Hey, Christian: Ditch the Car and Take the Bus

maxresdefaultSince your reading this, I assume you were intrigued enough to find out what sort of rant I’m on now. “Surely he isn’t saying that Christians should get rid of their cars,” you say. Of course I’m not. But I am saying that you should ditch your car once in a while and discover the joys of public transportation.

We live in a happy-meal society that tends to want everything quick and easy. We’re always aiming for what’s more efficient.

So, you hop in your car and head for work in the morning, taking the freeway to avoid stopping at every red light that just seems to be waiting for you to show up. Then you punch-out from your 9-to-5, get back into your car, head home, eat dinner with the family, and then kick your feet up to watch the evening edition of SportsCenter.

Or maybe you’re the Christian who attends every church service, hosts a community group, and can always be found studying the Puritans at the local Christian-owned coffee shop.

So, what’s the problem, you ask? Nothing, if you enjoy existing in your own little homogenous community. But, if you wish to be faithful to tell the world the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and make disciples, that’s going to require venturing to the other side of the tracks, where Cross-necklaces and fish-tattoos are virtually non-existent.

Recently, I decided that I was going to occasionally start taking the bus to work. In doing so, I have rediscovered my fondness for public transportation and am reminded of, at least, three reasons why taking the bus—especially for Christians, and anyone in some sort of ministerial role—is a must:

1. Able to Meet People Who Aren’t Like You

It’s true. If you ride your local city bus, you’re going to meet people who do not believe what you believe, think the way that you think, or look the way that you look. This can serve as an incredible opportunity to catch a glimpse of reality—outside of the realm of Christendom.

2. Raises Your Cultural Awareness

The more time you spend out of the world, the more removed you are from the world’s struggles, and the less compassionate you become. I find that as I enter in to conversations with people who are as screwed up—or worse—as I was, back in the day, the more I am reminded of God’s incredible grace in my own life. Such a thing compels me to want to learn more about others, in light of God’s own love for me.

It’s easy to say that the “problem is sin” (though it certainly is), yet have not a clue as to how or why any one particular sin manifests itself within a given context. We must learn to become “all things to all people, that by all means [we] might save some” (1 Cor. 9:22 ESV). It’s not about compromise; it’s about concerning ourselves with God’s own concern for His glory, and the salvation of the world. And sometimes, that means laying aside our own preferences and presuppositions for the sake of others.

3. Creates Opportunity to Share the Gospel

Just the other day I was having a conversation with a guy in his twenties and somehow my occupation came up (I’m an IT professional). This led to me being able to share my life journey, including the way in which God saved me. He then opened up to me, telling me about how he had wasted his life on drugs (addicted to Oxycodone), and had now been clean for six months. I prayed with him, and for him, that God would make him alive, together with Christ, and we parted ways. Who knows, I may see him at church this Sunday!

The point is, how can we proclaim the good news of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ if we do not position ourselves in a place to do so?

Let’s be intentional.

After all, God was intentional when He sent His Son to live among us, to teach us, and to die for us, despite His disdain and deep hatred for sin and evil. Imagine how He felt being around people like us, who spit in His face daily through the way that we live? (And yet we have the audacity to get undone in the presence of “sinners”).

Let us go, in love, like Christ, and do likewise. Don’t be afraid, just ride the bus!

AUTHOR’S NOTE: I’m not saying that this is the only way to accomplish what I’ve laid out, I’m only merely pointing out what an incredible means the public transportation system can be to further the cause of Christ, and, if nothing else, enjoy some good conversation with people outside of your own comfort zone. 

Does God Actually Say No to the GLBT Community?

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NOTE: This article is meant to address the decisions of the church in dealing with, and allowing such sins as homosexuality and gender confusion, and does in no way devalue the need for loving and evangelizing those who are dead in such sins. All of us need Jesus, our only Lord and Savior.  

 

This week, the Kentucky Baptist Convention (KBC) gathered together to vote on severing ties with one of Louisville’s local KBC-affiliated churches. What was the reason behind their decision to release the church from affiliation? The church, Crescent Hill Baptist Church, made the choice to affirm and perform same-sex marriages. As if that was not bad enough, Crescent Hill also decided to ordain members of their church, regardless of ones sexual preferences or gender-identity. This would allow homosexual or transgender men and women to serve and lead from within the church (you can read more here).

So, what’s the problem? It’s the 21st century, and shouldn’t we be over this sort of rigid fundamentalism by now?

Sure, if your desires and actions are motivated by the culture, rather than God.

But God loves everyone, doesn’t He? Surely He wouldn’t allow for such condemning and judgmental behaviors from within His own church?

Well, let’s see.

Here is a list of passages of Scripture that clearly condemn homosexual activity:

You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination (Lev. 18:22).

If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act; they shall surely be put to death. Their bloodguiltness is upon them. (Lev. 20:13).

Or do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, 10nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God (1 Cor. 6:9-10).

For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error. And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper (Romans 1:26-28).

These passages, when taken within their rightful context, leave no room for speculation. Homosexuality is a sin, like every other sin mentioned in the Bible, in that it is punishable by death (Romans 3:23). Yet homosexuality is unique because it is the supreme example of distorted and disorderly worship. Homosexuality, and to deny ones God-given identity, is to deny the very image of God in which they were created. This is not to say that man’s sinful nature does not produce unwanted desires and attractions in us; but they can be overcome, in Christ. For the Christian, they must be overcome, as we are to no longer live according to the flesh (Romans 8:12-13). Furthermore, nowhere does the Bible affirm same-sex relationships, let alone condone the appointment of unrepentant homosexuals to the office of deacon or elder (See biblical qualifications in 1 Tim. 3, Titus 2).

To reject these truths of scripture is to reject God’s Word, and to reject God’s Word is to reject God himself. What Crescent Hill church has done, is taken a ride down the slippery slope of biblical liberalism. When being politically correct becomes more important than being biblically sound, you have degenerated from the very will of God.

At the heart of this issue between the KBC and Crescent Hill, is the question: did God actually say no to homosexuality? In fact, this is the very question posed to Eve, in the Garden of Eden, that deceived man into rejecting God’s Word, while choosing the creation over the Creator. “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” (Genesis 3:1) This is the very question that is being answered wrongfully by so many professing Christian denominations across the globe. But God does say no to homosexuality, same-sex relationships, and all-of-the-above, as clearly revealed in His inerrant and authoritative Word. To deviate from God’s Truth is to deviate from the standard of faith, as measured according to scripture, and practiced and affirmed by over two thousand years of historical Christianity.

Crescent Hill, and others, must realize that when it comes to God’s Word, you must either believe all of it, or none of it, but it must not be just some of it. This is not a gray-area issue like whether or not Christians can drink alcohol or dance—the integrity of God’s Word is on the line. Once Christians begin to reject fundamental truths concerning the institution of marriage and being made in the image of God, it isn’t too long before the Bible itself is rejected. Sure, they may say they believe in God, but it will not be the God of the Bible! The truth of the matter is that you will either stand on the Word of God, or you will fall by the Word of God.

So, Christian, where will you stand?

To listen to Dr. Albert Mohler of The Briefing, and President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, weigh in on the issue, click here.

Breaking the Chains: A Christian’s Struggle With the Effects of Sexual Abuse

breaking-the-chains“If you tell anybody, I’ll kill you.”

These words are still as fresh in my mind as the feeling I felt from the barrel of a .22 derringer pressed against my neck. That night marked a series of evenings that would leave me laying in tears—and sometimes blood—violated and ravaged by someone I looked up to. Someone I trusted.

If you have ever been molested, raped, or sexually abused, then you can understand the mixture of emotions I felt. You can understand going through life, hoping to wake-up from a nightmare that never seemed to end.

And while I am not an expert in the study of psychology or counseling, I am an expert in the painful effects of molestation. I’ve lived with the effects of sexual abuse for over twenty years, and while the power of God allows me to experience freedom and a heart that forgives, the long-term impact that the abuse has had on my life has been devastating.

Sexual abuse affects so many areas of our lives, from the physical to the metaphysical, that simply telling someone what had been done, is not enough. Confronting your abuser, and telling someone what they did to you is only the beginning of a lifetime of dealing with the pangs of molestation.

Here are two of the most evident ways in which being sexually abused has impacted my own life. And while I do not intend for this to be an exhaustive treatment on the subject, my hope is that it will shed some insight into how sexual abuse affects its victims, and a couple of practical ways in which the Christian may begin to experience freedom.

Identity

If you were a growing young boy at the time of your abuse, like I was, and your abuser was another male, you have undoubtedly experienced identity issues. Perhaps you were asking yourself whether or not you were now “gay” as a result of your abuse. Or, like me, out of disgust at the very thought of being violated by another man, you decided to sleep with as many girls possible in order to prove your manhood, leading into a lifetime of homophobia and sexual immorality.

Or maybe there were times when you became aroused as a natural reaction to stimulation and, thus, minimized the fault of the attacker. Because, after all, you enjoyed it right?

For years—and, at times, even now—I’ve lived my life trying to prove I am a man. I’ve let my abuser have control over my identity as a man. In fact, his subconscious control over my life had inevitably fostered control issues within, which aimed to “take back” my life from my abuser through always trying to control my situations, circumstances, and relationships. Yet, be that as it may, I had no control. I was lost and broken. He told me I was at fault, so I was at fault. He told me I was the one that was sick and twisted, and so, I was sick and twisted. He told me that I was insufficient to please anybody, and so, I was. I lived for far too long believing these things about myself.

But God did not create me to be viewed in any of the ways in which my attacker viewed me. God created me (and you) in His image (Genesis 1:26-27). I am a man, because God created me as a man, and no one has the right to redefine that which God has created.

God did not create us to be violated, to be used like lifeless instruments of gratification for the purposes of serving man’s sick and twisted sinful desires. When we experience the trauma of sexual abuse, we are experiencing the depravity of man, not the will or the purposes of God.

What you’ve done or what has been done to you, should never serve as the basis for understanding your identity. You must never let the sinfulness of mankind affect that who you are, in Christ. You are a son or daughter of the living God, fearfully and wonderfully made—a new creature. Find yourself in Him, and you will begin to find yourself liberated from the effects of your abuse.

Relationally

When I started having children of my own, I was afraid. Not because I felt that I might abuse them too, but because the way in which my abuse has shaped the way I view boundaries.

Honestly, for years I was uncomfortable being naked and exposed around anyone, much less my own bride. Second to that, came the fear of performing what we would consider “normal” parental duties, like teaching your children to use the potty, or giving them a bath. Any of those things reminded me of my abuse. In the same sense, I didn’t want to violate my children’s boundaries. This, however, produced an unhealthy effect in the way in which I parented. I needed to move beyond having my attacker in view, and love and lead my children in a way that was healthy and fatherly.

This leads back to our identity. Our identity as sons or daughters of our God the Father, gives us a sense of what it looks like to be loving parents to our own children. To father and and mother in grace and truth, warmth and compassion, from the example set fourth from our own Father, who is in Heaven.

Yet perhaps the most devastating sense in which my abuse has affected me relationally, is in the area of trust.

All I have to do is try and count my closest friends, and this is where I will fail miserably. In fact, I have no close friends. Sure, I have plenty of Facebook friends that will occasionally post a “Happy Birthday” message on my wall and maybe “like” a status here or there, but I have had no real lasting friendships. Neither am I close with any of my family members, besides my immediate family of course.

When I look at how I have failed in relationships, I see, not only the result of a broken childhood, but also the result of my abuse, once again holding the reigns of my life in the palm of its hand. Not only has it affected friendships, but it has also infected my marriage.

While I was dating my now-bride, I ended up breaking up with her at least five times. I was constantly trying to find ways to end the relationship, to keep her at a distance—I didn’t want to let anyone in. But she kept pursuing, and loved me, despite my unhealthy attitude towards relationships. This, in turn, has had a profound impact on the way in which I now view trust and love working together.

It’s easy to distrust people, especially in light of being sexually abused. Our trust has been supremely violated; often times by those closest to us. Our view of people has been marred. But rather than building up a wall of distrust around us, and keeping ourselves from establishing healthy relationships, we must learn to trust, with the same love that God has shown us. God will not leave us nor forsake us—He is our God, whom we can trust, and depend upon.

Sure, trust is taking risks, but the benefits of it allow us to begin to see the world through the lenses of love, rather than viewing everyone as the one who betrayed our trust, and hurt us deeply. We mustn’t play the victim the rest of our lives, because then it becomes an excuse, and a means of escaping reality and responsibility. Not everyone will hurt us the way in which we’ve been hurt. In fact, you’ll be surprised at the amount of love you’ll experience from the church, family, and friends, when you begin to tear down that wall of distrust, and allow trust to be established and rooted in love.

Proverbs 3:5 encourages us to “trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding” (emphasis mine). Here, it is our own understanding that leads us away from the very gifts that God has given us in family and friendships, in life itself. We must trust that God will lead us into true and lasting relationships that will allow us to be built up and encouraged in love and life with Him.

Conclusion

Have you forgiven your abuser? If not, I invite you to experience the freedom that comes from forgiving those who have wronged us. We don’t forgive merely because we are told, but because we know that all people have wronged God and others, in some shape or form. Even us. And just as Christ came to die for our sins, and offer us the gift of life, so has He died for them, extending to them the same forgiveness and everlasting life with Him. When you forgive your abuser, you are also freeing yourself from the power of sin over your life—freeing yourself from the control that your abuse has had over you for so many years. You are being found in the grace of God, and becoming the man or woman that God has created you to be—a reflection of His own love and mercy.

Finally, when you allow your identity, found in the image of God, to shape your relationships with others, you learn to be a forgiving people, a trusting people, a people who can live together, in love, and grow together, in Christ.