Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Heeding Granny's Advice

My life was totally different when I was a teenager. I used to talk on the phone all day and hang out with friends all night.

I remember getting off the phone one day. My grandmom asked me who it was. I don't remember who it was, but I do know it was some guy. I told her his name and said, "he's just a friend."

I'll never forget her reaction. An old Irish woman, she stomped her foot down and in an exasperated, almost yelling voice, said, "Don't you know boys and girls can't be friends?! Either they grow closer together and become more than friends or they grow further apart and are no longer friends."

Me, in all my teenage glory, just rolled my eyes and said, "Whatever Granny."

A few years after that incident I actually believed her. And the longer I live the more strongly I feel that she was right.

I know of a marriage that recently ended because of an "innocent" friendship between the husband and another woman. While thinking about this split my grandmom's words ran through my head. Doesn't everybody know this? Don't they know that they can't just be friends??? I guess not.

So, I figured I'd take a moment to warn others out there. Please be careful. I wish I had a verse that said these words flat out, but I don't. In I Corinthians 6 it does say to flee sexual immorality.

Flee is a strong word. It reminds me of Joseph who was tempted by Potipher's wife (Genesis 39). When Joseph went into his master's house, no one was there except his master's wife. She said "Lie with me." At that moment he didn't try to reason with her like he did in the past, instead he fled, not even staying long enough to grab his garment which she had a hold of. After that Joseph was arrested because of the woman's lies, but he still had a clear conscience between he and the Lord. That is fleeing!

Now, I can't tell you where the line should be drawn. That should be done through your own discretion. I understand that there has to be communication between men and women for things like work and maybe other events. But please monitor your own actions and intentions. Feelings for those of the opposite gender can come on quickly and come on strong. Stand fast and flee if necessary!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Re-evaluating my faith

Recently I have had my faith challenged. This was not done by some stranger asking me questions. No, this was done by someone that I love. Someone who has loved the Lord for the past 16 years, but has decided lately that he no longer believes anything the Bible has to say. Will I be able to throw away my faith some day just as dramatically? I certainly hope not, but in the meantime I really needed to do some evaluating.

The other day I was reading the book of James. Early on I came across this well known verse: "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him." (James 1:5) I started praying. I prayed for wisdom concerning the doubts that have been thrown my way. I prayed with faith, not doubting that the Lord would answer my request. I did not pray for any selfish reasons and I did not pray for any signs or miracles to be given. I simply wanted peace and reassurance. Within 10 minutes the Lord had graciously answered.

I am going to state the doubts that were presented to me (as I understood them) and the answers that satisfy me at this time.

Doubt #1
Paul had radical ideas that weren't taught by the others before him.
Basically I was told that the gospel as we know it, wasn't preached until Paul came along with a bunch of radical ideas. The whole point of casting this doubt is to say that the Lord Jesus didn't expect to be given the title of Lord and that He was simply trying to show us the way to live in order to please God.

I'm not much of a salesperson, so you can probably read that and think that it sounds preposterous. However, the one who said it to me is rather convincing and speaks with conviction.

What did I conclude? I concluded that Jesus Christ really is Lord of heaven and earth, He is worthy of our praise and that Paul preached the true Gospel.

How did I come to that conclusion? When you want to share the Gospel with someone, what book do you ask them to read? Not Corinthians or Ephesians. Not even Romans, as good as that book is. Generally speaking you send them to John... one of the original 12 apostles. The Good News is clearly laid out in his gospel. If you want to see the Lord Jesus Christ being worshiped you can find that clearly in the book of Revelation, also written by John, not Paul.

Also, Acts, who was written by Luke, shows how the church began, even before Paul's conversion.

Yes, Paul did preach a radical gospel, but it wasn't conceived in his own mind, nor was it against God's will.

Doubt #2
Years after the Bible was completed people changed lots of words in order to make it seem like Jesus is Lord, even though He is not.

You have to remember that this claim is coming from a convincing source, so it can't easily be brushed off, unless you can come to another logical conclusion.

So after I concluded that Paul was not the only one who preached this "strange" Gospel, I then had to question whether it was possible that others had manipulated the Word of God years after the fact in order to change its message.

It didn't take long to realize how unlikely this situation is. There were A LOT of Christians all over the world by this point in history. Imagine someone or a group of someones changing the Scriptures?! There is SO MUCH in the Bible that points to Jesus Christ being called Lord. In order to manipulate the text, they could not have done anything subtle. It would've been a total over haul of the whole of it! Now imagine that happening... and no one noticing! Was every "Christian" in on this big secret, so no one bothered screaming: "SCANDAL!" No where in any history book are you going to find a time when this scandalous act supposedly took place. And what of all the previous copies? Were all of them magically destroyed?

So, this doubt left my mind as quickly as it entered it.

I am so thankful that I have a God I can turn to for wisdom. I'm thankful that all Scripture is given by the inspiration of God. And I'm thankful for this time in my life when I can reaffirm what I have believed for the past 15 years. Praise be to God!