And Donkey Said, “I need a hug” (Shrek)

Hello, everyone!  I have been gone for over a year but I think I might be ready to get

back into the swing of things…slowly.  I’ve frankly had nothing worth writing over the last year. And as Ben Franklin said, one should “either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.”  So since I had nothing worth writing, I didn’t… 🙂

I have been thinking a lot, though.  A dangerous pastime, indeed…

One of the many things I’ve contemplated is whether all singles, like me, sometimes long for meaningful touch.  The medical community says that we need at least 15 instances of meaningful touch per day to maintain our health.  Dr. Patricia Blackwell in her article, The Influence of touch on Child Development:  Implications on Intervention, mentions historical episodes where orphan babies that weren’t held not only didn’t thrive but actually perished.  So it would seem like a scholarly thing to say that meaningful touch is important to us.

I must say that wherein most of the time I am blessedly content in my single situation, sometimes all my hard work is upended by the simple desire to hold someone’s hand or to have someone hug me.  Having said this, I do have my nephews and all of my friends that do hold my hand and hug me when they can, so I’m not looking for sympathy.  What I’m looking for is confirmation–do you feel this way, on occasion, too?

GOD’S NOT DEAD

“The truth is like a lion; you don’t have to defend it. Let it loose; it will defend itself.”
St. Augustine

I just watched the movie, God’s Not Dead, and boy was it a good one!  What I particularly liked about the movie was the way that each character did what was right despite their family and friends and what must have seemed like the whole world standing against them.  They spoke the truth.

Cheers to each actor who was in the movie and to each person who has been involved in a similar situation (they’re commoner than you would expect).

I had a professor in my undergraduate science degree who was a Christian in what I would describe as the ‘bastion of atheistic faith’ aka my university (there were not many professors who professed Christianity at this great place of learning).  He was a great teacher but alas I learned later, after finishing the class and moving onward, that he was no longer teaching at my university.  From the rumours, it was because of his stance on creation.

This was confusing to me at the time because our university moto was straight from the Bible:

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.  Philippians 4:8 NIV

My friend, Mandie, also told me that her brother, while in grade school, was asked to write a paper on worshipping the devil.  When he refused he got into a lot of trouble.  Kudos to him for standing up for what he believed in even at such a young age!

Freedom of speech would seem to be withering away in our western world.  Don’t let this be the case!  If the Spirit is telling you to talk, do it.  No one can argue with your testimony–it’s your story.  Tell them how God is not Dead–how could He be?  You just spoke to Him 5 minutes ago!!  Speak Truth and He will defend Himself.

I would probably re-write St. Augustine’s quote:

The Truth IS a lion (the Lion of Judah).  Speak the Truth and He will make His defense.  All you have to do is let Him loose!

Here are the Newsboys, with the heavenly voice of Michael Tait, proclaiming God’s Not Dead! (you just have to love the enthusiasm of the drummer, Duncan Phillips!)

Hold Me Jesus…

Temptation hits all of us, even Christians.  What can we do?  Listen to Rich Mullins as he talks about one of his experiences in the following “Beaker wouldn’t snore. Hold me Jesus”.

 

“Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”  Matthew 26:41 NIV Jesus is giving us advice about how to overcome temptation.  He was tempted and He knows that you, too, will be.  Prayer is powerful.  Remember Rich Mullins’ prayer the next time temptation creeps into your life.

HOLD ME JESUS
By Rich Mullins

Well, sometimes my life just don’t make sense at all
When the mountains look so big
And my faith just seems so small
So hold me Jesus,
’cause I’m shaking like a leaf
You have been King of my glory
Won’t You be my Prince of Peace
And I wake up in the night and feel the dark
It’s so hot inside my soul
I swear there must be blisters on my heart
So hold me Jesus,
’cause I’m shaking like a leaf
You have been King of my glory
Won’t You be my Prince of Peace
Surrender don’t come natural to me
I’d rather fight You for something I don’t really want
Than to take what You give that I need
And I’ve beat my head against so many walls
Now I’m falling down, I’m falling on my knees
And this Salvation Army band is playing this hymn
And Your grace rings out so deep
It makes my resistance seem so thin
I’m singing
Hold me Jesus,
’cause I’m shaking like a leaf
You have been King of my glory
Won’t You be my Prince of Peace
You have been King of my glory
Won’t You be my Prince of Peace

Purity 2: Sexual Purity

CS Lewis

CS Lewis

The Christian idea of marriage is based on Christ’s words that a man and wife are to be regarded as a single organism — for that is what the words ‘one flesh’ would be in modern English. And the Christians believe that when He said this He was not expressing a sentiment but stating a fact — just as one is stating a fact when one says that a lock and its key are one mechanism, or that a violin and a bow are one musical instrument. The inventor of the human machine was telling us that its two halves, the male and the female, were made to be combined together in pairs, not simply on the sexual level, but totally combined. The monstrosity of sexual intercourse outside marriage is that those who indulge in it are trying to isolate one kind of union (the sexual) from all the other kinds of union which were intended to go along with it and make up the total union. The Christian attitude does not mean that there is anything wrong about sexual pleasure, any more than about the pleasure of eating. It means that you must not isolate that pleasure and try to get it by itself, any more than you ought to try to get the pleasures of taste without swallowing and digesting, by chewing things and spitting them out again.
CS Lewis, Mere Christianity, bk III, chapter 6, paragraph 2, pp. 95 – 96

I think Jack hits it right on the money with the above comment.  (“Jack” is what CS Lewis was called by his friends.  Really, with the name ‘Clive Staples’ I would have picked ‘Jack’, too!).

As single Christians (or married Christians, too, for that matter) sexual purity is very important. In 1 Thessalonians 4:1 – 8 NIV it says, “It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; 4 that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, 5 not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God; 6 and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister. The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before. 7 For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. 8 Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you his Holy Spirit.” 

So, obviously, sexual purity is important to God.  Now, because of the prevailing North American world view, though, it may be easy to get confused about the need for sexual purity and to feel that it isn’t really necessary.  “But everybody’s doing it.”

I happened to watch a sit com on TV a few months ago which demonstrated an interesting comment on how the world views Christians and purity.  The show follows the life of a young professional in New York City and her failures in love.  In the one that I saw she was dating a Christian “preacher” who was quite pedantic (overly concerned with formal rules and trivial points of learning, from Wiktionary) about his faith and yet was openly sleeping with the main character.  Perhaps the producers were making a comment on apparent hypocrisy…who knows.  But this shows that even non-Christians are confused about where Christians stand on sexual purity.  They are confused because we are confused.

You shall not commit adultery.  Exodus 20:14 NIV

God is very clear in the Ten Commandments that adultery is against His will and, therefore, is a form of sexual impurity. What exactly is adultery?  The on-line Merriam-Webster dictionary defines adultery as voluntary sexual intercourse between a married person and a person who is not his or her spouse.  So adultery is a violation of the marriage bed.

“But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’ (Gen 1:27) ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife,and the two will become one flesh.’ (Gen 2:24) So they are no longer two, but one flesh. 9 Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” NIV

Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.  Hebrews 13:4 NIV

So as Christians, married or single, we should honour God’s command to keep the marriage bed pure.

Someone asked me once to describe what I would consider the characteristics of the perfect marriage partner.  They were rather surprised with my answer when I started with 1).  single, 2).  male, 3). Christian (list was truncated for space considerations!).  They criticized me for putting ‘Christian’ third on the list.  I told them that I might consider a single male Christian but not a married male Christian (or a single female Christian!).  If someone is married, friends, they are off limits completely.  If we hold that firmly in our minds it will protect us from temptation.

Adultery isn’t the only sexual sin.  Jesus answers His disciples in Mark 7:21 – 23, “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders,  22 thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within and defile a man.”  NKJV  So fornications can be different from adulteries.  What is fornication?

The on-line Merriam-Webster dictionary defines fornication as voluntary sexual intercourse between persons not married to each other.  This, therefore, would include pre-marital sex.

Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. 19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.  1 Corinthians 6:18 – 20  NIV

I am not trying to judge anyone;  I will happily leave that to God.  I am just trying to remind us of what God says.  He says that fornication, and therefore pre-marital sex, is dishonouring to our bodies and therefore to God.  Pre-marital sex is a huge issue today around the world, even amongst Christians.  Just watch TV, go to a movie with friends, or listen to the radio.  The media plays lose and free in North America with pre-marital sex as a way to advertise, a way to catch viewer attention.  There is a form of brinkmanship happening–how far can they push sexual relationships in the media before people will turn away?  It started out insidiously but has become outrageous. The more outrageous the relationships now, the more appalled people pretend to be, and the more likely their interest will be tweaked and that they will watch.

Remember, sexual impurity begins in the mind.  You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ (Exodus 20:14)  But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.  Matthew 5:27,28  NIV

Be careful, Little Eyes, what you see

OK, so we now know some of the forms of sexual impurity in the eyes of God and some of the challenges we have with being pure in this world.  What do we do?

God wants us to be pure–don’t give up now!  Regardless of what your past may hold, you can be sexually pure going forward.  Watch for my next post:  Purity 3:  How can we become sexually pure?

Purity 1: What is purity?

Charles Spurgeon

Charles Spurgeon

I would sooner be holy than happy if the two things could be divorced. Were it possible for a man always to sorrow and yet to be pure, I would choose the sorrow if I might win the purity, for to be free from the power of sin, to be made to love holiness, is true happiness. Charles Spurgeon

Purity is a complex topic.  It is an important topic, though, one worth spending some time on because we are exhorted to purity in the Bible.

Let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.  2 Corinthians 7:16c  NIV

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.  Philippians 4:8  NIV

Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.  1 Timothy 4:12 NIV

Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers,older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity.  1Timothy 5:1,2

I suppose in this day and age, where purity is a reference to “uncontaminated” street drugs, it is useful to ask ourselves the question, “What IS purity?

The online Merriam Webster dictionary states that purity is 1.  freedom from adulteration or contamination, 2.  freedom from immorality, esp. of a sexual nature.  Synonyms mentioned include chastity, cleanliness, cleanness, innocence, clarity. Wikipedia describes purity as the “absence of vice in human character”.

Thomas a Kempis, who is believed to be the author of The Imitation of Christ, describes purity as such:
Purity and simplicity are the two wings with which man soars above the earth and all temporary nature. Simplicity is in the intention, purity in the affection; simplicity turns to God; purity unites with and enjoys him.

How does God describe purity?

Psalm 15 (NIV) says:
1 Lord, who may dwell in your sacred tent?
Who may live on your holy mountain?
2 The one whose walk is blameless,
who does what is righteous,
who speaks the truth from their heart;
3 whose tongue utters no slander,
who does no wrong to a neighbor,
and casts no slur on others;
4 who despises a vile person
but honors those who fear the Lord;
who keeps an oath even when it hurts,
and does not change their mind;
5 who lends money to the poor without interest;
who does not accept a bribe against the innocent.
Whoever does these things
will never be shaken.

And in Micah 6:8 (NKJV) He says,
He has shown you, O man, what is good;
And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justly,
To love mercy,
And to walk humbly with your God?

There is more to purity, as you can see, than sexual purity, but as a single Christian sexual purity is particularly important so stay tuned!  The next post in this series will address sexual purity.  Watch the following video as a teaser.

True Woman | True Woman Videos: Why purity is such a big deal.

If God is so good, why is there so much bad in the world?

A few weeks ago my pastor at my church told us the following story:

The other day, I heard on our Christian radio station an audio clip of a preacher that caught my attention with what he said. In this clip Dr. Voddie Baucham said, “A fellow came up to me at a conference and asked, “If you believe in a God that is omnipotent and benevolent then how do you reconcile all the bad stuff that happens in the world?”

Dr. Baucham answered by saying, “I am not going to answer your question until you ask it correctly.”

“What do you mean ask it correctly?”

“You’re not asking the question properly.”

“What do you mean asking the question properly; it’s my question? You can’t tell me how to ask my question, it’s my question.”

“I will answer your question when you ask it properly.”

The man had a thought.

“How do I ask it properly?”

“Here is how you can ask that question properly. You look me in my eyes and you ask me this!

‘How on earth can a holy and righteous God know what I did and thought and said yesterday and not have killed me in my sleep last night?’

You ask it that way and we can talk!

You ask it that way and we can talk but until you ask it that way you don’t understand the issue.

Until you ask the question that way you believe the problem is out there.

Until you ask the question that way you believe there are somehow some individuals who in and of themselves deserve something other than the wrath of Almighty God.

Until you ask me the question that way, until you flip the script and ask the question this way and say why is it that we are here today, why has He not consumed and devoured each and everyone of us.

Why, Why, oh God, does your judgement and wrath tarry?  When you ask the question that way, then you understand the issue.

When you ask it the other way you believe in the supremacy of man.

How dare God not employ his power on behalf of almighty man!

You flip the question around and you now believe in the supremacy of Christ!

How dare I steal his air because the last breath I took I borrowed it from him and I’m never going to give it back and when you never give something you borrowed back you are stealing it.

The problem is me – not God.

The problem is the fact that I don’t acknowledge the supremacy of Christ in Truth.

The problem is I start with me as the measure of all things.

The problem is I judge God based on how He carries out my agenda in the world and I believe in the supremacy of me in truth and as a result I want a God who is omnipotent but not sovereign.

If I have a God who in omnipotent but not sovereign; I can wield His power. But if my God is omnipotent and sovereign, I am at his mercy.”
Pastor Ralph G, quoting Dr. Voddie Baucham

Wow.  What more is there to say?

Forgiveness

Asking For Forgiveness

Asking For Forgiveness (Photo credit: hang_in_there)

To forgive one who has wronged you is probably one of the hardest things God calls us as His children to do.  It has to do with me letting go of what someone has done against me; an actual wrong that this world would say gives you the right to hold a grudge.

At one point in my life I blamed God for me being single.  Everyone said that I must have decided to be single, but at the time I really didn’t think I had.  I blamed God.  Why have you done this to me?  Why are you punishing me?  What have I done wrong?

It took me a while to realize that God wasn’t punishing me and that this was His best for me right now.  It took me even longer to realize that by following His will for my life that I HAD inadvertantly chosen to be single.  It was only then that I could realize that I needed to let go of my blame and embrace the gift He had given me.  This was a form of forgiveness for me–to let go of a perceived wrong and be able to move on in my relationship with God.

Forgiveness can be life-changing (for more than just you)–please watch this video about the story that inspired Matthew West’s song Forgiveness.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wz3tkHv5sbg

And now, of course you have to listen to the song Forgiveness, which always gives me chills.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h1Lu5udXEZI

Forgiveness is hard, that’s not up for debate.  But look at the incredible changes that it wrought in the lives of Renee and her family and in the life of Eric.  Can you not see the great hand of God working through this mystery of forgiveness?