Luke 8:54

"And he put them all out, and took her by the hand, and called, saying, Maid arise." Luke 8:54

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Such Amazing Grace

Spiritual Lessons
Such Amazing Grace

Image result for amazing grace sheet music antiqueYou know you’re really not as bad as you think you are. You’re worse. Maybe that will sound somewhat shocking to someone. But I’m serious. It’s true. God said it Himself. In Isaiah, He compared our “righteousness” as filthy rags. That’s our righteousness! Not our sin. Not our sinful natures. Not our deceitful hearts. I can only imagine what He’d compare that to. Let’s just say, it wouldn’t be pretty.

I grew up a conservative girl in a Christian home. I could probably count on both hands how many times I wasn’t in church on Sunday morning. I’m sure people would probably have considered me a somewhat ‘good person’. I remember cheating on a school math test when I was in 6th grade and then lying about it to my parents. However, your sin will find you out- and I got in trouble for it. But honestly, I never really felt like one of those vile and wicked sinners you always hear about in churches. I grew up with an acute knowledge that I was a sinner, certainly, and that I needed God’s forgiveness. And praise God- He did choose to forgive me of my sin when I accepted Him as my Savior at 13 years old. But I’ve never had an amazing testimony. At least, not one of those ones you hear about. Like, where God delivered someone miraculously from a life of addiction to drugs and alcohol, or adultery, or even a lifestyle of homosexuality.

It hasn’t been until recently in my life that I realized what a great deliverance God truly gave me from sin when He saved me. And I think honestly, it isn’t until we get close to Christ, and see His purity and holiness, that we understand more who we truly are. Wretched sinners. Kind of like the contrast of black and white, or light with darkness. One reveals very well, its opposite.

I grew up a very judgmental person. And I very easily made fun of people who weren’t like me. Especially people who weren’t Christians. And maybe not necessarily out loud, but certainly in my heart. Why? Simply because I couldn’t relate to or understand them. And what lay at the bottom of it was nothing more than my own disgusting pride. It’s sad, and I hate to admit it, but there it is. And in some ways, honestly, I think I was probably much more like the ‘average conservative Christian’ than we’d care to think.

Growing up, I’ve noticed a common pattern within Christian circles. A pattern that screams ‘I’m better than you’. Namely to the lost, but also to other Christians. As if by nature we are any different than any other human being in the world. Somehow, we’ve accepted the pride of considering ourselves to be less sinful and less capable of sin than others. Then we turn around and condemn them for it. This is not only wrong, it’s completely absurd. Pride is at its root. And it is the most unmerciful, ungracious, and unloving of attitudes. I can assure you, it is NOT the mind of Christ. And as His children and as His ambassadors, we have no business holding this attitude either.

So what makes “Christians” any less the sinner than the lost man you might meet on the street? What makes YOUR sin less wicked than his? Nothing. And I want to add a note to clarify here- because some of you might start to think I’m teaching heresy. I’m not. There is no excuse for sin after salvation. I know we HAVE the blood of Jesus Christ. I know we have HIS spirit. I know that HE lives inside of us as born again Christians. I know that He gives us the POWER over SIN. We no longer have to sin. And we are forgiven. But that is exactly my point. The difference is completely JESUS- not you.

“For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)
“Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. (I Corinthians 6:9-11)

We are all very capable of any and all of the sins specifically mentioned there and much more. ‘And such were some of you: but ye are washed.’ Truly, we cannot put any trust in our own flesh. Our hearts are still just as deceitfully wicked after we are saved as before. But I believe the mark of a true Christian isn’t that he is not capable of sin, no matter what the sin, but that God has given him the power not to be in that sin. There are some sins we would all like to believe that we are just not capable of committing. Like, fornication or adultery. Or, maybe homosexuality? But lusting in our hearts is still lust against a Holy God, period. What about chronic or suicidal depression? You might say, “I’d never get to point in my life where I’d ever think about jumping out of a moving car.” I did once. During one of the hardest and darkest times of my life. And let me assure you, I was just as much a Christian then, as I am today. What about cutting or self-abuse? Emotional pain that hurts so deeply that only physical pain is a relief. “I’d never drink.” Or “I’d never steal something.” Or “I’d never let myself be addicted to cigarettes.” You think to yourself, as you walk past a grungy looking guy who just puffed out a big stream of smoke. And yet, you’re just as addicted to your coffee. Or your sugar. And I know that there is a difference between the appearance of a cigarette with a Christian than a cup of coffee. But still? “I’d never murder anyone.” What about abortion? The root of abortion is probably one of the severest forms of selfishness there is. Yet, selfishness is something we are all certainly capable of; we just see it daily on a much lesser scale. I’ll never forget the summer that God showed me very clearly what I was truly capable of. And it scared me. The truth is, I’m a murder at heart, just as much as the woman who murders her unborn baby. And it shocked me. And without going into much detail, I’ll just say, that in my own sinful flesh I’m just as capable of what I distain most in others.  But is there a difference being a Christian? Yes. Absolutely. And that difference is solely Jesus. He made a way to have power and victory over sin, over ourselves, and over what we would naturally be.

I recently just read through I Corinthians 10 and found it such an encouragement. I was amazed. The chapter is talking to Christians about other Christians. It is a warning.

“Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; And did all eat the same spiritual meat; And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.(v.1-4)

“But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness. Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted.  Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play. Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand. Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents. Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer. Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.”(v.5-11)

These are Christians in the Old Testament that committed these sins against God. Men and Woman of the Bible that were said to have ‘drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ’. Verse 12 goes on to say, “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.”

Pride was Satan’s downfall. Pride keeps lost men from seeing their need for God. Just as I believe, pride can destroy a Christian. I’ve often heard is said, that your sin is not God biggest problem. I think this is really true. He already took care of our sin on the cross. And obviously sin can still be devastating. We should hate sin, just as God does. We should flee from it. We should remember how much it cost Him. How much it hurt and still hurts our Savior. How much it can hurt others. But, God loves sinners. And it is the man that thinks he can stand strong of himself, that is in the most danger of falling away.
I love verse 13.

There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

Acknowledging the fact that we are capable of wickedness, and maybe even more prone to certain sins, does not mean that we have to commit them. There is NO temptation, firstly, that isn’t common to men. You aren’t the only one. I think Satan loves to isolate us and make us feel both alone and defeated. Secondly, that God hasn’t and won’t give the grace to bear. God promises that we are ‘more than conquerors’. Although, I love how He chooses to use the word ‘escape’ here. It isn’t just a battle. It is turning from and running towards. Running where? To God. Because He is faithful. And while God does all the bearing…we are still held responsible to flee from it.

“Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry.” (v.14)

I hope, somehow, this could encourage your heart. I think, as Christians, we need to be reminded of who we are apart from Christ’s blood. That we are no better than any other sinner, but also, that we have the power through our Lord to live holy and righteously unto Him. That we would learn what it is to extend real grace and compassion to others. Not a tolerance for sin. Not an attitude that says ‘judge not lest you be judged’ simply because we are either ashamed of God’s high standard or found guilty and unrepentant ourselves. But instead, to have His amazing grace. His sincere compassion. His unfailing love.

Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God; (II Corinthians 3:5)

Friday, February 26, 2016

Quote of the Day

"The elements of happiness in this present life no man can command, even if he could command himself, for they depend on the action of many wills, on the purity of many hearts, and by the highest law of God the holiest must ever bear the sins and sorrows of the rest; but over the blessedness of his own spirit circumstance need have no control; God has therein given an unlimited power to the means of preservation, of grace and growth, at every man's command."

J.H. Thom

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Can't We Be Friends?

Can't We Be Friends?

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Is it possible for guys and girls to be friends? 
For some of us this post might seem odd.  Some of you might be thinking -- "Uh, yeah, of course we can be friends."  But many conservative Christian young people have been taught or raised with the assumption that it is taboo to be friends with the opposite gender. If this is true in your case, this post is for you. 

So before we can answer our question of whether we can be friends, we should ask the opposite.  Why can't we be friends?
What exactly makes friendship with the opposite gender taboo in conservative circles?  There is probably a plethora of reasons, but one of the most common reasons given is the fact that being a friend with the opposite sex can lead to compromised purity or inappropriate behavior. 

The solution?  No being friends!  It's too risky. 

I have witnessed some people benefiting from this rule.  For some personalities, shunning friendships with the opposite gender does save them from temptation.  For others it makes them feel uncertain around the guy/girl.  For a majority of my womanhood I have leaned on the side of "better safe than sorry".  I desired to keep all of my heart for my future husband and if that meant not being friends with guys -- so be it.

The Bible does admonish us to keep our heart.  (Proverbs 4:23).  But does keeping our heart mean that we are to only have friends of the same gender?  Like with many practical issues, the Bible does not give black and white rules and regulations. 
So back to the original question:  Can we be friends with the opposite gender and still be pure?  Still keep our heart?   Well let's ask ourselves what a friend is.  Webster defines "friend" thus:

FRIEND, n. frend.
1. One who is attached to another by affection; one who entertains for another sentiments of esteem, respect and affection, which lead him to desire his company, and to seek to promote his happiness and prosperity; opposed to foe or enemy.  A friend loveth at all times. Prov 17.

This sounds intimate.  Someone you care about.  Will everyone be our friends?  Not likely.  From a woman's perspective, there are some young men it would be foolish to befriend.  They are only interested in your looks, your position, your body, etc.  They are selfish and even dangerous.  Of course we aren't going to be this man's friend.  For similar reasons we aren't going to befriend and selfish woman who likes us for shallow reasons.  Not everyone is going to be our friend.
A friend is someone you love.  Can you love a guy and keep your heart?  Webster defines friendship -- 

FRIEND'SHIP, n. frend'ship. 
1. An attachment to a person, proceeding from intimate acquaintance, and a reciprocation of kind
offices, or from a favorable opinion of the amiable and respectable qualities of his mind. Friendship differs from benevolence, which is good will to mankind in general, and from that love which springs from animal appetite. True friendship is a noble and virtuous attachment, springing from a pure source, a respect for worth or amiable qualities. False friendship may subsist between bad men, as between thieves and pirates. This is a temporary attachment springing from interest, and may change in a moment to enmity and rancor. There can be no friendship without confidence, and no confidence without integrity.There is little friendship in the world.The first law of friendship is sincerity.

If you are nobly and virtuously attached to someone out of pure motive you are this person's friend.  If you truly love them we also know from 1 Corinthians 13 that we won't be vaunting our self or seeking our own.  This is true friendship, no matter the gender.  If you are only temporarily attached from selfish interest this is a "false friendship".

I'd now like to address us ladies specifically. We can be friends with guys.  The question now is -- how to be friends with a guy?  A friendship with a guy is different in some aspects than a friendship with a girl.  
When we are keeping our hearts we're on guard-duty.  Keeping our hearts doesn't only have to do with keeping purity in friendships, but also keeping purity in every area.  With this in mind, we realize it's easier to keep our hearts in some things over others.  And if we are honest with ourselves we know it could be more challenging to keep our hearts diligently when we are close with a guy friend than with our girlfriends.
So if we can be friends -- how close is too close?  Can we share our hearts appropriately?  Or should our friendships with guys be limited to a certain degree? 

I think it's safe to say there are some boundaries that must be drawn -- even if only for appearance's sake.  There are things we steer away from so we are not a stumbling block.  We don't place ourselves in circumstances that are potentially tempting or dangerous just because we are free to be a guy's friend.  

I personally have had to learn exactly what God expects from me as a young woman in the lives of the men God has put into my life.  Growing up my best friends were my siblings so it wasn't as much of an issue until my family began to make close friends with other families.  

I've come to realize that I influence the men in my life whether I liked it or not.  Every look, comment, response and conversation is an opportunity to be a friend (or not). 

There's nothing unbiblical or scandalous in being a friend to a guy.  We just need to actually be a friend and care about them over ourselves.  That being said -- it's natural to appreciate and respect men, (and even find them interesting or attractive). 
In all honesty it is the feminists who promote that men and women are incompatible.  Think Gloria Steinem (Women without a man is like a fish without a bicycle).  It's Hollywood that says
masculinity and femininity are opposites.  It's our culture which promotes the "pink vrs. blue" stereotype. The world tries to put men and women at enmity with one another.

We are different!  God created us differently on purpose.  But just because our strengths and weaknesses are different doesn't mean we are incompatible, but only shows that we are meant to help and co-exist with one another.  Our differences makes us perfect puzzle pieces to each other.  In fact, women were created to purposefully help man.
Let's look at biblical examples of friendships.
Jesus was a friend to women.  Mary and Martha.   It can be done!  Of course Jesus was God incarnate and therefore perfect, but he was also 100% man, a priest made like us and tempted as we are.  (Hebrews 2:17 & 4:15)  He cared about them earnestly.  Was grieved when they grieved.  Sought out their companionship when he was tired.  Held meaningful discussions with them.  
Lydia (Acts 16), Mary (Romans 16), Pricilla (Acts 18), Phobe (Romans 16) and Euodia and Syntyche (Philppians 4) all were women who were friends of godly men. 

Being a friend isn't easy.  Being a young man's friend can be even harder.  But honestly shunning men as friends can be a cop out.  We have a choice when it comes to being a guy's friend.  We can be helpful, encouraging, selfless or we can be enabling, a stumbling block and selfish.  Faithful friends remind their companions of God's goodness.  Unfaithful friends distract.  

If we condone friendships with guys just so we can have our own way, so we can bait them or hunt them down, or gratify our flesh -- then obviously our heart motive is wrong and we aren't being true friends.  The solution isn't -- no friendship with males, but -- you need to get your heart right. 

Men are human just like us.  They aren't princes and they aren't chauvinistic cads.  They aren't women's gift from heaven and they aren't cavemen.  They are our brothers in Christ, our fellow human beings and people with emotions.  We can treat them like people.  It might take a little extra care because of the proneness of our hearts to sin, but it can be done.  

I'd like to also mention that we can be friends with our brothers (blood kin).  It's a little off topic, but the world discourages this as well.  We greatly influence the lives of our men in our immediate
family.  This is a privilege.  We can, without any hesitation, be eager listeners in their lives.  We can encourage their leadership skills.  We can enjoy their protection, inspire their chivalrous nature, motivate confidence by confiding in them, and enjoy their companionship.  If you have no interest in being your brother's friend I would encourage you to look at your motives for being any other guys friend.

Conclusion.  It's possible to be a true friend with some guys.  It is possible to be a false friend as well.  True friendship will take an effort on our part, and we have the choice whether to be a true or false friend.

Related Post:

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Friday, February 19, 2016

Surrender. Obedience. Attack.

Surrender. Obedience. Attack. 

I've decided that you can learn a lot if you're willing to pay attention to detail. Especially in the Bible. Recently, I read through Psalm 40. It's an amazing Psalm, but I noticed something this time that I'd never noticed before. There's an order in how it is written. Specifically throughout verses 6-13, as we see David's heart poured out before God. 

"Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire; mine ears hast thou opened: burnt-offering and sin-offering hast thou not required. Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me, I delight to do thy will, O my God; yea, thy law is within my heart." (Psalms 40:6-8) 

Surrender:  It is almost impossible for God to do anything with someone who isn't surrendered to do His will. David knew this. God didn't want Sacrifice and burn-offerings. He didn't even want sin-offerings. He wanted complete surrender. God is not a tyrant. He won't force Himself upon you. Does He allow things in our lives to get our attention? Absolutely. He lovingly draws all men. But forced love is not love at all. Forced obedience is not service, but slavery. The surrender of our wills to His lordship is not something He demands...but something He asks. It is given. And when we get real with God, when we humble ourselves, when we repent before Him, when we realize just who we are and who He is, we can say like David, "Lo, I come...and..."I delight to thy will". 

 After the first nuclear bombing on Japan, near the end of World War II, Japan sought for "conditional surrender". However, these terms were not accepted and the United States of America insisted upon "unconditional surrender" or further destruction. This was proven by the 2nd nuclear bomb that hit Japan, for which afterward, Japan unconditionally surrendered. I think sometimes this is like us with God. The Bible says that we cannot serve two masters. But we try to. We come to God with "conditional surrender". (Lord, I surrender, but _________.)  But conditions with surrender are not acceptable terms to God. He desires "unconditional surrender". 

Obedience: To say that we are surrendered to God, and yet, we do nothing that He says... means, in fact, we truly aren't surrendered to God. We are most certainly lying. We may not know that we are lying...but in truth, we are. The book of James makes this very clear. We may very well be self-deceived. This is why it is important to ask God to search our hearts continually.

And after David came in surrender to Christ, after he told the Lord that he delighted to his will... God took him up on it. And what do we see?

"I have preached righteousness in the great congregation: lo, I have not refrained my lips, O LORD, thou knowest. I have not hid thy righteousness within my heart; I have declared thy faithfulness and thy salvation: I have not concealed thy lovingkindness and thy truth from the great congregation." (Psalm 40:9-10)

I am amazed by the things David declares in these verses. He preached righteousness. (As woman, we aren't given the liberty to "preach" exactly, but proclaiming righteousness isn't necessarily just seen through what we might consider "traditional preaching", but also through our actions and daily lives.) David refrained not his lips. He spoke out. He witnessed. He was bold in proclaiming truth. He declared the faithfulness of God. He declared the salvation of God. He concealed not the Lord's lovingkindness. In other words, he loved people. David also said that he had not "hid the Lord's righteousness within [his] heart." He extended it to others. This really stood out to me. A lot of Christians today are content to keep God for themselves. They "hide Him", if you would, within their own comfort-ability and houses. But not David. And this is all said of the person God said before, was a "man after his own heart". This is all said, right after David surrendered to do the Lord's will. 


"Withhold not thou thy tender mercies from me, O LORD: let thy lovingkindness and thy truth continually preserve me. For innumerable evils have compassed me about: mine iniquities have taken hold upon me, so that I am not able to look up; they are more than the hairs of mine head: therefore my heart faileth me. Be pleased, O LORD, to deliver me: O LORD, make haste to help me." (Psalm 40:11-13)

When you submit yourself to God. When you set out to do His will. When you are serious about righteousness. When you set out to actively obey Him. Be sure of it. You WILL be attacked. Sometimes, it takes us by surprise...but it shouldn't. Satan is a deceitful and ruthless enemy. He sets out to destroy. He isn't interested in playing games. He isn't okay with you being a light in darkness. He isn't happy about sincere and real Christianity. But, this shouldn't stop us. We shouldn't allow it to discourage us! God is so much greater! 

I've never experienced more spiritual attack in my whole life than I have this past year. It is a very REAL thing and it can take many different forms. David describes some of them here in these verses. Innumerable evils. Iniquities (sins), to the point that he isn't even able to look up to God. This one is the most subtle and shocking when it comes. Also known as, condemnation. I've seen over and over again, when you step out in obedience to serve God, your past sin creeps in to haunt you, to condemn you, to discourage you. Sometimes, it is just seeing your flesh for what it truly is (wretched) ...and allowing it to make you feel worthless and hopeless and unable to be of any use to God. This isn't the spirit of Christ. God already KNEW who you were before you suddenly became aware of it yourself. Your sin isn't shocking to Him. He knew. He knows. But sometimes it is shocking to us. Maybe because we are self-deceived into thinking that we really weren't as bad as the Bible made us out to be. But your sin isn't the biggest problem to God. He already paid for it on the cross of Calvary. He has already forgiven you, if you accept that forgiveness. But Satan loves to back us into a corner that cripples us to any action. He wants you to give up. He wants you to feel worthless. He wants to, as he subtly did to Eve, get us to doubt that God really loves us and has the best in store for us. Satan, in any way he can, wants to distract you from looking towards God. If he can simply get you to take your eyes off Christ and place them on yourself...he's won a victory. Because it's when we look at ourselves, we either become proud or discouraged and are therefore hindered in our work for God. David knew what it was to have your heart fail you. And it came after he set out in obedience to God. Don't be surprised when the enemy sneaks in to attack you in any way he can. Instead, be ready. Seek God. Through submission and resistance, he will flee. David said, "make haste to help me". If we are on God's side...than it stands true that He is on our side too. 

"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;" (Psalm 46:1 and 2)

I'm learning to be encouraged, instead of discouraged, when attack comes beating down. Because, it means God is doing something. That Satan has a reason to be afraid. And God certainly won't leave you alone. He wants you to submit to His good will. He wants to use you for His kingdom, more than you know. 

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Quote of the Day

"That piety which sanctifies us, and which is a true devotion to God, consists in doing all His will precisely at the time, in the situation, and under the circumstances, in which He has placed us. Perfect devotedness requires, not only that we do the will of God, but that we do it with love. God would have us serve Him with delight; it is our hearts that He asks of us." 

Francois De La Mothe Fenelon

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Homosexuality from a Christian Standpoint

Spiritual Lessons

Homosexuality from a Christian Standpoint

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This is a controversial subject. Even more so than biblical womanhood, or courtship or feminism (subjects we mainly write about on Maid Arise). But I do believe it's relevant to Christians in the 21st Century. And since this blog is dedicated to 21st Century maidens I believe this is worth blogging about. Plus this is something that has been on my mind for months, and I'm determined to somehow share my thoughts.
Some might question my capability to even tackle such an issue. I admit I am not an expert, nor am I well rounded on this subject, but I have more credibility than some would grant, and I hope you will at least allow me to share what God has taught me recently.

I was about twelve years old, my brothers only a few years younger. Chris, Tim and I walked apprehensively into the mobile home. There on the couch were five of our cousins, boys and girls near our age that we barely knew. Chris and Tim stood awkwardly behind me as we faced our relatives. I was the eldest and took it upon myself to start the introductions.

“Hi...I'm Toni, and this is Chris and Tim.”

Each in turn introduced themselves. Everything was going fine until one pudgy boy piped up” “I'm Phillip...and I'm gay.”

Growing up in a conservative Christian home the word “gay” was kind-of a dirty word. At least it was taboo. I didn't know what a homosexual was until 11 or 12 years old. My parents explained very little – (a healthy sheltering), but in my mind, homosexuals were the sinful people who in Bible times were called sodomites.

Somehow through the years my knowledge and attitude towards gays changed very little. It wasn't until I learned that some dear people in my life were gay was I actually challenged to re-think my position on homosexuals. I prayed that God would show me how HE saw homosexuals and that He would teach me what He thought. I was blown away.

God never called lesbians and gays abominations. He called the sin of homosexuality an abomination. Leviticus 18 and 20. God condemned the act, not the person. I was sincerely surprised. In most circles (especially Christian circles) I had only thought of homosexuals as being foul abnormal sub-humans that were either scorned or joked about.

I suddenly realized that God had made all of us with a natural desire towards intimacy. But, this legitimate need had been distorted by sin, and homosexuals fulfill their need in an illegitimate way. Just as a glutton fulfills his hunger. Or a prideful person his self-worth. I was shocked by the realization that a gay is not a sinner because he is gay, but because of the lust in his heart. Suddenly the voluminous gap between me and a homosexual wasn't so vast. Gays and lesbians are people with a sin problem. Just like me.

Before continuing, I'd like to mention that just because someone deals with homosexual thoughts doesn't mean they are gay.  I sincerely believe that if someone is tempted with such thoughts, he merely is tempted in that area.  If he gives in to his sinful thoughts, now he has committed a sinful thought, but he has not now become a gay and is no longer a virgin.  If someone practices homosexuality I believe they are a homosexual.  There is a difference.  If I practice adultery I am an adulterer.  If I am tempted with lust in my heart I am not an adulterer.  If I give into my lust, I have committed an adulterous thought but I have not now become an adulterer and can now no longer be considered virgin.  

I decided to do some more praying and studying. I read a book by a Christian author called “Out of a Far Country” and was further convinced of the humanity of the homosexual. Homosexuals need Jesus. But I was stretched even further with this thought – there are people who struggle with homosexual temptations that already have Jesus. Just as there are Christians who struggle with gluttony. Or people that find pride there biggest stumbling block. Or Christians who struggle with temptation after the opposite gender.

Seeing gays through Jesus' eyes was quite different than the Church's perspective. And I was dismayed to start finding Christian condemnation for gays everywhere I turned. Christians shuddered at gay's sin without so much as a blink of an eye at their own self-wickedness. Some sinners are acceptable, but homosexuals are their own sub-class of extra-rotten sinners. Pride is understandable, but homosexuality is unthinkable. I was distraught at the love lack in Christians. They ostracized homosexuals for their love problem – and yet they also had a love problem. I felt disgusted that the World tolerated the homosexual (and their sin) and yet the disdain and hatred for homosexuals seemed to be a Christian movement. And what was worse – we Christians called our hatred “righteousness”.

After I realized who homosexuals are I started to realize their pain. I became aware of how often people tease about homosexuality. If they didn't hate them they mocked them. I was surrounded by ugliness. I learned Homosexuals weren't monsters. But then their sin or their temptation proved to be deeper and more painful than some other sins. Everywhere they go they are condemned for who they feel they are – except by the homosexual community. Christian's phobia of homosexuals has only made God out to look like a mean unforgiving hateful tyrant. It has only painted a bright label of “enemy” on every Christian. We should be ambassadors of compassion, and instead we either hate or mock or try to “fix” the homosexual. They are wrong and warped creatures. It is us who “whet our tongue like a sword, and bend our bows to shoot arrows...even bitter words.” (Psalm 64:3). How many times have we pushed back a soul with our sword into the flames of Hell because of our merciless words? How many Christians live a life of shame and separation and loneliness because of our attitude? We drink up God's compassion for us and never dream to share it with those who are different than ourselves.

Homosexuals are no longer “one of those people” for me. When God opened up my eyes to a glimpse of His compassion for homosexuals I was overwhelmed. I still cry when I talk about it. Homosexuals are people, people with wounds.

In the past 2 years I have led a lonely life. My health has separated me from a lot and has caused me griefs no healthy person can imagine. My physical, emotional, spiritual life has been altered because of my health struggles. I have scars. I have hurts no-one can see. And with this simple little bridge I can get a slight understanding of how hurt a homosexual could be in just the aspect of being different and separate. Add to this the disgust and fear and hate and mockery they receive and you can imagine a bleeding heart.

There is no condoning to be made for their sin. The act of homosexuality is a sin. But God loves their souls as much as He loves you and I. And I am zealous to see you Christian catch a glimpse of God's love for these people. It changed how I perceived God's love for me. God chooses to use you as His channel of love. There are so many hurting hearts who need a channel. Homosexuals are some of those people.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Shreds of Hope

Spiritual Lessons

Guest Writer Jonah Kolb shared this recently, and it was an encouragement to me and I wanted to share it with you.

 Shreds of Hope

Image result for frayed rope

  'I can of my own self do nothing…'
     John 5:30

  Have you ever looked up to heaven and cried out to God in desperation that you could not do it?
  I have. And we all need to at some time reach that point in our lives. But you know what the problem with that is? What gets in God's way in those times? Hope.
  Our last tattered shred of hope in ourselves and our own ability. I repeated those words over and over to God more times than I care to count, in despair, sorrow,  and even anger. It was my call of defeat. I wondered how much farther I had to fall, how much worse things would have to get for God to take a hand.
  My problem was hope. Self hope. While there remained that slim possibility that I can still do it, I am a prisoner of my own hope. I imagine myself hanging off the edge a cliff. I'm slipping slowly but surely, centimeter by centimeter toward the void. Dangling there by one hand I plead over and over for my Savior to reach down and save me. Patiently He is waiting for me, while I keep slowly sliding, trying to fight my losing battle. I beg Him to help, but I keep on digging my fingernails in. I suppress my feelings of betrayal as He seems to leave me there alone. I hang there by the last shreds of my strength saying I cannot do it, while all along He patiently waits for me to let go and drop into His hand.
  We petition him again and again, begging Him to reach down to our level from on high when in reality all we need to do is let go and fall to Him. We ask Him, then wait a moment and tighten up our belts and cling a little tighter. We forget that the way to the cross was not up, but down. Maybe you just need to stop losing and lose.
  That's how it happened for me. It was just one final straw,  insignificant really, but stacked up with all of it's kind, it was the knell of my defeat. Not in despair, but in quiet acceptance,  I said, 'I can't do it'. Not a flash of brilliant revelation, but just a simple understanding, as I finally realized that God wasn't the one that needed to be told, I was. I wasn't listening to my own voice. And it was as simple as that. That is is how 'I can't do it' went from my cry of despair to my shout of victory. It's my battle cry.
  Once it gets so far beyond the realm of human possibility it becomes easy. I have no choice but to leave it up to God, because I truly can't do it. And in belief in that simple statement is unbelievable relief.
  Do I still struggle. Yes. Do I stumble and fall. Yes. But sometimes in falling we fall into God's hand. I'm still learning. I'm such a work in progress and there is so that needs to be done in me, but I can move forward easier with that simple assurance in my heart that I can't do it.

  'Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.
  'I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit, for without me ye can do nothing'
  John 15:4-5

  'The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, though wilt not despise.'
Psalm 51:17

Related Post:

A Prison of Hope