Glimpses of Our God; Love Stories

I am writing today from the beautiful Lake Placid Florida Seventh-day Adventist Church.

This week I have been holding revival meetings at the Lake Placid Seventh-day Adventist Church. I love this place! The people are spectacular. Very warm and friendly, and very much interested in learning more about the cross and the love of Jesus. The meetings were designed to be a revival for the church, but anytime a church has a revival it also becomes more fruitful and evangelic. As well as the church members coming for a week of spiritual emphasis, they have also been bringing their friends, and we will be having two baptisms this Sabbath!

I have not written any new material for this week’s Sabbath school lesson, so since this week’s topic is on “love stories” I would like to share a previous post that I wrote a while back on what romance means to me.  Thank you for keeping our meetings in your prayers!

Garments of Grace; A Garment of Innocence

And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons. Genesis 3:7

As soon as sin began legalism began. Adam tried to cover his shame by his own works. However that did not work. Just three verses after Adam makes his own garment, he tells God he ran from Him because he was naked. Why did Adam feel naked after making the fig leaves? Because in the presence of God we look naked, clothed in our own works. Later in verse 21 God clothes Adam in sheepskins, showing him that for his nakedness to be covered the Lamb of God would have to die. Only the death of the Lamb of God can cover our spiritual nakedness.

 

Many look at the modesty, or lack thereof, issue in the light of sex. As we become more and more comfortable seeing everybody’s flesh, sexual immorality is abounding. There is a greater danger to immodesty than just sexual immorality. To really see the danger of immodesty we must look at it in light of the cross. The greatest danger is not immoral sex, but not sensing our shame and need of a Savior. Thus modesty becomes a salvation issue.

Let’s begin in the Garden of Eden. Contrary to popular belief, while Adam and Eve “were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed,” it was not exactly like a nudist colony today. Page 311 of Christ’s Object Lessons says, “A beautiful soft light, the light of God, enshrouded the holy pair. This robe of light was a symbol of their spiritual garments of heavenly innocence. Had they remained true to God it would ever have continued to enshroud them. But when sin entered, they severed their connection with God, and the light that had encircled them departed. Naked and ashamed, they tried to supply the place of the heavenly garments by sewing together fig leaves for a covering.” 

So they weren’t really walking around naked as we think of the word “naked” to begin with. They had a covering. This is why Adam felt naked when he sinned; the covering had been lost. By his own works he tried to cover his nakedness with fig leaves (his own works) but that did not work.. Likewise today, our good works can never cover our spiritual nakedness. Even after making his own clothes from fig leaves, Adam still felt naked in God’s presence. Only Jesus could cover Adam’s shame. Genesis 3:21 says, “Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.” Here is the whole modesty issue in light of the cross. An animal had to die to cover Adam and Eve’s nakedness and shame. Likewise Jesus would have to die naked on a cross in order to ultimately cover our shame. Those who have a sense of modesty and nakedness know they need a Savior to cover their shame. Those who have no sense of shame and modesty sense no need of a Savior.

So more than being a sex issue, proper dress becomes a salvation issue that can only be properly understood, as all other doctrines, in the light of the cross. The fact of the matter is, the further away from God we are the more clothes we take off, but the closer we come to Jesus and accept Him as our Savior, the more we dress properly. In Genesis 3 Adam was naked while running from God. When God found him and presented the plan of salvation and the cross, Adam was then clothed with the animal skins, pointing to Jesus who alone can cover our shame. In Luke 18:27 we find a man wearing no clothes and possessed of devils. However, in verse 35, when he becomes converted we see him clothed and “in his right mind.” Thus, while far from God he had no sense of modesty, but as he became converted and “in his right mind”he began dressing appropriately. This has nothing to do with sexual lust as I seriously doubt such a naked lunatic hanging out in graves would really be a sexual temptation for anyone. So it is today.  The issue today is the same as it was in Luke 18. The man had no sense of modesty when he had no sense of a need for a Savior. Once he sensed his need of a Savior and accepted Christ, he began dressing appropriately as he now saw the issue of dress in the light of the cross.

Now some may say that modesty is a cultural issue. The heathen tribes of Africa all parade around naked because that is their culture. Let’s remember they are called “heathen” tribes for a reason. Also, let’s remember too what Paul says in Galatians 6:14. “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.” In this verse we see that Paul is crucified to the world. The world would be his culture, correct? So it is now the cross and not Paul’s culture that dictates how he dresses and behaves. We also see in Galatians 6:14 that Paul does not glory in his body but in the cross.

At the cross we see the modesty issue as a human dignity issue rather than a sexuality issue. At the cross, while Jesus was being crucified naked, the women “stood afar off”. This had nothing to do with sex. They were not tempted to lust after Jesus as they were there only to show their compassion. As they did so, they did not want to look upon His nakedness in order to protect His human dignity. At the cross we see the importance of human dignity. And when we appreciate the human dignity of all mankind we will not encourage scantily clad bodies on the beach, or on our magazine covers, or anywhere else. In light of the cross, we will teach modesty in dress to all regardless of their age, gender, or culture, as people of all ages, genders and cultures are human and thus all deserve to be treated with the same human dignity that these women showed Jesus.

The Pier in St.Peterburg

At the Pier in St.Petersburg you can enjoy all the beauty of the water without any of the immodest distractions you sometimes see at the beach. 

 

Even in the medical world, where doctors are not necessarily looking at the body in a sexual way, dignity is still a factor. In Counsels on Health, page 364, Ellen White writes: “There should be a much larger number of lady physicians, educated not only to act as trained nurses, but also as physicians. It is a most horrible practice, this revealing the secret parts of women to men, or men being treated by women. Women physicians should utterly refuse to look upon the secret parts of men. Women should be thoroughly educated to work for women, and men to work for men. Let men know that they must go to their own sex and not apply to lady physicians.” Please keep in mind this one paragraph is borrowed from its original context. A balanced view of Sister White’s writings allows us to see that this practice should be followed when and where possible, but in emergencies or extreme situations we may need to be treated by the opposite sex and just trust that they will treat us with the same dignity the opposite gender showed Jesus at the cross. Fact is reality and balanced thinking tells us there are times when clothing or lack thereof is not an option, but let’s let common sense and the Holy Spirit tell us when that is and not our own feelings or even culture.

 

 

Most male doctors will not lust after a female patient as most female doctors will not lust after a male patient. However, lust is not the issue in the light of the cross, but rather human dignity. If modesty and human dignity are an issue in the doctor’s office and at the cross, then would it not also be an issue on the beach, on billboards signs, the silver screen and everywhere else including in the church?

 

Jesus gave His life not only to save us from death but to also cover our nakedness. Wouldn’t dressing modestly be a great way to thank Jesus for dying for us? Likewise, knowing that our brothers and sisters make up the body of Christ, wouldn’t refusing to look upon their naked or half-naked bodies also be a way of treating Christ Himself with the same human dignity that the women showed Jesus at the cross? 

Worship: Conformity, Compromise and Crisis in Worship

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Sunday’s section of this week’s SS lesson asks, “What are some things your own society does not condemn that are clearly condemned by the Bible? More important, how much has society impacted you and the church in regard to these issues? That is, what things clearly condemned in Scripture might the church take too lightly, directly as a result of the influence of society?”

Things that used to shock the world several years ago are now freely accepted by the church. This makes me wonder, is the church following the Word of God, or just trying to stay a few paces behind the world in paganism? In 1939 the world (not the church, the world) was shocked when Rhett Butler told Scarlett, “Frankly my dear I don’t give a d—n” on the silver screen. Today it takes a lot more than that to shock not just the world but the church. Satan is smart enough to make a small gradual effect on the church. Before you know it, things that the world once saw as sinful, the church within time freely condones. It seems as though sin is relative. Well that’s not a bad movie compared to this movie which is even worse. This swimsuit is not that immodest once you consider what they wear on South Beach. Smoking marijuana is not as bad as Crack.  So, are we trying to follow Jesus, or just make sure we are not following the world too closely? Is our goal to be like Jesus, or is it to just not be too much like the world? Could it be that our goal is actually somewhere in between Jesus and the world? Is the Bible our guide, or is society and the Bible our guide?

Being a single Christian man in my forties I am surprised at how many older Christians believe sex outside of marriage is okay. People will not come right out and say it, but I believe many in the church today think the “no sex before marriage” rule only applies to teens. They bend the teachings of the Bible to agree with what is socially acceptable instead of the other way around. Even homosexuality is gaining acceptance in some churches. We are satisfied with the explanation that they must be born that way, totally forgetting the words of Jesus that we must be BORN AGAIN! Fact is, we all are born sinful so we must all be born again, including the homosexual. Of course the sex and entertainment world is not the only area we have let society dictate. I once heard a pastor in Texas say, “a homosexual church is not in any more open rebellion against God’s Word than is a church that keeps Sunday instead of the Bible Sabbath.”

Ancient Israel did not want to be governed by God’s standards, but rather wanted to have a king and be like the other nations. Today some churches want to gauge their success as though it is a worldly business. Instead of comparing themselves to the Word of God, they like to look at growth graphs and charts to gauge success just like worldly businesses do. When we gauge our success the same way the world does, we then try to use the same means to achieve success. I would like to point out at this time Dueteronomy 13:17-18. “He will increase your numbers, as he promised on oath to your ancestors—because you obey the LORD your God by keeping all his commands that I am giving you today and doing what is right in his eyes.” Success comes from the Word of God and not being socially accepted by society. In modern society we have the same challenge as ancient Israel. Are we going to follow God’s Word, or just stay a few paces behind the world?

There is another and more important question that should engage the attention of the churches of today. The apostle Paul declares that “all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” [2 Timothy 3:12.] Why is it, then, that persecution seems in a great degree to slumber?—The only reason is, that the church has conformed to the world’s standard, and therefore awakens no opposition. The religion which is current in our day is not of the pure and holy character that marked the Christian faith in the days of Christ and his apostles. It is only because of the spirit of compromise with sin, because the great truths of the Word of God are so indifferently regarded, because there is so little vital godliness in the church, that Christianity is apparently so popular with the world. Let there be a revival of the faith and power of the early church, and the spirit of persecution will be revived, and the fires of persecution will be rekindled.  {Great Controversy, p. 48}

What Romance Means to Me

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

You may not think that a man who has been single all his life would know about love and romance, but I do. After growing up in the church and over 20 years of ministry I have seen a lot. What I have seen causes me to take love, romantic love more seriously. The media today shows you a shallow love, consisting of  plastic faces, plastic breasts and plastic hearts. I have seen way more than that.

I have stood in the hospital hallway with an 87 year old man, who was crying like a little boy because his wife of 67 years lay sick in the room nearby, close to death. She was his life. They never went anywhere without each other. They washed the dishes together every night because whatever the other was doing, the other wanted to be there. Neither of them ever ran to the post office alone. They went together because they loved being together. I ask myself, am I ready for that kind of love? By the way, the wife did not die. She is still alive, but her husband died a few months ago. She still talks about him all the time.

Marriage is for life. If I fall in love like that, will I one day have to mourn the death of my spouse? Or will she mourn my death? I remember a story about an old man standing at the fresh grave of his wife of many decades. As he stood there, he was overheard saying, “It ended  exactly how I wanted it to. She died first.” Let that sink in. It may not mean what you think. If I fall in love and get married I will not want to lose my wife and hopefully she would not want to lose me. Selfishness would make me want to die first so that I can get out of grieving her death when she goes. A lot of selfless love was behind the old man’s words when he said he was glad she died first so that she would not have to grieve. He grieved instead. That’s love. I believe that’s what Paul talks about in 1 Corinthians 13.

I have seen a wife taking care of her sick husband day after day year after year. Because of his sickness it has been years since he was capable of doing anything for her. Even when he was well he was not the most faithful. Still she cares for him night and day year after year. Why? Because she made a vow 35 years ago. In her eyes, his lack of integrity on his vow did not loosen her from her vow. She still makes good on that vow every day. Wow! That’s love. That’s romance.

Being single is such a convenient way to be selfish. I am single so I can say that. I am not saying I am selfish, or all single people are selfish. I have heard it said that God gave us the Sabbath and tithing plan to help us systematically overcome selfishness. The Sabbath helps us overcome selfishness with our time, and tithe, the same with our money. Well I believe you can add marriage as another way to systematically overcome selfishness with both time and money.

I see married men and women spending their time and money unselfishly and making sacrifices every day. I may have never married yet, but I know what real love is. I have seen it, not on the silver screen, but in the daily lives of ordinary people.  Well, ordinary people to Hollywood maybe, but they are heroes to me. Heroes not because of a one-time heroic effort, but life long day after day heroes.

I am sorry if this post appears morbid or depressing. I just want people to know how I think. In my ministry I see things others may or may not see. When I think about romance, and believe it or not I do think about it, I don’t think about William and Kate in a fancy carriage. I think about the man who spends his last dime to keep his wife alive from some rare disease. I don’t think about the rich doctor who shows up at ritzy parties with his cute little perfectly proportioned nurse. I think about the man who works two jobs and comes home every night to care for his wife who is recovering from a mastectomy. That’s the world that I live in and see every day. That’s what love and romance means to me.

Garments of Grace; A Garment of Innocence

Here is an essay I wrote a while back, which I thought was relevant to this week’s SS lesson. (Download Sabbath School Guides to your cell phone here.)

Many look at the modesty, or lack thereof, issue in the light of sex. As we become more and more comfortable seeing everybody’s flesh, sexual immorality is abounding. There is a greater danger to immodesty than just sexual immorality. To really see the danger of immodesty we must look at it in light of the cross. The greatest danger is not immoral sex, but not sensing our shame and need of a Savior. Thus modesty becomes a salvation issue.

Let’s begin in the Garden of Eden. Contrary to popular belief, while Adam and Eve “were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed,” it was not exactly like a nudist colony today. Page 311 of Christ’s Object Lessons says, “A beautiful soft light, the light of God, enshrouded the holy pair. This robe of light was a symbol of their spiritual garments of heavenly innocence. Had they remained true to God it would ever have continued to enshroud them. But when sin entered, they severed their connection with God, and the light that had encircled them departed. Naked and ashamed, they tried to supply the place of the heavenly garments by sewing together fig leaves for a covering.” 

So they weren’t really walking around naked as we think of the word “naked” to begin with. They had a covering. This is why Adam felt naked when he sinned; the covering had been lost. By his own works he tried to cover his nakedness with fig leaves (his own works) but that did not work.. Likewise today, our good works can never cover our spiritual nakedness. Even after making his own clothes from fig leaves, Adam still felt naked in God’s presence. Only Jesus could cover Adam’s shame. Genesis 3:21 says, “Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.” Here is the whole modesty issue in light of the cross. An animal had to die to cover Adam and Eve’s nakedness and shame. Likewise Jesus would have to die naked on a cross in order to ultimately cover our shame. Those who have a sense of modesty and nakedness know they need a Savior to cover their shame. Those who have no sense of shame and modesty sense no need of a Savior.

So more than being a sex issue, proper dress becomes a salvation issue that can only be properly understood, as all other doctrines, in the light of the cross. The fact of the matter is, the further away from God we are the more clothes we take off, but the closer we come to Jesus and accept Him as our Savior, the more we dress properly. In Genesis 3 Adam was naked while running from God. When God found him and presented the plan of salvation and the cross, Adam was then clothed with the animal skins, pointing to Jesus who alone can cover our shame. In Luke 18:27 we find a man wearing no clothes and possessed of devils. However, in verse 35, when he becomes converted we see him clothed and “in his right mind.” Thus, while far from God he had no sense of modesty, but as he became converted and “in his right mind”he began dressing appropriately. This has nothing to do with sexual lust as I seriously doubt such a naked lunatic hanging out in graves would really be a sexual temptation for anyone. So it is today.  The issue today is the same as it was in Luke 18. The man had no sense of modesty when he had no sense of a need for a Savior. Once he sensed his need of a Savior and accepted Christ, he began dressing appropriately as he now saw the issue of dress in the light of the cross.

Now some may say that modesty is a cultural issue. The heathen tribes of Africa all parade around naked because that is their culture. Let’s remember they are called “heathen” tribes for a reason. Also, let’s remember too what Paul says in Galatians 6:14. “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.” In this verse we see that Paul is crucified to the world. The world would be his culture, correct? So it is now the cross and not Paul’s culture that dictates how he dresses and behaves. We also see in Galatians 6:14 that Paul does not glory in his body but in the cross.

At the cross we see the modesty issue as a human dignity issue rather than a sexuality issue. At the cross, while Jesus was being crucified naked, the women “stood afar off”. This had nothing to do with sex. They were not tempted to lust after Jesus as they were there only to show their compassion. As they did so, they did not want to look upon His nakedness in order to protect His human dignity. At the cross we see the importance of human dignity. And when we appreciate the human dignity of all mankind we will not encourage scantily clad bodies on the beach, or on our magazine covers, or anywhere else. In light of the cross, we will teach modesty in dress to all regardless of their age, gender, or culture, as people of all ages, genders and cultures are human and thus all deserve to be treated with the same human dignity that these women showed Jesus.

The Pier in St.Peterburg

At the Pier in St.Petersburg you can enjoy all the beauty of the water without any of the immodest distractions you sometimes see at the beach. 

 

Even in the medical world, where doctors are not necessarily looking at the body in a sexual way, dignity is still a factor. In Counsels on Health, page 364, Ellen White writes: “There should be a much larger number of lady physicians, educated not only to act as trained nurses, but also as physicians. It is a most horrible practice, this revealing the secret parts of women to men, or men being treated by women. Women physicians should utterly refuse to look upon the secret parts of men. Women should be thoroughly educated to work for women, and men to work for men. Let men know that they must go to their own sex and not apply to lady physicians.” Please keep in mind this one paragraph is borrowed from its original context. A balanced view of Sister White’s writings allows us to see that this practice should be followed when and where possible, but in emergencies or extreme situations we may need to be treated by the opposite sex and just trust that they will treat us with the same dignity the opposite gender showed Jesus at the cross. Fact is reality and balanced thinking tells us there are times when clothing or lack thereof is not an option, but let’s let common sense and the Holy Spirit tell us when that is and not our own feelings or even culture.

 

 

Most male doctors will not lust after a female patient as most female doctors will not lust after a male patient. However, lust is not the issue in the light of the cross, but rather human dignity. If modesty and human dignity are an issue in the doctor’s office and at the cross, then would it not also be an issue on the beach, on billboards signs, the silver screen and everywhere else including in the church?

 

Jesus gave His life not only to save us from death but to also cover our nakedness. Wouldn’t dressing modestly be a great way to thank Jesus for dying for us? Likewise, knowing that our brothers and sisters make up the body of Christ, wouldn’t refusing to look upon their naked or half-naked bodies also be a way of treating Christ Himself with the same human dignity that the women showed Jesus at the cross?  

Matthew 19; Single People Are Kind of Like Real People

 
 
 

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

 

 

 

The disciples said to him, “If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry.”   Jesus replied, “Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given. For there are eunuchs who were born that way, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others—and there are those who choose to live like eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.” Matthew 19:10-12 

 

  I don’t usually make a big deal either way about being single. I don’t think of myself as a “single person”, I just think of myself as a “person”.  While I have heard other single people complain about married people treating them differently, I can only count on one hand the number of married people who have treated me differently because of my single status.  98% of the people I come in contact with treat me no differently than if I was married.    I don’t believe in discriminating between marital or single statuses any more than race or anything else. I simply think of myself as a person regardless of single staus or race or religion and I simply think of other people as people regardless of their statuses.

 

 

 Okay, I agree that celibacy is not the norm. I also totally agree that being single does not make you more holy. (Of course being married does not make you more holy either.) Yes, the Scriptures tell us that Peter was married. However the scriptures also tell us Paul was not married at the time of his ministry and even more so Jesus was never married. So- are Paul and Jesus unnatural misfits?  While Jesus and the scriptures never forbade marriage, Jesus and Paul both have given us enough counsel to see that celibacy has many spiritual advantages. (Matthew 19:12, 1 Corinthians 7)Satan always takes things God says to extremes. For example Satan suggested to Eve that God told her she could not eat of “any” of the trees when in reality He only told her not to eat from one. While the Bible clearly suggests that it is good for some people not to marry, the Bible never forbade marriage and even warns us in 1 Timothy 4 that the antichrist would be the one who forbids marriage. Clearly extremism is to be avoided. No one has to get married and no one has to remain single. I will gladly admit that being married can and should lead one to be a better Christian, and also admit that being single is a very convenient way to be selfish. There is no one as free as a single adult. You answer to neither spouse nor parent. You just do whatever you want whenever you want. (Now in my case add to this that even my job is really not a job but rather my passion. So I have no one in my world telling me what to do other than my boss who just tells me to do what I want to do anyway! I can not begin to describe what a wonderful feeling that is!). While marriage calls for self sacrifice there are many wonderful single Christians who crucify self every day while there are many married people who never think of their spouse or children. While many people say that you have to be married to understand what it takes to make a marriage work, I somewhat disagree. I do know exactly what it takes to make a marriage work and maybe that is why I have chosen to remain single to this point in my life. On the other hand you have married people who are married only because they did not know what it took, or they found their wedding vows to be too inconvenient. I know of many single people who have sacrificed to care for the needs of neglected children who are not their own, even though they never made a vow to. There are many single aunts and uncles, “big brothers” and “big sisters” out there who will never get a Father’s Day or Mother’s Day card though they are quite deserving of one.There are those who believe an elder must be married to give counsel to families. While I have never been a husband or father, I have been a son, brother, uncle, nephew and grandson. So I have been in a family and I do know how families work. Also please don’t slaughter Paul’s counsel to Timothy to mean that you have to be married to be an elder. As 98% of Bible scholars clearly understand, Paul simply meant no more than one wife. Not that you must have one wife. Is ones ability to be a spiritual leader dependant upon being married or being anointed by the Lord? I had someone tell me once that I could not be an elder because Paul says that an elder must rule well his own home. Well I do rule my own home well, by not marrying anyone who would corrupt my home. I heard someone say once that I could not be an elder because I can’t counsel with married people because I don’t know what it is like to be married. So if married elders are the only ones who can help married people then wouldn’t single elders be the only ones who could help single people? But single people don’t need or deserve elders who understand them? Only married people deserve elders who can relate to them? See what happens when we slaughter Paul’s teachings? The logic just gets more and more absurd. 
 
 
 
  Okay now I am going to talk about an obvious issue here- sex. Single people long for intimacy just like everyone else. However not all sex is intimacy and not all intimacy has to be sex. As a matter of fact I read a book once about sexual purity that stated that many people will have sex to avoid intimacy! Intimacy takes place in the mind and heart, not the sex organs. Getting naked together does not make you intimate until you have shared your heart and mind.  I know married people who are still very lonely and some even celibate. In the 5th volume of the Testimonies Ellen White writes of a man who had sexual issues that not even marriage could cure. Marriage is not the sole solution for intimacy.  Neither is marriage necessarily the solution for sexual desires.  What I long for is a woman that I can sit and talk with for hours while it only seems like a few moments. A few years ago, I lost a friend to breast cancer, who had a double mastectomy. When I started visiting her in the hospital, we quickly became friends and could talk and laugh together easily. I really enjoyed her company and while I don’t know what was going on in her mind, the day she died, she told me that she really wished we could have known each other longer here on earth. I’m not sure, but it seemed she was implying that she may have liked me for more than just a friend. If she had lived, the fact that she didn’t have a perfect body would not have gotten in the way of our relationship. She and I could talk together forever, and I loved every moment with her. Please understand that marriage does not guarantee intimacy and being celibate does not prevent it.  The Bible condones marriage or celibacy. Married people can be beautiful Christians, and their marriages can be a living example of what a true self sacrificing Christian ought to be. On the other hand single people can be very devoted to their families, church families and most of all to Jesus.

 

 

 

 

  

I really appreciated a recent men’s ministry convention I attended. For years our church’s preaching and teaching has centered around married people and the message to single people has been, “Listen to this message – it will help you when you get married.” But this time, while they talked about married men and their ministry to their family, instead of telling us single guys that we could apply these teachings later when we get married, they taught us how to apply them now to our church family and our friends who are all around us. They emphasized that even though we are single, we make a significant impact on the lives around us today. They treated us like we were real people!

 

  

What a contrast to the Valentine’s banquet I attended in another state around ten years ago. Several of us singles sat at a table while the emcee spent the evening recognizing married couples and their accomplishments. That is all well and fine, after all it was a Valentine’s banquet, what do you expect? The problem came at the end when the emcee tried to “console” us single people by telling us even though we were single, we were still “kind of like real people.”

Thank you to the 98% who treat me like a real person even though I have chosen to remain single up to this point in my life. Thank you for letting me live my life as a “person” instead of a “single person.” To all I pray these thoughts will be enlightening and a blesssing in your christian walk and fellowship. 

 

Sharing Jesus on Myspace

n529924774_1066451_1248I am writing again from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: 

And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.  Deuteronomy 6:6-9

 

God wanted the Israelites to know what they were all about. He also wanted the Israelites to let everyone else know that they were all about the Gospel of their Creator and Redeemer. Sure they had other interests too from various forms of work and recreation, but what was posted on their gates and houses was what they were all about.

 

What are you all about?

 

On a recent trip from Florida to Tennessee to see my sister I became hungry for some fast Mexican food. Soon I saw the sign for Taco Bell. Now the sign and the name told me right away this would be a Mexican restaurant. Their sign told me what they are all about. That is good. I needed to know what they were all about and they needed me to know what they were all about. If I wanted hamburgers then I needed to go elsewhere. Hamburgers were not what they were about.

 

You may not realize it but you have signs that tell people what you are all about. What is that catchy slogan on your t-shirt? What is that poster people see on your bedroom wall as soon as they open the door? What is the first picture people see when they log into your Myspace? It is what you are all about. That’s good. Really, no matter what you have on your bedroom wall or Myspace it is good that you are telling people what you are all about. That way you only attract people who need what it is that you are all about. If I want hamburgers then I don’t need to waste my time going to Taco Bell, and if I am searching for Jesus and the hope the gospel brings then I don’t need to waste my time on a website offering pornography and vice versa.

 

When Jesus walked the earth whether or not you liked Him, you always knew what He was all about. In chapter 53 Isaiah says, “There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance, nothing to attract us to him.” NLT That’s not to say he was ugly just that He was not all about His physical appearance. No doubt many women were attracted to Him but not for physical reasons but for a higher purpose. Physical attraction was not what Christ was all about. Now Christ loves beauty and He loves for people to be physically beautiful just as much as He loves a beautiful sunset or lush green meadow. Christ just made it clear what He was really all about. The nail scarred hands. The eyes of tenderness, His smile of hope tell us what He is all about.

 

In 1 Peter 3:3-4 Peter tells wives with unbelieving husbands to let them know what they are all about. “Whose adorning let it not be that outward [adorning] of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But [let it be] the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, [even the ornament] of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.” In this context we see Peter is not condemning physical attraction but is rather telling wives, “make it clear what you are all about. Not physical carnal things but something deeper and more spiritual from the heart.”

 

It’s all well and good for a man to be physically attracted to a woman and vice versa. However we need to attract people to what we are all about. They need to know. The Israelites did not spend all day just posting the gospel on their gates and homes, but by having it posted there people knew what they were all about. It’s a different world today. We don’t post things on our gates and homes necessarily but we do post things other places. What is posted on your Myspace right now? Whatever it is, that is what you are telling the world and heaven you are all about. Some children are scared to let their parents or mentors find their Myspace. If you are afraid of someone you respect finding your Myspace then you may ask yourself why that is. Are you hiding something? An inspired author writes that Christians are to be transparent as the sunlight with nothing to hide and no facades. By the way, your parents and mentors know when you have one Myspace for the world to see and then another one that is more appropriate that you try to pass off as your only Myspace. If you think they have not found it or seen what you do not want them to, still your friends and your Savior have found it and they know what you are all about. Embarrassed? I hope not. If you are, then look by faith into those tender eyes of pity. Place your hand into His nail scared hands and ask His forgiveness. Not forgiveness for an inappropriate picture or slogan you have posted but even more so for not being all about the One Who is all about you. Funny how the One who sees and knows everything about us suddenly has the worst memory in the universe when we ask His forgiveness!

 

Sexy pictures and dirty talk are all rampant on the Internet. You can find it anywhere and everywhere. Ask yourself if that is what you want to be. Ask yourself what you are really all about. Ask yourself if the things you have on your Myspace really represent your ambition in life. I don’t know what you have on your personal Myspace but I can guarantee you, you were meant for more than what is mostly out there. Sadly many people are looking for that sort of thing but if so let them find it somewhere else not with you. Meanwhile there are people looking for more than a sexy face or dirty joke. They are looking for a Savior. Will they find Him on your Myspace?

 

Jesus says not to hide the light under a bushel. When I was hungry for Mexican food I needed to see the sign. I needed to know what Taco Bell was all about. They did not hide their sign from me. They made it easy for me to find them. Meanwhile there are millions starving for the gospel. Will they find it on your Myspace or will they just find what is found on any typical teenagers Myspace? Please let people know what you are all about and offer them something special that they won’t find on just any Myspace. Please help people meet Jesus on your Myspace. After all, that is what you are all about, right?

 

Whether it is our house our gates, or our Internet, What we have posted is what we are all about.

 

Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil.  1 Thessalonians 5:21-22

 

I want to apologize now if anything I have written so far has come across as being judgmental or condemning. I don’t mean to assume your Myspace is inappropriate but at the same time my purpose here is to help us take a good look at ourselves and let God make the appropriate changes. I know many who desire to be all about God but temptations and peer pressure make it an uphill battle. I have had to erase my words on page and take back some spoken words when I realized that what I had said or written was not really what I wanted to be about. By trial and error and the grace of God I have found some ways to stay focused on what I am all about. The Internet can be a world of good as well as a world of evil. Please let me pass along some ideas I have found to help us remember and stay focused on what we are all about.

 

Preserving and protecting what you are all about.

 

Accountability Accountability Accountability!!! Did I mention accountability? I hope so because it is so important in keeping us honest and on the right track. Accountability does not infer that you are a bad person. Accountability is just a healthy way of life. Our church has an excellent church treasurer. She is as honest as the day is long. However every church board meeting she brings a financial report and gives accountability. Why? Not because we do not trust her of course we do! Accountability is just a way to document who we are and what we are about. On the Internet we need to give accountability. What that means is our parents and spiritual mentors need to know what is going on just like an honest church treasure lets people know what is going on. Honest people don’t hide things and say ‘don’t you trust me?” Honest people put everything out in the open.”  This is especially true when it comes to the Internet.

 

Many people recommend having the computer in a family room where everyone frequents. It does not belong in the parent’s bedroom or the child’s bedroom. It belongs in the living room or some part of the house the entire family shares. This makes a lot of sense. It keeps us honest. Now in my case I am a single person who lives alone. So any room I have is a private room. Still there are measures I take to provide accountability. I do not have my own Internet connection at home so I am often on the Internet at the church or public library.  This is my way of avoiding the appearance of evil or opening the door for temptations. Since I am single and have no wife or children to keep an eye on me I have an accountability system with a friend in Texas where if I go to an inappropriate site he will know about it and talk to me about it. I am glad to report that he has never had to call me so far. You can find various systems like this on the Internet.

There are various forms of evil on the Internet, not just sexual immorality. I am a mystery buff and I have caught myself staying up all night reading true life crime mysteries till it hit me that the amount of time I was spending on this subject just wasn’t healthy. Many of these stories I ran across while surfing. So I simply don’t surf anymore. I have an agenda when I get on the Internet. Let’s say I need to pay a bill online, check my email and see what the weather will be like tomorrow for my golf game. Then I do those three things and then get off the Internet. I believe that many of us have good intentions and don’t get on the computer to look for evil but when we are just aimlessly surfing we find it or it finds us, so just like when we write a grocery list and then go home as soon as we find everything on the list instead of continuing to roam the store, we need an agenda for the Internet and then get off once we have completed our agenda.

 

Passwords. Some one needs to know your password. If you are a teenager, then sorry, but your parents need to know your password. They need to know what pictures you are posting and what you are writing. They also need to know who you have been communicating with. You may value your privacy but I can assure you it is not as valuable as your safety and your salvation! I am not saying your folks need to read every e-mail you write or text you send but if they do then that’s their business not mine. What I am saying is they need access. They need to know what is going on. They need to do “spot checks” so that there is accountability and checks and balances. Remember trustworthy people don’t hide things.

 

Of course you don’t need your dad reading the e-mail you sent Aunt Miriam about the surprise birthday party you are throwing him, but it is still okay for dad to know that you have Aunt Miriam in your address book and you do correspond with her. That’s a good thing.

 

Now I should not have to tell you how stupid and dangerous it is to chat online with people you don’t know much less trust. You may have seen the “To Catch A Predator” shows on NBC’s Dateline. The predators are stupid but also how smart can you be to be 14 years old and arrange a meeting with a grownup you have never met before without your parents being there. That is just stupid! You don’t really need to be meeting with any adult without your parents or other adult friends being there much less alone with a stranger. Please tell me you will never do something this stupid so we can just go on now. Thank you, I knew you were smarter than that.

 

I know I am not a pioneer in writing when I tell you that it is by beholding that we become changed. This cliché has been repeated a million times because it is true. We need to be careful what we see on the Internet as well as what we post. I love to write and have been writing blogs and devotionals on the Internet ever since I got my first computer. There are a lot of things I would love to write about but I don’t because I don’t want to distract people from my main purpose in writing and that is to bring people to Jesus. I have been tempted to write political blogs and sports blogs and all, but I have to ask myself over and over what I’m all about. I am not saying everyone should just write religious dissertations all the time. At the same time we all have a purpose and once again we need to be finding and sharing something that is not easily found elsewhere and that is Jesus. People can find sports and political blogs anywhere. I want to offer something that can’t be found just anywhere. I hope you feel the same way. Lets let Paul have the final words as he says, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things [are] honest, whatsoever things [are] just, whatsoever things [are] pure, whatsoever things [are] lovely, whatsoever things [are] of good report; if [there be] any virtue, and if [there be] any praise, think on these things.” Philippians 4:8 

 

 

Sharing Jesus on Myspace

 

 

And he departed, and began to publish in Decapolis how great things Jesus had done for him: and all [men] did marvel.  Mark 5:20

 

In Mark chapter 5 we read about a man who was possessed by demons until Jesus came and set him free. The man now goes abroad and publishes in Decapolis what great things Jesus had done for him. This man like everyone else who has had an encounter with Jesus just had to share Him with others. Even when Jesus told people not to tell what He had done for them, they just couldn’t contain themselves and had to share it with the whole world. It is the same today. If you have had a real experience with Jesus Christ than you too will want to share Him all over the place-including the Internet!

 

The man in Mark 5 published where he could. His audience was Decapolis and his venue was his mouth. Today we publish many ways but posting our story on the Internet is one of them. Our venue can be the Internet. Let’s take Myspace for example.

 

There are several resources where you can find videos, music, backgrounds and more to help you publish and post what you are all about. Here are two places I found helpful:

http://www.christianmyspacecodes.com/

http://christianmyspace.com/

 

Why not also include on your myspace ways for people to find out more about Jesus? Now you don’t need to make a spectacle of yourself to do this. Some people get annoyed if you bang on their door asking to do Bible studies, but by just sharing a link you give them a non intimidating opportunity to check something out. Here are some ideas:

 

http://bibleschools.com/

 Is the website for the Discover Bible School. You may take lessons online or through the mail however they want. Lessons are available in the kidzone section for kids and early teens. Check it out!

 

http://www.cornerstoneconnections.net/index.php

Is the website for the cornerstone Bible Study lessons for young people. Many churches use these in their Sabbath School lessons.

 

http://www.tampaadventist.net/

Is the website for my church. You may wish to share your church’s website. By sharing your church’s website you are sharing a little more about your world and who you are as well as sharing Jesus.

 

http://www.amazingfacts.org/

Is a site filled with all kinds of free studies and material about Jesus.

 

http://inlightofthecross.com/

And of course you can share my site that I have put together with all kinds of studies and inspirational stories and pictures.

 

Of course there are a lot more sites and resources our there that will help you share Jesus and let the whole world know what you are all about but this is a start.

 

Here are some parting thoughts. In Revelation 3:5 Jesus says, “He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.” 

Can you imagine anything more exciting than your name rolling off the lips of Jesus as He brags about you before the Father? Jesus is just as excited when we brag about Him before our friends! In Luke 9:26 Jesus says, “For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and [in his] Father’s, and of the holy angels.”  It is so crazy how Satan tries to get us to be too embarrassed to share Jesus. We should be proud of all that Jesus has done for us! We should never be afraid or embarrassed to share Jesus anytime and anywhere in the right way.

 

Isaiah says in Isaiah 50:4, “The Lord GOD hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to [him that is] weary.” There are many soul weary people today that could use an encouraging word from Jesus. Will you pass that encouraging word along on your Myspace? In Psalms 63:1 David cries out, “my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is.”  Many like David today are hungering and thirsting for Jesus in a land where people want to talk about their sports, fashions and looks, their money and sex lives, everything imaginable except Jesus who is the exactly what this world is hungering and thirsting for. Your Myspace could be the difference in someone’s life. On Myspace you will find all kinds of people sharing their dark feelings in their profiles. Some are depressed and even suicidal. Some are struggling with self destructive addictions. All over the web they can find things to feed their addictions and suicidal tendencies. I pray that on your website they will find something different. I pray they will find Jesus.