Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Let us hear from you

Would you be more inclined to interact with a Facebook and Google+ page? I can see stats showing users in the U.K, U.S, Australia and New Zealand plus more, but I would love to engage with you far more than I do. Let me know either in a blog post comment or as a comment on my personal pages

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Biblical Dating?

In the previous posts I covered the duties and responsibilities and the differences between male and female. Now what happens when said male and female believe they are more than friends? What happens on the road to marriage? What is the purest, most God honoring method of going about such a sobering endeavor? Let’s take a look at it.
Firstly, I will be upfront and state that I believe that method is courtship. I will also likely shock you when I say there are no verses specifically advocating such a method. How then can I have the audacity to make such a bold statement? Am I not simply being a legalistic fool without any sense of reality? Read on and see for yourself.
Let’s start by a definition of both. Wikipedia, though highly questionable accuracy-wise, has this telling definition of dating:
“Another meaning of the term dating is to describe a stage in a person's life when he or she is actively pursuing romantic relationships with different people.”

Courtship however is defined as: a male and female who decide to move into a deeper friendship and relationship, with marriage being the end goal.

Can you see the difference? Recreational dating is abusive. It toys with a woman's emotions and it lowers her to little more than something you pick up from the store only to get rid of it when you are bored, not to mention massages a man's prideful ego by means of the status of being in a relationship with the beauty of the week. Yes, it’s that grievous a sin. It is a mindset in which a man can even subconsciously have the idea that if it doesn't work he can simply break-up and find someone else. Even if he is not conscious of this thinking, this is what the world would do. If a Christian uses the same methods as the world, they will be judged according to those same standards and it will be assumed that they are thinking the same thing as the person who is not a Christian. Remember we are on this earth to represent our King. How can we act in a way that could bring reproach upon Him? But you say, I know people who have dated safely and are happily married. Well, Douglas Wilson in his book Her Hand in Marriage says “The success stories within the modern dating system, which certainly exist , are not the problem with it. But people survive plane crashes too, some of them without a scratch, and we are all happy about it. But this acknowledgment does not disqualify us from opposing the general habit of crashing airplanes”

Let's take a closer look at the courtship model and see why, despite no Bible verses that command it, I believe there is enough evidence for courtship based on several principles within Scripture. We will also see why it is indeed the most God-glorifying method of choosing the person God says you are to be one with in marriage as it says in Genesis 2:24. Though it was Adam speaking, Jesus affirms the accuracy of that statement.

For this reason a man shall leave [behind] his father and his mother and be joined to his wife and cleave closely to her permanently, And the two shall become one flesh, so that they are no longer two, but one flesh. (Mark 10:7-8 Amplified Bible)

Though courtship is a prelude to marriage it should be a time where an already firmly established friendship goes to a deeper level under the watchful eye of both sets of parents who can guide the two young people. Courtship focuses on a person’s heart and character. I submit to you men, that you should be falling in love with that: the woman’s godly character. This is evidenced by the fact God looks on a person’s heart and, therefore, so should we by careful observation of a persons actions. Jesus said in Luke 6:43-45:
For there is no good tree which produces bad fruit, nor, on the other hand, a bad tree which produces good fruit.  For each tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they pick grapes from a briar bush.  The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.

Beauty is good. It is an example of God’s handiwork, but we are under the curse. Even the most beautiful women will get old and wrinkled and that outward beauty will fade. Not so the beauty of a godly heart.
Therefore, if the heart is the most important thing then it should be protected. In his book, I Kissed Dating Goodbye: A New Attitude Toward Relationships and Romance, Joshua Harris said “The joy of intimacy is the reward of commitment...” How can you protect the heart of the woman you claim to love if you focus on temporal things like outward beauty and, even worse, light the fire of emotions that should only be felt between a husband and a wife?  Earlier, I quoted Matthew 5:28, but the Bible is full of verses exposing the dangers of lust.

Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. (1 Cor 6:18 ESV)

But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. (Eph. 5:3 ESV)

Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. (Col:3.5 ESV)

Remember the words of the prophet Jeremiah:
The heart is deceitful above all things, and it is exceedingly perverse and corrupt and severely, mortally sick! Who can know it [perceive, understand, be acquainted with his own heart and mind]? (Jeremiah 17:9 AMP).

This then is the reason for accountability. We are imperfect, flawed human beings and even if we are sincere, we could well be sincerely wrong. God also has put fathers in charge of children and if you, as a man, are going to court a woman then you have a duty to hold yourself accountable to the man whom God has sovereignly ordained to lead not just his daughter but his whole house. If you believe you as a man are being led to court a woman, firstly acknowledge your own father’s authority and ask his permission. If, and when, you obtain that then you go to the woman’s father and ask his permission. In this way, you're not only protecting her feelings and purity but your own as well. The decision you are deciding to embark on is too sober to be left in any doubt as to the will of God.
Seeing as it is in fact so serious a decision, now would be a good time to reiterate that it is a life-long decision and cannot be broken apart from one exception, which we will cover later.
Finally, even if a guy isn't used to courtship, as soon as he is directed to the father he'll get the idea. Now he has to decide at that point. True love requires sacrifice as John 15:13 says, ”Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends”. What better way to show that than to use a method he isn't used to and to learn as he goes? Not that we all don't, but he'll be doing so from further back as it were. Learning how to court while he does so.
Marriage is a life-long commitment by its very nature. From the dawn of time, when God created the universe, He instituted marriage and Adam said, “This is now bone of by bone and flesh of my flesh”. While this is literal, as woman was formed from man, it has another meaning.

A man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh (Genesis 2:24).

How important is this? Firstly, it is repeated in Ephesians 5:31, so we know this is absolutely applicable in the church age. Second, Jesus Himself made mention of divorce several times.

Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from [her] husband committeth adultery (Luke 16:18 KJV).

Pretty straightforward. While it is true it was allowed under the Law it was never meant to be. Again, Jesus said,  

Because of the hardness (stubbornness and perversity) of your hearts Moses permitted you to dismiss and repudiate and divorce your wives; but from the beginning it has not been so [ordained].  (Matthew 19.8 AMP).

Thirdly, I’m going to shock you now. Let’s take a closer look at the word ‘one flesh’ in Genesis. It is the Hebrew word echad. This is one and the same word used in Deuteronomy 6:4 to describe God and the Trinity! In other words the marriage union is considered so important that the two are considered one unit, yet with distinct personalities. The one and only caveat to this is found in Matthew 19:9:

And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.

Marriage truly is of utmost importance to God and must be treated with the care and attention it deserves.

I want to add, before I close, that I recognise this is the ideal and people may come from broken homes where one or both parents are not doing their job properly or have caused harm and damage in one way or another. I understand that. I accept that. Every situation is different but the principles remain the same. One can certainly seek the same accountability of elders, mature friends and pastors. The Word of God is perfect for all situations

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Relationships And Gender Roles

Well now i'm going to open up a huge can of worms and probably going to get severely criticised, but this is a huge issue.

In many Christian circles they think it’s cute and adorable to see two young people clearly going out with each other and they clearly have feelings for each other. But what, may I ask, are those feelings? In a relationship, first of all you need to understand the different yet equally important roles the man and woman have. The man is the leader.
This is not popular or politically correct but it is biblically correct. Going all the way back to Genesis, God ordained the man to lead to women. Mark my words, however, I am not for one tiny moment saying the woman can't disagree with the man or that women have to submit to every man in their lives. They are to be subject to their father and pastor, then to their husband in marriage. Before marriage however, in a relationship, and indeed in the realms of friendship there is no subjugation.  I do not by any means condone abuse or treating women as inferior and anyone that does such things has a lot to answer for treating one of God’s children in such a manner.

How can we men claim to love God and love a young woman unless we as men treat her as the person He says she is? I touched on this a moment ago but I want to reiterate if we treat a woman as anything less than a daughter of our King and our sister in Christ believe you me we will have Him to answer to!
I am focussing on men primarily because we have the greater responsibility. The fact remains though, ladies we need you. Even the sincerest of men will get things wrong purely because they are imperfect and cannot know everything. We may well be genuine, but as leaders we must be humble. If a sister in Christ comes to us with a concern or issue we must be willing to listen and take heed to what is said. After all, we are not just supposed to represent Christ to the world but to each other as well. It goes back, yet again, to who a woman is - a daughter of the King. We dare not cause her to stumble.

Quite simply,  a man has a responsibility to lead and should lead primarily by example. It is not about being the boss or being bigger it is about servitude. If he is truly acting like a man his primary goal will be to lead the woman he claims to love by his servants heart and by his humility. Ladies, if the guy is not leading don’t take the lead yourself. It would be pointless proceeding with the relationship and marrying a person who behaves like a coward and can’t take responsibility. It is indeed foolish to proceed because you will simply be holding his hand for the rest of your life. You are fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of God and you, young woman, deserve better than than to be treated like that. In fact what does that phrase mean? The verse in full is:

I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well. (Psalm 139:14 NASB)

Let’s take a look at two words.
Fearfully – Feeling reverence; feeling respect or awe for somebody or something (in this case, our Creator).

Wonderfully – Outstanding, of a quality that excites admiration or amazement; exceedingly pleasing, suiting somebody perfectly.

A woman has the responsibility of submitting to her husband. Working alongside him, encouraging him, and raising their children in the love and admonition of God.  And they also have the responsibility to bring up something that concerns or worries them.  But this cannot--absolutely cannot--be done in such a way that he feels like he is being ridiculed for his faults.  Ladies, you must respect and love your husband at all times, especially when you are discussing an issue with him

While ladies, may not have the same responsibilities, they do still have plenty of responsibility.  Have you ever heard the phrase, “The hand that rocks the cradle, rules the world?”  This is so very true.  Titus 2:4-5 says:

So that they [older women] will wisely train the young women to be sane and sober of mind (temperate, disciplined) and to love their husbands and their children,
To be self-controlled, chaste, homemakers, good-natured (kindhearted), adapting and subordinating themselves to their husbands, that the word of God may not be exposed to reproach (blasphemed or discredited). (Amplified Bible)

Paul makes it clear, not just here, but in many other passages as well, that a woman's responsibility is her home.  Whether she is a daughter or a wife, her goal should be raising the next generation for God’s glory.  As a daughter, this could mean helping her mother helping to care for younger siblings or taking over some of the household chores so her mother can focus on the younger siblings.  If a young woman has no younger siblings, maybe she can find a woman in church who would like some help.

Daughters also need to be subject to her father’s authority.  If she disagrees with him, she can bring a calm, reasoned response to him, but, ultimately, he is the authority and, unless it directly opposes God’s law, the young woman needs to respect what her father says.

The reason for the confusion found in many churches and homes is the infiltration of feminism. It’s interesting to note that biblical Christians will agree that something like homosexual behaviour is unnatural,it suddenly becomes perfectly ok to behave contrary to the nature God has given each gender. This is in fact nothing new. Paul had to deal with it in the First Century.

I want younger widows to get married, bear children, keep house, and give the enemy no occasion for reproach; for some have already turned aside to follow Satan. - 1 Timothy 5:14-15 (NASB)

That’s right, Feminism is of the devil. It is wrong because it is a rebellion against authority. Feminism is not about women's rights, nor equality, it's about rebellion against God's Word. What feminists are really saying is, "We don't believe the Bible is God's Word and we absolutely REFUSE to allow men to have exclusive authority." Thus, women preachers demand EQUALITY in the leadership of the church. Wives demand EQUALITY in the leadership of the home. This is exactly what Lucifer said in Isaiah 14:14:

"I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High." (KJV)

Now I'm not going to make such strong statements without quantifying them. I'm not ignorant of feminist arguments. Take a look at the previous paragraphs. I quite clearly and unequivocally stated the man’s God-given duty is to care for his wife and to treat her well, out of love for her and ultimately God. So many times people get confused, but let me clarify.  Feminism is not the same thing as women's rights.  Feminism is a sin; but, human rights certainly are not. Human rights are granted at birth, and apply to everyone.

Even the world understands chain of command. Businesses have CEOs managers and supervisors. This is accepted as normal and rightly so.

Likewise, neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man. (1 Corinthians 11:9 KJV)

This is so because God, through the Apostle Paul says:

I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God. (1 Corinthians 11:3 KJV)

This is not inequality, it is a chain of command because God is a God of order and as His followers, we should honor the chain of command He set up.  God is the only one who can know everything in this world.  Do we really think we know better than He does?  What Feminists say when they demand equality is that they know what works better than God does.
As we said before, this is the same attitude Lucifer had and that attitude got him cast out of heaven.  Men and women alike need to be very prayerful in how they approach any relationship, any situation, anything.  Is it God-honoring?  Is what I am doing following God’s clearly defined chain of command?

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Biblical Authority and Sin

God has given us authority figures. Now before you decide I’m going to try to tell you to shut up and do whatever you are told regardless of what it is and consider me a legalistic pharisee, hold on. I’m not going to tell you that.

In every organization there is a chain of command. The same is true of both the local church and the home. Starting off in the home we've established that the husband and father is the head of the home, leading and guiding his wife and children primarily by example out of love for the precious gifts God has given him of a wife and children. God is quite clear:

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her….So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself (Ephesians 5:25,28 NASB).

Likewise with regards to children:

Fathers, do not irritate and provoke your children to anger [do not exasperate them to resentment], but rear them [tenderly] in the training and discipline and the counsel and admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4).

Clearly the duties given are a two way street. Wives and children must subject themselves to the head of the house but that head should quake with fear at even thinking about mistreating God’s children. Hebrews 10:31 drives it home. “It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God”. (NASB). Don’t you dare!

As to the matter of a Christian's duty to secular government. Romans 13:1-7 (go read it if you've forgotten) has the answer. Not only are Christians supposed to subject themselves to the governing authorities, if you do not you are actually opposing God! He allowed that authority the privilege of being an authority. Jesus Himself submitted to the Romans and as Ambassadors for His kingdom we must likewise be in submission.
There is one and only one caveat. If, and it will and does happen, you find yourself faced with a choice of obeying man or God, then God must be obeyed. This applies across the spectrum whether it be children, wives, or husbands. You cannot be made to disobey God law. This would force you to misrepresent Him and thus defeat your very purpose for life.
Look for a moment in Acts 4. Peter and John were ordered not to preach in the name of Jesus of Nazareth, yet they knew they had a higher law which must be obeyed. In the very next chapter we see evidence they continued and were again brought before the Sanhedrin and were asked if they had been told not to preach in the name of Jesus. They replied:

Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges!  As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard. (Acts 4:19-20 NIV)

The Apostles continued to fulfill the Great commission given to them by Jesus, which by the way, is not a suggestion, it is a command. In the very next chapter we see the consequences and the reaction to those consequences. Peter and John reiterated that they were required to obey God rather than men if there was a conflict (5:29). This resulted in being flogged (vs. 40), then look -

So they went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name (Acts 5:41 NIV).

Look at the parallels. Peter and John suffered for Christ’s sake because He suffered for us. No matter what the cost, no matter what the consequences of our obedience to Him we must be the Ambassadors He has called us to be. Unless of course we are ashamed to know and represent Him?
God is clearly a God of order, and yes, has ordained a clear chain of command with regards to gender roles as well as authority. He knows, however, we are sinful human beings and did not leave us helpless to deal with a person who is sinning, even when that person is in a position of authority.
Firstly, we must remember we are to do everything out of love and for the glorification of God. Revenge is always sin. Secondly, the response must be in proportion. Some sins are “faults”—indiscretions—as opposed to doctrinal, theological, or moral failures. You don’t need a hammer to remove a splinter. An indiscretion requires discipline, whereas a moral failure may require disqualification. Third, Matthew 18 has the principle regarding a person who is sinning. Go to that person and talk to them, remembering that yes, this person is in authority. If the response is positive, ‘you have won your brother’. If, however, it is negative, the process is then escalated to taking others along. At this stage we need to remember 1 Timothy 5:1:

Do not sharply rebuke an older man, but rather appeal to him as a father, to the younger men as brothers,  the older women as mothers, and the younger women as sisters, in all purity. (NASB)

The reason for this is twofold. One, the person being spoken to realizes it is not one person who has a bone to pick. Two, it is to allow you to verify if the fault is actually a fault at all. We are human. We make mistakes. If we have made a mistake then yes. it will be difficult, but the faster that is acknowledged, the better it will be.  At this stage 1 Timothy 5:20 comes into play which says:

As for those who are guilty and persist in sin, rebuke and admonish them in the presence of all, so that the rest may be warned and stand in wholesome awe and fear. (AMP)

Of course you may be ordered to be quiet and stop stirring up strife. Of course this is a command that is immediately nullified, just as the command to Peter and John was. To obey such a command would be to disobey God. On the contrary you must tell it to the church. If after repeated confrontations there is still no sign of repentance then the sin must be publicly exposed and let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican. (Matthew 18:17)
It is highly likely, within the realms of the church such a person will stop attending after being removed from his position. If he remains, however, he is to be treated with the kindness,love and respect due to all people Christian or not. Even after all of this, the greatest two commandments are still in force and always will be.

Finally, in order to obey the two greatest commandments it may be necessary to expose them as widely as possible. Wolves cannot be allowed to devour innocent and unsuspecting sheep. If false teaching is being propagated and you know people are being harmed it would be gross negligence to turn a blind eye and let the enemy poison innocent people. You are Ambassadors of Christ. It is difficult to see how one can be obedient to that cause and remain silent