues will cease. The, “perfect” refers to the Bible, so tongues are no longer an active gift.”

 

ANSWER: We need to be careful here. Does the passage actually say this? Or is this what we think it means? What it says is that at some point they will cease. But to assume that they already have is just that—- an assumption.

 

 

 

Question/Objection:

“The tongues mentioned in 1Corinthians were all known languages. They were not mindless babble like you see today.”

ANSWER: It is true that there is a gifting by the Spirit that causes someone to speak in a foreign language. You see this

in Acts 2 and it’s also mentioned here . . .

1Corinthians 12:10

To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:

In Greek, the word, kinds is genos and means, “stock, tribe, offspring, national descent.” When you read the context you see that this manifestation of the Spirit can be given as He wills (vs. 11).

But he mentions another type of tongue that would not fall under, kindred or foreign tongues.

1Corinthians 14

2: For he that speaks in an unknown tongue speaks not unto men, but unto God: for no man understands him; however in the spirit he speaks mysteries.

So when we talk about praying with tongues (which is what this article is about), we are not talking about any known language. No man understands. This is obviously different from a foreign or tribal tongue that could be interpreted.

The same accusation is made of Paul. People say because he was a Pharisee he knew multiple languages. And these were the tongues he prayed in when he said, “if I pray in an unknown tongue my spirit prays (1Cor 14:14).”

First of all, we already know that when someone prays in a tongue it is not a known language. But beside that, Paul said when he does pray with his spirit, his understanding (GK mind) is unfruitful. If those were learned languages, then his mind would be the very place from which it was coming from. Instead, Paul identifies a distinction between his mind, and his spirit. And so should we.

 

 

 

Question/Objection:

“The usage of tongues today is abused. You shouldn’t do it out loud unless there is an interpreter (1Cor 14:27-28)”

ANSWER: Agreed.

There is no profit if people don’t understand you. The Bible says you’re speaking into the air (1Cor 14:6-9).

If there is no interpreter, keep quiet. Just speak to yourself and to God.

Having noted this, you should never measure a doctrine based on it’s abuse.

 

 

 

Question/Objection:

“Paul spoke negatively about people who pray in tongues because it only edifies that person instead of the rest of the church.”

ANSWER: This is an opinion. There is no scripture that says that. While it is important to seek to edify the Church, we are also encouraged to speak in tongues and build ourselves up (1Cor 14:5).

One definition for, “edify” in Greek is, “to bring about good.” So, contrary to the claim, Paul says it’s a good thing.

 

 

 

Question/Objection:

“1Corinthians 12:11 says that these gifts are given as the Spirit wills—-not given to everyone.”

ANSWER: Correct. The, “gifts” in 1Corinthians 12 are given as the Spirit wills for the profit of all (1Cor 12:7). But it’s worth noting that the tongues mentioned in 1 Corinthians 14 which profit the individual (as opposed to all) are never directly referred to as a, “gift.” Instead, they’re referred to as praying in or with your spirit (14:2, 14-16).

See, if you call it a, “gift” then it leaves the impression that some may have it and some may not. But if you refer to it as Paul did, “praying with my spirit” it becomes a strange idea to assert that only a select number of Christians are able to pray with their spirit.

Besides that, the same verse in chapter 12 that mentions kindred tongues, also mentions prophesying (vs. 10). Yet later Paul says, “You may all prophesy one by one (1Cor 14:31).” This would not be possible if, “given as the Spirit wills” meant, “not all are able to.”

 

 

 

Question/Objection:

“1Corinthians 14:22 says tongues are a sign for the unbeliever. We should not be trying to use them to edify ourselves or as some secret prayer language.”

ANSWER: It is true that the Bible says tongues are for a sign. But the prior verse shows us that the type of tongues he refers to are the kind that are spoken to men. Notice the quote, “With men of other tongues and other lips will I speak unto this people yet for all that they will not hear Me . . .” Remember, the subject is the unknown tongue which is spoken not unto men, but unto God (1Cor 14:5).

 

 

Question/Objection:

“1Corinthians 12:28-31, asks the question “do all speak with tongues?” This shows us not everyone is going to speak in tongues

ANSWER: Correct. Not everyone speaks in tongues, nor will they. But that’s obvious. Does every Christian you know speak in tongues? Probably not. In fact, most believers I know don’t speak in tongues. So we really don’t need a Bible verse to tell us this to know it’s true. But the topic is whether every believer should pray in tongues. And the passage simply does not answer this. Now, there are many who believe this passage is implying that idea. But the text doesn’t say that. It can’t be verified. People are free to speculate, but insofar as what we actually can observe in the passage, that isn’t falsifiable.

Now, if one insists on entering the realm of speculation by talking about what they believe is implied (something I don’t recommend), then there are plenty explanations that could be made to account for why tongues are mentioned in this list.

For example, someone could argue that all of the positions named in the passage (apostle, prophet, healings, etc) minister to other people, therefore, the tongues would also be in reference to the type which can be interpreted and edifies the Church. And would exclude the prayer tongue of chapter 14 because it only edifies the individual and is thus, not technically a gift.

Again—-All of the above is speculation. But demonstrates how easy it is to come up with a reasonable explanation if you’re going to give authority to inferences (which, again, I would not advise).

 

 

Question/Objection:

“There is no Scripture that tells us God wants us all to pray in tongues.”

ANSWER: Let’s take a look at what the Scriptures do tell us.

Jude 1:20

But you, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in/with the Holy Ghost,

 

Ephesians 6:18

18: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in/with the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;

 

Here, God tells us all to pray in the Spirit. What does that mean? Do the Scriptures tell us what it looks like when someone prays in the Spirit? They sure do.

 

1Corinthians 14

2: For he that speaks in an unknown tongue speaks not unto men, but unto God: for no man understands him; however in the Spirit he speaks mysteries.

When someone speaks to God, what does the Bible call that? It’s called prayer. Well, this passage mentions speaking to God, so we know it’s about prayer. But not just any kind of prayer. It gives an explanation for what a person is doing when they pray in tongues. What’s it called? Speaking (or we could say, praying, because that’s what speaking to God is) in the Spirit.

1Corinthians 14

14: For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful. 15: What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also.

Read the above passages in different translations, and it will help you to see it even better.

 

 

Question/Objection:

Speaking in tongues is only one form or one type of prayer in the Spirit. Not the only one.

ANSWER: That is a good observation. Let’s look again and see if God addresses this as well . . .

Ephesians 6:18

18: Praying always with ALL prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;

Some translations say, “All KINDS of prayer” or, “EVERY KIND of prayer.”

If he told us to pray with all kinds of prayer, that by itself, would be enough to know that prayer tongues would be included. But he actually takes it one step further and says to pray with all kinds of prayer IN THE SPIRIT—making it unmistakable.

Finally, the easiest way to know God wants all of us to speak in tongues is because He said so, word for word.

 

1Corinthians 14

5: Now I want you all to speak in tongues but even more to prophesy . . .

 

Prophecy (speaking God’s Word—See Greek definition) is important. Even more important than speaking in tongues. But He still tells us He desires we do both.

 

 

 

Questions/Objection:

“If God wants me to speak in tongues then it’ll happen— until then I’m not going to try and force anything.”

ANSWER: Right. And if God wants you to pray in English then it’ll happen. And if He wants you to read the Bible then it’ll happen. And if He wants you to go to church then it’ll happen—- but until it does no use in trying to force it, right?

No. You can’t make God’s responsibility what He has already made your responsibility. He told you to pray in the Spirit.

And for the record, this idea that it will, “just happen” with no effort or involvement on your part is unscriptural. There isn’t a single place in ALL the New Testament that says, “The Holy Spirit will speak through you” or, “a power will come over you and make you do it.” No, in every instance, it is the person who does the speaking.

Now, that isn’t to say the Spirit won’t prompt or inspire you, but we often have these strange and mystical expectations of things that can hinder us from true, biblical experiences. It may or may not happen the way we are expecting, but the safest way to a true experience is to stay with what the Bible actually says.

Straight Eye for the Queer Guy: My Advice to Gay Christians

depressed

 

 

The title of this article alone is sure to draw fire. And it will sound like something along the lines of, “How dare you think you can even speak to the issue of homosexuality let alone offer advice to someone who is gay. How do you know what it’s like?”

Okay, okay . . . But come on . . . You know it’s a clever title. See, because there was that TV show and I reversed the— . . . . .  eh, never mind.

Anyway comments like this have very subtle connotations. They assume that those who have gone through a certain experience, or have certain feelings, or are born with certain traits, have a superior moral compass than those who haven’t.  Therefore, if you’re not a minority,  you can’t talk about racism, if you’re not a woman you can’t talk about abortion, if you’re not depressed you can’t talk about depression, and if you’re not gay, you can’t talk about homosexuality.

Boiled down to it’s most basic form: Morality—-right and wrong, good and bad, is handed down to us by a small percentage of individuals  who possess superior powers of discernment.

Other than the obvious issue of subjectiveness with such an idea, I don’t know if I have ever really bought into the premise.

I’ve found in my own life that not being directly involved with certain situations lends an element of objectivity that is very difficult to have otherwise. In fact, some of the best, most enlightening advice I have ever received came from people who had never been where I was. Those on the outside can often bring a clarity to subjects that have, over time, grown confusing and seemingly helpless to those on the inside.

But you don’t know what it feels like.”

Right. That is true. But maybe I don’t really consider that a, “disqualifier.” Truth and error, right and wrong, very seldom have anything to do with our feelings. In fact, until recently, much of society’s morality has been arrived at by reason not by human impulses.

Example: I don’t punch someone in the throat when I’m sitting at a stop light and see them throwing trash out their window. Not because I don’t feel a deep, primal need to, but because I override that and instead, side with my intellect. I’m able to step back, evaluate the situation, and call to mind the fact that I have never once in my whole life won a fight. Which then leads me to a much better moralistic conclusion.

So no,  I do not think that because I am not gay, and do not know what it’s like, that this therefore means I am incapable of arriving at the correct point of view about it. And, in fact, I believe that people who spend too much time enveloped in the throes of certain situations have the tendency of becoming incapable of arriving at the right point of view.

 

In a Way Our Situations Are All Different–Yet the Same

 

But since we are talking about who feels what, let’s look at the other side of this coin: While it’s true I don’t know what it’s like to be a gay Christian and the pressures that it brings, gay folks don’t know what it’s like to be a heterosexual Christian male.

“Oh give me a break! That’s easy!”

Really? . . . How do you know?

Men are not monogamous by nature. They are not born having the desire to be with only one woman for the rest of their lives. And while society is becoming increasingly accepting of men who have extra marital affairs, it is still by in large condemned (as it should be). As Christian men, we have an even higher expectation. Not only are we to stay faithful to one woman, but to love her as Christ loves the Church and to make every attempt to live knowledgeable of her needs. None of these expectations come naturally.  They require a lot of patience, endurance and (as my wife will tell you,) practice.

What Not to do

So, that being said, I’d like to share some basic principles that are actually common knowledge among believers. You’ll notice these apply to nearly every aspect of Christian behavior—-gay or straight. I point that out because I think it’s important we clearly establish that those who struggle with homosexuality are not, “weird” or, “abnormal” or anything like that. They’re just like the rest of us, and can benefit from what the Bible teaches about sin, and self control.

 

1. Whether you’re gay or straight, do not equate feelings with action. It really helps to get this idea clear in our minds: The fact that we experience temptation does not mean we are sinning. The Bible says Jesus Himself was tempted in every way that we are yet without sin. The temptation and draw of something does not equal action of something. This is where our culture and the media have really muddied the waters— especially when it comes to homosexuality. Even though there is an obvious difference between feeling and action, there is a coordinated effort to blur this line. Because if it was ever widely established that being born with certain inclinations does not mean you have to live a certain way, many of the arguments would fall apart. Including the comparison of the homosexual  to a minority race —unless we were trying to say that whatever skin color you are born with determines how you must act . . . Which . . . I’m pretty sure would be racist.

 

 

Unfortunately, the result of this flawed logic is people who now think they were born with no control over how they live and act. Which is an absolute farce.  One does not need to be religious to recognize that, as humans, what makes us unique is the ability to override our more base, animalistic tendencies and when necessary, act contrary to them.

 

2. Whether you’re gay or straight, don’t pray prayers that sound like, “God take these feelings away or else I’ll know it’s your will to go ahead and do this.”  Every straight married man who prays that kind of a prayer has a frying pan to the head in his future.

 

3.  Whether you’re gay straight, don’t  buy into the lie that your struggles are unique. Once you convince yourself that there is, “no one who understands” you essentially give yourself a universal pass for any and all behavior.  As previously mentioned, experiencing temptations and feelings contrary to God’s Will is far from unique—that’s what makes you a human in need of a Savior.

 

4. Whether you’re gay or straight, do not let sexual attraction define you. Just because you have these feelings does not mean they are the sum total of who you are. If you buy into this lie, then soon you’ll develop a sense of justification for living any kind of lifestyle you want—After all, we can’t deny who we are, right?

 

5. Whether you’re gay or straight, don’t search the internet or other sources for permission to do, “whatever you want”–because I guarantee you’ll find them.

 

6. Finally, whether you’re gay or straight, get it out of your head that there is going to be some kind of finish line in this life. We are all a work in progress and nearly every Christian can tell you they are a recovering, “sinaholic” who occasionally (if not constantly) relapses. Most will live their whole lives revisiting bad habits no matter how hard they try not to. The struggle is not evidence that there is something wrong with you, but on the contrary, actually shows you’re just as normal as the rest of us.

Why Denominations may not be Such a Bad Thing

I don’t really have anything negative to say about denominations. If you look at most, regardless of what they evolved into over time, they were born from a lack of proper attention given to a biblical subject. In other words, they’re here because prior to their existence, we, as the Church, had neglected certain truths and swept them under the rug.

If you think about it, the Bible is a big book. It’s the living Word of God. We have studied it for thousands of years yet continue to mine gold from it’s depths. Like the turning of a diamond before a brilliant light, this Book shines forth seemingly never ending truths as we gaze into it . . .

Dang . . .

Imagine  if I talked like that all the time?

Anyways . . . So it makes sense that we would need various members of the Body to magnify the multiple facets of God’s Word.

In science, you have different studies. Some deal in Chemistry. Others in Biology. Others Meteorology, Anthropology etc. None of these are separate from one another. They do, however all have a different focus. And yet they’re all  working to achieve the same, ultimate, purpose of bringing about good to mankind. The biologist does not get mad or upset when the botanist doesn’t want to focus on  . . .  Eh, whatever it is biologists are into. No, instead he has the bigger picture in mind and knows that even though they are going about it in different ways, they are on the same team, headed toward the same goal.

Maybe we’re Supposed to be Lopsided on our own

The Bible says to no longer know men after the flesh but as New Creations in Christ. We are all members of the same Body and same Family. What happens all too often, however, is instead of seeing ourselves as One, we think that every ministry should be a self sustaining organism. Then we get upset because we don’t feel they emphasize what ought to be how-many-human-body-parts-remain-undiscovered-131111-670x440emphasized. “I don’t like such and such a minister because he doesn’t talk enough about xyz.” “So and so focuses too much on this— not enough on that” etc.  In other words, we’re saying that they’re lopsided and incomplete. And they are.

But if you take that same ministry/minister and place them back in the Body where they should be, viewing them not as a whole but as they actually are—only a part, then a new perspective emerges.

Our Failure to see the Big Picture

The problem is us. It’s our unwillingness to recognize that other believers possess portions of the same truths we do. We want to be the lone ranger standing atop Mount Sinai, with a long flowing beard, dictating everything the Almighty wants to say to His people.

. . . That was a really mangled euphemism— not sure where I was going with it, but you get the idea.

We have this same attitude when we leave a church. We point out all the bad saying, “they don’t do this they don’t teach that. They emphasize this too much they don’t emphasize that enough.” Well, you didn’t feel that way three years prior when you started going, did you? So what happened? You probably grew. You got what you needed. Then the Holy Spirit started taking you in a different direction and you moved on. You should look back in hindsight and thank God for that church instead of criticizing it. I talk to people all the time who say, “I used to like that minister. I’d listen to him all the time. But I can’t anymore. He’s unbalanced.” Well, if God was able to use him to teach and grow you for a season, maybe He’s still using him to teach and grow others who are just entering, or still in that season.

I don’t think we give the Holy Spirit enough credit in these things either. He knows where you need to be and what truths you are ready to accept and so He maneuvers you to that end.

“Well, if its in the Bible, then we should be ready to receive it regardless! If you truly loved God you’d be willing to accept whatever He says.”

Oh brother.

Christians refuse to accept what God says all the time. And i mean . . . All . . . The . . . Time.

If you want to believe you’re an exception to that, I’m not going to wake you up.

Of course, as with anything, what I’ve said on this subject is not all that can or should be said. But my hope is to create a new perspective and maybe rebuild some burned bridges. To remind us we are a family. We should be able to look at all of these ministries and denominations as a gift from God to help us see things that we may have missed otherwise.

And who knows . . . Maybe ignite in us the realization that unity is closer than we thought.