Posts Tagged ‘ Lifestyle ’

Misunderstood Identities

I just might do a series based on the teachings I have done the past couple Sunday nights. Today’s post is an adaptation from the first night, October 30th. The two lessons were titled “Masks: Judging others” and “Masks II: Living for others.”

                                                    

Everyone wears masks. Masks hide our emotions. Masks hide our true thoughts. Masks hide our face behind make-up, humor, and life-style.

It is how we use our masks which can cause so many problems between each other. Today’s focus is sexual identity.

Our culture has turned sexual activities and preferences into identities. (Ephesians 4:17-19)

  • The average homosexual will not tell you about struggles with same-sex attraction. He is a gay man. She is a lesbian. Life
    revolves around their same-sex attraction. There is no separation between sexual desires and life in general.
  • A “playah” (a.k.a. pervert … sorry, guys) only knows a life of chasing women. It carries over into every area of life. Think of Barney from “How I Met Your Mother” on CBS. If you have ever watched the show, you know that Barney is a sweet guy, but he hides it behind skirt-chasing and getting with babes.
  • Many feminists make empowerment of women and hatred toward men the only way they can live. Real feminism seeks equality with men with the understanding that there are differences between the two genders. So-called “radical feminism” is what gets people’s attention, because radical feminists are the loudest. Some at least have been honest enough to admit that they want to see the roles completely reversed, that women should be the ones in power if men are even necessary. Their entire lives become replacing men, not seeking equality.

This is a general group with only three sub-groups listed. For this general grouping, there is a tendency for Christians to just write them off as beyond help or just crazy. We either want nothing to do with them or spend the majority of our time telling them how sinful and evil they are, or, worse, talk about how sinful and evil they are behind their backs. Our understanding can be just as darkened as theirs is of God’s love, grace, and justice (this last one includes his strict laws and wrath as well as forgiveness through Christ).

For years I based my identity on being single. I sometimes went out of my way to alert others to my singleness. This is no different, and I know and know of many people who do or have done the same thing.

Marriage is understandably different, especially from a biblical perspective. This is because the Bible tells us “the two will become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:5; Mark 10:8; 1 Corinthians 6:16; Ephesians 5:31), and that means each person’s identity changes. They are not complete without the other.

David and Jonathan (Starting in 1 Samuel 18) demonstrated that marriage is not required for this kind of relationship, the kind in which one person is not complete without the other. It is not the same thing as marriage, but more importantly they did not base their entire lives on the other person. For both of them, their true devotion was to God.

This is not an argument about whether or not homosexuals, “loose” people, feminists (or chauvinist of any kind), or any other people who base their identity on sex and gender (or variations on gender) can be Christians or go to Heaven. The real argument here is that the problem has arisen that those who focus so much on “sexual identity” are not focused on God. Their understanding of God has been darkened.

The problem is selfishness. Sometimes selfishness can include others, including in a loving relationship. It reminds me of Terry Hoitz (played by Mark Wahlberg) in “The Other Guys”. He was so frustrated that his tagline was illogical (but quite hilarious): “I am a beautiful peacock! You have to let me fly!” ((If you are wondering why this is so funny, peacocks are semi-flightless, only able to go relatively short distances of a few hundred feet across land and fifty feet up.)) The reason I think of this line is that peacocks are often associated with pride and arrogance, and this line is slightly illogical as is basing your entire identity on how or with whom sex is or is not performed.

And just to make sure it is understood: None of my statements of the three sub-groups listed above are meant to be taken as universal. That would also be a logical fallacy and undermine my entire argument. All people, even Christians, can base their understanding of life on crazy, inappropriate, and sometimes weird things … not just sex (though you can see Christians and the religious right who focus on not practicing certain sexual act or preferences or whatever you want to call them).

So what say you? Am I right? Am I wrong? Am I off the mark or right on? Any comments to help clarify, support, or debunk my claims?

The Unlovable Jerk

Borrowed from The Jerusalem Connection (www.thejerusalemconnection.us)

A few weeks ago I discussed the Lovable Jerk.

The unlovable jerk comes in two varieties.

Haters

The first group came first, arguably starting with Cain or, at the very latest, during the time of the Apostles in the first century A.D. (or CE, for you PC folks … letters are fun).

These are the people who take offense at Christianity, whether for good reasons (abuse, deception, and/or bigotry from Church leadership, amongst other things) or not-so-good reasons (boredom, disagreeing with something/someone, having an ax to grind, etcetera). Cain was offended that Abel’s offering was accepted over his. The Jewish kings did not like prophets speaking of repentance and doom. Herod did not like John the baptizer saying his marriage to his sister-in-law was wrong. The Jewish leadership did not like being told by a carpenter that they messed up God’s Laws. The people and Roman emperor did not like these Christians telling them that their gods were not real.

In each of these listed, righteous people were killed. The response for these people:

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.
Romans 12:14

But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.
Matthew 5:44

“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Matthew 5:11-12

Un-lovers

The second group of unlovable jerks are those who are called to love but spread hate.

A group of unhappy former slaves were not happy about walking around in a desert and demanded a change in leadership. The nation of Israel was called to share God with the nations, but for centuries tried to cut themselves off (while and after mixing beliefs with surrounding nations). Judaizers demanded that the only true Christian was one who was circumcised. Church history is rife with people who demanded other people believe exactly as they do or be killed. Westboro Baptist Church preaches that God hates … basically everyone!

These are all people who were called to “Love your neighbor,” and instead they have caused dissension, hatred, and chaos.

You might not believe it, but the Bible has the response we are to show them, as well:

Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, for each one should carry his own load.
Galatians 6:1-5

“If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.
Matthew 18:15-17

Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.
2 Timothy 2:25-26

And in case they will not listen:

When you are assembled in the name of our Lord Jesus and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present, hand this man over to Satan, so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord.
1 Corinthians 5:4-5

In other words, no matter what, we need to love the unlovable jerks. From Matthew 5 we know that we should rejoice that we can suffer like our Lord, for He received ridicule, hatred, beatings, and death for being the Righteous One. This is why they are jerks: as I mentioned in “The Lovable Jerk” they bring us to give glory to God.

Likewise, if we love those who persecute us or are the Un-lovers, we may jerk on their heart-strings and lead them to give glory to God. This is why we should expel them if they are one of us, because, perhaps, the shame of being expelled will bring them to repentance.

So, “come on, people, now, smile on your brother! Everybody get together, try to love one another, right now!” Let us love each other, all people.

To make it more manly (for those of you who worry about such things): GET OVER YOURSELF AND LOVE OTHERS!

Seeing Courageous

As I mentioned on Sunday …

YOU NEED TO SEE THIS MOVIE!

Courageous is the fourth movie to come out of Sherwood Pictures of Sherwood Baptist Church. It has the theme of men taking a stand as fathers and husbands to raise up strong families and prepare the next generation for life and faithfulness to God.

Four police officers are also close friends. Javier Martinez, a latino struggling to provide for his wife and two children, becomes one of their friends as well. After tragedy strikes one of them, it results in the Resolution: a promise before God and family to everything they can to live godly lives to impact the next generation (to sum it up very poorly).

This movie is full of action, romance, violence, and camaraderie. It will make you laugh, pull at your heart-strings (those jerks!), knock you down emotionally, lift you back up, and encourage and embolden you. It is rated PG-13 for violence (chasing bad guys, a shoot-out, a gang initiation) and drug content (seeing baggies with powder and pills). I would suggest many more mature children can see this movie, but I would also suggest parents use wisdom and see it first to decide for yourself.

Courageous is by far the greatest movie to come out of Sherwood Pictures to date, and it is now one of my favorite movies. (The other three, if you are unaware, are Flywheel, Facing the Giants, and Fireproof) The Kendrick brothers are great at working the Gospel message into these films, the acting gets better all the time, and they definitely had a larger budget with which to work this time! This movie is sure to punch you in the gut and then dust you off and lift you up. I laughed, laughed until I cried, cried for sorrow, cried for joy, and wanted to cheer and praise by the end of the movie.

I will say it again …

GO SEE THIS MOVIE!

And like I asked last week, see where your heart is and how important God is in your life. This movie will help!

The Lovable Jerk

I know. A corvette and mention of a jerk. It must be that I have a corvette and you love me for it!

No, actually this is a dear friend and his first corvette. Trust me. It applies. You probably have a good question, though.

What is a lovable jerk?

To help you understand this, I have a couple of stories.

This past weekend was the monthly mens breakfast for my church. We had a great time at Denny’s with stories, life updates, and a great challenge about finishing strong. The pastor ducked out a little early. I jokingly thought to myself “He did not really finish! He left early!” When the rest of us walked to the front to pay our bills, there was some confusion at the register. It took a minute to figure out that “That one man with the glasses” (the pastor) “paid for it all.” I sent him a text message (do not get too mad at me, because I will explain myself):

“You are a jerk, but a lovable jerk who is greatly loved! May the Lord bless you and keep you, brother!”

(He loves me, too. And if you know about whom I am speaking, just praise God for his love.)

Another person is a lovable jerk. I put the same disclaimer here as for the pastor: praise God.

This man is that dear friend who, quite honestly, deserves a corvette. If you know this man, you agree. The story about him takes place when I was first allowed to see this man in action. Our car was having some issues, and (as has happened many times since) he offered to fix it. He fixed the car and paid for the parts he needed. I was at work when he did this, and I remember thinking “He better not have topped off the gas tank.” He did. He is still floored to this day that when I saw the gas gauge jump to “F” I looked at him and said “You jerk!” He asked his son later, “Was he mad at me?”
“No, dad,” he said. “He was saying thank you!”
Again, he still is amazed by this.

He has learned, though, what I really mean when I say it.

“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”
Matthew 5:14-16

When I call you a jerk, it usually means “You are jerking on my heart-strings, right now.”

When I call you a jerk, it usually means “You have done quite well!”

When I call you a jerk, it usually means “God, I praise You for this blessing through this person.”

You lovable jerks make me praise God.

Go be a lovable jerk for God. (See the related Philippians 2:12-13)

Go on! Do it!

(On a side note, today I was hired to work with 1st and 2nd grade autistic children in the same school district as my wonderful wife! Praise God! No, seriously … PRAISE HIM!)

Misunderstanding Love, Muslims, and Americans in recent history

I have recently read some interesting things. In keeping with this week’s theme of whether or not you may be in love with someone, I refer to an article from USA Today last month. Hay El Nasser and Paul Overberg wrote and article titled “1990-2010: How America Changed” published on August 11, 2011.

There were some interesting facts such as the top five states with largest latino populations (1) California, 2) Texas, 3) New York, 4) Florida, 5) Illinois), we have the lowest ever proportion of those 18-years-old and younger in our population (24%), and 40 million more people living in suburbs.

The one that relates to this week: in 1990, 26% of births were by single women, as opposed to 41% in 2010. Almost half of the births in this nation last year happened outside of marriage. This tells us something of the state of our culture today.

  1. Marriage is being seen as an outdated institution.
  2. Women find less need for a father to help raise their children.
  3. Men are not as involved in child-rearing.
  4. Abortion is not quite as acceptable anymore.

The article continued by stating that single mothers are higher among Hispanics (53%) and blacks (73%), and in Europe between half and two-thirds of births are to single mothers. It reminds me of the recent fad of teenage girls wanting to have children or “Octo-mom” and others like her having multiple children “because they can.”

We have gained a misunderstanding of love.

Moving on, while some Americans think all Muslims are violent and want to kill all non-Muslims, and some think Islam is merely a religion of peace and tolerance, both of which are misunderstandings, but I read an article today about the people in Afghanistan. Apparently, the vast majority of Afghans have no idea why Americans and others are in their country, and that includes not understanding what happened on September 11, 2oo1. It not only shows that most Afghans had nothing to do with the attacks (very rural living, after all), but “we” have done a horrible job explaining ourselves to the locals.

This reminds me that the Western culture has massive misunderstanding of the rest of the world, and really of itself.

Overall lesson I am seeing: impatience, selfishness, and arrogance is a common theme among people in the West. As we see the Church continue to slide in influence in our culture, is it any wonder?

Weekend Words & Sunday Stanzas – 09/04/2011

Being used by God makes it necessary to know your intentions are true. We may not always get it right, but that is why we must rely so much on the Holy Spirit! The poem today is about when our intentions are … slightly off-center.

for you
daniel m  klem

i would die for You
talk to the world for You
i would move for You
anywhere i could for You
i would try for You
to do anything for You
everything i do for You
i only do it for You

 

“Men will wrangle for religion;
write for it;
fight for it;
die for it;
anything but live for it.”
Charles Caleb Colton

Taken from simple words for God from a simple man of God by daniel m  klem, page 149.

Used goods

I once prayed “Father, use me for Your will.” When I say “once,” what I really mean is that I did not understand exactly what I was asking for when I first prayed that prayer.

Most of us would like to do something great for God. We have those dreams of leading thousands at a time to Christ or performing amazing miracles which lead many to investigate the claims of the Gospel message. Some of us want to write that devotional, Bible study curriculum, or song that changes the way people think about God.

We take Ephesians 2:10, “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do,” and use it as evidence that we are to do great things.

I must point out that it merely says “to do good works” (and is also referring to our inability to gain God’s favor or salvation through works, but only by God’s grace). Jesus told us to do good works, as well.

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.

“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

Matthew 5:13-16

We must remember, however, that on our own “all our righteous acts are like filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6), which means our good works are worthless. It is only when we are used by God that our works mean anything, are in fact “good.”

“Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.”

Philippians 2:12-13

 My simple prayer led me through many trials and tests. I was forced in many ways to re-examine all that I believe and think.

What have I learned?

Two things:
1) That I still have a lot to learn!
2) While we may be able to do things with good intentions, we can only truly do good things when used by God.

When we are God’s “used goods,” He will use us to accomplish His will, not only for us individually but for the all of Creation. We must remember that much of the time this means our good works may be doing the dishes, paying bills, and helping our neighbor. Sometimes it means scrubbing toilets, washing people, and feeding mean-spirited, smelly hungry people. Sometimes it means sharing the Gospel, preaching the Gospel, and leading ministries.

We must be open to God to know what to do. We must remember that much of our being used by God means faithfully living our lives in the day-t0-day routines of life. It also means faithfully following His leading if and when He uses us for “the greater things.”