“Why Do Christians Discriminate Against Homosexuals?”

I recently read about a Business that was fined a whopping $135,000 due to be paid to a lesbian couple as compensation, for the alleged trauma that they experienced at the hands of 2 Business owners, who refused to bake a cake for their wedding. The owners of the Business who were husband and wife, stated that their reason for refusing to serve the couple’s wedding was that they are Christian and do not want to partake in the sin of homosexuality. You can read about the story in a link that they posted on their Facebook page, here.

My first and sustained reaction to this was/is that there is a growing persecution of Christians all over the world; so much so that even in places where Christianity is the dominating confessed religion, the holding of Christian values is becoming increasingly punishable.

Due to the ramifications of the incident once it had become more widely known, the couple decided to close their shop and operate their Business from their home. Many companies have also cut ties with them.

To financially support the family, someone set up a campaign on GoFundMe and in a very short space of time $109,000 was raised. However, somebody else complained to GoFundMe, stating that it was allowing funds to be raised where a conviction had already been given and as a result, GoFundMe closed the campaign. Read more about that here. The Business is now using other websites to raise money from the public and you can find the links for those on their Facebook page.

 

I Understand the Charge Given

The law in the USA as well as many other countries in the world, is not tailored to Christians and that’s why things that oppose our faith are legal. The same goes for other religions and that is to be expected. Though the law is influenced by religion, in most cases it isn’t solely based on any one religion. With this in mind I don’t think that the judge was unlawful in his or her decision to charge the couple, as they were abiding by the law put in place to protect the rights of all people in the state and country. The judge deemed the refusal of service as discrimination and therefore issued a charge. That was the right thing to do according to the law of the land and all judges are responsible for upholding the law.

Having said that, I do not agree with the law. I simply understand why according to it, the couple were found guilty.

 

Discrimination

According to the law of the land discrimination is illegal and according to the Bible, discrimination is sin; because we’re called to love our neighbor as ourselves (Mark 12:31), irrespective of who they are. Christians are also called to obey the law of the land (Romans 13:1-7). However, where the law opposes the Christian faith, we’re called to obey God over this law (Acts 5:29). This is where Christians and those who aren’t Christian come to a fork in the road in many cases; one of which being whether something is discrimination or not.

Equality is of God. However, the Christian faith doesn’t teach equality in the same way as the world does and so it doesn’t define discrimination in the same way that the world does. Equality, from a Biblical perspective is done in the context of God’s order. For example, both husband and wife are fully equal in value and so are both equally deserving of respect and love. However according to God’s order, the husband is the head of the marriage and the wife is to submit to him (Ephesians 5:22-23). So, as the husband treats his wife as his equal, he’s to do so from the position of headship, just as the wife is to treat the husband as her equal from the position of submission. The cruelty of humans has largely tainted what ‘headship’ and ‘submission’ are perceived as in society; however the truth of what they are remains the same. Even if perceptions have shifted. From a Biblical perspective it’s not discrimination against the wife, if the husband is the head of the household; simply because he is the male in the marriage. However, from the world’s perspective, this set-up may well be discrimination, because the world often teaches that equality is to have everyone do whatever they want as far as it doesn’t hurt another person. To a Christian that isn’t equality but recklessness and a dismissal of God. As followers of Christ, Christians do things to glorify God and not only to prevent hurt or offence to others. In doing this Christians sometimes endure hurt and offence to give way for God way’s and Name to be magnified.

So the Christian faith does not teach discrimination against homosexuals. As imperfect beings, humans who happen to be Christian may well discriminate against homosexuals, but in doing so they are not representing what it means to be Christian.

God’s Order and God’s Ways

To reject God’s ways is to reject God. Many people claim to be Christian yet they refuse to embrace God’s order of doing things. Embracing God’s order doesn’t mean that you will never sin and that’s something that Christians are often accused of thinking: that they’re sinless and perfect. Christians aren’t sinless.

Christians view sin as something that grieves the God whom they want to serve and as a result they struggle against it; but not in an effort to earn salvation. Christians struggle against sin in order to glorify God. We believe that our salvation has already been given through faith in Jesus Christ and we now live to glorify God with our lives. This involves rejecting sin, fighting against it, falling and getting back up again; refusing to live in sin anymore.

When these Business owners decided to not bake the cake for a homosexual wedding it wasn’t because they hated the couple or even that they were expressing disgust towards them. It was because they did not want to knowingly endorse the sinful act of homosexuality by providing a cake for the celebration of the union. By this they were trying to glorify God because the Bible teaches that marriage is supposed to be between a man and a woman and any other set-up is sin.

 

“Who would have known the cake was even from them?”

From the videos released, the couple don’t state what was going through their minds when they made the decision to not bake cakes for homosexual weddings. All they explained was that they’re trying to walk out their faith. One could say that they could have baked the cake and no one would have known it was from them, however as the couple stated, “they’re trying to walk out their faith” and such a thing is done both in private and in public. So, whether people were going to know or not wasn’t the point. The point was that they knew and therefore they would have privately celebrated something which was against God’s order. Something against the faith that they are trying to live.

“I’m sure they don’t ask for event details for every occasion that they bake a cake for. They singled out homosexuals!”

Most likely, the coupe don’t request a document explaining the  religious details of the event where every cake they bake will be served or video evidence to prove that nothing opposed their faith at the event. So it is indeed likely that the couple at some point, unknowingly baked a cake for some sort of event or gathering where Christian values were not upheld. That’s the key component in all of this however: the not knowing.

The Apostle Paul was a tent maker (Acts 18:13). I don’t think that Paul asked for a written explanation of what every tent that he made was going to be used for, as well as testimonies from witnesses to prove it. He would probably have just made the tent. However, if Paul were asked to make a tent for a temple of another god and he made it, that would have been a different matter entirely. When you are made aware that your product or service is going to be used to help a cause that goes against your faith, then you are knowingly supporting sin and that in and of itself is sin. It’s something to look at on a case by case basis, but the point remains, that Christians have a responsibility across the entire spectrum of their lives, to glorify God. Many times Christians fail at this and walk in hypocrisy. Many times. However, that’s why, Christians look to Jesus Christ for salvation and not their own works, because our works our imperfect at best. We taint even good things, with bad thoughts and so can never boast in anything that we do. However, it’s our duty to continue to strive, covered by the grace of God and the Blood of Jesus; confident that no condemnation can be brought against those who have faith in Christ, because He paid the penalty for us.

 

“What if my beliefs teach that I can’t serve black people? Or Jews? Or disabled people? Where do we draw the line at the freedom that people are allowed to have in the name of their religion and beliefs?

Such a great question!! We can expound further on that and ask: How do we govern what people can do according to their religion and what happens when different beliefs have different views? What do we do when one person believes that homosexual marriage is right and another believes that it is wrong??

The law cannot and will not please all people groups. It’s impossible; not only because it’s impossible to please opposing views at the same time, but also because the law makers themselves have a belief system whether it’s based on God or not. As Christians, we have to live our lives in submission to the government as the Bible teaches, so far as does not oppose our faith. Where our faith is opposed to what the law of the land is, we stand for our faith and take the consequences that the government issues, counting Christ as worthy of the suffering because we will not deny our Lord. This is what we call persecution. It’s guaranteed to happen because of the fallen world that we live in and we as Christians are readied for it through the Word of God.

So, to the question, if someone else’s beliefs teach them not to serve people because of race, religion, ability or even sexual preference, then as Christians we will oppose that. If the couple had refused to serve the couple because they were lesbian, they would have been walking in sin. That would have been wrongly judging the couple as being unworthy of cake because of their sexual preference. However, that’s not what they did and infact, the couple stated that they had served the person in the past. They didn’t want to bake the cake for the wedding because the wedding was a homosexual one and therefore something they couldn’t celebrate without embracing sin. It was about the event, not the people. As Christians, we’re called to love our neighbors. However, we’re not called to love everything our neighbor does. This couple did not want to celebrate what their neighbor was doing, but they still wanted to love their neighbor. The world and the law looked on them as people who hated their neighbor and charged them with discrimination. According to the law this was right, but the law is flawed. I understand the judgement, but I do not agree with the law in this area.

If a person’s beliefs teach them that they shouldn’t serve a group of people, or that that are group of people are inferior then as Christians, again, we will oppose that behavior. Even if that group of people dislike Christians. Again, this is because we’re called to love people, God’s way.

 

So are you saying they’ve never sinned before?

That couple along with every other Christian has sinned countless times! There is no Christian who can perfectly walk with God and this is what we need Jesus. However, falling doesn’t give you reason to give up and it therefore doesn’t justify onlookers to count you out. Just because the couple have sinned in other areas of life and have sinned since then; just because they probably even sinned in this very circumstance with the cake, somehow along the way whether in action, word or thought, doesn’t mean that they should just give up on trying to glorify God. So no, them making this stand to not sin doesn’t mean that they’ve never sinned before and them having sinned before is besides the point.

Hypocrisy is to the false appearance of one thing at one time, and then doing something completely opposite at another time. It’s often accompanied by deception to cover up one’s true character. Sometimes, Christians do do hypocritical things. However, because of the work of Christ in their hearts, they repent from this sin and try to glorify God with holy living. Christians do not knowingly live in a continual state hypocrisy. Trying to desperately find some sort of flaw to throw up against this couple as proof that they are hypocrites, is however, unhealthy zeal to drag someone down, simply because they have decided to stand for their faith. That is discrimination.

 

Don’t Waste Your Fatherlessness

Fatherlessness is an epidemic that is terrorizing the homes of countless families today. Then in comes Father’s Day.

Father1Father2

The concept of ‘father’ is so far off for a great number of people, because they’ve lived most of, or all of their life without their father. So then, this day, Father’s Day, that’s there to celebrate and honor fathers, is nothing short of strange and odd to them. One thing that can then happen as a result of this, is the person becomes drawn to the job of their mother who acts as a single parent and they can begin honoring and celebrating her for Father’s Day.

father's day mom

Mom Can Never Be Dad

Children need two parents. A male as father and a female as mother. Where that isn’t available, there is a disadvantage. Not a disadvantage from which no good fruit can come, or the only disadvantage a person can have in life; but fatherlessness (and motherlessness) is a disadvantage nonetheless. To celebrate Father’s Day by celebrating a mother is to imply that the role of a father can be played by a mother; when actually, it can’t. No matter how great of a mother a woman is, a mother cannot and will never be a father; primarily for the fact that she is not a male. There is a reason that God didn’t give two people of the same gender to be able to reproduce and instead made it only possible for a male and female.

This isn’t to say that you should go out of your way to not appreciate your mother just because it’s Father’s Day. It’s to say, that if you’re going to celebrate Father’s Day, don’t do it by celebrating your mother. Celebrate your mother just because, but don’t do it in the name of Father’s Day; because she’s not your father. She did more because your father was absent, but that just made her all the more of an amazing mother. It didn’t turn her into Dad. Don’t make Father’s Day about the absence of your father, by leveraging his slackness as the pedestal on which to exalt your mother. It isn’t ‘Remember How Much Your Father Hasn’t Done Day’. It’s Father’s Day. Let father’s be celebrated. If you don’t want to celebrate yours, then don’t; but don’t rain on the day with negativity.

father's day mom2father's day mom3

Old Wounds

Father’s Day can tear open old wounds as it can pose as a very sharp reminder of the father that you lack. No one wants to be the person whose dad abandoned them, abused them, or was just a horrible father so much so, that Father’s Day is more easily seen as day of sorrow than joy. No one wants that and very few people (I dare say no one) would simply not care about the fact that their father wasn’t a loving dad. They may have gotten passed the hurt, but they’ll care.

Don’t be ashamed of those old wounds. Pain tells us something: 1) that we’re human and 2) that we have some unresolved problems. Neither of these are sin and both give us a reason to draw closer to God. It is a great thing to learn to “kiss the wave that throws you on the Rock of Ages”, as Charles Spurgeon said. When submitted to God, trials can produce in us greater godliness and therefore cause to come out of us, more fruit of the Spirit. Your fatherlessness is painful, it’s a sad story, but it’s also and more so, when submitted to God, an opportunity! When those old wounds are torn open, pray, study God’s Word, fellowship with other believers for encouragement and comfort. Don’t just sit in the pain; but use it. Realize the potential in this trial, rather than letting it consume you. Easier said than done, but so much better done that said.

Learn about what it means to be a good father or how to encourage it in someone else. Grow in your understanding of God’s design for the family. See the need that your own father has for prayer (if he lives), (Luke 6:28); knowing that sin is the root cause of men not playing their role as fathers.

opportunity

As crazy as it sounds, there is much to be gained from the position of a person who lacked a loving father in their life. Through pain, through tears, through confusion yes; but still much to be gained. Fatherless is not a judgement, it’s a path. It’s not a destination, it’s the context of a journey. There are many riches along this path and on this journey. They may require greater strength to dig up, involve more dirt and cause a person to be more vulnerable to certain attacks than other paths but the riches are still there. Let’s take them!

As I can imagine John Piper saying, “don’t waste your fatherlessness”.

John Piper is a great Christian teacher who wrote a book called ‘Don’t Waste Your Life’. I highly recommend the book (which has a study guide that can be purchased separately). Also, read this phenomenal article that he wrote called ‘Don’t Waste Your Cancer’, following his prostate surgery. 

http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/dont-waste-your-cancer

To Not Sin Isn’t the Goal

Simply put sin is anything that goes against God. So, actions, words or thoughts can all be sinful because all three can be against God.

To NOT sin however, isn’t the right goal to have. Not sinning is good, but it’s supposed to be the byproduct of the goal of glorifying God. To just have a goal to not sin without the ultimate goal to glorify God, is to just have an extension of morality.

Though Christianity shares similar visible results with morality in some ways, the two are very different. Christianity is the pursuit of God through Christ, to glorify God and that pursuit exists because of faith in Christ; sustained by the working of the Holy Spirt in us. Morality is the pursuit of good works and this pursuit is sustained by, the conscience; placing ‘self’ at the center of it. As needed as good works are, they can still be idols if the pursuit of them isn’t rooted in the pursuit of God Himself. That’s why morality can’t produce salvation. Salvation only comes from faith in Christ and faith in Christ is intertwined with the goal to glorify God.

paths

Whenever we have a focus on works, we will be ever tempted to keep track of what we’ve done as a way of earning something or being justified to do/not do something. We’ll also keep a track of what we’ve not done as a way of disqualifying ourselves or deeming ourselves unfit. However, when we have the glory of God as our focus, we don’t count how many times we’ve done this or not done that; rather we are motivated by glorifying God in the present circumstance, in the present moment; regardless of the history and irrespective of what the future will hold. Yes that involves works, but the works aren’t where are hearts are surrendered.Yes we fail at that, but we try.

Peter asked Jesus in Matthew 18:21-22 “how often will my brother sin against me and I forgive him? As many as 7 times?” Jesus replied by saying, “not 7 time, but 77”. Jesus was speaking figuratively, meaning that there is no limit; but rather forgiveness should always be granted. In that moment Peter was focused on the good work and so he was thinking about the quota. How much is enough? At what point are you justified to stop? Jesus corrected him and pointed His focus back to God, by implying that there is no limit. Forgiveness and every other command of God is necessary no matter how many times it has previously been done, because God is worthy of the glory, irrespective of how many times before we have given it to Him. God’s glory is so immeasurable, that us lifting up His Name is not quantifiable. It’s absurd to say or even imply in our hearts, “how many times am I supposed to give God glory today? 10 times?”

measure

 

 “Why does my reason matter? Isn’t it just important that I do the right thing?”

It matters because Number 1) God is supposed to be supreme in our lives, above all things and so nothing is supposed to upstage Him in our hearts (Exodus 20:3). We’re to do everything (not some things or even most things, but everything) to His glory ultimately (Colossians 3:23). Number 2) God is eternal. He is the only goal that can remain constant and forever. Children become adults, jobs are lost, money gets spent, opinions change, bodies age, people die. Life is a vapor. When anything but God is our ultimate motivation, it’s only a matter of time before that motivation no longer exists. If for example, a woman goes to church because she is liked by the people there, if people begin to dislike her (wrong though they may be) her involvement and commitment in the church will be unearthed, because the thing that was anchoring her has been moved. However, if her motive for going to church is to glorify God by being obedient to His call to gather with the body for fellowship (Hebrews 10:25) and submit to the leaders (Hebrews 13:17), then even if people begin to dislike her, her involvement and commitment in the church can remain firm (though it may tremble). It is rooted in something unmovable: God. So yes it does matter why we do or don’t do things.

house tilting

 

Does that mean I’m not saved?

It’s key to note though that Jesus wasn’t angry at the Pharisees because they followed the law. No, Jesus didn’t oppose the law, but rather He fulfilled it (Matthew 5:17). Jesus had a problem with the Pharisees overall, because they idolized the doing of this and the not doing of that; being more interested in the works, than God Himself. Then they tried to push this sinful perspective onto others.

Jesus called the Pharisees a brood of vipers (Matthew 23:33), so it’s safe to say that those whom He was referring to weren’t children of God. Due to this, it’s a very serious matter to call someone or even liken them to a Pharisee. Someone appearing to be more zealous about works than God Himself, is not a reason to perceive them as unsaved by default. It doesn’t mean that they’re legalistic like the Pharisees, unless like the Pharisees they push this behavior as a means to attain right standing with God, above faith in the Savior.

That said, Jesus also knew the hearts of the Pharisees. We cannot see people’s hearts and so it’s not our business to pronounce people as unsaved. We have a much better knowledge of our own heart than others though and so we can understand whether or not we do indeed have faith in Jesus Christ for our salvation and not our works. If you have faith in Jesus for your salvation and that faith is genuine/accompanied by repentance of sin, then we’re saved. We may be spiritually immature and weak in our understanding, but we’re saved. We have to be very careful to not quickly dismiss ourselves  from salvation, based on our vision of things; as our vision is often blurry.

blurred-vision

 

So to round it all up, whatever you do and don’t do today, tomorrow and beyond, do it out of a pursuit of God’s glory.

Jesus Instead of Joseph

Before you read this, read the part 1 to this here. Otherwise have a look at these Scriptures to get the context from which I’m writing:

Matthew 26:57 – 28:10, Luke 23:50-51, John 19:38, John 14:3

Jesus KNEW that Joseph was His disciple. There He was on trial, knowing that one of His own was in the room and yet not standing by His side. Yet HE, Jesus, was forsaking all to atone for the sins of man!! Can you imagine the sheer grace of God in that!!?? To not have killed Joseph there and then; or have cursed his very life? Joseph was named by God, through His God breathed Scriptures, as a good and righteous man.

How many times have we deserved death, a curse and God has just blessed us instead!? He has called us His own despite the times that we have kept it secret that we are His. God truly has not dealt with us as we deserve!

psalm 103 10When Joseph took the body of Jesus, he laid it in his own tomb. He had worked to prepare that tomb for his own death and yet Jesus laid in it. I want to unpack some of symbolism behind this:

Joseph’s Tomb

Joseph prepared the tomb for his own dead body. He knew he was going to die one day and so made preparations.

We are all born on the path of death. Not just physical death however, but a death far greater; the death of the soul (Romans 3:9-18). The Bible calls this the second death; the lake of fire (Revelations 20:14). This is the place for experiencing God’s wrath against sinners. Through our own sin we prepare a tomb for ourselves and that tomb awaits to receive us in hell and the lake of fire when we leave this life.

hell

It Was No Accident

It was no accident that Jesus was laid, not in a random grave, but in the tomb that already belonged to one of His disciples. Joseph represents all those who repent and believe in Christ. Just as Christ took Joseph’s place in the tomb, so He took our place on the cross!! It was intentional that Jesus didn’t have a tomb for Himself; for He came to lay in the tomb prepared for mankind! Just like the tomb was meant for Joseph, the wrath of God was meant for all of us; but Jesus stepped in and received it fully in our place. He drank dry the cup of God’s wrath; so we could taste only the sweetness of eternal life. There was a tomb waiting to receive us into hell, but when Jesus resurrected from the dead and left the tomb empty, He closed every tomb off from our souls forever. For all those who would repent and believe in Him (John 3:16). Thus, our end is SECURE. We will go from this life to the next; immediately. Forever in the joy and paradise that comes being redeemed by Christ. Repenting and believing in Jesus is the only way that the dead rest in peace.

salvationDesire

Joseph asked for the body of Jesus. It wasn’t thrust upon him out of tradition, or obligation. He wanted Jesus so that he could put Him in his grave. He knew he had a tomb already prepared for him, but that the Lord was able to be laid in it. So he asked.

Every disciple of Jesus must want Jesus. They don’t follow Christ by tradition or obligation, but they desire Him and His ways. They know full well that they have a tomb that awaits, prepared for them as a result of their sin. Yet they believe that Jesus is able to lay in it in their place and so they turn to the cross of Christ to receive the sacrifice of God. In the most literal sense Joseph was giving Jesus a proper and somewhat honorable burial. However, spiritually he was reflecting the Gospel: that Jesus takes our place.

tomb

Unless you let Jesus take your place, you cannot live after this life and the tomb for those facing the second death waits for you. Being sinless, Jesus is the only One that could taste death and live again. Death was a punishment issued by God because of sin; but when sin was atoned for through Christ, the sting of death was removed and its existence given a deadline. Therefore when Christ returns, the dead will rise again. Those who followed Christ will rise to spend an eternity in their resurrected incorruptible bodies, with God. Those who didn’t follow Christ whilst alive, will go on to the second death; from which there is no resurrection.

The resurrection of Jesus is proof that His death was sufficient payment for our sins. If not, the chains of death couldn’t have been broken and the tomb would have continued to contain His Corpse. But no. On the Sunday after He was crucified, Jesus resurrected and He is now with the Father in Heaven, preparing a place for the disciples that He will soon return to collect.

The Joseph In All of Us

Background (Matthew 26:57-68)

The people who had seized Jesus at the Garden of Gethsemane, brought him to the High Priest Caiaphas where he, the scribes and elders met. These people, along with other religious leaders such as the Pharisees (as was the culture), made up ‘the council’. Together the people sought false testimony against Jesus because they wanted to put Him to death. Despite their attempts however, they couldn’t find a testimony from anyone that would hold. Eventually the high priest pressed Jesus to tell them if He was the Christ and Jesus responded by saying “You have said so. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of power and coming on the clouds of heaven”. To this, the high priest accused Jesus of blaspheming and demanded a judgement from the council; who then pronounced that he should be killed. They then mocked him, spat on Him and beat Him.

 

A Man in the Midst (Luke 23:50-51 & John 19:38)

Amongst the council, there was at least one man, who didn’t agree with the decision or the action. His name was Joseph from Arimathea; a secret disciple of Jesus. Secret, because he was in fear of the Jews.

Joseph’s fear makes it likely that he didn’t voice his disagreement with the council based on any spiritual convictions. If he did say anything, it’s more likely that it would have been from the perspective of ‘justice’, referring to the lack of sufficient evidence regarding the claims the witnesses; especially as Jesus didn’t respond to them. Perhaps Joseph used this stance as a way to defend Jesus without letting it be revealed that he was one of His disciples and thus this is why it was difficult for the council to pronounce a judgement at first.

law

When Jesus eventually spoke, if even Joseph did take that stance to defend him using the lack of evidence, it was then pointless because Jesus’ response to the high priest made it clear that He was indeed professing to be Lord. The only way to defend Jesus from then, would have been to agree with His profession and of course make it clear to everyone that Joseph was a disciple of Jesus. Being in fear of the Jews however (whom the council was made of), Joseph wasn’t going to do that.

shut mouth

Now this isn’t to say that it’s Joseph’s fault that Jesus was taken to Pilate. The council was already corrupt and fixed on having Jesus killed without just cause; therefore one man standing up for Him would have only caused them to behave even more corruptly. Joseph would have probably been accused of blasphemy too and killed along with Jesus. Being part of the council and so knowing firsthand the corruption running through it, this is probably what caused Joseph to be fearful.

 

The Joseph Moment

Many, MANY Christians have ‘Joseph moments’ today, where they are faced with the choice of walking straight into almost certain hardship for defending the faith, or having faith in Christ secretly, whilst they, despite having influence to be heard, witness those around them mocking the Lord. Christians choose both options today from the imperfection of their flesh.

two options

 

Note, that despite Joseph being a secret disciple, he still was considered a disciple. Though he didn’t stand with Jesus at His trial for fear of his own life, he was still named as one of God’s. This isn’t someone having escaped through the cracks of Biblical standards; because Joseph didn’t deny Christ. He just didn’t claim him amongst the Jews.

Now Before we start thinking how much of a sell-out Joseph was, let me tell you why I find so much encouragement in this story and how it illuminates God’s grace to His sheep:

No Christian is exempt from being a secret disciple at some point, out of fear of what would happen to them if they were bold for Christ. Though the chains of fear have been broken on us and so we are no longer slaves to it, all Christians still possess the ability to fear things aside from God. Sometimes we do drop the ball and stay silent when we should speak up. We don’t deny Christ, but we don’t say anything to make it indisputable that we claim Him. Yes if someone asked us our opinion, we’d give it; but for fear, there are times when we just keep quiet if no one has expressed particular interest in our spiritual persuasions. Let none of us look at this occurrence with Joseph as if we could never have been him.

Let’s also remember that Joseph was called a righteous man, even after Jesus’ trial. So the next time we’re tempted to disqualify someone’s standing with Christ because of an event where they failed to speak up and stand up for God’s truth, let’s remember that. We don’t encourage what Joseph failed in doing, or trivialize it, but we certainly shouldn’t use such happenings to pronounce wrong judgement onto people. People fall; Christians included. Thank God for hands big enough that they can catch us still. We can see Joseph in all of us.

mirror

Though Jesus’ crucifixion wasn’t Joseph’s fault, defending His Lord, was his rightful role and ability as a disciple. The Bible says that boldness for Christ is:

  • A sign of being filled with the Spirit (Acts 4:31, Acts 4:7-13, Acts 13:611)
  • Fruit of our righteousness (Proverbs 28:1)
  • A result of our confidence in God’s power over man (Hebrews 13:6)

So, it’s a good idea for us to ready ourselves, knowing our flesh is weak and so fear is never far off, to walk in the boldness available to us through Christ. We can do this by:

  • Knowing the Scriptures well in order to have things to readily remember in difficult times.
  • Praying for boldness often
  • Surrounding ourselves with godly community and counsel so that we can learn and be encouraged by others
  • Seeking to learn of examples where people have been bold for Christ in the midst of opposition, so that we can be encouraged by their work

In a world that is opposed to God, it’s almost impossible for a Christian to not encounter a moment where they will have the opportunity to be bold for Christ in the face of opposition to Him. So, let’s train not with an attitude that it might happen to us, but that it will. For most of us, it already has and it’s just a case of when it’s going to happen again.

running

Read Part 2 here.

Debt Paid IN FULL!!

I’m broke and I was in debt. I got a little bit of money here and there and used that to make payments; but honestly, with the level of my lack vs the level of my debt, I was either going to die with it unpaid, or the time by which I was meant to have paid it off arrived, it wasn’t going to be settled and I’ve have had to suffer the consequences. To further deepen my hopelessness, I don’t have any friends or family rich enough to cover the debt for me. So all the payments I made, really were just scratching the surface of a problem so deep, I had actually already drowned in it.

drowningThat’s the plight of EVERY human being born in this world. No matter how prestigious or lowly in society, we are all DEAD in our sins. Born into debt with God because of sin that runs through our nature from our forefather Adam and that we run to because we are naturally opposed to God.

Then God being perfectly holy will not accept sin. Therefore from birth, with our sinful nature, we are destined to die and then be forever apart from God.

sin seperates

BUT GOD….in His mercy, provided a way out for us. Someone on earth needed to be rich enough to settle everyone’s debt. However, with every human being born spiritually bankrupt, in that we’re all born in sin and therefore have no value with regards to holiness before God; no one on earth was, is or will be, fit to do this. God requires something on which His wrath can rest in order for sin to be forgiven. It has to be perfect, as He is, because a tainted sacrifice isn’t sufficient for the perfect God and therefore would only cover sin for a period of time. It would never allow sins to be forgiven. Who else could fulfil this criteria but God Himself? So God sent Himself to earth in the form of a Human, through the womb of a woman, but without the conception that comes from a man. This is what we know as Christmas: the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ. That’s why we celebrate that occasion. This Human, unlike all others was without sinful nature that was inherited by every descendant of Adam, the first man, who sinned. Due to this, this Human was perfect. His Name is Jesus; Son of God. God in flesh.

Birth of Christ

Jesus gave His life up as a sacrifice, so that the wrath of God would rest on Him and being perfect, this sacrifice allowed sins to be forgiven and not just covered. Through Jesus, debt is paid in full. His death on the cross isn’t a monthly payment that has to be repeated; it isn’t a lump sum to keep things quiet for a while. It’s not contribution stored somewhere that we have to work to stop anyone from stealing. The entire debt is paid. FINISHED. That’s why it’s GOOD Friday. That’s why it’s a Friday to celebrate and be thankful for. We are broke and have no way of paying our debt, but God has provided a way!!!

Christ connects us with GodCross of Christ

Isn’t it foolish then, to continue trying to pay our debt ourselves? Yet people try. I tried. Through all types of good works, humans try to balance out their ‘bad’ by doing ‘good’. Listen now before it’s too late, it won’t work! No matter what you do to help others, to make others happy; or even what you don’t do, you’ll ALWAYS be in debt; unless you accept Christ’s payment for yourself. That’s the only way you’re going to be free of this problem! Don’t waste your life trying to pay off this debt, because no matter how hard you try it will amount to NOTHING in the end. Anything and everything you do is tainted by the sin that naturally runs through you; so there is nothing you can offer God that will suffice. You yourself will not suffice and you are the best you can offer; let alone some thing from you.

REPENT from a life of sin and TURN TO JESUS. That’s how His payment can deal with your debt. You can’t just want His payment and get it. Everyone wants to be debt free, but that doesn’t mean they can be. The terms for this payment are given by the Payee Himself: repent and believe.

Repent = turn away

Believe = have faith and therefore follow

That’s what I did. That’s who I have trusted for my life, for my eternity and so now my debt is paid in full. I’m still spiritually poor, bankrupt, nothing to offer of any value to God. Yet, in Christ I’m righteous; so He embraces me. I’m in right standing with Him. God has forgiven my sins so that I have eternal life!! Praying 100 times a day wasn’t going to do it, donating everything I had to the poor wouldn’t have done it, performing miracles in Jesus Name would have been pointless, serving in ministry of any kind wasn’t enough. Having loved ones that prayed for me couldn’t save me. Name it and the result are the same: IT WON’T DO IT. The debt of sin, will continue to hang over ANYONE like a bad smell, unless they repent and believe.

worthless worksTo repent and believe is an instant decision, but a lifetime journey. Therefore when you repent and believe you’re instantly saved, but you’ll walk out that salvation across your life, growing as you go. You won’t be free from ever sinning again, because though saved you still have sinful nature. However, because you’re saved that sinful nature no longer enslaves you. You’re no longer powerless against sin, but have Christ in you to fight sin and follow Him.

my chains are brokenBeing corrupt from birth, God works in our hearts to soften us so that we may heed to Word and repent and believe. No one can boast in their wisdom, that their decision to repent and believe was done independently. Had it not been for the Lord, we would all choose sin over God everytime. By His grace we are given the gift of faith

faith a giftTake the hope that is available to you, before it’s too late. God requires your debt to be settled, either by being paid in full, or by you being punished for not paying it and through that paying it yourself. However, you’ll never pay it in full and so you’ll forever be punished. You don’t spend a few years in damnation and then get released having served your time. No, you’ll be therefore for eternity for so great is the debt and so perfect is the God, you will never stop making payments. One way or another God will deal with your debt. Take the option of JESUS. Don’t be foolish like so many before you! If you choose the option of making your own payments it won’t end well for you. It won’t end.

what will you choose

If you’re alive today it means there is hope for you, because where there is life there is hope. However, once a person dies, that’s it. They are judged based on that one life and if in that life they didn’t repent and believe then like a case that hasn’t been settled out of court, it will be brought before the judge and a verdict decided. You will stand before God the Judge if you don’t settle out of court and take the option of Jesus. You will be found guilty and you will face the penalty. Don’t read these words and ignore them, mocking the One whom you owe the debt. You are not going to fix this yourself. If this sounds like a super serious message, that’s because it is. We can beat the drum a million times, but day the band will stop and time will be up. Don’t waste another day. You have no idea what tomorrow holds for you. You think it’s coming, you think you’ll have it. Really all you have for sure is now.

It is Good Friday, because Jesus died and so there is a way open to the Father. The only way. Him. However, if you haven’t repented and believed in Jesus, for you it’s just Friday. And soon….it will be pay day. Settle this debt today!

Bible References:

The Story of Jesus’ Crucifixion

Matthew Chapters 26 & 27

The Sinful Nature of All

Romans Chapter 3 Verses10-18, Genesis Chapter 2 Verse 15-17, Chapter 3 Verses 1-6, Romans Chapter 5 Verses 12-14,

The Gift of Christ

Romans Chapter 5 Verses 15-21, John Chapter 1 Verses 14 & 16, John Chapter 3 Verse 16

The Urge to Settle Out of Court with Jesus, to Repent and Believe

Luke Chapter 12 Verses 57 – Chapter 13 Verse 5

John Chapter 3 Verse 36

This Life Is the Only Chance You Get

Hebrews Chapter 9 Verse 27

Useful links

Buy A Bible from Amazon

Ministry of ‘Desiring God’

Amazing Video!!

Another Amazing Video!!!

Should a Woman Make the First Move?

What Does It Mean To Make a Move?

I think making a move is in its most raw sense, advancing towards someone in some sort of way, with the intent of taking things further than a neutral friendship. The intent is what makes it ‘a move’ and not just ‘friendliness’; however the ‘take it further’ doesn’t have to mean taking things to relationship. Sometimes the ‘further’ is just casual flirting, physical intimacy or something else that has nothing to do with a relationship. That’s why regardless of who makes a move, the ‘why’ is always most important.

Should a Woman Make the Move?

I don’t think a woman should make the first move on a man. I’m not saying it makes her any less of a woman or any less likely to find a husband; I just think that it’s BETTER if he makes the first move. Let me explain why:

Men are wired to want to lead their women. The Bible states that the man is head of his wife (Ephesians 5:22); it doesn’t say he should be or that he may be if he does XYZ. It simply says that he IS. A man can be a good head or a bad head, but the fact remains that he is the head. Men are designed to take on that role.

brain

The way a man goes about dealing with the fact that he’s interested in a woman, will tell the woman a lot about him and highlight some key leading qualities that he possesses, or could potentially possess later. If a woman makes the first move, she clouds her ability to see those things at that moment. Sure she can see them later, but the pursuit phase often reveals key information that is best seen in the beginning and not down the line when hearts are already engaged and so red flags a little harder to act on.

He that finds a wife finds a good thing and has obtained favor from God (Proverbs 18:22). A wife is a reflection of a man finding favor with God. It’s not to imply a husband is of no value or doesn’t reflect favor also; but a wife is specifically singled out and expressed as a blessing in the Bible. For that reason, I believe (though you may disagree) that in a relationship it’s right for the value of the woman to be specifically singled out and expressed/displayed. I’m not saying the value of the man shouldn’t be expressed and displayed also, but I think there’s something special when a woman is singled out.

It’s lovely when a couple gets engaged regardless of who proposed to who, but isn’t it just more beautiful when the man proposes to the woman? Who do companies gear most of Valentine’s Day towards? Women. Who is more at the center stage when it comes to anniversaries? Women. Though both are equally important and valued, when it comes to outward expressions of love, isn’t there more emphasis on the way that the woman is wooed?? I’m certainly not saying women shouldn’t care for their men ferociously; I’m a firm believer of equally showing up, showing out and throwing down for your man; but I’m also saying that there is just something extra amazing about when a man exalts and expresses the value of his woman, over when the woman does it for the man. When you see a man literally chasing after a woman that he wants it’s sweet. However when you see a woman chase after a man……it’s just not the same. Infact it can gets rather awkward and cringe worthy for the onlookers.

swansAgain, it’s not to say a man or a husband is of no value and I really want to stress that. It’s just there’s a certain je nais sais quoi, about men and women doing things that they’re more wired to do with regards to anything beyond friendship.

symbols

When a woman makes the first move she just hands her expression of interest to a man and removes the need for him to make any effort to get it. She opposes the fact that that expression from her is worth a lot and gives it away for nothing. It’s almost like watching a movie 30 minutes in; doesn’t mean the movie is bad, but you miss the beauty in the start-up.

That’s really what it boils down to: what beauty do you want to see? Is the goal to get married, no matter how it’s done? No matter who proposes? Is the goal to get in a relationship no matter who pursues who? Does the process matter? That’s what it boils down to.

I think the process matters because it’s often the process that can glorify God more than the end result, We spend a lot more time on the journey than at the destination in this life and so there are a lot more gems to be had.

journey

Doing It Because He Won’t

What if the man just isn’t doing anything though? What if he isn’t asking her out? Or he isn’t proposing? What then? Should she just wait forever? Doesn’t he just need a nudge in the right direction?

I don’t think a woman should wait her whole life for a guy. Time is precious, so there’s no need for that level of hanging around. That said though, I know it’s not easy and because sometimes endless waiting feels like the only thing that’s happening, it can seem like the smartest thing to do is just let the guy know how you feel so something can either happen or not.

The Bible says daughters of Jerusalem do not awaken love before it’s time (Song of Solomon 8:4). It also says guard you heart with all diligence, for out of it flow the rivers of life (Proverbs 4:23). Love isn’t like a switch that can just be turned off once it’s on; so, with ALL your might and strength in the Lord, guard your heart from the offset! That doesn’t mean be totally shut off and cold, it just means be wise with your heart so that if someone wants it they need to make an effort.

guard your heart

Don’t put yourself in situations where your heart strings can be pulled easily and your emotions stirred up quickly. That means keep a reign on the conversations you have, watch who you hang out with and what you allow a guy to do and say to you. You have every right to shut down a friendship or conversation that’s inappropriate; be it because of the other person or you. Do what you have to do to keep yourself together and remember that no man is worth you taking jabs at your reputation and peace in the name of ‘I want him to know how I feel’. If that’s what it takes for him to know how you feel, it’s not worth the trouble it’s causing you. If he wanted to know how you felt as much as you wanted him to, he’d have found a way to find out.

If you don’t care whether he wants to know or not, but just feel the need to get it off your chest, it’s as if you’re throwing your heart in the air and just hoping it’ll land on something. You don’t know what, but just anything that can hold it up for a while will do. Your heart could come crashing to the floor and break at any moment, but you’re willing to take the risk because you just need to know what could happen. If that’s your strategy you’ve got bigger problems than him not knowing how you feel. Your problem is you’re willing to sacrifice anything for the possibility of having him. A mere human. Not God. Your problem is idolatry.

golden calf

I’m certainly not implying that love isn’t a risk, because it definitely is. All we know is God is sovereign and in His sovereignty we have a responsibility to make wise choices; but even then we don’t know how things will turn out. For that reason, we’re supposed to approach love with zeal, yet caution. Guarding our hearts and not awakening love before it’s time. We don’t always do it and because we’re imperfect even when we do we still mess up somewhere. I’m not pushing for perfection; I’m just advocating effort. Try to guard your heart, try not to awaken love before it’s time. Try.

When a toy breaks you can just go and get another one, brand new and even better. When a heart breaks, the broken pieces flow into multiple streams of your life; clogging, slowing and polluting. When a woman makes a move on a man, the precious stone that he is supposed to hunt for, now is just laid on the floor infront of him, waiting to see if he likes it enough to pick it up. All too often though, he will just step right over or on the stone and carry on about his business; leaving the woman broken hearted. Sometimes that doesn’t happen though and the man does pick up the stone and cherish it. Praise God!

That’s not the point though, the point is a precious stone doesn’t belong on the floor, whether it’s going to be picked up or not. It’s not a clump of mud. Whether a woman makes a throw herself at a man or not she makes herself no less valuable, because her value is fixed in God. Not making the first move on a man is about recognizing and acting on that value, which isn’t validated by, but is more clearly seen when a woman is the one who is pursued; not when she is the pursuer.

diamond

What If It’s a Choice of Staying Single, Or Making a Move Just Incase It Leads to Marriage?

I’m all for marriage and I’m all for a woman making herself accessible so that the type of man she wants, can actually see her and pursue her. That doesn’t mean she needs to make the first move though. There are ways for a woman to make herself more widely accessible without doing that, such as:

  • Going out in group settings often, in order to mix with and meet new people
  • Going to new places rather than the same old hang outs
  • Going to a safe and familiar gatherings on her own and mixing with new people, rather than not going because her friends don’t want to come
  • Being in the places or groups where the type of guys she likes hang out
  • Not having a long list of requirements in a man, to a point where she can’t take anything below near perfection
  • Being friendly to people in general (both genders) so that people can vouch for her charcter to someone who may be interested from a distance

I think a woman can, but she never has to make the first move to a man. In my opinion, her job is to

  1. Be accessible,
  2. Have boundaries so that not just anyone can gain access
  3. Remember that she’s worth the pursuit

Beyond these 3 things I really don’t think she has anything left to do and if that doesn’t work, it’s really not her fault. She can’t force it and she sure doesn’t need to throw herself at any man.

smiling womansmiling woman 2smiling woman 3