The Bible and Homosexuality

Is it clear from Scripture that those who practice homosexuality are “missing the mark” (def. of sin) of what God intended for human beings? Let’s talk about that.

Here are a quick list of some Scriptures on the subject of homosexuality:

Genesis 1:27 & Genesis 2:18-25 (God creates man and woman. His world, his humans, his design. Who are we to argue?)

“Do not practice homosexuality, having sex with another man as with a woman. It is a detestable sin.” Leviticus 18:22

Leviticus 20:13 (& a capital offense among those who are called to be holy and in God’s family. When people make war on love, they do so at the risk of, not only their lives, but  their everlasting soul.)

Genesis 19 (Homosexual Sodomites want to rape some angels and Lot)

“And don’t forget Sodom and Gomorrah and their neighboring towns, which were filled with immorality and every kind of sexual perversion. Those cities were destroyed by fire and serve as a warning of the eternal fire of God’s judgment.” Jude 1:7 (Commentary on Sodom and Gomorrah which were destroyed as a warning to all who would give themselves to sexual immorality)

“So God abandoned them to do whatever shameful things their hearts desired. As a result, they did vile and degrading things with each other’s bodies. 25 They traded the truth about God for a lie. So they worshiped and served the things God created instead of the Creator himself, who is worthy of eternal praise! Amen. 26 That is why God abandoned them to their shameful desires. Even the women turned against the natural way to have sex and instead indulged in sex with each other. 27 And the men, instead of having normal sexual relations with women, burned with lust for each other. Men did shameful things with other men, and as a result of this sin, they suffered within themselves the penalty they deserved.

28 Since they thought it foolish to acknowledge God, he abandoned them to their foolish thinking and let them do things that should never be done.” Romans 1:24-28 (This sin is part of the final stages of God having to hand people over to sin and Satan because of persistent rebellion)

“Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, 10 or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people—none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God. 11 Some of you were once like that. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” 1 Corinthians 6:9-11

“We know that the law is good when used correctly. 9 For the law was not intended for people who do what is right. It is for people who are lawless and rebellious, who are ungodly and sinful, who consider nothing sacred and defile what is holy, who kill their father or mother or commit other murders. 10 The law is for people who are sexually immoral, or who practice homosexuality, or are slave traders, liars, promise breakers, or who do anything else that contradicts the wholesome teaching 11 that comes from the glorious Good News entrusted to me by our blessed God.” I Timothy 1:8-11 (The laws purpose is to expose and confront sins such as these)

These are the main passages of what the Bible has to say on the subject.

The good news is that we get to repent! Yes!

You have the wonderful amazing privilege of repenting (having a change of heart and mind and turning away) from your sin! In Jesus, you can walk away and never look back from this sin or any other sin you may be involved in. YEA!!!!

Have you ever considered what a gift it is to part ways with sin? Jesus already has paid the death penalty for your sin. As I read through the Bible I was confronted with things I had done that deserved the death penalty. How amazing that there no longer remains any punishment, for Christ has taken it all and he commands, and allows us in his grace, to repent. Take advantage of his offer today. It really is a gift! (More on the gift of Repentance)

Please don’t get me wrong. I don’t in any way hate or even dislike people who commit this particular sin. I have sinned myself, and I wish to extend the same grace that God has extended to me when I get entangled in sin to anyone who is caught in the snare of this or any other sin. Sin is the enemy. It’s pretty obvious that sin hurts the one who sins and not only them but also everyone around them as well. We are all in this together. We have all sinned and every one of us needs grace and forgiveness to be set free and stop hurting ourselves and each other. May we have the humility to receive the salvation and freedom that Jesus freely gives to any willing to receive it.

It’s obvious that God doesn’t want us to sin. He wants us to live as he created us to live. In his image. To live loved, and in turn, to live lives marked by His love. Sin is incongruous with God’s loving intentions. Sin is anti-love. Sin wars against love. God created us not harm ourselves with sin, but for love. It pains God to watch us hurt ourselves by choosing sin over love.

God, because of Jesus and all he accomplished on the cross, has nothing but mercy, forgiveness and cleansing – yes, even complete redemption – for all sinners who want his grace and are simply willing to receive it. Do you want to be free? I know I do.

Honestly I would rather not write a blog post on this topic of homosexuality, but after having a few dreams I thought I must at least voice my concern. My dreams were about how the enemy (yes, I’m talking about the devil that most people don’t really even believe exists) was planning (and is well into implementing his plan) to desensitize and thoroughly corrupt people by putting homosexuality on display, especially in front of impressionable kids. And I see it happening. Don’t you? So this blog is for my nieces and nephews who are being lied to every day by a media that homosexuality is just an acceptable lifestyle.

I get it. People need love. People need intimacy. But we need to realize that the intimacy we were made for is actually meant to be fulfilled in relationship first and foremost with God and, in lesser ways, our mates or our “mates” (of course with the Aussie understanding of the word). God wants to be intimate with you and indeed with everyone he has made. Of course this is not in a sexual sense but in a far more satisfying way then mere sex could ever do for you.

We get a few pictures of this kind of intimacy between friends in Scripture, which I believe model for us the kind of satisfying relationship/friendship that we can have with God himself. Take for instance the relationship between David and Jonathan:

“Jonathan became one in spirit with David, and he loved him as himself” (1 Samuel 18:1 NIV)

David’s tribute to Jonathan at the news of his death:

“I grieve for you, Jonathan my brother; you were very dear to me. Your love for me was wonderful, more wonderful than that of women.” (2 Samuel 1:26 NIV)

or Jesus and the apostle John (who referred to himself as the disciple whom Jesus loved):

“Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved. Simon Peter therefore motioned to him to ask who it was of whom He spoke. Then, leaning back on Jesus’ breast, he said to Him, “Lord, who is it?” (John 13:23-25 NKJV)

Neither of these close friendships were in any way sexual, and to even imply so would taint this beautiful picture of friendship. We too can be, and are meant to be, one in spirit with Jesus and have a level of intimacy with him that will meet every need of our hearts so we can stop looking for fulfillment elsewhere in what God forbids us to do. He knows best and he wants the absolute best for us. This intimate relationship with Jesus is what’s best for us and is what we were created for and will satisfy our intimacy needs. Unfortunately, more often than not, this relationship with Jesus is either neglected or even rejected. And so we are left with unsatisfied hearts searching for love and intimacy elsewhere… in sin.

So many people are confused about this issue of homosexuality, saying people were born this way, etc… and I suppose when I was in the most deceived time in my life, I too believed the same. I once had thought that God had just put a spirit of a woman in a man, or vice versa, but this is complete nonsense when you hold it up the truth of Scripture.

You must read this very thoughtful and, I believe, anointed article on this topic by Ron B. entitled Love that does not Count the Cost.  It was amazing and shed so much light on the subject. Way more than I could or would ever intend to do.

If we say we believe in Jesus, we have to agree with him about what he says is sin and what isn’t. Right? It has been said that Jesus never condemned homosexuality as a sin, that he never spoke about it in his earthly ministry, therefore… what exactly are we supposed to derive from this line of reasoning? Paul was just a homophobic hateful person? Moses got it wrong and had cotton in his ears when God was giving the law? Jesus brother Jude was a heretic?

Anyone familiar with the Gospels will quickly realize that Jesus never came to overthrow the law. The law stands. In fact he upped the ante. I mean why would he need to say having a perverse form of lust is wrong when he says that to lust is to commit adultery in your heart.

Here is a video from a woman who has a really close walk with God who has visited heaven. I saw this on the Youtube sidebar and was curious if she was going to stay in line with the Word of God. Her talk and many others I’ve since heard are in line with the truth of Scripture and worth considering.

FURTHER THOUGHTS

I have been disturbed that many professing Christians don’t know homosexuality is a sin or worse, are even defending it as an acceptable lifestyle. I even talked about this with a pastor who, when asked, told me that he didn’t know if it was a sin. Really?

I think the reason we compromise with the clear teaching of Scripture is that either we don’t want to give up our sin or, there are loved ones or people in our lives with this sin and we have to reconcile with that. I can see how difficult it is. But the answer is not to capitulate the truth, for the truth is what sets us free. (John 8:32)

As I see it, this, and every other issue, boils down these questions: What is the truth? Is God the creator? Does he love us and intend the best for us? Do we trust him? Is he pure and absolute perfect love itself as his word says? And as the loving Creator he is, does he have the authority and right to dictate to us what is love and what isn’t love (what is sin)?

Besides, even if we all agreed that homosexuality wasn’t a sin, would that change the truth? Can we shout loud enough to drown out the voice of God? Can we change his mind about how he intended his creation to be if we all agree to protest? There is an account in Scripture of a time to come in the last great rebellion when the masses will unite to overthrow God’s rule. Do you think they succeed?

The worldly media has been saturated with the homosexual agenda. You know it and I know it. There is hardly a show out there that doesn’t have the token gay character or at least have guest appearances of gay characters. It’s an agenda to desensitize us and make this sin commonplace and an accepted part of society.

But, it is all a deception. We live in enemy occupied territory you know. The devil exists and rules this sin saturated world. (And only rules because of our sin.) He seeks to turn us all away from our loving heavenly Father. He seeks to twist and corrupt what God intended for good – our sexuality – and pervert it.

Based on what I have read in Scripture, I don’t believe anyone is born homosexual. I do, however, believe the enemy may come in at an early age and deceive and distort and bring confusion to someone’s sexual identity. This is what the enemy does. He seeks to steal, kill, and destroy. But Jesus has come that we might have life abundant and free… free from sin.

If you are caught in this or any other sin, God can and will lovingly restore your innocence if you let him. He loves you and created you just the way you are for his glory.

JOIN THE DISCUSSION – LEAVE A COMMENT!

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Cracked to the Core, Yet Not Without Hope

I found myself thinking about the scales again today. I wrote about this idea awhile ago. This kind of thinking that somehow we will be alright on judgement day when we stand before God if our good deeds outweigh the bad on his scales of justice. Those who are concerned about this spend a great deal of time trying feverishly to please God, appease God, to somehow win his favor by good deeds.

And while this thinking forms the basis for every other world religion, this is the antithesis to the good news (Gospel) of Jesus.

What if I was 51% good and 49% wicked. This would work just fine if talking about owning shares of the kingdom of God. However, this would be a failing grade in school… unless God graded on a curve. As I thought more about this I realized that according to God’s way of reckoning I would have to be 100% good to inherit the kingdom of God. Even if I somehow managed to be 99% good, he would still call me to account for the 1% – and the price to pay for my sin would be more than I could bear.

(When the bible talks about being good it isn’t just talking about an avoidance of evil but of a very actively loving life – pure altruism.)

I came to the conclusion from my last excursion through the Bible that God doesn’t even give us a 1% chance of being good. We are indeed evil through and through – cracked to the core.

“As it is written:

“There is no one righteous, not even one;
11 there is no one who understands;
there is no one who seeks God.
12 All have turned away,
they have together become worthless;
there is no one who does good,
not even one.” (Romans 3:10-12 NIV)

Cracked to the Core, Yet Not Without Hope

I have a confession to make. I lied to someone the other day. They had been reading my blog and they were worried about me. I told them that my blog is “delayed” and that it reflects things I used to think and where I used to be (albeit just a few short weeks ago). But, to say that I am “all better now” or that I have somehow “arrived” is simply not true… nor will it ever be… until God perfects all believers together one day in glory.

The simple and yet profound truth is that I will never be able to glory or boast in my flesh. As a Christian mentor once told me, we are cracked to the core. But this need not lead to hopelessness and here is why: because, as believers, we don’t for a moment depend on ourselves or our own merits for salvation. We are not our saviour – Jesus is.

If I did depend on myself as my saviour, I would live in absolute stark terror at any given moment (as I did for seven long years of severe depression). But as it is, I no longer give way to fear, but instead, I depend on Christ’s mercies. I no longer grasp for control… I just simply trust. This lack of control is deeply unsettling for the ego and this is precisely why many still suffer from anxiety. We must let the ego go. I have been saying again and again throughout this blog that the ego must be put to death. It must die just as Jesus said it must.

I focus on this problem of ego in most of my blogs because I still deal with this on a daily basis. Don’t we all? Isn’t this same ego in everyone? Paul writes that this is the sin that lives within us (Romans 7). The way I see it is that everyone seems to be attempting to glory in their flesh and inciting others to do the same. We flatter one another and we flatter ourselves. The Scriptures, however, are designed to expose this pride and set us free from the sin within us. Psalm 36:1-2 says:

“I have a message from God in my heart concerning the sinfulness of the wicked: In their own eyes they flatter themselves too much to detect or hate their sin.” (NIV)

Yet God envisions a life for each and every one of us that is free from sin. This is the life of faith! Now instead of blindly following the commands of the old master of sin, we have a new master – Christ! We now get to be slaves to love’s impulses. We get to do whatever love prompts us to do! We get to be slaves of righteousness, slaves to God, and finally free! (Does it seem odd to anyone else that slavery to God leads to freedom?)

Fortunately, for believers in Jesus Christ, the ego (sin) has already been crucified with Christ. Paul writes, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20 NIV)

It may seem that I am too hard on myself as I often use myself as an example in my blog. It would be unkind to use anyone else. But I cannot emphasize enough how profoundly sick and broken I am as a human being… but nevertheless, I have hope. Can you explain that? I have a hope in Jesus and this pulls me forward. It causes me to grow in Christ and in love. It also gives me the courage to forgive myself and find grace.

The Christian life is simply this: Christ in us, the hope of glory. (see Colosians 1:27)

When we find this hope at work in us this shows us that God’s love is at work in our life – for love always hopes. Hope calms our fears, tenderly forgiving and cleansing us from every wrong. Hope picks us up, dusts us off, and puts us back on the path to life.

It’s all about Christ now – Christ in us! Christ, who alone is holy perfect love, who alone never sins (always loves).  So we have a choice to make. We can choose to cling to our own righteousness (which is on par with filthy rags – menstruel cloths) and perish forever seperated from God and love and hope and all things good. Or we can cling to Christ who is our righteousness and so be saved in the fullest sense of the word. Clinging to Christ is the essence of true faith.

Jesus didn’t come to sell us fire insurance. Salvation is not about God distributing “get out of hell free” cards. No, salvation is a transformed and Spirit led life. And THIS is glory!

Prayer:

God, teach us again to die to ourselves and to submit to your Holy Spirit’s leading. We trust that you, who began a good work in us, will be faithful to complete it. Thank you that salvation is all your doing.  We give ourselves to you. We give ourselves to love in Jesus name.

Genesis, Forgive 77 Times?

Happy New Year everyone! I had a great start to the new year. I woke up at 6:30 and started reading Genesis. I almost never get out of bed that early, especially since staying up till midnight is not just reserved for New Years eve… it’s a common occurrence!

My wife Catherine and I (and our 19 month old daughter Ellie) stayed over at Catherine’s folks house. I had a nice conversation about Genesis with Cindie, my Mother in law, while sipping some really good coffee. I had considered giving coffee up for the new year but decided that I will instead become a full blown coffee junky!

Something interesting happened as I was talking with Cindie that caused a few things to jump out in my reading. I had just read about Cain being marked by God so no one would kill him and that anyone who did would be punished seven times over. A minute later I sneezed several times and then Cindie pointed out that I had sneezed seven times. I thought, ‘Hmmm… I think I just read something about seven in here’. I resumed reading and came to this verse:

“If someone who kills Cain is punished seven times, then the one who kills me will be punished seventy-seven times!”  (Genesis 4:24 NLT – Lamech said this after he had killed someone in retribution – possibly in self-defense)

Immediately I thought about something Jesus once said:

“Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”

Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”

(Matthew 18:21-22 NIV – see article on Matt 18)

Isn’t this interesting? Is there a connection between what Jesus says and Cain and Lamech? I don’t know… somehow I doubt it. (If anyone does see a connection – leave a comment!)

Nevertheless, perhaps this is something that the Lord was highlighting for me and wants to start out the new year with… forgiveness. Sounds good to me!
There is this song, “Let There Be Peace On Earth” that has a line that says:

“Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me…”

Forgiveness really is the only thing that will heal our broken world. It’s the only thing that mends hearts and relationships.

Forgiveness brings peace.

How I loved forgiveness in my first year of marriage. It made everything better again. And it really worked! I was so surprised by the power of forgiveness.

Now the thing about forgiveness is that God would never ask us to do something that he doesn’t already do for us. We have to know just how forgiving God really is! I could blow it 77 times (this could also read 490 times) in a day with the very same sin and come to him and sincerely ask forgiveness and he will forgive me. But, He requires us to do the same!

If we don’t forgive as he asks, we will not be forgiven either!

Jesus tells a very sobering story in the rest of Matthew 18:

23 “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him. 25 Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.

26 “At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ 27 The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.

28 “But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded.

29 “His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’

30 “But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. 31 When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened.

32 “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33 Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ 34 In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.

35 “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.” (Matthew 18:23-35 NIV)

If you can think of anyone you haven’t forgiven yet, take some time right now and forgive them from your heart! It might be your father. Maybe it’s your mother. Perhaps a friend or coworker or your ex. Whoever it is, forgive them today!

“Unforgiveness is like drinking rat poison and waiting for the rat to die.” – Anne Lamott

Forgive!

As always, I’d love to hear back from you… so Leave a Response!

I Read the Bible in 66 Days… So What? Now What?

I read the Bible in 66 days… so what?

The truth is, if I am not a more loving person; more obedient to Christ and more like Christ; if I haven’t really changed for having read the Bible, then what was the point?

I think we all have an amazing capacity to disregard the most important things in life (such as paying attention to what our Creator and Savior has to say to us). Just consider the fact that we all just have one short life to live and yet we twitter it away entertaining ourselves. We waste our lives watching T.V. or movies or playing solitaire or facebook games or by watching youtube videos of cute kittens and other such time-wasting nonsense. Or even worse, we misspend our lives pursuing sin.

 If we don’t obey the word and really live the word, then can we really say that we are the “good soil” that Jesus talked about in his parable of the soils? (Read the parable here). Aren’t we instead the hard soil, thorny soil, or the rocky shallow soil? But only the good soil produces the fruit of the Spirit – which is love.

Jesus own brother James tells us:

“Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.”
(James 1:21-25 NIV emphasis mine)

So this is what we must do:

We must confront ourselves, and keep on persistently confronting ourselves with the Word of God until we change… until we become like Christ in every way… until we truly love and God’s Spirit is glad he made a home in us (if he indeed has). Incidentally, the Bible tells us that we aren’t even saved if the Holy Spirit is not in us! I once shared that fact with a few Christian friends and they argued with me! But this is what God’s word says!

“Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ.” (Romans 8: 8-9 NIV)

In subsequent posts, I plan to give the top highlights of my journey through the Bible, but this blog is about taking a frank look at the seriousness of taking God and his word seriously.

THE BIBLE IN 90 DAYS CHALLENGE!

Even though I have just finished reading through (and praying through) the entire Bible I am going to read it again starting January 1st.

Why am I going to read through it again so soon?

While I definitely learned a great deal about God and grew in my relationship with him, I know there is so much more work to be done in my heart. As I read through God’s Word this time it grated against my pride and ego (as it is designed to do) and for portions of the time that I was reading it, I reacted with resistance and fear. In many ways I was still running away from God. This is what sin does! It runs from God! But we must not let sin have its way to the detriment of our souls. We must keep coming to God!

But here is some really good news: We can change! It just requires perseverance and persistence to come to God and to really listen to what he has to say! Jesus will conform us to his image by his Spirit if we just keep coming to him and obeying him! Jesus said, “make a tree good and it’s fruit will be good”. Jesus can and will “make our tree good”, but he alone can change us. We can’t change ourselves!

There is a REALLY AMAZING episode of the show Person of Interest (Watch it here) that really spoke to me recently about change. I loved the last few moments of this episode! (If you must, just skip to the very end to watch it).

Jesus once said:

“But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”

Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree growing in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it but did not find any. 7 So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’

“‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. 9 If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.’” (Luke 13:5-9 NIV)

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be fruitless! Jesus warning is real! If we remain fruitless (loveless) we are in very real danger of being condemned. (Incidentally, there was an actual real fig tree that Jesus condemned and it withered instantly. He had likely looked for fruit on this tree every time he passed that way on all his trips to Jerusalem and never found any.) The Bible warns about people who are “ever learning but never able to come to the knowledge of the truth”.

I don’t want this to be true of me, do you?

Jesus said, “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free. And if the Son sets you free, you shall free indeed!”

This is not a matter of reforming our flesh (the sin that lives within us). No, sin cannot be reformed, but must die every day as we pursue a life of following Christ. Our victory over sin is found as we simply receive the victory Christ gives us, by faith. It’s that easy! Yet our pride does not allow for something as simple as victory by faith, does it? If we didn’t work really hard to kick our habit, if we didn’t overcome anything on our own, then our pride cannot accept it. This is why people pass up their victory over sin. They are too attached to their pride.

I sense that there is still a transforming work God wants to do in my heart and life and so, starting on January 1st, I will be reading through the Bible once more, but this time, I will do all I can to obey, live, and act on what I read and not resist God. (I will also be reading it in 90 days this time). Who will join me?

(Bible in 90 Days Challenge!)

Please leave a comment below! Disagree with me about something? Tell me! Challenge me!

How am I supposed to grow if no one ever challenges me? How are you supposed to grow if you never allow yourself to be challenged? Read the Word in the new year and let it challenge you to change!

Self Esteem, and Why We Avoid the Bible

In third grade, my elementary school started a self-esteem program. My mom was concerned about the humanistic values that she suspected would be in this program and so had me excused from attending these seminars. So, while everyone else in my class went to the self-esteem seminars, I was left alone in the classroom.

And I have struggled with self-esteem ever since… if only she had let me go!

I’m totally kidding! My mom was probably right. After all, what does the world know about how to truly find value and worth as a human being?

Doesn’t God Want Me to Have a Good Self-esteem?

My little girl Ellie has discovered Veggie Tales. She is 18 months old and has never watched television or videos… up till now. We thought it would be fun to play her some veggie tales and now she is hooked. When she is in the living room she will point to the dark tv screen and say, “Bob? Bob? Bob?” (asking for Bob the tomato – I was just now reminded of Bill Murray in “What About Bob?”).

One of the episodes we watched together last night was  called, “A Snoodles Tale”. Written in the style of Dr. Suess, it is a lesson in self-worth.  I was touched. The story talks about a snoodle who struggles with self-worth and is brought down by all the other snoodles who belittle him because he isn’t good at anything. When he is finally told his worth by his creator, he is transformed from being burdened and weighed down by all the pictures others have painted of him to being so lighthearted and free that he begins to float above the ground and finally makes use of those wings he was given.

Watch “A Snoodles Tale” HERE on Youtube

This is what it’s like receiving our worth from God and hearing from him how he really views us and how he really loves us… unconditionally. He alone can give us purpose and a glorious destiny. When we believe and receive that purpose and destiny, we begin to fly above the confines of everything we have thought and might think of ourselves and also above all the ways others have defined us.

After reading as much Scripture as I have thus far (now in Hosea) I am absolutely convinced that God isn’t at all interested in bestowing upon us a good self-esteem. In fact, I would propose and submit to you that God doesn’t want us to have self-esteem at all… good or bad. God has something far more precious and totally awesome to give us then merely good self-esteem.

Our worth is only meant to be found in God and was never intended to come from within ourselves, independent of God. In fact, independence from God is how we lost our worth to begin with. Our pride is independence from God and is a vain attempt to find self-worth apart from him. Instead we build our self-made identities based on abilities, accomplishments, possessions, self-improvement, etc…

“Self-esteem” is how we see ourselves and it is largely influenced by how others see us, or how we perceive that they see us. Self-esteem is based on the principles of pride and on our performance, not on the grace and unconditional love God extends to us. God is the one who made us and it goes without saying that he wants us to care more about how he sees us and to set us free from this trap of self-esteem. He does this by giving us what I will call God-esteem.

When we take our eyes off of ourselves altogether and fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith, we are then liberated to be the people he always intended for us to be, and it is beautiful!

Why We Don’t Read the Bible

Unfortunately, we are all bound, confined, and limited by our opinions of ourselves and of others opinions of us, that we don’t even think to go to God to find our worth. We are so caught up in the trap of self-esteem that we surround ourselves with only those who speak and think well of us, and we avoid everyone and everything that might cast us in a negative light… including the Bible.

While there is a glorious identity waiting for us to take hold of in Scripture, God must first break off and crush all our false ideas about who we are. We must first be humbled before we are even able to receive grace… before God can show us and free us with the truth of who we really are… in him.

God’s word is designed to deal a devastating blow to our self-righteous ego and kill any possible chance of a good self-esteem. This is why we avoid reading the Bible! It’s why I avoided it. It made me squirm like a worm on a hook. I felt cornered. Exposed. Undone. I mean, who wants to feel crummy about themselves? Who wants to be faced with all the various ways they have failed and the fact that at the very core, that you are a rotten person?

According to his law of love, God convicts the entirety of mankind and exposes us all for the self-centered, loveless creatures that we are. He then makes it abundantly clear just how much all our wretched sinfulness and rebellion has deeply offended him and incurred his wrath. We are all sinners and stand (or rather grovel) before him convicted, doomed, and damned because of sin. Apparently, sin is a really big deal! We would all be lost forever without someone to intervene and come to our rescue. Thank God Someone did!

All of this makes the good news of Jesus so much sweeter and more amazing! We are not without hope! The good news of Jesus is that he is our Savior. He is our hero who came to take the bullet for us. He became our sin and was condemned for it. On the cross, He absorbed all the wrath of God for sin! Jesus was convicted, doomed, and damned in our place that we might be saved as we trust in Jesus and follow Jesus! This is pure grace.

The Humbling Effect of God’s Word

Just the other day in Ezekiel I came across another contemptible sin I was guilty of. Upon reading it, I was so upset that I started swearing in my head and thinking, “Do I have any alcohol in the house?” I then remembered I had one beer left in the closet. I was planning to down the thing as quick as possible.  All while I was thinking this the Lord was speaking to my heart. In a very comforting voice he gently whispered, “Just come to me, just come to me.” As if to say he had all my sin covered and that it was alright.

I tried to have the beer anyway cause I still felt like crap. I opened it, took one sip and then poured the rest down the drain. I didn’t trust myself not to still attempt a bit of drunkenness. Then, as I sat at my kitchen table with my head resting on my Bible I said, “Okay God, now what?”

Any last flickering flames of self-esteem were thoroughly extinguished as I read for the umpteenth time of yet another way I had deeply offended God and I had to agree that I deserve his wrath. I just can’t win! And just maybe, this is the point.

I loathed myself just as Ezekiel wrote: “Then you will remember your past sins and despise yourselves for all the detestable things you did.” (Ezekiel 36:31 NLT)

This is the humbling effect of the word of God. It humbles our pride. But, does God want to keep us in a perpetual state of loathing ourselves? No, of course not! He wants us to find our worth in Him and find pure unadulterated joy in our restored relationship and our new identity with him! He wants to show us a new way to be human and how to be what he always intended a human to be. Loving. Gracious. Kind. Forgiving. Free.

And yet, I foolishly still find myself attempting to find my value and worth in and of myself apart from him. I still try to think of myself as a good person. Every day my pride tries for a bit of glory and a bit of recognition. Every day I must, once again, die to myself just as Jesus said that we must. Every day we as humans still struggle with pride.

The Lord tells Jeremiah that, “the human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?” (Jeremiah 17:9 NLT)

Jesus once said, “No one is good but God alone.” (Mark 10:18 NIV)

I don’t know about you but I am always attempting to make myself appear better, smarter, and more spiritual than I really am. Can you relate? Some of us do this by hiding our sin as best we can and then projecting a sanitized image of ourselves to the world (on facebook or twitter) trying to convince everyone that we are likable decent human beings who have important things to say.

I have seen thus far in my journey through the Bible that the entirety of the law and the prophets is designed to assassinate our pride, and then to lovingly restore us and yes, even resurrect us to a new way of life – a life marked by trust and love. I read the following verses today which just served to underscore this:

1 “Come, let us return to the LORD.
He has torn us to pieces
but he will heal us;
he has injured us
but he will bind up our wounds.
2 After two days he will revive us; 
   on the third day he will restore us, 
   that we may live in his presence. 

3 Oh, that we might know the Lord!
Let us press on to know him.
He will respond to us as surely as the arrival of dawn or the coming of rains in early spring.”

4 “O Israel and Judah,
what should I do with you?” asks the Lord.
“For your love vanishes like the morning mist
and disappears like dew in the sunlight.
5 I sent my prophets to cut you to pieces—
      to slaughter you with my words,
with judgments as inescapable as light.
6 I want you to show love,
not offer sacrifices.
I want you to know me
more than I want burnt offerings.
7 But like Adam, you broke my covenant
and betrayed my trust.

(Hosea 6:4-7 NLT emphasis mine)

Pride is the source of all sin. It is like that black tar that afflicted spiderman. It’s tenacious clawing, grasping, and wanting to possess us. To control us. Pride is our greatest enemy and we must fight it… but how?

What is the antidote to pride?

Confession? Repentance? Humility? Love? All of the Above?

(I can’t help but remember one of my first blog posts I ever wrote which I entitled: Baring My Soul. )

What are some ways you have found that are a good antidote to pride? Leave a reply below.

No Fear With Christ

A friend of mine reminded me today of the fact that Jesus actually did accomplish something on the cross. Just think about this: Jesus, once and for all, fully satisfied the wrath of God for sin! This was something I really needed to hear. I still have some false beliefs about a God of wrath who just might send me off to a dungeon and forget about me for awhile (or forever) because I pissed him off again with my sin.

Rather, God is someone I can come to (and run to) with all of my weaknesses and failings, because Jesus has compassion for all our weaknesses.

I wrote a blog just before last Christmas in what felt like a moment of inspiration entitled, “Why You Never Have to be Afraid Again”. As you have noticed by now if you have been reading my blog, I struggle with fear. I know I’m not alone in this. I hope to move past my fear into the love of God and hopefully help others do the same.

Why You Never Have to be Afraid Again

Love. This is what God is. That’s what the word of God tells us. “God is love”. The same letter John wrote that tells us God is love also tells us that perfect love casts out all fear. Because fear has to do with punishment.

This is why you never have to be afraid again… ever.

Remember Jesus, sweating blood in the garden? Remember that opening scene of the Passion of the Christ? Jesus is trembling with dreadful anticipation. What has gotten him so worked up? Then the devil comes along and whispers, “No one can bear the weight of sin. No one. Not ever.”

Resolute, Jesus faces head on what the coming hours hold. He knows exactly what’s coming. Luke records that Jesus was told about all that he would have to endure by two of his closest and oldest of friends, Moses and Elijah… on a mountain. On this mountain he enters the awesome glory of his Father and experiences a transfiguration. His clothes shone pure white. Whiter than snow. And here, his friends tell him of the suffering he will face.

They told of how he would suffer for love. For redemption. For the rescue of his beloved. You and I. And resolute he faced it. He overcame!

And this, this is why you never need to be afraid.  Ever.

When we fear, it simply just shows that we have not been made complete by his love… yet.

When we fear, we forget that yes, the suffering and the cross Jesus bore did in fact accomplish something.

You were forgiven that day. Yes. ALL your sins erased. The sin debt you owed, cancelled. You are now “face to face” with God. A restored child. Loved for exactly who you are. For who he made you. Loved so unconditionally, with such ‘reckless’ abandon, that knowing this love cannot help but heal your every hurt, bring hope to all that is hopeless, bring comfort, redemption, and yes, even joy.

Accept it. Believe it. This is the true message of Christmas. Jesus came for you. He loves you. He loves you. He loves you! So say ‘so long’ to fear and live… believing in his perfect love that casts out all fear.

Jesus and Joseph, and what they have to say to their brothers

The story of Joseph keeps coming back to my mind this week. I can’t help but think that Jesus has something to say to us from this story – especially in what Joseph had to say to his brothers.

I have to admit, it hasn’t been a good week since my last post. I spent the week running from God and avoiding him. Oddly enough, I have kept up with my reading through the bible… sort of. I am stuck in the middle of Jeremiah. Do you know how hard it is to read God’s word and really hear what it’s saying when you are at the same time avoiding the God who inspired it? I realized that this is why I avoided reading the bible to begin with.

I am not a particularly good Christian. In fact, I see myself as one of the worst Christians I know. I’m a rebel and a coward. This blog is not about presenting myself as a good role model at all but a desperate attempt to finally reconcile with God in some meaningful and lasting way. That I would begin to actually be a good friend to God. I know I’m not right now (or at least I think I’m not), and I must admit that right now I’m just in need of his forgiveness and grace. Which leads me to the question:

Does God hold grudges?

Most of us, I believe, still think that he does. The Bible tells us that for those who confess their sin and repent, that God forgives and forgets, but still we often fail to believe that God forgives so freely. At least I do.

A Lesson From the Life of Joseph

Many (including myself) see Joseph as a kind of archetype of Jesus. Their are similarities between the two. For example, Joseph was treated by his brothers in the same way as Jesus was treated by his brothers, the Jews. They plotted to kill them out of jealousy. Both Joseph and Jesus were prepared by God to be the savior of the world. And finally, there are striking similarities between the way they both forgive their brothers. (Jesus said from the cross, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”)

As the story goes, Joseph’s brothers were jealous of his favored relationship with their father Jacob. Offended by his dreams of grandeur and air of superiority which he freely and foolishly shared with his family, they plotted their revenge. Murder was discussed but in the end, they sold Joseph into slavery to Egypt.

After years of testing and character development, Joseph went on to become second only to Pharaoh in Egypt and was instrumental in providing the wisdom and guidance the world needed during a seven-year long severe famine.

Through a series of events which you can read about near the end of Genesis, Joseph was reunited with his father Jacob and his brothers in Egypt. He became their benefactor, protector, and savior.

Years passed and so did Jacob. Now, with their father gone, Joseph’s brothers thought that now surely Joseph would exact his revenge on them for how they had treated him. So they lied to Joseph. Here is the story from Genesis 50:15-21

But now that their father was dead, Joseph’s brothers became fearful. “Now Joseph will show his anger and pay us back for all the wrong we did to him,” they said.  So they sent this message to Joseph: “Before your father died, he instructed us to say to you: ‘Please forgive your brothers for the great wrong they did to you—for their sin in treating you so cruelly.’ So we, the servants of the God of your father, beg you to forgive our sin.” When Joseph received the message, he broke down and wept. Then his brothers came and threw themselves down before Joseph. “Look, we are your slaves!” they said.

But Joseph replied, “Don’t be afraid of me. Am I God, that I can punish you?  You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people.  No, don’t be afraid. I will continue to take care of you and your children.” So he reassured them by speaking kindly to them.

I think that in many ways we are like those brothers of Joseph. We know we have done God wrong. (I know I have.) And we wonder, will God remember and punish me for my sins? Will God make me pay for what I’ve done?

Many of us are often like Mel Gibson’s character Benjamin Martin in the Patriot when he says, “I have long feared that my sins would return to visit me, and the cost is more than I can bear.”

We are just waiting for the hammer to fall. But, when we think like this, don’t we forget the cross? Don’t we forget that the hammer already fell long ago and drove nails into the holy perfect loving Son of God?

This is why God no longer holds our sins against us! They were already held against God’s own Son, our savior Jesus!

So, we don’t need to live in constant suspense thinking, ‘When will I be punished?’ But instead we can do as Paul recommends in Romans 5:12:

“So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.” (NLT)

I read this the other day and underlined it. Do you ever read something in Scripture and wish you could just grab the words off the page, put it in your heart, and then actually live it? That was my experience as I read this. I wanted to download it to my brain like in the Matrix, and start being a good friend to God!

But in the meantime, while I may be a ways off from being a good friend to God, it’s important just to know that God isn’t holding a grudge, that once confessed, my sins aren’t going to come back upon me, that his forgiveness is real and can be trusted.

Listen to God as he speaks kindly to us, assuring us of his forgiveness and his good intentions. Here are a few thoughts from Scripture to encourage us all:

But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. (1 John 1:9)

“God is love” and love “keeps no record of being wronged”. (1 John 4:16 & 1 Corinthians 13:5)