Faith Matters - Current Posts

Friday, May 18, 2007

Silence is Not an Option!

Tuesday, May 22

What do you do when you've gotten yourself into a corner and can't think of a way out? It’s a dilemma common to leaders who take strong positions. Even when faced with contrary evidence, we tend to hold on to our prior opinions. It’s commonplace to get louder and more emotional when our positions are threatened. For, after all, it’s very difficult to admit when we are wrong.

When Peter and John were arrested and brought before the Sanhedrin - Israel's religious Supreme Court – its members were in a quandary. They had previously taken a formal position against Jesus and had supported his crucifixion. Now Peter and John were standing in front of them with a paraplegic man who had been miraculously healed. The members of the Sanhedrin weren't about to acknowledge that the power of Jesus was still operative and had healed this man, but they had no other explanation. Their solution was to order Peter and John to shut up about it. They said, “Don’t ever speak the name of Jesus again!”

But that was impossible for the two followers of Jesus. It’s like ordering the sun not to rise. Like ordering a lover to stop saying, “I love you.” Peter and John were Christians and talking about Jesus is what Christians do. Once you know that Jesus has died for you on the cross, that God has raised him from the dead and that the Holy Spirit has filled your life – nothing is ever the same. For the disciples in the first century and for Christians now, silence is not an option!

You’ve Been Spending Time With…

In Minnesota, where I live, our winter days are short and as a result, many of our faces grow pale from the lack of exposure to sunlight. In January or February when we run into someone with a golden tan and a radiant glow, we can’t help but notice. The contrast is startling! Even complete strangers at the checkout in a store will say to them, “You must have been south” or “You’ve been in the sun.” It shows.

We are all shaped by the places we visit and by the people with whom we spend time. We are influenced by the company we keep. I can sometimes spend only a short time with someone and then be able to pretty accurately tell you what books they read, which radio stations they listen to, where they grew up, where they go to church and what kind of people they hang out with. I can also recognize those who have been spending a lot of their time with Jesus.

When you meditate on the words of the Bible and meet Jesus on the pages of the New Testament, it shows in your life. When you pray to him daily, experience him in worship and spend time with other godly followers of Jesus, you become more like Jesus. You begin to respond like Jesus. You love like Jesus. You think like Jesus and sound like Jesus.One of the greatest compliments any friend or critic can offer us is to say, “It’s obvious that you’ve been spending a lot of time with Jesus!”

Praying to be Dangerous

Erwin McManus is a friend of mine from El Salvador. He tells an interesting story about his young son Aaron going to a Christian camp. Dad was glad it was a Christian camp because he didn't want his boy hearing a bunch of scary ghost stories. What he didn't expect was that Aaron would instead hear a bunch of scary stories about demons and Satan. He came home terrified. “Dad, don't turn off the light!” he said before going to bed. “Daddy, I'm afraid. They told all these stories about demons.” Erwin was tempted to tell his son that demons aren't real. But they are real. Aaron asked, “Daddy, would you pray for me that I would be safe?” Erwin decided to pray beyond safety. He said, “Aaron, I will not pray for you to be safe. I will pray that God will make you dangerous, so dangerous that demons will flee when you enter the room.” Aaron answered, “All right. But pray that I would be really, really dangerous, Daddy.” That story reminded me of the Bible story of what happened when Peter and John were arrested and hauled before the Sanhedrin - Israel's religious Supreme Court. They should have been scared to death because death was a real possibility, but God gave them boldness. The Sanhedrin was so afraid of the influence of these men that they were unable to refute their defense and they let them go with only a warning. God did more than keep Peter and John safe, he made them dangerous.

Related scripture: Acts 4:1-13

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Sexual Boundaries

Since creation, sexuality has been one of the premiere defining features of who we are as humans. Sex is an integral part of our identity - whether we are babies in the nursery or aged in the nursing home, whether we are celibate or sexually active. Our gender is part of who God created us to be. That’s why our sexual roles and practices are so important; that’s why sexual abuse is so damaging.
Some Christians insist that Jesus is the Lord of all of their lives - except for sex. They seek to live for God in everything they do - except for sex. It is as if there is one room in our lives that has a locked door to keep God out. But, it doesn't work that way. Our sexuality and our Christianity are wired together.
Because our God-given sexuality is so powerful, God has given sexual boundaries to protect us from dangers। Those who are single are to abstain from sexual intimacy until marriage. Those who are married are to remain faithful even when attracted to someone else. Of course, sexuality is not the only area of our lives that needs protecting. Life itself is protected with a boundary forbidding assault and murder. Property is protected with a boundary forbidding theft. Truth is protected with a boundary forbidding lying.If you have violated God’s sexual boundaries and your behavior has been less than Christian, tell God you are wrong and you are sorry. Ask him to forgive you and he will give you a fresh opportunity to act like a Christian in sex.

Related Scripture: I Corinthians 7:1-9 & Hebrews 13:4

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Sex is Nothing New

In 21st century America, one of our greatest opportunities to demonstrate Christian faith is in terms of our sexual behavior. It’s not that sex is anything new. Good and bad sexual behavior has been around since the Garden of Eden. It’s just that we live in a generation where the emphasis on sex is pervasive. Now, to be sure, pornography has been around for all of history, but the Internet was not available until recently. Other generations had promiscuity, but it was not promoted on television.
The consequences of immoral sexual behavior range from disease to divorce and from disappointments to depression. So, what is a Christian to do?
Let’s take a look at sex from a Christian perspective. Sex was God’s idea from the very beginning. When we are attracted to someone of the opposite sex, it is because God designed us to be that way. The powerful distinction of male and female and all the sexual wonder that is there is part of the creation story. Imagine the delight when Adam and Eve saw each other for the first time. It was magnificent and there was no shame. When they were sexually joined as husband and wife, God was delighted.To protect this amazing relationship God set boundaries. He said sex was to take place only within marriage. As Christians we believe that the God who created us and our sexuality sets those boundaries for our good and for his honor. Our reason for behaving like Christians in our sexual life is not to avoid Herpes but to honor God.