Saturday, June 27, 2015

Clarity On Love, Clarity On Christianity

For the sake of love of people and for the love of our God, it is imperative that people know where Christianity stands on all the banter and misconception, regarding gays, in light of the recent SCOTUS decision. While I won't dare attempt to speak for every ChristIAN, I can speak on behalf of the ideals of ChristianITY.

WE LOVE YOU. Whoever, whatever you are. I see responses, both from Christians and those outside of the church. We all do. They quote, sometimes mis-quote, or in error they misrepresent, and remove from context, scriptures such as ..."Love your neighbor as yourself" (Mark 12:31 NIV). "Do not judge, or you too will be judged." (Matthew 7:1 NIV).

I am grateful for these expressed  ideas of love, of not wrongly judging others, while failing to recognize our own sinfulness. Rightly intended, at least by many who may support the idea of gay unions, or a homosexual lifestyle, etc., and by many who follow Jesus Christ. But do not be mislead to believe that a right lack of judgment is the same as condoning. Follow me here....

As the church of Jesus Christ, as those of us committed to being Christ-followers, we vow to live our lives out based on these very ideas, even these commandments, of God's provided, inspired, word. This is where clarification is in order. We (those who follow, and believe in, Jesus Christ as Lord, as Savior) trust God's word to us, and  ALL of His word. We do not, at least without a convicted spirit, pick and parse God's word (the Bible) to meet our own needs. Instead we take it as it is, for what it actually says, and in the cultural, timely, context in which it guides us. At least that is the idea. God's idea.

It is not my intent to perform a bible study session here. If is not my intent to provide an exhaustive exegesis (critical explanation or interpretation of a text, especially of scripture). It IS my intent to clarify where Christ stood, and calls us to stand, on these ideas of judgment, of love.

When Jesus said, as is recorded in Matthew, "Do not judge others, and you will not be judged." please understand who He was speaking to. This was stressed to "followers". Specifically, He was teaching His disciples; those who chose to follow Him. They left homes, means of living, family, to follow Jesus. He was NOT speaking to those outside the very people who (wisely) committed to The Way. By proxy, others were  there to hear His teaching, and surely some chose to follow.

Paul, an apostle of Christ said this.... "It isn't my responsibility to judge outsiders, but it certainly is your responsibility to judge those INSIDE [emphasis mine] the church who are sinning." (1 Corinthians 5:12)

There IS s judgment which we, as Believers, are to honor. That is. call other Christians to pursue holiness. To right another...when another Follower is living, doing, outside the precepts of God's will. We cannot judge anyone outside the church. They do not, cannot, have the same  mind and will of Christ. Simply, they have not made s decision to do so. Therefore, any "judgment" brought by people is outdide of God's intent, and certainly outside of our ability. Only God can, and will, provide judgment. Believers are, biblically, to hold one another accountable. (Hebrews 10:24-25, Proverbs 27:17).

What Christianity can, and should, do is to "love thy neighbor", to not stand in judgment, but to express a warning, a truth, of how Almighty God views sin. We obtain that truth, in context of the whole, from scripture.

If Christ-followers are judging those who have not accepted and believed in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior ...they are taking on a role for which they are not equipped, are not authorized, nor commanded.

We ARE commanded to go into the world, to preach the saving gospel truth to all who will hear it, and to baptize Believers (Acts 1:8, Mark 16:15). It stands to reason that a Christ-follower would warn an un-believer about his/her sin, and lostness, short of Jesus Christ. And if we approach an un-believer about sin without expressing the grace if Christ ...we are in error; great error.

We ARE called to agree with God about sin. That is, if God calls a thing "sin" it is disobedient of us,  as followers, to attempt to white-wash it or call evil good (Isaiah 5:20). Scripture classifies homosexuality, among other things, as sin (see this explanation at

Conclusively, as Christ-followers, we must agree with what God says about the thing. Yet, we cannot place, or pass, judgment on a non-believer. We cannot because we cannot expect those without Christ in their lives to even begin to behave as one redeemed by Christ;  a gift which is made available to all, by God's grace, through Christ (John 3:16).

Christianity cannot condone the sin of homosexuality. Christianity cannot agree with it. Christianity cannot call what God calls sin ....anything otherwise. God's word, in all contexts, is clear.

We ARE called to love. To love our neighbor, to love those without Christ into a loving, forgiven, relationship with Him ....and to trust in the work of The Holy Spirit to change that person so that they too will agree with God, and His Holy word, about sin.

Christians are the guides to the only One who "can" redeem; the One who has already performed the work to do so. Following, believing ...that is up to you. We are the messenger, the bringer of good news, of hope. Not better. Just surrendered.

Let us be clear. We CAN love the sinner, and despise the sin itself. Why? Because of love. It is the Christians' desire that you be set free from what God calls sin, just as we were! How awful, how selfish, how mean, how hypocritical would we be if we didn't desire that you, too, avoid the self-condemning folly of rejecting Jesus Christ as Lord, as Savior. Whether you think that is true or false a different matter altogether. And God gives us ALL (meaning, every human) the freedom to believe, or to not.

When we speak should be, in love.
"Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church." (Ephesians 4:15)

"If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn't love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God's secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn't love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn't love others, I would have gained nothing. Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever! Now our knowledge is partial and incomplete, and even the gift of prophecy reveals only part of the whole picture! But when the time of perfection comes, these partial things will become useless. When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely. Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love." (1 Corinthians 13:1-13)

-Steve Terrell

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Slaves In The Land of Plenty

With history as our teacher... may God compel us, as a nation, a people, not to continue on our present path of stubborn disobedience, even distain, to Him. Will this describe America?
-Steve Terrell

"But our ancestors were proud and stubborn, and they paid no attention to your commands. They refused to obey and did not remember the miracles you had done for them. Instead, they became stubborn and appointed a leader to take them back to their slavery in Egypt." -- "So now today we are slaves in the land of plenty that you gave our ancestors for their enjoyment! We are slaves here in this good land." (Nehemiah 9:16-17,36)

Sin, The Hostile Takeover of Society

Either we live in support of the degradation of our society or we work actively to overcome these things, which most in our culture, would say we find abhorant. You fill in the topic with your favorite theme from today's headlines.

There is no in between. Sin a hostile takeover of God's plan. The only way to combat sin is through trusting Jesus Christ; that He is Lord, and wilfully surrendering to Him as Lord of our own lives. Then, we begin to grow in Him, in His teaching, through God's word. Under our own power ...we will fight sin for a day, before we simply find ourselves agreeing to a way to just live with it. -Steve Terrell

"Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has become a child of God. And everyone who loves the Father loves his children, too. We know we love God's children if we love God and obey his commandments. Loving God means keeping his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome. For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith. And who can win this battle against the world? Only those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God." (1John 5:1-5 NLT)

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

United, We Stand

Until we, as a nation, figure out for what it is we are united ...we will only become more and more divided. All while the rest of the world watches. Communities killing communities. Division over symbols. Racial hatred conjured from self-destruction. It is mere distraction, for now. Instead of community ...we are equally at war with ourselves as with others throughout the world. This is a slow national suicide. Flags do not define us, but they do remind us, and symbolize a heritage long sought after by other countrymen from all over the world. Is our great land still desirable? I believe it is! The ex-patriots who still take up her turf are not so desirable. We really need to revisit why we are who we are, then be that nation, together. One nation, under God, indivisable, with liberty and justice for all. Join us in being a community nation, or feel free to move on to somewhere where your selfish extreme individuality can be fleshed out and burned out. It is time that we stand together for a single, good purpose ...instead of fighting the un-winable battle for individuality. You'll soon have no platform on which to stand.

-Steve Terrell

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

It Is Time

Time for what? And who am I speaking to? Time to get honest, real honest, about the broken world we live in. I'm speaking to all of us, all of you. Saved, un-saved, and those who believe such monickers are nonsense. Again, let's get real honest. Before I read another article demonstrating how our society is flying apart.

It is time stop soft-selling Christianity. And when I say it's time is surely way past time. But we can't undo the past. Onward. Forward. Trusting God to fill in our gaps, if we are faithful His faithfulness. Believer... do we mean it when we proclaim Jesus as "the way, the truth, the life?

Stop! Look at the world around you. Look at our culture, and how it is changing. I'm sorry ...we are not getting "better". I'll not list the examples to prove that. I won't insult your intelligence by quantifying the statement.

Flying a flag, or denying one, won't succeed in making a better place to live. It'll never be good enough. Our marches won't succeed in changing hearts and minds. We'll only succeed in clarifying or division. "Equality" is a myth. Those who strive to find it will be the very ones to ultimately break their own rules. We are selfish. We ARE all sinners ....fallen short of God's glorious standard. Only faith in Christ can change how we live, who / what we are.

Give me a better eternal solution than Jesus Christ, as Scripture promises Him to be?? The living word, the same yesterday, today, and forever. We're not going to save this world. That's reality. It's time to find yourself a part of Christ' community, with a group of equally imperfect believers, a church! It's time to really open God's word, study it, hide it in our hearts. The day soon may come that it is the only place we might dwell on it. The GOOD NEWS!

The more hopeless this world becomes ...the more our hope is solidified in the shed blood of Jesus Christ. That used to be a firm truth. It has "progressed" as cliché, silliness. Now, it is "offensive". Soon will be vilified.

So, it is time. Pick a side. Choose, this day, whom you will serve. It won't be pretty, whatever your choice. But, pick a side.

And indeed ...I say this in love. Not subtleness. Not cultural, nor political, correctness. But in LOVE. Love for you, as God's creation.

Pick a side. It is time.

-Steve Terrell

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Minding Our Business (Relevance Is Relative)

"...and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one." (1 Thes. 4:11-12)

I am a little concerned that the church, today, may be overly-concerned with "being relevent", to the neglect of good practical advice, such as that given to the Thessalonian church by Paul (scripture above).

That said, and before someone uses it against me, I fully realize that Paul, himself, believed in being relevent to the culture around him. (1 Cor. 9:20) Rightly so. Indeed, the church should, with wisdom and with discernment, be selective about what lengths it goes to in order to be "in the world, not of the world"; if I dare use the old, and vague, cliché.

I think that is precisely my point. Let's not allow relevence to become an idol. Should we go to all, any, ridiculous lengths to be so acceptable to the world? Are we not different? We ARE set apart. We ARE different. Indeed, a peculiar people.

Let's allow faith to do ITS' work. We should pray, constantly, as to how we act, or react, to "the world", and how much we look or sound like it.

Monday, June 1, 2015

A Beautiful Request

If you pray, "how" do you pray? What do you ask for? And why? Do we think that whatever we ask, of God, it will satisfy (us or Him)? Do we think it will last? Or like everything we own, ever have owned, or ever will own, do we know that it will all turn to dust? And I use the word "own" loosely. What is or our motivation? What is our purpose? What is the point?? The point in living, in dying? What can possibly be worth pursuing?

Here's what I mean by... a beautiful request! In scripture, King Solomon (David's son) asked for something seemingly simplistic. It might even appear that he just wasted an opportunity when God said to him.... "What do you want? Ask, and I shall give it to you." (2 Chronicles 1:7)

Wow! Talk about your genie in a bottle scenario! I wonder what I might have asked for. Therein, lies the "wow" of this transaction between God and Solomon.

1. For starters, and this may be the single most important point, A. Solomon recognized who God is, what He had done for, and through, his own father (David). B. He "trusted" that God could do the same with him, and had a desire to do so. Why? Because, like his father's,  Solomon's heart was after God. Not perfect! But discernable enough to God, and that should be the aim.
"And Solomon said to God, "You have shown great and steadfast love to David my father, and have made me king in his place." (2 Chronicles 1:8)

2. Solomon understood where his own ability came from. If he was doing, or was to do, any real good, that ability was from God. "....for you have made me king over a people as numerous as the dust of the earth." Whatever Solomon accomplished.... it was from God. It was for God. It begs me to ask... what if our kings, our leaders, our elected officials thought this way? What if they prayed this way? Do you or I pray this way?

3. So, Solomon asks for the big ticket item! Not wealth. Not fame. Not tangible things at all. "Give me now WISDOM" (emphasis mine) "Give me now wisdom and knowledge to go out and come in before this people, for who can govern this people of yours, which is so great?" Solomon could not imagine doing his job, serving his role, living his life ....without God's help. He wasn't intending to try it without God's help, His direction, His plan, His will.

4. God answers BIG, when our motivations are toward His will. "Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it."

God answered Solomon, "Because this was in your heart, and you have not asked for possessions, wealth, honor, or the life of those who hate you, and have not even asked for long life, but have asked for wisdom and knowledge for yourself that you may govern my people over whom I have made you king, wisdom and knowledge are granted to you. I will also give you riches, possessions, and honor, such as none of the kings had who were before you, and none after you shall have the like."

God's will, and desire, are that people may know Him, and trust in Him. He does this work "through" us, imperfect people. Solomon wasn't perfect either. But, like his father, his life and will were focused and directed toward God, and the things OF God. He didn't lock himself in a room and only pray? He did pray. Then he acted. He LIVED. He did so, however imperfectly, for God.

We can do the same. It's s matter of changing our thinking, changing our mind, changing our heart.

Oh right... don't miss the end of that last part. Yes, God did bless Solomon with riches. I wonder how it might have been if more riches were what he asked for? I'm glad Solomon asked self-lessly. And in that too, trusting God pays dividends. When God gets the glory, we get the benefit. In this life, or in our eternal life with Him. Do you, will you, trust Him?