Thursday, September 26, 2013

A Taboo Topic

Matthew 19:1-6

King James Version (KJV)
19 And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these sayings, he departed from Galilee, and came into the coasts of Judaea beyond Jordan;
And great multitudes followed him; and he healed them there.
The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?
And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female,
And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?
Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

The Lord has been prodding me to write about something that I've been avoiding.  Homosexuality.  I have been avoiding this because it is such a hot topic and because I have little or no expertise.

Many people who support gay marriages try to claim that Jesus never said homosexuality is a sin.  I will concede that most people who say this don't understand that Jesus and God the Father are one in the same, or that God wrote the Bible using the hands of willing men and women.  Although Jesus was directly addressing divorce (another sin, by the way) he also covered homosexuality by quoting Genesis 2:24.

In my post We Can Choose to Love? I said if love were not a choice then same-sex relationships would be a myth.  Let me explain this.  If love were not a choice we would always be doing love God's way and God doesn't recognize same-sex marriage.  But since it is a choice we choose who we love and how we love them.

Now I am not saying that we will not find homosexuals in heaven when we get there.  I absolutely do believe there will be some there.  Some people will overcome these temptations but most will struggle their entire lives and never fully overcome.  If a person, regardless of his or her sin, truly and sincerely accepts God's free gift of salvation through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus and repents of his or her sins that person will be found in heaven.

And to the people who believe God hates gays; you're very, very wrong.  God love all of us.  It is our sins that He hates.  It is because of our sins that the sinless Son of God chose to die for us.  Everyone is capable of repentance, but everyone must choose it for him or herself.

John 3:16
King James Version (KJV)
16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

We Can Choose to Love?

Matthew 22:35-40

King James Version (KJV)
35 Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying,
36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law?
37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
38 This is the first and great commandment.
39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.
40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

Not long after my husband and I got married I told him that I choose to love him.  I know, that's not very romantic.  But I had allowed myself to be led astray too many times by the feelings that come with new relationships.  By the feelings of excitement and wonder of a new romance.  I had learned not to trust those feelings so I decided that I needed to be much more analytically in choosing my mate.

My husband and I dated in high school for about a year, so I already knew his character when we finally reunited nearly 20 years later.  No, I did not have the fireworks and the swooning and all that other happy horse manure that comes with a new relationship.  I chose to love him.

Love is a verb.  It's a 'doing' word.  Love is less about what you feel and what you get out of it and more about what you do for another.  And love is a choice.  All types of love, not just romantic.

But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

If love weren't a choice, mothers wouldn't be able to abort their unborn babies.  If love weren't a choice, divorce rates would be almost unheard of.  If love weren't a choice, all types of violent crimes, including domestic abuse, would be nonexistent.  If love were not a choice, same-sex relationships would be a myth.  But love is a choice.

I don't claim to have this all figured out.  I am not always very loving toward my family.  I am often selfish and look out for myself.  I sometimes neglect to show love to my family.  I have been known to walk past someone homeless on the street without choosing to show love.  I'm not writing this just for the reader, but also to remind myself, that I need to choose to do love every day.

God chose to do love for us.  We need to choose to do love for others.

Matthew 25:35-40

King James Version (KJV)
35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

September 11, 2001 Remembered

When the events on 9/11 happened I was working in a busy call center in Pennsylvania.  At the time there were over one hundred customers in the queue waiting to be helped.  Within minutes of first plane hitting the World Trade Center our customers in queue dropped down to none.  At first we had no idea what was going on.  Initially we believed our phone system went down.  It wasn't until we had a few calls trickle in from customers that we started to get a clue as to what happened.  Then someone who sat near me, who had internet connection (the majority of us didn't) looked it up to keep the rest of us in the loop.  I think most of us were dumbfounded at first.  I remember someone running from the call center floor because she knew someone who worked in the World Trade Center.

I sat across from a Muslim girl.  In the early moments of the tragedy we didn't yet know who was responsible.  She was the first to say she believed Muslims were going to be blamed for it.  I am someone who would rather believe the best about people, so I wanted to dismiss her fears.  I think initially I did.  Then the reports began to trickle as to who was behind the attacks.

When my shift was over I went to see my horse.  There, at the stable where I boarded my horse, it finally sunk in in full force as to the horrors happened that day.  That's when I broke down.  I didn't lose anyone personally that day, but my heart broke for all who did.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Humble Pie

1 Peter 5:5-6

King James Version (KJV)
Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.
Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time.

Humility is so difficult for most people, I think.  Either we consider it a weakness or we have a warped sense of what the word means.  I don't consider myself to be prideful, but at the same time I'm not the most humble person around, either.  Beliefnet put a link on Facebook today to take a quiz on how humble we are.  I took the quiz, and the results were much of what I expected.  My results stated that I have some pride but am working on changing it.  Seems like I've been trying to change it forever.  

I was reading 'The Screwtape Letters' by C.S. Lewis today.  For those of you who may not be familiar with this book, Lewis writes from the perspective of a demon named Screwtape, who writes letters to his nephew giving instructions on how to best derail someone's faith.  Screwtape often refers to God the Father as 'The Enemy,' so please don't let that confuse you when you read the quotes.  Here is a quote from the book that I find myself often believing:

"You must therefore conceal from the patient the true end of Humility.  Let him think of it not as self-forgetfulness but as a certain kind of opinion (namely, a low opinion) of his own talents and character.......Fix in his mind the idea that humility consists in trying to believe those talents to be less valuable than he believes them to be."

I oftentimes have a low self-opinion.  If I were asked to name my talents I would be hard pressed to find even one.  If someone were to compliment me I would often dismiss it in favor of my own much lower self-opinion.  What I should be doing is graciously accepting their compliment for what it is without allowing it to either inflate my ego or dismissing it out of hand.

On the next page Screwtape continues to write:  "The Enemy wants him, in the end, to be so free from any bias in his own favour that he can rejoice in his own talents as frankly and gratefully as in his neighbour's talents--or in a sunrise, an elephant, or a waterfall.  He wants each man, in the long run, to be able to recognise all creatures (even himself) as glorious and excellent things."

Earlier in this post that we often think humility as a weakness.  We want to be recognized for our accomplishments or the good things we do.  This is not God's desire for us.  He wants us to put the needs of other people ahead of our desires without seeking out a pat on the back from other people.  In due time God will give us all the recognition we will ever need.

While writing this my husband kept interrupting me with what he is doing on his video game.  I had the thought that he is interrupting my train of thought and this blog is more important than his game.  Immediately following I had this verse come to my mind:

Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.

Yes, I most definitely need to work on my pride.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Contentment is a Choice

1 Timothy 6:6-12

King James Version (KJV)
But godliness with contentment is great gain.
For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.
And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.
But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.
10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
11 But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.
12 Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.

This morning when I opened my 'Daily Bread' devotional (I have one on my computer) and I read about contentment, it got me thinking.  This is a tough one for me, I think.  With being a one income home, we have very little money to spare.  I think of all the things I want for myself and for my family, but that's exactly what they are; wants, not needs.  

I would like to have a second vehicle for our home, but the one we have works well, for the most part, and we have made due with one vehicle for nearly 4 years.  We can continue to do so.  And so I must be content in this.

I would like to go clothes shopping, but I have enough clothes that currently fit.  I have a sewing machine and am learning how to sew so that I can make my own clothes.  And so, in this, I must be content.  

We have enough food.  Although it may be tight, we have enough money.  We always have enough love.  We have enough of what we need, and where we are lacking, God will provide.  Therefore, I choose to be content.