“Suffer With Me”

Those words cited in the title, written by Paul to a young Timothy, are sobering to be sure. (2 Timothy 2:3) But, they take on a new – painful – meaning when we suffer. I’ve always said that “suffering as Christians” is that side of the gospel we rarely hear preached about on Sundays.

Something has happened to my family since our son/brother, Jordan, took his life and walked into Paradise. We see the pain of the world. More than that though, we can feel it. (Just like Jordan did.)

But this has only made my/our purpose on planet earth more acute. For we’ve now experienced that, even in our most unspeakable suffering, Jesus is there.  My hurting friends – there is Hope. There is Peace. There is Love. There if Life.  His name is Jesus Christ. He suffered too.

When we hurt, Christ hurts. But, more than that, He absorbs our hurt retroactively from the Cross. From Isaiah 53….

“He was despised and rejected— a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care. Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins! But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed.” (53:3-5)

The Bible (as well as extrabiblical ancient history) tells us:  JesusDid.  Suffer. Horribly.  However, He now lives and reigns.  And because of this, Paul encouraged the suffering Roman believers, “Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later.” (8:18)

The photo here is today’s entry from the devo, Jesus Calling. To all who are hurting, weary, confused, angry, suffering…..Jesus is whispering to you, “I’ve got this. Trust Me.”   Soli Deo Gloria, Nick

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Phycisist, Mike Strauss – TTU Hance Chapel – Oct. 23rd

Got this “poster” (below) yesterday from Matt Short (BHBC member, and chairman of TTU Fellowship of Christian Grad Students, of which I’m a member.)

Hance Chapel is a great venue, located on the SE corner of the TTU campus. And Matt says Dr. Strauss will be excellent.  Here’s why I believe Mat….

NOTICE the “CERN Researcher” title under Dr. Strauss’ name. Google that. CERN is the European Organization for Nuclear Research located in Geneva, Switzerland.   The center boasts the largest “particle accelerator” in the world. This is where scientists are trying to discover the “God Particle” in one of the accelerator’s called the Large Hadron Collider (LHC).

Should you not have a conflict, I believe both Christians and non-Christians, alike, will enjoy hearing what Dr. Strauss has to say.

Always keep in mind:  we can’t “prove God’s existence in a laboratory.” (Because of the role of faith in Christianity, I happen to believe God intended it that way.)  However, the evidence for His existence is overwhelming.

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick

Mike Strauss - TTU-FCGS

A Theology of Sexuality

Clearly, there are few contemporary issues more divisive than the issue of sexual orientation and how its viewed in light of Scripture.

Before I begin this particular essay, allow me to make two things clear:

  1. I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge that many of us have loved ones who identify as LGBTQ.  I say us because this includes me; I have a very close family member who is gay.  I embrace them every time I see them – and I see them a lot.  Had one of my children told me and my wife they were gay we would have loved them just as much as any other of our children.  No one is saying this issue is easily addressed.  No one is saying it’s not divisive.
  2. I typically limit my blogs to 500-750 words (less than a page). This one is different and, as such, requires significantly more room to not only convey my convictions on this issue, but to also respond to common uses of Scripture to support the homosexual lifestyle.
  3. This is a painful topic for me.  I have tried (on more than one occasion) to make homosexuality work biblically.  I desperately want to be able to read the Bible and say, “There it is!  I found the verse/passage!  God approves of homosexuality!” But it’s not there.  Nowhere.  In the end, I simply couldn’t make it work.  And neither can anyone else who researches the Bible honestly and without bias.  To do so would require us to re-write Scripture – which is exactly what some are doing.

Speaking out on this issue means one thing for certain:  you will be persecuted; you will be called names (homophobic, bigoted, etc.), you will be misunderstood. NBC News recently tweeted: “A record percentage of Americans support gay marriage, new poll finds.”  NYT best-selling author, Eric Metaxas, retweeted NBC’s statement and replied, “And this, of course, has nothing to do with their being told over & over for years that not to [support gay marriage] is unconscionably bigoted and despicable.”

Sadly, those who champion the call of “tolerance” are hatefully intolerant of anyone who disagrees with their worldviews.  It is the most blatant example of hypocrisy in contemporary North America.

Personally, I have no issue with those who disagree with me and happily give them respect and freedom to believer whatever they choose.  Sadly, I most likely will not be afforded that same respect in return.

But I am not afraid.  The topic of “the Bible & Sexual Orientation” demands and deserves clarity where correctly handling the word of truth is concerned.  Here we go…

 

Introduction

In Feb. 2010, Elton John made headlines by stating the following:

“I think Jesus was a compassionate, super-intelligent gay man who understood human problems.  On the cross he forgave the people who crucified him.  Jesus wanted us to be loving and forgiving.”  Elton John

First things first:  I love Elton John, patterning much of my piano-playing style after him.  I’ve seen him in concert and think he is a brilliant songwriter.  His piano skills are simply extraordinary.  But, making sweeping statements about Jesus being gay was a bad idea, blatantly contradictory to what Jesus, himself, teaches in Scripture.

That said, is anybody really surprised that Elton John thinks Jesus was gay?  I was anything but surprised by John’s comment.  Satan’s been attacking the character and attributes of God ever since the Garden of Eden.

Make no mistake: had John said something similar about the prophet, Muhammad, public reaction would have been much different.  But Satan’s not one bit concerned with blemishing the name or reputation of just any man – only Jesus.

In sum, John has never professed to having a saving faith in Christ.  So it’s easy to discount his reckless comment.

But, what about when professed Christians announce they’re gay?

In 2008, Christian singer/songwriter, Ray Boltz, announced he was gay.  And, according to him, God made him that way.  Bolts, writer of huge Christian hits like “Thank You”, “The Anchor Holds”, and “I Pledge Allegiance to the Lamb”, announced to the world his decades-long struggle with his sexuality.

Mark Mooring, of Christianity Today, wrote of Boltz’ “coming out” in Sep. of 2008:

Ray Boltz, who sold about 4.5 million records before retiring from Christian music a few years ago, came out of the closet Friday to announce that he’s gay.

“I’d denied it ever since I was a kid,” Boltz, 55 (at the time), told the magazine.  “I became a Christian, I thought that was the way to deal with this and I prayed hard and tried for 30-some years and then at the end, I was just going, ‘I’m still gay. I know I am; and I just got to the place where I couldn’t take it anymore…”

Boltz also told The Blade that he doesn’t want to get into debates about Scripture… For him, the decision to come out is much more personal.

“This is what it really comes down to,” he says.  “If this is the way God made me, then this is they way I’m going to live.  It’s not like God made me this way and he’ll send me to hell if I am who he created me to be… I really feel closer to God because I no longer hate myself.”

I suspect there’s a reason Boltz didn’t want to get into debates about Scripture.  He would be forced to reconcile Scripture with his conviction that God made him gay.

In Oct., 2005, Texas Tech basketball superstar, Sheryl Swoopes, another professed Christian announced that she was gay.  She told ESPN, “I know there are going to be some negative things said, too.  But it doesn’t change who I am.”

So, what do you do when self-proclaimed “born again”, high profile Christians not only go public with their homosexuality, but then begin to state that that’s the way God made them?

We love them just like we would love anyone else.

 

Before I continue, allow me to offer two thoughts:

  1. Jesus Christ doesn’t need me to defend him.  My objective in this blog is to, hopefully, offer a theological framework regarding homosexuality i.e. what the Bible says; what the Bible doesn’t say, and how to respond to common arguments delivered from those who try and support homosexuality biblically.
  2. God hates heterosexual sin every bit as much as he hates homosexual sin.  Our modern Christian culture tends to ease up on the former while blasting the latter.  David Kinnaman, in his outstanding book, UnChristian, quotes Shayne Wheeler.  Wheeler writes, “The Bible is clear: homosexualt practice is inconsistent with Christian discipleship.  (It’s sin.) But there is not a special judgment for homosexuals, and there is not a special righteousness for heterosexuals.”  Kinnaman comments, “Rather than articulating a biblical perspective and living out a biblical response to homosexuals, [our] research demonstrates how inconsistent and un-compassionate we have been.”

 

In Brief

  1. Homosexuality is nothing new.  It’s as old as the book of Genesis.
  2. The Genesis 18-19 passages notwithstanding, the Scriptures – both Old and New Testaments – not only clearly categorize homosexuality as sin, but teach the biblical model for sexual relationships as being between male and female within the context of marriage.  (cf. Genesis 2:24; Leviticus 18:22, 20:13; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10; 1 Timothy 1:10; Romans 1:26-28, Matthew 19:5; Ephesians 5:31)
  3. In reference to God’s design for marriage, the Bible is replete with examples of God’s abiding principle and plan for romantic relationships.  From Adam & Eve to Abraham & Sarah to Ruth & Boaz, Joseph & Mary, God’s biblical design for dating and marriage has, from the beginning, been male and female.  There is no shred of approved same-sex marriage in the Bible.

 

The Gay Gene Debate

In 1993, Science Magazine published an article claiming that scientist, Dean Hamer, had discovered the “gay gene”, providing a “eureka!” moment for the LGBTQ community.  But, in soon thereafter, the same publication, Science Magazine, printed an article stating the “gay gene” discovery was unfounded:

“Time and time again, scientists have claimed particular genes…are associated with behavioral traits, only to withdraw their findings [when they later discover they were wrong]. Unfortunately, [these theories are] announced with great fanfare, all greeted [without argument] in the media, and now in [disgrace].  Dr. Joel Gelernter, Yale University;  Science Magazine, 1994

 

No Gay Gene!  Case Closed! But it isn’t that easy…

This blog is in the process of being updated…  More info to follow.

 

 

To view the testimony of Christian singer/songwriter, Dennis Jurnigan, click here.

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick

“I Would Never Do That.” (Oh, yes you would.)

“Therefore let anyone who thinks he stands [who feels sure that he has a steadfast mind and is standing firm], take heed lest he fall [into sin].”  (1 Corinthians 10:12 – Amplified)

From the Washington Post, September 1998:

 In the 1980s, when flashy, money-loving TV evangelists were giving men of the Lord a bad name, Gordon MacDonald was one of the shining lights. He wrote several best-selling books. He lectured throughout the country. He was pastor of a large evangelical church in Lexington, Mass., until he left to take over the $200 million World Vision Christian relief agency. He parlayed that post into the presidency of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, one of the nation’s largest collegiate missionary organizations.

That’s where he was in 1987, when anonymous letters arrived at the offices of religious publishers spelling out MacDonald’s adulterous affair. The minister quickly and publicly admitted his sin.

MacDonald became, as his lifelong friend Vernon Grounds said, “one more conspicuous casualty in the never-ending battle all of us carry on against evil within and without.”

Before MacDonald ended up in the marital affair it was reported that he had said, “There are a lot of bad things I’m capable of  doing.  But, I would never have an affair.”

In The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions, one prayer includes the following honest and sobering statement regarding the inherent evil of our hearts:  “O God, it is amazing that men can talk so much about [our] creaturely power and goodness, when, if Thou didst not hold us back every moment, we should be devils incarnate.”

Stating this truth in clearer, more modern vernacular, Dr. Louis Markos, paraphrasing the great British author and apologist, G.K. Chesterton,  writes, “The great riddle of man is not merely that the same human race can produce both a Hitler and a Mother Theresa, but that every one of us contains within himself both a Hitler and Mother Theresa.”

I suspect the moment a believer says, “I would never do that [particular sin],” like moths to a flame, the enemy begins his wily, methodical attack.  Identifying our glaring weakness (pride), he initiates his plan.  And he doesn’t care if it takes years to see it through.

Considering again Paul’s warning to the Corinthians, “Therefore let anyone who thinks he stands [who feels sure that he has a steadfast mind and is standing firm], take heed lest he fall [into sin], is it any wonder why Paul, in both devilish desperation and holy relief, exclaimed, Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?  Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

Soli Deo Gloria, nick

Moving at the Speed of Grief

Weeping may last for a night, but joy comes in the morning.”  (Psalm 30:6)

The familiar Kubler-Ross Five Stages of Grief are intended to be a model, not a rule.  Grief is messy, violent, complicated and discombobulating.

People are unique.  The circumstances surrounding a person’s grief is unique.  So, it should be no surprise that the stages of grief are navigated differently by everyone who is forced to endure them.  There is no “gas/accelerator pedal” for the grief process. Duration for each stage is erratic, unpredictable.  And every individual moves at a speed that they are able to handle without losing their mind.  Despite the foolish statements by those “well-intentioned dragons” who suggest one “should be over it by now,” grief moves at its own pace. For example….

It’s been 16 months since I found my 19 year old son dead from suicide behind the locked door of his bedroom.  And just today (9/30) I took another “first step.”

There is a room in our home in which we stored Jordan’s belongings following  his death – his paintings and other works of art, his clothes, and all of those other items like his hats, awards & musical instruments that made Jordan “Jordan.”  I’ve not been able to enter that room without being seized with fear, sadness, anger, and loneliness – until today.  It’s taken 16 months.

I know that Jesus has walked with me every single time I’ve needed to enter that room.  I’m reminded of the Footprints in the Sand story.  Seeing the illustrative vision Jesus had provided of “two sets of footprints”, the individual asks, “Lord, why, during the darkest days of my life, are there only one set of footprints? Where were you?’ Jesus answered, ‘My love, it was at those times I carried you.”

In this crucible we call acute grief, I’ve discovered something:  there’s no going around our grief, nor under it, nor over it.  We must go through it.  For it’s in our grief that we find Jesus, who the Bible describes as “a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.” (Isaiah 53:3)  Furthermore, it’s in our grief that we find a Man who not only empathizes with our grief, but a Savior who absorbed it on the cross.  “Surely He has borne our griefs.”

Why am I sharing this?  Because I want those of you who are grieving to know that though there is now weeping, joy is on its way.  Today, for me, a 16 month “night” finally, and unexpectedly, came to end.  And Joy, Himself, I discovered, was not only waiting for me – He had been with me the entire night.

Jesus is whispering to you, “I’ve got this. Trust Me.”  Be encouraged today.  You’re making it.

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick