Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Today Reminder (Controversy) – 22 May 2018

A reminder for today
For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. (Romans 1:26-27)

Pope Francis tells gay man ‘God made you like this and loves you like this’ the sun reported. What the Pope said and what my bible teaches seems to contradict the statement made by the Pope. I have never been a fan of the Pope or the Vatican. I found a very interesting piece on homosexuality, let’s look at the Bible. 

It is a surprise to many people to discover that there are only a handful of passages in the Bible that directly mention homosexuality. Yet despite its infrequent mention, where the subject does come up, the Bible has some very important things to say about it. We need to understand them if we’re to avoid the twin mistakes of homophobia and thinking God is indifferent about how we use our sexuality.  

Genesis 19
Sodom has become so associated with homosexual conduct that its name was for many ears a byword for it. But is 'sodomy' really what Sodom is about?

The account describes the men of the city attempting to forcibly have sex with two angelic visitors to the city, who have appeared in the form of men. Later parts of the Old Testament accuse Sodom of a range of sins: oppression, adultery, lying, abetting criminals, arrogance, complacency and indifference to the poor. None of these even mentions homosexual conduct. This has led some people to wonder if we have read homosexuality into the Genesis narrative, when in fact the real issue was social oppression and injustice. But a close look at the text makes it clear that homosexuality was in fact involved.

Although the Hebrew word for “know” (yada) can just mean to “get to know” someone (rather than to “know” them sexually), it is clear from the crowd’s aggression (and Lot’s dreadful attempt at offering them his daughters as an alternative) that they are looking for much more than social acquaintance. Hence what happens next: the angels warn Lot that judgment is imminent (v.13).  
In the New Testament, Jude adds an important insight:

...just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire. (Jude 7)

What happened at Sodom is clearly meant to be something of a cautionary tale. Jude makes it clear that their ungodliness involved sexual immorality. They were punished for sexual sin along with the other sins of which they were guilty. 

Jude also highlights the nature of their sexual desires: they pursued “unnatural desire” (literally, unnatural “flesh”). Some have suggested that this relates to the fact that the visitors to the city were angelic; Jude references angelic sin earlier in his letter. But these angels appeared as men, and the baying crowd outside Lot’s house showed no evidence of knowing they were angelic. Their desire was to have sex with the men staying with Lot. In other words, it was the homosexual nature of their desires, and not just the violent expression of them, that is highlighted in the New Testament.

Romans 1:18-32
Turning to the New Testament, Romans 1 has much to say about the nature and character of homosexual behaviour. 

Paul’s aim in these early chapters is to demonstrate that the whole world is unrighteous in God’s sight, and therefore in need of salvation. In Romans 1:18-32 he zeroes in on the Gentile world, describing the way it has turned away from God and embraced idolatry. The particular details in the passage may indicate that Paul is using the Greco-Roman culture surrounding his readers as a case in point. 

Gentile society faces God’s wrath because it has suppressed the truth that God has revealed about himself in creation (verses 18-20). In the verses that follow, Paul illustrates how this has happened, giving three examples of how what has been known about God has been exchanged for something else: they exchange the glory of God for images of creatures (verse 23); the truth of God for a lie, leading to full-blown idolatry, worshipping created things (verse 25); and reject the knowledge of God (verse 28), exchanging “natural” relations for “unnatural” ones:

For this reason, God gave them up to dishonourable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. (Romans 1:26-27)
Two important and sobering truths are apparent from these verses:

1. Homosexual desire is not what God originally intended. This is not to say that homosexual desire is the only thing that God did not originally intend. All of our desires have been distorted by sin. But Paul does describe both lesbian and male homosexual behaviour as “unnatural.” Some have argued this refers to what is natural to the people themselves, so that what is in view is heterosexual people engaging in homosexual activity and thereby going against their “natural” orientation. According to this view, Paul is not condemning all homosexual behaviour, but only that which goes against the person’s own sexual inclinations. But this view cannot be supported by the passage itself. The words for “natural” and “against nature” refer not to our subjective experience of what feels natural to us, but to the fixed way of things in creation. The nature that Paul says homosexual behaviour contradicts is God’s purpose for us, revealed in creation and reiterated throughout Scripture.

Paul’s reference to lesbianism as well as male homosexual conduct also supports the idea that he is condemning all homosexual activity, and not just the man-boy relationships that occurred in Roman culture.

The strength of Paul’s language here should not make us think that homosexual conduct is the worst or only form of sinful behaviour. Paul may be highlighting it because it is a particularly vivid example, and may have been especially pertinent for his readers in Rome given their cultural context. Either way it is illustrative of something that is the case for all of us: as we reject God we find ourselves craving what we are not naturally designed to do. This is as true of a heterosexual person as of a homosexual person.  There are no grounds in this passage for singling out homosexual people for any kind of special condemnation. The same passage indicts all of us.

2. Our distorted desires are a sign that we have turned away from God. It is important to recognize that Paul is talking here in social rather than individual terms. He is describing what happens to culture as a whole, rather than particular people. The presence of same-sex desire in some of us is not an indication that we’ve turned from God more than others, but a sign that humanity as a whole has done so. It is not the only sign, and in everyone there is no doubt more than one sign or another - but it is a sign nevertheless.

Paul writes that alongside the gospel, “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men” (Romans 1:19). Though there will one day be a “day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed” (Romans 2:5), there is already a present-day expression of God’s anger against sin. We see God’s wrath in this: he gives us what we want. 
In response to the exchanges Paul has described, we see three instances of God giving us over to live in the outcome of our sinful desires. This is his present-day judgment against sin. We ask for a reality without him and he gives us a taster of it. 

In each case the “giving over” results in an intensification of the sin and the further breakdown of human behaviour. God gives humanity over to impure lusts and dishonourable bodily conduct (verse 24), and to “dishonourable passions” (verse 26). The exchanging of natural relations for unnatural leads to being given over to a “debased mind” and the flourishing of “all manner of unrighteousness” which Paul unpacks in a long list of antisocial behaviours (verse 28-31). Sin leads to judgment, but judgment also leads to further sin. 

The presence of all these sinful acts is a reminder that we live in a world which has deliberately turned away from God in all sorts of ways and is therefore experiencing a foretaste of God’s anger and courting its final outpouring on the day of judgment. Again, homosexual activity is certainly not the only sinful act. All of us are guilty. But it listed among them as one of the ways in which human nature as a whole has been changed from what God originally intended. 

You can also look at Leviticus 18 & 20, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 and 1 Timothy 1:8-10.

Attempts to read these texts as anything other than prohibitions of homosexual behaviour do not ultimately work. The plain reading of each passage is the right one. It is homosexual practice in general, rather than only certain expressions of it, which are forbidden in Scripture. To attempt to demonstrate otherwise is to violate the passages themselves. Yet these very same texts list homosexuality alongside many other forms of behaviour that are also against God’s will. The very passages that show us that homosexual activity is a sin, make it very clear that it is not a unique sin. It is one example of what is wrong with all of us.

Have an awesome day dear friend of Jesus. 


Monday, 21 May 2018

Today Reminder (Talk) – 21 May 2018

A reminder for today
Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. (Matthew 18:15)

This weekend was great. I had a very busy Saturday, but a very relaxed Sunday. How was your weekend, my friend? I do hope that you are well rested and that you are all set and ready for the week ahead. I have found in my life that when you talk about the things that bother you, you get a lot further than when you keep them to yourself. The enemy loves to brew up these little differences in us to cause irritation and finally an argument. 

When you do not agree on something or you do not like something, talk about it. For example, a married couple of thirty years get divorced because they can’t get along when the actual reason was that the husband hated the pasta his wife made but never said anything. I love to say that I can’t read your mind therefore you need to tell me what is bothering you. 

What happens is that this irritation builds up and finally explodes. Then everything is pulled out of proportion when a simple discussion would have solved the entire issue. So, talk to each other and do not store up your issues until they become a mountain. 

Remember, that to many we are the only Bible they will see. If we do not live a life that resembles the teachings of our Lord, then who are we. Many have called Christians hypocrites, because of the way we life. We go to church on Sunday, but during the week we live a life that is opposite the way of the Lord. I have fallen over that exact stumble block in my life. I called myself a Christian, but I lived a life that never showed Jesus to those around me. I still struggle with this from time to time, especially in our country where we are constantly attacked for no reason and they still blame us for their current mistakes. The enemy loves to use this to stir up people. 

It is simple really. Talk about the things that bother you and live according to the guidelines the Lord gave us. Love everyone and be patient and caring. Listen and make compromises so that we create an environment where everyone will see Jesus through the way we live.

Lord, thank you for another day given to us by grace. Let us not waste a single minute but instead let us live in every moment for your glory so that other will see you through us. In Jesus name. 

Have an awesome day dear friend of Jesus. 


Friday, 18 May 2018

Today Reminder (Time) – 18 May 2018

A reminder for today
Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest. (Joshua 1:9)

What is the biggest mistake we make? We think we have time. Time is free, but it is priceless. You can’t own it, but you can use it. You can’t keep it, but you can spend it. Once it is lost, you can never get it back. The average person lives 78 years. We spend 28.3 years of our life sleeping. That is almost a third of our life, but 30% of us struggle to sleep. We spend 10.5 years of our life working, but over 50% of us wants to leave our current jobs. Time is more valuable than money. You can get more money, but you can never get more time. Steve Jobs said that your time is limited so do not waste it living someone else’s life. The bad news is that time flies, the good news is that you are the pilot. Everyday you are blessed with another 48 hours. You would never waste it if it was money, so why do you waste it when it comes to time? To realise the value of one second ask the person who just missed an accident. We think it is people wasting our time, when it is really us allowing them to do so. In reality these two people live inside us. Do not let someone be a priority when you are only an option to them. Some of us lose the people most important to us, because we do not value their time. Some of us do not realise how important someone is to us until they are gone. Inside of all of us are two voices. One voice that wants to uplift us and wants us to expand and to grow. And then there is the other voice. The voice that holds us back and makes us lazy and keeps us complacent. The voice that restricts us from our potential. Every day when we wake up until the moment we go to sleep there is this constant battle between these two voices. Guess which one wins? The one we listen to the most. The one that we feed. The one that we amplify.

It is our choice how we use our time. Life and time are the best two teachers. Life teaches us to make good use of time and time teaches us the value of life. As William Shakespeare said: “Time is very slow for those who want, very fast for those who are scared, very long for those who are sad, very short for those who celebrate, but for those who love, time is eternal.”

God is love and with Him our time will be eternal. He is the voice we must amplify, the voice we must listen to, the voice we must follow. He is the way and the only way. Jesus said in Matthew 6: Therefore do not worry or be anxious (perpetually uneasy, distracted), saying, ‘What are we going to eat?’ or ‘What are we going to drink?’ or ‘What are we going to wear?’ For the [pagan] Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; [but do not worry,] for your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But first and most importantly seek (aim at, strive after) His kingdom and His righteousness [His way of doing and being right—the attitude and character of God], and all these things will be given to you also. “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Seek God first and live in every moment.

Have an awesome day dear friend of Jesus.