Monday, February 23, 2015

Dealing with Same-Sex Marriage.

Over the next few weeks we'll take a look at some of the areas of culture and life that are more hotly debated. Please understand this isn't about condemning anyone or passing judgment on anyone. It's about a brief look at what the Bible says on the topic and how we should deal with it. So let's get started!

A person cannot go for very long in today's American culture without being confronted with the topic of homosexuality or same-sex marriage. We'll discuss the topic of homosexuality in a coming blog but this week we'll focus on same-sex marriage. We see these topics brought up in films, television, the media, government legislation, and even in religious debates. Just 15 years ago the idea was so far removed from the mainstream of society that it wasn't really discussed. Now with society's attempt to gain acceptance for this it has become common place and not given much of a second thought by many. But when it comes to same-sex marriage our question shouldn't be what does our society, culture, neighbor, friends, co-workers, family or even what you "think" or "feel" about it. The real question, as with any and every part of life, should be what does God tell us about His plan for it.

God's Word, the Bible, is noticeably silent about the topic of same-sex marriage. We can speculate as to why its not mentioned but the obvious answer here is most likely the right one. It's because same-sex marriage was not God's intention for marriage. We read in Genesis 2:24 about God's original design for marriage. It says, "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh" (NIV). God's original design for marriage was that a man and woman would come together and be united in a marriage relationship that would last for life. As with so many other areas of life man has found a way to replace God's holy plan with a man-made plan that goes against God's original design.

What we have to do is drop the title "same-sex" from consideration and look at what God's design is for marriage. If a same-sex situation fits into God's design then it would be fine to proceed with it. But if it doesn't then we need to make sure to stay within the boundaries of God's design. Marriage, regardless of what a man-made government says, is a holy institution, designed by God to foster love and devotion for a spouse and is a reflection of Christ's love for the church. Through marriage God has designed for the continuation of the human race. He has designed marriage to be the institution that brings complementary traits from both sexes to help develop children in a way that builds in them an understanding and an appreciation of both sexes. It is not about man rewriting a plan that was designed and put in place by the divine wisdom of Almighty God. It isn't about acceptance. It's isn't about normalizing something God does not support in His Word. It isn't about rights, equality, feelings, or how we as finite and simple-minded human beings think about a topic (Isaiah 55:9). It's about the divine wisdom of God knowing what He wants for mankind and Him putting in place a process to accomplish His will for marriage. If we as enlightened human beings can rewrite God's plan for marriage then what is to stop us from trying the same thing by making salvation and sin fit into our own views?

God has designed marriage to be between one man and one woman. It is not our place to rewrite God's plan and institute cohabitation, polygamy, or same-sex marriage as viable options for a design God formed with His wisdom before time existed. Please understand that this post is not about bashing those that feel that same-sex marriage is a viable option. If a same-sex couple were to approach me about marriage I would treat them with the same Christ-like love I would if I were approached by a couple where one was a Christian and one was not. I would not marry them based on what God's Word says and not because of anything else. Would I share with them what God's plan for marriage is? Yes I would. Would I try to help them see God's plan for marriage? Yes I would. Do they have to agree with me in what God's plan for marriage is? No they don't. But in the end it isn't me that they are arguing with and it isn't my rule that they are trying to rewrite. In the end we have to look at what God gives us as His plan for marriage and then decide, like every part of life, am I going to follow God's plan or go my own way. If we go our own way we need to be prepared for the consequences. If we follow God's plan we can look forward to His blessings.

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Monday, February 16, 2015

Dealing with Abortion.

Over the next few weeks we'll take a look at some of the areas of culture and life that are more hotly debated. Please understand this isn't about condemning anyone or passing judgment on anyone. It's about a brief look at what the Bible says on the topic and how we should deal with it. So let's get started!

It's been estimated that since abortion became legal in the United States in 1973 that more than 55 million abortions have been performed. That's a sobering thought when it comes to thinking about all of those people that never had a chance at life. There are plenty of statistics on abortion that can give you an idea of who has an abortion, why they have it, or even how far along they are when they have it. A good resource for those statistics is

Pro-Choice or Pro-Life?
But we aren't here to discuss statistics. At the heart of the abortion issue is the determination as to when life begins. For those that are Pro-Choice life does not begin until a child is delivered. For those that are Pro-Life the moment of conception marks the beginning of life. I do not understand the view that life starts at birth because when my wife was pregnant with our two sons I could feel a small life moving inside of her womb. When a child is delivered by c-section we see a life, not a fetus, that has been taken from the womb. But these arguments have been debated and argued over and rehashed for much longer than the last 42 years. So what does the Bible say about when life begins? Unfortunately like most issues in life we don't have a verse that says "According to God, life begins at..." But a good text to consider on the issue is Psalm 139:13-14. It says "For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well" (NIV). God is intimately involved in the development of each human life. He "knits" us so to speak. That means He takes great care and precision to make us just like we need to be. He does this while we are in the womb. With all life being sacred to God the lives of unborn children are to be cared for and protected not discarded as if they were a mistake.

The Christian Response.
When it comes to abortion a follower of Christ should do two things. First off if we know someone who is considering abortion as an option then we should do what we can to encourage them to choose life. That doesn't mean beat them over the head with the Bible until they give up. It means lovingly showing them that God loves them and the unborn child. It means showing them that God has a purpose for both lives and encourage them to pursue adoption. Second, if we know someone who has had an abortion we need to show them love rather than judgment. Although some claim they have no remorse or feelings about a previous abortion, many psychologists suggest otherwise. Generally there is some level of guilt, shame, and other difficult emotions that go along with having an abortion. The last thing a woman needs after an abortion is judgment, condemnation, and guilt dumped on her by others. Our job as followers of Christ is to encourage them to seek God's forgiveness (1 John 1:9) and help them down the path towards restoration. In the end only God can bring about forgiveness and restoration.

There is help.
If you know someone who is considering an abortion encourage them to seek out a local Pregnancy Care Center. They can give great counsel as to what options are available and give some much needed help. If you know of someone who has had an abortion and needs someone to talk to about it, then encourage them to seek out help. Pastors, Christian Counselors, or even someone at a Pregnancy Care Center will be able to sit down with them and help them work through their feelings and emotions.

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Monday, February 9, 2015

There's not 50 Shades of Gray. Only 1.

I want to preface what I am about to say with this little fact. I've not read the book 50 Shades of Grey and I have no plans to see the movie. So I have limited knowledge about the content of the book or what the movie will contain. That being said I've read enough about the book and movie to understand the gist of what the story entails. With that in mind, let's get started!

Misty and I were talking a few nights ago after seeing the trailer for 50 Shades of Grey on TV. She said she was going to see the movie and wanted to know what I thought. I told her I didn't think it was a movie she would want to see but she needed to read reviews and then decide for herself if it was a movie she ought to see. I told her I could no more tell her not to see the movie than I could tell her to wash my clothes or cook my supper. But see my wife has a twisted sense of humor in the fact that she likes to make comments from time to time to see what kind of rise she can get out of me. You'd think after nearly 13 years of marriage I'd be able to spot these set ups but I can't. She's good at them. She made a comment that endeared her to me all the more after she didn't get quite the rise she expected from me. She basically said she didn't need to see that movie because she respected me as her husband and because of what I mean to her. To me that comment showed me that she wants to avoid one big gray area by skipping 50 Shades of Grey.

Now this post isn't about guilt tripping a person into not seeing 50 Shades of Grey. It's not about saying you don't respect your spouse if you do see it. What I want is for a person to read this post and consider whether they should see 50 Shades of Grey or similar movies. I will be honest with you I have watched movies and witnessed scenes that I had no business watching. Those images are scenes that cannot be unseen. Misty and I watched a movie a few weeks ago that surprised us with scenes that caught us off guard. Unfortunately Hollywood believes that what sells a movie is sex and foul language. It's almost unavoidable when you watch a movie nowadays. But what about movies that blatantly push a distorted view of sex, much less God's intentions for sex. When it comes to a movie like this you have to ask, "What is the reason for going to see 50 Shades of Grey?" Some will say because they read the book or because their friends are going to see it. Some will say they are taking their spouse to see it so its okay. In the end it's not about the justification we give for seeing the movie. It's about what viewing the movie does to us. 

Most will say they can compartmentalize the movie from their normal way of thinking but you really can't. What we take in affects our view of the world around us. In the end we are led towards a place of compromise when we watch a movie that blatantly distorts and perverts something that God created as good. We find ourselves in a gray area between upholding the purity of mind that God expects from us and the obvious acceptance of sin as being okay. The catch is that Satan doesn't have to get you to the dark side. He just needs to get you into the gray area. When he does that you've already lost. 

So the real question to ask is what is the benefit of watching 50 Shades of Grey? How does it benefit you as a person (or even as a Christian)? How does it benefit your marriage? The truthful answer is it won't benefit anything. You as a believer will only have watched something that will tear at the holiness God intends for you to pursue. As for your marriage, it won't help anything there either. Just ask yourself honestly whether you should see the movie and I think the answer will be pretty clear. 

I'll close with this. I'm sure some read this wanting to hear me tell them why they can't go see this movie. I can no more tell you not to see this movie than I can tell you that you have to read this blog. In the end the decision is yours, not mine. I just want you to consider whether you should see it or not. If you expected to read a post full of Bible verses condemning 50 Shades of Grey and other movies with pornographic images in it then you've read the wrong post. Although I don't think anyone would necessarily need it but if you want some verses that will help you decide whether you should watch it or not, here are a few to consider.

Job 31:1 - It's up to us what we choose to look at.
1 Corinthians 10:23 - Just because it's available to watch doesn't mean it benefits us.
1 Peter 1:15-16 - We are to pursue holiness in all we do.
Psalm 51:10 - Do you desire the purity of heart that God desires for you?

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Monday, February 2, 2015

Experiencing God's Faithfulness to Provide

Sunday afternoon was interesting to say the least. While traveling down I-40 hauling calves to the stockyard to be sold we lost 5th gear in the truck we were driving. When hauling a livestock trailer people are generally understanding of you traveling at or below the speed limit. So we went down the interstate in 4th gear about 5 miles under the speed limit. On the way home we made it almost to Hickory when it seemed like we lost the rest of the transmission. We coasted for about 3/4 of a mile in the breakdown lane before I was able to get the transmission to finally cooperate again. In the end we were able to get the truck, trailer, and passengers back safely to Granite Falls. But not without the transmission sounding like the bottom was falling out of it. Needless to say it made for an interesting story to share at church on Sunday night. 

While teaching that night about God's faithfulness to provide I referenced this story. I shared how we barely made it back and had just enough left in the transmission to get home. But then I shared about how God doesn't operate like this when it comes to His provision. When God provides for us it's because of His faithfulness. He is faithful to provide for us because of His love and goodness that He wants to share with us. So you can rest in the fact that God will be faithful to provide what you need, but not necessarily what you want. God also has more than enough resources to provide us with anything we need according to His will. As I mentioned last night, we so often ask for "just enough" to get by with. We'll bargain with God saying "if you'll give me just enough of" something then we'll be satisfied with it. But we ought to ask God to provide us with all that His will requires that we need. We don't need more than that. We don't need less than that. But God has endless resources at His command and will meet our needs according to His will and according to His faithfulness.

The next time you need God to provide for you change your perspective from asking for "just enough" to instead asking for what God's will says you need. You might be surprised at "just" what God will do.

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