White As Snow

As I write this blog post, Christmas is just 20 days away. The holiday season brings so many demands for our time and attention, doesn’t it? It should be a time of celebrating and considering Jesus’ birth and it’s ramifications for the world. I urge you to take time each day to intentionally contemplate the wonders of His birth. If you take your eyes off the true “reason for the season”, due to the craziness of the season, you will end up experiencing a Christmas that leaves us spiritually bankrupt! It’s my hope, Lord willing, to share a few personal contemplations of this Christmas season with you, praying God will use them to bless you, my Bridge of Hope Ministry friends… as well as those with whom you may share these posts.

I begin with some thoughts from a few days ago! Where I live, for many of us, it just doesn’t seem like Christmas without snow on the ground. We continue to have above IMG_3125average temperatures; therefore, we have no snow on the ground. But a few days ago, I got up in the morning to find just enough pure white snow had fallen to cover the ground, trees, and so on! It was absolutely beautiful!  (This picture doesn’t do it justice!)   As I sat looking out on the seasonal beauty of God’s creation, I thought of how it reflects Him. The Bible tells us He not only reveals Himself in His Word, but in His creation.  (Psalm 19:1-5) I began to thank God for the beauty of the pure white snow and how it reflected Him… His glory, His holiness, His righteousness and so much more.

As I continued to look at this beautiful, white covering, I thought of how brown, grey, dirty and ugly this same scene had been yesterday. What a change! Then, an old Maranatha song, White  As Snow, popped into my head… and I began to sing it, meditating on the words that reflect the truths of Isaiah 1:18. I immediately decided to find it on a YouTube video (click here) and I played the beautiful video several times, singing with the singers in heartfelt worship.

“White as snow, white as snow,

Though my sins were as scarlet.

Lord, I know, Lord, I know,

That I’m clean and forgiven.

Through the power of Your blood,

Through the wonder of Your love,

Through faith in You, I know that I can be white as snow!”

When I was first saved, this song so moved me whenever we sang it in church. And we sang it often! In all honesty, it still moves me today. Our first pure white accumulating snowfall of the year, always reminds me of the truths found in this song.

This month, that baby in the manger that we celebrate, came to die, the perfect sacrifice for my sin (and your sin). His blood sacrifice covers my dirty, ugly sin (past, present & future) and makes me white as snow, in God’s eyes! Amazing! Oh, the power of His blood and the wonder of His love that He would do that for me. Through faith in Him (not works), I know that I can be white as snow. How about you?

Do yourselves a favor and watch this beautiful video… more than once. When the singers finally begin to sing, join in with them… with a grateful heart engaged.  May the beauty of this video reflect the glory of the Lord in your heart. Let the truth of this song go deep. Pray! Ask God to take you to new depths of understanding and intimacy as you explore the wonder of Christmas this month. As a child of God, let this be your gift to your heavenly Father; time alone with Him, appreciating and giving thanks for “His indescribable gift”. (2 Corinthians 9: 15)

Let It Shine, Let It Shine, Let It Shine!

IMG_0150During the Christmas season, I absolutely love to look at my lighted Christmas tree from a spiritual perspective, especially during my morning devotional time. In my thinking, each light represents believers and the dark background of the tree represents our spiritually dark world (and those of the world). Each light sheds light in one small area of the tree, dispelling darkness. Sometimes a light is out and cannot dispel darkness in its area of influence. Then it’s time to investigate to see if it is burnt out or there is just a lose connection that can be easily fixed?

As I look at my tree and ponder these things, I remember that Jesus said, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life” (John 8:12). And Jesus also said of His followers, “You are the light of the world” (Matt. 5:14a). Both statements are true. If we are true followers of Jesus Christ, our lives will shine with “the Light of life”.

While we ourselves are not the light, we are holders of the light. Reflecting Him to the world is the believer’s God-given duty, so it’s imperative that we keep our light shining. Let’s not put our light under a basket (Matt 5:15-16) as a result of neglecting our relationship with God or allowing some wrong-doing (sin) in our lives to dim our light or block it out all together. We are to keep it on the lamp-stand so it gives light to those in our area of influence.

We live in a spiritually dark world. Paul describes the condition of mankind without Christ this way: “For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened” (Rom. 1:21). The state of unbelievers is the same as it has always been. Darkness plagues those without Christ because they live with a sense of frustration and futility as they attempt to please fleshly appetites that are never satisfied. When the Light of life shines in an area of influence, people see themselves as they really are: sinners in need of a Savior. When His hope penetrates the heart, darkness is chased away. Receiving Him as Savior means that sins are forgiven and the death sentence (separation from God for all eternity) is lifted. The Light of life does another very important thing in the life of a true believer. It illuminates the right path for our life so that we need not give in to temptation, including same-sex attraction temptations. By faith, the true believer chooses to walk in the light, obeying God’s commandments and seeking to live by His principles (Eph. 5:8-10), no longer walking in darkness. If a “so-called believer” still walks in darkness, living a lifestyle of sin, such as one Paul mentions in 1 Cor. 6:9-10; it’s important for us to shine our light on our interactions with them, proving to them that they are still walking in darkness.   We allow Christ to shine forth when we speak about biblical truth but also when we model His ways. Some who have the Light of life shine on their life of darkness will see Jesus and want Him for themselves and thus find real hope (Rom. 15:13)!  We never know who that will be.

In closing, may each of us take time to consider this: Is my light shining bright for Jesus? Not just during the holiday season, but all year, may His light shine in us and through us. Don’t be negligent in protecting your relationship with Christ (through lack of prayer and reading His Word). And, don’t allow sin to take root in your life. Both of these actions, brothers and sisters, will dim your light or put it out all together. It’s a great honor to reflect Jesus to the world. Someone in your sphere of influence needs your “light” to guide him or her toward the true Light of the world. This is God’s will for you. So let it shine, let it shine, let it shine!

For God, who said, “light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. 2 Corinthians 4:6.

 

Evangelize… Don’t Moralize! Part 2

The unbelieving homosexual, no matter what they believe about homosexuality, is a sinner and needs Jesus! In my case, after I was lead to tell my new Christian friend, Jill, I had been leading a lesbian lifestyle for many years, let’s remember how she spoke the truth in love. She responded by telling me that it’s wrong because the Bible says it is. And she balanced it out with “but God love’s you and I love you… that is something you need to take to God.” It was a word fitly spoken (Pro. 15:2; 15:23b). Had she been in my face that it is an abomination… or had she begun to espouse her beliefs that it is unnatural, harmful, and destructive to civilization, all of which may be true, it would not have gone well with me. All those answers are to a certain degree subjective. They can be and will be dismissed as just your opinion. Because Jill didn’t do that, and she humbly and lovingly pointed me to the Lord and His truth; no defensiveness surfaced on my part, and I didn’t feel or sense any condemnation.

The important truth we want to remember here is that homosexuality is wrong is because God, who gave us our sexual capacities, simply said so in His Word! When we present the case in that light, we remove our personal opinions and experiences from the argument, thus bringing the person face to face with God Himself and the truth of His Word. This was my situation. Jill knew I believed in God, but I was not born again and she sensed I was opening up to spiritual things. She looked for an opportunity to be a minister of reconciliation, sharing the gospel of peace with me. That opportunity came the next day!

So, if God gives you an opportunity to minister to a person struggling with homosexuality, keep it simple and focused, praying for an open door to share the gospel. Be patient and let the Holy Spirit work, but don’t moralize by overemphasizing the sinfulness of homosexuality. In the New Testament, homosexual behavior is not singled out as more sinful than adultery, fornication, idolatry, blaspheme, greed, hatred, or any other specific sins. Paul consistently placed homosexual behavior right alongside a variety of other sins (see Rom 1:29-31; 1Cor 6:9-10; 1Tim 1:9-10). Neither should we single it out as the worst of sins. One reason they didn’t single it out was because homosexual sex was as common in the Roman world as it is becoming in ours. That has not been the case with us until recently, so we have tended to overreact to homosexuality more than to other sins. And, some have thought that Paul identified homosexual sin as more sinful in the first chapter of Romans, but I agree with most good Bible teachers, that that is not the case. In verses 26-32, Paul is using homosexual behavior to illustrate the inevitable moral insanity and sexual perversity that follows when people, nations, cultures, and civilizations reject the true and living God. We’re seeing the fruit of turning away from God and doing our own thing in our country, are we not? All unrighteousness is sin!

Once I was born again, then I dealt with the homosexual issue. I thought, ok, I’m a sinner… I’m saved… but is homosexuality really sin? With the indwelling Holy Spirit and the Word of God I was convicted that it was a sinful lifestyle. If I had a problem with that, I would have had to wrestle with God about it. I’m a firm believer that conviction over specific sins is better left to the Holy Spirit. God doesn’t clean us up and then save us. He saves us and then begins His “open heart surgery”… changing us from the inside out. Remember, specific sins are fruit of the root problem: all men and women sinners, who are dead in our trespasses and sins. The only remedy is the salvation that comes through personal faith in Jesus Christ.

In closing, it’s time to get back to the important question. How did I come out of homosexuality? First I received the gospel message, became a new creation in Christ, truly born again, a sinner saved by grace! Praise the Lord! And, very soon after I was born again, I agreed with God that according to the Bible, homosexuality is a sin. I could not and would not lead that lifestyle any longer. Is that it, you ask? No, there were some struggles to overcome. But I was so grateful for my salvation. I loved Jesus much more than the homosexual lifestyle. I allowed Him to be the Lord of my life, and by His amazing grace He opened up His storehouse of blessings that canceled the past, equipped me to deal the struggles of coming out of homosexuality and secured my future! Again, I say, praise the Lord. Stay tuned… more to come!

Prayer thought: Precious Lord, give us the heart of a minister of reconciliation and the opportunity to share the gospel of peace to a hurting world!

Related source:  (Speaking the Truth) In Love  (standupforthetruth.com)


Biblical Love and Knowledge a Must

We’ve been looking at the necessity of speaking the truth in love and what that really entails.  I hope you read the last post and watched Pastor Bob’s five minute video.  As Christians, may our hearts be the same as his and may our churches deal with the issue through biblical love as his does.  May we be ready to help anyone who comes to us struggling and not liking the lifestyle and wondering if there is a chance they can change.  Our answer must be yes, yes, yes!  But we then must have the knowledge necessary to give biblical advice and direction.  There are thousands of us who had identified ourselves as homosexual, but by the grace of God were able to move forward to real change and healing.

Please keep in mind that as the world is preaching more and more that homosexuality is normal and simply an alternative lifestyle… God is brokenhearted about it.  Doesn’t God love the homosexual?  Yes, He does, but it’s not what He has for them. We must be careful not to let our sympathy and compassion for those caught-up in the lifestyle or for those who have been struggling for years with same-sex attractions/feelings, to take us away from the truth of our faith.  Nor should our sympathy for the struggler cause us to doubt whether they can change; and due to lack of knowledge, remain clueless how to respond to their claims. 

Not all homosexuals that you come in contact with are going to be seeking change and might be quite ugly at any mention of change.  They will defend their lifestyle with a passion.  They may tell you, they have known they were gay since they were 4 years old… that they’ve never had attractions for the opposite-sex.  They asked Jesus into their life, but continued to struggle with same-sex attractions for years.  Now they believe God loves them and they don’t need to change… because Jesus never taught it was wrong in the Gospels.  They have the gay theology down pat.  Would you know how to refute their twisting of certain scriptures.   Perhaps you declare “you were not born homosexual… you chose to be homosexual” and they respond, “that’s not true; I’ve always struggled with these unwanted same-sex attractions/feelings; I didn’t choose them; so I finally came to grips with who I am… to try and change the homosexual is wrong and harmful!”

As I minister to other Christians, I find that many feel inadequate to minister in this area.  Why?  Because the Bible alone does not give them all the knowledge that is needed to answer all the questions and remarks thrown at them from a struggler or someone defending their lifestyle.  Also, they have never personally known someone who God has changed.  As I end this post, may I ask an important question?  Are you willing to prepare yourself to minister in this area? 

You need not feel inadequate.  Check out the resource page of my website www.bridgeofhopeministry.com for help; you’ll find a link for my book, Love Flowed Down, that you’ll find very helpful as I share my testimony and what I learned that helped me come out and be changed.  I’ve listed other ministries and books that can prepare you.  Biblically based help is available for individuals and churches.  How’s your heart?  Are you willing to gain the knowledge necessary to minister the truth to someone you know and love who is homosexual?  Or to be prepared for the struggler God may soon bring into your life.  I pray you are!