LIFE – DEATH – AFTER DEATH

 

When you were conceived in your mother’s womb – even before that – God knew all about you
He created you in His image
He made you unique
He considered you very special
He loved you
Jeremiah 1:5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”
When you were born – your FIRST BIRTH … Physical

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Ten Things Everyone Should Know About a Christian View of Homosexuality

Introduction:

So, the other day I headed out to the bank and then to the drug store and post office to do some messages and catch up a bit on some office work.

As I entered the bank I was faced with – it was rather loud and obvious so confronted by – a huge presentation celebrating the diversity we have in Canada and focused on Pride month. 

June has been designated the month where we recognize this segment of our national population. 

June has been designated Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Pride month. 

June is now focused on this segment of society in most nations of the world even those that have yet to recognize “gay rights”

Then, entering the drug store there were large posters pointing to this month’s special focus and special sales, of course. 

And, again, at the post office. 

And, again, in most email specials coming into my in-box (Hollister, Abercrombie-Finch)

I am not against having a month to draw attention to all the issues within society regarding this segment of the population. 

And, I think it is good to come to know the history behind the movement and discover all the less-than-humane treatment that this group has suffered at the hands of governments and people (society) in general.

I believe, as well, that we need to take a look at how the Church has treated those who are part of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer community. 

We don’t have a very good track record either historically nor in the recent past. In some cases, even today they are not understood or treated in a loving manner by the Church.

Some segments of the Church have elevated this lifestyle – and the Bible does consider it behaviour that is not in line with God’s plan – to the category of major sin.

It is the sin that the Church is targeting, emphasizing, and condemning. 

However, I believe that it is simply one of many sins and that in God’s eyes all sins are equal (James 2:10). 

So, homosexuality is no worse nor better than drunkenness, divorce, gossiping, abortion, or dishonouring your parents. 

Yet, we have elevated this one specific sin to a special place and taken aim at it while ignoring many of the other sins very evident and rampant in the Church and in society.

I believe that Jesus loves sinners. And so should we. 

I believe that Jesus accepts sinners just as they are because He knows that if they begin to walk with Him that He will change them. 

I believe that we should accept them as well – unconditionally. 

I believe that Jesus forgives all sins (except blaspheming the Holy Spirit) regardless of the gravity of the sin or what the sinner is involved in. 

He loves unconditionally, He accepts us just as we are, and He forgives us totally.

That is what I call The LAF Principle. 

And, we would do well to remember that this is how God treated each one of us who call ourselves believers. 

And, that Jesus expects us to do unto others what He has done unto us. 

We are to treat others in the same manner that He has treated us.

I believe that if we were to actually do this we would embrace all sinners and simply love, accept, and forgive them.

We would not separate one sin and make it the BIG ONE for today. 

We would, as God obviously does, simply see sin as sin and love the sinner regardless of the sin.

This means we do not judge those who are in sin – recognizing the sin in our own life helps us not to judge others. 

This means we must not be critical of others and the lifestyles they choose to live. 

This means we must not reject them because Jesus died for them just as He died for us. 

This means that we, the Church, must welcome all sinners and not fall into the traditional denominational tendency of having big and little sins – mortal and venial sins. 

Sin is sin and Jesus died for the forgiveness of all sin no matter how big or small, significant or insignificant we may consider them.

This means we must stop the “us and them” mentality

We are all sinners and no matter what the sin is we are all saved by grace and faith. 

We must welcome all sinners without categorizing the sin and declaring one worse than another. 

This means we must learn how to love, accept, and forgive. And, in doing so, learn how to no longer judge, criticize, and reject. 

We are in what is called a “culture war” as society and the culture changes. 

The battleground of this culture war is homosexuality and same-sex marriage 

This battle has been going on for almost 50 years and it is a war that we, Christians believers, are losing. AND, it is mostly our fault. 

Partly, we have our approach to the issues have caused there to be two camps – we and them

Partly, we have not wrestled with the biblical understanding of sexuality and marriage

I am all for open discussion on this important aspect of life, sex, and marriage

But, to debate the issue seriously and truthfully, we must seek an honest picture of what our opponents actually believe 

Working from what we think they believe is neither helpful nor respectful.

We need to talk with them – listen to them

And, we need to have a good grasp on the truths that inform and make up the traditional, biblical Christian belief.

Let’s look briefly at the basic Christian beliefs involved in this “culture war”

  1. All humans are simultaneously sinful and loved.

All people, regardless of their story, are deeply and unconditionally loved by God, each created with profound dignity and worth, not one more than another. 

This is more than mere religious happy talk — it’s truth whether one is gay, straight, or otherwise. 

But, all people are also stricken with a terminal illness: sin. 

Everyone. 

No exceptions

And, sin is sin

Our sin demands our repentance and needs forgiveness, and God’s love and grace are where we find both. 

This is basic Christianity and the great equalizer of all people.

2. Jesus wasn’t silent on homosexuality.

Some claim Jesus never said anything about homosexuality and therefore is neutral on the topic. 

Not true. 

Jesus shows us that to understand sexuality, marriage and the sexual union, we must go back to the beginning and see how God created humanity and the purpose for creating things the way He did (See Matthew 19 and Mark 10.) 

Jesus holds up the creation story in Genesis not as a quaint Sunday school lesson, but as authoritative — reminding us that God created each of us male and female, each for the other. 

And the sexual union that God created and ordains is for husband and wife to come together in physical union, one flesh.

3. There is only one option – marriage between a male and a female

Both Jesus and all of scripture approve of no other sexual union then that between a husband and wife. 

This is the uncontested historical teaching of Judaism and Christianity, and it is not something that true Christianity is free to adjust with the times. 

Yes, concubines and multiple wives are found in the Bible, but doesn’t make them “biblical.” 

In fact, they violate the Genesis narrative Christ points us to.

4. Male and female complete God’s image on earth.

It is not just mere “traditionalism” that makes man and woman the norm for Christian marriage

When God said that it “is not good that the man be alone” (Genesis 2:18) He wasn’t lamenting that Adam didn’t have a buddy or was just lonely. 

He was saying that the male could not really know himself as male without a human “other” who equally shared his humanity but was meaningfully distinct right down to every bit of her DNA. 

The same is true for her in Adam. 

In both Jewish and Christian belief, both male and female become fully human in their correspondence and contrast with one another. 

This does not happen solely in marriage, but it does happen most profoundly and mysteriously in marriage.

5. Sex is indeed about babies.

It is a new and culturally peculiar idea that human sexuality is all about intimacy and pleasure, but not necessarily babies. 

Babies and reproduction matter. 

And sure, while not every male/female sexual engagement is toward having a baby — intimacy and pleasure matter as well

But, having babies has been the overwhelming norm and desire in nearly all marital relationships throughout time. 

It is a fact that same-sex unions will result in a human cul-de-sac. 

Heterosexual union reaches into and creates the next generation. 

To establish a sexual relationship without any interest in or openness to babies is contrary to God’s intention for such relationships.

6. Children have a right to a mother and father.

Every person ever born can track his origin to a mother and a father. 

There are no exceptions, including those artificially produced. 

This was the first command God gave to the first two humans: to come together and bring forth the coming generations of new divine image-bearers. 

Nearly all cultures in all places in the world at all historical times hold as fundamental that every child should be loved and raised by a mother and father. 

The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child recognizes a mother and father as a basic right of every child.

7. Same-sex attraction is not a sin.

To be human is to have a disordered sexuality. You do. I do. Everyone does. 

We all have some manner of sexual drive that compels us to disobey God’s design for sexuality. 

But, while temptation is universal, it’s different from sin. 

Scripture tells us that Jesus was tempted in all ways as we are, but did not sin 

(Hebrews 4:15). 

Sexual sin is giving in to that desire in either mind or body. 

Faithful Christians cannot avoid temptation, but it strives to resist and master it with God’s help. 

Many are indeed same-sex attracted, but live obediently within a Christian sexual ethic. 

It can be difficult, as it is for heterosexuals who are required to live in celibacy. 

Christianity requires that we each subject our desires of the flesh and soul to our faith commitment 

And countless same-sex attracted believers do so willingly and joyfully.

8. Sexual intimacy is not a right.

Every Christian has limitations placed on his sexuality. 

For married Christians, it is exclusive to one’s spouse. 

For single, engaged, and divorced Christians, it is abstinence, no exceptions.

 Is it unfair for so many to be forced into a life that cannot know the wonder and beauty of physical intimacy just because marriage is not an option for them? 

Is it fair for a Christian to be stuck in a loveless marriage? 

Christians have long understood that fairness is not really the question. 

Sex is not a right, but a gift — and the Giver knows what is best for us.

9. Rewriting God’s rules is never an option.

One of the marks of a Christian is his or her desire to be obedient to Christ’s teaching. 

Certainly most of us would like to rewrite the scriptures to make life easier. 

I would change where Christ says that lust is the same as doing the deed…that lusting in the heart is the same as jumping into bed with a person

Christianity is a demanding faith. 

The scriptures define and change us, not the other way around. 

A biblical sexual ethic does not, indeed cannot, change with the times.

10. People are more than their sexuality.

To identify people by their sexuality is to reduce people to their sexuality. 

Every individual is so much more. 

A person’s inherent and undeniable value is rooted in his membership in humanity, not his specific sexual orientation

And standing up for a person’s rights based on their sexual preferences, desires, relationships, and behaviours – is simply not right because people are more than their sexuality

So, the Christian faith has a view of sex and sexuality based on God’s Word and the main points are:

1. All humans are simultaneously sinful and loved

2. Jesus wasn’t silent on homosexuality.

3. There is only one option – marriage between a male and a female

4. Male and female complete God’s image on earth.

5. Sex is indeed about babies.

6. Children have a right to a mother and father.

7. Same-sex attraction is not a sin.

8. Sexual intimacy is not a right.

9. Rewriting God’s rules is never an option.

10. People are more than their sexuality.

A DRINK BECOMES A RIVER

There is something I want to share with you that has become very real to me in the last few weeks in my travels and the various places I have been ministering

There are a few scriptures that I would like to read and ask that you look them up in your Bible as well (different versions – but that is good)
I want to share about “A Drink Becomes a River”
THE DRINK – Salvation
Jesus is speaking to the woman at the well in John, chapter four (familiar story)

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Church as Usual is Coming to an End – Part 1

(and Prophetic Churches Must Emerge to Fill the Void) 

Around the world the Church, as we know it, is in trouble
In some places it is seriously dying – growing smaller every year
20% decline a year due to deaths, moves, and people leaving
So to remain steady at the same number of people annually need to grow 20%
In some places the Church has fallen into heresy – teachings that are not biblical
In some places there are what we call “man-made moves of God” where the churches are growing but it is by programs and hype, charismatic leaders who tickle ears
In some places the Church is growing quickly and attracting young people but these young people soon recognize that the structures and traditions are, in many ways,  hampering and hindering the flow of the Holy Spirit

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SeeKing Jesus

The title at the top of the teaching (on the screen) is not a typo…

It is a time for Jews to come to Jerusalem to celebrate their feast days remembering all that God has done for them in the decades and centuries past
They come as commanded by their holy book – seeking to please God and find favour with Him
Jesus has come up to Jerusalem with His disciples – they are fulfilling the requirements of the Jewish law that all Jewish males come to Jerusalem at certain times of the year
In among the multitude of Jewish men were some Gentiles (non-Jews) who were from the part of the Roman Empire known as Greece (the former Greek city states)
Let’s pick up the Bible story at this point…

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BECAUSE HE LIVES

Jesus is alive – He is alive – Hear me, He is alive …

Living here with His people
Living here with you
Living here for you – available to help
Revealing Himself to others through you
In spite of the fact that many believers live life like…
He is not here
He is still in tomb
He is dead and buried
Her is not available or active today

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Everyone has a Story

Christians don’t have just one story or testimony; we have many. Our testimonies are stories of God’s power and presence in our lives. Every new day brings fresh stories of God’s goodness and grace.
Years ago I read Rebecca Pippert’s book “Out of the Saltshaker” on witnessing to others about Jesus. She wrote, “Every Christian has a personal story to tell … God has called you to be a very specific, very special person, and your story, your life, is a testimony to God’s goodness, his grace, his forgiveness. So share who you are with people. Let them know you have struggles, but that God has made a difference.”
In the Scriptures, we read about a woman at the well whom Jesus spoke to about salvation. So the woman left her water jar and went away into town and said to the people, ‘Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?’”   (John 4:28-29)

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What Zone Are You In?

We are living in a season when change is the key word. Everything is changing and as a result there is tremendous turmoil in the world. There are those who are leading the change and they are usually young and are using ‘people power’ and social media to bring about the changes they want and, in many cases, the world needs. 

There are those who are apposing the changes because they simply like what they already have and are not in favour of change or innovation in any area for any reason. 

And, you have a third group – often the largest of the three – who simply don’t care one way or the other. They are either apathetic or simply out of touch with what is happening in the world and in their small corner of the world.

I have observed that we all tend to fall into one of four different zones when it comes to innovation and change. Which zone we live in impacts how we live, how we relate to others, how we lead, and what we achieve. Here are the zones, along with the attitude statements that best represent them:

1> THE COASTING ZONE – “I do as little as possible”

2> THE COMFORT ZONE – “I do what I have always done”

3> THE CHALLENGE ZONE – “I attempt to do what I haven’t done before”

4> THE CREATIVE ZONE – “I attempt to think what I have never thought before”

To which zone do you naturally gravitate? Do you tend to live in the coasting zone, casually – even passively – doing as little as possible? Do you tend to stay in the comfort zone, avoiding risks? Do you connect with the challenge zone, where you try new things and willingly risk failure? Or do you try to stretch yourself the furthest by living in the creative zone, where you explore new ideas, seek out other perspectives, and cross bridges in your imagination long before you physically reach them?

The good news is that we have the ability to choose a zone different from our natural one. And I would recommend the creative zone, because it is where we experience abundance and expand our potential. If you want to take your walk with Jesus and your life journey to ever-higher levels and fulfill the potential God has placed within you then you need to shift from whatever zone you are currently living the majority of your life in and enter the challenge zone and then the creative zone.

Don’t settle for what is when there is so much more within you that needs to be expressed so that you reach your full potential and then the Church and God’s Kingdom can benefit. 

Listening – a Lost Art

If you want to connect with people and grow heathy and beneficial relationship you need to learn how to listen. Listening opens the best door for you to connect with people. Listening with your head and your heart. 

There is the story about the tennis pro who was giving a lesson to a new student. After watching the student take several swings at the tennis ball, the instructor began to suggest ways the man might improve his stroke. But every time the instructor made a suggestion, the student interrupted with his own diagnosis of the problem and how he might fix it.

After being interrupted yet again, the pro simply nodded in agreement and let the player continue on his own. 

When the lesson was over, a woman – who observed the lesson, was familiar with the pro, and had seen the whole thing – asked, “Why did you go along with that arrogant man’s stupid suggestions?”

The old pro smiled and answered, “I learned a long time ago that it’s a sheer waste of time to try and sell answers to a person who only wants to buy echoes.”

If you never listen, before long the people around you will stop talking to you, and you will lose the benefit of their input. If you are a leader in the church and you don’t listen well, you will become isolated and eventually no longer be leading anyone. If you do listen, not only will they tell you things you need to know but they will also connect with you because they see that you care and that you value what they have to say. You will build great relationships and connections.

So, how do you become a good listener?

1> Remind yourself daily to listen well.

Here’s a thought. Those that think they listen well usually don’t! So, remind yourself to listen. We all spend a great deal of time on a daily basis meeting with people – formally and informally. You need to decide that every time you meet with someone – and I mean every time – have a way to remind yourself to listen more and talk less. A past mentor of mine always carried a legal pad with him to take notes. He would open his note pad just as he was sitting down with the person and would write a large “L” on the top of the page. That “L” stood for listen. It was his reminder to shut up and listen.

2> Stop interrupting others when they are talking.

Most people are so focused on what they want to say or share that they simply ignore what the other person is saying, interrupting them often in mid-sentence. They simply take over and talk over the other person until the original person stops talking. This also happens when they want to respond to what is being said even before hearing all that is being said. And, sometimes happens because you think you know what others were going to say and so you jump right in. No matter how you slice it – it is rude and you appear very arrogant. You leave the impression that what you want to say is more important than what they are saying.

3> Start asking questions.

One of the ways to stop interrupting is to engage with what the other person is saying by asking them questions. Asking questions is the best way to encourage another person to talk. And, when you are asking questions you must stop talking to hear the answers. Then dialogue and good communications begins. You will discover, as strange as it may seem, that you ears never get you into trouble.

4> Invite others to hold you accountable in the area of listening well.

Ask people who are close to you to let you know any time that you are not “really” listening to them. There is nothing like accountability to keep you honest and help you to grow. And, whenever someone calls you out for not really listening with your whole being, apologize, close your mouth, and listen. 

If you want to be a good friend, marriage partner, business person, Christian leader – become a better listener. Invite others to hold you accountable. If you have the courage, meet with your team members, colleagues, friends, and family, and ask them how good a listener you are on a scale of one to ten. And, listen carefully to their response. Then make some changes. Then you will become a great listener!

Seven Passion Killers

      And what keeps you from having that constant passion for the Lord
An unbalanced schedule
That means if you’re overworked or you are under worked you’re going to lose your passion for life and lose your passion for God. Life is a series of seasons, the Bible says. There’s a season for everything. And there’s a rhythm to life. You need both in your life — both input and output. You need both rest and work. And too much of either will cause you to lose your passion. Too much work will cause you to lose your passion. Too much nothing — boredom — will cause you to lose your passion too, if you’re not working enough.
What’s the antidote for that? 1 Timothy 4:7 “Take the time and trouble to keep yourself spiritually fit.”
How do you do that? One word. Balance. We all know to be physically fit you have to have a balanced diet. And to be spiritually fit you have to have a balance of God’s five purposes for your life in your life. You need to have time to worship with God private and corporate. You need to have times when you are fellowshipping with other believers. You need to have times when you’re reading God’s word and growing as a Christian. You need to have times of ministry — service — where you’re giving out and using your abilities. And you need times of where you’re sharing your faith with others.

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